Category Archives: Cemeteries

The Saddle and Pillion Graves

(Updated 6/25/21 by Don Bayley)

Edmond Freeman, one of the Ten Men from Saugus and the founder of Sandwich is buried here with his wife Elizabeth.

He sailed with his 2nd wife Elizabeth, 4 children from his first marriage on the “Abigail” which left Plymouth, Devon, England on 4 June 1635. There was an outbreak of smallpox on this ship during the crossing. The family arrived in Boston Harbor on 8 Oct 1635. They first settled in Saugus which is now called Lynn, MA. Admitted freeman at Plymouth, MA on 23 January 1637. He was the assistant to Gov. Bradford 1640-1647 and the principle founder of the town of Sandwich, Barnstable, MA in 1637.

Freeman settled on his homestead about a mile and a quarter east of the present Town Hall on the sloping land leading from what is now Tupper Road down to the Cape Cod Canal. (Most of the former Freeman land is now occupied by the NRG power plant.) They lived out their lives here and when Elizabeth passed away on February 14, 1676, Edmond buried her on a hill on their farm. He marked her grave with a large stone likening to a pillion (a British term for the seat behind the saddle on a horse). With foresight, Edmond also positioned a large stone that resembled a saddle to be used as a monument for his own grave. Family tradition tells us that the headstones reminded Edmond of the early years in Sandwich when he and Elizabeth traveled by horseback over the fields of their farm. Edmond Freeman died in 1682 and was buried beside Elizabeth, the longer stone, “the saddle,” was placed over his grave.

The burial place became known as the Saddle and Pillion Cemetery and is the oldest burying ground in Sandwich. Bronze plaques were added to these stones in 1910 by their descendants. The cemetery is located a short distance north of the end of Wilson Avenue and a marker has been placed on the south side of Tupper Road just before it intersects with Rt. 6A. VIEW MAP

Saddle and Pillion Graves
Saddle and Pillion Graves

At one time these graves were encircled by a stone fence, remnants of which were still visible in the late 1800’s. The beautiful bronze tablets which are presently on these stone monuments were placed there on August 22, 1910 by members of the Freeman family, descendants of Edmond.

Article on the Freeman graves in Towns of New England and Old England, Ireland and Scotland, Volumes 1-2
By State Street Trust Company, Boston, Allan Forbes

The website Find A Grave lists the Freeman Family tree as follows (click the pic to go to the site):

Joseph Wilson (1843-1886)

By Bill Daley

There is a little-known gravesite of a black civil War soldier, Joseph Wilson, who is buried in Sandwich in a wooded area off of Quaker Meeting House Road near the Stop & Shop. In 2012, Eagle Scout Alex Moore of Sandwich, took on the project of restoring the neglected burial site. He cleared away years of invasive trees, unwanted growth and rotting leaves; created a new path to the burial area and replaced the decrepit fence surrounding the grave and replaced it with new fencing. He also cleared path to what must have been the small house and barn of Joseph Wilson.

This short paper is an attempt to correct the Sandwich archival records and bring clarity to the situation. Several newspaper articles have been written about him over the years and they too contained some erroneous information.

Joseph Wilson’s military records show that he was “mustered in” on September 27, 1862 when he enlisted in New Orleans as a private in Company I of the 1st Louisiana Regiment as an infantryman. His 1862 enlistment papers record him as age 19; therefore, his birth year was 1843. The unit was also referred to as the Native Guards, Free Colored*. Curiously, the 1st Louisiana Native Guard was originally formed in 1861 by the secessionist Governor as a militia for the Confederate States of America. It was comprised of free persons of color. It was disbanded within a year after New Orleans fell to Admiral Farragut and the city was occupied by General Butler.
* the muster in document contains the asterisk note, “subsequently became Company I, 73rd Regiment US Colored Infantry.”

The 1st Louisiana Native Guard was one of the first all-black regiments to fight in the Union Army during the American Civil War. It was based in New Orleans and played a prominent role in the siege of Port Hudson, LA. Its members were comprised of a minority of free men of color from New Orleans but, most were African-American former slaves who escaped to join the Union cause and gain freedom.

In May, 1863 the name of the unit was changed to Company I, 1st Regiment, Corp d’ Afrique. The new name made use of Louisiana’s French origins and clearly references it as a unit with black roots. By May, 1864 it was renamed again with its final designation, Company I, 73rd Louisiana Regiment, US Colored Infantry.

Nothing is known as to how, when and why Joseph came to Sandwich. We do know the following from the Sandwich Vital Records, p.1033:
October 22, 1874 – Joseph Wilson, 28, [according to his enlistment papers he should be age 31] of Sandwich, laborer,1st marriage, born Maryland, son of Joseph and Mary married Caroline Phillips of Mashpee, 35, born Nova Scotia, 2nd marriage. Marriage performed by Rev. S A Blake.

The next record on file comes six years later from the Sandwich 1880 Census. Once again there is confusion and contradictions about the ages of both Joseph and Caroline as well as where Joseph was born. It records Joseph as age 40[correct age was probably 37] and lists him as “farm laborer”, born Virginia [ his marriage papers stated he was born in Maryland]. Carrie is recorded as age 50 [the correct age was probably 41 based on her marriage record] born Nova Scotia. She is listed as “keeping house” and they are recorded as blacks in South Sandwich.

The final record refers to Joseph Wilson’s death. Joseph died of consumption (tuberculosis)in Sandwich on May 3, 1886 which would have made him 43 according to his enlistment papers. However, the document of his death puts his age at 62! This age seems completely inaccurate because only 6 years earlier the 1880 Census records him as age 40 (probably was age 37 according to his enlistment papers).

Around the time of his death, Sandwich pauper records record a payment of $5 made to Alexander Booker for care rendered to Joseph. The town also paid $2.50 to F.A. Fisher for opening the grave of Joseph Wilson. His grave has a traditional Civil War headstone issued by the government and it is inscribed with his service in Company I, 73rd Regiment. There is no record as to how it was obtained; perhaps it was done by the local GAR. Carrie died in September 1891 which would have made her age 52 according to her marriage papers.

Local news articles in the archive file have understandably confused this Joseph Wilson with another Joseph Wilson shown in the book, “Massachusetts Soldiers, Sailors and Marines in the Civil War”. They are two different people and the Massachusetts Wilson served in the famous 54th Regiment. He became prominent after the war and I have provided documented evidence of his history in the file to show that there two Joseph Wilsons.

In summary, more than likely that Joseph Wilson was a former slave. That would account for his confusion as to whether he was born in the slave holding state of Maryland or Virginia; as a young slave it would not have held much relevance to him. It may also account for the confusion of his age. Perhaps he was later sold by a slave trader to a plantation owner in Louisiana. Otherwise, there is no logical explanation as to why a free black man would make his way through the slave states of the South around the time of the Civil War in order to arrive in the slave holding state of Louisiana. Moreover, he enlisted in colored 73rd Louisiana Regiment which was primarily made up of freed slaves. All of this makes it very likely that he was born into slavery and only escaped it when the Union forces invaded and captured New Orleans.

In Sandwich, he lived in a small farm in South Sandwich near what is now called Quaker Meeting House Road. He is buried on what was his farm site. As a farmer, he must have cleared the land but, after 130 years the property is completely wooded and it is now owned by the town of Sandwich.

He must have been very poor and it is likely that he practiced subsistence farming to live. The pauper records prove that he had little or no cash on hand. His early death at age 43 is further proof of the hardships of his life.

Joseph Wilson is the only know black Civil War veteran buried in Sandwich.

Bill Daley
Sandwich Historical Commission
March 2019

Saving Graves

The Historical Commission's Jennifer Madden inspects a headstone at Cedarville Cemetery (CREDIT: Karen B Hunter -Enterprise
The Historical Commission’s Jennifer Madden inspects a headstone at Cedarville Cemetery
(CREDIT: Karen B Hunter – Enterprise)

By TAO WOOLFE Sandwich Enterprise, Oct 27, 2016

Decrepitude has seeped into Cedarville Cemetery—cracking and toppling ancient tombstones and beshadowing family markers with creeping foliage.

But rest easy, old souls, help is on the way.

About $70,000 has been set aside to restore dozens of graves at the East Sandwich site, and to shore up a Wing family tomb that has shifted as surrounding earth has frozen and thawed. An invitation to bid on the repair work is expected to be issued before the snow flies.

The Wing tomb is its most prominent burial site, but the shady cemetery, at Route 6A and Ploughed Neck Road, also holds the remains of other early families including the Nyes, Tuppers, Jillsons, Atkinses, Woods and Freemans.

“It is not the oldest or largest of the town’s ancient cemeteries, but it is quite significant,” said Jennifer Y. Madden, a member of the Sandwich Historical Commission who has donated countless hours of work to the restoration efforts of the town’s oldest graveyards.

In its appeal to the Community Preservation Commission for restoration money, the Historical Commission said Cedarville is among the cemeteries frequented each year by scores of people seeking their early roots in Sandwich, one of the oldest towns in the nation.

Although the graves in older, Old Town Burying Grounds in Sandwich Village date back to the 1600s, Cedarville is no pup. The cemetery’s oldest grave dates back to 1805, when Lewis and Clark were clambering up the Rockies and Napoleon had laid siege to Europe.

“Since so many of the departed in that place represent many of the ancestors of current residents, it seemed only right to honor those deceased before further deterioration causes elements of this burial place impossible to save,” said the historical commission’s application, which was penned by Ms. Madden.

The commission had hopes to restore “dozens of graves,” during this project. More work could be done later, Ms. Madden said.

On a recent tour of the cemetery, Ms. Madden, accompanied by historian Kaethe O. Maguire and Jill Jillson, showed how old slate tombstones had cracked and fallen over. The relatively fragile stone was the prevailing fashion more than 150 years ago. Marble, and then granite, became the rage later and all three materials had to be imported from off-Cape, Ms. Madden said.

In some cases, Cedarville’s toppled slate stones were cemented where they lay in an effort to preserve them.

Restorers will reset and glue broken gravestones, but will probably not include freeing and resetting the cemented stones.

The Wing family’s mound tomb, which contains many members of the family, including Henry T. Wing for whom the former school building is named, will require extensive work on its seams, which are leaking.

No plots are available for sale in the cemetery, which is owned by the town. But the newly deceased continue to be buried in the cemetery in previously purchased plots.

The Wings have donated to the cause, and the Sandwich Cemetery Commissioners have allocated $15,000 to the effort. Voters at Town Meeting in May approved the bulk of the restoration money from preservation funds. A few years ago voters approved money to create a master plan, including a digital map of the cemetery.

A curator at Heritage Museums & Gardens, Ms. Madden said she has loved cemeteries since she was a child. She spent summers in rural Pennsylvania with her grandparents and often explored a neighboring historic graveyard.

Ms. Madden moved to Sandwich about 23 years ago. When she joined the historical commission about nine years ago, her fellow members encouraged her to translate her interest into action.

“The Sandwích Historical Commission’s mission is to protect historical assets, and each member has a unique project,” Ms. Madden said. “This one is mine because I love this work.”