Indian Burial Ground Rededication
Ceremony Held Sunday, November 7th, 2004
GRAFTON, MASSACHUSETTS: A solemn rededication ceremony of the historic Nipmuc
Indian Burial Ground on Providence Road (Route 122) at Bruce Street in Grafton
was held on Sunday afternoon, November 7th, 2004 at 1:00 PM.
Members of the Nipmuc Nation Tribal Council, Grafton town officials, and the
Hassanamesit 350th Anniversary Committee will conduct the ceremonies directing
civic attention to the smallest of Grafton’s six town owned cemeteries.
State Route 122 / Providence Road, once known as the "Farnumsville
Road," has seen many improvements over the years from its earliest
inception, believed to be in the mid 1800's. Because the road configuration
essentially bisects the original area of Nipmuc burials, each time the highway
has been widened or changed it has directly impacted the historic burial area.
Frederick Clifton Pierce’s 1879 volume, “History of Grafton” notes the
“Indian Burying Ground” was in a field belonging to the old Whipple Farm.
(believed to be the residence of James Whipple, one of the first two Deacons of
Grafton's First Parish, elected in January of 1732) Pierce’s account of the
burying ground also refers to twenty or thirty graves that were "plainly
distinguishable" resulting from early road construction, and makes
reference to a time of the removal of rudimentary coffins to this site, but does
not actually mention a specific date for that event.
According to research done by Rae Gould, Nipmuc Nation Historic Preservation
Officer, the late Nipmuc Sachem Zara Ciscoe Brough noted that the Indian Burial
Ground was established at the time of the Hassanamesit Praying Village. It
contains members of John Eliot’s “Praying Indians” and was the first
established burial ground of that settlement. The current configuration of
the cemetery, with its distinctive granite and fieldstone retaining wall,
granite steps and granite block gate posts, was created in the 1920's as a
resting place for remains that were unearthed during additional road
construction on Route 122. Nipmuc Nation Chief Walter Vickers has verified that
Nipmuc burials at the cemetery site continued up to about ten years ago when
town and Nipmuc officials determined that the cemetery had reached its full
capacity. The cemetery has been a regular part of tribal activities and
celebrations. Beginning in at least the 1960’s a trip to the Indian
Burial Ground was included as part of the annual events scheduled for the
Hassanamisco Reservation at Brigham Hill Road. Its importance to Nipmuc
leadership, however, was known well before that.
During the permitting process of the Hassanamesit Village residential
subdivision on Bruce Street in 1986, an extensive archaeological survey of the
entire estimated area of the Nipmuc burial ground was conducted. This survey
clearly identified that the original burial area was larger than the 0.16 acre
designated town cemetery, and was also located on the other side of present day
Route 122 near the Hassanamesit Village Early Learning Center. Another
archaeological survey of property near the historical burial grounds was
conducted for Magill Associates, Inc. in conjunction with the permitting of the
Highfields Golf Course. From the earliest days of the establishment of the John
H. Chafee Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor in 1986, the Indian
Burial Ground in Grafton has been designated as an important historical site on
Corridor Commission visitor maps.
The public is welcome and encouraged to participate in the rededication event.
Ceremonies will be under the direction of Nipmuc Nation Chief Walter Vickers.
Still and video photography of the ceremonies are permitted. A special
commemorative program, outlining the history of the Indian Burial Ground as
researched to date, will be provided to everyone attending. Automobile parking
will be available at the Hassanamesit Village Early Learning Center on Eliot
Trail off Bruce Street. No parking will be allowed on Providence Road during the
event. Light refreshments and fellowship will follow at a location to be
announced at the ceremonies. The joint worship service, originally set for 2:00
PM, has been rescheduled to a later date to be announced.
The Indian Burial Ground Rededication Ceremony is the fifth in a series of year
long events conducted by the Hassanamesit 350th Anniversary Committee
consisting of representatives of the Nipmuc Nation Tribal Council, Grafton town
officials, members of the Grafton Land Trust, Grafton Historical Commission,
John H. Chafee Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor Commission,
Grafton Historical Society, Boy Scout Troop 107, The Trust for Public Land,
Worcester Historical Museum and local civic, cultural and youth groups. The
events collectively celebrate the 350th Anniversary of the authorization by the
Colonial Legislature of the Indian Praying Village at Hassanamesit.
Indian Burial Ground .jpg Photo Credit -
Grafton, Massachusetts History, Photos and Info. (web site)