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A Grave History: Historian shares lore of local cemetery

By Loretta Jackson - For The Telegraph | Oct 29, 2018

Photo by LORETTA JACKSON Carroll White and his wife, June, lifelong residents of Merrimack and enthusiastic supporters of sharing the town’s history with others, visit the graves of some relatives from the Spaulding family, ancestors of Carroll’s whose resting places include a grave with lettering that commemorates the passing of Abigail Spaulding, who died in 1793 at the age 32.

MERRIMACK — New Hampshire historian Glenn Knoblock is a resident of Wolfeboro, a member of the New Hampshire Humanities Council and an independent scholar who has authored 18 books, including some that illustrate cherished facets of New England living. He recently entertained 46 avid history buffs during a tour of Merrimack’s Turkey Hill Cemetery, laid out in 1763 at Turkey Hill Road and Meetinghouse Road.

The tour and talk by Knoblock presented on Sept. 13 received plenty of public attention. It was sponsored by the Merrimack Historical Society. A few of the society’s members donned colonial costumes for the occasion.

Knoblock and Yvette Couser, director of the library, fielded compliments at the conclusion of the gathering. Most remarks avowed that the tour of the first burying ground ever to be documented in town records was a welcome peek into the history of the community.

“Glenn has an amazing wealth of information to share,” Couser said. “He speaks totally from memory — it’s amazing.”

Some in the crowd showed Knoblock the grave markers of family members who rest within the cemetery, a landmark surrounded by moss-embellished stone walls. A large wooden sign curbside on Turkey Hill Road informs passersby in old-timey spelling, “Merrymac,” that the site of the first church and meetinghouse, established in 1746, was the geographic center of town.

Photo by LORETTA JACKSON Carroll White and his wife, June, lifelong residents of Merrimack and enthusiastic supporters of sharing the town’s history with others, visit the graves of some relatives from the Spaulding family, ancestors of Carroll’s whose resting places include a grave with lettering that commemorates the passing of Abigail Spaulding, who died in 1793 at the age 32.

Knoblock, who holds a history degree from Bowling Green State University in Ohio, thanked all who attended and deemed the sunny afternoon assembly “a fun and unique opportunity to offer some insights” and a fresh perspective about the location.

He drew upon a reservoir of knowledge sufficient to share with his audience an abundance of facts about the site. Others at various assemblies statewide may hear some of the observations incorporated into one of his lectures, a talk titled, “New Hampshire Cemeteries and Gravestones.”

“There really is much information hidden in plain sight from from which we can learn much about the lives of our colonial ancestors,” Knoblock said. “We can learn much just by closely examining these gravestones.”

Merrimack residents Carroll White and his wife, June, lifelong residents and a married pair for 62 years, were dressed in period clothing. Her bonnet and shawl, along with his breeches and wide-brimmed hat, were regalia that added authenticity to the event. Kin from the Spaulding family, whose graves were featured in the talk by Knoblock, are related to Carroll’s side of the family.

Anita Creager, president of the Merrimack Historical Society, could not attend the event, but all in attendance at the event expressed admiration for the glimpse into a long-ago era that was shared that day courtesy of the Merrimack Historical Society (merrimackhistory.org). The enterprise is housed in a former school building at 520 Boston Post Road. It offers a wealth of artifacts, photos, documents and collections, along with information on other town cemeteries. It is open Tuesday and Wednesday mornings, 9 a.m. to noon, and from 6-8 p.m. on Tuesday evenings 6-8 p.m. through Thanksgiving.

Photo by LORETTA JACKSON Merrimack Library Director Yvette Couser, left, greets Civil War reenactor Rick Price, of Merrimack, and Kitty Tyler, of Merrimack, who wears garb from the period when conflicts were fought by the 1st New Hampshire Regiment under the command of General John Stark, a military hero of the Revolutionary War who is credited with saying, “Live free or die; death is not the worst of evils.”

Elsewhere among the crowd, Merrimack’s Rick Price wore a Civil War uniform, complete with sword and golden epaulets on the shoulders. It’s gear he wears on occasion at Civil War reenactments. Nearby, Kitty Tyler, clad in Revolutionary War dress, replicated her role in the 1st New Hampshire Regiment under the command of General John Stark, a New Hampshire commander whose regiment was established at the onset of the Revolutionary War.

Master Patrolman Greg Walters, of the Merrimack Police, ensured the easy entry and exit of more than 30 vehicles parked within the graveyard’s parking lots at Turkey Hill Road and Meetinghouse Road. The site was secured in 1754 when residents approved funds that enabled the establishment of a meetinghouse and burial ground.

More information on the Merrimack Historical Society can be found online at merrimackhistory.org.

Photo by LORETTA JACKSON Lifelong Merrimack resident Carroll White, attired in colonial garb, peruses the old-time spelling of the town as, “Merrymac,” a notation reflected on a large wooden sign declaring that the site alongside Turkey Hill Cemetery was established in April of 1746 and is the place documented as the location of the town’s first church and meetinghouse.

Photo by LORETTA JACKSON A boulder incised to hold a bronze plaque honoring town citizen Reuben Cummings is located near the entrance of Turkey Hill Cemetery. It notes that he is Merrimack’s only casualty of the American Revolutionary War and a soldier who at age 14 enlisted as a Minute Man, fought at the Battle of Bunker Hill in 1775 and was promoted to Drummer in 1776 before his death at 15-years old. He is buried in the area of Fort Ticonderoga in New York.

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