Often when I take my not-daily bicycle ride, I end up passing by Rural Cemetery, one of ten cemeteries in Belchertown. Those who know me may also know that I have a particular fondness for cemeteries. I find them peaceful, soothing -- and I enjoy spending time in them. They help me calm my mind and give me a reminder of who and what came before.
The Rural Cemetery was established in 1769, making a pretty old cemetery by my counts. I know there are older ones around (it's definitely not the oldest even in Belchertown), but still -- 240 years is a good long time ago. It's not a crowded piece of land, and most of its residents died in the late 1800s - early 1900s. Some of the gravestones have fallen over, some rest against other stones, and some have nearly disappeared into the earth. The ground is soft and cushioned with moss and pine needles, and trees border the back and sides.
I spent a little time walking around the Rural Cemetery, visiting the graves and looking at the stones and such. I found a gravestone for George Thaping, died April 16 1769 at 67 years old. (Image has been sharpened and contrasted. I apologize for the sliver of green ribbon obstructing the rest of the gravestone.) I'm assuming that if he wasn't the first to be buried there, he's definitely one of the earliest.
I also found these lovely little stones for Emma and Mary (I neglected to search out their last name and it's too difficult to read from my picture -- they were in a family group, sisters). I love the simple decoration of flowers and leaves at the top.It's a quiet, small cemetery. A nice place to sit and ponder the wonders of life.