The Rumney Marsh Burial Ground Renovation Committee presented a Guided Tour of the cemetery on Oct. 13, which included a scavenger hunt and refreshments at the Revere Society for Cultural and Historic Preservation for visitors to learn about the rich history of Revere.
“It’s a great opportunity for us to come together,” said Bob Upton, Chairperson of the Renovation Committee. “This fabulous committee is devoted to this historic cemetery. We’re proud of those interred here.”
Historian Jeff Pearlman led the tour, explaining how the surrounding area was formerly referred to as Rumney Marsh until 1739, when it became Chelsea. From 1846-1871, the land was known as North Chelsea. In 1871, it became the Town of Revere, and has been declared a city since 1915.
Renovation Committee guides also explained the symbolism of engravings, and how the art on headstones changed throughout the centuries.
“I’ve had a 60 year love affair with the City of Revere,” Pearlman asserted. “Growing up, I wanted to know who the streets and schools were named after. The Rumney Marsh Burial Ground is a hidden jewel.”
In 1748, Joshua Cheever bequeathed the land to the Town of Chelsea as a burial place, where bodies were relocated from tombs of a local church to The Rumney Marsh Burial Ground. The first interment on the land was recorded on February 6, 1693, for Mary Smith, an early tenant-farmer in the village of Winnisimmet.
A memorial stone features the names of veterans dating back from the Colonial to the Civil War, such as Captain Samuel Sprague, a Chelsea native who gathered a group of citizens during the Revolutionary War to fight against the British.
“Slavery in America is almost as old as our nation,” said Pearlman, who noted over a dozen unmarked graves of slaves buried in the cemetery. “The first slaves were transported to America in 1619, one year before the Pilgrims set foot in New England. Several dozen slaves arrived in Virginia to work on the tobacco plantations.”
Mayor Brian Arrigo, who explored The Rumney Marsh Burial Ground with his 2-year-old son, Joseph, praised the Renovation Committee for their devotion to preserving the history of Revere for future generations.
“All the work that has been done creates a great environment for the community,” Mayor Arrigo said. “When we look back at the incredible history of our community, it gives us a context of the region that we live in. I am forever grateful for the people who continue that legacy.”