Many cemeteries offer a peaceful respite from the hectic pace of everyday life in park-like settings to folks not ready for that final destination (including Grenville and myself). Some final resting places include spectacular monuments to lives well lived or not — who's to judge?
We have often sought out cemeteries notable for their natural beauty or the scope of their monuments. That was the case when we spent a recent weekend in RI visiting family. We stayed at a B&B and during breakfast talk with other guests, we were told about River Bend Cemetery in Westerly RI, near where we were staying.
Of course, we had to make a side trip there on the way back to Nashua, NH. It was well worth the detour.
Incorporated in 1849, as Elm Grove Cemetery, the cemetery name was changed to River Bend due to its unique location on the eastern bank of the Pawcatuck River. It has
served as a final resting place for over 165 years with waterfront views on Route 1A, between downtown and the Westerly beaches.
Asher Babcock has a prime burial plot high on a mount overlooking the Pawcatuck River. I learned through online searches that he was a mechanic and inventor. He is credited with creating the pin wheel motion in plaid looms as well as a shoe peg machine and other mechanical applications that were widely adapted by the manufacturers of his time in the 1800s. He and several family members are buried in this high view.
More outstanding than this location are the memorials, many are granite works of art as granite is not uncommon in New England. The most spectacular memorials we've seen to date can be found in Hope Cemetery in Barre, VT, the city that calls itself the "Granite Capital of the World." Should you ever want to see granite craftsmanship immortalized, do make a trip there, if you happen to be in New England.
A cemetery walk through can reveal a unique tale of the people and events interred there. War veterans from the Civil War, two World Wars, and up to the present. The monuments tell stories of untimely death, some due to wars, accidents, hurricanes and other calamities.
This cemetery abounds with magnificent granite carvings created by artists and their descendants, brought to the area to work in the granite industry. Some monuments are large and intricate; others are small and delicate.
Walking through a cemetery may not be everyone's idea of a "good time" but, for us, reading headstone inscriptions can often provide a glimpse of others lives. We have been humbled by many epitaphs. One thing that is never easy to see are headstones of so many children who died at such young ages in the 1700-1800s.