1:00 pm (Old Fields Cemetery)
Led by Dr. Neill De Paoli and Wendy Pirsig, the event initiates a year-long series of programs commemorating the 300th anniversary of the old town of Berwick (comprising present-day Berwick, South Berwick and North Berwick) in 1713.
Old Fields Burying Ground is located near the corner of Vine and Brattle Streets. The cemetery tour begins at 1:00 pm, rain or shine, and will last approximately an hour. It is open to the public and is free of charge. Comfortable shoes are recommended.
South Berwick’s oldest community cemetery, dating to the 1600s, is part of the “Old Fields” area that was once the center of town. A meetinghouse stood nearby, and many people earned their livelihood at sawmills on the Great Works River and shipyards on the Salmon Falls River.
Walking tour participants will visit the graves of early ministers including Rev. Jeremiah Wise, who was ordained in 1707. The cemetery is also the resting place of the early colonist Hetty Goodwin, who was captured by the Indians and carried to Canada in 1689. Veterans’ graves include that of a Civil War brevet major, and a soldier of the American Revolution who lost a beloved daughter. The tour will explore the changing styles of grave stones and of rituals of mourning.
“Of all the old spots in old Berwick, this cemetery is the place where the spirits of the earliest pioneers can perhaps be most strongly felt today,” said De Paoli, who has been leading an archaeology dig on a property nearby. “This shaded hillside, overlooking Leigh’s Mill Pond beyond the trees, is the burial place of many settlers, including very likely the Spencer, Goodwin and Chadbourne families.”
Following the tour, the historical society invites participants to visit its Counting House Museum at Main and Liberty Street. The museum is open on Saturday and Sunday from 1:00 to 4:00 pm through the end of October. Admission is free.
The historical society plans a series of monthly lectures, an exhibit, and other programs pertaining to the community’s history before the old town of Berwick divided into the three towns known today. This tricentennial commemoration is supported by memberships and by a grant from the Maine Humanities Council.
More information on the society's programs is available by calling (207) 384-0000.