Graveyard Record Keeping

Early efforts to keep records of those buried in the PCM graveyard are set forth on Page 3, Vol. II of The Combined Registers of the Church, published in 1885 and amended in 1891.

The Registers of Deaths  The earliest record of burials in the graveyard of the Church is contained in the "Bill of Mortality" begun in July, 1768 by Dr. Johnes and continued to 1812,  by William Cherry; an edition of this was published in 1806, and a supplement later. No Pastor after Dr. Johnes has left a Register of Funerals, except Mr. Green; but several Sextons have kept books recording burials in the graveyard, and all of these books are preserved,  except one of Moses Cherry's. In addition to these, Mr. Green, with the assistance of Mr. Frank Whitehead, made a careful transcription of the records on the head-stones in the graveyard, which enabled him to correct many errors in the Bill of Mortality, and to record a number of burials that occurred previous to 1768. He also made a large and valuable collection of records of deaths from old newspapers and diaries. The present compilation does not contain all the material thus at hand, but aims to record the death, when on record, only (1st.,) of those who were buried in the graveyard of the Church, and (2d,) of those whose names are found upon other Registers of the Church.

An 1885 account of the graveyard written by Lu Light states "the oldest date I could discover upon a tombstone was 1722, but a friend informed me that he found a stone dated 1713." The earliest date visible on a marker today is that of Martha Parson with a date of death of 1731. Early interments were somewhat haphazard. In some cases, they were in whatever place the friends pointed out. Relatives often were buried far remote from each other. One grave was encroached upon to make room for another, which in turn was disturbed to make room for a third. The bodies of strangers often were placed between members of the same family. Those wishing to visit the graves of friends often did not know where to look. No provision was made to protect markers from being effaced or destroyed. Accordingly, the Trustees adopted a plan to correct these practices in 1833.