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A visit to downtown's least visited colonial burying ground, which may or may not be haunted

Peter Muise of New England Folklore reports on a trip to the Central Burying Ground on the edge of the Common along Boylston Street.

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Unfortunately our eminent local composer (who sort of wrote the sound track for our revolution) was allowed to die in abject poverty -- and was buried in an unmarked pauper's grave. And no monument (or even plaque) commemorates his presence there. I wonder why Boston so quickly forgot about him?

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He too ended up in a pauper's grave, albeit in Vienna.

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Mozart was buried during an epidemic of sorts -- and the government was requiring very expedited burials. Mozart's family and friends apparently planned a reburial (with marker/monument), but the cemetery officials had not kept any record of where they had disposed of Mozart's remains.

(Mozart was actually fairly well compensated from a variety of sources at the time of his death, but he tended to spend money faster than he earned it. Legend tries to blame his wife -- but once Mozart died she showed herself to be a paragon of thriftiness.)

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Billings wrote in a style that is called "sacred harp" or "shape-note" music. This style fell out of fashion in New England by about 1820, although it survived down south, and recently local groups like Norumbega Harmony have sprung up to revive it.

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... liked Billings.

(Norumbega Harmony is a great group)

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"Fun" fact: One of the five people held in slavery by John Hancock, Cato Hancock, is also buried at Central Burying Ground. Another enslaved man, Frank, is buried in Granary close to the Hancock tomb.

https://vitabrevis.americanancestors.org/2019/02/curiouser/

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Great piece, thanks. I've walked by that cemetery innumerable times but never knew one could actually go in. I've never seen anyone inside. I have taken pictures of Gilbert Stuart's grave from outside the fence, however. Whenever anyone asks me who he is I say "it's extremely likely you are carrying an example of his work on your person at this moment".

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“Here lies interred the body of Chow Manderien, a native of China, aged 19 years, whose death was occasioned on the 11th of Sept 1798 by a fall from the masthead of the ship Mike of Boston. This stone erected to his memory by his affectionate master John Boit Jr.”

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That’s interesting. Sounds like John Boit was into opium running given his Chinese crewman.

John Boit also sailed on the vessel Columbia, which was built on the South Shote and for which the Columbia River in the Pacific Northwest is named. Boit kept a diary that described the river.

And apparently John Boit is the grandfather of the Edward Darley Boit, whose daughters are the subject of a prominent John Singer Sargent painting held by the MFA.

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I assumed it wasn't open to the public, since I didn't see an open gate. I'll have to look for the entrance the next time I'm there.

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I've lived in Boston all my life and had no idea you could just stroll on in there.

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… the maintenance yard near Boylston Station is usually open. I reported it to 311 once when it had been shut for a while and I saw a crowd of disappointed tourists outside. Someone came and unlocked it.

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