Monday, June 2, 2014

Van Gilder Burial Ground

Many times the only trace that a person once existed is the tombstone in the cemetery and the cemetery the only place people can go to try to connect with them physically.  When North America was less densely populated, families often had their own small burial grounds near where they lived.  In the diagram below taken from Early Burial Grounds in Egremont, Massachusetts, the numeral 7 in the lower left corner represents where the burial ground of the Native American and German Van Gilder family once lay.  According to Henry C. Warner in the April 1901 issue of the Berkshire Hills magazine, it was located 40 rods east of the “present Bradford residence,” near the present Jug End Reserve. 

There is no record of who was placed to rest in the Van Gilder burial ground.  Van Gilders were certainly buried there and most likely those with other surnames who married family members, Karners and Winchells for sure. 

The burial ground no longer exists.  It is noted as being in existence after 1817, with gravestones and mounds.  Mary L Fratalone and Diane Fratalone report in Early Burial Grounds in Egremont, Massachusetts that in 1954 at least a portion of the burial ground was dug up and used for road fill, even though a skeleton and many scattered bones were found.  One wonders how it was possible that a person, company or government thought it was acceptable to dig up a family burial ground and use its contents for road fill where it could be ground up into particles. 

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