On Sunday, August 19, 2012, the New Bedford Preservation Society will present the first of two cemetery tours focusing on the Civil War period. The first tour will take place at Rural Cemetery in New Bedford, where portrayers in historical costumes will depict New Bedford’s famous and not-so-famous at grave sites along the tour route.
New Bedford Preservation Society volunteers will provide guided walking tours from the Grape Street entrance of the cemetery every 10 minutes beginning at 1 p.m., with the last tour leaving at 2:30 p.m. The approximately one-hour walking tour highlights twenty graves within the cemetery. At 12 noon guests are invited to bring a picnic lunch and visit with the Civil War enactors, who will be picnicking at the old “pond site” section of the cemetery. For many years New Bedford families enjoyed the pond view, but in 1952 the city filled in the pond due to health considerations. The pond site is now defined by encircling avenues and is open and undeveloped. The Civil War Veterans’ Section occupies a rough triangle bordering the pond site on the west. The section has three entry curbs, a flagpole roughly at center, and a monument to the “Unknown Dead” placed there by the William Logan Rodman Women’s Relief Corps No. 53 in 1892. Near each point of the triangular plot is a cannon and, before it, a cement pad with sixteen indentations in it that probably at one time held cannonballs.
New Bedford’s Rural Cemetery was founded in 1837 and is the fifth oldest rural cemetery in the United States. Cemeteries have been called outdoor museums, windows to the culture of the past. They not only serve as a resting place for the departed, they tell us much about the times in which they lived. The Civil War era will be brought to life on this tour with the “voices” of a captain from the “stone fleet”, a nurse, a ship’s cook, war veterans, and Massachusetts Governor John Clifford, to name a few.
Tickets are $15 and may be purchased at the Grape Street Rural Cemetery gate on the day of tour. A $3 discount will be given to New Bedford Preservation Society members. Rain date is August 26.
A portion of the proceeds generated from the tour will be donated to maintain the integrity of the city’s historic cemeteries, with the remaining proceeds applied to the society’s ongoing projects, such as New Bedford Re-Leaf, the Historic Marker Program, reprinting of Architectural Walking Tour brochures, semi-annual historic house tours, summer guided walking tours, lectures and other efforts. A second cemetery tour focused on the Civil War period will take place at Oak Grove Cemetery on Sunday,October 21 (rain date October 28).
Call the New Bedford Preservation Society at 508-997-7425 or visit www.nbpreservationsociety.org for further information. The tour is non-handicap accessible.