On June 21, 2014, (10 a.m. to 1 p.m.) tour the Oak Grove Cemetery on Parker Street in New Bedford with the New Bedford Preservation Society and visit Charles W. Morgan and his contemporaries. Historic portrayals in period costumes will take place at gravesites of the Morgans and other first families of New Bedford. Proceeds will benefit the restoration of the Captain Daniel Drayton grave at Rural Cemetery. Rain date is June 22. Admission is $18; $15 for N. B. Preservation Society members. Visit www.nbpreservationsociety.org or call the society office (508) 997-6425 for more information.
The Society presents this special “Charles W. Morgan and His Contemporaries Tour” to commemorate the Homecoming of the last-surviving whaleship, the Charles W. Morgan, to New Bedford this month. Listed this year in the National Register of Historic Places, the Oak Grove Cemetery consists of two parcels, separated by Parker Street. The older portion of the cemetery, that south of Parker Street, was established in 1843, while the northern section (where tour parking and tour ticket booth will be located) was acquired and developed between 1870 and 1896. Most of the cemetery is laid out in the then-fashionable rural cemetery style of winding lanes, although the northernmost section has a more open layout, made partly due to complaints about the cluttered nature of the rural cemetery style.
The older, southern portion of the cemetery will be featured on this tour. When you stroll through, you will note the narrow pathways, some meant for carriages while others just for foot traffic. Many of the lots were purchased for entire families, and you will see that they are set off by granite curbing. A number of these curbings would originally have had a surrounding wrought fence with an entrance gate. This was meant to keep the spirits in their place at rest so they would not wander and disturb the living. You will also notice that several graves as well as their monuments were moved here as the death dates predate the establishment of the cemetery. Many of these early stones are very plain, or perhaps it was the Quaker background of the owners that influenced their final resting place. You will notice there are many inscriptions on the stones; some are passages from the Bible. Visit the society’s website to learn more about gravestone symbolism.