West Cemetery – An Index of Orford’s Largest Cemetery
The map and index (see documents below) were created as a means to identify all those that are buried within West Cemetery. It catalogs each row of the cemetery, starting at the farthest left side on the hill. Each number represents a plot, or in some cases, a number of plots. In some cases, there are graves with unknown connections, but due to their proximity to each other, they have a shared plot. Some graves are illegible, either due to the fineness of the print or damage to the headstone. Familial relations are written within plots, however not all are known, as not each grave indicates its inhabitant’s relation. Therefore, some are speculation, which was determined based on birth and death dates. The index is both a helpful tool for relatives looking for family lineage, or to someone who’s interested in the history of small New England towns.
Four centuries worth of Orford citizens are buried in West Cemetery, with the earliest grave dating back to 1777, and the most recent to this year. Within this cemetery, as well as within Orford’s other two cemeteries, located on Dame Hill and in East Orford, a rich history of our town has been displayed. This cemetery houses Orford’s first settlers, the Mann’s, as well as the famous Samuel Morey and members of his family. If you pay attention to last names, you’ll see Orford’s geography laid out too. There’s the Archers (Archertown), the Tillotsons, (Tillotson Falls), and the Sawyers, (Sawyer Brook). There are entire families buried together, or named together on plots. Graves vary from tall granite pillars to simple stone slabs. Intricate artwork can be found on them, sometimes indicating the time period, for example, the willow illustration, popular throughout the 1800s and up through the early 1900s. Stone carvings illustrate flowers and symbols. On more then one stone a sheep is illustrated to mark a child’s grave. Flags mark the graves of veterans and victims of wars, Orford having had someone serve in every American war fought dating up to Vietnam. This includes the Revolutionary War, possibly the War of 1812, the Civil War, World War 1, World War 2, Korea, and Vietnam. There are a host of unique and old fashioned names, interesting carvings, epitaphs, messages and stories.
Use this as a way to look at Orford’s history, or perhaps you and your family’s history. Accompanied with the index are the records that I used to build the index. These records are the alphabetized names and info of everyone in the cemetery, including their name, birth and/or death dates, and the age at which they died. There is also a map, made by Emily Bryant, that indicates each row, as well as labels it with its letter row that corresponds within the index. There is so much can be seen by just looking at the graves and who they represent. There is a lot that a piece of stone tells you that you wouldn’t
think of. Use this as a way to look at Orford’s history and/or you and your family’s history.
Cora Day, 09-25-2020