Bridge Road Cemetery Handout

This is the site of the third Eastham Congregational Church which was built about 1720 and served until 1830. The church probably was located near the center of the cemetery. The first Eastham meetinghouse built about 1650 was located at or near Cove Burying Ground. The second meetinghouse built about 1718 was located in the South Precinct of Eastham (now Orleans).

In 1976 the Eastham Historical Society published complete surveys of Eastham Bridge Road cemetery and Eastham Cove Burying Ground done by Mr. Ken Collins. The surveys including maps of both cemeteries are in one book available for sale at Eastham Town Hall, Eastham Historical Society Museums and the Cape Cod National Seashore Eastham Visitor Center.

If you have comments or questions about these cemeteries, please contact Eastham Cemetery Commission, Eastham Town Hall, 2500 State Highway, Eastham, MA. 02642.

The web site includes photos and complete inscriptions for all gravestones in Bridge Road Cemetery and Cove Burying Ground. Information about some of the gravestone carvers is included. The web site also has Eastham Vital Records of deaths up to 1750.

Bridge Road Cemetery and Cove Burying Ground are in the National Register of Historic Places.

Please also visit historic Eastham Cove Burying Ground which preceded Bridge Road Cemetery. It has original gravestones starting in 1706 plus monuments to three Mayflower passengers and monuments to other early Eastham setttlers.

Some Bridge Road Gravestone Highlights:

Bridge Road Cemetery gravestones date from Mary Freeman (1754) near the center of the cemetery in front of the large open space to Rebecca Cobb (1886) in the second row at the far right. Also there is one gravestone from the 1900's at the back of the cemetery. Bridge Road displays the transition in gravestone imagery from winged skulls and winged heads in the 1700’s to urn and willow in the 1800’s. Most of the gravestones are slate. A few marble and sandstone gravestones appeared in the 1800’s.

Rev. Benjamin Webb served as minister at the Bridge Road meetinghouse from 1720 to his death in 1746. He is buried in Cove Burying Ground where a broken slate stone marks his grave. Rev. Edward Cheever followed Rev. Webb. Rev. Cheever served from 1751 to his death in 1794. He is buried here at Bridge Road Cemetery about six rows back and nine stones in from the left.

Rev. Philander Shaw followed Rev. Cheever. He served from 1795 to 1838 and died in 1841 at age 72. He is buried in Eastham Congregational & Soldiers Cemetery.

Dorcas Shaw (1797) in the front row was the first wife of Rev. Shaw. She died in her 19th year. Her stone is the most ornate and best preserved slate gravestone in the cemetery. Note the excellent winged head and the long inscription and epitaph.The stone probably was carved by Bildad Washburn of Kingston, MA.

Four children of Rev. Shaw with his second wife Lucy are buried near Dorcas Shaw. The children are Philander (1800), Dorcas Doane (1804), James C. (1816) and Oakes (1816). James and Oakes died in the epidemic of 1816. The location of Lucy's grave is unknown.

The small gravestone of Warren Sparrow (1812) near the left end of the second row was carved by Nathaniel Holmes (1783-1869) of Barnstable. The carved image is a distinctive winged head found on most Holmes slate gravestones. Holmes was the first recognized resident gravestone carver on Cape Cod.

Jonathan Doane (1780), a few rows behind Dorcas Shaw, displays a skull without wings and with large crossed bones. The carved image looks like a pirate flag. The gravestone is carved in the style of the Geyer carvers of Boston.

Nathaniel Atwood (1769), a few rows behind and to the right of Jonathan Doane, is a good example of a winged head portrait gravestone. It is carved in the style of William Codner of Boston.

Deacon Samuel Doane (1795) whose epitaph is on the sign in front of the cemetery can be found about ten rows back and four stones in from the left. His stone displays a winged skull. The stone has vertical and diagonal cracks.

At the far right of the cemetery Elisha Cobb (1883) is surrounded by his three wives Thankful (1828), Sophia (1833) and Rebecca (1886). His sons William Warren (1828) and Elisha Warren (1833) are included on the stones with their mothers.

The large Alexander gravestone (1993, 1971) near the back of the cemetery appeared long after the cemetery supposedly was closed to new burials. Mystery surrounds this stone.

Epidemic of 1816 - There are twenty one gravestones carrying 25 names of persons who died in 1816 mostly in February and March. An epidemic on the Lower Cape called the “cold plague” or “spotted fever” took fifty two lives in Eastham in 1816. Ashes and gases from the eruption of Mount Tambora in Indonesia in 1815 caused global cooling in 1816 which was known as the year without a summer.

Most likely there are more than one hundred unmarked graves in this cemetery.

Eastham Cemetery Commission