Traveling Back in Time with the Hudson Historical Society
October 27, 2017
by Doug Robinson
The Hudson Historical Society provided an informative and fascinating history of both Hudson while touring the Farm Cemetery located behind the Hills Chapel on Derry Road last Saturday.
Presented by Hudson Cemetery Trustee Dave Alukonis, nearly two dozen participants learned about Hudson’s earliest settlers, the history of the cemetery, as well as who was buried where and why, as well as provided discussions on grave stone artwork.
“The oldest grave dates back to about 1730,” commented Alukonis. Standing next to a large tree located at the corner of the cemetery, Alukonis offered an explanation of the geographic layout of the cemetery as well as the reason behind the order on positioning of the headstones.
Continuing, Alukonis stated many of the stones go back as “early as the mid-1750s.” Many of the earliest settlers to Hudson came to this community from northern Massachusetts, including the towns of New Ipswich, Lowell, Chelmsford, and Dunstable (now Tyngsborough).
The earliest settlers “lived on the river” continued Alukonis. Today, Hudson’s population continues to be the heaviest near the river waters as well.
In the early days, the Hills Cemetery was known as the “Farm Cemetery.” Many names on the grave stones are still one and the same with those seen today on signs around Hudson: Hills, Chase, Marsh, Sprake (Sprague), Marshall, and Greeley. As one traverses the roads of Hudson, these names have been celebrated as popular diving roadways leading to communities of homes.
“When families could not afford a headstone, they would rest a fieldstone on the grave. Some have been etched with the date of the death, while the name has not been inscribed,” explained Alukonis. In addition to fieldstone headstones, families have also provided granite and marble headstones as well.
“In late 18th century, a moderate headstone would have cost from $10 to $15,” said Alukonis. “The bigger the stone was with more writing on it, the more expensive it was.
“The first headstones were not carved by stone cutters, but by leather craftsman. They had the tools and were able to create the inscriptions. Many had molds to create the decorative elements from which families could choose for their loved one’s headstone.”