A South Royalton resident discovered this gravestone on her property. (Herald/Jo Levasseur)

Long Lost Cemetery Turns Up in South Royalton


Submitted 2 years ago
Created by
Jo Levasseur

For many years, the Royalton Cemetery Commissioner’s report listed that a private cemetery on the Freeman Lot, off Johnson Hill Road, could no longer be located, asking, “Can anyone find this site today?”

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The Freeman Lot has been found on the property of Jo Levasseur and Jim Martino, which was once part of the Freeman farm.

The lot is mentioned in both the Lovejoy and Nash histories of Royalton, and in a cemetery inventory of 1915 a Mrs. Dutton recorded that two stones were in evidence, both lying on the ground.

Both are markers for children of Sarah and Horatio Nelson Freeman, who died less than one month apart in 1833. Dutton recorded that Sarah Freeman died at 14 years of age, but the stone actually reads “4 years, 5 mos. & 21 days.”

Sarah’s brother William was one year old, according to Dutton’s inventory, but his stone has yet to be found.

Martino and Levasseur bought the property in 2001, a four-acre subdivision of what had been the Freeman farm in the 1800s. The property across the road, belonging to Sue and Gary Cass, contains the location of the original Freeman homestead.

Horatio Nelson Freeman (1799- 1878), was the grandson of Thomas Freeman, who was the first settler to spend the winter in Barnard, in 1775.

Horatio’s father, Stephen, bought the Royalton allotment known as E25 LA in 1790. The records indicate that Horatio N. Freeman owned a great deal of property at various times, perhaps buying and selling land as an enterprise.

H.N. Freeman married Sarah Walcott in 1821. They had five children, with the record showing that both young Sarah and William were twins of others.

Of the three remaining children, Stephen (Sarah’s twin) and Charles both moved to Massachusetts following the industrial boom. Hannah (William’s twin), married Charles Lyman. There is oral lore that there were other children buried in the Freeman lot, by the name of Morse, and speculation that other Freemans may also lie there.

Reggie Hull of Royalton remembers seeing stones in a row near the wall in the 1950s, but doesn’t remember seeing inscriptions on them.

The inscription on the gravestone of four-year-old Sarah Freeman, who died in 1833, reads, “The rose upon her cheek was red, and on it’s faithful tint relying, though languor came and languor fled, we could not think that she was dying.” (Herald/Jo Levasseur)

Out of the Family

The Freeman farm passed out of the family sometime in the later 1800s, and eventually was divided many times. Apparently, the grave site became uninteresting or an inconvenience, because evidence has it that the walls were pushed to the sides to make room for machinery to log or hay, and the gravestones were probably pushed away also.

In the autumn of 2012, Gary and Sue Cass were doing research on graveyards. With permission to probe for stones, they were shown the corner where the lot was most likely located.

They found Sarah’s partial gravestone lying adjacent to two gravestone bases, side by side, presumably for Sarah and William’s graves.

Since that first discovery, other shards of granite have been found which don’t match Sarah’s stone. Much of the original gravestone pieces could have been shoved into the piles of rubble along the stone wall.

A great deal of historical research and excavating of the rubble is needed to determine if there are more persons buried there, and who they may be.

*****

This first appeared in the Herald of Randolph Jan. 8, 2015

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