The Bennet family (also written as Bennett) is an example. They lived in Middleboro from its earliest colonial days. Deacon John Bennet came originally from England, landed in Virginia, moved to Salem and then to Middleboro. His stone tells us he died on March 21, 1718, at 76 years. His wife, Deborah, died the next day. Deacon John was a selectman and served as town clerk for 13 years, according to the Weston history of Middleboro.
Markers show that Ebenezer Bennet and his wife Esther buried three "stillborn" children, a son in 1741, and two daughters, one in 1744 and the second in 1746. In 1743, another daughter, Lydia, lived for less than a month. Another stone tells us that at least one daughter, Patience, lived to adulthood, dying in 1781 at age 44. Ebenezer himself is listed on his stone as "Died in the Bay of Hondorieas August 26th, 1751". Esther lived to be 70 and died in 1776.
Another stone lists "Mrs. Mary Bennett widow of Mr. Nehemiah Bennett who died January 26th 1790 Aged 27 years 1 month & 20 days. Her infant lies buried by her side." Life and death were always closely associated in colonial Middleboro.
Not all Bennets died early. Mercy Bennett was Deacon John's daughter-in-law and lived to be 99 years, 10 months, and 20 days old. She was born in 1699 and died in 1799. The Middleboro history lists her as a woman of "unusual intelligence" and tells that she walked all the way to Plymouth with two other girls during a great snowstorm "to attend public service."
Other Bennets served in the American Revolution and the Civil War. Their stones are marked with SAR (Sons of the American Revolution) or GAR (Grand Army of the Republic for the Civil War) markers.
One family plot shows us triumphs and tragedies, heroes and housewives, early settlers and dedicated public servants. All this and more can be seen at our local burial ground. Hundreds of stones tell of these everyday heroes and heroines who lived through difficult and historic times. A walk through the rows of stones lets a person piece together the stories and follow the lives and deaths of these early citizens of our town.
Sadly, these pictures of past lives and local history are rapidly falling apart. Many of the stones are badly damaged and weathering of the stones is destroying these wonderful works of art, making it difficult or impossible to read the inscriptions.
Bennet Family Stone, Cemetery at the Green, Middleborough, MA, photograph 2011 by Jeff Stevens.