In 1711, Jermiah Woodcock, Jonathon Hay, Thomas Metclaff, and Eleazor Kingsbury founded the Needham Cemetery. The Needham Cemetery includes a portion of land granted by the inhabitants of Dedham. In June, 1837, the Parish family let Royal McInish and Mrs. Rebeckah Newall, and their children build tombs in the graveyard. Yet after their permission was given, they reconsidered. In 1839, the sexton was permitted to charge fifty cents up to a dollar and a half to keep the gates and burial grounds in the graveyard stable.
On April 1843, Edgar K. Whittaker , Newell Smith, George Revere, and the Reverend Mr. Kimball met to think about how to improve the physical appearance of the graveyard. A meeting at the home of Reverend Mr. Maynard was held discussing the improvement of the graveyard. Four men (William Stedman, Warren Dewing, John Mills, and William Pierce ) met to talk about fixing the burial grounds of the graveyard.
Later, in 1870, the Parish Committee was given full control of the graveyard. After repeated suggestions that the cemetery be sold, James McIntosh and other citizens formed an association that was incorporated in 1884 as the Needham Cemetery Association. The association did not bother to purchase the graveyard from the First Parish.
In 1899, there was a new kind of incorporation with the result that on November 29th, the Parish turned over the cemetery to the association. Five trustees with a treasurer were now in control of the cemetery and many improvements were made. John F. Mills, superintendent since 1883,?? has from the beginning of the administration managed the cemetery according to business and modern ideas up to now. That is the history of the Needham Cemetery, which is off of Nehoiden Street in Needham Center.
Most stones were made of granite. Stones were made from the 1700's until today. The most popular symbol is the willow tree. The least popular symbol is the hourglass. There are 3 big monuments, 2 of these hold people.
The graveyard in Needham has many symbols on the stones such as the hourglass, scull/crossbones, and winged angel. Most symbols were made in 1815 because there was a terrible disease all around Needham that killed whole families in less then a week. Most symbols mean death for example the skull and cross bones means your skin decayed.
Kathleen Martell, Instructional Technology Specialist
Needham Public Schools, Needham MA