Places Built > Cemeteries > Phillips-Heil


What follows is an exerpt from Volume I of the Jaffrey Town History. The "Old Phillips Graveyard" is now referred to as the Phillips-Heil Cemetery.

As runs the glass
Man's life doth pass.
—New England Primer

In the southwest part of Jaffrey, rising toward Gap Mountain and watched over by Monadnock, are breezy uplands once cleared and occupied by prosperous farms. The pioneers of this region were active in the affairs of the town but were so far removed from the meeting-house and center of community life, that in matters of trade they were largely tributary to Fitzwilliam, while in social affairs they came from their isolation to have a close-knit neighborhood relation that was peculiarly their own.

They had come into the unbroken wilderness as to a promised land, which they expected to transmit to their children for an inheritance forever. Before 1800 the region was fully settled with incredible toil. They had cleared away the forest, and the marvelous yield, of the virgin soil promised comfort and happiness for the future. Wheat yielded thirtyfold, and tall men were lost to view standing in their fields of uncut hay. From their doorways they could count their increasing herds upon their rock-strewn pastures. The schoolhouse in their midst overflowed with the children of the second generation. The pioneers were growing old, and in the course of nature must soon relinquish their control and entrust the future of the district to their descendants. As the strong men weakened and the less strong yielded to the rigors of pioneer life, like Abraham, when he was old in a strange land, there came a desire for a suitable place under their immediate care where they could lay their dead. Following the Revolution there had been an era of land speculation in New England. The new townships afforded a promising source of gain to the capitalist class in the older communities, and so it happened that a thousand acres, more or less, in the township of Jaffrey came into the possession of the wealthy and distinguished Phillips family of Massachusetts. Two hundred acres of this land, including the farm at present owned by George R. Brown, was made a part of the original endowment of the famous Phillips Academy in Andover, but the largest portion of the Phillips holdings were in the west and southwest parts of the township. Lt.-Governor Samuel Phillips of Andover, greatly honored as a public benefactor and pillar of State, became the owner or administrator of this portion of the Phillips estate. It appears from his real estate conveyances that he came often to Jaffrey. Esquire Roger Gilmore acted for him as Justice of the Peace; and the neighbors were called in as witnesses. He sold land to Captain Joseph Perkins and his sons, to Abraham Ross and others, and so became intimately acquainted in that outlying district. True to his character, and knowing the needs of his friends in this remote community, in 1797, for a nominal consideration and the condition that it should be fenced with a good stone wall, he conveyed to the town a tract of ninety-five square rods for a burial yard, which was an immediate need. The town complied faithfully with all the conditions of the gift, and out of the rough field stones of the vicinity it built the typical New England wall, that has stood straight and secure for more than a century. The tall gate posts also were of stone, hewed by Josiah Ingalls, a worthy man of that neighborhood whose work is his only monument. The entrance gate is on a long abandoned, grass-grown road, early described as leading "from Mr. Abraham Ross' to Mr. Phineas Spaulding's," names and highway ending now within the enclosure of the dead.

A full century and a quarter has passed since they set apart their acre of consecrated ground, but it is not full. The yield of the fertile farms to mortality has been small. If we count the memorial stones still standing here, less than the number of the first generation may be found after one hundred years in their appointed resting place. Of the remainder, some are buried in the older yard by the meetinghouse, some found new homes and were buried where they lived honored lives and died regretted, and some were wanderers of whom it may be said that "no man knoweth their sepulchre to this day."

Among those buried here are the men who cut away the forest primeval and let the light of the sun upon the forest floor that had been darkened since primordial time. Here lie Captain Joseph Perkins and his wife, Ruth, first of the name in Jaffrey from whom came the strong generations which have improved the town by their labor and their counsel. Here lies Phinehas Spaulding, whose monument looks down upon the homestead that he cleared. His life story, were all other records destroyed, might stand as a faithful picture of our heroic age. With his ax and his gun he came alone into the unbroken wilderness at the foot of Monadnock, (see Vol. II).

Here are the mortal remains of the Comstocks, the Jewetts, the Adamses, and the Bakers, all honorable names in the annals of the church and town. Here lies Moses Worcester, selectman and trusted town officer, and many of his tribe. Here are Putnams, Rosses, Stanleys, Marshalls, and Stones, names once prominent, but no longer heard when the roll of voters is called in town meeting.

A striking memorial is that in the north end of the yard, looking across to Gap Mountain. It is a great stone chair, fit to be the throne of a monarch of the hills. It is a memorial of the Ross family, three generations of whom lived hereabout. It is said that according to the belief of a descendant, spirits often return to the scenes of their earthly existence, and so, with filial respect, he placed for them this chair, facing the sunset, where in seemly fashion they may sit at ease when they return to muse upon the scene of their earthly existence.

For most of those who are resting here the final journey was brief. Their temporal homes were near-by, and often they had looked with composure across the unobstructed fields to this pleasant hillside, where they counted on a peaceful sleep and a glorious awakening. Upon their grave stones, are the old sentiments of sorrow and loss, sustained and soothed by an unfaltering trust in a better hereafter. Their epitaphs and inscriptions are our introduction to those who have gone the way of earth before us. They are the means by which they sought to communicate to us, as in duty bound, the lessons they had learned from the brevity of life and certainty of death.

In these latter years the quietude of this secluded spot is seldom broken by the funeral train, for even death has forgotten this appointed spot. The inscriptions here cover a century and a quarter; but mortality has not kept pace with time, for less than the same number of names are recorded here. It seems that already this field, has served its purpose, and there are no more, or only a scattered remnant, to be gathered to their fathers.

Interrupted nature reaches out to reclaim her own. The young pines and bushes creep up over the hills where their great ancestors once held sway. They stretch to their greatest stature and peep over the walls of the fields and pastures. They pause by the vacant homesites to reconnoitre, but no enemy is there. When the wind blows, their leaders stand up straight and tall and wave defiance and scorn to their retreating human foe. Once a year the mower comes with his symbol of Time and mows down the venturesome bushes and brakes that have trespassed between the walls; but, true emblems of life everlasting, they spring up perennially to defy him. The wild cherry, the sumac, the golden rod, the hardhack, the thistle, and the rose of remembrance flourish here more abundantly for the transitory dust that has returned to its dust. The lilac-run-wild has enveloped the grave of the patriarchal Captain Perkins like a purple cloud, each shoot astriving to answer the ever-propounded question: "If a man die shall he live again?" "Life mocks the idle hate of his arch-enemy death; yea, seats himself upon his throne, the sepulchre, and of the triumphs of his ghastly foe makes his own nourishment."

The graven epitaphs are pleas for remembrance, but tears no longer water these lonely graves and the rude memorials scarce in~ voke "the passing tribute of a sigh." Nature is wrapped up in the living and cares nothing for the . Life goes on and on and it is only the inscriptions on the senseless rock and the carved effigy of the weeping willow and the urn that remain to remind us of "old, unhappy, far-off things" and sorrows of other days. But the influence of these lives goes on all about us. Their humble records of domestic virtue are as worthy of remembrance as the achievements of the great. It is no wavering faith that is manifested here. Always there is steadfast insistence upon the immortality of the soul.

Read these inscriptions in the light of other days, and know that they meant literal truth and comfort in some simple home in days of great sorrow. It is natural for children to bury their parents, and we are admonished to " Weep not when the hoary head sinks to rest," but here on every side we have Rachel weeping for her children, and finding comfort in the vision of another existence where the budding life, cut short here below will have its full fruition.

Ere sin could blight or sorrow fade,
Death came with timely care; 
The opening bud to heaven conveyed 
And bade it blossom there.
What a lifetime of resignation and sorrow is betokened by this tablet:
In memory of 
DAUGHTER OF John & Sally
who died Jan. 9, 1832. 
AE. 9 years. Without a tear without a sigh, 
This happy youth alas did die; 
Four infant babes beside her rest 
While God is pleas'd to call them blessed.

Here on a little double stone is grandeur of trust and resignation, when two children of Moses Worcester are taken, expressed in the lines:
'Tis God that lifts our comforts high, 
Or sinks them in the grave; 
He gives and blessed be His name, 
He takes but what he gave.
"He is not dead but liveth," were words of consolation to the hereaved ones when the head of the household was taken. "She hath done what she could", is the simple record of devotion to duty. "There is rest for the weary," and "God giveth His beloved sleep" are comforting thoughts to those who have borne the heat and burden of the day. But there is also warning for the thoughtless in that awful challenge found in every old churchyard in New England:



Inventory A listing of graves in the Phillips-Heil Cemetery with information taken from the grave stones can be found on the Town of Jaffrey Website here. This is a the most complete data set associated with the Phillips-Heil cemetery.

Headstones Photographs of many of the headstones in the Phillips-Heil Cemetery can be found here.