What is it about Halloween that make cemeteries that much spookier? Maybe it’s the bare tree branches that line them or the fact that night falls so early in late October. It’s the time of year when you call cemeteries graveyards and you wonder – is that place haunted?
South Boston has two – count ’em – two historic graveyards.
The Hawes Burying Ground and Union Cemetery
The Hawes Burying Ground and Union Cemetery is located in the patch of land that divides East Fifth Street from Emerson between L and M Street. This historical landmark combines two adjacent graveyards: Hawes Burying Ground and Union Cemetery. In 1816, John Hawes, a large land owner in the area, donated a small lot of land to be used as a public burial ground. It was not officially approved for use as a cemetery until 1821, although people were buried there prior to that. the oldest gravestone marks the grave of Jonathan Spooner, 1817. The last stone dated was for Elizabeth Smith 1858. It is the oldest graveyard in South Boston. John Hawes himself is entombed there.
Only a small row of graves separate Union Cemetery from Hawes Burying Ground. The Union Cemetery is the last cemetery to be laid out in South Boston and is the smallest in the district. The gravestones date from 1845 to 1886. The cemetery’s stones date from 1845-1886. Cyrus Alger – Industrial giant in the Iron business is buried there.
St. Augustine Chapel and Cemetery
This Gothic Revival chapel located on Dorchester Street is the oldest Catholic building still standing in Boston. It was built in 1819 as a mortuary chapel for the remains of Father Francis Matignon, one of the original founders of the Church and for many years the only Catholic priest in the city. In 1831, the chapel was enlarged to make room for the ever increasing Catholic population in South Boston. The adjoining cemetery was the first Catholic burying ground in New England. You can read our Southie History Lesson about it here!
So with these two old graveyards in Southie, and with Halloween just days away, do you think there are any ghosts? So if you are walking past them at night, keep a close eye out for any paranormal activity – do a little ghost hunting in Southie.