Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Pleasant Street Cemetery

The Pleasant Street Cemetery is on the west side of Pleasant Street, across from the intersection of Washington and Pleasant Streets.

During Portsmouth's early days, Captain John Pickering owned all of the land that now comprises the South End, from Puddle Dock (south side of Prescott Park)  to the South Mill Bridge. Locals referred to his land as Pickering’s Neck.

The Pickering family donated land to Portsmouth for the creation of the Point of Graves Burial Ground, where the senior John Pickering was buried, in 1671; for Pleasant Street in 1673; and for the Old South Church, later replaced by the South Meeting House, in 1731.

In 1754, they gave this plot of land, on the west side of Pleasant Street, to the town of Portsmouth to be used as a burial ground. The Pleasant Street Cemetery contains the remains of some of the wealthiest merchant and seafaring families who thrived between 1770 and 1860. The oldest existing stone in the cemetery dates from 1763.

A prominent landmark is the tomb of the John Wendell family on the west side of the burial ground that dates from 1818. An interesting fact about the cemetery is that the wives of three privateer captains are buried here, but their husbands were presumably buried at sea or somewhere overseas.

The majority of stones comprise four families: Manning, Coues, Salter, and Wendell.

The most significant change between 1902, when the black-and-white photograph above was taken, and today is that a large cedar tree now prevents photography from the Pleasant Street sidewalk. For this reason, my picture is taken at a lower angle and from a vantage point at least five feet closer to the stones in the foreground. There is a noticeable seam through the middle of my photograph because the closer view forced me to build a composite picture from two photographs.

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