I have completed my genealogical look into the families of the Children buried at the Point of Graves. It has been a fascinating experience and I’ve enjoyed getting to ‘know’ the Ancestral residents of Portsmouth, New Hampshire and the surrounding seacoast areas. In a way, I feel like we could have been neighbors at some time in the past.
There are 36 known children buried in the cemetery, with another probable five more based on documented information and family circumstances. The sad reality, though, is that there are many, many more that will forever be unknown and forgotten.
The Point of Graves was established as an official cemetry in 1671, although most likely there were burials on the land well before that time. Burials stopped in the 1800’s due to over crowding. Many records of burials have been destroyed over time or were never recorded at all.
It has been estimated that 33 % of children died before the age of nine in the early years of our country. The number was higher in populated areas. Diseases such as Smallpox, Measles, Whooping Cough, Diptheria, several Fevers (Yellow, Scarlet, Typhoid) to name some, wiped out entire families. Because of certain religious beliefs, children who had not been Christened or Baptized before they died, did not have an official name and were buried simply as “child of…”.
The Point of Graves cemetery has a open, grassy section, barren of gravestones. This is known as the Paupers’ field — the place for criminals and those who were too poor to pay for a burial. Portsmouth, New Hampshire can boast the building of the first Poor House in the United States. Many children passed through those doors and the conditions were not the best. Many died there and consequently were buried in the Paupers’ Field… unnamed.
To the memory of All the Children…