Northfield Cemetery

Hank Alridge

Figure 1

Rather than the individual graves, the Northfield Cemetery has a particularly interesting distinction amongst its many family shared stones. The cemetery has an abundance of larger, marble family gravestones around the time the Waterford Mill began installment, in 1873. Some brief comparisons can be seen below. The more recent family gravestones, such as that of the Drentlaw, Baldwin, Heil, etc. families are much smaller (see Figures 2-4).

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Figure 2

Bigger family gravestones like the Thorpe, Bushnell and Hodge families were all put in in the late 1800’s during the mill’s construction, and the stones of families like the Hunters show that once the mill was made, the town was certainly profiting. Now, I do not mean to imply that every family automatically wants the most extravagant style that their money will allow. Everyone has their own taste, and obviously there are plenty of inconspicuous graves not as a result of finances but just because it is how the person wants to be remembered. However, with that said, I do mean to say that the pattern among these family graves in correspondence with the lifetime of the mill is strong enough to warrant a reasonable connection. And it does not stop with the mere sizes of the graves, but also the designs.

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Figure 5

Taking a look again at some of the ‘mill-age’ graves, if you will, they have more layers and a stylistic structure to them. It is also worth taking into account the fact that pure stone, for the most part, is used for the much smaller graves. The best a example of this is the Watson family grave which is very simple and small and was put up in the 1940’s, long after the mill was no longer in use. Again, the correspondence of the time period with the style of the stones seems to lean towards the mill’s bringing more money to the town. I say the town and not the families themselves because after looking further into these families, very few of them actually had any direct association with the Waterford Mill. This supports the idea that the Mill was a help to the town as a whole rather than just the people working on it.