In the Hingham Centre Cemetery sits a brick monument, atop which lies a now undecipherable slab. Sharing this lot are the gravestones of Israel Leavitt (d. 1696, though stone says 1690 or '99), and his father John Leavitt (d. 1691). This is the tomb of Jacob Leavitt, the great-great-grandson of Deacon John, and the man who is said to have been responsible for having the remains of his ancestor(s) reinterred here.
As is evident today, the stone monument is easily covered by lichens, which makes any inscriptions impossible to read. However, we do have a record of what was written, or at least a partial transcription. In 1996, NALF officers hired a Weymouth, MA man to repair the brick work and to clean the slab of growth [NALF Cemetery Report, 1996; reprinted in Desc. of Israel Leavitt 1997 Update, pg 93]. When completed, only the following could be read:
JOHN LEAVITT DIED
1 - 9 -
JACOB LEAVITT DIED JANUARY
1826 AGED 85
----- WIFE DIED -----
----- AGED -----
Jacob Leavitt died on 7 Jan 1826, and his wife Leah (Fearing) died on 14 Oct 1838. With the grave markers of Israel and John Leavitt also in this lot, and John's name inscribed on the stone, one would hope their remains (had they survived over a century underground) were also removed from their original burying places near the Old Ship Church (see below) when the stones were brought over to the Plain. The question is, who else is buried in this tomb?
In his will [Plymouth County Probate, case #12506], dated the 6th of July 1824, he wrote that his "tomb should be kept for the use of the family to the latest generation".
Jacob Leavitt had nine children, and most of them had offspring of their own, so there may have been two dozen people of the "latest generation" at the time of his will being written. Two of his sons were deceased by 1824: Benjamin and Elijah. While the former had moved to Portland, Maine and died there, the latter passed away in Hingham but there's no record of his burial place. With three of his children having stones in front of this lot (so either buried there or were placed in the vault), Elijah is very likely in the tomb with his parents. Most of Jacob's other children and their families have lots elsewhere in the Centre Cemetery, so did not take up the offer left to them by their father. Daughter Lydia (wife of Edward Battles) died in Charlestown, MA in 1860, her death rec says she was buried in Hingham, and may be with her parents.
Fifty years of burials had taken place there in the 1600's, though it seems most were without gravestones. A single burial plot was made for the majority of them in the Hingham Cemetery where, in 1839, the town erected a large monument in their honor. Those grave markers that did exist were placed around this new location. On the 1873 map below,  is Main St., where its shape bears the evidence of running alongside the southern part of the hillside  that once sat there.  is the reinterment place of those bodies removed during the road construction.
As late as 1877, bodies were still being dug up at this location [History of Hingham, Vol 1, Part 2, pg 356], found in front of the homes of Caleb B. Marsh and John Siders (as can be seen beside the Derby Academy on the above map). Their houses, built in the 1750-70's (according to the tax assessor database), shared the hill with the burial ground. From a 2017 street view, the Academy building (now the Historical Society, left), the Marsh home (right), and the Siders place (far right) all stand, and this viewing angle helps show how the hillside had been cut away.
While it is said [Desc. of Israel Leavitt, pg 22] that Jacob Leavitt was the one responsible for the reinterment of Deacon John (and presumably Israel, as well) to the "Plain" (now the Centre or Center) Cemetery, this project was done prior to the town's 1831 vote for the removal of the original burial ground, as Jacob died in 1826. Perhaps, in the years prior, town meetings had proposed the excavation on Main Street, so Jacob Leavitt took the initiative and had his ancestors saved from a mass burial by having them brought over to his tomb prior to his death.
A Visit with Deacon John
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gravestones and their stories
More than just names and dates engraved on a grave stone, a look into the Leavitt families found in our cemetery photographs.
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