This coming Saturday, the celebration of the Essex Bicentennial will continue with tours of the Ancient Burial Ground from 12–5 p.m.

Located on John Wise Avenue just behind the Essex Historical Society building (next to what was once The White Elephant), the historic cemetery is a truly special place for residents (and others) to experience. The history of the Town of Essex and its inhabitants is important to look back on.  And that is precisely what will happen this weekend when volunteers will bring to life the village of “Chebacco Parish” (which was once the name of Essex, back when it was a parish within neighboring Ipswich). Tours will run about a half hour long, and participants will be able to experience the burial ground and see life in the 1700s to the middle 1800s through the eyes of some of its prominent citizens and even one who is more infamous.  

The graveyard dates back to 1681. Among those buried there are two of the town’s earliest ministers, many shipbuilders and veterans of the French and Indian Wars, Revolutionary War, War of 1812 and the Civil War. Town members instrumental in the incorporation of Essex will also be a part of the tour.

This is the second event that will take place at the historic cemetery this year as part of the town’s anniversary celebration.  The first was earlier in July, a rededication service that honored the military and service members buried on the site. It was a somber and beautiful event that was very well attended.  The event this coming weekend will be more geared for the curious as well as history buffs who will get a lot out of the “history brought to life” experience, with members of the Bicentennial Committee and the Essex Historical Society in period attire bringing tour participants back in time and connecting them with important figures who shaped the town’s history.  It’s a presentation and format that these “players” perform every 4-5 years.  This year the lead players include Rebecca Axelrod, Barry O’Brien, David Gabor, Wendy Nunes, Alan Budreau, Laura Doyle, Mark Nelson and Jim Witham.

The event is free, but donations will be accepted and given to the Essex Historical Society and Shipbuilding Museum.  The newly restored Victorian-era hearse will be displayed and the 1835 School House museum (home of the Essex Historical Society) will be open with a new exhibit on artifacts related to veterans in the Burial Ground.  Don’t miss this. It promises to be truly special.