By the deed of November 30, 1723 the newlyweds, Joseph and Mary (Martin) Codey sold their homestead next to her parents' place in Ipswich and followed Philip and Martha to Hopkinton.

The deed describes the parcel as " acre and three Quarters of upland in Chebacco In Ipswich aforesd with Dwelling houfe Barn and Orchard thereon Said Land is Situated Lying and being upon the hill called the Burying hill in sd Chebacco as it is hereafter Bounded and contains by Estimation one acre and three Quarters as aforesd be the Same more or Less bounded westerly upon the Road leading to Glocester Southerly on Land of Mr. Abraham Martin northerly on Land of Capt. Adam Cogswell and Land of the Burying Place of sd Chebacco..." neglecting the easterly bound, formed naturally by a swampy brook. The green outline is about 70 yards by 120, or 1¾ acres.


The settlement of Chebacco began in 1634 when the town of Ipswich granted William White and Goodman Bradstreet lands just south of Castle Neck River. The Cogswells came in 1636, and by the 1670s forty families including the Goodhues, Varneys and Martins lived there. A parish was established in 1679 with the raising of a meetinghouse and installation of the minister, Rev. John Wise by leave of the Salem General Court. Joseph's wife, Mary, was Abraham and Sarah Martin's daughter and probably got the land as her dowery.

Chebacco was incorporated as the town of Essex in 1819 and "the Burying Place of sd Chebacco" is now called the Old Burying Ground. The USGS map shows a plot outlined and designated as a cemetery by a cross. The last interment was in 1897, and it is now a National Historical Site containing the grave of Rev. John Wise, the minister in Chebacco from 1679 to 1725, who probably performed their marriage in 1723.

This burying place, outlined in yellow, was established in 1680 and fenced with a stone wall in 1712, probably with Abraham Martin's help.

Until then, the dead of Chebacco were carried on "a bier upon the shoulders of men" for the four or more miles to Ipswich center for burial. Chebacco had no family burial plots, as it was the custom of those who settled in Chebacco to inter their dead in one burial ground which served the whole community.

The land for a burial place was given by Mr. Cogswell, on a little knoll, later called Meeting House Hill. A road from Ipswich to Gloucester had run past Mr. Cogswell's house, then over a bridge to Billy's Point on the other side of the Essex River. That bridge did not stand for very long, probably carried away by flooding and ice. About the time that the burying ground was granted, a new bridge was built where the present bridge across the Essex River now stands. Although the burying ground was sited on the new route that connected Essex center to South Essex, it was not placed near the church, nor near the common. As was typical in 17th century New England, the graveyard was municipal property, not connected directly with the church.

Meanwhile, there is an old story that says...

Underneath the hearse house is said to be a common grave for the empty caskets of "not less than eight bodies" which had been disinterred and used for "anatomical purposes" by a doctor Thomas Sewall over a period of time. His heinous activities were discovered in 1818. Although the consistency of the historical records vary in relating of details concerning this infamous incident, a sermon published at the time seems to contain the most accurate information

Below is a satellite photo of the part of Essex mentioned in the deed, measuring .236 miles by .33 miles. The Old Burying Ground, just north of the Essex Shipbuilding Museum, is outlined in yellow and measures about 60 by 90 yards, or 1.2 acres. The Old Burying Ground was granted as a one acre parcel and two small parcels were added after 1838. The Ipswich to Gloucester Road is now Main Street, but the Town Landing is still the way to the sea.

The International Cody Family Association