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This is a comprehensive bike tour of eight towns in central Massachusetts, made to give people a way to enjoy the outdoors while honoring the region’s history, and educating themselves about the history of the towns of Barre, Princeton, Sterling, Oakham, Holden, Rutland, Paxton, and West Boylston. With over forty-five graveyards in total and three maps with ten routes to choose from, there is something for everybody. If you want to just visit the graveyards of famous figures and older, more historical graves, then the “Recommended Historical Graveyard Tour” is the route for you. For a long, one hundred ten mile bike ride comprising all forty-five graveyards, the “Full One Hundred Ten Mile Graveyard Tour” will provide you with a full route. Finally, for individual routes of each town, the “Graveyard Tour for Individual Towns” allows visitors to select their town of choice and visit the graveyards within that town’s limits.

Recommended Historical Graveyard Tour

Cemetery Highlights Tour

This is the historical cemetery tour of the Wachusett towns, which covers some of the more historically significant graveyards throughout the Wachusett towns, while also passing a few others along the way that you can feel free to stop at and enjoy. This route is about 70 miles long and will take around 8 hours to complete, but please allow for additional time to explore the gravesites.

Directions

In order to find step-by-step directions for each map, please click on the map, find the route you would like directions for, click the icon with 3 vertical stacked dots, and choose step-by-step directions.

Full One Hundred Ten Mile Graveyard Tour

Full Cemetery Tour

The full cemetery tour of the Wachusett Towns covers 45 graveyards of different sizes and shapes, some with important historical figures, and some with unmarked graves. It spans one hundred ten miles, and a full trip is estimated to take around 9.5 hours, but please allow for additional time to explore the gravesites.

Graveyard Tour for Individual Towns

Cemetery Tour Per Town

This map includes a shorter bike tour map that covers each town that the full bike tour covers (Barre, Princeton, Sterling, Oakham, Holden, Rutland, Paxton, and West Boylston) These tours range from a total of 1 mile, which will take around 6 minutes, to a total of 34 miles in around 3 hours (Holden and Barre Respectively) with additional time needed to explore the gravesites. This tour was designed for people who want to see a little bit more of each town individually.

Historical Figures

Helen Walker

Helen Walker

Oak Hill Cemetery, Sterling, MA, Section A, Lot 40.

Born 1920 in Worcester, MA, actress Helen Walker began her acting career on Broadway, with her 1942 performance in “Jason” earning her a spot on the silver screen. Her film career began the same year with her role in Lucky Jordan. Her other notable roles were in films such as The Man in Half Moon Street, Brewster’s Millions, and Murder, He Says. After a car accident where she killed a WWII veteran, her career deteriorated, and she began to take on roles in grittier crime dramas such as Nightmare Alley, Call Northside 777, and Impact. Her acting career ended with her final television appearance in 1960, and in 1968 she succumbed to cancer at the age of 47. She is buried in Oak Hill Cemetery in Sterling, MA: Section A, Lot 40.

Robert Bailey Thomas

Robert Bailey Thomas

Legg Cemetery, Sterling, Massachusetts, Memorial ID 9023492

Robert B. Thomas, born 1766, founded The Old Farmer’s Almanac in 1792. It has since become the longest-running publication in the United States and is still in print today. He was the longtime editor of the Almanac, working on it even up to his death in 1846.

Ward Nicholas Boylston

Ward Nicholas Boylston

Boylston Burial Ground, Princeton, Massachusetts, Memorial ID 105783028

Born in Boston, Massachusetts in 1747 to a life of refinement and wealth due to his father Benjamin Hallowell’s role as commissioner of customs for King George III. In 1776 Ward Nicholas fled the country with his parents, as a family Loyal to the crown. He was born Ward Hallowell but changed his name to Boylston, his mother’s family, in order to receive large estates after the death of his Uncle. He returned to Boston in 1800 to strengthen his trade network. He donated large sums to Harvard University, gave $1000 to the town of Princeton for deacons of the church and for loans to fund industry. The philanthropist died in 1828 while living in the Gill mansion House in Princeton.

Edward Savage

Edward Savage

West Cemetery, Princeton, Massachusetts, Memorial ID 7762152

Born in Princeton, Massachusetts in 1761, Edward Savage was by trade a goldsmith and an engraver, however, he soon taught himself how to paint, and began traveling all over the world exhibiting his art. He was the proprietor of what would become the New England Museum in Boston, as well as other early art galleries in New York and Philadelphia. The most famous of his work is his painting The Washington Family, depicting George Washington and his family at Mount Vernon. He died in 1817 and is now Buried in West Cemetery in his hometown of Princeton.

Quork Walker

Quork Walker

Family Cemetery off Gilbert Road, Barre, Massachusetts

In 1781, Quork Walker escaped from Nathaniel Jennison. Upon his recapture, he was severely beaten. Walker filed an assault and battery suit against Jennison. Over a series of three court cases, Walker was pronounced “a Freeman and not the proper Negro slave” of Jennison, and the Massachusetts Supreme Court decided that the 1780 state constitution provided rights that were not compatible with slavery, and thus the state would not support or defend the ownership of slaves. Walker was born in 1753, but his death date is unknown.

Jacob Riis

Jacob Riis

Riverside Cemetery, Barre, Massachusetts, Memorial ID 872

Jacob Riis was born in Denmark in 1849 and emigrated to the United States in 1870. He became a police reporter and was a skilled photographer. In 1890 his book How the Other Half Lives, Riis showed the world the deplorable living conditions of New York’s tenement housing, getting the attention of Police Commissioner Theodore Roosevelt, who worked to improve the conditions of the immigrants living there. Riis went on to publish other social reform books until his retirement to a small farm in Barre where he passed away in 1914.

Richard J. Herrick

Richard J. Herrick

Rutland Rural Cemetery, Rutland, Massachusetts, Memorial ID 51386928

Born in Worcester in 1931 Richard J. Herrick was the world’s first successful organ transplant recipient. He had chronic nephritis, an inflammation of the nephrons in his kidneys that would have proved fatal if not treated. His identical brother Ronald Lee Herrick gave up one of his kidneys to save his brother’s life. Dr. Joseph Murray on December 23, 1954, completed the surgery, and as the men were identical twins they thought that the chance of rejection would be low enough to warrant the attempt. In 1990 Dr. Murray won the Nobel Prize in medicine for his accomplishments, and Richard married, had two children and died eight years later due to unrelated kidney complications in 1963.

Putnam Family

Putnam Family

Putnam Farm Cemetery, Rutland, Massachusetts

Town records indicate that six members of the Putnam Family are buried in this rural cemetery in Rutland: Captain Archelaus Putnam [1809], his wife Sarah (Putnam) Putnam [1824], their son Andrew Putnam [1846], and his wife Tamar (King) (Carriel) Putnam [1839], and their two sons Salmon [1800] and Willard [1818]. There are other gravestones, but most are illegible.

This page and tour were created by Boy Scout Kurt Maiser of Troop 182 Holden as his Eagle Project. Many thanks to those who have helped make this a reality.