During the first 75 years of Pelham’s existence, residents were usually buried “on the farm”. Often the graves were unmarked or temporarily marked with wooden crosses. All evidence of most of the early “on the farm burial” places has disappeared.
Two of the Family Burial grounds were more formal than the rest. One was the Sherburne Burial Ground established in 1798 when James Sherburne, who migrated to Pelham from Portsmouth New Hampshire with his family in the winter of 1751, was buried between the Farmhouse and Sherburne Road. By 1876 fifteen members of his family had been buried in the front yard.
Early in 1898, at the insistence of his wife, Jennie Kathleen Marshall, Gardner Willie Sherburne sought approval to move his ancestors from the private Sherburne Cemetery to the recently established (1893) Gibson Addition of the Pelham Center Cemetery.
Permission was granted in a written document signed on August 1, 1898 by Pelham Town Clerk Daniel P. Atwood. A photocopy of that document can be found on page 244 of “Reflections, a Pictorial History of Pelham”. The Sherburne gravestones were moved with the remains and can be seen today in sharp contrast to the later stones that surround the Sherburne gravesite at the Gibson Addition. It was the practice in the early 1800s to use thin slate gravestones. Thick granite gravestones were the standard when the Sherburne ancestors moved to the Gibson and thick granite stones surround the Sherburne gravesite.
The only family cemetery that survives today is the Coburn-Lyon Cemetery on Pulpit Rock Road in Pelham. It received its formal documentation in 1875 when Bradley F. Lyon and George D. Coburn recorded a deed which read in part “Therefore in consideration of the love and affection we bear to our kindred we hereby donate, give, grant, convey and confirm to the lineal descendents of said William R. Lyon and Gilbert Coburn through all succeeding generations forever, an equal right and privilege with ourselves in said lot for all entombment or burial uses and for no other use or purposes whatsoever except to ornament and improve the same in a manner suitable for such use.”
The Town of Pelham currently maintains five cemeteries, including the private Coburn-Lyon. A non Pelham Polish Catholic Church and a non Pelham Jewish Synagogue maintain cemeteries behind the Coburn Lyon Cemetery on Pulpit Rock Road. No evidence has been found that either cemetery was ever been used by a Pelham resident.
The five cemeteries maintained by the Town of Pelham in which Pelham residents have been routinely interred are:
The Atwood Cemetery on Atwood Road. - Pelham Tax Map Parcel 22-8-28
The Pelham Center Cemetery (including the Gibson, Hayes and Currier additions) with entrances on Old Bridge Street North and Marsh Road. - Pelham Tax Map Parcel 29-7-126)
The Coburn-Lyon Cemetery of Pulpit Rock Road. - Pelham Tax Map Parcel 41-6-144.
The Gumpus Cemetery on Mammoth Road. - Pelham Tax Map Parcel 28-2-35.
The North Pelham Cemetery north of Keyes Hill Road. - Pelham Tax map Parcel 2-5-150.
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