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Smartphone guide available for Quincy's Hancock Cemetery

Posted by Meena Ramakrishnan  December 23, 2011 05:13 PM

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A cemetery dating back to the colonial era now has a presence on the web.

Since last month, the Hancock Cemetery on Hancock Street in Quincy has been accessible on Google Maps. From their smartphones, visitors can pull up a satellite version of the gravesite and tombstone locations alongside the descriptions of 25 graves chosen for either historical or aesthetic interest.

The map was developed by Mary Smith of the Quincy Planning Department, who used notations from a 2002 Quincy Historical society brochure for the historical context. Prior to the newest version, the map has been incomplete over the years, said Planning Director Dennis Harrington.

While a rise in visitors hasn’t been noted, Harrington says that since the website was launched, more people know how to find their way around the gravesite. There have been over 15,000 views online.

“We do know that there are people are in there that are able to find what they’re looking for. We know there’s people interested and asking questions,” he said.

The Planning Board is also making other forays into mobile usage. A smart phone application is in the works to create a virtual walking tour of the town.

But apart from changes online, the cemetery is also slated for restoration. Trees have taken root, and the supporting timbers inside the tombs are rotted. Harrington says work is still in the planning stages to bring the site back to how it might have looked in the early 1900s.

Although the cemetery was erected in the 1630s, the cemetery standing today can no longer be called a colonial cemetery. This is due to the trees, walls, walkways that were built afterwards.

The Hancock Cemetery, named after John Hancock’s father, Reverend John Hancock, was Quincy’s main burial ground until 1854. Early Puritans often left graves unmarked and cattle roamed freely in the graveyards. Consequently, many more people are buried on the site than there are existing markers.

Only in 1809 did a group of citizens, including John Adams, purchase the lot and officially donate it to the town. The iron fencing around the cemetery is from 1844.

Visit the webpage at http://quincyma.gov/visiting/.

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