Early History:

On December 12, 1849 a group of townspeople met in Falmouth Town Hall to discuss the need for a new cemetery. Presiding were Samuel P. Bourne and Erasmus Gould. Out of this meeting a committee of five was formed to select a suitable sight and enlist subscribers to purchase burial lots. This committee included Erasmus Gould, William Nye Jr., Thomas L Swift, Silas Jones, and Rufus Fish. On January 2, 1850, the committee reported that a wood lot of over five acres had been purchased at a cost of $250, and that 2-dozen subscribers had been procured. Also at this meeting, the constitution of the cemetery was adopted and the first trustees and officers of the Association were elected: Oliver C. Swift, President; Aaron Cornish, Vice President; S.C. Dillingham, Secretary; Samuel P. Bourne, Treasurer; as well as board members Erasmus Gould, William Nye Jr., and T. S. Swift. Thus this notable group founded the Oak Grove Cemetery Association of Falmouth, an organization that continues to this day.

Many notable historic figures have been laid to rest in Oak Grove Cemetery of Falmouth, including Katharine Lee Bates, many whaling captains, veterans dating all the way back to the Revolution, and formative town dignitaries.

Katharine Lee Bates:

Katharine Lee Bates, the author of the poem that became 'America the Beautiful,' was buried at Oak Grove in 1929. Born in Falmouth in 1859, Katharine was the daughter of a local minister, and she lived at 16 Main Street. She became the head of the English literature department at Wellesley College in 1891. She was an educator, a traveler, and poet who authored many poems about Falmouth. Throughout her life Katherine worked hard and was an idealist who believed in kindness, generosity, courage, and love.

Interestingly, Katharine Lee Bates' burial stone is plain and unimposing - a tribute to her simple nature memorialized by her heirs. Hardly a week goes by that our superintendent is not asked for the location of her grave. She is forever being 'discovered' by new visitors who have read about her and want to learn more about her place in American history.

Silas Jones:

Silas Jones is one of many whaling captains interred at Oak Grove. Jones first went to sea at the age of 16 aboard the 'Awashonks.' At the age of 21 he saved the vessel and her crew when her captain was killed in a native attack in the Marshall Islands. Later, at the age of 26, Jones became the youngest whaling captain in the fleet, and he served many years in that capacity. After retiring from the sea, Jones became president of the Falmouth National Bank and served on the committee that chose the site for Oak Grove Cemetery and secured its first "subscribers."


From the Revolution to the War of 1812, the Civil War to World Wars I and II, the Korean War to Vietnam and current conflicts, Oak Grove's landscape is everywhere dotted with memorials and flags commemorating those brave men and women who were willing to sacrifice their all for love of country. Shown below is a monument dedicated to the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR), a fraternal organization which was composed of veterans of the Union Army, US Navy, US Marines and US Revenue Cutter Service who served in the American Civil War.

The Bourne Family:

This lovely statue of a maiden in contemplative repose marks the family burial plot of Samuel P. Bourne, cofounder of the cemetery.

Copyright 2014, Oak Grove Cemetery of Falmouth, MA