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Shirley Shaker Cemetery
Also known as: Shaker Cemetery
State Road
Lancaster
Worcester County
Massachusetts  USA
Postal Code: 01523

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Cemetery notes and/or description:
The Shaker community in Shirley (Middlesex) MA established their cemetery in 1792 approximately 18 rods (297 feet) from the Shirley/Lancaster line in Lancaster. The graves ran North to South with a headstone and a footstone approximately 18" high. The markers were slate from a local quarry until 1860 when white marble was used. Many of the markers contained just initials.

In 1908, the three remaining Shaker sisters moved to the Shaker community in Harvard and sold the land to the state of Massachusetts, which originally used it as an Industrial School for Boys.

In 1925, Sister Josephine Jilson was the last burial in this cemetery.

In 1927, as part of a movement to replace markers with a monument, the Shaker Central Ministry removed all the markers and replaced them with one large granite monument. The plaque on the monument says "Erected by the United Society of Shakers to honor the memory of the members interred in this lot, 1792 to 1925." The cemetery area is surrounded by a 3 metal rods with concrete posts fence.

The town of Lancaster lists the cemetery on State Road. It is approximately 1 mile from the intersection of Shirley Road & State Road in Lancaster on the west hand side, about 100 feet up a hill.

MACRIS LAN.806 lists the cemetery on Harvard Road (same road as State but from the Shirley end)

The burials listed are from "Birth, Marriage, Death Register and Epitaphs of Lancaster" edited by Henry S Nourse, Lancaster, 1890; "Inscriptions from Burial Grounds of the Nashaway Towns" edited by Esther K Whitcomb 1989; "The History of the Town of Shirley Massachusetts...to 1882" by Seth Chandler, 1882, the "Vital Records of Shirley to 1850" and the Massachusetts Vital Records on-line at NEHGS. Markers with only initials are not listed.

NOTE: This cemetery is located on the grounds of the Massachusetts Correctional Institute Shirley/Lancaster. Access may be limited. There is no sign to indicate the cemetery's location.


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