Feature Story

Williamstown’s Lovely Village Cemetery

In early May, I took a trip north to Williamstown in western Orange County. I had dinner plans with an old friend of mine. She had moved to the quiet mountain town near Barre and Montpelier after retiring from teaching. Shamefully, this was my first visit to her new home. I left plenty early for our five o’clock supper to make sure I arrived on time.

I pulled into Williamstown at five-past four, leaving me more than enough time to explore the town’s main drag before my friend’s casserole came out of the oven. I started my tour of town at the Pump-N-Pantry, Williamstown’s outstanding market/gas station/grinder-shop/ice-cream hot spot. I spoiled my supper at the Pump-n-Pantry with a mammoth Maple Creemee that deserves a capital “M” and a capital “C.” Needing to burn off a few of these newly acquired calories before supper, I followed a sign up a side hill on the outskirts of town to a self-service driving range. I had no idea that such a thing existed, but the system appears to be operating smoothly at this “Bill-Town” location. The driving range consisted of an R2-D2 shaped ball-dispenser, a beautifully mowed meadow, a few yardage markers, and a divinely-ordained Green Mountain backdrop. There is no permanent attendant at the range and there are no range clubs available for unprepared golfers like myself. One of the other golfers at the range lent me his spare driver, enabling me to put on a green-jacket worthy display for the half dozen fellas present.

I drove down the hill of the driving range at 4:30, cranking Elvis Presley’s live renditions of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” and “Dixie” from his Aloha From Hawaii Via Satellite album. As the assembled Hawaiians gave the King a standing ovation, I fell in love with Williamstown’s gorgeous Village Cemetery. Located in the center of town, Williamstown Village Cemetery anchors the town’s main street. Like all great cemeteries, Village Cemetery bestows upon its community the gifts of continuity and stability. Village Cemetery endows the surrounding businesses and town buildings with a sense of permanence. The businesses change. The institutions change. The people change. In their own generations, each one of them gave life to the community. In death, the cemetery’s individual monuments to the deceased citizens of Williamstown who populated the town’s places of business and its civil society form a larger collective monument to the community’s two and a half centuries of life.

The rolling hills of the meticulously-maintained Village Cemetery provide several different vantage points for gazing at the town and its Green Mountain surroundings. Village Cemetery includes a diverse collection of headstones which begin in the late 18th century and continue generation after generation into the 21st century. A number of Village Cemetery’s headstones are unique, including several of the stones featured in the pictures that accompany this article. If you find yourself in Central Vermont this summer, a trip to the Williamstown Village Cemetery is well worth your while.

Nota Bene