The sun had almost set as we reached Jennings Hill Cemetery, also known as Japan Cemetery, which boasts a cannon which is placed by the cemetery sign. This cemetery is bordered by High St and Plain St. Surrounded by a stone wall, the cemetery itself is elevated above the road, the land here once owned by the Jenning family, after which the hill (and subsequently the cemetery) and a small stream nearby was named. I have been unable to locate the significance behind the other name – “Japan” cemetery. While Bridgewater does have neighborhoods such as Scotland named for the immigrant populations that eventually settled the area, there certainly is nothing to indicate a Japanese association here.
I’ll mention an epitaph I have spotted upon several stones across the Bridgewater cemeteries:
In memory of Edward Mitchell,
who died Nov. 26, 1828, æt. 89.
His mind was tranquil and serene,
No terrors in his looks were seen;
His Saviour’s smiles dispelled the gloom,
And smoothed his passage to the tomb.
There is a good description of the history of the Jenning family and some transcriptions of the stones in the cemetery. The oldest burial is from 1766. There are distinctive sections of old stones and new, as well as a great deal of open space without stones. According to William Latham’s Epitaphs in Old Bridgewater, this cemetery was also used as a pauper cemetery.