Salem Uproar over Dilapidated Tombs, Part III

Introduction: In this article, Melissa Davenport Berry continues her story about a controversy in Salem, Massachusetts, over the treatment of some Quaker tombs in 1835, focusing on the Kitchen family tomb. Melissa is a genealogist who has a blog, AnceStory Archives, and a Facebook group, New England Family Genealogy and History.

Author’s Note: I came across this story while researching the 17th century Quaker families in Salem, Massachusetts. They are the ancestors of the tombs in Salem that are the focus of today’s story. A list of these Salem Quakers can be found in Jonathan M. Chu’s book Neighbors, Friends, or Madmen: The Puritan Adjustment to Quakerism in Seventeenth-Century Massachusetts Bay (p. 169-173). These Quakers are also cited in the court documents available online at the University of Virginia site.

To recap: In 1835 the Board of Health in Salem placed an announcement in the newspaper which created a sensation. The board reported that several tombs in public burial grounds were in a ruinous state, and requested owners to come forward to mark the appropriate names and fix up the tombs. For tombs left unclaimed or undefined, the board announced that it would repair – and then sell – those tombs.

Illustration: Edward Kitchen of Salem, Massachusetts
Illustration: Edward Kitchen of Salem, attributed to Pierpont Limner descended down the line to Andrew W. Sigourney, Esq. Courtesy of Sotheby’s Americana Auction 2018, Lot # 1240,

Today I cover another generation (and a surprise acquaintance) resting in the Kitchen family tomb located in Salem’s Broad Street Burying Ground:

  • Edward Kitchen, son of Robert Kitchen and his second wife Bethia Weld.
  • Edward is the half-brother of Mary Kitchen, daughter of Robert and his first wife Mary Boardman, who married John Turner II.
  • Edward was a merchant and acquired much property and prestige. He married Freke Wolcott, daughter of Josiah and Mary (Freke) Walcott. The couple had two children, and both died young.

I discovered a gold funeral ring, engraved “E Kitchen Obt 25 Oct 1736 AE 3” and made by silversmith Jeffrey Lang of Salem, housed in the Yale University Art Gallery. This mourning ring was made to commemorate Edward’s young son Robert, who died in 1736.

Photo: gold mourning ring engraved “E Kitchen Obt 25 Oct 1736 AE 3,” gift in 1934 to Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn., from Francis P. Garvan of New York
Photo: gold mourning ring engraved “E Kitchen Obt 25 Oct 1736 AE 3,”
gift in 1934 to Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn., from Francis P. Garvan of New York. Courtesy of Yale University Collection

When Edward died in 1766 so did his line, but the Kitchen blood passed through the female unions with the Turner, Sargent, and Bowditch families. His namesake was continued by Edward Kitchen Turner and Edward Kitchen Walcott.

John Turner III was the executor of Edward’s estate, and I found the notice published in the Boston Evening-Post.

An article about Edward Kitchen, Boston Evening-Post newspaper article 8 September 1766
Boston Evening-Post (Boston, Massachusetts), 8 September 1766, page 3

It reads:

“All Persons that have any Demands on, or are indebted to, the Estate of Edward Kitchen, Esq., late of Salem, deceased, are desired to call on John Turner, of said Salem, the Executor to the last Will of the said deceased, in order to pay and receive what may be due to or from them to said Estate.”

The family members listed in Edward Kitchen’s will: his half-sister Mary Turner; Elizabeth Berry; Mary Bowditch; Eunice Browne Balston; Elizabeth Gardner; John Gardner; Ruth Putnam; and Josiah Walcott.

Also, Edward made many generous bequests, including a rare set of six silver tankards with Heraldic engravings made by Boston silversmith Daniel Boyer. The set was sold in 2013 at Christie’s Auction House and fetched $79,300.

Photo: set of six silver tankards wrought by Daniel Boyer for Edward Kitchen
Photo: set of six silver tankards wrought by Daniel Boyer for Edward Kitchen, bequeathed in 1766 to the Third Church of Christ in Salem, Massachusetts. Courtesy of Christie’s Auction House, Catalogue: Important American Silver, 23 Jan. 2013, Lot 55, p. 40.

As noted in the provenance:

“I will and bequeath to the Church the Revd. Mr. Huntington is ye Pastor of, six Silver Pint Cans with the three half Moons and the Sun engraven thereon, wrote upon them: ‘The Gift of Edward Kitchen to said Church. Edward Kitchen 1766’”

Here are some of the grave inscriptions for the Kitchen family, from the Essex Institute:

  • Here lies Interr’d the Body of Mrs. Freke KITCHEN, Wife to Edward KITCHEN, Esq., & Daughter to the Honorable Josiah WOLCOTT, Esq., who Departed this Life 17 Jan. 1746/7, Aged 34 yrs
  • Here lies Buried the Body of Edward KITCHEN, Esq., who Departed this Life 17 Aug. 1766, Aged 66 yrs
  • Robert KITCHEN, b. 1 Oct. 1735, d. 20 Dec. 1736
  • Mary KITCHEN, b. 2 Oct. 1731, d. 28 Oct. 1738

Another find I made connected to the Kitchen family tomb in Salem is an obituary for Rev. Mr. Dudley Leavitt, which reveals that the reverend was buried in the Kitchen tomb as well.

An obituary for Dudley Leavitt, Boston Post-Boy newspaper article 22 February 1762
Boston Post-Boy (Boston, Massachusetts), 22 February 1762, page 3

It reads:

“On the 7th of February Instant, died at Salem, very much lamented, of a lingering Illness, the Rev. Mr. Dudley Leavitt, Pastor of the First Church in that Town, and was interred very decently, the 10th following at his Desire in the Vault of the Family of Edward Kitchen, Esq. A vast Number of People of all Ranks attending his Funeral. He was a faithful Preacher of the great Doctrines of the Gospel, and most carefully guarded his Flock against the Errors and Vices of the Times.”

Illustration: Rev. Dudley Leavitt
Illustration: Rev. Dudley Leavitt, from The Pickering Genealogy: Being an Account of the First Three Generations of the Pickering Family of Salem, Mass., and of the Descendants of John and Sarah (Burrill) Pickering, of the Third Generation, p. 113. The actual portrait is in The Pickering House, 18 Broad Street, Salem, Massachusetts.

Rev. Leavitt married Mary Pickering, daughter of Timothy Pickering. He was ordained in the backyard of Edward Kitchen’s house under an apple tree in 1745.

Another item related to the Kitchen family: I found an auction advertisement in the Salem Observer for a house lot, the original seat of Edward Kitchen and willed to the Turners, then occupied by a Mr. Sargent, then Dr. Stearns.

An article about a building lot for sale, Salem Observer newspaper article 20 October 1849
Salem Observer (Salem, Massachusetts), 20 October 1849, page 3

Stay tuned for more on the Salem tombs…

Note: Just as an online collection of newspapers, such as GenealogyBank’s Historical Newspaper Archives, helped tell the stories of the people in the Kitchen family tomb, they can tell you stories about your ancestors that can’t be found anywhere else. Come look today and see what you can discover!

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