Graveyards don’t scare me. As an historian I sometimes feel like I know some of the people whose graves I pass. A few years ago my husband and I volunteered to survey the little graveyard by the barns at Glen Farm as part of a state-wide effort to monitor the historic cemeteries. The sturdy stonewalls protect it from the bustle of equestrians who come to ride or take care of their horses. Once you step inside that tree shaded historical cemetery you may notice that the gravestones tell the story of two families, the Cundalls and the Slocums. The Cundall burials range from 1810 to 1820 and they are on the westside of the plot and the head of the stones face west.

The headstones for the Slocum family are of an earlier time – 1703 to 1722. They lie in the northeast corner of the plot and the engravings face south. According to the database of historic cemeteries, the grave of at least one young Slocum lies here unmarked by a stone. Two of Giles Slocum’s sons died together in 1712. Their names were Matthew and Giles. How did two of the Slocum children die together? It was murder so evil that even Boston newspapers (Boston News Letter-June 27th, 1712) carried the account.

“An Indian servant man belonging to Mr. Giles Slocum of Portsmouth carried out to sea in a canoe two of his Master’s sons, one of them ten, the other nine years old. …Being examined before authority he confessed that he knocked the eldest child in the head with a paddle. Seeing the youngest crying, he overset the canoe by design and swam to shore by himself.”

Later reports tell us that the servant’s name was Job. A fitting name for one who would find himself “now in irons in prison till he is tried for murder.” I would assume it would be the same jail our friend Thomas Cornell was locked in forty years before. Why did Job commit the crime? Was he angry at the boy? Was he drunk? – a common problem in those days. We can only wonder. We will never know his motive, but we do know his end. He was hung in chains (gibbeted) at Miantomi Hill. That’s the same place Thomas Cornell met his end. Whereas Thomas was duly buried, Job was not. Criminals suffered the gibbet if their crimes were particularly heinous. The body is left suspended and decaying for all to see. He was left to rot on the gallows for two years or as an early historian would note, “until his bones fell apart from decay of the flesh and ligaments.”