“Very soon after Mr. Sweet’s death I never passed a certain spot on my way to Church that I did not wish could be the burial place of my husband… Month by month I came to realize the fitness of the place and the propriety of his lying so near the Church he loved; and finally I never passed the place without wishing it were laid out as a cemetery.”
Founding of the Cemetery
Like so many families during the horse and buggy era, Mrs. Helen Sweet’s first husband, Hon. Henry Sweet, one of the principals of the Davisville mill, was buried in a family cemetery on an old Davis farm in Davisville because the closest public cemeteries at the time, namely Edgewood and East Greenwich, were too far away to frequently visit.
Mrs. Sweet’s wishes of laying to rest her husband in the spot she chose and converting the surrounding woodland into a cemetery were realized when the Sweet and Davis family’s “purchased the land, built the impressive stone walls and donated it to a newly formed nonprofit corporation, the Quidnessett Memorial Cemetery, on April 4, 1902.”
According to Anna M.M. Lawrence, local historian, Mrs. Sweet’s “desire and purpose to provide a cemetery where the people of the vicinity…. might be buried and their graves have perpetual care… also… that it might be a place where those remains lying in neglected homestead burying grounds might be received and cared for.” The desecration of homestead graves from animals, farm equipment, improper grading and neglect was a common problem among families with farms in the area.
Like Mrs. Sweet, many other families removed loved ones from their farms and reburied them at Quidnessett Memorial Cemetery. A favorite among funeral directors, many of whom own lots here, the cemetery has been open for public use since its beginning in 1902.
The Development of the Cemetery
“The beautiful graceful grounds were visualized and developed by two different gentlemen. The first was Thomas Mathewson, who guided the land’s development for its first 35 years. Wilbert Reynolds who stood at the helm for another 30 years following him. It is Mr. Reynolds who is given the lion’s share of the credit for transforming the grounds from a place of pines, briars, and sweet ferns into the magnificent park-like place it is now.”
Other development and special features within the cemetery can be attributed to major donors. (See 2009 Newsletter)
(Excerpts are from local historian, G.T. Cranston, the Town of North Kingstown’s most prolific writer and heralder of Quidnessett Memorial Cemetery.)