In 1756, when there were only 59 residents in New Boston, New Hampshire, a committee was appointed “to fix a proper place in or near the centre of the town for the public worship of God; and also for a public burying place, as they shall think most suitable for the whole community.” The resulted cemetery is the same still today and sits at the top of a hill, what was once the center of town.
The oldest gravestone which can be found in the cemetery today is that of New Boston’s first town clerk, Alexander McCollum, died in 1768, while such a Joseph Waugh died two years later.
Among others “residents” of the cemetery, are Charles and Julia Farley. Charles (1846-1927) was a violinmaker, and one of his instruments is in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, in Boston.
It seems he left New Boston after his wife drowned in the Piscataquog River behind their house, on May 8, 1893.
However, in New Boston Cemetery, a peculiar inscription has been drawing attention for more than 150 years. It’s not an especially elaborate tomb, and does not belong to any hero, famous person or historic. So, why? This is the gravestone of such a Sevilla Jones, that calls out the would-be suitor who ended her life. But despite the fact that Sevilla Jones’ gravestone marks a well-known murder in the state, much of her story remains a mystery.
On Friday, January 13, 1854, the 17-year-old Sevilla was walking to school with her younger brother Plummer when she was stopped by Henry Sargent, a 23-year-old woodcutter whose family lived near the Jones family.
He had been courting Sevilla, but he had fallen out of favor with her mother, which ended their courtship.
Henry loved Sevilla but then her mother, Mrs. Jones, and a Mrs. Bartlett turned Sevilla against Henry and perhaps toward Mrs. Bartlett’s son. I don’t know that son’s first name. In any case, Henry was distraught. On his final evening, he stayed up writing his last will and this suicide note late in the night:
“Folks of the world ought to know that they ruined me, once happy.
I never should have got so tied up with her if she had not given me encouragement, time and again.
And now see what you brought me – from a happy boy to the grave.
I am better off in hell, than I am here for the world to laugh at.
I am well aware that I make you trouble, by taking Servilla away from you, but I can’t help it. She belongs to me, and you know it.
Mother, why do you cry? You ought to think that your son Henry is better dead, than a poor love sick fellow which you see about stores and places and shops.
The world will not have Henry N. Sargent for a laughing pot
I am not afraid to say, who I think made the disturbance. I think and know , that the Bartlett’s folks made their part
I used to think that love would never hurt me.
All people take warning by this, and avoid the strings of love as you would the angel of death.
I write the most of this with tears on my cheeks.
Good bye, hypocrites.”
It seems that Henry starting harassing her, and when this didn’t work either, he made arrangements to have his grave dug in advance and purchased two guns. Thus, on this fateful morning, he shot Sevilla four times, killing her instantly, and then shot himself, but with less immediate success.
According to the story, the doctor was so upset by Henry’s actions that he refused to treat him, and let him die from his wounds.
Thus, in an unusual move, Sevilla’s family chose to call out for eternity Henry for his dastardly act. Her gravestone reads:
“Daughter of George and Sarah Jones. MURDERED by Henry N. Sargent. January 13, 1854. Aged 17 years and 9 months. Thus fell this lovely blooming daughter, by the revengeful hand, a malicious Henry, when on her way to school, he met her and with a six self-cocked pistol, shot her.”
And this curious epitaph on the gravestone, some say that it was written by Mrs. Bartlett. Curious fact, the same Henry Sargent is also buried in New Boston Cemetery, just a thirty meters away from Sevilla.
There’s also a sort of poem called “The Death Bridal” published in New Boston 1854, which calls Henry and Sevilla “a dead man and his bride” and asks the reader to “judge them not.”
However, Sevilla’s gravestone refused to refrain from judgment.
This is not a love story….
Images from web.