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THE COBURN FARM.
I have seen what I believe to be the "Original Munger Place." Was in Monson recently, and mine host, with whom I had talked concerning the matter, very generously took me many miles in quest of this spot. After some unsuccessful attempts to locate the site of the "Coburn Farm," we were directed to the home of an old man [Mr. Samuel B. Perry, deceased 1911] nearly ninety years of age, who was born here, as was his father and grandfather before him. On learning my name he said: "Why, the Mungers were the first settlers in this town" (Wales). He directed us to the ruined buildings on the "Coburn Farm," which are, as the record says, east of the South Meadow, the farm lands lying partly in the town of Wales and partly in Holland.
The original Munger place shows only a few foundation stones, with brush and briars and neglected apple trees growing about. A little to the north lie the ruins of another foundation, presenting much the same appearance as the first, but giving evidence that it must have been a much larger building. Still farther north is what appears to be the site of a barn and barnyard, which is on the crest of the hill as it begins to descend toward the north. Both these houses stood on the west side of the present road, on the slope of the hill facing southwest, and gradually descending to the meadow land below.
This meadow lies between the hills, and has a brook flowing through it. Old records frequently refer to this section as the "South Meadow" and "Munger's Meadow." This part of Wales is now known as the "Meadow District." The ruins are situated about one mile from the Connecticut line, the flag of the United States survey, which marks the boundary line, being seen to the south. The meadow has something of a crescent form, and the lower end of it and the brook is crossed as one ascends the hill to the ruins. Where these buildings once stood is a sightly place and in the afternoon a sunny spot. It is believed that the first or smaller ruins marks the spot where Samuel Munger built his habitation, and where Samuel, Nathaniel, Elnathan and Joseph, with their sisters, first had a home in Brimfield. The other ruin, without doubt, marks the sight of Nathaniel Munger's "new" house, later the dwelling of the Coburn family.
The day being far spent, I did not have time to locate the burial place of Nathaniel, which Gardner says is "Eighty rods southward of his old habita- [page 212] tion," but what I have found, corroborates what Gardner has said concerning Nathaniel Munger and the Coburn farm, and I believe I shall yet find his place of burial "Somewhere on his farm." (From a letter to J. E. Munger, by J. B. Munger, Oct., 1908.)
THE GRAVES ON THE COBURN FARM.
I have found the Munger graves on the Coburn farm. My search for this farm in the fall of 1908 seems to have awakened considerable interest among certain ones in Monson and Wales. Mr. Edgar Squier of Monson, an enthusiastic historian in matters pertaining to his home town, and towns adjoining, and who had accompanied me on my first visit, in conversation with Mr. LeRoy Needham of Wales, mentioned our search for the Coburn farm, and my belief that somewhere on this farm might be found Munger graves. In answer to this Mr. Needham said that many years ago, while hunting on this farm he had accidentally discovered three graves, one of which had a headstone on which was cut the letters E. M. This information was communicated to me by Mr. Squier, when preparation was again made to visit the Coburn farm. October 31, I started on an early car for Monson, having previously advised Mr. Squier of my intention. Arriving at the home of Mr. Squier, we took team and drove to Wales, where we were joined by Mr. Needham, who had volunteered to act as guide in our search for the graves. In the course of time we arrived at the site of Nathaniel Munger's "Old Habitation." As our guide had run onto the graves some twenty years before, he confessed he did not know just where they were, but said they were "Somewhere in there," motioning toward the woods on the mountain side. We went through weeds and underbrush and briars, all the time getting farther up the mountain side, although the ascent was very gradual. After going the full two furlongs, our guide stopped, saying: "They ought to be somewhere about here," then said he would go a little up. I did not follow, but continued my search in the underbrush near me, Mr. Squier doing the same on my right. Soon we heard Mr. Needham call: "Here they are!" Yes, here were the graves; not only three but several others, all of which with the exception of two, were without any mark to indicate who was buried there. Stones were at head and foot of each grave, but some were displaced, others fallen and partially buried in the ground, but all showing that they had originally been laid out in line at nearly equal distance apart. It is an old time burial place, such as our pioneer forefathers knew.
One of the best preserved graves is that which I am convinced is where Elizabeth (Bullen), wife of Nathaniel, is buried. At the head and foot is a rudely cut flat stone on both of which is cut in large characters, evidently by an unskilled hand, the letters E. M. These letters are as unscarred and legible as if cut a week ago, and show no signs of the wear of the elements after 122 years of exposure. On each side of this grave a flat stone has [page 213] been imbedded on edge in the earth nearly level with the surface. On either side of this grave are others, one of which is doubtless that of Nathaniel; the other may be that of his second wife, Fear (Shaw). Doubtless the last Munger residents on the farm knew the name of the occupant of the several graves, but the knowledge died with them.
Further on we came to a grave, on the headstone of which was cut the following inscription: "Mrss Mary wife of James Mercy, died April 3, 1802, aged 28 years." For a time I was at a loss to account for the presence of the Mercy (Marcy) grave at this place if this was the burial place of Nathaniel and Elizabeth (Bullen) and Fear (Shaw) Munger. Might not the E. M. on the other and larger headstone indicate that a member of the Mercy family was buried there? For a time I was in doubt, but not for long as facts warranted the belief that this was the burial place of which Gardner speaks. Later I remembered that Samuel Munger married "Dolly" Marcy, and had a daughter Mary, b. Mar. 22, 1774, who was doubtless the wife of James Mercy (Marcy). The date of her death, and the age at which she died, seem to sustain this assumption. I mentioned this fact to Mr. Needham, who said: "These are doubtless your Munger graves."
While descending the mountain, Mr. Needham searched for, but did not find, a ledge at the foot of which is a chestnut tree much bowed over, which deformity tradition says was caused by one of the Coburns having hung himself from it when it was only a sapling. Making all preparations for this act, he jumped from the ledge, the weight of his body bending the young tree toward the earth, from which position it never recovered.
"We will go and see Sam. Perry," said Mr. Needham. This we did and had a rare half hour. We asked him about the graves on the Coburn farm; he said: "None there." We said yes; as we had seen them not an hour before. Mr. Needham mentioned the "Mrss Mary Mercy" grave; the old gentleman said: "James Marcy used to live right over there," indicating by a gesture, the old county road, near by. He then added: "The Marcys came from Woodstock." I asked him who the Coburns bought the place of; he promptly replied: "of the Mungers," and added: "Old -- Coburn hung himself up in the woods." Mr. Needham looked at me and said: "I guess, Mr. Munger, you are right in all you claim."
James Marcy lived down the road from the Munger place. His wife, Mary, being a Munger, was buried in the Munger lot. This accounts for the presence of her grave there. (From a letter to J. E. Munger, from J. B. Munger, Nov., 1909.)
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