From NEHGR Vol. 5 - Exerps from the Memoir of the Stibbins Family:
The Railroad having been laid across and over the ancient brial-ground in Springfield, which had been used as a depository of the dead from the first settlement of the, town, A.D. 1636, and had been so crowded by graves overgrown with trees and shrubbery, that the town had ordered the remains and monuments to be removed to the Dew cemetery, provided for that and other sepulchral purposes. The exhumation and removal commenced in the spring of 1848. Some persons chose to remove the relics of their friends to the towns of their respective residence.
The remains of an adopted daughter of mine were removed to Northampton cemetery, also of Spencer Judd, her husband, and their son.
1848, June 16th, the writer of this memoir, attended the exhumation of his parents and grand-parents; the 3d Joseph of this memoir, who had been buried 55 years, and his grand-mother had been buried 45 years, whose coffins were in a middling state of preservation; the coffins made of pine, the age of the grand-father designated by brass nails; the heads of the nails apparently gilded : the coffin lid of the grand-mother had a metal plate with name, age, and time of decease.
The coffin of the father and mother, less perfect, through inhumed only about half so long, in the same kind of earth, -a sandy loam - side by side; the wood composing the coffins not of pine.
All the large bones firm - some portions of the sepulchral dress well preserved, especially a dress wig with curls, also the coffin trimmings.
By comparing the coffins of these and others, as to the difference be tween pine and other materials, an opinion was formed, that a coffin made of 11 inch white pine, with a steep roof, might last a century.
The most ancient remains exhumed were those of the wife of Elizur Holyoke, daughter of William Pynchon, the leader of the Springfield colony, 1636. She died Oct. 26, 1657 and her remains were exhumed in 1848, having been in the ground 191 years.
There were probably others, who deceased at an earlier date, and without grave-stones to designate the spot of interment. But she, being a distinguished woman, daughter of William Pynchon, sister to Col. John Pynchon, might be the occasion of a monumental stone, which described her as the " Very paragon of her sex." Her husband, Eleazer [Elizur] Holyoke, sustained a conspicuous station with Col. John Pynchon in the purchase and settlement of Northampton.
While digging over the old burying-ground in Springfield it was found that the roots of willows, elders, &c., had penetrated decayed Coffins. Such was the condition of exhuming the remains of Major Adre, at the head of whose grave, some sympathising lady had planted a sprig of Willow, which, at the time of exhumation, had grown to the size of a tree, and the roots had penetrated and sought nourishment from the head and body. A grave was dug in Northampton cemetery, near an Elm tree, and being opened afterwards to remove the remains to a distant town or city, the whole body was found enveloped by a fibrous coat of roots like a matting. Such an effect of trees near graves, needs no comment.