Touro Cemetery [NT013]

Newport, Newport, Rhode Island, United States

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Description

NEWPORT HISTORICAL CEMETERY #: NT013 TOURO CEMETERY NEWPORT RI Location: 15 ft KAY & TOURO ST at TEL pole # 8 100 burials with 40 inscriptions from 1761 to 1866 50 ft x 100 ft in excellent condition enclosed with granite posts and iron rails; sign ??? Owner: Touro Synagogue, 40 Touro Street, Newport, RI 02840 (401) 847-4794 NOTE: First Jewish cemetery in RI. The Hebrew congregation was formed in 1658 in Newport. George Champlin Mason's "Reminiscences of Newport," Newport, 1884, states that "In the City Clerk's office there is a copy of a deed, dated Feb. 28, 1677, of a lot of land bought by Mordecai Capanall and Moses Pacheckoe, for a burial place for Jews, which lot was enlarged by later purchases" (p.69). The "History of Newport County," ed. Henry Bayles, NY, 1888, describes it in some detail: "This beautiful spot is well known to the many thousands who visit Newport. It is situated on Kay and Touro streets, surrounded by a granite wall and iron fence, with a plain square gateway, over which is cut in bold relief a winged globe. This cemetery of the ancient Hebrew congregation was acquired in the year 1677. Here are buried many of the early members of this congregation. The inscriptions on the stones are in Hebrew, Latin, Portuguese, Spanish and English. When the Hebrew congregation was broken up, in consequence of the removal of its members to other cities, the burial ground was suffered to fall into neglect and decay. In 1820 Mr. Abraham Touro, then a resident of Boston, visited Newport and gave directions for the erection of a brick wall, which for many years afforded ample protection to the cemetery. In 1842 his brother Judah Touro, a resident of New Orleans, caused the grounds to be put in perfect order, and replaced the brick wall with the present substantial fence. At his death he bequeathed a considerable sum in trust to the city of Newport for the perpetual care of this cemetery. The trust is faithfully and well discharged" (p. 544). Henry Wadsworth Longfellow mentions this beneficence in his poem "The Jewish Cemetery at Newport": "Gone are the living, but the dead remain,/ And not neglected for a hand unseen,/ Scattering its bounty, like a summer rain,/ Still keeps their graves and their remembrance green" (Putnams' Magazine, June 1854, p. 81). In his lecture later published as a special bulletin of the Newport Historical Society, the Hon. Robert Franklin discusses this cemetery and quotes extensively from an address given before the society in 1885 by Rev. A.P. Mendes. Mendes had pointed out that all inscriptions began or ended with the phrase "May his soul be bound in the bands of life," that the word "died" is never used, that the Hebrew inscription contains only the dates and age, whereas the English one can be lengthy and flowery. While ordinarily in Jewish cemeteries the date of death is expressed in a chronogram formed on some verse of scripture, Mendes found only one example here, that of Abraham Touro's stone. See the Hon. Robert Franklin, "Newport Cemeteries," Special Bulletin of the Newport Historical Society, #10, pp.30-32. Touro Cemetery may long have been a landmark in Newport, but its multilingual inscriptions appear to have daunted past transcribers. The 40 names entered into the database were collected by (1) the Rev. Abraham Pereira Mendes (APM) in 1875 for his paper "The Jewish Cemetery" read before the Newport Historical Society and (2) Morris A. Gutstein (MAG) for an appendix to his book "The Story of the Jews of Newport," NY, 1936, pp.295-321. Gutstein's book is particularly valuable. He provides a map of the cemetery, discusses anomalies in the burials and possibilities of graves having been moved or built upon. His numbering system has been used in our database.
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Touro Cemetery [NT013], Created by BillionGraves, Newport, Newport, Rhode Island, United States