The Mead tomb, more affectionately known as Lucy's tomb, is the only granite family tomb located within the Old Burying Ground. A recent restoration project which began in 2001 revealed a mystery surrounding the occupants of the tomb. Although the inscription on the slate door (which reads "Lucy Kimball Mead, wife of Benjamin Mead dies June 16, 1821 age 31") suggests that Lucy Mead was the sole occupant of the tomb, forensic and historical evidence suggests otherwise.
After repeated vandalization of the tomb during the 1950s or 1960s, a large pile of rubble was dumped in front of the tomb door. Attention was drawn to the tomb in 1999 during the process of applying to list the Old Burying Ground on the State and National Historic Register. Later that year, the cemetery department received a significant grant for the restoration of Lucy's tomb.
After removing the rubble from the doorway, the hinges and hasps were oiled regularly in anticipation of opening the tomb in September 2001. This historic opening of the tomb was attended and directed by Fannin-Lehner Preservation Consultants from Concord, cemetery commissioners, and cemetery personnel. At first glance, the tomb's contents included bones, metal pieces, rotted wood fragments, textile products, and wine and liquor bottles. Later investigations determined that the bottles dated from the 1930s to the 1960s. Despite years of vandalism, the structural integrity of the tomb's interior was excellent. Photographs were taken and the tomb was resealed.
The Couper Foundation generously donated $15,000 which enabled the cemetery to proceed with much-needed renovations and archeological research. The late Vince Couper, a Littleton resident, was the grand-nephew of Lucy Mead. This generous donation provided funding for the new granite steps and walkway which lead to the tomb, and the services of Timelines, Inc., a local archeological company. One of the primary goals of the archeological team was to gather all of Lucy's remains and place them into a new wooden coffin.
The archeological investigations began during the summer of 2003 when the tomb was opened for the second time. The archeological team, directed by Marty Dudek of Timelines, Inc., laid out a grid and systematically removed soil and artifacts down to the level of original soils. Then, they began the tedious process of sifting through all of the material removed from the tomb floor. Well-known archeologist, Nick Bellatoni from Maryland came to Littleton to view the tomb and make suggestions for handling the project. All of the human remains were examined and catalogued by osteologist Harley Erickson. The wood and textile artifacts were sent to the University of Rhode Island for analysis by Dr. Margaret Ordonez. A historian volunteered to conduct research on the Mead and Kimball families.
The results of this intensive work revealed the remains of three individuals in the tomb. Most of the bones were from a male who was about 6 feet tall, ranging from 60 to 86 years old. Evidence from the bones indicates that he had been stricken with arthritis and mild osteoporosis while regular wear and tear on the bones suggest that he may have been a farmer. A second group of bones, consisting of only a finger bone and two ankle bones, are thought to have belonged to a small female. The last group of bones belonged to a young child between 4 and 8 years old.
Although only speculation, it is possible that the remains of the elderly male who was found in Lucy's tomb belong to Benjamin Kimball, brother of Lucy Kimball Mead. Reportedly, Benjamin took his own life in 1858 at age 77, perhaps leading to his exclusion from the family plot at Westlawn Cemetery. Additionally, Lucy Kimball Mead's name is included on the slate marker in the family plot at Westlawn Cemetery; she may have been interred in the tomb originally and then transferred later to the family plot at Westlawn Cemetery where her husband is buried. The small finger and ankle bones may be remains that were inadvertently left behind in the tomb during the transfer. A young son of Benjamin Mead, Sherman Dix Mead who died at the age of 5 years old in 1833 may have been interred in the Mead tomb and later moved to the Mead family plot at Westlawn Cemetery, as well. So, after three years of hard work, the mystery of who was interred in Lucy's tomb still remains.