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Ancient Burying Ground, Hartford

#4 of 8 in Historic Sites in Hartford
Cemetery · Hidden Gem · Tourist Spot
The Ancient Burying Ground Association seeks to preserve and promote the history of the Ancient Burying Ground - Hartford's oldest historic landmark located at the corner of Main & Gold Streets near Center Church in Hartford.

The Ancient Burying Ground is the oldest historic site in Hartford, and the only one surviving from the 1600s. From 1640, four years after the arrival of the first English settlers, down until the early 1800s, it was Hartford's only graveyard. During that period anyone who died in town, regardless of age, gender, race, ethnic background, economic status, or religious faith, was interred here. The oldest gravestone is believed to be that for Timothy Stanley, who died in 1648.

Approximately 6,000 men, women, and children are believed to have been interred in the Ancient Burying Ground, which was originallyconsiderably larger than it is today. Over the centuries commercial buildings, as well as the First Congregational meeting house, were erected on Burying Ground land, whittling it down it to its present size of four acres.

Excerpts relating to the Ancient Buying Ground found in the “Commemorative Exercises of the First Chaurch of Christ at its Two Hundreds and Fiftieth Anniversary, October 11 and 12 1883.

“The central spot of the city so long known to us as State House Square was much more of a square when it was first called" Meeting-House Yard" by the settlers. It was then a rectangle, at least a third greater in area than at present. Encroachments upon it began at a very early date. The first burying-ground was located on this square-tradition says near the northeast corner, on what was afterwards the Lawrence Property; not far from this was the Jail; and near the southeast corner, the market. A market-house stood there until about 1829; and that vicinity has only just ceased – if it has ceased-to be a market place for hay, straw, and wood. Before 1640 it was seen that the burying-ground on the square was insufficient and ill-located; and in that year the town purchased of "Richard Olmsted, parcel of his Lot for a Burying Place," which continued to this century to be the principal burial ground of the town. This is the cemetery in the rear of this church, and it at first extended to Main street, including the site of this house and the lecture room, and of the buildings next north. Probably interments were made occasionally on private grounds. The monument of Dr. Norman Morison, who died in 1761, and was buried in his own garden, still stands in front of S1, Paul's church on Market street, with that of another of his family.”…

…“Not far from the meeting-house, on the same public square, were those other more secular conservators of public welfare, the jail, the stocks, and whipping-post. The first burial place of the dead-for men and women would die amid all the -hopes of a new colony on a fresh planted continent-lay on the northerly side of Meeting-House Yard, westward upon or above the site of the present City Building. The spot was formerly higher than now, and its leveling removed alike monuments and graves.”
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Ancient Burying Ground reviews

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  • Cemetery was very nice. You can tell at some time in the far past some of the headstones have been replaced but the wording on each appear to be legit. It's laid out nicely and was easy to walk...  more »
  • This small, historical burial ground is the oldest in Hartford (dating back to the 1600s), although many of the tombstones are so weathered that they're hard to read. Still, it's clear that this...  more »
  • The tour was excellently informative; there was a great crowd & even the weather cooperated!!! The only down side was the noise from the parking garage. But I brought the book by Mr. Richard Ross, III and I can't wait to read it. I would definitely attend another guided tour of the Ancient Burying Ground!!!
  • Very interesting but we couldn't locate a specific burial plot. Because the age of the stones made them hard or impossible to read, it would have been very helpful to have a map of the burial plots.

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