New Haven County
|Cemetery notes and/or description:|
History of the Burying Ground of North Haven
At the first settlement in the eighteenth century of the 'north east village' - the part of New Haven that was to become North Haven - there was no church, meeting house or burying ground. The residents of the village had to travel about ten miles to the Meeting House in New Haven for all their religious and most of the political meetings. All of their dead, except for four internments at Montowese, were buried on the New Haven Green.
In 1714, the New Haven minister the Reverend James Pierpont, left land that he owned in the "north east village" to his neighbors near the Wallingford bridge (now the Broadway bridge crossing of the Quinnipiac River) to be used "to set their meeting house there and make their training and burying place." The General Assembly approved the formation of a new parish called the Ecclesiastical Society and a minister was called in 1717.
Joel Cooper, the five-year old son of Samuel and Elizabeth Cooper, may have been the first person to be buried in the new burial ground. His stone has the earlies date, 1723, of any stone now standing.
In 1724 Reverend Isaac Stiles began his thirty-six year ministry, and with a resident minister, the number of burials began to increase. Although family members were sometimes buried together, the Burying Ground has no family plots. As the Burying Ground filled, a movement began to develop a new cemetery where family plots could be created in a garden-like design similar to New Haven's Grove Street Cemetery. North Haven joined this movement in 1841, when the new Center Cemetery was established on Elm Street and during the 20th century the Burying Ground on the Green became known as Old Cemetery or Old Center Cemetery. Most of the people who died after 1850 were buried in the new cemetery but some, primarily spouses and other near relatives of persons previously buried in Old Center, wanted to be buried in the old cemetery on the Green.
The last stone erected in the Old Cemetery was for Elvira S. Cooper in 1882. In 1888, just six years after the last burial, Sheldon Thorpe made drawings and a record of the inscriptions in ledger books. His list shows footstones for many of the graves but, as power lawn mowers came into use, most of the footstones were removed. A second list was compiled by Frank E. Hotchkiss, a former manager at Yale in 1888. In 1933 an abbreviated list of the inscriptions was compiled by Charles R. Hale sponsored by the Connecticut State Library and done under the WPA. All names listed in the 1888 & 1933 inventories have been added to the cemetery. In the 1980's Lucille Wiedmann photographed every stone in the cemetery. Her photos are in the archives of the North Haven Historical Society. A map showing the location of the gravestones was drawn for the town in 1995 and is available at the local library.