A burial place was extant in Wood End, today's Reading, as early as 1737, when Ensign Nathaniel Parker was the first person interred there. In 1741, the town voted to reserve the burying ground and the land south of it for town use "forever". A general selling off of the rest of the towns common lands followed. The land south of the burying ground became known as the Common. It was given by the town to the newly formed Third Parish in 1769. Although the records are not clear on the matter, it is likely that the burial ground was included in this transfer, because the parish seems to have taken charge of it since. In 1806, the Andover and Medford turnpike was built across the southeast corner of the burying ground, separating off a triangular parcel. This parcel was leased in 1816 to David Pratt for 999 years; on it he built the house and store this is today 28 Salem Street. In 1822 a small south strip was set off for parsonage purposes. In 1846, the parish purchased 13 acres of land bordering upon the north side of the cemetery. Amasa Farrier, an engineer, was hired at that time to lay out lots and avenues and prepare a lithograph plan of the cemetery. It was dedidated November 25, 1846. In 1853 the parish relinquished ownership to the Town. A Board of Trustees was elected in 1870. Three more acres were provided on the northwest corner in 1873.
In 1890 a competition was held to arrive at a name for the cemetery. It was won by Phila A. Bancroft, with her suggestion of "Laurel Hill," which was the name of a Civil War battlefield near Gettysburg.
Among the most important features of the cemetery is the Civil War monument, which was the third earliest to be erected in Massachusetts (after Somerville and Newton).
The earliest death date is 1736. It is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. In 1980 there were approximately 7800 gravestones. The cemetery is still in use today so the number is probably well over that now.
The Massachusetts Historical Commission refers to this cemetery in MACRIS as REA.800 Laurel Hill Cemetery.
This cemetery is referred to as GR1 Laurel Hill Cemetery, Reading in the "Vital Records of Reading Massachusetts to the end of the year 1849."
GPS Coordinates: 42.52583, -71.10324
- Added: 2 Jan 2000
- Find A Grave Cemetery: #91161
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