Wander Around an Ancient Burying Ground

  • 01 of 11

    Hartford's Oldest Attraction

    Hartford Ancient Burying Ground Photo - Old Cemetery Photo
    Hartford's Ancient Burying Ground: A Photo Gallery Hartford's Ancient Burying Ground, located on Main Street alongside Center Church, is the city's oldest historic attraction. Some of the more than 400 headstones in this old cemetery date to the 1600s. © 2007 Kim Knox Beckius

    Cemetery is Hartford's Oldest Historic Attraction

    Nearly four centuries have elapsed since the first English settlers arrived in Hartford, CT. The Ancient Burying Ground, located adjacent to Center Church at the intersection of Main and Gold Streets, is the final resting place for about 6,000 souls who called Hartford home between 1640 and the early 1800s. Only a few of Hartford's early inhabitants could afford burial markers, so the cemetery's 400 gravestones represent only a fraction of those interred here. But each chiseled stone tells a story.

    My favorite headstone is located in the right front corner as you enter through the Main Street gate. It's for teenager Richard Bernham, who was "Killed by ye Bloing up of ye School house." Fireworks were being stored at the school for a celebration of the Stamp Act's repeal, and we can only speculate, generations later, that perhaps teens were just as mischievous in 1766 as they are today!

    Click each photo to see a...MORE larger view and to join me on a photo tour of the Ancient Burying Ground.

    The Ancient Burying Ground is final resting place for Hartford's founders and early settlers. The city's oldest historic attraction is open free to visitors.

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  • 02 of 11

    A Resting Place

    Ancient Burying Ground in Downtown Hartford Connecticut - Photo
    Hartford's Ancient Burying Ground: A Photo Gallery The Ancient Burying Ground is a wonderfully preserved site in the heart of downtown Hartford. Although there are only about 400 surviving tombstones, it is believed that this is the final resting place for as many as 6,000 of Hartford's early settlers. © 2007 Kim Knox Beckius

    The Ancient Burying Ground is final resting place for Hartford's founders and early settlers. The city's oldest historic attraction is open free to visitors.

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  • 03 of 11

    Founders' Monument

    Hartford Ancient Burying Ground Obelisk Photo - Hartford's Founders
    Hartford's Ancient Burying Ground: A Photo Gallery The obelisk at the center of the Ancient Burying Ground is known as the Founders' Monument. It is inscribed with the names of many of the original settlers of Hartford. The pink granite monument installed in 1986 replaced the deteriorating 1837 monument. © 2007 Kim Knox Beckius

    The Ancient Burying Ground is final resting place for Hartford's founders and early settlers. The city's oldest historic attraction is open free to visitors.

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  • 04 of 11

    Equal in Death

    Ancient Burying Ground Leaning Headstones - Hartford Connecticut Photo
    Hartford's Ancient Burying Ground: A Photo Gallery Each headstone within Hartford's Ancient Burying Ground tells a story. From 1640 until the early 1800s, all of the community's dead were interred here--men, women, children, slaves--including many who were too poor to afford a grave marker. © 2007 Kim Knox Beckius

    The Ancient Burying Ground is final resting place for Hartford's founders and early settlers. The city's oldest historic attraction is open free to visitors.

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  • 05 of 11

    Here Lies William Knox

    Lieut. William Knox Headstone at Hartford Ancient Burying Ground Cemetery Hartford Connecticut
    Hartford's Ancient Burying Ground: A Photo Gallery Lieut. William Knox (1732-1787) was an Irish immigrant who lived in Hartford for more than two decades. He was the father of seven, and he operated a tavern in Hartford where British prisoners of war were housed during the American Revolution. © 2007 Kim Knox Beckius

    The Ancient Burying Ground is final resting place for Hartford's founders and early settlers. The city's oldest historic attraction is open free to visitors.

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  • 06 of 11

    Prepare for Death & Follow Me

    Ancient Burying Ground Headstone Inscription Prepare for Death and Follow Me
    Hartford's Ancient Burying Ground: A Photo Gallery The inscription on Lieut. William Knox's headstone was a common one in the late 18th century. © 2007 Kim Knox Beckius

    The Ancient Burying Ground is final resting place for Hartford's founders and early settlers. The city's oldest historic attraction is open free to visitors.

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  • 07 of 11

    9 Months and 7 Days

    Child's Headstone at Hartford Ancient Burying Ground - Photo
    Hartford's Ancient Burying Ground: A Photo Gallery Lieut. William Knox lived to the ripe old age of 55; many others buried at Hartford's Ancient Burying Ground were not so fortunate. There are many children among the dead. This stone commemorates 9-month-old Walter, who died in 1761. © 2007 Kim Knox Beckius

    The Ancient Burying Ground is final resting place for Hartford's founders and early settlers. The city's oldest historic attraction is open free to visitors.

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  • 08 of 11

    Death's Heads

    Death's Head Image on Gravestone at Ancient Burying Ground in Hartford CT - Photo
    Hartford's Ancient Burying Ground: A Photo Gallery In the late 1600s, the image of a winged skull began appearing on Connecticut gravestones, such as this one for 31-year-old William Keith. Known as "death's heads," these symbols reflected Puritans' grim notion of death. © 2007 Kim Knox Beckius

    The Ancient Burying Ground is final resting place for Hartford's founders and early settlers. The city's oldest historic attraction is open free to visitors.

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  • 09 of 11

    Hartford's Founder

    Thomas Hooker Hartford's Founder - Ancient Burying Ground Hartford Connecticut
    Hartford's Ancient Burying Ground: A Photo Gallery The Reverend Thomas Hooker and 100 members of his congregation left Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1636 and founded the first English settlement in Hartford. Hooker's body is believed to be beneath Center Church. This plaque honors Hartford's founder. © 2007 Kim Knox Beckius

    The Ancient Burying Ground is final resting place for Hartford's founders and early settlers. The city's oldest historic attraction is open free to visitors.

    Continue to 10 of 11 below.
  • 10 of 11

    African-American Memorial

    African-American Memorial at Hartford Ancient Burying Ground
    Hartford's Ancient Burying Ground: A Photo Gallery In 1998, this stone was installed at Hartford's Ancient Burying Ground to memorialize 63 African Americans who are known to be buried here, as well as 250 others who are likely among the cemetery's inhabitants. Most were Colonial-era slaves. © 2007 Kim Knox Beckius

    The Ancient Burying Ground is final resting place for Hartford's founders and early settlers. The city's oldest historic attraction is open free to visitors.

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  • 11 of 11

    The Way Out

    Reverend Samuel Stone Statue at Ancient Burying Ground - Hartford CT Photo
    Hartford's Ancient Burying Ground: A Photo Gallery Reverend Samuel Stone, who negotiated the purchase of Hartford from the Native Americans, was one of Hartford's founders and Thomas Hooker's successor as the congregation's pastor. This statue of Stone is near the Ancient Burying Ground entrance/exit. © 2007 Kim Knox Beckius

    The Ancient Burying Ground is final resting place for Hartford's founders and early settlers. The city's oldest historic attraction is open free to visitors.