“he first chartered burial ground in the United States”
The Grove Street Cemetery, the first chartered burial ground in the United States, succeeded the previous common burial site, the New Haven Green. After severe yellow fever epidemics in 1794 and 1795 the Green, which held perhaps as many as 5,000 burials, was simply too crowded to continue as the chief burial ground. ln 1796 a group of New Haven citizens led by U.S, Senator James Hillhouse planned a new cemetery on a location at the edge of town. Their efforts were officially recognized in October, 1797 when the State of Connecticut incorporated the cemetery as The New Burying Ground in New Haven. The first burial, that of Martha Townsend, took place on November 9, 1797. The pattern of the cemetery also appears to have been unique, for it was arranged in lots for families as opposed to random burials which had been common in the past. The grounds were also divided to give space to parishioners of the three churches on the Green, an area for strangers who might die in New Haven, one for the indigent, a section for persons of color and one for Yale College. The Green continued to be used, but to a lesser extent, the last burial there occurring in 1812. The stone grave markers on the Green were eventually moved to Grove Street. Some were used to mark out the boundaries of burial sites in this cemetery and a great many are lined against the rear walls in alphabetical order.
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Grove Street Cemetery
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