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Old Hill Burying Ground

Old Hill Burying Ground

The Powder House in the Old Hill Burying Ground is going to be restored and repaired this fall. There was a small gathering on Tuesday, August 22, 2006 at 1:30 at 141 Keyes Road to discuss this event. Marion Wheeler was on hand to talk about the history of the gun powder industry in Concord in the1800's. Many other participants also provided information regarding this subject.

Powder House
The "Powder House" from an old postcard provided by Tish Hopkins

On the hillside overlooking Concord’s Monument Square is the oldest of the three cemeteries, the Old Hill Burying Ground. With nearly 500 graves, the earliest existing stone is dated 1677. Old Hill was the original burying ground for Concord residents after securing their settlement in 1635. The entrance is from Monument Square through the gate between St. Bernard’s Church and the "brick-end" house. This site, on a prominent glacial esker, was adjacent to the original location of the First Parish Church. It was on land that could not be farmed, and because of its height, it was the first area to thaw in the spring. This thawing allowed for early burial of those who died during the winter and waited silently for a place in the warm earth.


Of the nearly 500 burial markers in Old Hill, the oldest belongs to Joseph Merriam who died April 20, 1677. An interesting gravesite at the very back belongs to John Jack, a former slave who died in 1773. His stone is noteworthy for a poem-like epitaph concluding that John Jack "practiced those virtues without which kings are but slaves." There are many others. Young Orpah Bryant, for example, died in 1798 after only one year but is remembered as being "the joy of her father and the delight of her mother." Of interest, is the grave of Major John Buttrick who led the fight at the North Bridge and died 16 years later, on May 16, 1791. His son, buried in the same family plot, was at the bridge as a fifer. Old Hill also contains the graves of 40 other veterans of the Revolution. It is said that Colonel Smith and Major Pitcairn, British commanders on that lively day in April, 1775, chose the Old Hill site as their command post, and from there witnessed what would be the beginning of the end of British rule.

(from "Town of Concord and its Historic Cemeteries" brochure - Concord Cemetery Committee/Concord Public Works - March 2001)

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