Boston’s historic cemeteries
Boston’s Old Dead People
Boston is one of the earliest settlements in America. Of course, folks have been dying here since day one, so Boston has been dealing with their aftermath for a long time, too. As a result, the city has four cemeteries worthy of the most picky history nut.
The oldest cemetery was created the same year Boston was founded, 1630, so houses its oldest settlers. King’s Chapel Burial Ground is, as the name implies, next to King’s Chapel but actually predates the church by many decades. It was originally just called The Old Burial Place. Famous occupants include John Winthrop, the first Puritan Governor of Massachusetts; William Dawes, the real first arrival in Lexington and Concord on that famous ride in 1775; and Mary Chilton, the first European woman to step ashore in New England. Located at the corner of Tremont and School Streets, across from the Omni Parker House.
The Central Burial Ground is probably the least well-known cemetery in the city. People were buried in the cemetery from 1755 to at least the mid-1800s. Many of the graves were unmarked and many British soldiers were buried here after the Battle of Bunker Hill. Artist Gilbert Stuart is probably the most famous occupant here. On the southeast corner of Boston Common, near the intersection of Boylston and Tremont Streets.
Named after shoemaker William Copp, Copp’s Hill Burying Ground is the final resting place of more everyday folks who lived in the North End, including Boston’s early black community. Located on a hill on which a windmill once stood, Copp’s Hill was Boston’s largest colonial burying ground, dating from 1659. Some of the more famous folks buried here include Cotton Mather and his father, Increase, both Puritan ministers closely associated with the Salem witch trials, and Robert Newman, sexton of the Old North Church who hung the lanterns on the night of Paul Revere’s midnight ride. Because of its
height, the British used the cemetery as a vantage point to fire their cannons on Charlestown during the Battle of Bunker Hill in 1775. Hull Street in the North End.
The most famous colonial cemetery is The Old Granary, named after an old grain storage facility that originally was next door. Established in 1660, this became the home for Boston’s rich and famous, including Paul Revere, John Hancock, Benjamin Franklin’s family, Mary Goose (believed by some to be Mother Goose), Sam Adams, Crispus Attucks, and Peter Faneuil. Located on Tremont Street, near the corner of Park Street.
Alan Maltzman of BostonCityWalks.com