New Hill Burying Ground ~
later expanded as Highland Cemetery

© 2006 Bright iDear
Old Hill Burying Ground and New Hill Burying Ground together comprise several acres of public burial grounds within the bounds of the Waterside community. Old Hill was set off as a burial site a handful of years after the Waterside Third Parish of Newbury was organized in 1725, twice expanding its bounds to encompass a triagular gore of hilly terrain now bounded northly by Greenleaf Streets and the Bartlet Mall, westerly by Auburn Street and easterly by Pond Street. The latter street divides Old Hill Burying Ground from New Hill Burying Ground.

[View Mapquest link without. Shaded light green on the map, Old Hill Burying Ground is the portion of land directly to the south of Bartlet Mall. (Note Bartlet Mall is misspelled on map.) New Hill Burying Ground AKA Highland Cemetery is to the east of Pond Street, on Hill Street (once West India Lane).]

Come to know more about those interred at New Hill Burying Ground (AKA Highland Cemetery) at this link without ~ a Web page on the Website.

In 1799, in what was by then the town of Newburyport (the Waterside Third Parish having separated from Newbury in 1764), a committee was appointed to find suitable land for expanded burial grounds. By that time, the town records no longer applied the unique provincial orthography "Comity" to reference 2-person "committee" which was formed in 1729. The 1799 committee would be more than twice as large as the "Comity" seventy years before. The 1729 two-person "Comity" would select locations for both a school and burial place to present to town meeting in 3 months. The 1799 five-person commitee was given a year to complete their report.

Currier's "Ould Newbury ~ Historical and Biographical Sketches" includes a Chapter on New Hill Burying Ground indicating that the town initially assigned William Bartlett, Moses Brown, Abraham Wheelwright, Stephen Cross and Moses Hoyt to consider the purchase of a convenient piece of land[1] for the needful expansion of burying grounds and to present a report within one year. That report was "deferred until some future time" at the meeting held March 24, 1800. However, on a warrant issued July 7, 1800 the inhabitants of Newburyport were called to a July 10th assembly to proceed with the conveyance of a piece of land for that purpose.

On August 8, 1800, it was voted that "the Treasurer be hereby authorized to purshase of William Coffin Little five acres of land for a Burying ground not to exceed --- and receive a deed of it." Forthwith, the conveyance if said deed, dated July 29, 1800 was recorded in book 167, page 21 of the Essex Registry of Deeds, describing the land as four acres and 137 and 3/10 rods of land.[2]

Currier's "History of Newburyport, Volume I" records that on August 14, 1800 a committee was appointed consisting of Enoch Titcomb, Nicholas Pike and John B. Titcomb which was consider the laying out of the New Hill burying ground.[3]

All within a two week period in March of 1848, the purchase of about 12 acres of land known as Davenport pasture which adjoined New Hill was followed by recommendations of a previously appointed committee to lay out burial plots for individual conveyance "in Lots and Tiers, the lots to be sold at a reasonable price."

On April 19, 1870 the City of Newburyport procured an additional 4-1/2 acres of land from the Little and Coffin families, with the buildings thereupon (book 795, page 196), with a portion of this land conveyed to a third party the following month (book 797, page 88). With those transactions, New Hill Burying Ground was thereby expanded to its present bounds. With its expansion came the renaming as Highland Cemetery and a trust fund established for its care and maintenance.

Amongst the prominent citizens interred at New Hill Burying Ground are the Honorable Caleb Cushing, first Mayor of Newburyport and local author and poet Hannah Flagg Gould.

[1] The convenience of these two burying grounds, in the center of town, allowed that pall bearers be employed for funeral services. Hearses were not used until first procured by the town in 1813.

[2] In the description of the bounds, it is apparent that the land was already in use as a burial ground well before this transaction, and well before the incorporation of the town of Newburyport itself. Currier's describes that the earliest gravestone then standing was dated January 30, 1735, and the next oldest was dated sometime in 1739. (This but a decade after the Waterside Third Parish of Newbury was formed and Old Hill was first set off as a burying ground.) However, from the names on the gravestones, it was evident that these were Little and Coffin family burial plots.

[3] On March 26, 1801 the town selectment leased about four acres of the burial ground to Moses Hoyt, provided that he plow up at least one acre per year and on or before the termination of the three-year lease he lay the whole four acres down as grass.

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