The Woodbury Cemetery Association, established in 1906, oversees the care and upkeep of the three cemeteries in town: the South Cemetery, the Old North Cemetery, and the New North Cemetery. Prior to 1906, the cemeteries belonged to the Town.
The Old Burial Ground lies on a 3.8 acre shelf to the West of Main Street, sloping to the Hollow. This location was considered ideal for burials as the area was not good for farmland, and the original section, on the southern end, was near the site of the first Congregational meetinghouse. Stones date back to 1678 with many gravestones, monuments and sarcophagi from the 17th, 18th & early 19th century. Early graves in New England were customarily marked with uncut boulders and many have become a piece of the stone wall that lines the east side of the land. In 1785, construction of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church was begun on the northerly section of this parcel and a burial ground was developed in the church’s shadow. In time the two grounds expanded to merge, with no division line.
The thin soil on this parcel has been kind to seedling pines and hemlocks, some of which have reached majestic proportions. In this cemetery each small plot holds its own story, all part of the warp and woof of the tapestry that is Woodbury.
The Fathers’ Monument stands proudly at this site. It was dedicated during the Bicentennial Celebration of the organization of the First Church as the Second Church of Stratford, held May 5, 1870. This impressive structure of native boulders, 44 feet high, was erected in memory of the first three Congregational ministers in Woodbury: Zechariah Walker, Anthony Stoddard and Noah Benedict, whose united ministry covered a period of one hundred forty three years. The benefactors of this monument include William Tecumseh Sherman of Civil War fame. One third of the more than $1,500 cost was donated by an anonymous contributor.
At the base of the monument is an old mill wheel that was brought from Stratford by Woodbury’s earliest settlers. It was carried between two horses on their journey and was used to grind the grain and corn for the whole settlement at the rate of one bushel per day.
A flat, irregular slab of pasture granite lies at the foot of the monument. This original grave marker of Rev. Zachariah Walker, who passed away in 1699, is one of the oldest burial markers in the region.
Whether one is a Woodbury native, or a New England enthusiast, a slow walk through this ancient burial ground will evoke a strong sense of Woodbury’s heritage.
Old North Cemetery
The Old North Cemetery lies on 5.2 acres of land between Washington Avenue, and what is currently the Mitchell Elementary School playground. To quote Cothren’s History, Vol. 1, at the annual town meeting, held in October 1826, “a vote was passed to buy a new burying ground, of Capt. Elijah Sherman; and John Strong, Jr., James Moody, Noah B. Benedict, Judson Blackman, Jeremiah Peck, Jesse Minor, Leman Sherman, Nathan Preston and Chauncey Crafts were appointed a committee to lay it out into lots.” Thalia Judson was the first person interred in this cemetery on November 28, 1826. Filled with an eclectic assortment of headstones, one can find many old Woodbury family names here. Burials continued in this cemetery through the 1800s, while a few more burial lots have been laid out and used in recent years.
New North Cemetery
The Town of Woodbury purchased a portion of the land that the New North Cemetery occupies, in 1873. In the 1980s, the Woodbury Cemetery Association purchased the northernmost portion of this location from Frank Shepard.
The property for the New North Cemetery currently occupies 21+ acres on the west side of Washington Avenue. Bordered by athletic fields, and the Pomperaug River, this cemetery has provided a peaceful resting place with pastoral views for well over a century, and will continue to do so well into the future.