Forefathers Burial Ground, Chelmsford Center, Middlesex, Massachusetts, USA

Latitude: 42.59745, Longitude: -71.35397
Forefathers Burial Ground

The Forefathers Burying Ground is location in Chelmsford Center behind the First Parish Unitarian Universalist Church, first known as the Church of Christ in Chelmsford. It was originally Congregational in denomination, as the Rev. John Fiske favored the Cambridge Platform.

Some say the first meeting house was built in 1655, while others believe it was not built until 1659/60. The early meeting house was a general gathering place, used as not only a place of worship, but for public meetings and other social events.

The first grave was on the land of Thomas Henchman, later owned by Mrs. E.H. Warren. The Forefathers Burying Ground is thought to be the first public burial ground in town although it may have been a number of years before it was established. The earliest surviving carved stone is that of Grace Livermoar, dated 1690. The first minister, Rev. John Fiske, was buried here but it is not known where. Edward Spalding who died in 1669 was buried beside his grandson Joseph, but no stone is present to note the location of his grave.

A few uninscribed stones of rough surface appear to mark the earliest graves, but the year 1690 is the date of the first stone bearing an inscription. In 1702, a "rough fence", and in 1708, a "board fence" was placed around the burying ground. This was replaced in 1717 by a stone wall and in 1790 one of more permanent character was built.

In May 25, 1778, the Town appointed a committee to consider making some addition to the burying ground. In 1813, and the three succeeding years, the tombs were built at the top of the rising ground. In 1817, a piece of land owned by Moses Hale, on the Southerly side of the burying ground was added to it. In 1830, the burying ground was "repaired", and in 1838, an addition was made on the west side, a parcel being purchased of David Dickinson for $100. In 1839, the stone steps were built on the slope near the center of the old part of the burying ground. The upper flight of steps was built about 1853, when the upper row of tombs were built. In 1871, a receiving tomb was built. A triangular strip of land next to Littleton Road was annexed at this time.

The cemetery sits on 4.8 acres. The earliest headstone death date in 1690. There are 1500+ headstones.

There are approximately 102 veterans interred at Forefathers Burying Ground including 46 Revolutionary War Veterans and 45 Civil War Veterans.

The Massachusetts Historical Commission refers to this cemetery in MACRIS as CLM.804 Forefathers' Cemetery.

This cemetery is referred to as GR1 Forefather's Cemetery, Chelmsford Centre in the "Vital Records of Chelmsford Massachusetts to the end of the year 1849."

Cemetery Photos

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Gould, Francis Graveyard
Gould, Francis Graveyard