The History of Fountain Hill

The first meeting of the Association was held May 12th, 1851 President Sedley Snow was absent and Henry Wooster President pro tem officiated at the meeting. The meeting was adjourned until June 17th, 1851 for the election of officers. The meeting was again held at Baruck Beckwith’s store.

Forty acres of land was purchased for $1,696.00 from Sedley Snow on December 1, 1851. He had recently purchased the land from Harry Southworth. Part of this area was an old quarry hill. It was bound on the south by Pratt’s Cove and on the west by the “new road,” High Street. The land was then consecrated for the purposes of a cemetery.

Three members of the Board of Directors and Mr. Stone formed a committee to begin planning the different portions of the cemetery and creating the beautiful names of the sections that are still in use today.  Further meetings of the Board of Directors were held that year in Sedley Snow’s counting room according to the minutes of the meeting.

It is believed that Mr. George A. Read was part of this committee. He is reported to have had an artistic eye and the fountains installed at the cemetery were similar to the ones he initiated into the landscape at the Pratt, Read Factory.

The first internment in the cemetery was that of Mrs. Mary Towner, who was buried December 14th, 1851, aged 75 years at her death, in the Pilgrim Rock section.

It was in 1868 that the Board of Directors first decided to employ an engineer to survey the grounds and make a map of the whole acreage. B.F. Hathaway of Stamford was chosen and the plans which he drew up for the winding roads, carefully thought-out alignment of plots, terraces, fountains and other landscape features, are still followed by the board of directors. The names of some sections of the cemetery undoubtedly pre-date the map, but others may have been given by B. F. Hathaway himself.

Improvements for

Fountain Hill Cemetery

The Board of Directors of Fountain Hill Cemetery in conjunction with the Fountain Hill Preservation Society, Inc. utilize monetary donations for the upkeep and repair of historical structures and monuments, as well as projects deemed necessary by its board of directors in order to fulfill its mission statement. These projects may include- monument repair/restoration, tree planting and replacement of dead or diseased trees, and restoration of historic structures within cemetery grounds.

Ulysses Pratt donated funds to the cemetery for the building of a wall on Essex St.

An ornamental gateway for the cemetery entrance was provided in 1882 through the generosity of Rev. Russell Jennings.

William LaPlace – Resolution of thanks to Rev. Jennings for the gift of 8 acres of land in what is now known as the Forest and Jewish sections of the cemetery.

Daniel Shipman offers to pay for a receiving vault. Bids go out to several contractors but the committee thinks all bids are too high. Project put on hold. In 1889, finally accept bid for the construction of vault.

The remains of the dead who were previously interred in the Baptist Church Burial Grounds have all been transferred to Fountain Hill Cemetery. Some of those interred in the Congregational Church burial Ground have also been transferred.

William LaPlace – the wall along High Street was rebuilt in 1911 along with a new entrance way. The horses were having trouble drawing the casket through the gate due to uphill climb. The Directors signed a contract for work for $2,709. 09. The work started on August 20, 1911 and was completed on December 23, 1911. The new entrance, grading, wall and road were completed at a cost of $3,804.13.

The Wooster Memorial Chapel was built in 1912 and completed in 1914.

William LaPlace – It was decided that the entrance needed regrading and a lake should be made in the marsh area near the entrance. Contract to D.R. Billing of Middletown. $4,500.00 for the project ($3,000.00 for digging and $1,500.00 for sand and gravel)

William LaPlace – the Directors accept land donated by Mary Burroughs connecting the west side Fountain Hill cemetery to the Congregational Church Cemetery along Pratt Lane. This land is not able to accept graves but will act as a buffer to the community.

William LaPlace -Members of the Jewish Community Center approached the Fountain Hill Cemetery Association for cemetery space for their congregation.

William LaPlace – contracted with Sam Dault to haul fill in preparation of the Vista section of the cemetery. Worked with Getty Granite as well to develop this area. Bronze monuments were very popular and Getty wanted to ensure that we would remain a granite cemetery. Hedgerows were placed as a backdrop for the monuments as it was felt that they would cause less problems than the trees. Trees were trouble because of their root structures, falling limbs causing damage to stone and labor intensive in the fall for leaf pick up. It was thought that the hedgerows would be attractive without the problems. The superintendent had no further trouble with families wanting to plant trees. However, by 2004, it was realized that the hedgerows were indeed a labor intensive headache as they needed constant trimming to keep them neat and attractive.

William LaPlace – It was voted to use the income from the sale of Vista plots to install a two-bay crematory in the old tool house building. This building was built in 1923 of stone from the cemetery quarry. The cost of the crematory was $40,000.00. Even with the money from the Vista sales money needed to be borrowed to complete the project. Two hundred and twenty-three cremations were done in the first year of operation at $100.00 each. Within three years cremations increased to more than three hundred a year and the loan was paid off.

One thousand and eighty-three cremations a year.

Quarry excavation to extend life of cemetery. The Association contracted with Getty Granite to remove 100,000 cubic yards of stone to create cemetery space.

Onsite crematory was closed and the building was razed.
A new maintenance garage and office space was erected in the place of the crematory.

The Soldiers’ Memorial

On May 5, 1868, General John A. Logan, Commander-in-chief of the Grand Army of the Republic issued General Order No. 11: “The 30th day of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet church yard in the land. In this observance no form of ceremony is prescribed, but post and comrades will in their own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit.”

In response to this order the Mather G.A.R. Post No. 25 erected a stone memorial at Fountain Hill Cemetery. Two plaques were attached to the monument. The first reads “God is the Rock, His Work is perfect” and the second reads “The Earth did quake, the Rocks rent.” The New Era newspaper was not established in 1874 so we do not have any info from that source about the construction of the monument. Our first news of this monument comes from the New Era May 1875 as it describes the annual Decoration Day Ceremonies at the Soldiers’ Memorial at Fountain Hill Cemetery.

Unfortunately, we don’t know when the monument was actually placed here. Through further newspaper clippings we know that the Mather G.A.R. post held Decoration Day services here until the turn of the century. This national holiday was not known as Memorial Day until after World War I. The Eagle monument on Main Street was erected in 1923 and used in Memorial Day services.

Board of Directors

Fountain Hill Cemetery Association


Richard Forristall

Jayne Mather

Vice President
David Blifford

Mark Lowrey

Board Members

Matthew Elgart

Rhonda Forristall

Steve Gephard

Dean McMorran Jr.

Martin Nadel

Scott Nelson

Beth Shalom

Est. 1953

Beth Shalom

Est. 1953

Members of the Jewish Community Center approached the Fountain Hill Cemetery Association for cemetery space for their congregation.

A portion of the Forest section was deeded to the Jewish Community Center for the interment of those of the Jewish faith. It was then realized that once the 15 foot border was in place that the land then available for graves was not acceptable for grave space. Fill was brought in and raised the level of the land to meet the religious guidelines for burial. Dr. Samuels built the wooden railing and steps leading up to the burial site. The area was named Beth Shalom.

Contact Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek for burial information.