The Gaylordsville Cemetery

This paper was submitted by Nathaniel Borneman to the Gaylordsville Historical Society for use on this web page. Nathaniel wrote the paper as a history project for his fifth grade class at the John Pettibone School in New Milford, CT. Pictures of the cemetery will be added to this page in the Spring of 1999.

Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust:

The Story of the Gaylordsville Cemetery

By Nathaniel Borneman


On January 18, 1737 William Gaylord and Stephen Noble set aside 1 acre and 8 rods to serve as a "burying-place." The cemetery is located on what is now Gaylord Road south of the Gaylordsville School.

Much later, on February 18, 1863 a group of Gaylordsville citizens held a meeting to talk about the preservation of the cemetery. The outcome of the meeting was the Cemetery Association. The Association was reorganized in 1866 and Orra Warner was elected president. That same year, a committee was appointed to extend the graveyard. They asked the owner of the land, Mr. Hungerford, how much he wanted per acre and what conditions had to be met. He wanted $125.00 per acre and he wanted the rails on a fence and a carriage path kept in good condition. They agreed to the demands, but they wanted the price lowered. Mr. Hungerford agreed and sold them the land for $85.00 per acre. Anyone who pledged more than $5.00 received a plot. Colin H. Merwin, by pledging the most money, was able to select the first plot. The remaining plots were sold for $4.00-$10.00.

When the cemetery became crowded, a new one was built on South Kent Road. Now only people with old family plots can be buried in the Gaylordsville Cemetery.

The People

Many interesting people are buried in the Gaylordsville Cemetery. The Gaylords were the founders of Gaylordsville. There are over seventy Gaylords buried in the cemetery.

William Gaylord or Gaylard (1680-1753) was a surveyor who became attached to the area now known as Gaylordsville. He bought the land in bits and pieces, and according to legend, to keep the Indians happy, he bought it from them for a horse, mule, and two wheeled cart. He was the first person to be buried in the cemetery.

Ebenezer Gaylord (1746-1816) was part of a vigilante group during the American Revolution and discovered Tories hiding in a cave.

Peter Gaylord (1784-1879) was a very good shop owner who was a little clever. A story showing this is that once a woman came into his store to trade her butter, because she had found a dead mouse in the cream. Mr. Gaylord took her butter into the back of his store, reshaped it and gave it back to her. The woman left the store fairly confident that she had traded her butter for Mr. Gaylord's butter.

John Gaylord ( 1806-1896) was another shop owner who made scrip during the silver shortage called "shinplasters."

Sylvanus Merwin 1802-1884) was a very aggressive businessman. One day he overheard a group of surveyors saying where a railroad was going to be built. Almost immediately he bought land at the midway point and then struck a deal. He would let the railroad be built on his land if it would be used as a mealstop. The railroad people agreed to his demand. The hotel Mr. Merwin built was odd because it was big and fancy, with a ballroom, in the middle of nowhere.

Walter Frederick Bullock (1873-1942) was an English reporter who covered many important stories: The Wright Brothers, the Lindbergh flight, the Lindbergh's infant son's kidnapping and murder. He was the first person to cover the Titanic tragedy. In his later years, he moved to Gaylordsville. His granddaughter is writing a book about him and hopes to make it into a movie.

There are many odd names in the cemetery. Here are some of them: Pamelia, Alta, Mahala, Ermina, Irana, Tryal and Kezia (women's first names); Gamaliel, Asahel, Beebe, Ury, Abijah and Jabez (men's first names).


While researching for my report, I found some interesting inscriptions and regularities in them. I found that the majority of the babies' stones had poems on them. Here are two examples:

"Charles G/son of/Orra &/Betsey Warner/Age 6 mo/& 15 ds.

This little bud so young and fair,

Called hence by early doom

Just came to show how sweet a flower

In Paradise would bloom."


"In memory of/Lucy Mariah/daughter of/George W &/Phebe Marsh/who died/March 7, 1838/age 1 year/& 9 months.

Here rest thy dust sweet babe

till the Arch Angels trump shall

bid it rise to immortality; then

join thy spirit pure and be

forever blest."


Two people who died of tuberculosis had "died of consumption" written on their stones.

Two children drowned. One boy, Wm Jay Roberts, was 11 and his body was found four months after he died. The other boy, Frederick Levan Tibbetts, died the month before his third birthday.

I found that the word "relict," which was on two gravestones, meant the woman was a widow. Many of the old stones have "AE" and then the age. AE is a Latin abbreviation for the word aetatis, which means age or aged.

It was very rare to find the name of the carver on the stone. I found 3 names: H. Bolles, G. Smith and H. S. Gillette.

Two men's stones tell that they fought in wars. Nathaniel Osborn was "for seven years a soldier of the Revolution." William C. Warner was in the Civil War and "died for his country Dec 23, 1862."

Finally, I found Henry A. Tibbetts, who died in Hawaii in 1863. We may never know why he was in Hawaii.


There are some interesting and old carvings in the cemetery. The most common carving is a weeping willow tree with an urn under it. The willow stands for mourning over death. The urn is a funeral artifact. One stone had stars to show the rising spirit. My favorite carving is called a "soul-effigy," (there was only one there) which looks like a head with wings attached at the bottom of the neck. Under the effigy on the same stone is what appears to be a Bible. An odd thing I noticed was that some of the babies' stones had doves on them. I managed to find a Masonic symbol which meant the person was a Mason.

Most of the stones were plain, old slabs, but some were more interesting. In the newer part of the cemetery, some of the family plot markers were obelisks. An obelisk is the same shape as the Washington Monument. Obelisks were first built by the Egyptians. In the 1800's, people became interested in Egypt and obelisks began to spring up everywhere, (including cemeteries), such as the Washington Monument and the Kent Civil War Monument.


There are four types of stone used in the Gaylordsville Cemetery: granite, sandstone, slate and marble. Granite and sandstone are the most common. Slate is only in the older part of the cemetery, and there are only one or two of them. Bronze graves are in the newer part of the cemetery. The graves are hollow and bolted together. They are very fancy and obviously expensive. There are only two; one at each end of the cemetery, in the middle.

The older stones are in very bad condition. Footstones are missing, some stones are covered with lichen, some are broken in half, there is exfoliation (peeling or scaling of the stone), and some stones have fallen over.

Other Interesting Facts

Youngest person buried: Mary Bennitt, died 1758; aged 15 days

Oldest person buried: Zephaniah Briggs, died 1837, 101 years

Oldest burial: William Gaylord, died 1753

Newest burial: Margaret Lighty Knowles, died 1996

Most unusual name: Martin Van Buren Tibbitts

Most common name: William Gaylord

Number buried in cemetery: approximately 400

Best coincidence: the first and last Gaylords buried in the cemetery were both named William


The Gaylordsville Cemetery plays a very important part in Gaylordsville's history. Some of the people there are important on a local scale, and one on a worldwide scale. A cemetery holds many important records, including births, deaths and what people did in life, and how they died. You can also find out important things about groups, such as when big epidemics occurred. This is why this cemetery must be preserved.


Flynn, John D. Gaylordsville, New Milford, Litch-Fair Press.

Jacobs, Rusty. "A Tale of War, Disaster, Love and New Milford," The Litchfield County Times, March 20, 1998.

Ludwig, Allen L. Graven Images, Middletown, Connecticut, Wesleyan University Press, 1966.

McDowell, Peggy and Meyer, Richard E. The Revival Styles in American Memorial Art, Bowling Green, Ohio, Bowling Green State University Popular Press, 1994.

Orcott, Samuel. History of the Towns of New Milford and Bridgewater, Connecticut 1703-1882, New Milford Historical Society, New Milford Connecticut. 1976 commemorative edition..

Strangstad, Lynette. A Graveyard Preservation Primer, Nashville, The American Association for State and Local History, 1988.

©1999 Nathaniel Borneman