Friday, June 24, 2011

Did you know that Dartmouth College has its own cemetery?

A black and white photograph of a cemetery among trees.Nestled between the Thayer School of Engineering complex and Fairbanks are 12 acres of land, the first acre of which was confirmed by the trustees as “a burying ground for the use of this College and the inhabitants of this vicinity,” in 1771. Given to the trustees by Eleazar Wheelock, it is the final resting place of eight college presidents, numerous trustees and treasurers as well as professors, students, town officials and other important members of the community. However, Eleazar Wheelock was not the first to be buried there. That honor belongs to his stepson Rev. John Maltby who died on Sept 30, 1771 at the age of forty-five of fever.

A photograph of a handwritten page starting with "Deaths on Hanover Plain..."
Dartmouth Cemetery Association
"Deaths on Hanover Plain"
In 1845 the Dartmouth Cemetery Association was formed and charged with improving and extending the existing grounds. As a result, roads were developed and terraces were built into the sides of deep ravines, which split the grounds into two large parcels, formerly connected by a footbridge. However, as funding for the Association dried up, the bridge, which over time had become unsafe for use, was taken down and never replaced. The lack of adequate finances also contributed to the disbursement of the Association in 1943, and the cemetery was deeded to the Town of Hanover which continues to be responsible for its upkeep.

A photograph of a handwritten page beginning with "List of Deaths..."
William Dewey's "List of Deaths.."
In 1898 Dartmouth freshman Arthur H. Chivers took a stroll through the cemetery, which left such an impression on him that fifty years later, when he was a Professor of Biology at the college and a Selectman of the Town of Hanover, he undertook to update the existing charts of the cemetery made in 1862 and 1911. Utilizing William Worthington Dewey’s journal and his own observations, he prepared a new card index of all known burials in the cemetery, reading and recording the inscriptions on each stone. In addition he created diagrams of each lot showing the relative position of every monument, stone and marker in the “Old” Dartmouth Cemetery. Completed in 1950, his six-volume record was presented to the College Archives in 1963.

To see Chiver’s records ask for DH-38. William Worthington Dewey’s “List of deaths in the vicinity of Dartmouth College, including likewise the Hamlet usually called Greensborough, From AD 1769 to the last Date on the Register [1859]” is located in Vault 4.

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