Cemeteries of the Upper Valley
of New Hampshire & Vermont
by Andi Diehn

I grew up near a cemetery and my family thought nothing of packing a picnic
lunch, finding a sunny spot, and leaning up against a Mr. or Mrs. Somebody
who had long departed the world we knew.  They're quiet, the dead, and they
don't mind sharing their final patches of earth.  

The Upper Valley of New Hampshire is flush with old graveyards, as is much
of Northern New England, and can provide a unique glimpse into the lives
and deaths of people who tread here before.

Lyme, New Hampshire – Old Cemetery

This spot combines good grooming with hints of rugged New England life --
many stones are tipped and jostled by the roots of grown pine trees but the
grass is cut, the fences are upright and painted, and a tall white steeple rises
from the church across the street. Woodpeckers knock about when the season
is right, willing to be mistaken for haunts.  And not everything about
gravestones has to be sad; Albert and Alice Stark seem joyful about their
permanent residence.  Their adjacent stones read: “We part no more,” and,
“We meet again.”  A long wait for the parted couple; Albert died 36 years after

Lebanon, New Hampshire – School Street Cemetery

Cemeteries adjacent to schools always strike a poignant tone -- evidence of life
at both ends of the spectrum. Shouts from children and the occasional brightly
colored ball float over the chain link fence that separates the living from the
dead. A woman with the first name of Submit was buried here during a time
when names were supposed to lead us overtly toward the values of those who
named us. Humor resides next to tragic: while Ira Greeley was lucky enough
(or unfortunate, depending on how they got along) to be buried with “His
Wives,” Hannah and Sophronia, Daniel and Anna Driscoll had the sad
misfortune to outlive all four of their children who all died before the age of 22
over a fifteen year span.

Hanover, New Hampshire – Pine Knoll Cemetery

For those people, living or dead, with a great appreciation of organization, this
cemetery might serve as a sweet spot to pass an hour.  Plotted on a grid
system, Pine Knoll rivals any modern city for accomplishing a blend of
pedestrian-friendly paths and roads for vehicles if the weather is a bit chilly or
one's knees a bit stiff. Benches and water spigots are plentiful, and wildflowers
grow abundantly during summer months in their own Wildflower Area.

A bit of a contrast can be found down the road on Dartmouth Campus where
the Wheelock Family grave anchors a winding, multi-tiered cemetery complete
with winding wooded paths, crumbling stairs, and lots of shade. A fantastic
place to climb, hike, roll, sled, and ponder gravestones from as earlier the
seventeen hundreds to as recent as this century.

Enfield, New Hampshire –  Pine Grove Cemetery

The residents and visitors of Pine Grove Cemetery have what is arguably one
of the most spectacular views of any local cemetery. Lake Mascoma spreads in
the near distance and several benches accommodate those who wish to linger.  
Older graves, including a Civil War Medal of Honor recipient, dominate the
hilly area closest to the Community Lutheran Church. More contemporary sites
spread up the hill, bordered by fields on both sides and topped by yet another
cemetery, Lakeview, distinguished by the abundance of stone angels propped
against headstones and the rusted corpse of a blue pickup truck alongside the
dirt drive.

Hartland, Vermont - Hartland Village Cemetery

The older graves cluster close by the First Congregational Church and the
newer ones spread themselves down the field. While time might seem to
hesitate in the boundaries of a cemetery, the families of Freeman, Boynton and
Burgett, buried sometime in the mid-1800's, prove the theory wrong.  Their
graves face a lovely line of tall lilac trees, so closely that no space remains to
view the stones. One has to gently ease between the graves and the trees and
try to disturb neither to get a glimpse of the names of the dead.  

Queechee, Vermont – Queechee Cemetery

Another cemetery bordered by a school. Perhaps we do this instinctively, mix
the dead with the young, to remind ourselves of what comes before. A small
pile of loose, dark dirt rests conspicuously in the corner of this otherwise
smoothly maintained cemetery; the inevitable reason for a cemetery can't quite
be hidden. Several well-known local names are found here. Stones like that of
the Billings family rival local Queechee homes in terms of domestic breadth
and scope. And for these afterlife estates, perpetual care is available, a service
any housewife might be willing to die for.

Woodstock, Vermont - Riverside, Hendee and Highland Cemeteries

This triumvirate of graveyards lies on the corner of King Farm Road and Rose
Hill. Riverside, by far the largest, boasts a breadth of acreage any real estate
developer could have made a killing selling to the living with several lovely
views of water and hills. Convenient benches and tall, sometimes elegant,
statues make this fairly new cemetery good for wandering for hours.

Highland Cemetery, across the back road, is an older, smaller example of a
lesser standard in grooming. Grass and weeds grow unchecked and several
stones lie flat or stand crooked, adding an atmosphere visitors might
appreciate for its wild flavor. Besides the hilly aspect of the site posing a
challenge to a lawnmower, family plots rise gently above ground level as if
rocky foundations support homesteads, within which members quietly lie.  
Not a cemetery for the weak of knees.

Hendee Cemetery is the oldest and sweetest of the three.  Here, too, grass
remains unbridled, and a rusted iron fence tries its best to stay upright, but
mostly fails. A good thing since the gate is corroded shut.  Small children's
markers outnumber full grown ones and several bright American flags honor
the graves of revolutionary soldiers. The surrounding woods are encroaching
on the dead, or perhaps vice versa. Miss Abigail Cox has resigned herself to
forgotten history; her gravestone fell backwards at some point and the grass
has absorbed much of it.  In another few years no one will be able to read even
her name.

About the author: Andi Diehn, who lives out in the woods of New Hampshire on a
dirt road with her two children, husband, dog, horses, and fish,  graduated from the
MFA program at Vermont College and has published several short stories and online
book reviews.  She also writes monthly features for a local parenting magazine, the Upper
Valley Parents' Paper and quarterly articles for the Upper Valley Image.

See also:
Ghosts & Graveyards of New England  
Ghosts of Bethel, Maine
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Gravestones in New Hampshire
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