Newtown Village Cemetery Association, Inc.

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Cemetery:  The Village cemetery, or at least the oldest section of it, goes back to the founding of Newtown.  In 1709, even before settlers began to arrive, the proprietors of Newtown sat over a piece of paper and laid out the new village’s main street, two cross highways, a commons, 34 home lots, and a 1.5 acre plot of ground in the southwest corner that was to be used as a burying ground. That plot is the southeast corner of the present cemetery where its oldest burials are to be found.

The oldest head stone dates to 1754.  There may be earlier burials that were un marked or marked with a simple uninscribed, fieldstone several of which can be seen on the side of the hill. Most of the first generation of settlers were brought back to family plots in the towns of Stratford, Milford, and Fairfield from where they had originally come. The large open spaces between the oldest headstones, probably contain burials of the second and third generation, but were never marked or the original markers have deteriorated and left no trace.

By the early 19th century, most of the burial plots in the old cemetery were filled and the newly deceased were buried to the north and west farther up on the hill. This required the purchase of new land.  To arrange these purchases and to managed the placement of new grave sites, the Newtown Village Cemetery Association was incorporated in 1860, and has continued to manage the cemetery down to the present.


In addition to purchases of land the cemetery has also benefited from gifts, most notable from Mary Hawley, the town’s benefactress.  She donated one of the largest parcels of land which constitute the entire central portion of the present cemetery.  In 1924, she arranged to have the front entrance landscaped, and gates built which tied into the already existing wrought iron fence.  The road leading up to the entrance, now named for her,  was entirely rebuilt and the present stone and concrete bridge over the Ram Pasture brook was built.  Finally she had the magnificent holding vault built and arranged for the installation of the beautiful stained glass window in the rear wall, one of the artistic treasurers of Newtown.

 

Ram Pasture
The Ram Pasture itself is an indirect gift of Mary Hawley.  This had originally been a town common, but after 1750 it had been divided up among several men who offered special services to the town, such as that of Newtown’s first physician. In 1920, after the death of Sarah Booth Hawley, Mary’s mother, she proceeded to buy up the several pieces of land that had originally constituted the old common. Two of her ancestors, Cyreniius H, Booth and Judge William Edmond, had already bought up two thirds of it and these parcels she had inherited. By 1926 she had managed to buy up the remaining pieces of the original 12 acres.

We know that she had planned to develop the Ram pasture as a rose garden similar to the one in Elizabeth Park in Hartford which she loved and frequently visited, but she died before that plan came to fruition.  Since it had not been included in her will, it became part of the residue of her estate which with the rest of her undistributed estate, passed to Yale University.  Yale having no desire to be a Newtown landlord, offered it to the Village Cemetery Association at the suggestion of Arthur Treat Nettleton who was the president of the Newtown Savings Bank, an officer in the Village Cemetery Association, and who had been Miss Hawley’s financial advisor.  It has been part of the Association’s holding since 1931 and currently serves as a peaceful entrance vista to the cemetery as well as a park to be enjoyed by the town’s people.  

                                     
       

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