Saturday, May 11, 2013

North Cemetery

The North Cemetery is on the west side of Maplewood Avenue, between the intersections with Vaughan Street and Raynes Avenue.

Portsmouth’s main burial ground during the early Colonial period was the Point of Graves, south of Mechanic Street near Prescott Park. The land was donated to the town by the Pickering family in 1671. Additionally, several families had private burial grounds, such as the Cottons' Burying Ground, which is now part of the South Cemetery.

Governor John Langdon, 1741-1819
In 1753, Portsmouth purchased an acre of land from Colonel John Hart for the sum of £150. Colonel Hart commanded New Hampshire’s provincial troops and died at the 1758 Siege of Louisburg. Located on the banks of the North Mill Pond, the new burial ground was expanded with the purchase of adjoining plots of land north and west of the original acre from Dr. William Cutter.

General William Whipple, 1730-1785
Many of the Revolutionary War-era residents are buried here, including patriot and New Hampshire Governor John Langdon who signed the U.S. Constitution; his wealthy brother, Judge Woodbury Langdon; General William Whipple, a signer of the Declaration of Independence; Captain Thomas Thompson, who commanded the ship Raleigh, which appears on the New Hampshire State Seal; Dr. Hall Jackson, who tended the wounded at the Battle of Bunker Hill; Sheriff Thomas Packer who hanged Ruth Blay in South Cemetery; and James Stoodly, owner of Stoodly’s Tavern.

Reverend Joseph Buckminster, pastor of the North Church from 1779-1812, is also buried here, as well as African slaves, including Prince Whipple and his daughter, Esther Whipple Mullinaux.

Judge Woodbury Langdon, 1739-1805
The northern area of North Cemetery was established in 1844 and is known as Union Cemetery. Prominent residents include George Raynes, who built fifty-three merchant ships across the street from the cemetery, and the grandparents of Thomas Bailey Aldrich, who wrote about his days living with them in Portsmouth in his book, The Story of a Bad Boy.

The vintage photograph above is the oldest I can find, from C. S. Gurney's 1902 book, Portsmouth . . . Historic and Picturesque. I have been unable to verify its exact location, probably because some gravestones have aged, been moved, or fallen. Both photographs are of the original North Cemetery, with the railroad tracks bordering on the left.

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