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Huntington in Suffolk County, New York — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Huntington's Old Burying Ground

 
 
Huntington's Old Burying Ground Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Andrew Ruppenstein, September 4, 2019
1. Huntington's Old Burying Ground Marker
Inscription.  The Old Burying Ground is one of the most historic and sacred sites in the Town of Huntington. The four-acre site is the final resting place for most of Huntington's earliest inhabitants. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is also a locally designated historic landmark, located within the Old Town Hall Historic District.

It is unknown when the first burial took place here; but it is generally accepted that this site was used for burials since the founding of the Town in 1653. The earliest recorded death in Huntington was that of Jeffrey Este, who died on January 4, 1657. It is presumed that he was buried here. The last burial was that of Russell F. Sammis, who died on May 2, 1957. The Old Burying Ground served as the Town's principal cemetery until the Huntington Rural Cemetery was opened in 1853. Burials in established family plots were permitted until 1957.

The earliest gravesites are concentrated on the eastern slope of the Old Burying Ground. The wooden markers first used here in the 1600s have all disappeared. The "Jacob's Pillow” fieldstone markers were obtained and used locally, over a

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span of two hundred years. Some of these were inscribed by local masons. A few large, flat fieldstones were also used, including that of Silas Sammis, which was inscribed by a local mason in 1723.

Professionally carved markers of slate and brown "Portland” sandstone were commonly imported from Connecticut in the 18th Century. Marble markers were popular in the 19th Century. Some of them were carved by Phineas Hill, a local professional sculptor. Some markers of the later 19th Century and 20th Century were made of iron, zinc and granite. The great majority of markers consist of pairs of head and foot stones. The earliest known legibly dated marker in the yard is dated 1712, Others may lie hidden beneath the sod. Some obelisks and box tombs can be found here, as well as one table tomb.

In 1782, after the American victory at Yorktown, VA, the British troops that had been occupying Huntington since 1776 ordered the construction of a fort on the top of the Old Burying Ground. Construction of the fort, known as Fort Golgotha, greatly enraged local residents and is the first recorded act of vandalism here. Town records indicate that at least 100 tombstones were destroyed. Tombstones were used to build fireplaces and ovens. Loaves of bread baked in those ovens were said to have had epitaphs imprinted on the bottom crust. The fort was occupied until

Huntington's Old Burying Ground Marker - wide view image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Andrew Ruppenstein, September 4, 2019
2. Huntington's Old Burying Ground Marker - wide view
The marker is mounted to the fence by the cemetery entrance.
June 1783 and was removed in 1784. Its outlines can be seen today.

After it ceased to be used as the Town's main cemetery, the Old Burying Ground was neglected resulting in an overgrowth of trees that caused widespread damage. The local chapters of the Sons and Daughters of the American Revolution began cleanup efforts in 1911, which later prompted the Town of Huntington to assume regular maintenance starting in the 1920s. Vandalism increased during and after the suburban population boom of the 1950s. The Town of Huntington, with matching funds from the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, committed itself to the conservation, restoration and preservation of the Old Burying Ground and undertook a multi-year restoration project starting in 2004.

The African American Connection

The Old Burying Ground is racially integrated and includes a modest number of Native Americans and, it is estimated, about four hundred African Americans, who are interspersed evenly among the majority of European Americans. Most of the African American gravesites here were marked with "Jacob's Pillow" fieldstone markers. Several were marked with carved head and foot stone markers that date from the 19th Century.

The first recorded African American resident of Huntington was enslaved in Africa, transported to Barbados and brought to Huntington

Burying Ground - looking uphill image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Andrew Ruppenstein, September 4, 2019
3. Burying Ground - looking uphill
in 1657. He worked as a bondservant among the white population and died about 1690. About one hundred other bondservants born in Africa shared his experience and were buried here, among their masters. About two hundred of their American born children also spent their lives in servitude and were likewise buried here among their masters. About one hundred of their descendants, who were either set free or as of 1799 were born free, found employment as laborers and artisans and were eventually buried here among their own relatives or randomly among the available gravesites.

Elijah, who died in 1810, was a third generation African American. His African grandparents were both transported from Ghana to Barbados on the same ship and became bondservants of the Scudder family in Huntington. His mother was pure Native American. Elijah was the butler at Platt's Tavern and became a Revolutionary War celebrity and notable musician. He was buried here, with members of the Platt family.

At least six free African Americans are buried in the far southeast corner of the property. Daniel Hammond, who died in 1838, was a collateral descendant of Jupiter Hammon, America's first published African American poet. Daniel's grandfather Benjamin, freed by the Lloyd family in 1793, bought property in Huntington in 1799.
 
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: African Americans

Burying Ground - looking downhill, towards the center of Huntington image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Andrew Ruppenstein, September 4, 2019
4. Burying Ground - looking downhill, towards the center of Huntington
The cemetery gate and the back of the marker are visible here in the center of the picture.
Cemeteries & Burial Sites. A significant historical date for this entry is January 4, 1657.
 
Location. 40° 52.283′ N, 73° 25.462′ W. Marker is in Huntington, New York, in Suffolk County. Marker is on Main Street (New York State Route 25A), on the right when traveling north. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 228 Main Street, Huntington NY 11743, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Huntington Soldiers & Sailors Memorial (a few steps from this marker); The Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Building (a few steps from this marker); “The Forgotten War” (within shouting distance of this marker); Patriots of Long Island (within shouting distance of this marker); Nathan Hale (within shouting distance of this marker); Declaration of Rights (within shouting distance of this marker); The Old Burying Ground (within shouting distance of this marker); Huntington World War I Memorial (within shouting distance of this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Huntington.
 
Also see . . .
1. Fort Golgotha and the Old Burial Hill Cemetery (Wikipedia). (Submitted on January 30, 2020.)
2. Old Burying Ground (Town of Huntington, PDF). (Submitted on January 30, 2020.)
 
National Register of Historic Places plaque for the Old Burying Ground image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Devry Becker Jones (CC0), January 12, 2024
5. National Register of Historic Places plaque for the Old Burying Ground
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on January 15, 2024. It was originally submitted on January 30, 2020, by Andrew Ruppenstein of Lamorinda, California. This page has been viewed 705 times since then and 100 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on January 30, 2020, by Andrew Ruppenstein of Lamorinda, California.   5. submitted on January 15, 2024, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia.

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Apr. 24, 2024