Feature Story

Lyndon Center Cemetery 149 Years Ago

Abby Maria Hemenway was Vermont’s premier historian in the 19th century. In 1867 she published Volume 1 of her now famous Vermont Historical Gazetteer. Volume 1 covered the Vermont towns in Addison, Bennington, Caledonia, Chittenden, and Essex counties. The history of the town of Lyndon, Vermont, first granted in 1780, includes a section on Lyndon Corner and Lyndon Centre. In the modern day, Lyndon Centre hosts Lyndon Institute and the best high school football field in Vermont. Right next door is the Lyndon Center Cemetery. In 1867, 149 years ago, Abby described the cemetery in this way. Click the links to see the individuals' gravestones on Find A Grave.

Lyndon Centre, deriving its name from its locality, is about two miles north from the Corner, situate in which are 2 church edifices, the town hall and school-house, and a public house. It has 2 clergymen, 1 physician, 2 merchants, 2 shoe shops, 2 blacksmiths, several house-joiners, 1 rail road contractor, 1 starch factory, 1 sawmill, 1 tannery, 1 harness shop, and about one-third of the number of houses at the Corner, and families and people in proportion; also a post office.

The cemetery is also in this village, and, although it may not possess great interest to strangers, yet their own is a very interesting feature to the people of every town and locality. It is situated in rear of the town hall, as now called, being for any years the only meeting-house in town, and the ground in the cemetery first used for burial, is part of that donated to the town by Mr. Job Sheldon. It was first used in 1803, by the burial of Lucy, daughter of Capt. Joel Fletcher, and none other in town has been used since, unless a few in the Elder Quimby neighborhood, long ago. It contains a large congregation of our loved and honored dead. The old part was indiscriminately used without reference to order, but on adding the new part at the west, it was allotted out as well as it could be, and laid out in good taste. Another addition, on the whole length of the north side, was made a year or two ago. Since this purchase, the whole grounds have been encircled with a nice new painted fence, and ornamented by terraces and flower beds; costly family monuments and a very large number of beautiful head-stones are erected to our friends, and high above them all, on elevated ground at the west end of the centre avenue, stands a tall Italian obelisk upon marble pedestals and granite base of appropriate dimensions, inscribed to the memory of about twenty Revolutionary officers and soldiers who have died in town. This was erected under the superintendence of a town committee, with funds raised by private and voluntary donation; an appropriate tribute from the right source — a spontaneous outpouring of the treasures of the heart to the champions of freedom.

There is an expensive tomb near the centre of the ground, with hewn granite front and iron doors, erected by Elder Daniel Quimby for private family use, which has occasionally been used as a receiving tomb. The family monument of Abel Carpenter, Esq., one of the Revolutionary officers, whose name is familiar, was the first erected here. Its base was granite, and its column white Vermont marble, good for its time, but less than those of recent structure. The next erected, was to the family of Jude Kimball, Esq. This, for the purposes intended and the number of its inscriptions, is probably better proportioned and more symmetrical than any other in the cemetery. It is placed in the centre of the group of graves of father, mother, her mother, two sons, two daughters, and two grandsons. A beautiful bed is made over the graves, and the shaft of the monument rests on appropriate bases of marble and granite. The surviving son who caused its erection, Lucius Kimball, Esq., of Brooklyn, N. Y., must have cultivated his taste in Greenwood Cemetery. The monument of Dr. Charles B. Darling, of rich Italian marble, octagonal, fluted and otherwise ornamented, and of elegant proportions, is the most beautiful in the cemetery. Its truthful tribute is "He was a good man." A few weeks since his beautiful wife was laid by his side, to claim another tablet to departed worth. The family monuments of Hon. Isaac Fletcher, Capt. Joel Fletcher and Josiah C. Willard, Esq., are as large and expensive, and some of them more so, than Mr. Kimball's, and of similar materials, but vary in form and finish, to suit the taste of the purchaser. The Trull, Bemiss, Curtis and Bowker, are also good ones, but not so large nor of the same order. In proportion to the whole, the monuments are but few, but there are an unusual number of beautiful headstones, and many of them of the richest Italian marble of good size and proportions, very thick and highly polished on all sides, and set in appropriate granite bases.

Morton Billings