In spirit of Halloween and the old oak tree on the Green pulling up a couple of skeletons (click HERE to read the article), I decided to do some digging to find what information the Institute Library has on the New Haven Green. I found Chronicles of New Haven Green from 1638 – 1826 by Henry T. Blake, published in 1898. Check out some of the things I learned and images/maps of the green I found.
The nine squares were laid out in 1638, with the center one being the Market Place (now known as The Green). As in tradition, the town meeting-house would be located in this central location and the immediate surrounding ground would be used for burial purposes. A few pioneers died before the meeting-house was completed and to ensure the tradtition would live on, they were buried on the green in 1640. By 1659 there were about 50 graves in the city center (the market). Records from May 1659: “The Governor informed that it is conceived that it is not for ye health that ye burying place should be where it is; therefore, he propounded that some other place might be thought of and fenced off for that purpose.” He died the following year and was buried in the city center. Moving the cemetery was not mentioned again for several generations.
During the later part of the 18th century, unofficial and midnight burials were not uncommon. The need for a fence to surround the cemetery was brought up several times during this time too, but nothing ever came of these discussions.
In September 1796, Mr. James Hillhouse, with 30 people, purchased six acres (which was soon increased to 10 acres) on Grove street “a new burial ground, larger, better arranged for the accommodation of families, an by its retired situation better calculated to impress the mind with a solemnity becoming the repository of the dead.” The Grove Street Cemetery opened in 1797.
Martha Whittlesey was the last person to be buried on the Green in 1812.
New Haven Green 1724
New Haven Green 1748
New Haven Green 1775
Brothers Davy & Peter Rothbart, creators of Found Magazine, visited the Institute on Monday, September 17th as part of the magazine’s 10th Anniversary Tour. It was an awesome evening. My face hurt from laughing so much by the time I went to bed. Davy read about relationship misadventures from his recently published book, My Heart is an Idiot, and Peter sang about his favorite “found” items. (Found Item: “love letters, birthday cards, kids’ homework, to-do lists, ticket stubs, poetry on napkins, doodles — anything that gives a glimpse into someone else’s life. Anything goes.”)
My favorite moment happened after the event. While we were cleaning up. Davy was commenting on what a great space the library is and then said, “AND I got to meet Jack Hitt! He’s one of my heroes!” This is what the library is about – community engagement and connecting people.
There was some great coverage of the event too – in the New Haven Register and the New York Times
I apologize for being absent over the past few weeks – now that life is back on a somewhat routine schedule, I am back to blogging!
I just finished giving a tour of the library. Giving the tour is my absolute favorite thing in my professional life — the discussion during the tour usually leads to the richness of New Haven’s history and all that it still has to offer. Many people who live here know the stories of Judge Whalley, John Dixwell, and William Goffe — and how they hid from the Brits in Judges Cave in West Rock, but there are more interesting aspects to New Haven’s history than just this story! (Additional information: Daily Nutmeg, Society of Colonial Wars, or check out THIS book)
One of my favorite New Haven history books is Carriages & Clocks, Corsets & Locks
The book chronicles New Haven as an industrial city. Most cities around the time of the Industrial Revolution thrived on manufacturing one or two products, but New Haven was home to hundreds of manufactured goods: carriages, rubber boots, corsets, erector sets, folding & reclining chairs and much, much more – many of which were invented in New Haven!
A photo from Carriages and Clocks, Corsets and Locks
More on New Haven awesomeness soon!