New Haven Green

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

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Old New Haven

The Institute Library has many out-of-print books on the history of New Haven and other Connecticut towns, as well as the new books that I featured in Monday’s post. One of these books is especially important, not only to New Haven, but to everywhere that has local history and folklore. The man in the print about the fireplace at the Institute Library is John W. Barber – who is credited as the first person to collect, record, and publish local histories. He learned the craft of print making and opened a store in New Haven in 1823, and traveled around Connecticut, making etches and engravings of the sites and collecting stories from the people. He published History and Antiquities of New Haven, Conn., in 1856

This isn’t the only out of print New Haven book either – we have an entire alcove of local history books! The back wall is mostly Connecticut towns, with a few books on Massachusetts. The outer walls of the alcove have books on other states and some books on the Central & North American countries. 

(From right to left) History of the Colony of New Haven, published 1881, Hartford Conn., published 1889, Catalogue of the Trustees, Rectors, Instructors and Alumni of the Hopkins Grammar School of New Haven, Connecticut: 1660 – 1902, published 1902, The English Memorial: New Haven Colony Historical Society, published 1893, History of Wallingford, Meriden, and Cheshire, published in 1870, North Haven Annuals, published 1892, History of the City of Bridgeport, Connecticut, published 1887, and An Old New England Town, published 1895.

The covers of a lot of these older books are cloth – without much on the cover. I photographed a few of the title pages:

There are many, MANY more books on New Haven and other Connecticut towns — please visit and learn some New Haven secrets.