The Norwich Founders Monument
The Norwich Founder’s Monument was erected on the site of the Ancient Norwich Burying Ground – also known as the “Post and Gager” Cemetery. Although none of the original gravestones remain, it is probable that most of the early Norwich settlers – Richard Edgerton included – were buried at this location.
The Ancient Norwich Burial Ground was the first cemetery in the town of Norwich. The first death in the new settlement was that of Mary Post, wife of Thomas Post, in the year 1661. Thomas Post was one of the original proprietors, and his home-lot lay adjacent to Richard Edgerton on Town Street. Mary Post was buried on a plot of land at the rear corner of the Post home-lot. The Norwich proprietors later voted to purchase the surrounding area as a burial place. A memorandum on the Norwich town records notes that: “The Towne hath purchased a burying place of Thomas Post – in the home lot of said Post – towards the rear of his lot.”
The Founder’s monument lists the names of thirty-eight of the first settlers of Norwich, including all thirty five of the original proprietors. Namely:
Side 1: Major John Mason, Rev. James Fitch, John Pease, John Tracy, John Baldwin, Jonathan Royce, John Post, Thomas Bingham, Thomas Waterman, Robert Allen.
Side 2: Ensign Wm Backus, Francis Griswold, Nehemiah Smith, Thomas Howard, John Calkins, Hugh Calkins, Richard Egerton, Thomas Post, John Gager.
Side 3: Thomas Leffingwell, Richard Wallis, Thomas Adgate, John Olmstead, Stephen Backus, Thomas Bliss, John Reynolds, Josiah Reed, Christopher Huntington.
Side 4: Thomas Tracy, Samuel Hyde, William Hyde, Morgan Bowers, Robert Wade, John Birchard, Simon Huntington, Stephen Gifford, John Bradford.
The original township of Norwich has changed considerably since its original layout in 1659. The Old Burying Ground on Town Street is now situated on a hilltop adjacent to the Connecticut Turnpike, although isolated and out of view. The burying ground fell into disuse long ago, but was kept in the ownership of the Norwich proprietors and is now maintained as a public park by the Town of Norwich.
The Ancient Burying Ground is now relatively wooded, as can be seen by the accompanying photographs taken in July 2001 by Mr. Brian G. Edgerton. The cemetery is enclosed by a stone fence with a metal gate at the entrance.
A large stone bench built on the site bears the following inscription: “Near this spot lie buried the first settlers of Norwich. This stone dedicated to their memory August 11, 1940, by the Society of the Founders of Norwich, Connecticut and the John Mason Monument Association”.