Ancient Burying Ground, Hartford CT

Founder's obelisk

Founder’s obelisk

I have been spending a LOT of time researching and documenting Jett’s ancestry. Much more time than I have been spending on my own ancestry because, frankly, her family is much more interesting than mine. But last wee, when we were in CT for two nights, I took the opportunity to check out some of the cemeteries in and near Hartford where some of my ancestors are reportedly buried. In particular, I was very interested in seeing the Ancient Burying Ground in Hartford CT where at least 6 of my distant great-grandparents are said to be buried:

  • Thomas Bliss Sr (9th great-grandfather) – died 1639
  • James Ensign (9th great-grandfather) – died 1680
  • Sarah Elson Ensign (9th great-grandmother) – died 1676
  • Sarah Bearding Spencer (9th great-grandfather) – died 1685
  • John Steele Sr (11th great-grandfather) – died 1685

Great-grandfathers Bliss, Ensign and Steele are included in the group of people who founded Hartford, so their names appear on the Founder’s Monument that was erected in the cemetery in 1837 and was replaced with a new one in 1986. The wives of these men were also founders, of course, but 17th-century women were definitely second-class citizens.

I was hopeful of finding at least one of the individual headstones for these people, but I was disappointed. It is possible that not all of the “founders” are buried here. For example, Thomas Bliss Sr reportedly died in 1639, just 3 years after the founding of Hartford and a year before the establishment of the cemetery.

I also checked out the Old Suffield Cemetery in Suffield CT where at least six of my ancestors are reportedly buried. This cemetery is not quite so ancient, founded in 1743. But I was no more successful here, finding none of my ancestor’s headstones. Worse, I later found a list of headstone incriptions, made in 1934, and none of my ancestors are listed there, either. I am wondering now if there might not be an error in the identification of the cemetery. Perhaps there is another old cemetery nearby. Further research is needed.

Update: I was definitely at the wrong cemetery. I searched the West Suffield (or “new”) cemetery while I should have been looking at the Old Suffield Cemetery. Both are located on Mountain Rd, which is why I ended up in the wrong place.

Thomas Bliss Sr

Thomas Bliss Sr

James Ensign

James Ensign

John Steele

John Steele

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