History of Amesbury's Cemeteries

Golgotha Cemetery

Golgotha Cemetery was the first burial ground in Amesbury (1654). It's located on Macy Street (Route 110) and is maintained by the Amesbury Improvement Association. It's believed to be a memorial site. This area was part of Salisbury until Amesbury incorporated in 1666. In 1663, the town bought an acre of land just up the street at Barlett's Corner, from Edmund Elliot for a new burial ground. To the west of it was the Friend's cemetery where the poet Whittier was buried. All of this area is now referred to as Union Cemetery.

Union Cemetery

Union Cemetery was started in 1663 with an acre of land, and later land was added from Joseph and Thomas Colby. At the June 4, 1665 town meeting it was voted that a meeting house "30 feet long, five and twenty wide and sixteen feet stood" be build. Thomas Barnard, John Hoyt and Richard Currier were charged with hiring workmen to build it. The meeting house served the community for over 50 years, and a rock plaque marks its location in the cemetery. Behind it, you can still see the cobblestone walkway that led to the meeting house.

At the 1666 town meeting, a minister's salary was voted on - 40 pounds. This was an important event as the General Court required that a town have a minister before being able to apply for Township. On May 23, 1666, the General Court granted to New Salisbury, which became Amesbury is 1667, a Township. Ministers of the church were Reverend Thomas Wells II, a graduate of Harvard, and Reverend Elisha Oden.

This original section of Union Cemetery is known as the "Revolutionary War Section". A map of the area and a list of the Revolutionary War soldiers are posted at the end of Whittier Path. This original stone path was exposed. Keep an eye out for signage that has been added to help visitors be aware of the historic significance of certain plots.

In 2015, the Amesbury Trustees of War Memorials rededicated the Union Defender by removing the 1874 time capsule within, and repaired and cleaned the stone. The time capsule contained the names of the Amesbury and Salisbury men who served in the Civil War. The contents of the capsule have been recorded and copies of the documents are in the DPW office. This monument was erected in 1874 by the town and dedicated by EP. Wallace Post 122 GAR on May 30, 1874.

Over the last few years, Jane Snow from the Cemetery Advisory Commission recorded all data from Union Cemetery and verified information against the headstones. There are approximately 7,000 recorded burials.

Old Corner Cemetery

Located on Elm Street. Also known as "the Depot" and "the Mills", those references can be found in the Salisbury Vital Records as Amesbury was originally part of Salisbury. Old Corner is one of the earlier burial grounds in the West Parish. The oldest stone located is marked 1793, but earlier settlers may be in unmarked graves. In 1852, Mt. Prospect Cemetery opened and approximately 80 burials were removed from Old Corner and moved to Mt. Prospect as indicated in the Mt. Prospect original ledger. Old Corner was a privately-owned cemetery until 1957 when the Town of Amesbury took the necessary steps to take over the cemetery due to deteriorating conditions. At the March 17, 1958 Annual Meeting, Articles 26 and 27 were approved, stating that the Town would take over the cemetery associations.

Mount Prospect Cemetery

This cemetery is made up of 3 land purchases. The first 5 acres was purchased by William Carruthers, Joseph Morrill and Joshua R. Cheswell from Samuel Lamprey on May 20, 1852. The second purchase was made from Jabez E Collins on April 26, 1853. The third purchase was made again from Samuel Lamprey on August 8, 1853. One hundred lots were created and sold for $6 each. The receiving Tomb was built in October 1852 and the main paths were set out in 1853.

Mount Prospect was a privately-owned cemetery until 1957 when the Town of Amesbury started the process to take over this and Old Corner due to deteriorating conditions. Mt. Prospect owners were assessed a yearly fee to pay for the upkeep of the cemetery, but by the 1950s over 300 of the lots were considered abandoned as no living heirs would be found to be responsible for the yearly assessment. At the March 17, 1958 Annual Meeting, Articles 26 and 27 were approved, stating that the Town would take over the cemetery associations.

As you enter the gates, there is a cannon. To this day it is a mystery as to why the cannon arrived in the cemetery. The cannon was built and cast by Watervliet Arsenal in NY in 1852. Research shows that is was part of approximately 60" "grasshopper" cannons that were cast at that time. The cannon is designated Watervliet Arsenal No 1 D.A.H 1892 and was probably used in the Spanish American War. The cannon sat on stone piers until 2015 when Amesbury Veterans Memorials Restoration Committee asked Bartley Machine to restore it. They fashioned new replica steel wheels to match the original wooden wheels and also welded on new axles. The area in front of the cannon is referred to as the Spanish American War lot.