Written by: Robert Whitcomb, 2007
Historic Cemeteries and The Andover Cemetery Corporation
The Corporation was founded on September 24, 1907 as a means to shepard the Townsend Cemetery through the years, so that it may continue to provide a final resting place for many of Andover’s residents. The Corporation oversees the operation and maintenance of the Townsend Cemetery on Townsend Road, and the Soldier’s Grave on Boston Hill Road.
Townsend Cemetery’s origin predates its incorporation by more than 150 years.
The timeline of the cemetery closely follows that of our town, from Ecclesiastical Society in 1747 to an incorporated town in 1848. Abraham Blackman issued the original deed for the land that would become Townsend Cemetery to Obediah Newcomb and Joseph Swetland “for a burying place” on September 20, 1748, in what was then the Town of Hebron. Mr. Blackman sold the land for “ye sum of five pounds…but more particularly for ye love I bear to ye society of Andover.” Prior to the official acquisition of the land by Mr. Newcomb and Mr. Swetland, the first burial, that of Marcy Swetland, age three years, was recorded in the “burying place” on February 19, 1748.
The initial land grant for the burying place was eight rods (128 feet) wide at the front, and four rods at the rear, being twenty rods deep. In 1848, Robert Ryan deeded more land to the society, and the two plots were combined to form the land we now know as Townsend Cemetery. The row of large maples in front of the cemetery has stood since the 1700s, and the stone wall and iron gate were added in 1934.
The Soldier’s Grave is that of Captain Simon Smith. At the time of his death, during the French and Indian War, he was a soldier of His Majesty the King. He was serving faithfully, attempting to return dispatches from New London to Hartford, when he succumbed to smallpox, and, according to history/ legend, was buried along with his horse and his gear. The estate of Charles Baker deeded the gravesite, which is four rods square, to the Association on February 11, 1924.
The Andover Cemetery Corporation, by way of the Townsend Cemetery, offers the people of town this beautiful spot as a burying place. It is with great regard that the members of the corporation have cared for the cemetery throughout the past one hundred years.