New Hampshire Tidbits: A History of Blossom Hill Cemetery, Concord

A sketch of Blossom Hill Cemetery from the History of Concord NH by Lyford.

A sketch of Blossom Hill Cemetery from the History of Concord NH by Lyford, et al.

Concord’s very first burial ground was the Old North Cemetery, established in 1730. Though Concord had other cemeteries, Blossom Hill was only the second one created close to the down town area.[1]

The early history of Blossom Hill, as referenced in “Religious services and address of William L. Foster, at the Consecration of Blossom Hill Cemetery, Friday, July 13, 1860″ describes the location that was purchased “for the sum of $4,500. It contains just thirty acres. Its general shape is that of a tolerably well defined Parallelogram. It has a pleasing variety of surface–of hill, and plain, and valley. It consists in part of forest, and in part of open lawn, and is watered by a beautiful stream of pure water.” About 12 years later elm trees were planted on the south avenue by the cemetery committee.

river-concord-nhThis stream of pure water was Woods Brook, which according to page 10 of the History of Concord NH, by Lyford et al, “start in a single stream from the east side of Little pond, separating from Bow Brook at the junction of Little pond and Woolson road, continuing easterly through Blossom Hill Cemetery… and on to Horse Shoe pond. Some fifty years ago [from 1901) it furnished power to a small sawmill located a few rods east of the main entrance to Blossom Hill cemetery. In later years the removal of the former nearby forest restricted the brooks flow to a portion only of the year.

An interesting fact in this same booklet states that when trying to decide on a name, a large number were suggested including Mount Hope, Forest Hill, Rumford Hill, Pine Grove, Mount of the Resurrection, Woodlawn, Blossom Hill, and Concord Cemetery.

Page 465 of the Lyford et al Concord History states that: John C. Briggs, “whose eminent ability as a civil engineer”–in the language of the committee–was “fully equaled by his skill and taste as a landscape gardener.” The committee further reported at the end of the year that one hundred seventy lots had been laid out and accurately defined; that these had also been appraised at values varying from five to sixty-five dollars each; that twenty of them had been sold at an average price of fifteen dollars and fifty-two cents; and that, in exception, one, very large and eligible, had brought one hundred twenty-three dollars and thirty-three cents. It was also reported that about a mile and a half of carriage avenues had been constructed; that large quantities of brush and other litter had been removed from the forest land and that such portions of the other ground as were not already in grass had been seeded down. The committee felt confident that at no very distant day, by a judicious expenditure of the receipts form the sale of the lots, the first cost of the land and interest, with all expenses for improvements, might be paid and the citizens of Concord be possessed of one of the most accessible and beautiful cemeteries in the country….”

Gothic arch entrance to Calvary Cemetery, built in 1896.

Gothic arch entrance to Calvary Cemetery, built in 1893.

In 1875 a tract of land adjoining Blossom Hill Cemetery was purchased by the New Hampshire Catholic diocese (and the first burial occurred that year). In 1876 Calvary Cemetery was dedicated in that location, and consecrated by Bishop Healy of Maine. In 1893 a gothic memorial arch was added at its entrance.

On 16th of May 1887 an ordinance was passed “for the improvement of Blossom Hill Cemetery.” These improvements took place over several years and included the building of a wall around the cemetery, and the rounding of the entrance.  In 1897 the city council authorized the purchase of Bradley lot to enlarge Blossom Hill cemetery. The lot included about thirty acres, and the sum paid was five thousand dollars.

According to a brief history [2] supplied by the City of Concord’s Cemetery Division, Blossom Hill Cemetery and Calvary Cemetery “began as separate entities. Blossom Hill being established in 1860 and Calvary in 1875. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Manchester NH legally turned over Calvary Cemetery to the City of Concord in 1996, and Calvary Cemetery was appended to Blossom Hill.” In the 1930’s the WPA reworked the cemetery’s pond, and included a lining.

Concord Cemetery’s history adds, “In 1949 a half-acre section of the cemetery was developed for the Jewish community and named Beth Jacob after the local temple. More recently, within the last 50 years, a 1.32-acre area at the western edge of Blossom Hill was developed for current and future needs. A Scattering Garden in an area of rocky granite outcroppings is included in this expansion. Blossom Hill Cemetery now occupied an area of about 67 acres and includes about 22,000 burials.”

The main entrance to Blossom Hill Cemetery, Concord NH.

The main “Gateway” entrance to Blossom Hill Cemetery, Concord NH.

There are two entrances to the cemetery, both off North State Street [directions]. The “Main Gateway Entrance,” is near the southern end of the street, and the cemetery office is located here along with the receiving tomb and the Clara B. Perkins Chapel (1904). The second entrance (which was the original entrance to the cemetery) is about 1,100 feet north of the Main Gateway entrance. This second entrance is marked by a large gothic entrance arch (1893).

The City of Concord maintains index cards and database for all burials in these cemeteries.  When I called [contact info] and inquired about a burial, I was quickly provided with a PDF document of the index card [see sample card, pdf] along with the MAP of the cemetery, all emailed to me.  [SEE Blossom Hill Cemetery Map (page 1) and Map of Block C (page 2) in PDF format]. Kudos to Jill McDaniel and her wonderful staff for being so helpful.

White Mausoleum in Blossom Hill Cemetery. Photograph courtesy of Debbie LaValley.

White Mausoleum in Blossom Hill Cemetery. Photograph courtesy of Debbie LaValley.

[1] Timeline of Concord Cemeteries: Old North Cemetery was established in 1730; Old Fort Burying Ground/Cemetery in 1775; Stickney Hill Cemetery in 1792 and donated to the city in 1843; Milville Cemetery in 1798 (St Paul’s School Cem., expanded in 1895); Horse Hill Cemetery in 1811; Woodlawn and Penacook Calvary Cemetery in 1816; Maple Grove Cemetery in 1824; Pine Grove Cemetery in 1847; Soucook Cemetery in 1848; Blossom Hill Cemetery in 1860; Concord Calvary Cemetery in 1875; and Beth Jacob Cemetery in 1948.
[2] The Concord NH Cemetery Division provided a brief history plus a listing of notable people buried there.  [SEE PDF – Blossom Hill Cemetery history and list of notables]
[3] It was brought to my attention by Alex Vogt that I left the State Hospital Cemetery off this list.  State-owned Meadow Cemetery aka Clinton St Cemetery aka NH Insane Asylum/NH State Hospital Cemetery (?1842); 2nd cemetery adjacent to White Farm [Findagrave 1] [Findagrave 2].


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4 Responses to New Hampshire Tidbits: A History of Blossom Hill Cemetery, Concord

  1. paula gallagher says:

    we have family there and it is beautiful

  2. Very informative and educational post! Enjoyed reading it! 🙂

  3. Thanks so much for this information! Found 19 Shackfords/Cushings/Dames (sister of the famous Harriet Patience Dame) in my database who were buried in the Blossom Hill Cemetery & will be contacting the cemetery in the future to see if they are able to share burial cards to help me learn more about these folks. It was also interesting to learn the history of this cemetery as the burial of Mary Jane (Rollins) Shackford was shown as costing $3.00 in the 1901 in the Forty-ninth Annual Report of the Receipts and Expenditures of the City of Concord for the Year Ending December 31, 1901, Together with other Annual Reports and Papers Relating to the Affars of the City (Concord, N. H.: Rumford Printing Co, 1906), page 444-448

  4. Bette Burnham (Matulaitis) Hill says:

    A most interesting post and the connection I have with Blossom Hill where my grandparents, Mother and I will be reunited someday. Able to get home after 56 yrs. and one of the first places for me to visit was their resting place of which I visit often now and find comfort in my drive around Blossom Hill looking for familiar names. Blossom Hill is very well maintained and cared for by people who care. Thank you

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