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The old cemetery across Mountain Avenue from The Presbyterian Church in Westfield originally was referred to as the church’s “burial grounds”. This was the only public cemetery serving Westfield until Fairview Cemetery opened in 1868.

In addition to Westfield, this cemetery served Crane’s Mills, predecessor to Cranford; neighborhoods now part of Mountainside, Locust Grove, Branch Mills, Willow Grove and sections of what is now Scotch Plains. There are approximately 1,130 graves, including veterans of the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Civil War and World Wars I and II.

Tradition says the first burial was as early as 1720 or 1724. The oldest part of the cemetery is on the Mountain Avenue side, where burial sites were selected at random and cost nothing. People buried their loved ones on whatever spot they liked. The 1737 grave of the young son of William and Hannah Miller, six-week-old Noah, is the earliest known grave in the cemetery. As in many colonial cemeteries, the graves in the older section all face east as though to greet the Resurrection morn. Early settlers had slaves, who were buried with their owners.

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Many examples of classic America folk art can be found on the tombstones, including cherubs, crossed bones, three stem tulips, doves, hourglasses, urns and willows. The degree of damage and wear on the stones varies. The greatest enemy is water damage. Unfortunately, the stones have become so fragile that rubbings can no longer be permitted.

Many familiar Westfield names can be found there, among them Quimby, Elmer, Clark, Lambert, Scudder and Downer families known today by the streets that bear their names.

In the second half of the 19th century, the rear half of the cemetery was laid out in family plots which were for sale. On the Orchard Street side, some three decades ago, a cremains section was established to place urns containing cremation ashes..

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Town Historian Ralph H. Jones eloquently summed up the cemetery’s place in the history of Westfield: “(…it)┬áremains as a memorial and resting place of the men and women who cleared the forest, planted the fields, created a rural community and fought to gain and keep the independence and liberties that we still enjoy today. For this we remain ever grateful.”

Groups wishing to tour the cemetery should call the church office to make an appointment.