The Oldest Cemeteries in Every State
We can think of cemeteries as spooky places scarred by sadness, or as beautiful and instructive windows into the lives of those who walked the earth before it was our turn. We choose the latter.
Alabama: Forks of Cypress
The Forks of Cypress Cemetery is on the Register of National Historic Places and is believed to be the oldest established cemetery in Alabama, with one of its earliest headstones dating back to 1820 (Jane Hanna, who lived about 17 years). There are older burial grounds in Alabama, as there are in every state, where native Americans lived and died, but most are abandoned and long-forgotten. In Alabama, this includes the burial grounds of the people who lived in Childersburg, founded in 1540 by Native Americans, as well as far more ancient burial grounds dating back to the first century A.D. Check out these 50 astonishing facts about the 50 states.
Alaska: Sitka National Cemetery
In 2013, archeological excavators working in central Alaska’s Tanana River Basin discovered the remains of two infants who’d been buried together—11,500 years ago, according to Science Magazine. But in terms of more modern-day burial grounds, the Sitka National Cemetery, which dates back to the late 1800s, is certainly among Alaska’s oldest. Among those interred here is the body of John Green Brady, who was the governor of the Alaska Territory at the turn of the 20th century—before Alaska was even a state. The cemetery, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, likely wins the award for most remote in the state—it’s only reachable by air, marine highway, or ferry.
Arizona: Hardyville Cemetery
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Established around 1100 A.D., Oraibi, located in the northeastern corner of Arizona, was the center of the Hopi civilization, and thousands were believed to have lived and died in this area. But the oldest modern-day established cemetery in Arizona is likely the Hardyville Cemetery, in what is now Bullhead City but was once Hardyville. The oldest grave appears to be that of John Gillian (or Killian), who died during an ambush by Native Americans in 1866. It’s also rumored to be haunted. Check out these 12 states that were almost part of the United States.
Arkansas: Scull Cemetery
The oldest settlement in Arkansas is Arkansas Post, established in 1686, so it’s not surprising that it’s the home of the oldest established cemetery in the state: The Scull Cemetery dates back to 1778. It’s just a short scenic drive away from the Arkansas Post National Memorial, a national park that’s home to much wildlife, including bald eagles, turkeys, and alligators. Here are 24 facts about the United States that everyone gets wrong.
California: Yorba Family Cemetery
The Yorba Family Cemetery is known as the oldest established cemetery in The Golden State. The land was originally set aside by Fernando Bernardo Antonio Yorba for his family and friends in 1858, according to the Yorba Linda History site. The cemetery, which was abandoned and is now in disrepair, and the land on which it lies is now owned by Orange County. Don’t miss these haunted house mysteries no one can explain.
Colorado: Gold Hill Cemetery
Established in 1861 in the town of the same name, Gold Hill was originally founded by miners hunting for gold. As time progressed, it became the final resting place of many tuberculosis patients who had sought out treatment at the Jewish Consumptives Relief Society in the early 1900s, reports the local Fox News station.
Connecticut: Ancient Burying Ground
Connecticut’s first municipality, Hartford, was founded as Fort Hoop by the Dutch in 1637. Burials began soon after at what is the oldest established cemetery in the Nutmeg State, the Ancient Burying Ground; for nearly two centuries, it was the only established burial ground in the city, as such, residents of all races, religions, and economic status were interred here.
Delaware: Saint Peter’s Episcopal Church Cemetery
Dating back to 1631, Lewes was the first town founded in Delaware. The oldest graves that can be identified today are those of the Nunez family that are marked by old slate stones dating from 1746 at the Saint Peter’s Episcopal Church Cemetery. Think you know geography? Try identifying U.S. states on a totally blank map!
Florida: Tolomato Cemetery
St. Augustine was one of the first cities founded by European settlers in all of North America and holds the honor of America’s oldest continuously inhabited city, having been established by Spanish settlers in 1565, reports Smithsonian Magazine. St. Augustine’s Tolomato Cemetery is the oldest planned cemetery in Florida, with its earliest known burials being those of members of the Tolomato tribe who’d been Christianized. St. Augustine is one of the best American cities for history buffs—don’t miss the 15 others.
Georgia: Oak Grove Cemetery
Nearly 50 years before St. Augustine was founded in 1525, the Spanish had already settled in Georgia—in San Miguel de Guadalupe; this was the very first European settlement in what would become the continental United States. Sadly, none of the settlers survived the first three months, and although their graves are not marked, they’re believed to be located within what is the present-day Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge. As far as the oldest established cemetery in Georgia, that’s believed to be Oak Grove Cemetery in St. Marys. Founded in 1788 it’s the burial site of slave owners and slaves alike, along with French Acadians who sought refuge in the area from Nova Scotia.