Elm Street Cemetery
D.P. Thompson, in his history of Montpelier, 1860, wrote that "Two new Burial Grounds were, in the year 1801, by vote of the town, purchased, prepared and opened for use, --one in the neighborhood of Theophilus Clark, in the east part of the town [this is the Clark Cemetery, East Montpelier]; and the other on the Davis Pitch, on the swell twenty or thirty rods [one rod equals 5 1/2 yards] west of the falls of the North Branch, within the present bounds of Montpelier village. The latter was used as the village Burying Ground until 1813, when the new one on the west bank of the Branch, a short distance below the falls [Elm Street Cemetery], was opened and kept in use for the next forty years."
D.P. Thompson states the "new" cemetery opened on the "west bank of the Branch" in 1813, but this appears to be an error. The annual March meeting of 1814 does include an item "to see if the town will purchase & fence suitable places for burying grounds," but apparently no action was taken at the meeting held 14 March. Town records dated 7 August 1815 include a lease by Jeduthun Loomis to the "inhabitants of the town of Montpelier" for "ground whereon to inter the deceased, and for no other purpose." Loomis reserved for himself and heirs "all other use of said premises." The lease identifies the land as "part of Colo Jacob Davis' lower pitch, so called, & lies on the Westerly side of the little North branch, Southerly and adjoining Seth Parson's garden." This land is what we know as the Elm Street Cemetery and the same as the "new" cemetery opened on the "west bank of the Branch, a short distance below the falls." In the 1815 lease between Jeduthun Loomis and the inhabitants of the town of Montpelier, Loomis stated he "will not at any time put on to said premises to pasture any neat [an animal of the ox-kind; an ox or bullock, a cow or heifer] cattle kind except calves & sheep, nor any horse kind, nor any swine and I [and] my heirs are not holden to pay for repairs, nor to pay taxes" on the land. After the death of Jeduthun Loomis, the cemetery was transferred to the town by an administrator's [John Spalding] deed, 8 October 1855, for $125.00.
For published histories that include information about the early burial grounds, see D.P. Thompson, History of the Town of Montpelier, Vermont (Montpelier: W.P. Walton, Printer, 1860) and Ellen C. Hill and Marilyn S. Blackwell, Across the Onion: A History of East Montpelier, Vermont 1781-1981 (Barre, Vt., Northlight Studio Press, 1988). To see the location of the Davis Pitch, see the framed map on the wall in the Montpelier clerk's office showing the original lot divisions.
In addition to being places of reflection, art, memorialization, and many other things, cemeteries are a valuable resource for historians and genealogists.
According to Carolyn Stone, Hemenway's history of Montpelier notes that Aaron Bancroft moved to Montpelier in 1813 from Wood End, Massachusetts and served as the Elm Street Cemetery sexton until 1857. His Elm Street Cemetery burial records were typed onto index cards in 1920, which are stored in the City Clerk's office at City Hall. The City Clerk will forward requests for look-ups to the volunteer who transcribed the records and maintains the searchable documents. Copies of documents are available for a reasonable fee.
Patrick Healy, Cemetery Director
City Hall, 39 Main Street
Montpelier, VT 05602