Old North Burying Ground, Middlefield, CT
9.15.1 Old North Burying Ground, 1735, Middlefield, CT.
9.15.2 Old North Burying Ground, 1735, Middlefield, CT. Overview in the winter. Fallen markers obscured by snow .
9.15.3 Old North Burying Ground, 1735, Middlefield, CT. Overview in spring. Numerous markers are broken at grade with markers on ground.
9.15.4 Captain William Ward, 1786, Old North Burying Ground, Middlefield, CT. Resetting leaning marker.
9.15.5 Captain William Ward, 1786, Old North Burying Ground, Middlefield, CT. Reset marker.
9.15.6 Benjamin Miller, 1747, Old North Buying Ground, Middlefield. Overview.
9.15.7 Benjamin Miller, 1747, Old North Buying Ground, Middlefield. Detail of carving.
9.15.8 Benjamin Miller, 1747, Old North Buying Ground, Middlefield. Detail of old repair.
9.15.9 Benjamin Miller, 1747, Old North Buying Ground, Middlefield. Detail of iron hardware. There is little indication of damage from hardware.
9.15.10 Benjamin Miller, 1747, Old North Buying Ground, Middlefield. Detail of iron hardware.
9.15.12 Abigail Miller, 1793, Old North Buying Ground, Middlefield. Detail of carving of fallen marker being slowly buried in ground
9.15.13 Colonial gravestone, Old North Buying Ground, Middlefield. Detail of carving loss. doe to delamination of the stone.
9.15.14 Colonial gravestone, Old North Buying Ground, Middlefield. Loss of sandstone carving.
9.15.15 John Bartlet, 1757, Old North Buying Ground, Middlefield. Overview of marker. with one of the happiest faces on a carving fro this era.
9.15.16 John Bartlet, 1757, Old North Buying Ground, Middlefield. Overview of marker showing the joyous figure.
Early colonial settlers to the area in 1700 included Samuel, Samuel Wetmore and Benjamin Allen and the burying ground established in 1737. The settlements became part of Middletown, but in 1744, the General Assembly recognized Middlefield as a separate religious society. Located half way between Durham and Middletown, Middlefield became incorporated as a town in 1866. The cemetery has excellent examples of colonial era Connecticut Valley Ornamental Style markers, many by local stone cutter David Miller. Benjamin Allen’s marker is uniquely wonderful carving of a tree being felled by an arm welding a hatchet emerging from a billowing cloud. A similar carving can be seen on the grave marker for Elizabeth Norton, 1751, Durham Old Cemetery, Durham CT. In both carving, healthy trees grow to the proper left (the viewer’s right), likely representing spouses and children that outlived the deceased. For additional information on the history of the cemetery, visit this wonderful article posted by Bryna O’Sullivan.
The markers suffer from a wide variety of deterioration issues. The Connecticut Valley Sandstone markers endured years of weathering, organic growth, and disaggregation of the stone, spalling, stone loss, missing blocks, and stone foundation failures. Marble markers have sugaring of the surfaces from acid rain exposure, loss of crystalline cohesion, breaks, cracks and unstable and failed foundations. An unusually large proportion l of grave stones are broken close to ground level from some unknown past event or series of events. Whether from storm burst or reckless vandalism, the tall markers will be difficult to repair long term due to the leverage of the stones. Future plans may require the use of stainless steel braces. A historic repair in the cemetery shows a marker held in place with iron bolts and straps. While unsightly and not an acceptable practice today, the hardware appears to have held the marker for decades with no signs of damage other than slight staining of the stone.
Colonial Burying Ground Conservation
- Community workshop with Middlefield Historical Society and Wadsworth Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.
- Walkthrough discussing the Colonial Era site and historic cemetery preservation issues.
- Discussion on marble and Connecticut Valley sandstone deterioration mechanisms.
- Demonstration of safe cleaning of fragile colonial grave markers.
- Demonstration of safe setting of small grave markers.
- Use of tripod to reset hazardously leaning, large grave markers.
- Emphasis of soil quality examination and minimal use of foreign setting materials.