Saturday, August 15, 2015

Hebron Historical Society Helps to Uncover Hebron's Cemeteries

The Hebron Historical Society is currently underway with uncovering the graves at Hebron cemeteries, starting with The Old Cemetery on Wall Street.  The volunteers have learned proper cleaning techniques and how to reset the stones.  The Historical Society and volunteers know that cemetery maintenance is appropriate because it shows respect to the people buried, and recognizes their contributions to the community.

It might not seem like a monumental task, but it takes a lot of hard work.  Volunteers can tell you that it is amazing to see the original carved words appear on a grave after being hidden underneath layers of dirt and mulch.  When cleaned, many of the graves look like they had been created yesterday, and not three hundred years ago when the town was first established. See the grave pictured below and how it looked both before and after it was cleaned.


Those graves that are not fully cleaned through typical methods are then treated with an environmentally safe solution recommended by the Office of the State Archaeologist.

What is even more interesting is that names of citizens are now becoming visible to society.  These particular names on the graves match the three hundred names of individuals on documents from the Historical Society, and their burial locations.  The Hebron Historical Society is not only recovering the lost names of individuals in the cemetery, but maintaining historical records, and uncovering additional information about the individuals who lived in Hebron long ago.

The cleaning sessions uncovered many citizens, and much was learned from the hard work of the Hebron Historical Society, including the location and confirmation of several burial sites, one of which was Obadiah Horsford’s. Horsford was a prominent citizen involved in Hebron’s early development.  He was Captain of Hebron’s first military company and responsible for establishing this cemetery as Hebron’s burying ground.  He died in 1741.

Hosford’s stone is the largest single stone in the cemetery.  It was carved by Benjamin Collins, from Columbia, Connecticut.  Collins’ stones were ornately carved and his faces more realistic.  The inscription on Hosford’s stone is extensive and relates Hosford’s service to the town and his good standing as a citizen.  The inscription was not deeply carved.  It may be fortunate that the stone lay in the dirt for many years because the inscription is still legible.  Without the efforts of the Hebron Historical Society and volunteers from the town of Hebron who helped to clean and restore Hebron's cemeteries, Obadiah Horsford's stone may have never been found.

The hard work of Hebron citizens to restore the cemeteries results in not only making our cemeteries a more welcoming place, but also restoring the lost history of our three hundred year old town.  This project will take many months, and even possibly years of work.  The Society welcomes volunteer assistance.  Donations are gratefully accepted and can be sent to the Historical Society @ PO Box 43, Hebron, CT. 06248.  Volunteers and those with questions can call Mary-Ellen Gonci @ 860-228-3388 or

Thanks to Mary-Ellen Gonci for help in writing this article and providing images of The Old Hebron Cemetery.

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