Monday, July 20, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday - Cemetery in Your Basement

Anybody else remember the Dead Milkman and their song "Big Lizard in Your Backyard"? My title kind of reminds me of it. But enough of my wasted youth...

So yeah, there are lots of places that have crypts or tombs in the basement, but how many have the actual cemetery down there? As in, the ground, and gravestones sticking up out of it?

Take a trip to New Haven, Connecticut and you can see for yourself. In the green that still exists in the center of the city there are now 3 churches (it's a long story). Back in the early days of the city in the 1600s the cemetery was there as well, and was there for many many decades.

Eventually, they built other churches on the grounds of the town green, and my focus is on the center church. The picture below, which I got from the church's website: shows what it looks like. It's the center church. By the way, that's Yale University in the background there (gorgeous as well).

The church was first built in 1813, right on top of part of the cemetery. Instead of taking the stones away, they just built right on top of them.

Now I know what you're thinking: But what about the rest of the cemetery Leah, that picture doesn't show any headstones.

That's right! They just picked up all the headstones and moved them to another cemetery nearby. There they propped them up against the cemetery wall.

But, you say, what about the bodies???? Didn't they move the remains as well?

NO! :-) They moved the cemetery but they left the bodies!!! They left the bodies and only moved the headstones! They're all still under there as you walk around this gorgeous park-like green. About 5000 people they say! Slightly creepy on that gorgeous day on the green? Yes. Yes it was.

Anyway, the church allows you to tour the Crypt as they call it and it's really wonderful. There were a bunch of the Trowbridge family down there, which is one of my really far back direct ancestors. I learned by the nice guide lady that it's pronounced Tro-bridge, rhymes with "sew" and not Trow-bridge, rhymes with "how". What can I say, at least she didn't laugh outright at me like the nice scottish man who corrected my pronunciation of "Arbuthnott". :-D Yeah, laugh away, dear reader, let's hear how you'd pronounce it!!!

To the right here is the actual Scotsman that laughed at me. Just to be clear, he's the one on the right in the picture. If only he'd been on a horse, I might have taken it better. :-D

The oldest stone in the underground graveyard is for Sarah (Rutherford) Trowbridge. She passed away in 1687. She's my great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandmother. How cool is that???

So here are some pictures, but really, you ought to see it for yourself, so if you are ever in New Haven, check it out!


  1. That's neat, and yes, a wee bit creepy!

  2. Thought it was fascinating!!!! Really enjoyed that trip.

  3. That's a great post! 1687 was sure a long time ago!

  4. Woohoo! I realize this is an OLD post, but just have to comment. Came over to wish you a belated Happy Blogiversary and my eye caught on Trowbridge in your labels. I am a descendant of these Trowbridges through my great grandmother and they go back to the early 1500s. I did a blog on it you might like to see.
    It includes an old map of New Haven too. I have several posts on my Trowbridge family as they were a particularly interesting bunch! Great to know another Trowbridge geneablogger!! Happy belated Blogiversary!