Sharing two photographs courtesy of Scott Andersen who, along with several other volunteers, have been restoring for the past two years Greenfield’s oldest cemetery – the Old Burying Ground.
Below are the before restoration and after restoration photographs of the Nancy A. (Mitchell) Smith gravestone that is the oldest gravestone found to date at the Old Burying Ground.
“The Hills of Highland”
by Elsie Johnson Ayres
“THE OLD BURYING GROUND”
The first cemetery in Greenfield known today as “The Old Burying Ground” was a four-acre tract on the west bank of Paint Creek, set aside by Duncan McArthur for a church, school and a burying ground. It is located between Front Street and Paint Creek, from South to Jefferson Sts. A schoolhouse built on the ground in 1815 was abandoned in 1837 as a school. A stone church erected in 1821 was replaced with a brick church in 1854, called the First Presbyterian Church of Greenfield.
The first entry in the cemetery was a small child of John and Ruth Coffey. The first adult burial was William Wallace Bell. When the new cemetery was selected, descendants of Bell removed his body to the new cemetery. Bell and William Smith were veterans of the Revolution. Smith was the son of Robert Smith and Jean (Buchanan) Smith. His mother was a sister of Pres. James Buchanan.
William Smith died Mar. 4, 1836. His son, Robert, 1786-1856, served in the War of 1812, as did the following men buried in the “Old Burying Ground”: Robert Adams, 1768-1843; Andrew Arnott, 1791-1853; Edward Byram, 1783 – 1865 (named for his father, a veteran of the Revolution); John Coffey, 1772-1853; Robert Duncan, 1777-1846; James M. Milligan, 1774-1848; Capt. Wm. Murray, 1784-1871; William Patterson, 1785- 1843 and Christopher Shrock, 1782-1847.
Many who fought in the Civil War are buried in the oldest cemetery in the town. One of the oldest legible tombstones is that of Nancy (Mitchell) Smith, wife of Samuel and mother of Dr. Samuel Mitchell Smith, surgeon during the Civil War. She died at the age of twenty, in 1816.
It also contains the graves of Joshua Merrill, 1791 – June 28, 1851 and his wife, Rhoda, 1797 – Mar. 17, 1850, parents of Bishop Merrill; Dr. Thomas McGarrough, 1780 – 1860, and his wife, Margaret, 1780 – 1859; members of the McMullen, Bonner, Crothers, Ferneau (Fernow), Fullerton, Murray, McWilliams, Robinsons and many many more.”