Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Tombstone Tuesday - Friends of Forest Hill Cemetery

Forest Hill Cemetery
and the First Parish Church, Derry
The Forest Hill Cemetery dates to 1722, soon after the settlement of Nutfield, New Hampshire. The “First Settlers” and their descendants are buried on the main road, by the main entrance behind the First Parish Church, on “First Settler’s Street.” If you stroll down this path in the cemetery, the stones marking the oldest graves are generally grouped behind the wrought iron fence marking the historic area. There is even a stone memorial with a map showing the route of the first Scots-Irish Presbyterians from Northern Ireland to New England. Londonderry residents will recognize the names on the nearby stones: MacGregor, Mack, Taylor, Morrison, etc.

The Friends of Forest Hill Cemetery is headed by Dorothy Goldman. The group was founded to preserve and restore Derry’s only cemetery. Many of Londonderry’s first settlers, ministers and characters can be found here, due to our common Nutfield heritage. The cemetery is also home to two funny epitaphs that can be found in Ripley’s Believe it or Not, and veterans of all the American Wars, including a recipient of the Medal of Honor.

Volunteers have been taking workshops, cleaning, reset and straightening the ancient gravestones at Forest Hill. This is a delicate process, but all types of local citizens have been involved, including Boy and Girl Scouts, teens from the Upper Room, and history buffs. The goal is to restore the cemetery to its former glory, making all the stones as restored as possible for families, genealogists, historians and the general public to enjoy. At the latest workshop in June, funded by the Derry Heritage Commission, volunteers cleaned 12 stones, straightened two and reset two.

Dorothy is part of an ongoing projects to photograph, map and catalog every gravestone in the Forest Hill Cemetery, and you can follow the progress of this on the website “Find a Grave” at http://www.findagrave.com/. She has added over 4,400 memorials to this website, from Forest Hills and other local cemeteries. See the Friends of Forest Hill Cemetery website http://forest-hill-1721.webs.com/ for more information, and to contact Dorothy Goldman, for a tour or especially for donations of supplies and your time and labor.

Monetary Donations may be made to:
Derry Heritage Commission (put cemetery restoration in the memo line)

Mail to:
Friends of Forest Hill Cemetery
c/o D. J. Goldman
P.O. Box 36
East Derry, NH 03041

Copyright 2011, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

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