Historic cemetery tour on Election Day

As voters write the future history of Wilton on Tuesday, Nov. 3, everyone may take a look back at some of the town’s historic figures with a tour of Sharp Hill Cemetery from 11 to noon on Election Day.

The program is presented by the Wilton Historical Society and Wilton Congregational Church.

Sharp Hill is Wilton’s oldest surviving cemetery, dating from 1738. The names found there will be familiar to many: Abbott, Belden, DeForest, Dudley, Fitch, Gaylord, Gilbert, Gregory, Grumman, Hurlbutt, Lambert, Olmstead, Raymond, St. John, and Sturges.

During the tour, several of Wilton’s historic figures will be portrayed, including the thrice-married Sarah Lockwood Selleck Hickox (1678-1765), and early settler and deacon Matthew Gregory (1680-1777) and his wife, Hannah Keeler Gregory (1687-1767), ancestors of Julian A. Gregory Jr. of Gregory and Adams law firm. The history of the cemetery itself will be explored by Wilton history expert and former First Selectman Bob Russell.

The cemetery was established when John Marvin gave 64 square rods (four-tenths of an acre) to the “Presbyterian or Congregational Society of Wilton” as the site of a meeting house for the worship of God. The men and women who are buried there include founders of Wilton, church leaders, and 24 veterans of the Revolutionary and French & Indian wars.

There are about 150 legible gravestones, including some 70 from the 18th century, plus another 225 or so stones no longer legible or graves marked only with common fieldstones.

Many of the older gravestones — made of slate, red sandstone, granite, and marble — have ornate skull carvings and other interesting designs. Many graves also have footstones carved with the initials of the deceased. Because of their fragile nature, gravestone rubbing is strongly discouraged.

Sharp Hill Cemetery was used until the mid-1800s, the meeting house having long been moved to the site of the Wilton Congregational Church on Ridgefield Road, which owns and manages Hillside Cemetery.

The entrance to Sharp Hill Cemetery is at Route 7 and Sharp Hill Road.