Pine Island Cemetery
Pine Island Cemetery, established as a public, nondenominational cemetery on December 16, 1708, was known as “Over River Burying Ground” until about 1733.
Pine Island is the second oldest and largest of Norwalk’s colonial era cemeteries and reflects 300 years of the area’s diverse cultural heritage and history.
From the earliest burial, based on the surviving headstone of Elizabeth Haynes Bartlett who died in 1723, to the last burial of Doris Buckham Barry in 2009, there are over 1,800 people buried here. These gravestones bear the names people from all walks of life; from laborers to doctors and many vocations in between.
Immigrants from 16 countries, who came to work in many of Norwalk’s industries, are buried here.
Other permanent residents of Pine Island were shopkeepers, shoemakers, potters, railroaders, oystermen, hatters and housewives.
Pine Island commemorates the final resting place of people who built the foundation of this city and those who contributed to its growth and prosperity.
The cemetery was listed on the State Register of Historic Places in 2010. The wide variety of headstones make this an interesting place to wander and consider what Norwalk was like over the centuries.
Facts and Figures
- The former name of Pine Island Cemetery was “Over River Burying Ground” which distinguished its location, across the river from the original settlement in East Norwalk. About 1733, the name changed to Pine Island, possibly after an island located south of here.
- The ethnic composition of the cemetery includes 16 nationalities represented at Pine Island. American-born individuals comprise 82% of the burials.
- Buried here are veterans from the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, Civil War, and both World Wars.
Notable Pine Island Burials
Captain William Cannon Sammis
Captain Sammis was a prominent captain in charge of the sloop Julia, carrying produce and oysters to New York City. For over 100 years, the Sammis families have been buried in the family plot. The last of their family’s burials was Frederick Sammis in 2000, former First Selectman of Darien.
From the late 1800s, through the early 1900s, Hungarians made up a large portion of the population in South Norwalk. Many Hungarian immigrants worked at the lock, hat, corset, and shoe factories in South Norwalk. Janos’s headstone is written in Hungarian.
Here is a headstone that tells a story: Mr. Metz was a passenger on the steamer Adelphi on Sept. 28, 1878, when the boiler exploded off Dorlan’s Point. Metz, a 19-year-old cigar maker was among the 16 passengers who died in the explosion due to boiler inspector negligence. The Adelphi was the worst maritime disaster in Norwalk’s history. Another story on a headstone in this cemetery tells how Lewis Gray was killed in a train wreck in 1849.
Pottery making was “one of the most flourishing and important of Norwalk’s industries and one which carried the name of the city all over the country, and was even familiar to seamen and whalers in the South Pacific.” Norwalk produced redware and yellow ware dishes, earthenware mugs, crocks, spittoons and doorknobs. Buried at Pine Island are 8 notable potters who help define the city’s pottery industry from the late 1700s to the late 1800s. Examples of Norwalk Pottery can be viewed at the Norwalk Historical Society Museum.
This marble is one of many that have been cleaned and restored at Pine Island. Mr. Holmes was an oysterman who lived around the corner on Harbor Ave. He is buried along with his wife Margaret (1829-1877) and daughter Ella (1855-1878). They appear to be the only African Americans (out of at least 82) whose graves are marked.
Warren Family Obelisk
This gravestone is not a stone at all, but an example of white bronze made by the Monumental Bronze Company of Bridgeport, CT. Despite the name, this obelisk is made mostly of zinc and is hollow. These obelisks were popular in the 1880s. Notice that Jennie Alberta died in 1880, and that Susie and Albert died in 1861 so their tablets were backdated. There are five white bronze monuments at Pine Island cemetery.
Captain Daniel K. Nash
Captain Nash was a Master Mariner, owner and commander of the sloop Minerva. His coastal trade extended around Cape Cod to Boston for granite used in the New York City’s Merchants Exchange. He sailed the Hudson River to Albany for building materials and to New Jersey for potter’s clay. The anchor on his headstone symbolizes his maritime profession and could also be a Christian symbol for hope and faith.
Eliza Day Hazlet
Before restoration, this marble stone was almost entirely embedded in the earth. Upon cleaning, the words “E. Price, Norwalk” were discovered, identifying local stonecutter Edmund Price as the carver.
Captain John Raymond
Captain Raymond was a plantation owner and mariner. By the 1700s, trade routes between Connecticut and the West Indies had become a valuable source of revenue. He prospered by trading livestock for sugar and rum in the Caribbean. Probate records show that he owned six slaves who probably worked on his plantation. This sandstone headstone was carved by Michael Baldwin of Connecticut.
Elizabeth Haynes Bartlett
This is the earliest surviving headstone. Many gravestones in the 17th and 18th centuries were simple field stones, sometimes with only primitive carving. Slate stones such as this were costly and often “imported” from the Boston area.
Mrs. Lockwood outlived two husbands. Her third husband, Col. James Lockwood (1683-1769), was married only once previously. The skull and crossbones depicted on her headstone is not a common motif in this area.
Mr. Raymond’s slate headstone was carved by the Lamson family of Boston. This lovely Soul Effigy motif was probably carved by a 3rd generation Lamson and was an alternative to the winged death’s head they also made.
Major General Thomas Guyer
This simple granite stone belies Guyer’s significant contributions to Norwalk and CT as commander of the State’s Militia. He rendered assistance in selecting Connecticut’s quota of soldiers and officers during the Civil War. View his military paraphernalia at the Museum of Connecticut History in Hartford.