Hampton Beach News-Guide, July 20, 1923
Pine Grove Cemetery, the Oldest in State, in Unsightly Condition – Original Cemetery at Landing Equally Unkempt – South Burying Ground Markers Hidden in Uncut Grass – Indignation of Citizens Expressed – Funds Available for Care of Ancestral Graves.
TOWN APPROPRIATES $500.00 YEARLY FOR UPKEEP
"Pine Grove Cemetery, 1645-1800," reads the inscription over the gate of the ancient cemetery among the pines on the Beach Road not far from the Hampton Town Hall. It was in 1639 that the Rev. Stephen Bachiler with his small and devoted band of followers sailed up the Hampton River in a "shallop" and set foot on that part of the town that has come to be known as "The Landing."
First Burial in 1645
It was only six years afterwards that a marker was set over one of the first graves in that burial ground which is now known as the "Pine Grove Cemetery." At least the date 1645 was deciphered on one of the markers in this resting place of the original settlers by those who were responsible for the restoration of the cemetery several years ago. This marker was afterwards carried away by vandals. There is plenty of evidence, however, that the cemetery is nearly 300 years old – the oldest and the most historical of all cemeteries in New Hampshire. The stone markers with their quaint epitaphs and curious inscriptions are relics of that period of our country's earliest history – of a period when some unfortunate women were persecuted as witches and Indian attacks were not infrequent or out of the ordinary. There were no burials in "Pine Grove" after 1800.
Where Indians Are Buried
The Little cemetery at the "Landing" is about thirty feet square. The land, containing these graves of early settlers and several Indians, was given to the Hampton Cemetery Association by Stacy Nudd. It was in use at the same time as the "Pine Grove" cemetery and is fully as old. The other resting place of the ancestors of Hampton's best known families is called the South Cemetery. Here too are ancient markers, but the burying place was used at a later period than either of the two mentioned above.
Several years ago the Hampton Cemetery Association was formed and these ancient grave yards were restored. The town made a small yearly appropriation to the association which has since been increased to $500 per annum. At that time the last resting places of the early settlers and old residents of the historic town of Hampton were kept in a presentable condition.
Cemeteries in Disgraceful Shape
Today the town makes the same generous yearly appropriation but the only cemetery in the little village that has any apparent care is the new and modem burial place just east of the village proper. The ancient "Pine Grove Cemetery" is in a disgraceful condition. A three inch mat of pine needles covers the graves and many of the markers are toppled over. The shrubbery is untrimmed and unkempt. Dead branches from the beautiful pines litter the hallowed spot and rank weeds and rapidly growing underbrush add to the desolate appearance of the historic place. Stones have become dislodged from the wall that separates the cemetery from the main boulevard.
The little burial plot at the Landing with its unpainted fence is unmowed and oxeyed daisies peep out of he thick, deep grass among the partially hidden markers. Two dilapidated boards are nailed across the entrance where a gate has never been hung. This little spot is the only place of desolation amid the beautiful rolling meadows and marshland through which the Hampton River winds it s crooked way.
Fund Provided for Care
The South Cemetery is equally disreputable. The grass is long and unkempt. The stones are at various angles, many of them broken and many more fallen onto the ground. Taken all in all the three cemeteries are in terrible shape and this in spite of the fact that the town provides a fund for their care and undoubtedly would appropriate more if the Cemetery Association said that more money was needed to keep the cemeteries in proper condition.