Nathan Hale Cemetery
The Nathan Hale Monument
Before you is an impressive granite obelisk, 14 feet square at the base and 45 feet high made out of 125 tons of hewn Quincy granite. It was designed by Henry Austin and completed by Solomon Wiliard, architect for the Bunker Hill Monument. It was dedicated on September 19, 1846, following a 15 year effort by the townspeople of Coventry to raise the entire cost of $4,033.93. this monument was erected because Nathan Hale was buried in an unmarked grave, somewhere on Manhattan Island soon after his death. In 1837 the Hale Monument Association was established by the men and women of Coventry and throughout New England, who were determined that the martyred patriot should have a memorial fitting the greatness of his sacrifice. Many attempts were made to have the United States Government contribute to the cost of the monument. All requests were refused. The State of Connecticut made several contributions, totaling $1250.00 by 1846, that made it possible to complete the construction. The monument is the property of the State of Connecticut, the Town of Coventry having conveyed it to the state in 1894.
Nathan Hale Cemetery History
This early eighteenth century cemetery is situated on 7 acres on the shore of Lake Wamgumbaug. Headstones date from
as early as 1716 although earlier stones may exist, but are unreadable due to "spalling" or weathering. The 18th century stones are located in the two long sections that border the driveway from the entrance to the point where the drive branches. The great majority are composed of granite schist, much of which was quarried at nearby Bolton Notch, a quarry site that can still be seen today.
Most of the stones face west, which was common in New England, and thought to serve the religious function of allowing the deceased to sit up in the grave to face East upon the Day of Judgement. When most of these stones were erected they were accompanied by footstones, placed at the foot of the grave. Sadly, nearly all of these have been removed and only four footstones remain in their original place. The 1735 burial plot of Mary Badcock has both headstone and footstone as carved by Obadiah Wheeler.
As you read the inscriptions, you will note the frequent use of the terms consort and relict. A consort, partner or companion, is the one spouse, man or woman, who dies before the other. Relict means "left behind" and refers to a widow or widower.
Here Lyes ye Body of
Mrs Mary Badcock Worthy & Virtuous
Woman & Changed Earth for Heaven ...
in ye 58 years her age.
The cemetery is historically significant
as one of Coventry's oldest cemeteries. The headstones provide a record of the vital statistics of many village residents. Here you will find the burial plots of the Hale family, Booth and Dimock descendants, and the families of the Brighams, Davenports, Parkers, Meachams, Howards and the Rose family.
The cemetery is artistically significant because it contains good examples of typical New England funereal art from the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. There are about 175 18th century gravestones, carved by at least 16 different gravestone carvers. Benjamin Collins carved one of the most significant stones in this graveyard because of his signature on the headstone of Humphrey Davenport in 1750. The Loomis Family of Coventry have at least 38 headstones represented here. The Manning Family from the Norwich/Franklin area were dominate figures in gravestone carving and made the cherub style very popular.
To the right of the Nathan Hale Monument you will see a Civil War 20 pdr. Parrot gun placed there in the late 1800's to honor our Civil War Veterans. It has been placed on the National Register of surviving Civil War artillery pieces.
Born June 6, 1755 Coventry, CT
Died September 22, 1776 New York, NY
"I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my Country"
Although 116 of Coventry's
2,056 residents served in the Revolutionary War, one man's exemplary effort stands apart from the rest. Nathan Hale, a Yale graduate and New London schoolmaster, volunteered in 1775, leaving his post for what he described as "an opportunity for more extended public service." Within a year he was promoted to captain. He soon answered an appeal for an officer to gather information on Howe's British troops on Long Island. He was captured and hanged as a spy the next day.