Walking Tour Stop 10
The Old Graveyard was Carlisle's first burial ground. The earliest surviving marker is dated 1757, six years after Carlisle's founding 1n 1751. Title from the Penn family for the original "three acres, three quarters, and fifteen perches" for the Old Graveyard was not legally transferred until 1767. As one of the original seven public graveyards in colonial Pennsylvania, the Old Graveyard reflects the European pattern of public ownership rather than private ownership by families, churches, and associations. Today, the Old Graveyard continues to be owned and maintained by the Borough of Carlisle, and burials are accepted only on a limited basis.
Carlisle's location, as well as its institutions, attracted individuals and families who became colonial, state, and national leaders. Among those buried here are members of the U.S. Continental Congress, Presidents and Trustees of Dickinson College, Justices of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court including two Chief Justices, Pennsylvania Legislators, founders of the Female Benevolent Society, and the U.S. Commissioner of Agriculture under President Grant. Also of note are artists and writers, ecclesiastical leaders, early advocates for public education, philanthropists, architects and builders, industrialists and historians, as well as the men, women, and children who collectively reflect the culture of South-Central Pennsylvania.
Some 800 war veterans lie within these walls. They include officers as well as enlisted men and women from all branches of service. The monument recognizing fifty-three Revolutionary War soldiers was erected in the 1930s, and several monuments pay tribute to Revolutionary War heroine "Molly Pitcher," who is buried here. Fifteen members of the Society of the Cincinnati, the first U.S. veteran's organization, are also buried here.
The native limestone walls that surround the graveyard was begun in 1806 to keep out cattle and to prevent "outrages." The "New Section" of the graveyard was laid out in 1891, and in its SE corner is a monument marking the 1891 re-interment of those once buried in the Lutheran Graveyard on South Hanover Street.
The shapes of the grave stone markers, as well as their decorative motifs, symbols and epitaphs reflect the area's conservatism and the heritage of its early Scots-Irish and German settlers. Collectively, the markers document three centuries of technique and materials: from hand carving to cast metal to laser cut, and from rough field stone to polished granite. An iron grave marker, two white bronzes, a small family mausoleum, and Victorian iron fence attributed to Robert Wood of Philadelphia, are features to note.
You are invited to respectfully stroll through the Old Graveyard. To help preserve the markers, and to honor those interred here, please do not sit, stand, walk upon, or lean on the markers.