A Trip to
Grow Hill Cemetery
We meet our guides
When my family and I drove to Boston last summer, we knew from the book, John Grow of Ipswich, that a Grow Cemetery existed near Pomfret, Connecticut. So we changed our route to pass that way. This is a beautiful area of rolling hills, thick maple woods, small farms and villages. Many of the settlements date to the 1700's, and there are an amazing number of buildings from that period still standing.
It was Sunday morning. The shady, winding roads that interlace northeastern Connecticut were quiet. We looked at a map and picked a route off the main roads, through the small towns.
We drove into Abington, just southwest of Pomfret and Putnam, as churches let out. Not knowing what to expect, we began to look for the Congregational Church the Grow Family helped found in 1743.
Thomas Grow bought 100 acres near Pomfret in January of 1731. Thomas is the direct ancestor of this branch of the family, son of the first known Grow: John Grow of Ipswich, Massachusetts. Thomas was born at Ipswich Oct. 20, 1684, and married in Andover, Mass., on June 8, 1710 to Rebecca Holt.
As we drove into the little village of Abington, we almost passed the Congregational Church before recognizing it. As we parked, we saw that two ladies were talking on the steps.
I walked to them and said, "Excuse me, I'm trying to locate some ancestors who are from this area."
When I told them the family name, they looked at each other with surprise, then one turned to me and said, "We were just standing here discussing the upkeep on the Grow Hill Cemetery."
The women were Mary G. Page, the town historian, and Beatrice Sharp Arnold (who said that as a girl, she was always called "Bea Sharp!")
They showed us inside the little white wooden church--which is the original building, modified somewhat and moved back a little from its original spot closer to the road. It is a lovely, simple building . I was touched to think that our kin worshipped in it nearly 250 years ago.
To the cemetery
Bea then guided us out to the Grow Hill Cemetery, a few miles south of the Church (see map).
This was Memorial Day weekend. The cemeteries had all been recently mowed and little American flags flew on all the known graves of revolutionary soldiers.
The road to Grow Hill Cemetary is an old dirt road, Carter Road, crowded by trees, that winds off State Road 97 to the east. A few hundred yards and the road curved to the right. Bea parked and we pulled in behind her. To our right rose a hillside. Looking up it, we could see it was bounded by an old stone wall, broken in places. A few ragged rows of gravestones marched down the hill toward us. Many were fallen. Here and there waved a small American flag.
This was Grow Hill Cemetery.
At the top of this hill are buried many of the descendants of Thomas and Rebecca Grow, beginning with their grandson Thomas, who was born in 1743. Thomas and Rebecca are buried nearby at Pomfret Center.
The gravestones are faint. (Mary Page told us that all the old graves of New England are being eaten away by acid rain.) But you can still read them. Some are half-buried. Several lie broken. I found where one of the footstones had been added to the fieldstones that make up the low wall around the cemetery.
Grow Hill Cemetery is a simple, beautiful place, nested in the forests of overgrown farmlands, bordered by oaks, maples, and locust trees.
Mary Page told us that the cemetery lies so near the border of Pomfret and Hampton Townships that neither has been willing to take responsibility for its upkeep. The state has many old cemeteries. This one, a family plot with no surviving members living nearby, has no one to look after it.
Some of the graves at
Grow Hill Cemetery near Pomfret, Conn.
The elder Thomas Grow and his wife Rebecca are buried in Pomfret Center. The Thomas Grow shown here had three wives, two of whom were named Experience
May 6, 1852
wife of Thomas Grow
Dec. 25, 1852
Samuel M. Grow
son of Joseph & Betsy
Feb. 8, 1811
Catherine, wife of Ebenezer Grow
died Dec. 22, 1829
b. Nov. 10, 1755
d. Oct. 31, 1827
Dec. 20, 1835
Feb. 9, 1811
wife of Thomas Grow
Dec. 26, 1819
June 5, 1824
Milo Grow's Letters from the Civil War, homepage