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First Burial Ground

Pictures of headstones located in the First Burial Ground can be found at the end of the text.

The First Burial Ground on Park Street is the City’s first and and oldest burial ground. It was originally named “Burying Ground Lane” until 1846 when it then became Park Street and is approximately 1.6 acres. The First Parish was the administrator from 1642-1824 when both the First and Second Burial Grounds were sold to the city for $162.50.

The dates on the headstones reflect the Julian calendar, named after Julius Caesar in 46 B.C., consisting of 12 months based on a solar year, and then the Gregorian calendar named after Pope Gregory XIII in 1582…it was the new style calendar, establishing January 1st as the first day of the year. In 1752 England would use the Gregorian calendar.  The oldest remaining gravestone in the First Burial Ground is that of Deacon Josiah Converse, who died February 3, 1689-90.

This ancient outdoor museum was established by our founders in 1642 following the death of a child, Hannah Richardson in 1642. It is the final resting place of Woburn’s first settlers, whose family names are Johnson, Converse, Richardson, Baldwin and Brooks to name but a few. The largest family group with remaining stones are the Richardson family with 56 stones. Our military heroes of the early militias, King Philip’s War, the Quebec Expedition, French and Indian Wars and the Revolutionary War are also remembered here along with the first four ministers of the First Parish. There are over 150 children buried at this site; Woburn had a smallpox epidemic in 1677 and it reduced the population of the town and it would hit again during the Revolutionary War in 1776 with the returning soldiers who were ill.

As you look through the pictures of remaining headstones below, notice the iconology at the tops and sides of each headstone.  For more information about Iconology and their meanings, visit our Gravestone Iconology page, that includes information about how to identify the expert headstones carved by Joseph Lamson, of which there are many in the First Burial Ground.

The descendants of eight United States Presidents trace their early ancestors to the First Burial Ground through the genealogical research of Gary Boyd Roberts, Senior Research Scholar Emeritus at the New England Historic Genealogical Society, they are:

Franklin Pierce

1804 – 1869

14th US President

(Stephen) Grover Cleveland

1837 – 1908

22nd and 24th US President

Benjamin Harrison


23rd US President

(John) Calvin Coolidge (Jr.)

1872 – 1933

30th US President

Herbert Clark Hoover

1874 – 1964

31st US President

Franklin Delano Roosevelt

1882 – 1945

32nd US President

George Herbert Walker Bush

1924 – 2018

41st US President

George Walker Bush

b. 1946

43rd US President

One of Woburn’s most notable military and political leaders was Colonel Loammi Baldwin, great grandson of Henry Baldwin and one of the thirty-two signers of the Town Orders in 1640. He led the Woburn men into the Battle of Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775 and became an officer on George Washington’s staff. He was the first High Sheriff of Middlesex County. Baldwin is best remembered for his role in the formation and building of the Middlesex Canal. Also buried in the family obelisk is his son, Loammi, Jr. (or the younger), who was known as the “Father of American Civil Engineering,”

Records indicate that family members of six of the seven founding fathers are buried in these sacred grounds but for many there are no headstones, especially for the original founders. Captain Edward Johnson, the “Father of Woburn,” was the leader of the seven explorers that set out in 1640 from Charlestown and founded Woburn. He and his wife, Susan, had seven children. Captain Johnson died in 1672 and is supposed to be interred in the First Burial Ground but no headstone marks the location of his grave. Referenced by Woburn historian William Cutter in 1849, there was an encroachment to the Burial Ground by the Town when they built a wall and the town pound on the westerly side (Park Street) of the graveyard...several skeletons were exhumed. The earliest interments are thought to have been in this section.

Over these many years, inventories have been recorded on the remaining stones, and two collections of the inscriptions were made;

one in 1847 by Town Clerk Nathan Wyman who recorded 273 and again by historian William Cutter in 1866 who documented 269 inscriptions. In 2002, a Woburn group of concerned volunteers called “The Grave Group” also did an inventory.  In 2017, the Woburn Historical Society documented 249 remaining stones.

The First Burial Ground was put on the State and National Registers of Historic Places in 2004.

In 2017, as part of the City’s 375th Anniversary celebration, the Woburn Historical Society worked with the Mayor and the Woburn Cemetery Commission to honor this historic outdoor museum by updating the grounds and completing a Ground Penetrating Radar study on the First and Second Burial Grounds. This latest technology provided the City with updated burial information; at the First Burial Ground, 429 unmarked anomalies were discovered and the Second Burial Ground had 198 unmarked anomalies and 20 buried stones.

Woburn Historical Society hopes our citizens will always remember the men, women and children who paved the way for the men, women and children of Woburn today.

May we always honor and respect their resting place and legacy to Woburn.