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Copp's Hill Burying Ground

Copp's Hill Burying Ground
Copp's Hill Burying Ground

© Jim Reynolds

Founded in 1659 by the city of Boston, this historic burying ground was named after William Copp and his family, a local shoemaker in the area who settled on the land around 1635. The grounds boast views of the Bunker Hill Memorial and the USS Constitution in the distance, is one of the last stops along the Freedom Trail, and is the second oldest burying ground in Boston.

Added to the National Historic Register in 1974, this is the final resting place for many notable Bostonians from the colonial era, individuals from the Boston Tea Party, as well as many ordinary merchants, artisans, and crafts people who lived in the North End. Among these resting souls are William Copp's children, Increase and Cotton Mather (Puritan ministers and prominent figures in the Salem Witch trials), Robert Newman (the patriot who placed the Paul Revere signal lanterns in Old North Church) and thousands of free African Americans who resided in the "New Guinea" community and were laid to rest in unmarked graves.

Copp's Hill Burying Ground is the former site for artillery practice by the British during the Battle of Bunker Hill in 1775, and bullet holes can still be seen in the rows of headstones today. The grounds bear 272 tombs and over 11,000 graves although it is believed that there are hundreds of others buried here that were not wealthy enough to afford their own plot and were simply buried on top of dug up graves. Many of the headstones are completely illegible today, but thanks to a grave register and Boston's Copp's Hill Burying Ground Guide, plots are fairly easy to locate.

Rumor has it that if you lift the top off the stone table found on the grounds, you would discover stairs running to underground caverns and tunnels. These tunnels connected certain people's houses, the burial grounds, and the sea and allowed residents to smuggle goods from merchant ships. Many of these tunnels have been closed off over the years, but the entrances to a number of them can still be found throughout the North End today.

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