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2004 Heritage Walking Tour

Dover Historical Society Heritage Walking Tour
“Grave yarns: The Cemetery Revealed”

Pine Hill Cemetery

 Pine Hill Cemetery
Dover, New Hampshire
 September 18-19, 2004 & 
September 25-26, 2004

Heritage Walking Tour Booklet September 2004 by the Dover Historical Society, Dover, NH, c. 2004.

In 1978, a group called Dover Tomorrow formed to promote the growth and prosperity of Dover. A subcommittee was tasked with promoting “appreciation of Dover’s heritage”. The Lively City Committee created the first Heritage Walk the next year. It was so popular that new tours were created every year, and held through 2007. By 1982, Dover’s historical society, the Northam Colonists, had taken over the research and creation of the Heritage Walking Tour Booklets. The information on the page below is a transcription of the original Heritage Walking Tour Booklet. The Library has a complete set of the Heritage Walking Tours if you would like to see the original booklets.


 Early New England gravestones are a unique expression of primitive art: a reflection of the beliefs, philosophies, and fashions of the 17th and 18th centuries, uniquely expressed in stone.

 A largely illiterate population was taught about man’s confrontation with death and the afterlife through this art form, New England’s earliest form of creative sculpture.  The images carved on the fieldstones and the slate slabs were intended not only to honor the dead, but also to teach lessons to those still living.

Pine Hill Cemetery

The close proximity of burying-grounds to church meetinghouses was fuel for many “fire and brimstone” sermons by New England’s first Puritan ministers.  In fact, gravestone art was the only image-making indulgence allowed by the stern Puritan congregation because the symbolism of the carved icons was seen as a concrete way to convey the message of the mortality of man and the blessings of heaven.  All the minister had to do was point outside the meetinghouse windows to illustrate his point about the certainty of death.

Pine Hill Cemetery

Indeed, the earliest examples of gravestone art (ca. 1620-1750 and rare in Pine Hill Cemetery) are laden with disturbing, frightening images of winged “death’s heads” and skulls and skeletons.  Usually portrayed with lifeless eyes and a toothful grin, these deaths heads reflected the beliefs of a people who suffered the rigors of a severe climate, famine, epidemics, and Indians.  Death was a fearsome, and often sudden, prospect.  So it is not surprising to see images of the grim reaper snuffing out the candle of life, or hollow-eyed, grinning skulls beckoning the passersby with the now famous epitaph:

                      As you are now, So once was I,
                      As I am now, So you must be.
                      So prepare for Death.  And follow me.

 These 17th century stones reinforced the inevitability of our mortal end, emphasized life’s brevity, and highlighted the awesome power of death.  They were also symbolic of the belief that death was final, the ultimate end, death triumphant!

During the early years of the 18th century, changing religious attitudes and the influence of other sects such as the Congregationalists and the Quakers were responsible for the portrayal of less formidable figures and designs. The frightful death’s head evolved into a “soul effigy,” its features rounded out and softened.

By the 1750s the sorrowful soul had become a “winged cherub” and death was viewed not as “the end” but rather as a time when the soul lifted upward to heaven where it would dwell with the Lord.  These images are seen frequently in Pine Hill Cemetery’s older sections.

The quality of the materials and workmanship improved greatly during this century, too.  Whereas the earliest graves were carved out of raw, roughhewn fieldstones with little added decoration or artistic finesse, by the early 1700s slate quarries were operating in New England and the close-grained quality of fine slate allowed for minute detailing and more delicate carving styles.  Where stonecutting was originally a part-time job, usually done by handcraftsmen like woodcarvers, cordwainers, masons, bricklayers, slaters, and surveyors, the growing population meant, of course, more deaths and stonecutters could be assured of steady work year-around.

Historians have traced many of the prominent stonecutters of early New England, their work identifiable by the peculiarities of carving a particular letter, similar phrasing or epitaphs, or a fondness for a specific image, symbol or decorative element.

Stonecutters sometimes cut their initials into the base of a monument and often reused old stones where traces of an even older death notice can be deciphered under the newer carving.  Marble was not popular as gravestone material until the late 1700s, but quartzite and sandstone were used extensively.

Pine Hill Cemetery

At one time it was believed that the stones came from England, imported here as ballast in ships crossing the Atlantic.  But 20th century geological investigations have proved that almost all New England gravestones were “harvested” right here.  The overall shape of a gravestone has varied little throughout history: they were meant to suggest a doorway to heaven or a passageway to the unknown.

By the early part of the 19th century, the winged cherub had evolved further into a full-blown angel and sometimes into a stylized portrait representation of the deceased.  (At times, it is difficult to determine whether the figure is just an angle or the stonecutter’s portrayal of the loved one.)

More and more symbols were used in the 1800s and by 1815, the primitive nature of the early stones had disappeared, replaced by the neoclassical style.  Gravestones were influenced by the architectural motifs of the Federal and Greek Revival periods:  images of classical urns and medallions, graceful swags, and Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian pilasters were artfully etched onto marble and slate.  The different symbols on 19th century gravestones can be classified into five groups:

  1. Recognition of the Flight of Time:

Hourglass with sands of time run out
Hourglass with wings (swift passage of time)
Father Time holding a scythe
Candle with snuffer
Flower with stem broken in half 

  1. Certainty of Death:

Coffins (death of the flesh)
Urns (material remains)
Darts, arrows, or javelins (suddenness)
Crowing cock (repentance)
Gourds (passing away of earthly life) 

  1. Station In Life/Occupation

Coat of arms
Military trappings or insignia
Ship (for captain, sailor or Navy man)
Minister’s collar
Scallop shell (a Pilgrim)
Depiction of how death occurred (e.g. amputated arm) 

  1. Relating to Christian Life

Grapevine (Christ) 
Corn & Grapes (body and blood of Christ)
Dove on a vine (dove=constancy and devotion; partaking of celestial food)
Squirrel cracking a nut (religious meditation)
Mermaid (half fish/half human just as Jesus was half man/half God 

  1. Foretelling of the Resurrection/Activities of the Released Soul;

Rising Sun
Elevated torch
Flame rising from urn
Moon & stars
Fig (prosperity & happiness in the world to come)
Trumpet (“trumpet shall sound & the dead be raised”)
Crown (victorious soul)
Serpent with tail in mouth (eternity and immortality)
Willow (mourning for earthly life as well as joy over heavenly life gained)
Redeemed spirit emerging from a tomb
Soul effigy floating in space playing a musical instrument 

In addition to the visual symbols, the embellishments and decoration on the tombstones grew fancier also.  Stonecutters copied the ornate scrolls they saw on furniture imported from the Continent and sometimes filled every spare inch on a stone with curlicues or repeating geometric patterns.

The evolution of gravestone are reflects the growth of our national history as well.  As we graduated from simple institutions to complex government, and from living just well enough to survive to a focus on embellishing our lives with goods and possessions, our cemeteries subtly echo those cultural changes as well.  Armed with some knowledge about the stories these stones tell, we can walk around Pine Hill Cemetery and absorb some of the history of Dover.


From the time of its settlement in 1623, Dover’s inhabitants were buried, after their deaths, in family plots located primarily in the Dover Point, Dover Neck, and Spruce Lane/Garrison Road regions of the town.

Pine Hill Cemetery

 Family members were interred on their own land in small cemeteries marked by fragile fieldstones.  Many of these graveyards have disappeared, stones broken and graves unidentified, often turned under by developers’ shovels.

The late Roy Ackerman, long time member of the Cemetery Board and active historic preservationist, compiled, in 1988, a listing of the gravestones contained in over fifty family plots around Dover.  This list is available in the Historical Room at the Dover public Library.

After the establishment of the First Parish Congregational Meetinghouse on Dover Point in 1634, the idea of burying the dead in a communal place slowly gained favor.  Dover’s oldest community cemetery can still be viewed on Dover Point Road at the site of the second Congregational Meetinghouse, which was built ca. 1658 (and estimated to be about one mile north of the first “unknown” site).

Pine Hill Cemetery

As the population of “Cochecho” grew during the latter half of the 17th century, the center of activity slowly moved north from the Point.  Richard Waldron had begun using water power at the Lower Falls of the Cochecho River to run his sawmill and the town evolved further at “The Landing” with a developing shipping industry.  With two growing population centers, the elders of the Congregational Church built a third meetinghouse almost equidistant from the Point at the south end and the Landing at the north.  This third house of assembly was built at Pine Hill (near what is now the Cushing tomb) ca. 1710.  For about a decade, ministers preached at both meetinghouse locations, but finally made a permanent move to the Pine Hill house in 1720.  This new location had been used as a burying ground by the local Native Americans for two earlier centuries and was known as “The Pines.”

Pine Hill was officially established as a town cemetery on March 29, 1731.  It was voted at a public town meeting to set aside 1.5 acres “for a publick Burying-place to be laid out by ye Selectmen near ye Meeting-house on Pine Hill at Cocheca.”

In 1758, the meetinghouse for the First Parish Church moved again to its present location on Central Avenue.  Burials continued at Pine Hill; however, there was little organization or management and haphazard arrangements soon developed.

More than half a century passed before the town of Dover saw fit to improve conditions at the cemetery.  During the 1830s, John P. Hale proposed a sum to repair fences, make improvements, establish some regulation, and choose a superintendent.  He cited the “ruinous and neglected condition,” further noted that “individuals who wish to protect the graves…have resorted to the plan of making small enclosures inside the yard” to protect their plots and keep others from trampling on them.  A committee formed to investigate these complaints found 34 such enclosures surrounding 5347 square feet of land: small fenced-off cemeteries within the cemetery!

Pine Hill Cemetery

In 1840, Hale’s committee suggested that the grounds be enlarged and graded, that plantings of shrubs and trees be implemented, and that a plan of the whole yard be drawn up including the surveying, numbering, and dividing of all lots into 16’ x 20’ spaces.  They also encouraged the town to lay out specific carriage paths and to disallow all enclosures.  Hale asserted that all this could be done for $350 and this appropriation was passed at town meeting.  In 1841, an additional $150 was spent for “finishing the improvements” but no superintendent was ever hired until 1895.

From 1855 (when Dover was incorporated as a city) until 1895, the management of Pine Hill Cemetery lay with the Joint Standing Committee on Cemeteries, consisting of two councilmen and one alderman.  The size of the grounds increased gradually during the mid-19th century.  Small purchases of land bordering the cemetery were made of Elizabeth and Lydia Watson (24 sq. rods), Daniel Osborne (47 sq. rods), and William Woodman (62.5 sq. rods).

In 1870, Osborne conveyed the land west of Avenue F to the Grand Army of the Republic’s (G.A.R.) Charles W. Sawyer Post #17.  In 1886, the G.A.R. sold this land to the city for $1.00.  Land west of the Court Street entrance was purchased in 1892 from John Brown ($570) and Patrick Cragin ($630).

The City of Dover changed the management of the cemetery in 1895.  They replaced the elected Joint Standing Committee with an appointed Board of Trustees with staggered terms for continuity.  They felt that “continual change cannot be productive of the best results.”  The new Board was charged with initiating “a well-defined and permanent policy for progressive and economical development.”  Its first members were William S. Stevens, Hiram F. Snow, Charles H. Sawyer, Elisha Rhodes, Henry Law and (ex-officio) Mayor Alonzo M. Foss.  Treasurer was B. Frank Nealley.  These men promptly hired a superintendent, Frank P. Coleman, at a $382 annual salary and supplied him with a horse at a cost of $118.50.

Pine Hill Cemetery

The trustees set up new rules and regulations that included:  no mounds higher than four inches may be built over the graves, no flower picking, no noisy or disorderly conduct, and no discharge of firearms except in a military salute.  The Board also discouraged the building of vaults “believing, with the best landscape gardeners of the day, that they are generally injurious to the appearance of the grounds are…apt to leak, and are liable to rapid decay…and become unsightly ruins.”

Since that time, additional land was purchased and Pine Hill Cemetery now covers 75 acres, of which are 60 acres in use.  The grounds contain over 7.5 miles of roads, avenues, paths, and lanes, and estimates say that the number of people buried in Pine Hill Cemetery equals the current population of Dover! 

Pine Hill Cemetery


Ricker Memorial Chapel was a gift to the city from the will of Mary Abby (Ham) Ricker, who died in 1906.  The chapel was erected in memory of her deceased daughter, Mary Edith “Mamie” (Ricker) Gallagher, who died of peritonitis at age 34 in 1895 after falling from her horse. 

Ricker Memorial Chapel

The chapel’s cornerstone was laid November 10, 1911, and the A.T. Ramsdell-designed building was completed the following spring.  At formal ceremonies on September 29, 1912, the small church was conveyed to the city by the will’s executor, Mr. Fernald, who presented the keys to Dover mayor Dwight Hale.  Fernald noted that of the 140,000 bricks used in construction, 100,000 were made here in Dover.

 Fernald also remarked on the growth of the cemetery, complimenting Supt. Frank Coleman on this success with a greenhouse built on the Court Street side of the cemetery, where Coleman was raising 2000 geranium plants and 50 hydrangea bushes.  Executor Fernald also congratulated the Board of Trustees, mentioning that Pine Hill Cemetery had grown by 30 acres during the past 17 years and that the Perpetual Care Account now stood at $50,000, up from only $1500 when the Board was created in 1895.  He proclaimed the Ricker Memorial Chapel as the crowning glory for the cemetery and a fitting bequest from the late Mrs. Ricker.

Originally used for funeral services, the chapel’s use declined when funeral homes began to offer such facilities.  Use was also minimal in cold weather as the chapel had no heat.  Its condition was neglected for years and it was often ransacked by vandals.  In 1967, extensive repairs and renovations were made to the deteriorating building and oil heat was installed.  The city’s Facilities and Grounds offices were moved to Richer Chapel in 1996.


Reverend Jonathan Cushing (1680-1769) Minister at First Parish Church for 50 years
Christine Otis Baker (1689-1773) Taken captive to Canada during Cochecho Massacre
Ichabod Hayes (1691-1734) Oldest extant gravestone in Pine Hill Cemetery
Dr. Ezra Green (1746-1847) Surgeon on John Paul Jones’s ship and 1st postmaster of Dover
Elisha Thomas (1757-1788) Convicted of murder; 1st man hanged in Dover
Andrew Peirce I (1761-1809) Master mariner, shipbuilder, and trader
William King Atkinson (1765-1820) 1st president of Dover’s 1st bank and NH Attorney General
William Hale (1765-1848) Landing merchant who hosted General Lafayette & President Monroe
Nathaniel Ela (1766-1843) Tavern owner and moderator of Town Meeting
Daniel Durell (1769-1841) Major landowner in Broadway area & US Congressman
Michael Reade Jr (1778-1864) Chronicler of local events in his Almanacks for 50 years
Hosea Sawyer (1783-1858) Landing merchant who built curved-front brick block of stores
Mayor Andrew Peirce (1785-1862) 1st mayor of Dover after incorporation as a city in 1855
John Mann (1789-1861) Publisher of Dover Sun newspaper
Andrew Peirce II (1792-1850) Owned 7 vessels in the Dover Despatch Line of Packets
Capt. William Flagg (1792-1850) Made fortune as a privateer during War of 1812; built Tidewater Farm
Daniel Osborne (1794-1871) Prominent Quaker who owned iron foundry on Bellamy River
Joseph Morrill (1796-1871) built 2 Morrill Blocks at Franklin Square; planted trees to Garrison Hill
Moses Paul (1797-1860) Headed Cocheco Mfg. Co. as its Agent from 1834-1860
Asa Tufts (1798-1884) Druggist; postmaster; bank cashier; insurance agent; drew earliest map
William S. Gookin (1799-1873) Portrait and landscape artist; “life portraits after death” a specialty
Daniel Niles (1799-1889) Ran daily stagecoaches to Boston on his Niles Express
Enoch Nutter (1801-1880) Clock and watchmaker; built brick block on Landing
Dr. Noah Martin (1801-1863) Physician and NH Governor 1852; founder Dover Medical Society
Stephen Toppan (1803-1875) Furniture and cabinetmaker for items “from the cradle to the grave”
Thomas H. Cushing (1805-1868) Railroad bridge builder; highest property tax payer in the City
John Parker Hale (1806-1873) US Senator; presidential candidate; abolitionist; Spanish ambassador|
William Burr (1806-1866) Publisher & editor of Baptist newspaper, The Morning Star, for 30 years
George Wadleigh (1807-1884) Author: Notable Events in Dover…1623 to 1865
Daniel Card (1808-1889) Local packet captain on the Portsmouth to Boston route
Edward Durell (1810-1887) Federal judge in Louisiana and mayor of New Orleans 1868
Benjamin M. Nealley (1811-1888) Mill overseer and conductor on the Underground Railroad
Oliver Wyatt (1812-1891) Merchant tailor with shop on Central Avenue
Andrew Peirce III (1814-1887) Ran ships from Dover to Galveston; president of St.Louis/SF railroad
Josiah Folsom (1815-1889) Sold East & West Indies imports, paints, oils and furniture
William S. Stevens (1816-1897) Owner Wiggin & Stevens sandpaper and glue factory at Landing
Zimri Wallingford (1816-1886) Headed Cocheco Mfg. Co. as it Agent from 1860 to 1886
Thomas Garland (1817-1901) President Dover Navigation Co.; treasurer Dover Gaslight Co.; 1st librarian
Timothy Newman Porter (1817-1872) World traveling sea captain for over 32 years
Jonathan Sawyer (1817-1891) President Sawyer Woolen Mills; built 26-room $250K mansion in 1863
Solomon Foye (1819-1905) Stonecutter; marbleworker; his engravings found on many stones in Pine Hill
Isaac B. Williams (1821-1885) Tannery president; made all leather belting for mill
Samuel Fisher (1822-1909) Dry goods merchant; carpetbagger; Ricker Field real estate developer
Joshua Foster (1824-1900) Publisher Foster’s Weekly and Foster’s Daily Democrat
Harrison Haley (1825-1906) Built tower on Garrison Hill and started Dover Horse Railroad
James Lothrop (1826-1907) Businesses included pharmacy, piano, furniture, and clothing stores
Andrew Young (1827-1890) Civil War colonel and Ricker Field developer; later IRS collector
Rev. Alonzo Quint (1828-1896) Clergyman and author of Historical Memoranda of Ancient Dover
Sarah Low (1830-1913) Civil War nurse in Washington, DC and Virginia
Joseph Abbott (1831-1901) Teamster; hauled ice, hay, grain, stone; owned quarry in Durham
Daniel Hall (1832-1920) Colonel; lawyer; judge; orator; aide to Pres. Lincoln during Civil War
John B. Stevens (1835-1927) City clerk; library trustee; school board member; historical columnist
John Scales (1835-1928) Franklin Academy headmaster and author of The History of Dover
Benjamin O. Reynolds (1836-1923) Sea captain; survived shipwreck in China Sea; worked for D. Navig. Co.
Annie Woodman (1838-1915) Left money in trust to establish the Woodman Institute
Washington Hardy (1838-1916) Sea captain who circumnavigated the globe 13 times  
B. Frank Nealley (1839-1916) Dry goods merchant; Dover mayor; State Senator; D. Navig. Co. investor
Charles Sawyer (1840-1908) Owner, Sawyer Woolen mills and NH Governor 1887
Marilla Ricker (1840-1920) 1st woman to pass the NH bar; feminist and suffragette; ran for Governor
Theodore Woodman (1841-1912) Real estate magnate & philanthropist; donated land for Woodman Park School
Lucy Hale (1842-1915) Senator Hale’s pretty daughter; secretly engaged to John Wilkes Booth
Henry Law (1842-1938) Harness shop owner and real estate; donated land for parks and pools
Mary E. H. G. Dow (1843-1914) 1st woman president of a railroad: Dover Horse Railroad
Caroline Garland (1854-1933) 2nd librarian, after her father, serving 50 years in that post
Grace S. M. Wallace (1856-1931) the aggrieved teacher’s late wife
Cordelia Teatherly Griffin (1858-1891) “The Weeping Bride” who was engaged to Henry Law
Charles L. Wallace (1860-1937) Read to his wife everyday for 6 years after her death, until he died too
Mary Ricker Gallagher (1864-1898) Killed in fall from horse; Ricker Memorial Chapel built in her memory
J. Edward Richardson (1873-1947) Architect of Woodman Institute, Dover City Hall, many local homes
Daniel Smith (1893-1979) Historian and author of Rambles about the Dover Area 1623-1973

Important Dover and Pine Hill Cemetery Historical Dates

1623             Dover is founded
1638             First Parish Church is established
1675-1725     Indian Wars
1679             Dover becomes part of New Hampshire province
1680             The Friends Meetinghouse is established
1689             Cochecho Massacre
1731             Pine Hill Cemetery is established
1788             Dover’s first hanging (Elisha Thomas)
1812             The Dover Cotton Factory is incorporated
1813             Production of cloth begins at Mill #1
1828             The first strike by women in the U.S. occurs at Cocheco Mills|
1841             B&M Railroad comes to Dover
1847             Abolitionist John Hale of Dover is elected to U.S. Senate
1855             Dover becomes a city.  The vote is 498 to 454.
1877             Dover Navigation Company organized; owned 10 schooners
1880             Harrison Haley builds Garrison Hill Tower
1889             City Hall burns
1890             Marilla Marks Ricker first woman admitted to NH Bar
1895             First superintendent of Pine Hill Cemetery hired
1896             Dover is devastated by a tremendous flood
1897             Garrison Hill Tower burns
1907             Cocheco Mill #1 burns
1912             Ricker Memorial Chapel built
1913             Garrison Hill Tower is rebuilt
1915             Annie Woodman dies and leaves $100,000 to establish Woodman Institute
1933             City Hall burns again
1938             Henry Law dies and leaves $10,000 in trust to Parks Commission
1973             Dover celebrates in 350th birthday
1993             Garrison Hill Tower rebuilt again
1996             City Facilities and Grounds offices move to Ricker Chapel

Pine Hill Cemetery






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