The Center Cemetery Letterbox  LbNA # 8318

Placed DateMay 20 2004
LocationEast Hartford, CT
Planted ByWild Rover    
Found By Ursine
Last Found Jun 13 2011
Hike Distance?

(Easy/stroller accessible)

****The crypt wall which held this letterbox crumbled, but JAXX saved the stamp and mailed it to me. I finally found it and re-planted it on February 10, 2008. It is in a new place now, and the clues have been appropriately revised. Thanx to JAXX for saving it and sending it to me!!!

The Center Cemetery was authorized in 1709, and in 1710 John Pantry deeded one acre of land to the City of Hartford for creation of the cemetery. It was expanded by one acre in 1806, and additional land was purchased periodically thereafter to expand the cemetery to its current size of more than twelve acres. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Several important citizens of 18th and 19th century Connecticut have made Center Cemetery their final resting place, including members of the Pitkin, Bidwell, Forbes, Pratt and Griswold families. The Honorable William Pitkin, Governor of Connecticut and Justice of the Connecticut Supreme Court, was laid to rest in Center Cemetery in the 76th year of his age in 1769. Part of his epitaph reads: “Walk Thoughtful on the Solemn Shore of that Vast Ocean thou art soon to pass.”

Governor Pitkin’s was the first monument restored by the Friends of Center Cemetery, a nonprofit organization formed in 1989 to promote the preservation of historic Center Cemetery. In 1996 the FCC copied the inscriptions of all existing stones in the cemetery (5,560) and compiled them into an indexed computerized record. The FCC is presently working on creating a systematic photographic record of the oldest stones to preserve all that remains of their art and character. The FCC is already gearing up for the 300th anniversary of the founding of Center Cemetery in 2009.

The Center Cemetery stamp is my 3rd hand-carved stamp, and bears a likeness to the logo of the Friends of Center Cemetery. The Center Cemetery Letterbox, the 3rd in a series of 6 boxes placed in East Hartford by Wild Rover, pays homage to the FCC and to this wonderful historic cemetery.


Center Cemetery is found on Main Street in East Hartford, just North of Town Hall and just South of Burnside Avenue, on the same side as Town Hall, across from the entrance to Governor Street, between Walgreen’s and DeRosa’s cleaners. There is a large entrance through an ornate iron arch with a narrow stone path that at first glance does not appear accessible to automobiles, but it is. Turn in here and either park & walk or just drive the directions below.


Enter the center cemetery and there is an immediate "Y" in the road, with the left side usually closed -- even if it is not closed, go to the right onto West Drive and prepare to take the first left onto Hill Drive.

At the corner of West & Hill, on the left corner, is the GOODWIN stone, which explains that Ozias Goodwin emigrated to Hartford from Essex, England in 1635 and died in 1683 -- many of his descendants are buried here, and in other parts of the cemetery.

Take the left turn onto Hill Drive and immediately on the right see the Civil War Monument. Don't worry, the cannon will not put a ball into your starboard bow, but it looks like it might. The Civil War Monument, which is being refitted with a new eagle to adorn the top for the 300th anniversary of the cemetery in 2009, explains that it was "Erected by volunteer subscription to the memory of those brave men who gave up their lives that the republic might live," borrowing a little from Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. The Civil War Monument lists the names of several local residents who fought and died in the Civil War, including George E. Brewer who, at 19 years of age, died on 21 June 1864 in Andersonville (prison). It also lists names and DODs for soldiers who fought and died in major Civil War battles including Antietam (MD), Cold Harbor (VA), Sharpsburg (MD), Petersburg (VA), and others. "All honor to the brave." "Mourn the patriot dead."

Continue on Hill Drive behind the vault (to your left) of Squire Elisha Pitkin that, on August 24, 2000, underwent an archeological inventory by the Connecticut State Archeologist, who found sixteen (16) members of the Pitkin family interred there, including Squire Elisha Pitkin himself who died on 18 March 1819 at 86 years of age. A direct descendant, Donald Pitkin, sits on the East Hartford Town Council today (Minority Leader), and plays the part of his great grandfather at the Lantern Walks of the cemetery sponsored yearly by the Historical Society and the FCC.

Continue on Hill Drive, past (on your left) the back the tall monument for the most Reverend George Roberts, who died on 25 March 1878 at 68 years of age. Cross over a cross-street and continue on Hill Drive past Dunham on the right corner and Johnson on the left corner, then past Olmstead and Smith on the left; then past Merriman, Beaumont, Moore and Ackley on the right, to a tree along the right side of Hill Drive just before Hollister. The back side of this tree is hollow, and therein you will find the Center Cemetery Letterbox. Please be discreet and respectful. Thanks for looking, and thanks again to JAXX for saving this letterbox from the crumbled Raymond crypt (which on 02/10/2008 was still crumbled). Hope you find the box, and like the stamp!!! Thanks for looking !!!!
---Wild Rover

After discreetly stamping and replacing, continue on Hill Drive to the "newer" part of the cemetery with 20th century stones, and out the back of the cemetery onto Elm Street. Turn right on Elm and right on Central Avenue to get to Main Street, or left on Elm to Burnside Avenue.


Special thanks to MayEve for helping me plant another letterbox, and for inspiring me to carve this stamp. Great thanks and textual credit to the Friends of Center Cemetery for sharing their wealth of information. The FCC has a fantastic Self-Guided Historical Walking Tour of the cemetery printed in a wonderful booklet (available free at Town Hall) full of history and featuring the art of several monuments and gravestones. You can write to the FCC at 70 Canterbury Street, East Hartford, CT 06108 (see also: ).