For nearly two centuries, Hillside Cemetery has served as the final resting place for Wilton’s veterans, founding families, and residents. Deeded to the Wilton Congregational Church in 1818, it is the town’s largest and most notable community cemetery welcoming families of all faiths – a tradition continued today.
Set on 27 tranquil acres, Hillside Cemetery provides a place of beauty and peace for visitors. Rolling green hills dotted with century-old trees and meticulously maintained landscaping offer four seasons of pastoral artistry befitting its history.
First known as Joe’s Hill, the cemetery was originally named for the property’s owner, Jonathan Middlebrook. The earliest burials trace back to 1817 and most of Wilton’s 18 Revolutionary War veterans are interred in what is reverently referred to as ‘the old section’. The following year, Mr. Middlebrook deeded his one-acre burial plot to the Wilton Congregational Church. Just to the south, Ebenezer Betts opened a private cemetery of his own in 1853. The land passed to Virginia Middlebrook Wilkinson, who, in turn, donated it to the church in 1918.
In 1936 the church purchased an additional four and one-half acres, adding a third parcel to the cemetery mosaic. The final and largest addition was made possible in 1950 by a gift from Charles Dana, a generous benefactor. The funds were used to purchase a contiguous nineteen acre parcel from Julian and Stewart Gregory, who had inherited it from their father Julian A. Gregory. More recently in 2008, a tranquil Cremation Memorial Garden was created, offering family and friends an alternative to traditional burial.
Conveniently located at 165 Ridgefield Road in Wilton Connecticut, Hillside Cemetery connects visitors with the rich tapestry of the town’s history. Wilton’s established families, such as the Betts, Comstock, Deforest, Gilbert, Godfrey, Gregory, Hurlbut, Keeler, Lockwood, Middlebrook, Olmstead and Sturges all rest here in quiet repose. The cemetery also serves as a tribute to the service and sacrifice of Revolutionary, Civil, World War I, World War II, Korean , Vietnam, Iraqi and Afghanistan war veterans, and is home to the Wilton Memorial Day Ceremony.
The cemetery’s oldest burials are in the “the part closest to the 183 Ridgefield Road property,” also known as the “Joe’s Hill section,” according to town and Wilton Congregational Church historian Bob Russell. This section is also known as the “old section.”
The “earliest legible headstones” belong to Jonathan Middlebrook’s parents, Michael and Abiah Middlebrook, who died in 1791 and 1795, respectively, said Russell, but the St. Johns are “probably” Hillside’s earliest burials.
That would be Martha St. John and her son Elijah, who died in 1788 and 1789, respectively. Both their graves can be found in the old section.
Veterans from various wars are buried in Hillside, including 18 of Wilton’s Revolutionary War veterans like Maj. Samuel Comstock and Capt. Daniel Hurlbutt, who died in 1824 and 1827.
Hillside “serves as a tribute to the service and sacrifice of Revolutionary, Civil, World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans.” It is also home to the annual Wilton Memorial Day remembrance ceremony in May.