The Oldest Legible Gravestone

I Have Some Grave News
Ephraim Huit Grave

Palisado Cemetery, Windsor

ephraim-huitI had trouble coming up with the title description for this page. I guess it’s not the oldest gravestone in the state. But it is reputed to be the oldest original monument still standing in Connecticut. And one of the oldest legible monuments of any kind in the country. At any rate, it’s old – and remarkably well preserved. In fact, it looks far newer than a million other gravestones I’ve seen in my day.

The Palisado Cemetery is a stop along the Connecticut Freedom Trail and the First Church next to it is said to be the oldest parish in the new world. My head spins at all this stuff. Here’s my write up about the Church, which is more interesting than you may think. Then again, you’re reading this, so maybe you DO find this stuff as cool as I do. (While we’re at it, the reason this cemetery is part of the Freedom Trail is completely separate from the reason for this post. Seriously.)

ehThe Rev. Ephraim Huit was settled in Windsor, in 1639, as the colleague of the Rev. Mr. Warham, and died in 1644. Cotton Mather mentions him among the ministers that left the mother country after having entered the sacred office. His will is recorded in the office of the Secretary of State, Connecticut, by which it appears that he left four daughters –Susanna, Mercy, Lydia, and Mary, to whom, with his widow, he left a handsome estate, real and personal. He had one son, who died before his father.

Huit was responsible for building a solid and safe (from marauding Indians) meetinghouse back in the mid 17th century. A quick reading of the inscription on any early New England gravestone, and you know exactly how the deceased was regarded by his family and friends. Mr. Huit’s tabled tombstone, erected in 1644 in the Old Burying Ground of Windsor (Palisado Cemetery) reads:

Who when hee lived wee drew our vitall breath,
Who when hee dyed his dying was our death,
Who was ye stay of State, Ye Churches Staff,
Alas the times forbid an Epitaph


You can see better pictures of the grave here. I’d have taken better pictures if it was such a crappy day when I visited.

23 responses to “The Oldest Legible Gravestone”

  1. Robin E says:

    Great website – lots of help with family etc. thanks for all your work

  2. Dan F says:

    This is fascinating, great work finding this one. If I ever make the drive down to Connecticut on a historical outing I’ll be sure to stop at this cemetery. Being from the north shore area of Massachusetts, I find this historical time period very interesting. Especially given that many of these people knew eachother who were located quite a distance apart, especially for those days.

  3. Eric Wehrman says:

    my brother found a headstone on the website called and the year the lady had passed away was in 1625 but the birth was unknown. I think the cemetary was in boston,her name was grace berry and the information given was said she was around he age of 58 of her passing. hope this helps alittle bit.

  4. Tom C says:

    I think I have a picture of the gravestone of Ruth Noyes of Old Lyme. I remember it as 1636…I’ll see if I can find the picture.

  5. Jeff Huit says:

    All right! Knew his name from my family tree, but had no idea there was a standing headstone in Connecticut… this is awesome. Thank you!

  6. sportsmouse says:

    I must rewrite my will to get one my ancestors to pull that pose over your grave in 350 years time.

  7. Steve says:

    My will explicitly calls for cremation. Sorry.

  8. Grace Berry says:
    This is my tomb…good bye…

  9. Geoff Huit says:

    Strangely enough I am Geoffrey Huit and live in Windsor, CT. Born in Ohio of Huits from Germany. Doubtfully related. My name was altered a tiny bit at some point to become HUIT in mid 1800s german ancestors changed it….odd because HUIT is 7 in French. Cool site. Another HUIT lives in Windsor!!!!!! I am 41.

  10. Geoff Huit says:

    sorry Huit is 8 in French…lol my 11 and 9 year olds reminded me of that fact.

  11. Renee Jines says:

    I have recently taken up geocaching and a lot of them are located in cemeteries. There are a lot of cemeteries in my area with dates in the 1700′s and 1800′s. I love to read the gravestones while I’m there but unfortunately many of the old ones are illegible. It’s a shame so many are in disrepair. I love to read inscriptions that are on them but they are hard to read. My favorite verse so far is: “Behold and see as you pass by, as you are now so once was I, as I am now so you must be, prepare for death and follow me”.

  12. Max Kaufmann says:

    I am from Enfield, Ct., right up the street. We have a gravestone on Route 5 that has a gravestone dated 1606! Also, my friend lived in a house that was dated 1614. If you check all of the Towns along the Ct. River north of Hartford, you will find a lot dated earlier than this one in Windsor!

  13. Steven says:

    I believe I saw a tombstone in Jamestown, Virgina had the date of death in 1636.

  14. Geoff Huit says:

    Everything’s a competition, huh? Unless you can prove these “other” stones to be fully legible, per this article’s scope, your evidence is anecdotal and irrelevant. Author clearly states in title, “oldest legible” and recognized as such. How about some intelligent replies or is that too much to ask for these days on social sites ?

  15. volvelle2013 says:

    Thanks for sharing an interesting artifact. My attempts to “find the ‘one’ immigrant” for my son’s social studies class has been quite the endeavor. So many people seem to be incredibly defensive about their “dead ancestors”… I guess if they feel they are more closely related to their paternal genetic ancestry than any of the other over 131,072 Parental roughly 17 generations of genetic ties …or more(from BOTH mother’s and father’s lineages extending backwards in time to reach approximately the year 1600.) Unless there was some considerable recycling of genetic material from intermarriages of cousins, there should be more than one primary ancestral “immigrant” for each individual, I think. The findagrave website could make things much easier if they would just provide a “Search for a grave by date earlier than X” feature…. Alas.

  16. Kenny says:

    It took two hundred years to settle our country. In Oklahoma, a marker dating before 1900 is considered “old.”

  17. Robert Callahan says:

    Has anyone found Jesus grave yet? Or any of his disciples?

  18. Don Fry says:

    Thank you for the photos and article about my 8th great-grandfather.

  19. truth says:

    An intelligent reply for the german Geoff Huit. Stop speaking french or english.

  20. ralph a. applegate says:

    Earliest person in Yohogania Co., Virginia was by my proof and knowledge of details , was a Virgin family but earliest date of their family death is not known ? However , earliest death I know of in Yohogania Co., Va. was of Rebecca(1731)Wall of Windsor Twp. ,Middlesex Co., New Jersey and her gravestone is dated 1781 , and I have other details? That is now known as Forward Twp., Allegheny Co., Pa. One way to get an older gravestone in that area is to have found a child’s headstone where the child died in January , 1767 , or later , but before 1781, but I do not know of a child who died there that early, but I bet there could be at least one because those were “very hard times”? Back in 1767 in Southwestern Pa., I would bet that elders then just buried their children without headstones? You tell me your opinion? I have brought up before those Forward police a problem where a settler moved my ancestors gravestone and that of his wife but just like others , those police are delaying, obfuscating, hyperbolizing, etc., me just like those police were lawyers ? Please contact me and ask me any question ?

  21. ralph a. applegate says:

    This Wall family should be considered well known , but not “famous”!

  22. Andrew Hewitt says:

    Thank you for your story/information and pictures. It is also amazing to me how people re-write history to suit their needs. One of these days I might learn why some Puritans changed their surname from Huit to Hewitt. Maybe it was defiance against the King? Don’t know. Like you said many of these people were educated. It wasn’t due to illiteracy.

  23. Erik says:

    There is a large tombstone the shape of a cross has pot leaves engraved in it its in st Mary’s cemetery in new britain ct the lady’s name was Mary j lee and she passed away in 1911

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