Located just off Route 9 in Woodford you'll see an old road/hiking path into the woods. Follow this for about a mile and you'll arrive at the old, abandoned Waters Hill Cemetery. This fascinating glimpse into history contains gravestones from 1794 - 1861. Imagine what life must have been like in this remote area during the early 1800's! Below are 2 articles about this remarkable place. This walk is 1.8 miles round trip with about 420 feet of elevation gain.
You can click the files to read them or see the full text below.
Waters Hill Cemetery
From Woodford Town Report
Waters Hill Cemetery or as some called it Eddy Cemetery, is located on Waters Hill (so-called). It is about 2 miles in from Route 9, just inside the township of Woodford from Bennington. The old cemetery is about 20 yards off an old logging road. It is not easy to find, unless you know when to look for it. As described in the Bennington county Gazetteer and Business Directory for 1880-1881, "An old cemetery established about one hundred years ago by the side of this road on the hill surrounded by a stone wall, is thickly grown up with trees and shrubbery, and one has to look sharply to find the many headstones. On a visit to this neglected resting place of Woodford's pioneers, the oldest inscription found on a plain marble slab, was as follows:
In Memory of Mr. Otis Eddy,
Who died Oct. 22nd, 1794 In the 22d year of his age.
Death, like an overthrowing stream,
sweeps us away, our life a dream.
As you hike up the hill towards the cemetery, if you look closely, you will find several old cellar holes from buildings or homes that must have once been there. I often wonder how difficult life must have been for those families that lived, worked and died there. If you notice the names and ages on the gravestones, you will find many children buried there. How sad that must have been for our early settlers
Below are the inscriptions on the headstones located at that cemetery Inscriptions
In memory of Mr. Otis Eddy who died Oct 22, 1794 in the 22 year of his age
In memory of Mr. Obediah Eddy who departed this life May 4, 1826, aged 75 years
In memory of Mrs. Phebe Eddy who departed this life May 27, 1821, aged 75 years
Two inscriptions on one stone -
Anna wife of Ebenezer Temple died May 9, 1806 in the 4 7th year of her age
Amy, dau of Ebenezer § Anna Temple died Oct 29, 1840 in the 51 year of her age
In memory of Mr. Nathan Taft who died January 215 1809 aged 54 years 9 months and 26 days
In memory of Mr. Spencer Lyon who died Dec 26, 1827 aged 70 years & months §18 days
Mrs. Mary Lyon, widow of Spencer Lyon died Nov 7, 1840 aged 82 years
In memory of Mrs. Rhoda Lyon wife of Mr. Elisha Lyon who died June 30th 1829 aged 33 years 28 days
Four inscriptions on one stone -
Sophronia died August 8, aged 14 months and 2 days
Emely died April 30th 1822, aged 1 year & 8 months
Proper died October, 1825, aged 6 months
Truman R. died Nov 24, 1827 aged 6 months and 6 days
The children of Elisha & Rhoda Lyon
Two inscriptions on one stone-
Zadock E. son of Elisha and Sally Lyon, died June 21, 1835 aged I year § 8 mon
Mary A dau of Elisha & Sally Lyon died June 23, 1855, aged 3 mon.
Rachel, dau Of Wm. § Susan Wood died April 1830 age 12 years 3 mon
Susan, wife of William wood died Dec. 6, 1832 age 27 years
Joseph Bickford died Feb 22, 1837 in the 38th year of his age
Harriette. Daughter of Cyrus § Phebe Knapp; died May 27, 1838; age I yr. 9 mo., 6 days
Amy c. wife of Joseph Bickford died Oct 31, 1839 age 44
Eunice E, Daughter of Philites & Sally Knapp, died Nov 15, 1839 age 2 years, 1 mon. & 6
Two inscriptions on one stone-
George W. Knapp: died May 11, 1841; aged 3 yr. 8 mon
Charlotte Maria Knapp died May 13, 1841; aged 1 years, 10 mon, &9 dys
The children of Charles and Mancy Knapp
Joseph Knapp, Esq.-died May 9, 1854; age 78
Martha A. Wife of S.B. Cotton died Feb 13, 1856. Age 35 years
Caroline E, daughter of Wm § Polly Knap; died Apr. 11, 1861. Age 21 years & 6 mon
Samuel Harris died July 19, 1868; Age 85 years, 5 m's 9 d’s
The early settlers of Woodford lived up there because they worked as loggers. I imagine that life must have been very hard there. The snow can be very deep at times and the temperatures extremely cold. I think of the conveniences we have now and wonder how they survived. Gardening must have been difficult in Woodford's rocky soil, but they could have raised sheep and cows. There probably weren't many trips to Bennington for supplies as the trek on foot or horseback would have been long
It is reported that by the late 1800s all of vermont was 80% deforested due to logging and land clearing for farms. That section of Woodford became deserted probably because a particular logging outfit closed
Here are some interesting facts found from reading the inscriptions on the gravestones:
Waters Hill Cemetery is the resting place of many of the early founders of Woodford. I'm grateful to them for providing headstones for us to remember them by. Unfortunately, due to difficulties in maintaining this remote cemetery, the area is being taken over by foliage and trees. However, I encourage you to take a hike up there someday, read the inscriptions and try to imagine the life our founding fathers and mothers had living on the side of Waters Hill.
What life could have looked like living on Waters Hill in the 1800's.
A trail that leads hikers to the distant past
by Jim Therrien, Vermont Country Aug 8, 2022
WOODFORD - Ghost towns in the Old West are depicted with sun-bleached wooden storefronts, saloon doors creaking in the wind and tumbleweeds rolling down deserted streets. But that wasn’t the case in New England when early settlements were abandoned. Here, the forest simply grew up and reclaimed all but the painstakingly constructed stone walls, the cellar holes and the graveyards.
Such was the fate of an early 1800’s cluster of homes about a mile up a mountainside trail that heads north from Route 9, just past the Bennington line in Woodford. “It was a place where my family would go picnic back in the day, and it was quite a lot more clear up there then,” said Donald Campbell, who lives on nearby Furnace Grove Road on the Bennington side and often hikes up to the site. “It’s all grown up forest now.” The former Select Board member said his great-great-grandparents, who lived in Troy, N.Y. and summered in Bennington, purchased their property in the 1850s from an iron smelting company that had gone bankrupt. “They would go on these family walks, and one of the favorite ones was the walk up to the cemetery and old settlement,” he said. “So it has always been part of the backdrop of living in Bennington for me.” Campbell added, “When the settlement was there, it was all cleared land - you can tell by the stone walls. It was probably [cleared for] sheep, and those walls are evidence of the early settlement period. It didn’t last too long.”
One reason the settlement was abandoned involved construction of a new roadway from Bennington to Woodford, replacing one higher on the ridge that passed close to the settlement. Such a bypassing was a common experience for any number of American communities over the years, whenever a railroad line, a new larger highway, a canal, an airport or similar project literally left a once-flourishing community behind. Another reason was the decline of iron ore smelting in Bennington during the early 19th century. Previously, furnaces blazed away in the Furnace Grove area - from which Campbell’s road takes its name. Iron smelting in the area also employed hundreds of workers at one time, many living in quarters provided by the iron works. “It was a short-lived settlement; then forest started to grow back up,” Campbell said.
“I think the bigger story is that it is now all part of this large block of Forest Service wilderness,” said Campbell, “and that it is available to Bennington as part of our outdoor recreational opportunities as we brand ourselves more and more as Vermont Begins Here...It’s great, being a park for everyone, a wilderness for everybody.” Campbell’s interest in parks and land preservation extends to his job: He’s the regional project director for the Vermont Land Trust. The hiking trail today continues past the settlement site to Woodford Hollow, while a spur trail takes one to the top of Bald Mountain. After the settlement’s decline, a lumber company owned the land, and it was eventually sold to the U.S. Forest Service to become part of the Green Mountain National Forest.
According to a 2015 report on the burial ground, known as Waters Hill Cemetery, author Sally Krizan Eaton writes that a 1940 survey found there were at least 35 graves at the overgrown site, dating from 1794 to 1861. Some of the surnames are Bickford, Cotton, Eddy, Harris, Knapp, Lyon, Taft, Temple and Wood.
Those include Nathan Taft, a distantly related ancestor of President William Howard Taft, and the two wives of decorated Revolutionary War veteran Ebenezer Temple. Temple was born in eastern Massachusetts and served through the entire war, before living the final 40 years of his life in Woodford and dying at 90 in 1847.
Eaton wrote that Temple was among those rescued by Gen. Benedict Arnold’s troops during the British siege of Fort Stanwix in western New York in August 1777. That was part of the fighting associated with the campaign of British Gen. John Burgoyne, which also included the Battle of Bennington that August and the Battle of Saratoga in October 1777, where Burgoyne surrendered his entire army to the Americans. But Temple’s military career wasn’t finished. He went on the participate in the siege of Yorktown, Virginia, in October 1871, where the British army of Gen. Charles Cornwallis became trapped and surrendered to the American and French forces, effectively ending British attempts to quell the rebellion. A copy of Eaton’s report is preserved in the Bennington Museum library.