Green River Cemetery

History of Green River Cemetery

In 1851, town leaders formed a cemetery committee to solve the space problem caused by the exhaustion of space in the Federal Street cemetery. Also, space was needed as the railroad coming through town was to pre-empt an original town cemetery.

At least sixty pre-1830's stones and graves were moved from the original cemetery on Miles Street to Green River Cemetery in order to make room for the railroad. Twelve acres were purchased on Petty Plain Road from Frank Ripley, George Davis and Daniel Wells and consecrated in October to become the town's largest cemetery.

Three fire companies, clergy, town officers, schoolchildren and townspeople joined in a parade and ceremonies, demonstrating the importance of the day to Greenfield's citizens. A poem was written for and dedicated to the Green River Cemetery by Greenfield's most renowned poet, Frederick Goddard Tuckerman, a friend of Emerson and Thoreau who was memorialized by Poet's Seat Tower.

The cemetery grew continuously throughout the 1800's, with eight acres added in 1852 and 1886, twelve acres in 1855, all funded by the wills of town's people.

A broad cross section of Greenfield's public is buried here, including a large number of Irish immigrants who came here after the famine in 1848; the majority of the Russell family, whose various members contributed enormously to the town's growth and industrial prowess; and Governor William B. Washburn, who, among other accomplishments, paid for and endowed Greenfield's public library.