There are eleven cemeteries or burial places in Hudson. They are Hills Farm, Ford, Blodgett, Hudson Center, Senter, Sunnyside, Westview, St. Pattrick, Holy Cross, Cemetery of the Unknown, and the Presentation of Mary’s cemetery. Last week we looked at the Senter Burying Ground at Potash Corner. This week we will visit the Hills Farm Cemetery.
Early settlements of Dunstable, MA (now Hudson) clustered around the Hills Garrison in the north and the Blodgett Garrison in the south end of town. The earliest of these occurred about 1710 when three sons of Samuel Hills (Nathaniel, Henry, and James) erected and settled in the Hills Garrison. The original part of the Hills Farm cemetery was located on level, sandy land about half way between what is now the Derry and Litchfield Roads and adjacent to Derry Lane. This was the south-east corner of the Hills farm where Nathaniel and his brothers settled. The exact date when this cemetery was first used as a burial place is not known but must have been some years after the Hills brothers settled at the garrison, and probably not earlier than about 1730. It is known that Nathaniel Hills buried two or three of his children in the in the ancient burial ground in South Nashua near the entrance to Royal Ridge Mall. The early settlers seldom erected head stones to identify the graves of their deceased loved ones; so, the markings we do find do not indicate the earliest interments.
The earliest date found in this cemetery is 1738, crudely cut into a common stone with no inscription to indicate the individual interred there. The next date found is that found in the inscription found on a headstone for Joseph Greele , who departed this life March 7, 1745, in his 95th year.
Even though this cemetery was on the Hills property and likely laid out by Nathaniel Hills it was it was used as a public burial place. The early families of Hudson found among the headstones include Hills, Greeley, Spalding, Marsh, Marshall, Pierce, Cross, and Sprake.
About 1872 small additions of adjacent land were added to the cemetery. These additions with some other vacant land in the yard were laid out into lots, streets were graded, the brush removed, and other improvements were made thus improving the overall appearance of the cemetery. The cemetery contained a little less than one and one half acres. In 1885, as permitted by state laws, the yard was incorperated as “The Farms Cemetery’ The charter was amended in 1905, changing the name to “Hills Farms Cemetery”. About this time Dr. Alfred K. Hills, realizing the need for expansion of the cemetery, purchased a large tract of land adjacent to the cemetery and extending to the Derry Road. He then had six acres of this parcel surveyed for an addition to the cemetery. Upon part of the remaining land Dr. Hills built Alvirne Memorial Chapel in 1908 as a memorial for his wife Virginia.
At the present time the Alvirne Chapel and the main entrance to Hills Farm Cemetery share access from 160 Derry Road. There is a secondary entry to the cemetery from Derry Lane. The entrance from Derry Road is through an iron gate between two granite posts inscribed with Hills Farm Cemetery on one and Alvirne Memorial Chapel on the other. Access to the cemetery is then through a right of way through the parking lot to a shaded, wooden drive which takes you to the cemetery. Hills Farm Cemetery is incorporated and under the management and direction of a Board of Trustees. This cemetery is open for new burials and there are lots available for purchase. The contact person for the cemetery is George LaRocque. The photos were taken by the author.