The Cemetery of the Unknown was a part of the town poor farm located in the north west section of Hudson on what is now Old Derry Road. For this cemetery there are no monuments, no headstones, and no records to identify the individuals buried there. The farm was purchased by the town in 1828 in the days when the resident poor were kept at the town farm. Those who could worked the farm in an effort to produce food for all residents on the farm. The town maintained this farm for some 40 years until 1868 . At that time the farm was sold and the few paupers which did exist at the time were boarded out to private homes at the expense of the town. The only known records of activity at the town farm was recorded by the Overseer of the Poor in the annual town reports. It is estimated from these records that over the course of 40 years the number of residents at this farm varied from 6 to 12 per year. Any of them who spent their final months at the farm likely found their final resting place within the Cemetery of Unknown. Some of these folks had been prosperous citizens of Hudson but due to reversal of fortune or conditions, spent their final times here and were laid to rest in the yard at the end of the farm.
The number of deaths which occurred here during these 40 plus years in not known; but it is estimated there was an average of at least 1 per year. There are no records to indicate who they are, when they passed, and where within the cemetery each was laid to rest.
As time progressed the land upon which the burial yard existed continued in private use. Fewer and fewer residents of town retained any memory of this cemetery. Perhaps the stage was set for the Cemetery of the Unknown to be lost to history forever.
100 years after the town poor farm and the site of the Cemetery of the Unknown was sold by the town of Hudson, Paul Gauvreau and his family purchased their homestead on Old Derry Road. In talking with family of the previous owner, Paul was told about the Cemetery of the Unknown and that only a few people were still alive to remember that it existed; soon it would be grown over and all traces of the cemetery gone forever.
In 1982 plans were made to construct a new road, Twin Meadow Drive, and to build a number of duplex residences. Aware of the existence of the cemetery but not sure of it’s exact location, Paul informed the Hudson Planning Board of the cemetery. The developer agreed to stop excavation if burial sites were unearthed. None were found and several duplexes were constructed along Twin Meadow Drive bordering the field off Old Derry Road.
In 1990, Paul along with some of the neighbors on Twin Meadow Drive did some local detective work in the fields behind Twin Meadow Drive. After removing brush and mowing the tall grass on a flatter section of the field, they discovered what appeared to be several sunken grave sites. These depressions measured about 2 1/2 feet wide and about 6 feet in length and faced east and west; consistent with grave sites. The depressions were likely caused by the collapse of the wooden enclosures over the years. Paul contacted the town Executive Administrator, town Planner, and the Town Librarian . Upon visiting the site, all agreed the site was worthy of further study; but, since the form of town government was about to change, all agreed to postpone the matter until the new government was in place.
Paul researched the Hudson town reports for the years 1845 through 1870; specifically the Reports of the Overseers of The Poor which lists the activities and financial transactions of the Poor Farm. It should be noted that reports from 1828 through 1844 were not available. He was able to compile a list of some 32 names of individuals that died as paupers associated with the poor farm during these years, either living at the farm or being boarded in private homes at town expense. Of these 32, 3 were buried in Nashua or Litchfield. Most, if not all if the remaining 29 were buried on the farm. It is not possible to discover the exact number or identity of the individuals laid to rest in this cemetery during it’s 42 years of operation. The names we do have include individuals from well known Hudson families: Barrett, Hamblet, Johnson, Marsh, Parker, Robinson to name a few.
In August 1994, as agreed with the town officials, Paul contacted Mr. Gary Hume, State Archaeologist, and asked him to conduct archaeological probings. These probings and investigations took place during the fall months of 1994. Present at each of these sessions were representatives from the state, officials from Town of Hudson, the Historical Society, various neighbors in the area, and Paul Gauvreau. Paul had previously shared the results of his findings with both town and state representatives. In March 1996, the New Hampshire Division of Historical Resources issued a report of their findings to Hudson Cemetery Trustees. In essence this report confirmed the location and existence of the Cemetery of the Unknown. The report did not make specific recommendations as to how this cemetery should be preserved; but did direct the town of Hudson to proceed with the recognition and protection of the property. In the months to follow, the town of Hudson led by the Cemetery Trustees, purchased from the landowners the Cemetery of the Unknown (also known as Poor Farm Cemetery) along with an access easement from Twin Meadow Drive to the cemetery. On September 1, 2007 the cemetery was dedicated and a single monument placed there in memory of the estimated 62 individuals buried there over the years.
The author and Paul Gauvreau visited the cemetery this past weekend and met with Susan Bauman whose home abuts the cemetery. Both Paul and Susan have maintained chronology of events leading up to the confirmation and dedication of this cemetery. Our thanks to them for sharing information with us.