The Wightman Burying Ground

The Wightman Burying Ground in Mystic Connecticut is situated on land once owned by William Stark (our ancestor) and donated by him to the First Baptist Church in Connecticut. Several Starks are buried there, including William himself, and also quite likely his father Aaron. The Yearbook of the Stark Family Association for 1911, page 16, describes an outing to the Wightman burying ground near Mystic, CT, which is where William Stark, son of Aaron Stark, is buried. A paraphrasing of the text is as follows:
From Centre Groton via the old historic road from Boston to New London, we soon came to the New Ledyard road. Turning to the right, we ascended a hill to reach site of the old Stark homestead on the top of Stark's hill. Returning to the New Ledyard road, we drove on the road following a small stream on the right and on this stream at the foot of Stark's Hill, William Stark, son of Aaron, ran his saw mill. Following this road a little further, then turning to the right and taking the cross road that connects the old post road with the new, we stopped after a few rods and following a foot path on the right into the woods for a short distance we came to the cold spring that probably supplied the old homestead. A few hundred yards farther on this cross road at the right is the Wightman Burying Ground where William Stark was buried (in back of the open space where once stood the First Baptist Church of Groton). This spot lies about two miles from Mystic.
The account mentions the grave of William Stark (in good preservation in 1911), with the following inscription: "William Stark died September 8th 1730, in the 66th year of his age."

The New London Public Library contains a typewritten volume in which are collected recordings of headstone inscriptions for old cemeteries in Groton, CT. Section number nine in this volume are headstone inscriptions from the Wightman Cemetery, Groton, copied by Charles R. Hale, August 26, 1932. There are eight pages, including the following Starks:

At the end a few other entries are pencilled (I don't know by whom), including "A. S. -- Aaron Stark."

At the front of the volume the following location information is given: "Wightman Cemetery, between Center Groton and Burnett's Corners, near the site of the 1st Baptist Church in Connecticut." I briefly tried to find this site in 1990, but was unsuccessful. After several tries, I finally found it, and I spent an hour or so there on October 11, 1991. I visited again in 1995. To reach it, take Interstate 95 to Exit 86N North to Exit 184 E (the Gold Star Memorial Highway) to Center Groton. At about two miles after leaving 95 you will cross Route 17, which goes to Ledyard. At about four miles, you will encounter Cold Spring Rd. on the right. Turn onto Cold Spring Rd. and head a short distance up a hill to find the cemetery on the right. The spring just off Cold Spring Rd. at the base of the hill is no doubt the one mentioned in the Stark Family Association Yearbook for 1911.

The woman who lives in the house next to the cemetery serves as a kind of caretaker. Her name is Catherine Hill, and her house is at 388 Yetter Rd., Mystic, CT. Her phone number in 1995 was (203?) 536-0599. When I visited in 1995, she told me that they had been working on raising some of the stones that had sunken into the ground, and updating their burial list. She gave me a mimeographed map showing the locations of the stones and about ten pages of names. This document was dated September 22, 1992.

The grave of William Stark is easy to find. It is a fairly large green-gray stone, with a cursive inscription that reads: ``Here lieth the body of William Stark died Sept.~ye 8, 1730 in ye 66 year of his age.'' Other legible Stark stones are for Daniel Stark (died 1800), Eunice Stark (died August 19, 1825), Elizabeth Stark (relict of Daniel, died 1835), Harriet Stark (died April 9, 1826), and Waty Stark. The grave of William Stark appears to be situated on the corner of the oldest section of the cemetery. Most of the graves in this section are small fieldstones with either no markings or illegible ones. If Aaron Stark is buried here, his grave probably lies in this section.