The Cheney Cemetery is adjacent to Manchester, Connecticut’s East Cemetery off 220 East Center Street. In 1751 Thomas Pitkin deeded one acre of land to the Town of Hartford to be used as a cemetery. In 1783 East Hartford, including what is now Manchester, separated from Hartford. In 1823, when Manchester was incorporated, East Cemetery “moved” again. Over time, with additional acres added, the cemetery has subsequently expanded to 51 acres.
The main part of the cemetery is a large oval meadow surrounded by mature trees and shrubs and tucked-back grave markers, thus maintaining a family circle. Over 200 members of the Cheney family are buried here.
The “first acre” is the northern section of East Cemetery and is believed to include part of the Cheney Cemetery since several of the burials there occurred prior to 1843 when the second acre was added. The present 2.03 acres of Cheney Cemetery were deeded to the Cheney Cemetery Association by Cheney Brothers, Inc. shortly after the Association was incorporated in April 1914. It is not known when Cheney Brothers purchased the land.
At the entrance to the main part of the Cheney Cemetery are the unpretentious sandstone markers for George and Electa Cheney, the parents of the Cheney brothers who founded Cheney Brothers Silks. George and Electa had nine children: George, John, Charles, Ralph, Seth, Ward, Rush, Frank and Electa. Their children were all raised at the Cheney Homestead, 106 Hartford Road, Manchester, which is owned and operated by the Manchester Historical Society. This prominent and innovative family was responsible for much of the physical and economic development of the Town of Manchester. All of the Cheney brothers are buried here or outside the oval in an adjacent section of East Cemetery.
The Cheney Cemetery follows the garden style made popular in the 19th century by creating a setting of natural beauty made famous at the Mt. Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, MA, and elsewhere. The main part of the cemetery is a large oval meadow surrounded by mature trees and shrubs and tucked-back grave markers, thus maintaining a family circle. Over 200 members of the Cheney family are buried here.
The cemetery’s most distinctive feature is its grove of hemlocks. Ed Richardson, a member of the Connecticut Botanical Society’s notable trees committee, reported here were 67 of the largest, healthiest eastern hemlocks he had ever seen. The largest multi-trunked “grandfather” he declared the state champion eastern hemlock in 2013.
page header photo by Paul Horton