Forest Hill Cemetery (Madison, Wisconsin)

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Forest Hill Cemetery is located in Madison, Wisconsin and was one of the first U.S. National Cemeteries established in Wisconsin.[1]

Founding of cemetery[edit]

After the first permanent European-American settlers arrived in Madison in the 1830s, the first non-native burials occurred on the current University of Wisconsin–Madison campus, near Bascom Hill. In the following years other areas within the area were established as informal burying grounds and the first official village cemetery was established in 1847 near what is now Orton Park.

In the mid-1850s, a committee was formed to search for another appropriate site in the area to form an official Madison cemetery. The committee members chose the current site, then on the far west side of the city and subsequently bought the original 80 acres (320,000 m2) of land for $10,000 from John and Mary Wright. The Wrights had obtained the land from land speculator James Duane Doty, who had obtained it from Alanson Sweet. Sweet was a territorial council member from Milwaukee who led the fight that made Madison the territorial capitol of Wisconsin.

In 1863 the city sold a portion of land from the original purchase to the Roman Catholic Societies for $170. They in turn developed that property into a Catholic cemetery, now known as Resurrection Cemetery.

In the 1860s a receiving vault was built on site. During and following the Civil War, the Soldiers Lot and Confederate Lot were created and in 1865 a well was dug near the plot of Governor Harvey and a windmill was erected over it. In 1878 a chapel was built following a contribution by the family of John Catlin.


In 1928 another 80 acres (320,000 m2) were purchased, 60 of which are part of the Glenway Golf Course directly behind the present cemetery.

Effigy mounds[edit]

Architectural historian Gary Tipler traverses a panther effigy mound in Forest Hill Cemetery, 2008

The cemetery protects seven precontact effigy mounds, dating from 700 to 1200 CE. The earthworks are shaped like flying goose, two panthers, and four linear shapes. The mound group is listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.[2]


  1. ^ City of Madison Parks: Forest Hill Cemetery
  2. ^ "Forest Hill Cemetery Native American Mound Group". Play Madison Parks: Historical Features. City of Madison. Retrieved 9 January 2016. 


  • Forest Hill Cemetery Committee (2002). A Biographical Guide to Forest Hill Cemetery, Vol. II: The Ordinary and Famous Women and Men Who Shaped Madison and the World (1st ed.). Madison, Wis.: Historic Madison, Inc. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 43°03′48″N 89°25′53″W / 43.0634°N 89.43133°W / 43.0634; -89.43133