Crocker Family Burial Ground

Eileen Olynciw
14 min readAug 28, 2022


Finding the Crocker Burial Site was difficult at first. The directions to the site are vague: It was said to be located “on an old abandoned road that is overgrown off Butlertown Road.” Butlertown Road is about two miles long of heavy woodland, so where was the old abandoned road and what was its name??

One afternoon, a friend and I stopped to ask several neighbors on Butlertown Road if they could tell us anything about where the old Crocker property was located. Finally a family that had lived in the area for years directed us to an overgrown unpaved driveway. Trudging into the heavily wooded property, and following vague directions, we passed an old abandoned stone cellar and a swampy pond.

Finally, through the tall trees we spotted two rows of about one dozen gravestones. Some were leaning, but most still standing tall among the towering trees that have grown up around the site. We had read that the cemetery was located in the middle of a field. Perhaps there had been a field there once but today the area is overgrown and is definitely a woodland.

Most of the weatherbeaten stones were covered with lichen and difficult to decipher when they were first found, but Pat Crotty, a Quaker Hill resident and member of Waterford’s Historic Properties Commission set to work and expertly cleaned them. He also straightened those stones that had been propped up with field stones. The earliest stone is for Amos Crocker who died January 27, 1836 and the latest for Hannah Elizabeth Crocker Haynes who died on October 8, 1901 at the age of seventy-eight. The two infants buried there, are the two infant ons of Amos and Fannie Crocker.

Other nearby burial sites for members of the Crocker family in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries include Riverhead in, East Lyme, Cedar Grove, and Jordan Cemetery.

The William Crocker in the above story is believed to be the same William Crocker buried in the old cemetery in New London on Hempstead Street, called The Ancient Cemetery. No burial stone has been found, but records list his death on November 6, 1772.

Above: Ancient Cemetery New London, CT

The only other Crocker found in this same old burial ground is Captain John Crocker, born in Lyme in 1747. His father, also John, was born in Barnstable, Massachusetts in 1722.

Thomas Crocker arrives in New London c. 1660

New Londoners in the late seventeenth century were wisely wary of strangers. Their newly established town perched on the edge of a vast wilderness not yet tamed. New arrivals often showed up in groups from Rockport, Salem, or Boston. These groups of mostly young men usually caused unease among the town’s residents. After all, New London was still an isolated outpost in the midst of a great mostly unknown continent. New arrivals were urged to marry, buy property, and settle down, or to simply move on quickly.

When Thomas Crocker (1633–1715) arrived in New London around 1660, it was quite early in the town’s development. Other newcomers who arrived about the same time included William Douglas, Joshua Raymond, Robert Royce, and Robert Bartlett. Each made New London their homes. While each made contributions to their adopted town, Robert Bartlett even donated a generous sum of money to build the town’s first school.

It is unclear exactly where Thomas Crocker was born, either in his home town in England or in Massachusetts. While there was a large Crocker family living in Barnstable, Massachusetts in the seventeenth century; no records exist of Thomas Crocker living there at that time. There is however, other evidence that these Crockers are related.

Records do show that he arrived in New London with his wife, eighteen-year-old Rachel Chappell (1649–1728) who had been born in Wethersfield, Connecticut.

Downtown expands

Like other newcomers to New London, the Crockers were directed to today’s lower Bank Street area in the southern part of town. The topography of this area was quite different from today’s. A good section of the city around today’s Bank Street was underwater in colonial days. Local landowners in eras-gone-by enjoyed the practice of filling in the riverbank, thus creating more usable land.

Thomas and Rachel purchased and settled in a home that was located directly on Bream Cove. According to Caulkins, it was “founded on the rocks, had the tide directly in their rear, so as to preclude the use of doors on the waterside.”

Coit Street, then known as Cove Street, followed the shoreline of Bream Cove. Its proximity to the business district made it a desirable residential area Another early arrival, William Coit built his house in 1763 directly on the Cove. In fact, in his diary, Joshua Hempstead mentions how the water from the cove often lapped on Coit’s basement door. Today this historic house is located blocks from the river.

Thomas Crocker Family

Thomas and Rachel’s son, Thomas II, was born September 1, 1670. His sons included Thoms III and David. Rachel and Thomas’ other children that followed include: Mary, John, Samuel, William, and Andrew Crocker.

Like many new arrivals, Thomas was active in community affairs, and received several political appointments. Caulkins also mentions that Crocker was involved in many land transactions: buying and selling for profit. Land speculation in early New London was a very common practice among new-comers and investors. New London records indicate that around 1704 Thomas Crocker received a land grant miles out of town, quite possibly this very site that was part of what was called the Wolfpit Community. It is not known exactly when Crocker family members actually did settle on this property.

Probably still living on New London’s shoreline, Thomas died January 18, 1714. At the time of his death, he was eighty-six years old and left behind his wife, Rachell, six children, and numerous grandchildren.

Son Thomas II (1670–1754) married Mary Carpenter in 1697. She gave birth to their first child, David, in November 1697, and sadly died in childbirth when their second child, Thomas III (12/12/1699 was born. Within a few months the bereaved father quickly married Anne Beebe to help care for his infant and his two-year-old child.

French and Indian Wars

Hostilities between France and Great Britain during the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries directly affected the lives of American colonists, including the Crocker families, who were expected to take part in the conflicts called the French and Indian Wars. Thomas and Rachel Crocker’s unmarried son, John, born April 2, 1672, signed up to fight in King George’s War, the first part of the fFrench and Indian Wars. Records say he came home from the frontier sick and died soon afterwards in august 1704 at the age of 34. He was unmarried and left behind neither wife nor children.

Thomas and Rachel’s son, William, born May 8, 1680, fought in the French and Indian Wars in the area of Northampton, Massachusetts. He came home despondent in 1712 when one of his men was killed and two were taken prisoner.

Pre-Marital Woes

The story of two apparent lovers, William Crocker (1707–1773) and Anna Rose Morgan daughter of Richard Rose-Morgan, daughter of John and Hopestill Merrick of Charlestown, Massachusetts.

Before telling the story, it must be pointed out that, contrary to wide-spread beliefs about the New England Puritans, these pious worshippers were often far more sexually unconstrained than we usually imagine them to be. Records in the 1700s indicate premarital sex was widely accepted, and nearly one-third of rural New England brides were already pregnant.” Suggestions are that this fact simply accelerated a marriage that probably would have taken place anyway. Most communities simply accepted these “early” pregnancies. Perhaps Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter has blinded us to the truth about early American culture.

If a marriage did not occur prior to the birth of the child, the unwed mother was shamed and forced to name the father of the illegitimate child. He was then forced to pay child support. Generally most pregnancies resulted in the couple’s marriage sooner or later.

William and Anna

In the first account of a popular story, a liaison that did not end in marriage occurred in the 1720’s between two young romantics in love, William Crocker and Anna Rose Morgan, (1678–1749). When Anna found herself pregnant with their child, the couple met strong resistance from her father, Richard Rose-Morgan. Greatly disturbed by her relationship with Crocker, he informed her that he intended to leave several large bequests to her, on the condition that she never marry William Crocker. If she did, the bequests would become null and void.

Apparently she continued her relationship with Crocker and gave birth to Elihu Crocker about 1725; still unmarried. Little more is known about the couple, however, it seems that the couple’s relationship soon ended and Anna married James Tool January 23, 1753. Tool was described as “an old Countryman, alias Irish, a newcomer into Town, about 3 months.” They had a daughter named Mary Morgan. It appears that her relationship with her father never healed since records indicate that, although she was named in his will she refused to act as executor of his estate.

Wiliam moved from New London to Truro, Massachusetts where another branch of the Crocker family lived where he met and married Eunice Freeman 1705–1746, daughter of Constant Freeman and Jane Treat on March 4, 1732. After their first two sons, William and John, were born in Truro, he returned with his family to New London, where the rest of their children were born. William, Sr, is believed to be the same William Crocker buried in the Ancient Cemetery on Hempstead Street, New London. His death is reported to be on November 6, 1772.

The only other Crocker found in this particular burial ground is Captain John Crocker, born in Lyme in 1747. His father, also John, was born in Barnstable, Massachusetts in 1722.

Butlertown Road Homestead

One of the first indications that the Crockers moved out of the downtown district of New London and into the outlying area is the burial stone of seven-year-old Mary Crocker, dated 1778. It is found in the Riverhead Cemetery located on the Boston Post Road near the head of the Niantic River. The fact that the Crockers chose to bury their child here rather than in a site closer to town suggests their move to this area.

“Mary Crocker Birth: 1770 Death 11 Oct 1778 (aged 7–8)”

Other family members buried at this same site include four other Crockers.

Colorful Lives

The Butlertown Road Crockers of the nineteenth century and their neighbors are the subject of several stories by Historian Margaret Stacy, written in the 1930s:

It seems that old court records present many interesting highlights on the customs, manners and morals of the early dwellers in the town. Indeed, they seem to have been a somewhat lively group of citizens, prone to high living and free thinking and were curbed with difficulty by the town fathers. It seems that town fathers who conflated religious and civic duties in the early days of our country were quick and eager to monitor and police the behavior of all citizens.

Youthful Pranks

In spite of their Puritanical upbringing eighteenth-century youngsters, often delighted in “letting loose” on occasion.

One night in September 1693, young John Crocker joined friends, John Chapell, Israel Richards, and Thomas Atwell in a joyous romp through town. They were accused of various misdemeanors, such as pulling up bridges and fences, cutting the manes and tails of horses, and setting up logs against people’s doors. All this, while “walking on the Sabbath.” They were sentenced to pay 10 cents each and sit for two hours in the stocks.

Again, in spite of their reputation of having a Puritanical upbringing, many early dwellers of our town were said to have “fought, gambled, drank and swore with a freedom which their descendants would be hard put to outdo. However, thanks to many eager, scandalized neighbors and other “informants” the long arm of the law caught them early and often.”

In a few surprising cases, the perpetrators themselves stepped forward and confessed their sins voluntarily. Stacy offers what she calls a “cynical thought:” perhaps, because they lived in Butlertown, far from the city, they yearned for excitement and publicity. If so, a simple confession was one way of producing some drama in otherwise monotonous lives.

Stacy tells about Amos Crocker, who in 1778 turned himself in to the court and confessed that he was guilty of “Breach of the peace by profane Swearing.” That cost him six shillings. Margaret Stacy seems to laugh and suggests that far out on Butlertown road, there couldn’t have been much of an audience to actually hear him indulge in “profane Swearing.”

Constant Crocker

Stacy writes about other eccentric characters found in the “wilds of Waterford.” She says the “most entertaining rascal of them all” is Constant Crocker, who is buried in Riverhead Cemetery located on the Boston Post Road in East Lyme. He was born far out of town in 1776 and died in 1822. Constant constantly did a variety of outrageous things, but his chief trouble was a “propensity for superiority.” His general attitude was that of monarch of all he surveyed.

Since the first Crockers in New London were granted land in the Butlertown area, Constant seemed to think that everything around was his for the taking. If Constant wanted wood that happened to be on someone else’s land he took it. It is to say that he played no favorites: all the neighbors had legal troubles with him at one time or another.

In 1792 Constant and Daniel Crocker got into serious legal trouble with the town when they erected a stone wall on Route One (the Boston Post Road at Golden Spur.) Willfully ignoring property lines, Constant insisted it his right to build a blacksmith’s shop wherever he chose, even if the location was inside the roadway lines of a public highway!

The pair had erected a stone wall on this ”highway,” and had also dug and dammed up the natural course of a stream of water running in the roadway, creating damage to the area of the cove. Then Constant and his son began to erect a wooden structure on the intersection of Oil Mill Road and the Boston Post Road! They also dug and dammed up the natural course of a stream of water running in the roadway, creating damage to the area of the cove. They had planned to erect a blacksmith shop on the highway!

Crocker vs. Fosdick Lawsuit

Contant had a regular feud with Clement Fosdick, whose land abutted his. It is sad but true that as a result of one huge lawsuit Constant brought against him, the Fosdicks lost their land to Constant. It included about 100 acres at the Head of the Niantic River. It included part of Fosdick’s Sawmill and all the lumber stored there. The Fosdicks were forced to move out of their home and Constant moved in and lived there until he died December 15, 1822. Constant and his wife, Mary (d. 1831), and their daughter, Mirus (d. 1778) are buried in nearby Riverhead Cemetery. The family cemetery off Butlertown Road was not developed until years later.

Clement Fosdick did the best — sold his land, and moved into a small house where the thrift motel is now where he lived out his years..

Another generation of Crockers led a more conventional life. Born in 1743–1843 Amos Crocker, Sr., whose parents were Nathan Crocker and Abigail Beebe, was a captain in the War of 1812.

The Crockers were also organizers of the veteran group, W. W. Perkins Post, G. A. R. in New London, named after the second volunteer from New London who died in the conflict. Captain Crocker’s son, also named Amos, was active in the same establishment and was named an ordained deacon of the Lakes Pond Baptist Church on Hartford Road in the early 1840’s.

The remote location of the Crocker homestead in the wilds of Waterford on Butlertown Road was the source of some joking. Stacy relates the following anecdote about Deacon Amos Crocker: When Deacon Amos was in his last illness at age 92, his family sent for the doctor, probably Dr. Austin Perkins. Once the good doctor arrived he complained to Amos: “How did you ever get to this God-forsaken place?” Deacon Amos calmly replied, “I’m right where the Lord put me.” The doctor snapped back: “Well the devil will never find you!”

“No wonder the doctor was a bit snappy!” Stacy notes, the good doctor probably came by way of the wretched old Wolf Pit Road from the Head of the River! Deacon Amos Crocker is buried next to his wife and other family members in the family burial ground.

Gold Rush Fever

In 1849, the California Gold Rush Fever overturned the lives of many Waterford residents including those out on the Crocker family farm.

Hannah Elizabeth Crocker married Josiah Haynes on September 1, 1849. Apparently settling down to a quiet married life far out from town on Butlertown Road seemed a bit tame for Josiah Haynes when the news of Sutter’s discovery in the hills of California hit the newspapers. Shortly after the wedding, Josiah succumbed to “gold rush fever.” and west to make his fortune as a ‘49er. Communication with California at that time was difficult. Years passed by and Josiah’s wife heard nothing from him. “Yet,” historian Margaret Stacy remarks that “she remained wedded to her wilds.”

She presumed he had died, yet she continued to live her life alone and never remarried. Twenty-five years later, to everyone’s amazement, Josiah appeared at her doorstep, seriously ill. His story for not returning earlier was that some time after he arrived in California, word reached him that Hannah had died. Then twenty-five years later he had a dream that she was still alive, so he headed home, sick and broke. It seems that few people believed his story; but Hannah was a good and simple soul. She took him back and nursed him until he died.

Hannah’s father, Deacon Amos Crocker, worried about Hannah’s ability to care for herself so he left his property to Marcena Daniels, a young man he and his wife had raised. Amos’ will allow Hannah a life tenancy to the property. Marcena never wrote a will, so at his death the — “property went to scads of cousins, all in-laws — Daniels — -cousins by the dozens!” Both Hannah and Josiah, as well as Marcena are buried in the family burial ground.’’’

(Above) Before the gravestones were cleaned

Crocker Cemetery,

According to the Charles R. Hale Collection as found in the Connecticut State Library, This is a copy of the Hale-Collection of the Crocker Cemetery, located in the town of East Lyme, Connecticut.

CROCKER, Amos, died Jan. 27, 1836, age 92.son of Nathan and Abigail Beebe Crocker

Amos was born in 1743 and died January 27, 1836 at age 92. He was the son of Nathan and Abigail Beebe Crocker.

CROCKER, Anna, died Oct. 29, 1860, age 85. daughter of Amos and Catherine Crocker

CROCKER, Catharine, wife of Amos, died Feb. 7, 1842, age 95. Catherine Butler, daughter of James and Sarah Minard Butler b. 1747

CROCKER, Deacon Amos, died June 28, 1854, age 75.

Deacon Amos Crocker : son of Amos Crocker Sr. Captain in War of 1812 and deacon in Lakes Pond Baptist

CROCKER, Fannie, wife of Amos, died June 27, 1869, age 87. and 10 month

Fanny wife of Amos Crocker: she was the niece of Robert Douglas the silversmith and his wife Annah Gardiner b Aug 24, 1781. D. 1870. Her father and mother were Joseph and Mary Thompson Douglas. She married Captain Amos Crocker in 1816.

CROCKER, Laura A., died Oct. 14, 1875, age 55.* 3 daughters (Mary D. and Hannah E.) of Amos and Fanny Douglas Crocker She fell and hurt her mind.

CROCKER, Mary D., died Apr. 23, 1890, age 71.*

CROCKER, May, died Mar. 23, 1867, age 79.

DANIELS, Marcena, died May 1, 1898, age 65.

HAYNES, Hannah Elizabeth Crocker, wife of Josiah, died Oct. 8, 1901, age 79.*

HAYNES, Josiah, died June 21, 1888, age 66.

* Two infant sons of Amos & Fannie.