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The Avery – Morgan Cemetery

Christopher Avery and his only son James (1621 -1700, founder of the Groton Averys) came from England to Gloucester, MA before 1642.

About 1650, James came to Pequot (New London), CT. A house which later became the old Avery Homestead, known as the “Hive of the Averys,” and stood at the head of Birch Plain, was built around 1656. In June of 1684, the old Blinman edifice at New London, “The unadorned church and watch-tower of the wilderness, was sold to Captain James Avery for six pounds, with the condition that he should remove it in one month’s time.” According to tradition, it was taken down and its materials were carried by river and sound, and added to the 1656 house at the head of Poquonock Cove.

James Morgan came to Poquonnock about 1655. James Avery and James Morgan families were friends and were joined together by marriages of daughters of James Morgan to the James Avery family. The two served on various committees including the laying out of the Kings highway between Norwich and Mystic. These first Avery and Morgan families in America are buried here, with a marker memorializing the beginning of the family tree, making the cemetery one of the oldest in Groton. The Avery-Morgan Cemetery was established on the property of James Morgan.

Cemetery Railing

In 1912 the property in front of the Avery-Morgan Cemetery was deeded to the borough. It was felt that the Smith Lake Cemetery, on the shores of Smith Lake, was a contamination to the drinking water and by May 25, 1915 all bodies and headstones were moved from the Smith Lake Cemetery to the property in front of the Avery-Morgan Cemetery.

The Avery-Morgan Cemetery was renovated in 1924 with a gift of $1000 from John D. Rockefeller, a descendant of Samuel Avery who was buried there. A. W. Pierson of Niagara Falls, also Samuel’s descendant, had recently moved his ancestor’s body from the Colonel Ledyard Cemetery and had interested Rockefeller in the project. Two hundred old stones were cleaned, recut and set in cement and boulders bearing tablets in memory of James Avery and James Morgan were set in place. The boulder near the entrance marks the site of the house built by the first James Morgan about 1657. This work was done by the Avery Memorial Association.

Notable Avery descendants (not buried here) include Vice Presidents Schuylar Colfax and Nelson Rockefeller.

Famous Morgan descendants include President Millard Fillmore.

This famous cemetery features many headstones with willows, urns, soul effigies, angels, and open Bibles. There is an obelisk for the Avery Family and a marker for the Morgan House site. At the edge of the cemetery are stones thought to mark the graves of slaves.

Some of the Avery men buried here lost their lives at Fort Griswold during Benedict Arnold’s attack on Groton and New London during the Revolution.

September 6, 1781
Daniel, age 40
David, age 53
Elijah, age 47
Elisha age 25
Jasper age 37
Solomon age 32
Thomas age 16
Patrick Ward, age 24

The cemetery was renovated in 1924 with a gift from John D. Rockefeller, a descendant of Samuel Avery. Two hundred gravestones were restored and boulders with plaques honoring James Avery and James Morgan were put in place.

Samuel Avery had originally been buried in a field in Ledyard, but his wife was interred in the Avery-Morgan Cemetery. A.W. Pierson, also a descendant of Samuel, secured Rockefeller’s support in the restoration project as well as in moving Samuel’s body to be next to his wife.

Avery-Morgan Burial Ground Sign


Get directions.

From Route 117, turn right onto Route 1 south. Turn right into the Water Filtration plant driveway, and follow the green signs saying “Smith Lake Cemetery”.

The Avery - Morgan Cemetery is a financially separate entity from the Avery Memorial Association.

This book was documented in 2005 by Frederick E. Burdick
Privately produced & published by Frederick E. Burdick

This book documents our Avery ancestors buried at the Avery-Morgan Burial Ground in Groton, CT. The wire-spring bound book of over 30 pages and color cover shows a cemetery stone placement sketch, lists those buried and gives biographical references. All proceeds will be contributed to the Avery Memorial Association to help maintain the Avery-Morgan Burial Ground.

Note: The CD is no longer available.

Avery-Morgan Burial Ground book is only $35, including postage.