Wauwatosa Cemetery History

Celebrating Life Since 1854

In 1841 upon the death of his wife, Sarah, Charles Hart established the first cemetery in the Village of Wauwatosa.  Sarah was buried on a hill overlooking the Village at the southwest corner of Wauwatosa and Milwaukee Avenues. By 1854 citizens recognized the need for an association to care for the public cemetery and Dr. Levi Halsted and Lowell Damon served as the first chair and secretary of the new Wauwatosa Cemetery Association.

As the Village grew it became evident by the 1860’s that the burial grounds were too small and the decision was made to move the cemetery.  Rev. Enoch Underwood, pictured left, was the minister of the First Baptist Church, and donated land about a mile to the north and that became the permanent location of the cemetery.  Relocation of the burials began in 1866.

The Wauwatosa Cemetery is classified as a Heartland Cemetery meaning that it was not specifically designed according to a grid or other deliberate design but rather, the Cemetery follows the gently rolling landscape of the original terrain.  In the latter part of the 19th century and the early years of the 20th century before there were parks, cemeteries were places where people gathered for picnics and other social outings and the Wauwatosa Cemetery was no exception hosting many such occasions.  From its earliest years the Wauwatosa Cemetery has been the final resting place for many of the city’s prominent citizens and community leaders and that remains true today.

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