The Hildreth Street Cemetery in Lowell.
The Hildreth Street Cemetery in Lowell. (Courtesy photograph / The Valley Dispatch)

While it may seem surprising that a Dracut cemetery is located Centralville, that section of Lowell was originally part of Dracut.

Centralville was originally referred to as Dracut's Central Village and in 1851 was annexed to Lowell. Over the year's Central Village became known as Centralville and one of the most prominent Dracut families to live in Centralville was the Hildreth family for whom the cemetery is named.

The Hildreth family arrived in Dracut when Ephraim Hildreth settled here around 1711. Hildreth was born in Chelmsford on January 9, 1680 and married Mercy Richardson in 1707. Together they had 10 children: Ephraim Jr., Josiah, Robert, Mercy, Zachariah, Thomas, William, Levi, Elijah, and Mercy.

The older daughter died in 1729. The younger daughter was born in 1734. The couple's first two children were born in Chelmsford. The rest were born in Dracut.

Ephraim Hildreth made his home was near the corner of Lakeview Avenue and Farmland Road. This would be the site years later of the Hildreth homestead where Dr. Israel Hildreth lived.

Through the years, Hildreth served the town of Dracut in several capacities: surveyor, selectman, assessor, town moderator, and clerk.

In his Origins and Genealogy of the Hildreth Family, Phillip Reade writes of Ephraim Curtis, "Major Ephraim Hildreth was a useful, capable, active, and influential man."

While he may have been biased since he was a descendant of Hildreth, nonetheless the statement is true.


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Ephraim Hildreth played an incredible part in the early years of Dracut.

Hildreth also served in Captain Tyng's Snow Shoe Scouts earning the title of major.

But his lasting legacy to the town he served is the Hildreth Cemetery. He had verbally given the town a tract of land near what today is Hildreth Avenue and Aiken Avenue to be used as a cemetery. When Ephraim Hildreth died in 1740, his sons, Ephraim, Jr., William, and Elijah, formally deeded the property to the town. Even though that part of Dracut was annexed to Lowell in 1851, the deed is held by Dracut and the town still maintains the cemetery.

Ephraim Hildreth's headstone is the oldest in the cemetery. Several other family members were buried there. As other residents were buried in the cemetery, the family decided to have a private lot fenced off in the back. This was done around 1850 and to this day the Hildreth family lot is still locked by an iron gate.

In 1913, controversy struck the cemetery. The city of Lowell threatened to sell the Hildreth Cemetery because Dracut had failed to pay for the sidewalk along Hildreth Street in front of the cemetery. Lowell Treasurer Andrew G. Stiles, placed an advertisement in the September 9, 1913 Lowell Sun placing the Hildreth Cemetery up for sale due to a balance owed. Dracut owed Lowell $398.13 for the sidewalk.

When word of the proposed sale got out, there was an uproar in Dracut. Dracut Town Counsel, Warren Fox, filed an injunction with the court to stop the sale. The court granted the injunction and the sale stopped. Dracut paid the $398.13.

Since 1913 there has been little controversy with the cemetery other than in 2009 when a Centralville vandal toppled over 150 headstones. Many were damaged beyond repair.