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The gravestones in Copp’s Hill Burying Ground, Boston’s second oldest burying ground, tell the story of the population of the North End in colonial times. Originally known as Windmill Hill, the hill took the name of William Copp, a shoemaker who donated the land for a burying ground in 1659. It is the place of rest for thousands of artisans, craftspeople, and merchants. Some of the well known individuals are Increase and Cotton Mather, of the family of ministers, Robert Newman, sexton of the Old North Church at the time of Paul Revere’s ride, Edmund Hart, shipyard owner and builder of the USS Constitution, and Shem Drowne, the artist who made the weathervane for Faneuil Hall, among others.
Because of its height and locale overlooking the Charles River, the site was used by the British to train their canons on Charlestown during the battle of Bunker Hill. The British soldiers also used the gravestones for target practice; the marks remain on some of the gravestones.