This slightly elevated cemetery on Groton Road (Rte. 40) bordered by mortared fieldstone was originally a private cemetery for the Wright and Gould families, the most prevalent names on the headstones.
The Wright family had been farming in what was then the Chelmsford territory since the 18th century. Burials may have occurred as early as 1819, and certainly by 1827. In 1836, 107 years after being incorporated as a town, Westford formally granted Bela Wright, a 39-year old farmer and veteran of the War of 1812, permission to continue using the private burial ground on the half-acre of land “between Caleb Wight’s and Reuben Wright’s land.” Eight Wrights and one Wight, all related, were listed as founding proprietors of the cemetery.
By 1909 most of the Wrights and their descendants had either passed away or left the area. The cemetery had never had a caretaker to look after its two dozen interred citizens, so the town took possession of Wright Cemetery, Westford’s fourth, under a state law for “the care of neglected burial places” in 1921. The town added another four acres to the cemetery in 1997 with the purchase of the adjoining Gould-Picking Farm. The surrounding copse of pine trees protects its borders and somewhat quiets the road traffic.
Like all of Westford’s cemeteries, what was once originally farmland was first denoted as a cemetery only by the slate headstones protruding from tall grass. In the 1840s the cemetery was bordered by a whitewashed picket fence, later replaced by a fieldstone wall with split granite capstone. Steps were cut into the wall to gain entrance from Groton Road; the stone inscribed “Wright Cemetery” was given to the town by descendant Carl Wright in 1977. Mr. Wright, a veteran of World War I, was buried here in 1986 at the age of 95.
A fence of wooden rails and granite posts borders the rear of the cemetery, opening to a forest path for quiet walks among the pine. Wright Cemetery contains roughly 150 visible markers, mostly flat slate from the Federal period. Two dozen stones date from the first half of the 19th century, and a few marble stones date from the Victorian era. Simple granite curbs, some of them cut in Westford’s quarries, outline a few plots. The tallest marker, a 10-foot gray granite obelisk, marks the plot for War of 1812 veteran Joel Wright (1782-1834) and his wife Sally. Wright Cemetry joined Fairview, Hillside, and Westlawn on the National Register of Historic Places in 2005.
[Note: It is somewhat dangerous to park on Rte. 40 in front of the cemetery because of fast and heavy traffic. We recommend turning onto Pilgrim Drive, next to the cemetery, and taking a left onto Old Colony Drive. At the corner of Pilgrim and Old Colony you will see a forest path that leads to the back of Wright Cemetery. If you are able to walk a short distance, this is the safest way into the cemetery.)
Directions: From Rte. 3N or Rte. 3S, take Rte. 40 (Groton Road) into Westford going towards Groton. Pilgrim Drive will come up just before the cemetery, which will be on your right, about a mile before the Groton town line. From Westford: Wright Cemetery is near the Stony Brook Middle School, on the opposite side, heading towards North Street and the Groton line.