This triangular park of rest at the fork of Concord and Country roads was originally on land belonging to Deacon Joshua Fletcher, one of the town’s original 89 taxpayers. His daughter married Samuel Parker, who inherited it when the Deacon died in 1736. Parker sold the land to Nathan Proctor (1698-1788), who donated what was then called West Burying Ground to the town. When Westford assumed care of West cemetery in 1761, many of its founding citizens had been interred here.
Of the roughly 400 people buried here, most of them in the 1700s and 1800s, most were congregants of Westford’s First Parish Church. Like the town’s other historic cemeteries, Westlawn holds a place in town history by being the burial place of many of its founding fathers, veterans, industrialists, and farmers. Many gravestones here bear the names of the town’s most prominent families, among them Prescott, Robinson, Fletcher, Wright, Hildreth, Day, and Spaulding.
Perhaps the most distinguished citizen buried here is Colonel John Robinson (1735-1805) Westford’s highest ranking Revolutionary War officer. Like his compatriot Capt. Oliver Bates (buried at Hillside), Robinson was also a town selectman who led three companies of Westford Minutemen to the North Bridge in Concord on the morning of April 19, 1775, where his men engaged the British regulars and fired “the shot heard ‘round the world.” Colonel Robinson also fought alongside many of these men at the Battle of Bunker Hill, where Bates was wounded and later died. West Burying Ground was nearly named after Colonel Robinson in 1895, but residents instead chose the name Westlawn. The town did rename the road where he had lived less than a mile away, and the school on that road, in his honor.
Colonel Robinson joins about 15 other Revolutionary War veterans at Westlawn whose graves are marked by iron Maltese crosses placed by the Sons of the American Revolution in 1902, but his is the largest slate marker in the cemetery. There also lie here veterans of the French and Indian War, two soldiers who fought in the War of 1812, and nine Civil War soldiers. Westford’s sons Steven Kostechko (1914-1955) and Carl F. Haussler (1892-1964) served in WWII. Other citizens of note include famed weaver Olive Adams Prescott (1780-1860) and librarian May E. Day (1890-1973), who served 42 years at the J.V. Fletcher Library. Because of the cemetery’s age, small size and incomplete records, burials at Westlawn ceased around 1999.
Like all of Westford’s early cemeteries, Westlawn began as a grassy field dotted with Colonial and Federal period slate gravestones carved with skulls. Later, marble and granite memorials bearing angels and willow branches were erected for their owners. Perhaps the most distinctive memorial is one for the Prescott family, a former “horse-mounting block” or stepping stone that was used to climb into carriages and mount horses in front of the Prescott Tavern in the Forge Village section of town. The Carver family tomb features a brown granite chest that lies atop the earthen mound. Two other tombs, including a “Triple Tomb” for the Prescott, Patten, and Leighton families, rest in the shade of pine. In 2005, Westlawn joined Fairview, Hillside, and Wright cemeteries with the honor of being listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Google Map/Directions: From 495N or 495S: Take a right off Exit 32/Westford ramp from 495N, or left off ramp from 495S to take Boston Road to Rte. 110 (Littleton Road) and take a right at the lights. Pass the Market Basket plaza and the Westford Regency, take a right at the 99 Restaurant onto Rte. 225 (Concord Road). Westlawn is at a fork in the road between Concord and Country roads.