It was colonial custom to bury the dead on land owned by the town, usually near the meeting house and, if possible, on the summit of a hill. If one looks at a topographical map of the cemetery area, one can see that the elevation on Hopmeadow Street at the main entrance gate is 183 feet above sea level. The west end is 265 feet above sea level. It is believed that the first burials were on the top of the hill. According to noted Simsbury historian Lucius I. Barber, the grave of Mercy Buel, the oldest in the cemetery, was thought to be originally located at the site now occupied by Jeffrey O. Phelps, on the hill in Section C.
Over the years many distinguished citizens have been buried in the cemetery. The histories of Simsbury by Noah A. Phelps, Lucius I. Barber and John E. Ellsworth are excellent for learning more about these citizens. Of the many Revolutionary War soldiers, Noah Phelps is the most well-known (see photograph). History has it that Captain Phelps was sent to spy on Fort Ticonderoga in 1775 and, because of his efforts, the fort was captured by Ethan Allen and his Green Mountain Boys. He later became a major general in the Connecticut militia.