Notable People From Concord, MA

From war heroes to authors, philosophers and inventors, Concord has long been home to some of the greatest minds in America. While authors Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Louisa Alcott are the better known luminaries, many others made their mark on Concord and beyond.

Bronson Alcott

Born - November 29, 1799

Died - March 4, 1888

The Alcotts came to Concord at the invitation of Ralph Waldo Emerson. They moved often, living in several homes in Concord and beyond including a utopian community in Harvard, MA, before purchasing Hillside (later renamed The Wayside by Nathaniel Hawthorne) and Orchard House. Hillside is where Louisa May and her three sisters lived their teen years and served as the setting of her most famous novel, Little Women, which was written in part next door at Orchard House when Louisa was 35. Her father, Bronson, was an educator, a philosopher and superintendent of Concord Schools. He began the first adult education program in the country when he opened The School of Philosophy at Orchard House where men and women came to share ideas and listen to speakers.

Louisa May Alcott

Born - November 29, 1832

Died - March 6, 1888

The Alcotts came to Concord at the invitation of Ralph Waldo Emerson. They moved often, living in several homes in Concord and beyond including a utopian community in Harvard, MA, before purchasing Hillside (later renamed The Wayside by Nathaniel Hawthorne) and Orchard House. Hillside is where Louisa May and her three sisters lived their teen years and served as the setting of her most famous novel, Little Women, which was written in part next door at Orchard House when Louisa was 35. Her father, Bronson, was an educator, a philosopher and superintendent of Concord Schools. He began the first adult education program in the country when he opened The School of Philosophy at Orchard House where men and women came to share ideas and listen to speakers.

Colonel James Barrett

Born - July 31, 1710

Died - April 11, 1779

Colonel Barrett was a veteran of the French-Indian War and a leader of the town in April of 1775. He had overall command of the Middlesex Militia. Military supplies were hidden on his farm about two miles north of the North Bridge. When Samuel Prescott rode into town in the early morning of April 19th, 1775, Col. Barrett is the one who wisely decided to go to Punkatasset Hill beyond the North Bridge and wait for reinforcements from surrounding towns to arrive and not attempt to meet the 700 Regulars on the town green.

Mary Merrick Brooks

Born - 1801

Died - 1868

Though she was a slave-owner’s daughter, Mary Merrick Brooks was one of Concord’s leading abolitionists. She was the founder of the Concord Female Anti-Slavery Society and worked tirelessly to recruit her neighbors to the cause and bring anti-slavery speakers to Concord even though that was considered controversial in the 1830s.

Ephraim Wales Bull

Born - March 4, 1806

Died - September 26, 1895

Ephraim Wales Bull moved to Concord from Boston in 1836 for health reasons. In 1849 he cultivated a grape that could thrive in the cold New England climate. His gravestone in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery reads “He Sowed Others Reaped” because others earned more money off his grapes than he did, including a man named Thomas Bramwell Welch who made Welch’s Concord Grape Juice as an alternative to wine for churchgoers. His son, Charles, later launched an empire using Ephraim Wales Bull’s Concord grapes.

Major John Buttrick

Born - July 20, 1731

Died - May 16, 1791

Old Hill Burying Ground

Major Buttrick was second in command under Col. Barrett on April 19th, 1775. He led the march to the bridge to confront the Regulars and issued the famous command: “Fire, fellow soldiers, for God’s sake fire!” which was the first time the Colonists were ordered to fire on the King’s troops and their fellow countrymen (remember they were all British in 1775).
His 15-year-old son, also named John, was a fifer at the Bridge on April 19th 1775. Both are buried at Old Hill Burying Ground in Concord Center.

Katherine Davis

Born - June 25, 1892

Died - April 20, 1980

Sleepy Hollow Cemetery

Katherine Davis was a music teacher at Concord Academy. She composed over 600 compositions, including the famous Christmas Carol “The Little Drummer Boy” in 1941 while living in Concord. She is buried in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery.

Mary Moody Emerson

Born - August 23, 1774

Died - May 1, 1863

Sleepy Hollow Cemetery

Mary Moody Emerson was only two years old when her father, Reverend William Emerson, mounted his horse and road off in to the Revolutionary War never to return. Mary was sent to live with her impoverished grandmother and insane aunt in Malden, MA. She was a voracious reader and in spite of any formal education, she sought knowledge and was self educated. When her brother, William died, Mary helped to raise his family and had a deep and profound influence on her nephew, Ralph Waldo Emerson as well as the respect and admiration of his friend, Henry David Thoreau. An intelligent, unique and somewhat eccentric woman, Mary wrote thousands of letters and journal entries and encouraged Emerson to become a minister. She lived to be almost 90 years old. She is buried in the Emerson family plot at Sleepy Hollow Cemetery.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Born - May 25, 1803

Died - April 27, 1882

Perhaps Concord’s most prominent citizen in the 1800s, Ralph Waldo Emerson was a beloved neighbor and generous friend to many. He was the grandson of the Reverend William Emerson and a former Unitarian Minister, writer, lecturer, philosopher and mentor to Henry David Thoreau who built his one room house on Emerson’s wood lot at Walden Pond. Emerson’s family has been very influential throughout all of Concord’s history, tracing their roots back to Peter Bulkeley, a founder of the town.

Reverend William Emerson

Born - May 31, 1743

Died - October 30, 1776

Old Hill Burying Ground

Reverend William Emerson took over as Concord’s minister in 1766. He married the previous minister’s daughter, Phebe Bliss, and a built a fine home by the Concord River which later became know as the Old Manse. He was a town leader in 1775. After the Revolutionary War began he volunteered to be a chaplain in the Continental Army and was sent to Fort Ticonderoga where he sadly contracted camp fever shortly after arriving. He was sent home but died in the home of a kind minister in Rutland, Vermont where he was buried. There is a memorial to him at Old Hill Burying Ground. His brother-in-law, Daniel Bliss, was a Tory and suspected informant of General Gage, supplying him with details about hidden military supplies being stored in Concord.

Daniel Chester French

Born - April 26, 1850

Died - October 7, 1931

Mourning Victory

Daniel Chester French is best known as the sculptor of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC. Though born in New Hampshire he spent his teen years in Concord. His first art teacher was Louisa May Alcott’s youngest sister, May. The Minute Man statue at the North Bridge was his first commission when he was 23 years old. The work that meant the most to him stands in the center of Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, a memorial to three Concord brothers who died during the Civil War. He named the monument Mourning Victory and chose to be buried on the ridge above the sculpture.

Nathaniel Hawthorne

Born - July 4, 1804

Died - May 19, 1864

Sleepy Hollow Cemetery - Authors' Ridge

At the invitation of Ralph Waldo Emerson, the Hawthornes moved to the Old Manse on July 9, 1842, the day of their wedding. A well-known short story writer at the time, Nathaniel, haunted by his ancestor’s role in the Salem witch trials, became one of America’s greatest novelists of the nineteenth century. Sophia was the youngest of Salem’s Peabody sisters and was also a writer and a talented artist. The Hawthornes lived three happy years in Concord before moving to Salem when Nathaniel got a job as surveyor. From there they moved to the Berkshires before coming back to Concord in 1852 and purchasing the Wayside from the Alcotts where the shy and reclusive Hawthorne had a tower built to use as a writing studio. In 1853 the Hawthornes moved to Europe when Nathaniel was appointed United States Consul in Liverpool. They returned to Concord in 1860. Nathaniel was on a trip with his friend and former president, Franklin Pierce, when he died in Plymouth, NH in 1864. He is buried in a simple family plot on Authors’ Ridge in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery. Sophia moved back to England after his death. She and her oldest daughter, Una, died there and were buried at Kensal Green Cemetery in London. In 2006, nearly 150 years later, Sophia’s and Una’s remains were returned to Concord where they were finally reunited with Nathaniel on Authors’ Ridge. A little known fact about the Hawthornes is that their youngest daughter, Rose, converted to Catholicism and went on to found an order of nuns in New York and ran a hospice center. She is currently being considered for sainthood.

Sophia Hawthorne

Born - September 21, 1809

Died - February 26, 1871

Sleepy Hollow Cemetery - Authors' Ridge

At the invitation of Ralph Waldo Emerson, the Hawthornes moved to the Old Manse on July 9, 1842, the day of their wedding. A well-known short story writer at the time, Nathaniel, haunted by his ancestor’s role in the Salem witch trials, became one of America’s greatest novelists of the nineteenth century. Sophia was the youngest of Salem’s Peabody sisters and was also a writer and a talented artist. The Hawthornes lived three happy years in Concord before moving to Salem when Nathaniel got a job as surveyor. From there they moved to the Berkshires before coming back to Concord in 1852 and purchasing the Wayside from the Alcotts where the shy and reclusive Hawthorne had a tower built to use as a writing studio. In 1853 the Hawthornes moved to Europe when Nathaniel was appointed United States Consul in Liverpool. They returned to Concord in 1860. Nathaniel was on a trip with his friend and former president, Franklin Pierce, when he died in Plymouth, NH in 1864. He is buried in a simple family plot on Authors’ Ridge in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery. Sophia moved back to England after his death. She and her oldest daughter, Una, died there and were buried at Kensal Green Cemetery in London. In 2006, nearly 150 years later, Sophia’s and Una’s remains were returned to Concord where they were finally reunited with Nathaniel on Authors’ Ridge. A little known fact about the Hawthornes is that their youngest daughter, Rose, converted to Catholicism and went on to found an order of nuns in New York and ran a hospice center. She is currently being considered for sainthood.

Judge Ebenezer Rockwood Hoar

Born - February 21, 1816

Died - January 31, 1895

Sleepy Hollow Cemetery

Ebenezer Hoar was a member of Concord’s Royal Family. His father, Samuel, was a lawyer and politician. Ebenezer was also an American politician, lawyer, and justice. He was appointed U.S. Attorney General in 1869 by President Ulysses S. Grant. When federal marshals came to Concord in April of 1860 to arrest Franklin Sanborn for his involvement with abolitionist John Brown (Sanborn, a school teacher, was one of the Secret Six that helped to finance the raid on Harper’s Ferry), Judge Hoar issued a writ of habeas corpus (when a person in custody is released if a judge determines that the arrest is unlawful) and Sanborn was released. Ebenezer’s siblings included U.S. Senator George Frisbee Hoar and Edward Hoar who was with Henry David Thoreau when he accidently started a fire that destroyed over 100 acres of Concord woods. He was also the brother of Elizabeth, who was engaged to Charles Emerson, Ralph Waldo Emerson’s brother, who died before they married. Ebenezer is buried in his family’s impressive plot in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery where they all left poignant epitaphs on all their headstones.

John Jack

Born - 1713

Died - 1773

Old Hill Burying Ground

John Jack was an enslaved African American who bought his freedom from his owner’s widow and made a living as a shoemaker. He hired Tory lawyer Daniel Bliss to settle his estate. Daniel Bliss wrote the famous epitaph on John Jack’s headstone at Old Hill Burying Ground which calls out the hypocrisy that those who clamored for freedom from England denied freedom to others.

Ellen Garrison Jackson

Born - 1823

Died - 1890

Ellen Garrison’s mother, Susan Garrison was a founding and only black member of the Concord Female Anti-Slavery Society. Her grandfather was Caesar Robbins, an enslaved African American who earned his freedom by fighting in the Revolutionary War. Her father, Jack Garrison was also a former enslaved African American in New Jersey. After the Civil War Ellen moved to Maryland to teach newly freed people. In 1866, she and another teacher challenged the nation’s first Civil Rights Act, which conferred citizenship and equal rights on African Americans.

Samuel Prescott

Born - August 19, 1751

Died - 1776 or 1777

It was not Paul Revere who rode into Concord in the early morning hours of Wednesday, April 19th 1775 but a young, local doctor who had been visiting his fiancée, Lydia Muliken, in Lexington. Samuel Prescott joined Paul Revere and William Dawes on the road to Concord as he headed home to Concord after identifying himself as a Son of Liberty. Shortly after all three were stopped by a British patrol. Dawes escaped on foot and Revere was captured. But brave Dr. Prescott, being familiar with the terrain and an excellent horseman, jumped a stone wall and raced to Concord to alert the town that the Redcoats were approaching. From there he went on to sound the alarm in Acton and Stow. Sadly, Dr. Prescott never married the lovely Lydia Muliken. He seems to have vanished into the war though there is evidence that he went on to serve as a surgeon in the Continental Army and later joined the crew of a New England privateer and died in prison in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1776 or 1777.

Sarah Alden Bradford Ripley

Born - July 31, 1793

Died - 1817

Sarah Alden Bradford was born in Boston. Her mother suffered from tuberculosis and her father was a sea captain who encouraged her to study Latin and anything she pleased. And study she did. She read her brothers’ books when they attended Harvard College, taught herself German and Greek and became a noted scholar and educator. When she married the Unitarian minister Samuel Ripley and eventually moved to the Old Manse in Concord she tutored many students and earned praise for her intelligence from contemporaries that included Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau and Frederic Henry Hedge.

Caesar Robbins

Born - 1745

Died - 1822

Enslaved African American who fought in both the American Revolution and the French Indian War. He earned his freedom after fighting in the Revolution and moved to Concord from Chelmsford in the 1780s. He likely served at the North Bridge. In 1776 he was with the forces that fortified Dorchester Heights. He was probably emancipated before or at the time of his enlistment. He married twice and had six children. Two of his grown children, Susan and Peter, became the first residents of the newly built house on the Robbins farm. The house survived two moves and is now in the parking lot across from the Old North Bridge. Caesar’s granddaughter, Ellen Garrison, was an educator and social justice advocate.

Henry D. Thoreau

Born - July 13, 1817

Died - May 6, 1862

Henry David Thoreau was born on Virginia Road in Concord and baptized David Henry Thoreau; he changed his name after graduating from Harvard College in 1837. Perhaps Concord’s best known resident, Thoreau lived here all his life and knew the land intimately. For two years he lived in a one-room house that he built on the shores of Walden Pond. His book Walden, ensured that Concord would not just be known as an historic town but as a sacred place where philosophers and writers were inspired and where a nascent country developed a unique literary voice. Thoreau’s mother, aunts and sisters were abolitionists and members of the Concord Female Anti-Slavery Society and were influential in shaping Henry’s viewpoints.

Captain Artemas Wheeler

Born - 1781

Died - 1845

Artemas Wheeler was a gunsmith who invented the first automatic, revolving, multiple chambered cylinders. Unfortunately, he died before he was able to get a patent on his invention. A man named Colt was able to do that so what we know today as the Colt 45 was actually originally conceived by a Concord resident. Artemas Wheeler is buried in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery.