In 1857, the City of Madison purchased a tract of land with a lovely view overlooking the entire city and the surrounding lakes. Even today, this tree-lined cemetery, located on Speedway Road, retains an original park-like atmosphere with winding roads and flowerbeds.
Since the cemetery was created at the time of the Civil War, one of the most interesting areas for visitors are the two military burial plots for Union and Confederate soldiers. Many Confederate soldiers were held prisoner at nearby Camp Randall. One hundred forty of them died and were buried at Forest Hill. In a nearby plot, 240 Union veterans were buried. Forest Hill Cemetery is one of the first U.S. National Cemeteries in Wisconsin.
In an even earlier time, Native Americans used this high ground as a burial ground, evidenced by an Effigy Mound Grouping, where noble warriors are buried. This mound, in the shape of a goose, is located on the southeast side of the cemetery. It is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
The entire cemetery is filled with a sense of history and a reminder of the families who have played a significant role in the area's development. A brochure (free of charge) that features a map and self-guided walking tour or a publication by Historic Madison, Inc. entitled "Forest Hill Cemetery; A Biographical Guide to the Ordinary and the Famous Who Shaped Madison and the World" ($20.00) can be obtained at the Cemetery Office or the Parks Office.
For more information on burial services or to inquire about the availability of burial plots, please call (608)266-4720.