In 1846, the then small village of Madison, set aside 4 acres of land (the size of a city block), for it's first "offical" cemetery (over the previous 10 years, there had been three other attempts at creating cemeteries in the area. The first was on what is now Bascom Hill in 1837. The second, in an area called Block 61--currently the Langdon, Carroll, Gillman, and Henry streets area, in 1839, and finally, Sandhill Cemetery in 1840, in the area of what is now West Main and Proudfit Streets. Greenbush, the Catholic cemetery started in 1845, and was still being used when the new cemetery started recieving departed loved ones).
Block 180 (as it was originally called), sat on the outskirts of the village, on a piece of land that was devoid of trees, and unfortunately, any type of fencing. Because of this, it was not uncommon to see farm animals grazing and doing "other things", over the graves of the dearly deceased.
As the population grew, it became apparent that Block 180 would not be big enough to hold many more internments. A new cemetery had to be found.
When Forest Hill Cemetery was opened in 1858, the Madison City Council prohibited any more burials in Block 180. For about the next eight years, the remains of early Madisonians, were removed from Block 180, and reburied at Forest Hill. Problem was, there were no records as to who was buried in Block 180, and where. A number of the wooden markers had rotted away, or were impossible to read. As a result, a number of the remains from Block 180 had to be buried as unknowns, in unmarked graves, at Forest Hill.
In 1866, with the hope that all the remains had been removed from the former burial ground, Block 180 ceased to be a cemetery.
In 1877, the city of Madison bought the land formerly known as Block 180, after a public outcry arose, when the then current owners of the land, were going to turn the area into a beer garden.
A park was built on the former burying ground, and years later was given the name Orton Park (named after Harlow Orton. The mayor of Madison, at the time the land was purchased by the city).
Today, Orton Park sits nestled in a quiet neighborhood. Just a "stones throw" away from Lake Monona. Now, whether the park is as quiet as the neighborhood it sits in, is up for debate.