Monday, May 23, 2011

Captain Peter Hare (1748-1834)

Gravestones, Snure Cemetery, Louth, Lincoln, Ontario

In Snure Cemetery near the village of Jordan, Ontario can be found the gravestone of Peter HARE (1748-1834). Nearby are the gravestones of several of his descendants.

Captain Peter HARE was a company commander in Butler's Rangers, a Loyalist militia unit during the American Revolution. HARE was born in Tryon County, New York on 17 May 1748, the son of John HARE. His first marriage, to Elizabeth PETREE, produced two daughters. Seven children resulted from his second marriage to Catherine GREENWALT, including Major Peter HARE (1794-1856) of the Lincoln Militia, and Deborah HARE who married Joshua BEEBE, son of Sergeant Adin BEEBE of Butler's Rangers (and brother of my gggg-grandmother Charlotte BEEBE). Peter HARE's third marriage was to Margaret BOWMAN, the widow of Solomon SECORD, a cousin of Adin BEEBE.

Butler's Rangers were based at Fort Niagara, located on the east side of the Niagara River where is empties into Lake Ontario. When the regiment was disbanded most of the Rangers were given land on the west side of the Niagara River in what is now Lincoln County. Hare received 3200 acres of land although he only farmed 150 acres near Jordan.

Hare joined Butler's Rangers as a 2nd Lieutenant in 1777 and initially served under Captain William Caldwell. He was most likely present at both the Battle of Wyoming and the Cherry Valley Massacre in 1778. He was promoted to Captain in 1779 and give command of his own company. Many years later he served as Colonel of the 4th Regiment, Lincoln Militia.

Hare died at his home on 6 Apr 1834. Also at Snure Cemetery are the gravestones of his son Peter, his daughter-in-law Magdalene SECORD (1794-1846), and six of his grandchildren.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Cemetery Transcriptions: Ontario and Devon

Fairfield United Cemetery, Stephen, Huron, Ontario

Those of us with ancestors who emigrated in Ontario have the good fortune of being able to access gravestone transcriptions for hundreds of cemeteries. The wealth of printed transcriptions is the result of the Ontario Genealogical Society (OGS) undertaking to transcribe existing gravestones in cemeteries throughout Ontario. The availability of these transcriptions, which can be purchased from the various OGS Branches, has saved me valuable research time on many occasions.

Walk into the local branch of a public library and you will more than likely find copies of the transcriptions for nearby graveyards. Larger regional libraries often have a more extensive collection. The Canadiana Department of the North York Central Library in Toronto has the most complete collection of transcriptions, and also houses the library of the OGS.

Unfortunately a master index to the transcriptions does not yet exist. The closest to a comprehension index is the Ontario Cemetery Finding Aid. The OGS has also been indexing transcriptions but the project is far from complete.

Some Ontario transcriptions are also available through

Another very useful cemetery resource for Ontario researchers is the CanadaGenWeb Cemetery Project. A notable feature of the Cemetery Project is the availability of photographs. Volunteers undertake to photograph every gravestone in a cemetery. The photographs are submitted to the Cemetery Project, indexed and then uploaded to the website.

In comparison to the wealth of resources available online and in print for Ontario cemeteries, there is very little available for cemeteries in Devon. There does not seem to have ever been a major effort to document gravestones and make this information widely available. Some churches have printed guides available. Other churches have made this information available online. But in most cases determining whether ggg-grandfather has a gravestone requires a graveyard visit. Difficult if you don't live in Devon and time-consuming even if you do.

However, all is not lost. The Gravestone Photographic Resource Project was started by Charles Sale in 1998 to photographically record grave monuments and make the information they contain publicly available via the Internet. 825 English cemeteries have been photographed to date and North Devon is particularly well represented. I have been making extensive use of the Project's resources as I prepare for my trip to Devon this summer. I recently received photographs of three gravestones connected to my MOCK ancestors at St Brannock's, Braunton, and have been using the project to develop an index of pre-1813 monuments at St Peter's, Tawstock.

Every year gravestones are lost due to vandalism or become unreadable due to weathering. Any effort to transcribe inscriptions or photograph gravestones should be encouraged.