Sunday, April 20, 2014

Shaver Family Cemetery

Shaver Family Cemetery, Ancaster, Wentworth, Ontario
One of the more interesting Ontario graveyards I have visited is the Shaver Family Cemetery in Ancaster west of Hamilton, Ontario. What makes this cemetery unique is while most private family graveyards are small, Shaver is quite large with 68 monuments. Also remarkable is it's state of preservation. There are no signs of vandalism, and the few stones that are broken are likely the result of fallen tree branches.

 Cemetery Dedication
The cemetery is enclosed by a substantial stone wall. On the west side of the wall is a large stone inscribed with the following:
This cemetery was erected A.D. 1848 as a token of filial affection and respect by the 13 children of William and Mary Catherine Shaver, who settled this farm in 1798, it being then a wilderness.
John Shaver (1739-1795)
The Shaver family (originally Schaeffer) came to the Ancaster area from northwestern New Jersey in 1789. The head of the family, John Shaver (1739-1795) was born in Germany and had emigrated with his parents in 1765. He was a United Empire Loyalist who served with Butler's Rangers during the Revolutionary War. According to family tradition, John Shaver returned to New Jersey after the war to find that his first wife, Katrinka had died, and that his neighbours were less than friendly. John Shaver's gravestone is at nearby Betheda United Church Cemetery, and is one of the oldest gravestones in Ontario. His second wife, Mary Magdalene Hone (1761-1836) is buried beside him.

In 1797, John Shaver's second son, William (1772-1830) was granted Lot 35 Concession 3 in Ancaster. William married Mary Catharine Book (1776-1845). Together they had 13 children and acquired 1600 acres.

1856 Shaver Homestead
Three houses built by the Shaver family in the 19th century also remain in the area. The Georgian style Philip Shaver House was built in 1835. The cut-stone Gothic-Revival style Shaver Stone House was built in 1863, and the 1856 Shaver Homestead occupies the site of William Shaver's original home. Another property, the Daniel Shaver House, was built in 1860 but was destroyed by fire in 2011.

1835 Philip Shaver House

1863 Shaver Stone House
The Shaver Family Cemetery was in use until 1938. A photograph taken during the 1940s shows the cemetery surrounded by farmer's fields. In 1993, the Town of Ancaster designated the cemetery a heritage property. Today the cemetery forms an oasis of quiet surrounded by retail development.

Shaver Family Cemetery in 1945