Sunday, August 24, 2014

The Book Cemetery

Book Cemetery, Ancaster, Wentworth, Ontario

The Book Cemetery is one of several old family cemeteries in the Ancaster area of Ontario. Unlike the nearby Shaver Cemetery, time has not been kind to the Book Cemetery. Many monuments are weathered, toppled or broken, and there is evidence that vandalism has been a problem in the past. A number of very old monuments, however, survive in situ, including two from 1815.

The cemetery is located at Lot 45, Concession 4, Ancaster on land that John Book (1754-1827) was granted in 1801. Johannes Buch, later anglicized to John Book was born in Heidelburg, Germany. About 1774 he married Anna Gertraute Zimmerman (1752-1829), who adopted the name Charity when she came to North America. In 1786, the couple and their seven children emigrated to the New Jersey, where their eighth child was born. Two years later they relocated to Canada. By 1789 they were one of 22 families squatting in the Ancaster area. John and Charity eventually had 12 children, nine of whom are buried at Book Cemetery. One of their daughters, Mary Catherine, married William Shaver (1771-1846) and is buried at Shaver Cemetery.

Book House in 1960
In 1811, John Book began work on a two-and-a-half story red brick house, but construction was interrupted by the War of 1812 when John's sons George, John and Adam served with the 5th Regiment Lincoln Militia. The Georgian style house, was completed shortly after the war and featured a five-bay symmetrical design with chimneys at the gable ends. The sash windows originally would have been 12-over-12, and the door had sidelights and a half-moon fanlight over the door. The house, surrounding farmland, and cemetery remained in the Book family until 1907. The building was the oldest brick house in Ancaster until it was destroyed by fire in 2005 in a suspected case of arson.

Mary Book 1759-1815
While oldest gravestone in the Book Cemetery is that of Henry Book (1795-1815), tenth child of John and Charity, far more interesting is the red slate gravestone of Mary Book (1759-1815), possibly an unmarried sister of John. John and Charity's gray slate gravestones are also extant as are their footstones.

Completing a photographic inventory of this cemetery was a challenge. The 1985 Ontario Genealogical transcription is incomplete as at least six gravestones were not listed. It also contains numerous errors, and does not appear to have been completed in any sort of systematic fashion. This made it next to impossible to identify the several unreadable gravestones based on their location. Fortunately an 1890 transcription is also available, as is a cultural heritage assessment report prepared in 2010.
John Book (1754-1827)

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