Saturday, May 16, 2015

Cemetery Crawling 2

Peel Township north of Waterloo, Ontario is peppered with numerous pioneer cemeteries. The cemeteries typically mark the locations of churches that were founded in the mid-19th century but have long disappeared. At most of the cemeteries, the gravestones have been gathered into a cairn. This has made photographing the monuments a relatively easy proposition. 

Bloomsbury Methodist Cemetery

Bloomsbury Methodist Cemetery, also known as Creek Bank Methodist Cemetery, is located on land once owned by Alexander Fisher and his brothers, Michael and John (1791-1860), who settled in the area about 1841. John's gravestone forms part of the cairn. A stone church existed on this site from 1882 until 1916, however, the significant number of gravestones from the 1850s and 60s suggests the existence of an earlier church. 

Ebenezer Primitive Methodist Cemetery

Primitive Methodism was a major movement in Methodism that began about 1812 and spread to Canada with the wave of English immigration in the mid 19th century. A log church was built on this site about 1854. In 1867 a brick church was built with cushioned pews and doors to each pew. The church was in use until about 1900 when the Primitives united with the Wesleyan Methodists, and the Ebenezer congregation joined with the congregation at nearby Goldstone Methodist. The earliest gravestones date from 1855. 

Potter's Cemetery

Potter's Cemetery began as the gravesite of Thomas Potter (1784-1848) and Hannah Smith (1797-1848), pioneers of Peel Township from Yorkshire, England, who died of dysentery on the same day in 1848. Members of other local families were also buried here including John Morrison (1816-1859) and four of his children: Sarah, Emmer, Jane and Mary. All five appear to have died within a two week period in February of 1859. In 1890 the burying ground was transferred to the Methodist Church. Burials continued at this site until 1933. 

Olivet Abandoned Cemetery

Like Potter's Cemetery, Olivet was a community burial ground for the surrounding area. Dates on the gravestones indicate that the graveyard was in use from 1859 to 1869. The cemetery has been incorrectly linked with the Mount Pleasant Mission School which was set up for the children of fugitive slaves who had settled in the area. All the gravestones, however, are for members of the families of English and Scottish ancestry. 

Zion Methodist Cemetery

In the 1840's the Methodists built a log church at Wallenstein, west of Elmira, Ontario. The church and the adjacent graveyard were used up until 1910. The cemetery is known by a number of names, the most poetic being the Old Log Church Cemetery.

Cross Cemetery

Cross Cemetery was the burial ground for the Goshen Wesleyan Methodist Church, established about 1860. A wood frame church was located to north of the cemetery, but in 1884 a brick church was built about a kilometre away. This church closed in 1946 and was demolished in 1955. The earliest of the 22 stones dates from 1859 and commemorates Mary Ann Bayne who emigrated from Ireland. Several members of the Cross family were also buried here including James Cross (1787-1864) and his wife Margaret (1788-1866).

Goldstone Methodist Cemetery

Goldstone Methodist Cemetery is on of the few pioneer cemeteries in Peel Township associated with an active church. The current yellow brick building dates from 1903, replacing a smaller brick church built in 1867, which in turn replaced a log church built in 1845. When the cemetery was transcribed in 1995, 39 gravestones were recorded, however, I was only able to find 17. The transcription notes that a number of gravestones had been stacked in a corner of the churchyard. There are also references to a tornado damaging some of the monuments in May 1884.

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