Thursday, December 20, 2012

Clements Pioneer Cemetery, Innisfil

Clements Pioneer Cemetery is located on the south side of the 2nd Line, about 300 m east of Hwy 11 (Yonge Street) in the Town of Innisfil.  The cemetery was established in 1837 when Lewis Clement a United Empire Loyalist gave the land as a gift.  There does not appear to have been any church associated with this burial ground, but church services were known to be held at the home of James Sloan, who's house was on a  hill. It was because of this the area was called Churchill. 

A modern day iron fence and gate are located at the front of the property, where a plaque was placed in 1932 in the west side gate post dedicating the cemetery.  Today the cemetery is in the care of the Town of Innisfil and is closed to burials. 

Bethesda Methodist Cemetery, Innisfil

Bethesda Methodist Cemetery is located on the west side of 5th Side Road, 200 m south of the 4th Line in the Town of Innisfil.  The land was donated by Thomas Black a native of County Tyron, Ireland in 1867 for a Wesleyan Methodist Church and Cemetery.  The land was already established as a cemetery, as the first burials took place in 1852 for Thomas' wife Mary Ann and their 9 year old daughter Margaret.  Thomas himself would be buried here in 1879 at the age of 80.

A frame structure was built and opened in 1868.  Prior to this early settler families in the Bethesda area met for worship at the homes of William Lennox, Thomas Black, George Wonch and William Ross.  Later as the congregation grew they moved to the log school house on the farm of James Hindle.  Accordingly the congregation became known as Hindles.  

The frame church was later replaced with a brick one in 1895.  By 1925 the congregation had become part of the United Church of Canada.  The church was closed in 1950 and the last burial took place in 1957. The church building and drive sheds were demolished in 1958 leaving the cemetery.

A cemetery board continued to care for the cemetery for some time, until the responsibility was assumed by the Township of Innisfil, now the Town of Innsifil. 

According to a Mr. Jim Rainey a former member of the cemetery board and who had many descendants and family members buried in Bestheda. There are a number of unmarked burials, it was believed that they were for the Yanks family and possibly the Marling family.  

Another family, the Moyer or Moir were also buried there.  The family moved to the Alliston area and relocated the family tombstone.  It is also believed that the remains were relocated as well.

Today the cemetery is in the care of the Town of Innisfil, there is no cairn or sign to mark the spot, it just sits in a clearing on the west side of the road.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Dunkerron United Church Cemetery, Bradford West Gwilliambury

The cemetery and church are located on the N/E corner of Hwy 27 and 3rd Line in the tiny hamlet of Dunkerron in Bradford West Gwilliambury.  It was established in 1820, when the son of John Davis, William, at the age of 25  was killed while felling a tree.

John did not receive the patent for this land until 1837, then in 1856 he gave 2 rods and 9/10 perches of this land for a church and cemetery for the sum of 10 shillings. 

 The church and burial ground where originally Methodist in denomination.  The original frame church, which also served as a school, stood just west of the present day church near the corner of now Hwy 27 and 3rd Line. 

 In 1884 the present day church was built, the pathway to the church was directly over the grave of the Davis family, so the stone was relocated to the east fence.

 In 1925 the congregation joined the United Church of Canada and burials have continued well into the 20th century.  The church appears to still be in use. 

Wilson Hill Pioneer Cemetery, Bradford West Gwilliambury

Wilson’s Hill Cemetery, aka First Essa Presbyterian Church Cemetery is located on the south east corner of Hwy 27 and 12th Line in Bradford West Gwilliambury. In 1858 James and Mary Wilson who were members of the First Essa Presbyterian Church, granted one acre of the land, which was part of the Wilson Farm to the Trustees of the First Essa Congregation for the use of a cemetery.  Although the area had been used for a cemetery for some time as the Wilson Family Farm burial ground, there were some 38 burials that predate the deed.  The first burial being that of a child, named Elen Sutherland in 1839.

The cemetery is located at the top of a steep hill which overlooks an area that was called the Big Swamp.  Since the cemetery was located at the top of a hill, it was said that when the casket of a deceased person was carried up, it would usually take two stops before the funeral party reached the actual cemetery.  The entrance located on the level land, on 12th Line was deeded to the Trustees by the Dept of Highways, later known as the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario.

The First Essa Congregation merged with the Cookstown Congregation in 1957, this was also the year when the last burial took place in this cemetery. Fittingly, it was for William McClain Dinwoody, the grandson of the founder of The First Essa Presbyterian Church and one of the first settlers in Essa County.

The cemetery was neglected for many years and in the 1970’s Neil McBride, a fourth generation descendant of the founding Dinwoody family, undertook the restoration of the grounds.  There is a plaque that was placed by his wife and daughter in 1985 near the entrance commemorating his work. 

Unfortunately, time has once again taken its toll on this area.  Many of the tombstones are damaged or weathered to where their descriptions are no longer legible, and once again over growth is a problem.   Basic maintenance is maintained but that is all.  

In the summer the cemetery is hidden from view from the road side. Only during the winter months can some of the monuments on the hill be seen. It is regarded as the most visited pioneer cemetery in West Gwilliambury

P.S. I bring good tidings regarding this cemetery. I re-visited it in the spring of 2019 and found that considerable restoration was taking place. I was impressed with progress. Thanks to all involved.