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					Tombstone Tour
General Information: First published in 1971. Revised in 1985 by Glen Curnoe.

A GUIDE TO LONDON CEMETERIES

This tour guide is intended to point out a very few of the interesting characteristics of London
cemeteries, and to suggest ways in which you might approach the history contained within any
graveyard. Perhaps your first interest will be in the important figures of the past - the Ridouts, the
Harrises, and others who contributed to the development of London. You will see many names
which may be familiar to you as street names, or company names like Labatt. Cemetery stones may
also be related to historic events: the Victoria Disaster, the World Wars, fires, plagues, or other
tragedies. Causes of death virtually unknown to us today – cholera, childbed fever – are inscribed
on many stones. Here, too, is a sociological perspective of past generations – family size, lineage,
country of origin, wealth and status, average age of death, etc. Much of this information can be
supplemented with research into old records, newspapers, and history books. You might even want
to start working on your family tree.

The kind of stone can in itself be interesting, and an indicator of age. Arm yourself with chalk to
clarify weathered inscriptions, and remember that the oldest stones (prior to 1850) are generally
sandstone or slate. The simplest shapes, usually with rounded tops and ornamental carvings, are
generally quite early. Marble stones were very popular from the late 1830's to the late 1860's.
Square and pillar shaped marble, with weathered inscriptions, can often be dated in the 1860's and
1870's. From the 1880's to the beginning of the 20th century, soft or grey granite was often used.
These stones are usually covered with lichen and moss. Granite in varying sizes and shapes has
been popular since the 1880's. If the date on the granite stone is earlier than the 1880's, this is
probably replacement stone.

For the two larger cemeteries, Mount Pleasant and Woodland, maps are available in the cemetery
offices.

On your way by car or bus to the two major London cemeteries, stop first at St. Paul's Cathedral on
Richmond Street. By the northern boundary of the churchyard, you will find some of the oldest
gravestones left from the earliest burials in the London settlement period of 1830 to 1850. One is
that of Lawrence Lawrason, pioneer Londoner. Between Lawrason's grave and Dufferin Avenue
was the second cemetery used by St. Paul's Church. (The first was on the south side of Carling west
of Ridout.) The later cemetery was in use until 1849 when a city bylaw made it illegal to bury
people within the town limits. Many soldiers from the British Garrison were buried here. Most of
the bodies and stones were moved to the new St. Paul's Cemetery at Dundas and Rectory Streets,
but some older citizens did not wish to remove the remains of their dead.

Before leaving this site, look across to the Grand Theatre. Under its foundation was the first Roman
Catholic cemetery, just south of the log church that faced east on the corner of Richmond and Maple
Streets. When the new brick church was built across the road facing west, some Roman Catholics
were buried to the northeast of the church. Their bones were found when digging was in operation
for building St. Peter's School.
A number of graveyards in London have been abandoned or cleared out since the city grew, not
only at St. Paul's Cathedral and behind St. Peter's Basilica, but also behind First-St. Andrew's
Church, and on St. James Street near Adelaide, between Rectory and Dundas Streets near the
Western Fair grounds, and on Hamilton Road near St. Julien Street. From time to time, as building
takes place, odd burials have been found in various parts of the city, and the bones are buried in the
present day cemeteries.

MOUNT PLEASANT CEMETERY

The main gates of this cemetery are at 303 Mount Pleasant Avenue in southwest London. This
cemetery was established in 1874 by a group of London businessmen wanting a non-
denominational cemetery. It is still run by a board of businessmen as directors. From the red brick
chapel at the front of the cemetery, locate the family plots in the oldest areas, sections B, C, and F.
Here you will find memorials to the Carlings (Sir John Carling, original member of Canada's first
Cabinet); Dorothy McClary, "a niece of John Adams and cousin of John Quincy, 2nd and 6th
Presidents of the United States" (a grey granite shaft); Simeon Morrill, first Mayor of London Town;
Saunders family (a number of stones together, with one to Dr. William Saunders, first director of the
Experimental Farms Branch, Department of Agriculture); and the Eccles cross, a rough decorated
stone cross towering above the neighbouring stones.

Look for memorials to other interesting individuals, also in the older section: John Eskdale who lost
his life in a fire in 1855, aged 21. His brother firemen erected a memorial surrounded by a metal
fence with fire tools on the fence; Samuel Peters, early surveyor; Robert Carfrae, builder of the jail.
The most puzzling stone in the cemetery is that of Princess Amanda, "daughter of George IV",
located to the left of the table tombstone near the road, opposite M Section. The claims of Princess
Amanda, wife of Charles Wetherbee, have never been verified. Another puzzle is an old stone
reputed to be in Mount Pleasant Cemetery and inscribed, "sacred to the memory of Anne Louisa
Mackner, sister to Nancy Sykes, immortalized by Charles Dickens in one of his novels." This stone
has never been located.

In Mount Pleasant you will also find stones of the victims of the Victoria Disaster, 1881, including
the unmarked plot of those who could not afford stones. Of particular interest is a double memorial
to William Glass and Fannie Cooper, two young people who were victims of the boat disaster. Their
stones are on their respective family plots, but linked by a double arch. Prominent Londoners of
more recent fame – the Silverwoods, Mr. HB. Beal (the educator); among others - rest in the newer
area. On the edge of the main road, the Little family's mausoleum adds a Grecian temple effect to the
landscape. Many more interesting and historical memorials to London's past are scattered through
this cemetery, where cardinals, blue-jays and yellow finches flash through the great variety of trees
(magnolia, tulip, cucumber), and where flowering shrubs can be seen and enjoyed in season.



WOODLAND CEMETERY

This cemetery located at 493 Springbank Drive is managed by St. Paul's Cathedral. It was
established in 1878 when the former Anglican cemetery at Dundas and Rectory Streets was closed.
In 1920, the mausoleum was built with 582 crypts. A memorial stone and a Masonic burial plot
were dedicated in June, 1945. Graves of 600 pioneers who helped build London a century ago, were
moved from the Scottish burial ground on St. James Street in 1955, and placed in a triangular plot of
land in the midst of the cemetery. A six-foot high monument to those resting in unmarked graves in
St. James' burial ground was unveiled. Pioneer tombstones stand on guard duty. A section of flat, old
stones near the fence may have come from St. James Street Cemetery. Weeds and grass obliterate
many of the Scottish names found on these stones.

In 1964, a $500,000 crematorium of cut stone was built. Nearby is the handsome Fulford-Pixley
mausoleum, built in 1895, and dedicated to Annie Pixley, comedienne, who made her name as
"M'liss", and her husband Robert Fulford, an American theatrical man, and their son. The Fulfords
spent their summers at Port Stanley. The building is unique - Gothic architecture, Stanstead granite,
ornamented with life-size statues typifying music, drama, and victory. In addition, massive lions,
carved from solid blocks of stone, guard the heavy ornamental gates of the entrance. Stained glass
windows from Innsbruck and marble wainscoting are found inside the mausoleum. Set in a wide
spot of green grass, surrounded by shady trees, the effect is one of park-like serenity and beauty. In
1939, a soldiers' plot (God's Acre) was laid out over a quiet wooded slope near the gates.

Polished granite pillars, pillows and shafts, table stones, and older weathered gravestones are
found in the older parts of Woodland Cemetery. Note particularly the memorial to Thomas Howitt,
nephew of William Howitt, English author; the red granite shaft in memory of Honourable John
Wilson, Judge of Court of Common Pleas (1869); the Meredith family's high Celtic cross; a tall
needle of unpolished granite to Oliver McClary; another to Ridout family; the Harris family of Eldon
House fame; the Labatt family. The Harris and Labatt tombstones are in the southwest corner of R
Section.

Three hillside tombs add a varied touch to Woodland Cemetery. In them are buried C.P. Smith, John
Birrell (pioneer merchant and third president of the Huron and Erie), and the Priddis family
(including Harriett Priddis, collector of the history of London streets) . Woodland Cemetery, like
Mount Pleasant and St. Peter's cemeteries, contains graves of victims of the Victoria Disaster, May
24, 188l. The tragedy happened less than thirty minutes after the boat had moved slowly past
Woodland Cemetery.

OR SHALOM CEMETERY and RESTMOUNT CEMETERY Oxford Street West at Proudfoot Lane, not
far from Mount Pleasant Cemetery. In a quiet green oasis behind a fence, rest Londoners of the
Jewish community.

FOREST LAWN MEMORIAL GARDENS 2001 Dundas Street. Dates from August, 1930. There are no
standing monuments in this park-like cemetery.

ST. PETER'S CEMETERY 806 Victoria Street. Since 1857, Roman Catholic burials have taken place
in this cemetery, which at one time was north of the city. The first burial was that of John Kennedy
on July 16, 1857. Among the prominent people buried here (in the central north section of the
cemetery) is Dennis O'Brien, "peripatetic merchant, otherwise pedlar" from Fermoy, Ireland.
O'Brien built London's first store in 1827 and later the first brick house on Dundas Street, west of
Ridout Street. Another prominent person buried in this cemetery is the Honourable Henry Edward
Dormer, "soldier, samaritan, scholar", 1844-1866.

In addition to the main cemeteries, a number of older graveyards can still be found in London &
Middlesex County. Their stones have been recorded by the Ontario Genealogical Society, London
Branch. The records are in the London Room of the Central Library.

1. Brick Street Cemetery. Commissioners Road near Topping Lane. This cemetery was in use by
1819. It is now under the charge of Mount Zion United Church and remains as a memorial to our
pioneer ancestry.
2. Gore Cemetery. Trafalgar Street. Some of these graves date back to the 1830's. The City of London
inherited the cemetery with the 1951 annexation of the Hale-Trafalgar area. Broken stones have
been collected and made into a cairn. The oldest stone in the cairn is dated at 1835. It is now closed
to burials.
3. Grove Cemetery. Huron Street, east of Highbury Ave. This is one of the oldest cemeteries in the
district dating from 1826. Some of the stones record deaths as far back as 1823. Prominent early
families – Beltons, Websters, and Kernohans lie in this peaceful green spot. Descendants of the
Grove Community Pioneers restored this cemetery some years ago.
4 . Oakland Cemetery (Proudfoot Cemetery). Oxford Street - west of Beaverbrook Now closed.
5 . Other interesting cemeteries. Medway Cemetery, Lot 16, 9th Concession, London Township; the
Pond Mills Cemetery, Westminster Township; St. John's Cemetery, Arva, at the Anglican Church.

One of the most significant cemeteries is Siloam Cemetery on Fanshawe Park Road. Here are buried
George Loveless and Thomas Stanfield. These two men along with James Brine (buried at St. Mary's,
Ontario), James Loveless (section B, Mount Pleasant Cemetery) and John Stanfield (Section N,
Mount Pleasant Cemetery) are our Tolpuddle Martyrs. They were arrested on February 24, 1834
for organizing in Tolpuddle, Dorsetshire, England a union of farm labourers. They were pardoned in
1837. In 1844 all but James Hammett migrated to this district. He chose to remain in Tolpuddle,
England. The Ontario Government has erected in Siloam Cemetery a plaque mentioning the names
of all six martyrs.
Also of regional interest and well worth a visit are: (1) Tyrconnel Cemetery, where Colonel Thomas
Talbot lies at rest after his busy life; (2) St. Thomas' Church, St. Thomas; (3) Old St. Paul's Church,
Woodstock; and (4) St. Patrick's Roman Catholic Church in Bidulph Township, where the victims of
the Donnelly murders of 1880 are buried.

THE TOMBSTONE TOUR:
A guide to London cemeteries compiled by: Elizabeth Spicer, Patricia Dewdney, Diny Bentley, with
assistance from E.M. Roddick. Revised April 1985 by: Glen Curnoe, London Room Librarian.

				
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