With no compulsory registration of Births, Deaths and Marriages before 1869, such information about early residents of an area is often difficult to obtain. Gravestones are frequently a wonderful source of such statistics, and there are over a thousand old burial grounds in Ontario. Some of these are quite large, but many consist of half a dozen graves in one of the homestead or settlement cemeteries – usually where the boundaries of several farms met. A list of the old cemeteries was compiled many years ago by the Cemeteries Branch of the provincial government. It was later given to the Ottawa branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society on the understanding it would be made available to anyone requiring access to it. Contact with the Ontario Genealogical Society will ensure the current address for the Ottawa branch should you wish to make contact with them about the existence of such a cemetery.
The major project of the Ontario Genealogical Society at the moment is a full listing of the stones in these burial grounds. The Hamilton Branch of the O.G.S. has transcribed the cemeteries in Waterdown and East Flamborough, and copies of these listings are in the possession of the Society and have been placed in the Archives at the Waterdown Library.
Unfortunately many early burial stones have now been lost or become so worn that they are almost illegible. Another source of information about early residents is sometimes found in the newspapers, whether in the day news of the area or in the obituary section. Some of these death notices, especially those that appeared in the “Christian Guardian” were very lengthy and elaborate, describing the life of the deceased in great detail. News items in contrast were often gory, sometimes pathetic and occasionally horrendous in their description of the circumstances surrounding the individual’s death.
This Heritage Paper looks at such newspaper items concerning residents of Flamborough and the surrounding townships – people who were part of the history of this area, and whose gravestones probably do not record such interesting and sometimes sad information.
‘We regret to announce the death of Mr Desjardins, who died while on a collecting tour on account of the Desjardins Canal.’ Upper Canada Gazette and United Empire Loyalist – 15 September 1827.
‘A Coroner’s Inquest was taken in Flamboro East, on the 11th inst., (11 September 1827) before John Burwell, coroner, on view of the body of John Springer, who was found dead in his own house.’ Gore Gazette – 22 September 1827.
‘At Ancaster, on Tuesday evening last, in the 75th year of her age, Mrs Crooks, Senior, widow of the late William Crooks, of Paisley, North Britain, and mother of William, James, Mathew, and John Crooks – of Grimsby, West Flamboro, Ancaster and Niagara.’Upper Canada Gazette and United Empire Loyalist – Saturday, 20 October 1827.
‘At Beverly, on the 13th inst., (13 December 1831) John Robertson aged 83 years.’Christian Guardian, Toronto – 11 January 1832.
‘On 24th January, John Morden, of Westminster. He died on his 64th birthday. He was born in Pennsylvania, of English descent, son of Ralph and Ann Morden. When a boy he was bound to the blacksmith trade; but the American Revolution shortly following in which his father fell a victim to the enemy, leaving a widow and eight children, 5 daughters and 3 sons, his mother was under the necessity of taking up his indentures, which totally deprived him of any opportunity of schooling, he being the eldest son. When about twenty years of age he moved to Canada with his mother, two brothers and four sisters. He married when about 28 years of age and brought up a family of 10 children, 8 sons and 2 daughters, besides two adopted children. He settled first in Flamboro West, later moving to Westminster. In his youth he considered himself a member of the Church of England, but in Canada he became a Methodist.’Christian Guardian, Toronto – 21 March 1832.
‘On 22nd ult., (22 July 1832) of fever, Mr and Mrs Sheed, brother and sister-in-law to the Rev. Mr Sheed, Presbyterian Minister of Ancaster.’‘On the same date, of cholera, Doct. D.M. Black of Nelson.’Christian Guardian, Toronto – 15 August 1832.
‘On Monday 12 inst., (12 December 1842) in East Flamboro, George Chisholm, aged 100 years.’Toronto Herald – 22 December 1842.
‘An inquest was held at Waterdown on Wednesday on the body of child George Hopkins, aged about 18 months, which was run over by a beer wagon.’Hamilton Express – 17 July 1843.
‘Mrs MacIntyre, wife of Mr MacIntyre, Schoolmaster of Beverly, was accidentally killed by a falling tree during the storm of Wednesday evening last.’Toronto Herald – Thursday, 8 August 1844.
‘On Wednesday last, Col. Willian Johnson Kerr, of Wellington Square; and on Friday, his wife, Elizabeth, daughter of the celebrated Chief, Captain Joseph Brant. Their funerals took place on Saturday.’Hamilton Gazette – 28 April 1845.
‘An inquest was held on Thursday evening last, on the body of a man named Thomas Kirby, a native of Ireland, who came to his death by a bank of earth falling in upon him in the vicinity of Browne’s Wharf.’‘On the same day, an inquest was held at Burlington Bay Canal on the body of Maurice Corry, a well known fisherman on our lake who was drowned in the Canal.’Hamilton Gazette – Monday, 3 August 1846.
‘An inquest was held on Monday, 7 September, in West Flamborough, on the body of Jacob Moore, who was killed the previous evening by a young colt running away with him.’Toronto Gazette – Monday, 14 September 1846.
‘On 19th inst., (19 February 1847) T. Connell, a farmer, residing in the back part of the township of Beverly, was killed on Wednesday evening last, by the falling of a tree which he and his brother were chopping down. He has left a wife and three children.’The Church, Toronto – Friday, 26 February 1847.
‘An inquest was held on Saturday night at Port Nelson, County of Halton, on the body of William Scott, who was drowned by the upsetting of a skiff on the previous Sunday. To the credit of the inhabitants of Port Nelson, about 50 dollars were at once raised for the widow, who was in Toronto.’Hamilton Gazette – Monday, 17 May 1847.
‘On Friday 1st ult., (1 September 1848) John, eldest son of Hugh McColl, having been accidentally drowned off the pier at Goderich; and on 12th ult., (12 September 1848) Hugh McColl, his father, aged 48, lately residing in Beverly.’Barrie Magnet – 6 October 1848.
Originally published in Heritage Happenings, September 1983.
© The Waterdown-East Flamborough Heritage Society 1983, 2020.
As this article was published over 30 years ago, the proper contact information for the Ontario Genealogical Society can be found via the links provided in the article.