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July 17, 2012

Forgotten Cemetery Found, and I've Been Vindicated!

When hubs and I started our Cemetery Walks project, I mentioned that there was a tiny cemetery on the outskirts of our town. It had 6 tombstones and was set back on a hill on an isolated road. I wanted hubs to take pictures of the stones so we could create a video of it for our Cemetery Walks on Olive Tree Genealogy YouTube Channel

Hubs didn't believe me. He insisted there was no cemetery in the location I described to him, and that I must be thinking of the small cemetery further south on the highway.

There was no confusion; I knew exactly where the cemetery was and I'd seen it many times when I first settled in this area in the early 1970s.  So I took hubs there. But it was gone. No tombstones were visible from the road. Since the spot I insisted held the stones was near a house, we didn't want to walk up and start looking around. And besides hubs was convinced I was wrong.

We argued over this cemetery for a couple of years, with me growing increasingly  frustrated that hubs thought I didn't know the difference between a much larger cemetery further south on a busy highway and the tiny 6 stone one on the hill in the country.

Last week I was vindicated! The little cemetery has been found and it even has a name - the William Wilson Pioneer Cemetery. Apparently there are only a handful of us who remember it when there were any tombstones standing, and the memories are consistent - that 40 or more years ago there were about 6 tombstones which gradually disappeared over the years.

Only one tombstone remains and it has fallen and is in pieces on the ground. What happened to the others that I remember - did they fall and are they overgrown with brush? Or were they taken in some youthful pranks? The Cemetery is in an isolated spot on the road to the local drive-in and it's possible that youngsters dared each other to run up and grab a stone.

The burial records seem to be missing and all that is known is that there were once about 23 burials, many of them members of the Wilson family but others soldiers who died on the march up the Penetanguishene Road from York (present day Toronto) to the Naval Establishment at Penetanguishene.

I'm kicking myself that I never copied the names on the stones when I first saw them, or took pictures, but then I remind myself that those were in the days before digital cameras or iPhones. Also I was a very young newly married woman making a new home and not as obsessed with genealogical preservation as I am now.

You can read more about the cemetery and some of the known burials at Forgotten Cemetery Found


Jana Last said...

Congrats on your vindication! So sad the cemetery headstones are no longer there though.

Midge Frazel said...

Have you considered that they may have been swallowed by the ground? I have a friend who un- earthed over 50 gravestones that sunk into the ground.

Lorine McGinnis Schulze said...

Yes they may have simply sunk into the ground but the town used special radar to try to find them.

bgwiehle said...

Out of curiousity, I checked the historical maps of both Tiny and Tay townships of Simcoe County at The Canadian County Altlas Digital Project ( but no cemeteries are marked. Interestingly, few landowners are named and many placenames are different from modern maps.

Devon Lee said...

So glad that the cemetery was found and the article says it will be cared for. It's the case with far too many places. But this story sounds like it will have a happy ending.

Wendy said...

It's always a worry with little family cemeteries. If no descendents are keeping watch, it's easy for them to just get lost until somebody decides to build a house or gas station and discovers a skeleton. I'm glad you won the argument.