Ian D. Thompson, U.E.- Modern Memories: February 8, 2017
A small and peaceful cemetery exists at the site of the former Village of Indiana. It's actually all that remains (apart from Ruthven Mansion) of this once bustling industrial spot on the Grand River.
The St. Rose of Lima Roman Catholic Church was built on the property in the 1840s with the coming of the workmen who had been hired to build the Lock and Dam at Indiana for the Grand River Navigation Company. In this cemetery rests a contingent near-entirely made up of Irish settlers who worked on the construction of the Navigation system. Due to accidents, and of course the natural progression of life, a Cemetery eventually surrounded the Church.
I had transcribed 40 monuments during my visit to this cemetery in 2014, with the realization that there were likely upwards of 30-40 additional grave-sites either unmarked or with missing or dilapidated stones. Of these 40, the earliest burial is in 1841, with the latest in 1860. It seems that around the time of the last burial (in the early 1860s) the Church, and much of the Village itself disappeared as the Navigation system declined and it's workers moved on (often with their houses built on stilts) where they could more easily find work to support their families.
Though the disappearance of Indiana is an interesting topic it is outside of my expertise, and so will have to wait for a future post when I have more research on the topic accomplished. For now, we'll look at some interesting discoveries during transcription of the St. Rose of Lima Cemetery.
Transcribing cemeteries isn't exactly the most appealing part of my research. It often left me in a slightly depressed mood, but only in transcribing the St. Rose Cemetery did it give me a slight chill.
Two transcriptions within this cemetery stood out among the rest because of a poetic verse etched into the monuments of Martin Healy and Patrick Dwan:
"Remember friends as you pass by As you are now, so once was I As I am now, you soon will be Prepare for death and follow me."
"Remember me as you pass by, As you are now so once was I. As I am now, so you will be. Therefore kneel down and pray for me."
As a Roman Catholic myself I am familiar with R.I.P (Requiter in Pace- Rest in Peace) and and S.T.T.L. (Sit tibi terra levis- May the earth rest lightly on thee) which reflect on the person who has died, but I had never come across an epitaph which made clear the inevitability of the reader's own death.
From performing a quick Google search it turns out that variations of these verses are found on Irish graves around the world. It was an Irishman's way to keep his living family attending Mass regularly.
Though my background is English and German, reading these epitaphs more than a century after they were inscribed, they still had their desired effect- I was straight to Church the following Sunday.
One final post on cemeteries next Wednesday.
For full transcriptions of this cemetery, click here.
For information on the cemetery conservation, click here.- External link to Ruthven website.