Ian D. Thompson, U.E.- Modern Memories February 15, 2017.
There truly is no better way to get to know the makeup of a community than to study it's cemeteries.
Transcribing cemeteries and placing the data online (you can view transcription databases here) has given me rapid access to find the most basic information on each soul who found their final resting place in our community.
Typically, birth and death year are available, and sometimes (especially post-1920) full birth and death dates are available. From a genealogical perspective, having this information on a relative makes the difference between a great amount of accurate results on sites like Ancestry.ca, and completely irrelevant information.
In researching my United Empire Loyalist ancestors, cemetery transcriptions were a significant help.
Some families researching their history, however, are fortunate to have ancestors who thought for the future (or at least wished to acknowledge the memory of their deceased relative in as comprehensive a way as possible) and inscribed how and when their deceased relative died.
One of the best examples of this is in the St. Paul's Anglican Cemetery on Argyle St. N., in Caledonia.
"William Bell died July 30, 1847 aged 40 years and his wife Ann aged 42 years who perished in her fruitless efforts to save her children and grandchildren from the flames Dec. 3, 1853. Also their son William died Dec 7, 1853 from injuries received at the same time aged 12 years & 1 month. Anna Eliza died 1 year & 7 months & 5 days, her infant sister age 20 days. Children of Wm. & Eliza McAndrew who unhappily met with an untimely end in the burning of their father's home in Woodstock Dec 3, 1853."
The descendants of William & Ann Bell and of the McAndrew family, despite the tragic history, have enough information from this transcription to check newspaper archives from this period to get a better idea of the terrible event which surely impacted their ancestors lives in a devastating way. It's more information than most people would ever find out about their family in the 19th century.
The Caledonia Public Cemetery is the resting place, or memorial location, for many fallen soldiers from the First and Second World War. Browsing the transcriptions show the dedication of Caledonian's to King & Country. Most Veteran monuments for those who died in service within our Cemeteries reveal the place and battle during which the men fell- a great resource for those researching the military history of their families.
So if you're researching your family history, don't underestimate the value of looking up your ancestor using the cemetery databases on the Caledonia Archive- it's a great free resource.
If you know the cemetery where your ancestor is buried, choose that cemetery here: Click Here, then type their first and last name in the search bar.
If you're not sure of the cemetery, but know they were buried in Caledonia: click here, then type their first and last name in the search bar.
If you're not sure of the cemetery, but know they were buried in Haldimand County: click here, then type their first and last name in the search bar.- this page needs a few minutes to load, it's a big database!
If you're not sure of their first and last name, try typing what you do know- (nicknames, death or birth year, maiden name, etc. will all bring up results). Happy searching.
Next week- I'll take you on a tour of the Caledonia Mill.