Monday, August 29, 2016

Visit to the Old Durham Pioneer Cemetery - August 2016

We had a wonderful summer afternoon spent at the Old Durham Road Pioneer Cemetery.
Mary Bryant thanked our speakers Naomi Norquay from York University and Nancy Matthews from the Grey Highlands Heritage Centre. They are in front of the new shelter/monument for the remaining stones dedicated in 2015.

The Old Durham Road Pioneer Cemetery was an active burying ground for the black settlers of the area from about 1851 to the 1880s. The lot was on the corner of Larkin Alverson's 50 acre lot. In the 1930s the headstones were removed and land ploughed for planting. In 1989, the property owners donated the land to the Township of Artemesia. The land was registered as a cemetery. The four headstones found in a rock pile to the north of the cemetery were placed in a wooden display case. Then in 2015, they were moved to the new monument.  


West Wall: James Handy -- died March 27, 1863, aged 95 years. He arrived in 1850 and lived at lot #26 south side of the Durham Road.

East wall: James M. Washington -- died February 9, 1856, aged 42 years. He and his wife, Elizabeth and their five children lived on lot #53, north side of the Durham Road, west of Priceville. They came around 1849 to this area.

East wall: Ellen Handy -- died February 11, 1856, aged 16. She lived with her grandfather and several of younger siblings. Her parents and other siblings lived next door.

West wall: Christopher Simons -- died May 15, 1854, aged 18. He was the second eldest son of Chauncery and Mehetabel Simons who lived on lot #7, south side of Durham, east of Priceville. They arrived in 1849.

The monument is oriented toward True North. The ceiling includes the surnames of known black settlers of the area. There are spaces left empty as a reminder of the missing headstones. 

The fibre-optic plugs in the walls and ceiling are symbols of the early settlers' lives and include quilt patterns and symbols of life such as banjo, shackles and maple leaf.

Click on photos to enlarge.

Photos by Janet Iles. Information from the handout prepared by Naomi Noruay, president of the Old Durham Road Pioneer Cemetery Committee. The Committee has maintained the site since 1990. A decoration service is held every September. 

The cemetery is located on the northeast corner of Durham Road B and Grey County Road 14.

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