For today’s blog, I’m featuring something completely new and unique. My grandfather, Lloyd Robinson, spent a great deal of time researching and tracking down burial sites in Annapolis County, Nova Scotia. I find this quite fascinating, and I wish that there were more people like him who took an interest in uncovering historical sites that would otherwise be lost. This blog contains the article that he wrote about the experience (and it may or may not have been copyedited by me). I hope you enjoy!
Burial Sites in Annapolis County, Non-Active and for the Most Part Forgotten
In 2009, a friend of mine related to me that he had found a grave site in the woods, well off the road, and that someone had provided minimal maintence for it. I was curious enough, and having some knowledge of the area, I went looking for the site. My wife and I found the site on Christmas Day, 2009.
Having found the first non-active burial site, my curiosity took over. For starters, I used a listing compiled by Dr. A. Marble during the period of 1966-1972. The listing has a total of 126 sites with detail recorded on each marker surveyed: the name, date of birth, etc. While all the active sites were included, many of the non-active ones were missed.
My objective was to account for as many non-active sites I could find in Annapolis County and most importantly of all, to document their location. Marble’s records give very little as to the location of each site, especially the non-active ones. For example, there is a non-active site recorded as being on the Morse Road. The Morse Road goes from Highway 201 at Carleton Corner to the West Dalhousie Road, which is a distance of 14 Km.
Civic numbers were not in place when Marble did his survey, so this would account to some degree for the lack of location detail.
Another group, the ” Annapolis Ventures,” undertook a similar project with the benefit of civic numbers. They did an excellent job, but shortage of funding limited their efforts.
By starting with Marble’s record of burial sites that had the smallest number of grave markers recorded, I got underway. I worked on the assumption these would be non-active sites.
The expulsion of the Acadians took place in 1755. The Planters started to arrive in Annapolis County in the 1760s followed by the Loyalists. The non-active site grave markers were almost all dated during the 1800s, with a few dated in the last part of the 1700s and a few in the early 1900s Basically the time frame of the non-active grave markers I found was the 1800s.
The non-active sites were for the most part one or two or very few markers. They were often a family burial plot on the family’s own property, or because of 1800s travel restrictions, communal burial sites were found in some rural communities.
In total I found 66 non-active burial sites and used the same format to document each site. I used all the available landmarks, and perhaps most significant of all was a G.P.S. fix.
With my documentation I rated each location on a scale from “0” to “10”: “0” portraying that no maintenance had been done whatsoever. On review of the 66 sites, I rated 32 as having no maintenance at all. These were very hard to find, with markers barely visible above the level of the bushes or the stone actually found lying flat on the ground.
The other end of the scale is where the property owner has gone to great lengths to landscape and preserve the site. One new property owner had put in in a great deal of effort to restore the location. He contacted the original owners to view his efforts but they were not interested. Fortunately this was an isolated case.
I found too that there have been cases where the property has changed hands. The burial site had no significance to the new owner so the grave stones were broken up and deposited on the property line.
I have documented 66 sites and I am sure there are more here in Annopolis County. They’re all very interesting with stories that most likely will never be known.
A few examples:
1) There was one burial marker in a cow pasture, with cows present .
2) A small pillar-type stone in bushes along the edge of a field. One side of the stone
details of the father, another side shows details of the mother. The third side gives
details of their only child; a two year old daughter. Her epitaph reads:
“Budded on Earth to Bloom In Heaven”
3) One location with 32 documented burials but only one marker. I had trouble finding
the marker but eventually noticed a rock that I thought was too precise to be a rock.
The rock turned out to be the base of the marker I was looking for. The grave marker
was flat on the ground covered with leaves, twigs, and the like.
4) I found non-active site with names I have never heard; “Halfyard” is one I have in
mind. Curious names such as these lead me to wonder about where these people
came from, what they did, and where they went within their lifetimes.
The non-active sites noted in Annapolis County have been in place for over 100 years and I am sure the same exists in other Counties. What will ever happen to the ones still in existence? No doubt they will gradually disappear and eventually be forgotten. Cremation will become a major factor. In 2012 63% of the disposal of remains was by cremation. Ashes are distributed and recorded in many different ways.
It is interesting to consider the implications this will have on our burial customs, and how graves in the future will be marked and remembered.
Round Hill, N.S.
February 8, 2014