First Church Graveyard in Hamilton

First Methodist Church within today's landscape

First Methodist Church within today’s landscape

As the early Hamilton pioneers became more established and more in numbers, they started to build churches.

The first church to be built in Hamilton was the First Methodist in 1824. One acre of land was purchased from Robert Land in 1823 for 5 pounds. The boundaries of the property being King Street to the North, Main Street to the South, and Wellington Street to the West. The Church was located in the center of this piece of land with the entrance facing north, as best I can tell from early maps.

The Church had a small cemetery which held the graves of many leading Hamilton settlers like Richard Springer and Peter Ferguson.

According to Catherine Paterson’s 2013 PH.D., thesis; many early Niagara cemeteries would accept those outside the congregation when the person died suddenly.

There is one story about a family that was travelling by ship during the 1832 cholera outbreak. A young girl of about 10 years old had died and the local there was pressure to bury her in the mass graves on the Burlington Heights. For some reason, the family’s situation moved the congregation of the First Methodist and she was allowed to be buried in the church’s cemetery.

In 1924, a plaque was dedicated to the church pioneers and also supports the existence of a church cemetery.

“1824-1924 Our Pioneers. Erected to the memory of Richard Springer, founder of Methodism in Hamilton, Charles Depew, John Aikman, Peter Ferguson, John Eaton, trustees of the original church on this site; also to the brave pioneers who worshipped here, many of whom were buried in the churchyard.”

In 1925, the church became the First United Church with the union of Presbyterians, Methodists, and Congregationalists.

By middle years of 19th century, the original building had been replaced with a brick structure. After several expansions, the huge building was destroyed by fire in the 1980s. The congregation decided not to rebuild the structure and this allow the building of First Place.

At the time of writing this posting, it is unclear what happen to the graveyard. I am under the impression that the graves were relocated to the Hamilton Cemetery.

This is the last picture post on cemetery landscapes until the New Year. I will start posting holiday seasonal photos from around Hamilton, starting this Thursday.

About Chris Erskine

Visual Artist and independent film-maker. Try to post summaries of my artistic activities once per month. View all posts by Chris Erskine

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