Some quarrels don’t end with death – the Binkley Hollows 1854 Cemetery

Binkley Hallow 1854 Cemetery, Hamilton (Ont) Photo by @erskinec
Binkley Hallow 1854 Cemetery, Hamilton (Ont) Photo by @erskinec

The Binkley Hollow Cemetery is another beautiful graveyard located across the valley from the Binkley Pioneer cemetery.

In the campus archives, there is an interesting note by an unknown author that was written in the 1940s.

According to the story, Hiram Binkley had a quarrel with his family, likely the father, and he decided to start his own cemetery in 1854.

The Binkley Hollow Cemetery holds 34 monuments and overlooks the same valley and former marsh as the 1803 Binkley Cemetery.

As mentioned in an earlier posting, cold winters can pose a challenge to burying the dead, and this was also the Hiriam’s own burial.

Hiriam instructed his family to bury him facing east so he could welcome the day of resurrection and that he be sealed in cement.

Maybe he feared grave robbers or maybe he feared that his estranged relatives might want to re-bury him in the main family cemetery. Whatever the reasons, his wishes could not be followed because the winter was very cold and the cement would not set.

As far as can be determined, Hiriam still rests at peace, waiting judgement day with his side of the family.

Dying Can Be a Pickle

Binkley Hallow Graveyard, Hamilton (Ont) . Photo by @erskinec
Binkley Hallow 1854 Graveyard, Hamilton (Ont) . Photo by @erskinec

This week the Globe and Mail noted that Oct 21st was the anniversary of the death of Lord Nelson at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. Before the American Civil War embalming was rarely done and funerals had to be performed very quickly.

In the case of Lord Nelson, he died on a ship far from home and in a warm climate, what to do? There is a folktale that says they packed Lord Nelson and shipped him back to England in a keg of rum.

Unlike Lord Nelson, the challenge for some farm families was what do you do when it is the middle of winter and the ground is frozen solid?

I don’t have any local Hamilton stories, but according to one 19th century tale, when someone died in the winter, the body would be tied to a cooling board and hang in the barn until the spring thaw.

A cooling board is a panel of wood, like a wooden door, that was used to place the dead until the coffin was completed. Given the small size of 19th century homes and communities, sick beds would be needed for visitors staying over for the funeral.