Hamilton Graves speak to Us

Jane Ann who died on Feb 23, 1848 at the age of 3 years, Binkley Pioneer Cemetery, Hamilton (Ont). Photo by @erskinec
Jane Ann who died on Feb 23, 1848 at the age of 3 years, Binkley Pioneer Cemetery, Hamilton (Ont). Photo by @erskinec

A grave is a statement about place and family. A grave say that we have roots in this landscape and these are the people who care about me, both in life and in death.

For Hamilton pioneers, the farm cemetery was a physical expression of those values.

In the Binkley 1805 Cemetery, there is statement about a young girl named Jane Ann, who briefly lived and then died on Feb 23, 1848. On the tombstone her family wrote:

“This lovely child, so young and fair,
Called home early by death,
She came to sleep like a flower,
In Paradise the last hour.”

Death Comes Early in 19th Century Hamilton

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

In the early years of Hamilton, death was common and could come at any time.

Reverend John Miller took charge of Ancaster Church on August 8th, 1830 and kept a parish record from 1830 to 1838.
Scanning his entries, it is easy to discover how the young often had very short lives.

On May 22nd, 1831 Rev. Miller buried 6th month old Elias, the son of Andrew Todd and Sarah Ann Kirby.

David, son of Thomas and Margaret was born on Aug 27, 1830. Rev. Miller baptized David on Sept 20th, 1830, but one year later he was buried on Sept 23rd, 1831.

There is one story from the 1794 Annville, Pennsylvania tells how 150 on horseback and in carriages followed a young father riding a horse and cradling a small coffin in his arms

Locally, there was the story of William Notman who would a have a successful career in Canada politics.

William was born in Scotland (1805) and then moved to Dundas in 1821. In 1827, he setup a law practice in Ancaster and started to raise a family.

On Dec 11th, 1832 William’s wife, Maria, gave birth to a daughter named Maria. The baby was baptized by Rev. Miller on Dec 15th; on the same day that Rev. Miller buried Mrs Maria Notman, aged 28.

Rev. Miller noted that 250 people attended the service that Sunday.

One month later, William Notman’s 2nd daughter, Emily who was dead. Emily died on Jan 11th, 1833 at the age of two.