Cleaning, Catalouging, and Researching

Hi, everyone!

Today was another exciting day here at Woodland. My teammates and I were slightly worried during the weekend that it might rain today, but it turned out to be a beautiful sunny day (at least till 5 PM, which is when we leave). So it was a great day for us!

Every Monday morning, we, monument conservators – Peter, Alyssa, MacKenzie and I – have a meeting with Levi, the archivist, to discuss the works that have been done as well as that needs to be done. While the meetings are not very long (it takes about thirty minutes), it provides us a very important guideline to what we should be doing. Today was no exception. If you recall from previous blogs, we often tend to take research days when it rains because not much can be done outside. From today’s meeting, we decided that we will need to go research tomorrow regardless of the weather because there are many things we have to get done. We also finalized who will be part of our documentary type video and our walking tours. It was an exciting moment for me to finalize that the Lee family I have been researching about will be part of both the video and the walking tour!

The rest of the day mostly consisted of cleaning monuments and cataloguing. While I would love to talk about the steps of cleaning and cataloguing again, I will not so I don’t reiterate the information you already are aware of. (If you are not, you should check out previous blogs from my teammates!) However, we decided to do something little different at the end of the day.

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Thanks to Levi, we were able to go around the cemetery and locate the possible monuments of the people we are including in our walking tour. After locating the them, we took pictures of the monuments so that we can do little more research on them tomorrow. There are often more than one monument that belongs to different persons with the same name. We will cross reference several materials to make sure that these stones belong to the people we want to talk about.

At the Western Archives tomorrow, we are planning on looking through more documents and photos. In fact, we are quite excited to look through the city directories! I think it will reveal more exciting information that we didn’t know before. Anyway, I am sure MacKenzie will report on our interesting finds tomorrow. In the meantime, don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for the updates on our project!

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Friday plans rained out

Hello again!

The initial plan for the day was to visit St Paul’s Cathedral downtown again, but due to unforeseen circumstances (including today’s dismal weather), we had to re-evaluate our plan this morning. While we did manage to get the rest of the stones out of the ground earlier this week, and have already cleaned the majority of them, there are still dozens to finish! We decided to continue with the cleaning process on a few stones this morning as well as continue our cataloguing of them! The cataloguing process we have been using was started because we needed a way to identify them separately from each other as they were being moved around the site during excavation. We also got our first shipment of limestone shale that the stones will be placed on! It was a very exciting morning for us!

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When we found them, the stones were placed nicely into 3 almost distinct rows. We labelled the rows as ‘A’, ‘B’, and ‘C’, and each stone received it’s own number – starting at 1 in each row and continuing as high as 57 (so for example, a stone might have the catalogue number A12, as seen below). We also decided to transcribe the stones and have begun to write down the entire legible inscription of each stone. The top left image is our initial before picture, recently uncovered with a catalog number for our records. The second image on the right is the stone after its first cleaning, with the appropriate flag still attached. And finally, the bottom image shows the transcription of the information on the stone. There is still official cataloguing to do, but this is a simple way we have used to keep track of our finds.

This afternoon, we continued our research at Western University Archives. We sorted through documents on the Lee family (as discussed in Sunny’s earlier blog post), and the Kingsmill family. I have never spent much time in the archives and this was an amazing experience for me. MacKenzie searched for marriage records pertaining to Thomas F. Kingsmill, and discovered a 19th century London scandal! We found almost a dozen marriage records in the Kingsmill fonds; however, we were unable to find either of Thomas F. Kingsmill Sr.’s official marriage records. We did find his will, and many documented histories of the Kingsmill family. I am not a London native, but through the last few weeks at the cemetery, researching the history of some of the more prominent families here, I have been learning about the importance of the Kingsmill family in London over the last 150 years. Thomas Kingsmill Sr. emigrated to first the United States, and then Canada from Ireland over a century ago. A man with few prospects, he built his own fortune, which lead to the establishment of the Kingsmill Department Store.

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Sunny found a mourning card for Hiram Lee! She also managed to find the document stating Hiram Lee’s purchase of the plot at Woodland Cemetery, which he purchased for $16 at the time. It is sometimes amazing how much you can find out about someone who may seem so lost to history.

Thanks for reading!

Research Days at Woodland

Good afternoon everyone,

It’s raining in London today, and as much as our team enjoys playing in the mud, we also have some research to be done as we finalize our various tours and videos. For the sake of convenience, we schedule visits to Western University and the London Public Library on such days. On such days we work to uncover more information on the history of our findings in addition to researching several other names interned at Woodland.

We use days like this to pour over old census, marriage, death records, and basically anything else we can get our hands on. We use this information to piece together stories of life in Confederation Era London, to be used for our tour bookings and for any mobile tour presentations we will offer this summer. Mackenzie Microfilm

Occasionally, when looking for more details on a certain person or event, or when something merely piques our curiosity, we turn to old newspapers. This was the case today, when we were searching for more information on a certain Thomas Francis. Francis had been a stone cutter in London around the time of Confederation. Our attention was brought to him by a local historian, Catherine McEwen, who asked we keep an eye out for any further gravestones bearing his signature.

The interest around Mr. Francis was because in addition to being responsible for carving gravestones for many of the city’s deceased, his story also had a dark and grisly ending. Using the information provided to us by Ms. McEwen, and an article from the London Free Press, we were able to piece together his tale.

Born in Ireland, Francis emigrated to Canada at an unknown date, living in Nova Scotia with his wife and several children. Some time around 1842, his family moved to London Ontario, where he worked as a stone and marble cutter. Following the death of his first wife, Francis remarried to a women 20 years his junior, in what was described as an unhappy marriage. After he suffered a stroke, rendering him unable to work as a stone carver, he opened the Ivy Green Hotel in 1861, but the marriage continued to falter due to Francis’ jealous attitude and hot temper. His wife successfully separated with him in 1866, purchasing the hotel he had since put up for sale and running it with her family. Throughout this time period, Francis tried desperately to reconcile with his former wife. On September 24th, 1867, he brought a pistol with him to the hotel, and attempted to shoot her when she refused to take him back once again. Due to the scuffle that ensued, his shot missed, allowing his former wife to escape. Thomas Francis was later found dead inside the hotel, having shot himself in the head.

According to our records at the cemetery, Francis is buried somewhere at Woodland in a single grave. However, the records do not indicate exactly where, nor do they indicate whether his headstone was also transferred here. Despite this, Francis remains an excellent example of the kinds of stories our headstones at Woodland are capable of telling.

Anyone interested in hearing more on life in London during Confederation is encouraged to come on one of the tours we are offering on Saturday June 24th, at 1 and 3 PM.

As always, follow our adventures on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, @woodlandcemeteryhistory!

London’s Becher Brothers

You never know what family history you might stumble upon when you’re doing historical research here at Woodland. For me, it was a distant connection, but interesting nonetheless…

The story begins with my research on the Becher family for our “They are Not Here” tour, about London soldiers from the First World War who are memorialized at Woodland. Back in the early 20th century, “Becher” was a well known name here in London. In 1914, the family was headed by Henry Becher and Katherine Becher, who lived at the Thornwood Estate at 329 St. George Street (which is still there today – it backs onto Gibbons Park and was built in 1852!)

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Henry’s father, Henry C. R. Becher (Sr.), had emigrated here from England in 1835, maintaining several interesting literary and military connections both back home and in his new country. Through the years, Thornwood was host to some of the most important figures to visit London, including Sir John A. MacDonald, Robert Borden, and Winston Churchill.

For our WWI tour, it was the original Henry C. R. Becher’s grandsons that interested me – the 3 children of Henry and Katherine. The eldest was named Henry Campbell Becher, followed by the middle son Alexander Lorne Becher, and the youngest, Archibald Valency Becher. They were all born in the mid/late 1870s, which, unfortunately, made them the perfect age for enlistment by the time WWI was declared. Though Alexander had been by most accounts a sickly child and wasn’t able to enlist, Henry was one of the first men in London to do so.

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(Caption: the Becher brothers)

Prior to his enlistment, Henry had been a well-liked figure in London society. Though he never married, he continued his father’s legacy by studying law and opening a stock brokerage business. Personal documents and memoirs tell us that he loved sports, horses, nature, acting (he starred in many amateur productions!) and his family. Henry enlisted almost immediately after the declaration of war, and was appointed a high position in Canada’s 1st Battalion. He may have been following the example set by his younger brother Archibald, who had served in the Boer War in South Africa prior.

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(Caption: Henry Campbell Becher)

During his service, Henry was revered as an excellent leader, both among his troops and in the newspapers in London. He officially achieved a hero’s status when he was killed in action on June 15, 1915 – rather early in the war. He was leading his men into battle, and knew the danger he was getting into when he stepped over the parapet, saying “No man can live in that fire, but I’ll go” (London Free Press). As he went over the top, a bomb detonated, shattering his legs. He was rescued by a field ambulance, but was shot in the neck by a German sniper during transport. Despite these horrific injuries, his fellow soldiers reported that Henry was cheerful until the very end, surviving several hours into the night. He was buried in France the next morning. A memorial service was held in St. Paul’s Cathedral, filling it to standing room only, which was a testament to his character.

The Becher family was heartbroken at the news of Henry’s loss; especially, I believe, Archibald, who was a practicing physician in London at the time. When you take into account his family life and his high standing in London, it becomes clear that his grief over his elder brother’s death may have been a deciding factor in his own enlistment.

“Archie” had attended the University of Western Ontario, graduating with a medical degree. He interrupted his studies to enlist in the Boer War at the turn of the century, a point of pride for his family and other Londoners. When he returned to London, he served as an Alderman on London’s City Council and served as one of London’s coroners. He married Flora Wilson (nicknamed “Toppy”) in 1902, and had a son named John in 1913, which may explain why he did not enlist as early as his brother did. Or, perhaps he was disillusioned with the concept of war after his time in South Africa – we will never know.

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(Caption: Archibald Becher)

It was only after Henry was KIA that Archibald decided to offer his services as a surgeon. He enlisted late in 1915, signing his own enlistment papers as a doctor to confirm that he was fit for active service. This may in fact have been his downfall. He proceeded to a Quebec military hospital for training, but contracted double pneumonia not a month later. Fortunately, his wife and his mother Katherine were able to travel down to Quebec to say their goodbyes. Archie died on Christmas Day, 1915, leaving behind a two-year-old son and (likely unbeknownst to him) another son (his namesake) on the way. Since he was still in Canada, he was able to be transported back to London for burial in Woodland Cemetery, with full military honours and hundreds in attendance.

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(Caption: Archie with his young family)

Losing two sons in one year was a hugely tragic blow for the Becher family, especially, perhaps, their mother Katherine who continued to live at Thornwood. The family plot at Woodland Cemetery commemorates each of the Bechers with love, including beautiful stones and the inclusion of nicknames.

Knowing the story of this family made it all the more meaningful for me to discover that we are distantly related. My grandfather handed down all of his genealogical research to me, and it turns out that we and the Bechers have a notable cousin in common: the British author William Makepeace Thackeray, who wrote the novel Vanity Fair. Though I’m not sure if our families were ever closely connected back in England, knowing that my family tree has such as remarkable branch, local to London no less, makes my own historical footprint more interesting.

– Levi

(If you want to know more, check out our “They Are Not Here” documentary: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W_I_MkdaPN8 )

 

Time Management and Hard Decisions

Hello all,

Since yesterday was the holiday Monday, we haven’t achieved as much as we would usually have by this point of the week. Today was mostly characterised by planning, what are the next steps for both the St. Andrews cemetery project and a few other side projects that we have on the side. One of the most difficult aspects of this position is juggling the multiple projects that we have been assigned. The major two are first recovering and restoring the stones from St. Andrews Cemetery, and then we are also in the process of developing a Canada 150 Walking Tour. Today involved planning the route we want to take for the tour, the stories we want to include, and what we thought would interest the public the most. However, we also have multiple other smaller ‘projects’ that take up some of our time. For instance, we have been asked to return to St. Pauls Cathedral and continue to discover what treasures lie under their grounds. We are also creating a video log of our experiences, with the hope to turn the tapes into a documentary towards the end of the summer. For now, all of these projects pile on top of one another in the race to the Canada 150 celebrations on July 1st. It is turning out to be a fun exercise of a skill that we have been honing the past four years in University; Time Management.

Another very important decision was discussed today; what will we do with the stones that we have found from the old St. Andrews Cemetery. Several options have been thrown around; stand them upright using keys (cement blocks with slots in the centre where the memorial is placed), laying them on a bed of limestone filler, moving them to rest where the large monument honouring all the individuals who were moved to Woodland in 1955 stands today, etc. Of course, with each option comes a number of logistical issues. Standing all 143(ish) stones upright would take ages, as only a limited amount of keys can be made during each week. Further, a number of the stones were broken very close to the inscriptions when they were moved in 1955, so to place them in keys we would lose a valuable part of the stone. Moving them to the Scottish Memorial is what my team would love to do in a perfect world. However, this option would also take significant time and effort, and there may be a greater chance of the stones being damaged, having to move them such a great distance. The third option is to leave them where they are, but lay them on a bed of limestone filler. The limestone will allow for water to run off the stones, and not be as damaged during the winter freezes. The issue with this option is that it is a temporary fix, in 10-15 years the monuments will once again begin to sink into the ground.

To be frank, there is no perfect option. No matter what we do, it will always be a temporary fix. If we place all of the stones upright, they were still sink into the ground. What we are hoping to do is a combination of the three. The team would like to place a small number of the stones upright and stand them around the Scottish Memorial. These would be the stones that have writing on both sides, as we do not wish to choose whose name deserves to be displayed. Others would be stones we have done significant research on or ones that we have a particular attachment too. The rest we are hoping to lie on a bed of limestone, on a slant, where we originally found them two weeks ago. The slant will allow water to run off the stones. The limestone will almost be shaped like a triangle, and the stones will be in two rows on either side. This will allow visitors to read the writing without having to step closer (and potentially on the stones themselves).

While this is an option, it is still not confirmed. We still have a lot of work to do on the cleaning of the stones before we can figure out how we want to place them after the work is completed. Hopefully, by the end of this week, we will have a firmer idea of what we hope to do! Have a fantastic day, and don’t forget to follow our social media platforms to get regular updates on the work that we have going on. In particular, the Instagram is run by the amazing Alyssa, and there are some very interesting photos there.

– MacKenzie

Instagram: @woodlandcemeteryhistory

 

Field Trip to St Paul’s Cathedral

Hi everyone! Another Friday has rolled around. I think our team likes Fridays here at Woodland, not because it’s the last day before the weekend, but because by this point in the week we have gotten into the swing of things and don’t have to contemplate what to do today, we have already decided and planned the day before or earlier in the week. For example, today we continued with our cleaning of the stones since we had started the process yesterday.

Yesterday was our “field trip” to St Paul’s Cathedral in downtown London. The Parish Council asked us to come for a visit to do some preliminary probing on the front lawn since they suspected that many monuments were sitting under the surface, unseen. When we arrived, we quickly determined the most likely areas for the stones to be and began to check the area for stones under the ground.

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Since St Paul’s is located in a heavily trafficked area of downtown, we had to be particularly careful with our excavation of the stones. We couldn’t make a mess of the front lawn, and we couldn’t really do significant lifting of the stones (since we didn’t have the machinery or tools we usually use for heavy lifting). We began along one of the fences where we saw 3 stones in a row. We assumed that stones continued along the row with the same spacing between them and this turned out to be correct!

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As MacKenzie probed for stones along the line, Sunny followed along, and the two worked as a team to determine the edges of the stones so we could begin to dig and uncover them. As Peter mentioned in his post, he and Joey were working on digging to what we initially thought was a stone, but turned out to be a cluster of tightly packed rocks. Once we determined the mistake, we began to work as a team to uncover the flagged section. As we dug up a couple of the stones and were able to read them, we learned that we may have stumbled across a children’s section of stones. Very sad, but in the mid-nineteenth century, it was not uncommon for children to pass away before their first or second birthday.

The overall process of extracting the stones from the earth was largely the same as we do at Woodland, but many of the stones we worked on at St Paul’s were much smaller. And since we were only there for a few hours, we didn’t have time to clean them, only enough supplies and time for a quick brushing.

We had a few curious visitors while we were working, who were keen to ask us about our work and plans for the stones (at this point, we have no plans for the stones at St Paul’s). It’s always exciting to meet people interested in our work and tell them about our major project at Woodland. Hopefully we will convince a lot of people to come out to our tour on June 24th!

That’s all for this week, have a wonderful long weekend!

The Excavation Process

Good evening everyone,

Since we’re coming to the end of the excavation process at Woodland for the stones of the Scottish cemetery, I’m devoting tonight’s post to detailing the steps we go through when removing artifacts from where they’re originally found.

Generally, our excavation begins with preliminary probing, of the dig site. For this, we simply insert long metal rods into the ground, and listen for any contact it makes. A keen listener can tell the difference between striking metal, stone, or wood with a probe. After establishing that something is below the ground, we work to get an idea of the objects dimensions by probing further out in four different directions until we no longer make contact with the object. After this step, we know exactly how deep the object is. Measuring the objects dimensions allows us to break ground with shovels without fear of damaging the artifact. Although the stones of the Scottish cemetery were only buried several inches below the earth, we have probes capable of digging 4-5 feet into the ground if necessary. While probing is extremely useful for us, it is not infallible. Today, our team spent a significant portion of time digging to what we suspected may have been a gravestone several feet below the earth, only to discover we had struck a tightly packed grouping of rocks instead. All part of the job!

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After probing is complete, we dig to the depth of our target. If we’re lucky, the object can be reached relatively easily merely by ripping out the top soil. If we’re not, we have to dig into the earth with conventional tools, and then travel down the last several inches with small wooden tools we utilize to avoid damaging an artifact should we make contact with it. The gravestones we have uncovered are largely sandstone, marble, or granite, and in various states of preservation. While a steel trowel can do significant damage to such stones, a blunt wooden tool is much less likely to do so.

As we uncovered the entirety of the Scottish cemetery, the sheer size of the gravestones astounded us. While we found many foot stones and children’s stones, which generally are smaller, the majority of the stones proved too much for our team of four to lift safely. Fearing for both our own health and the safety of the stones, it was time to bring the heavy machinery in. For the past two days we’ve been utilizing a backhoe to do the majority of the lifting for us, although it has taken some adaptation on our part. Despite having the backhoe at our disposal, we still had no way of safely sliding straps under the gravestones to allow us to lift them without causing scratches. At this point one of our safe members suggest we utilize the power of the digger to pry them up as well. Swiftly putting together a makeshift fulcrum, we utilized the backhoe to push down on a pry bar which allowed us to strap the underside of each gravestone before moving it off the ground.

Excavation day 2

While several stones still remain to be done tomorrow, the vast majority have now been removed from the dirt and will soon undergo restoration and reparation, which warrants another full length blog post for another day. As for today, I am happy to announce that, except for encountering a very angry colony of fire ants, the extraction process went off without a hitch.

That’s all for tonight, take care everyone!

Potter’s Fields and Forgotten Souls

Today I want to do my “historian” blog post on something a bit out of our historical perspective – Potter’s fields, and the ones that used to exist in London.

I first came across the existence of Potter’s fields while I was doing research about Old St. Paul’s Cemetery. The term comes from the Bible, referring to a ground where clay was dug for pottery, later bought by the high priests of Jerusalem for the burial of strangers, criminals and the poor. Also known as “Pauper’s Grave” “Poor Ground” or “Free Ground,” Potter’s fields are commonly known as areas where those who could not afford to buy a grave would be buried (sometimes called the “friendless poor”). However, if you look a little closer, they can sometimes have a darker side. Back in the Victoria era, there were certain people that the Church did not believe should be buried on consecrated ground (criminals, prostitutes, unwed mothers and “bastard” children, those who had committed suicide, etc.), and these people often ended up in the Potter’s field sections of cemeteries as well. In fact, the phrase is still used as a metaphor for a place of abandonment and dishonour.

When St. Paul’s Cemetery was located out where the Western Fair is now, it had regular plots and an area dedicated to Potter’s field burials. (There was also one out on Hamilton Road, but perhaps that is a story for another day). All of these burials were moved to Woodland with the rest of them when we opened in 1879 (it took about 6 years to do all of the removals!). These burials, luckily, were included in the St. Paul’s records, and like all other burials they list the deceased’s name (if known), and their profession (if they had one). In the absence if this information, a cause of death or a fact about the deceased was often listed. This is why these records caught my attention when I stumbled across them.

Here are some examples:

May 28, 1870 – (?) A deaf-mute, name and age unknown

June 21, 1879 – Hezekiah Nelson – Committed Suicide in Gaol

January 27, 1873 – Elizabeth C. Walters – 24 years old – from the Asylum

August 16, 1872 – Julia Johnson – 6 weeks old – Illegitimate Child

September 16, 1872 – John Howsley – Infant Deserted

January 20, 1860 – Martha Stewart – a Fugitive Slave

January 2, 1862 – Indian (found dead)

May 10, 1855 – Stillborn Child of a Destitute Woman (Husband in Australia)

December 4, 1867 – Emma Wilson – Name and Age Unknown – Committed                            Suicide from Brothel

The St. Paul’s Potter’s field was also responsible for all of the burials from the London Asylum and the City Jail. To me, these people’s stories are just as important as any of the notable Londoner’s that we include on our tours. For that reason, I set out to the library to find some record of them to be able to tell their stories. What I found, though unsurprising, still troubles me: these cemetery records are the only trace of these people that still exists. They are not on the census records, most of the time. They have no grave markers. They are not in the newspapers (unless they were a convicted criminal). They have left no trace of themselves other than a name in a brash record of Potter’s field burials. Some of them do not even have names, meaning, usually, that they had no families to provide them. Their graves remain unmarked.

Even if they were not respected in the culture and moment in which they lived, these people lived lives often just as interesting as London’s  rich and famous. Yet, theirs are not the stories that we are expected to want to uncover, not the deaths that we are expected to mourn. They are effectively lost to history – remembered with pride by no one. This suggests something deeply profound to me about the way that we need to commemorate and memorialize our dead today. What does it say about our society, who we value, who has earned their place in “history”? Is our history truly complete if it only speaks of those deemed worthy by cultural standards? Would I have been buried in a Potter’s field had I lived in the 1860s?

Would you have?

 

– Levi

Rainy Tuesdays and Group Dynamics

One of the most inconvenient aspects of working outdoors is the inevitable occurrence when Mother Nature decides to pour her eyes out. Today the original plan was to begin the process of moving all of the monuments out of the dirt. The point of this is to dry the stone as well as to get it away from any pooling water so that we could begin the cleaning process. Unfortunately, with the rain, the front-end loader that was going to help us lift the stones was unable to make it over the muddy grounds. Plan B would be to clean the stones, but the biodegradable cleaning solution we use – D2 – was empty and we are waiting for another shipment to come in from the USA. Therefore, the four of us went immediately to our plan C…research day! We tried to have a half research day last Friday, but it went downhill when we realized that the London Room had been closed for renovations. We thought we should try again and thankfully, the second time it was open. The London Room has a vast amount of sources that are perfect for individuals who are interested in researching their genealogy. Of interest for us is their collection of documents from cemeteries, of which St. Andrew’s is included. The book on St. Andrew’s was compiled by a historian by the name of Leslie Grey and allows us to have a complete list on all of the stones that were moved from St. Andrews to Woodland in 1955. It gives us a preliminary view into the lives that we could be spending the summer researching. Another resource the library allows us to access is Ancestry.ca and for free. Ancestry is basically a one-stop shop for all the basic documents we need to get a good idea of the lives that our individuals led.

Another aspect of the job that I thought would be interesting to touch on this week is the team dynamic of the group. I was very lucky that the other individuals who were hired to work at Woodland this summer were all people that I know from University. We all have taken similar classes and traveled in the same social circles during the last school term. While I did not know them extremely well prior to the first day of work, this is definitely the perfect chance to strengthen those relationships. Also, every day that we have worked together, so far, has been filled with laughter. We tease, we gossip, we are all passionate about our work and it definitely helps that we have a lot in common. It is always interesting when another Woodland staff member comes and works with us for a while because they always look a bit confused by our relationship. However, they always catch on quick and join in on the fun. I should stress that even though we are having a lot of fun together, we also work quite hard and the fact that we are friends doesn’t stop us from working hard. I think the summer will only bring us close together.

Great Start to the Week!

Hello everyone, happy Monday!

As Alyssa mentioned in our last blog, we had one crazy week last week! Today, I honestly went to work thinking that it would not be as fun as last week. I mean think about it, we made our big discovery, several news stations came to interview us, and last but not least, learned a lot about restoring gravestones. But I was once again wrong! It was just as exciting as, if not more exciting than, last week.

First of all, there were a number of people who visited our work site. Few people were just dropping by, wondering what we were doing while they were taking a walk in the cemetery. And there were others who came specifically to see us! They would often exclaim, “I saw you guys on the news, and I thought I had to check this out!” which would often lead to a long conversation about how amazing Woodland is for preserving history (which I completely agree, btw). It was absolutely phenomenal to see how so many people are just as excited as we are about the old Scottish cemetery. I can’t wait for us to develop the full walking tour and give everyone the details about the discovery we made!

Another thing I would like to report about: Today, we have uncovered almost all of the ones that were underground. Yay! We catalogued about 130 gravestones! We continued cleaning them (as we started cleaning few of them last week), but I presume that starting tomorrow we will spend days cleaning the stones. While the cleaning stage may sound boring to you, it is actually quite an interesting process. At least, I love the satisfaction I get from it. If you take a look at this before and after photo of one of the many gravestones, you will certainly understand my excitement. How could one not be satisfied when such progress is made? Keep in mind that this is only after preliminary cleaning, meaning that we are not done with it.

cleanThe moment when the gravestones actually start to display the original colour – my team and I are all in awe. We also love seeing the symbols on the monuments and as well as the carver’s names!

Last but not least, I would like to provide a status update on James H. Lee, the man I could not locate after the 1871 census. I found his marriage record! According to the marriage record, which you can see below, reveals that he moved to Strathroy. I was more than happy when I found this record, but at the same time, was little disappointed that he didn’t have a dramatic story behind him. Oh well, I guess not all research leads to a dramatic find – like the old Scottish cemetery.

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All in all, I am looking forward to two things at the moment. In the long term: I can’t wait to have more research done and present the site and its history to the public! And in the short term: another week at Woodland, especially the staff BBQ next week!