Wesleyan Methodist (McCullough’s) Cemetery

SW Lot 21, Concession 8, Esquesing Township.
Trafalgar Road and Lindsay Court (“Old” Highway 7 also 20th Sideroad), Georgetown.
GPS 43.649°N, –79.948°W

History: The place where the original Highway 7 joined Trafalgar Road at the north-west corner of Georgetown was once a cross-road intersection known as McCullough’s Corners. The farm north-east of the intersection had been in the McCullough family for many decades. At that corner of the farm was a graveyard and there were several rumours about its origins. One of the rumours was that a Church of England had once been located there which had been in the charge of an Indian preacher named Kahkewaquonaby. Another was that it was simply a small family farm cemetery. In fact it was known in the area as McCullough’s Cemetery. A few stones could still be seen amongst the trees and the brush as late as the 1950s. The highway has since been shifted to create a sweeping curve for Highway 7’s convergence with Trafalgar Road North, and an Extendicare nursing facility built near the old corner which has been renamed to Lindsay Court, all these likely contributing to the disappearance of McCullough’s Cemetery. The cemetery and the stories about it have been forgotten by all but a few of the older residents. This is unfortunate because the stories likely contain more than a grain of truth. In fact this is likely one of the more important sites in the history of Georgetown.

When Charles Kennedy finished his survey of Esquesing and Erin Townships, he turned his attention to work to be done on his own property. He had been given several land grants but chose to settle on Lot 21, Concession 8 in Esquesing which had been designated as a mill site. Kennedy was given this land on condition that he build a sawmill within 12 months (the date then being 9 September 1819). Kennedy, originally from Gainsborough Township, had “been united with the Methodist Church in 1817” (from 1877 Atlas) and was instrumental in bringing Methodism to Esquesing. Around 1821 John Carroll was the Wesleyan minister on the western circuit and one of his stops was Kennedy’s Meeting House (Georgetown). Kennedy’s Meeting House was located at the south-west corner of Charles Kennedy’s lot, as was the first cemetery in the area.

Kennedy’s will in 1852 referred to the Wesleyan Meeting House and Burial Grounds on his property. It is certain that Kennedy and his wife were buried there. But the question arises of who exactly used it? Obviously the Wesleyans did, but were there others? Entries in St. George’s Anglican Burial Register offer a clue as there is a column in the register for “place of burial” and, in most cases, was clearly indicated. The Anglican minister appears to have performed burials for all religions. Many burials simply state the “cemetery” or the “burial grounds”, until about 1870 when the records start to indicate the “new cemetery” or the “public cemetery”. The public cemetery, now known as Greenwood, was officially opened in 1869, and the “burial grounds” were more than likely the Wesleyan burial grounds on Kennedy’s property.

Local folklore indicates that the cemetery was closed in the 1890s and the bodies removed to Greenwood. It is certain that many of the bodies and markers were moved, as Charles Kennedy and his wife now rest in Greenwood. However, some were forgotten. It is possible that only those bodies with living relatives still in the area at the time of closure were removed. As previously mentioned, stones were visible until the 1950s, and in 1963 an article in the local newspaper mentions that three stones had been found lying face down in the grass. Although most of the “historical” information in the article was incorrect, it is likely that the information reported to be recorded on those stones is valid:

  • Robert D. Coates died in 1856 at the age of 52.
  • James, son of Thomas and Margaret Scott, died at the age of 10 months.
  • The third stone was broken and its inscriptions weren’t visible

An archeological dig in 1992 established the exact whereabouts of the Methodist Meeting House. Their report confirmed that graves remain in the cemetery and that not all burials were removed to Greenwood. The last burial there was in 1898. According to an archaeological consultant, seven graves were identified along the western margin of the property. The six graves close to the woodlot, are undisturbed while the seventh grave to the north west does seem to have been disturbed. This may be one of the burials exhumed and moved to Greenwood. The property owner made it explicitly clear that a policy of strict avoidance of any graves would be adhered to in the case of further development. Since that 1992 archeological dig the town of Halton Hills allowed a nursing home to be constructed on this triangle of land.

Some of the mysteries are now believed solved. It was not a family burial ground and it definitely was not Church of England. As to the Indian Preacher — Kahkewaquonaby (Sacred Feathers) was the Indian name of the famous Methodist minister who was part Mississauga Indian and whose headquarters for a time was the Credit Valley Mission. He was a missionary to the Indians, translated the bible into Ojibwa, and was known to the English-speaking population as Peter Jones.

Important questions still remain: Was this the main cemetery for the Georgetown area during the early years? If so, how many burials took place, how many bodies were removed to Greenwood, and how many bodies still remain in this forgotten corner? [by Elaine Robinson (abridged)]

Transcriptions of this cemetery are available on-line by credit card from the O.G.S. web site click here for price/order.