Filling in the blanks

Graeme Sommerville's upcoming book will answer questions about the many people buried in the Methodist Burial Ground

Sometimes Sunday could be a long day for Cliff and me. Dad had the day off from working in the fields and woods, but Mom of course still needed to get meals and have tea and cookies ready for the company. Washing, preserving and baking bread was left for another day.

Since we were not allowed to play ball or go fishing on the Sabbath day, we looked forward during the summer months to talking to the people who came to visit the Cemetery that was near our home.

When we saw Gordon Moody come walking across the flat, we went to the cemetery to wait for his arrival. He always had lots of stories to tell us of the struggles of the early settlers. I was fascinated with the marriages, it seemed cousins married cousins and the boys married the girls on the next farm. His eyes would fill with tears as he told us of families who had lost several children within a few days to diphtheria.

Stopping by a tombstone, he would tell us about this family and their children and where they had lived and what they had done before they went to their final resting.

He paused at unmarked graves and told us who was buried there. A marker for many was simply a field stone turned on its end and embedded in the ground.

As a kid, I found out that this cemetery was a place filled with the history of the area thanks to all the folk who shared stories of their loved ones and ancestors.

All of this came back to me when I looked at a draft of a new book that Graeme Somerville is doing on the burials in the old Methodist Burial Ground (also known as the Wesleyan Burial Ground) on Thorne Avenue in Saint John. Four hundred monuments in that cemetery tell the barest of facts of about 800 people, but what of the 2,800 more who are buried there.

Graeme has found out so much about the people buried there, that he is preparing a book with a mini biography on each person. Sometimes it is just one line and for others it may be a half dozen lines. There are fascinating facts such as the occupation of ships carpenter, stair builder, carriage maker, sea captain, domestic or servant, or street names that we never hear of today, and hospitals that have been gone for over a half century. Places of birth such as Scotland, England, Ireland, West Indies and more are given. Then, for children there are so many causes of death with old-fashioned names such as cholera infantum, inanition, malnutrition or consumption.

The book will include the marriages, names of children, their spouses and residence with dates of death, ages, places of birth and so much more.

But Graeme, in spite of many years of careful research, is stymied with the names of lot owners for whom there is no church or newspaper record of a death by that surname.

Some of the names are: Allan 1854, George Baird (no date), Bean 1853, Belyea (no date), Beville1911, Biggs (no date), Blackburn 1858, Bonge 1854, John Brooks (no date), William Brooks (no date), Brown 1854, John Henry Brown 1880, Walter Brown 1854, Cader (no date), Mary Carr (no date), Gordon Chamberlain 1920, Charlton 1854, Christie 1843, John Cole 1843, Robert Coyle 1919, John Cusack 1892, H. Daley 1913, Arthur Davison 1854, Allan Dearing 1852-1853, Dearness 1853, Joseph Dennison 1878, Dinsmore (no date), Dixon,(no date), Doak 1843, Donaldson 1853 and 1854, James Dunbar 1853, George Dunham 1911, Samuel Ellison 1848, D. Foshay (no date), E. Fredenburg (no date), Samuel Gardner (no date), Gorham (no date), John Hagerty 1841, Hamm (no date), James Harris 1843, Ester Holts 1883, Horn (no date), D. Hurly (no date), John Irvine 1843, Hannah Jeffry (no date), Scovil Jones 1846, James Kane 1846, Robert Keltie (no date), Robert Keltie 1843, James Kennedy (no date), Mrs. Kennedy 1854, James Kerr or Karr 1851.

By this time next year Graeme expects to have the rest of the alphabet completed and I'll have a list then for letters L to Z. In the meantime, if you have any information on the burials in this cemetery, Graeme will be glad to hear from you. He can be reached at (506) 632-2020 or you can E-mail your information to

When the book is published, I for one will be adding it to my book shelf.

(2001 - The book has been published and is available for purchasing)

Ruby Cusack is a genealogy buff living in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada. Readers are invited to send their New Brunswick genealogical queries to Ruby at When E-Mailing please put Yesteryear Families in the Subject line. Please include in the query, your name and postal address as someone reading the newspaper, may have information to share with you but not have access to E-mail. Queries should be no more than 45 words in length.

New and Used Genealogical and Historical books of New Brunswick for sale.

Return to Index
 Return to   Home of RubyCusack dot com