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The Charing Cross Cemetery

With Special Thanks to Ray Adkin

And Those Involved with the Book

Charing Cross United Church Cemetery 1838 - 1988

The following text is a direct quote from the book "Charing Cross United Church Cemetery 1838 - 1988". They have done a far better job of writing on this topic than we could ever dream of doing.

Please see the burial lists at the bottom of this page

The following text is copyright to the Charing Cross Church, and the United Church of Canada. It MUST not be copied wihout permission!

Charing Cross United Church Cemetery, otherwise known as Middle Road Cemetery is situated on the South West Corner of Lot 22 Concession 12, Raleigh Township, facing county road 8, or Middle Road as it was known when the cemetery was established about 1838.

Cemetery Plot Map Page 1

Lot 22 was a crown grant to William and Athalia Henniker in 1847. According to a statement by the late Goldwin Russell they deeded one half acre of land to the trustees of the Wesleyan Methodist Church for the sum of one English shilling (24 1/3 cents) per year. The old frame church stood about 35 rods east and was known as the Middle Road church.

In 1848 they sold this land to said trustees. Later, in 1860 William and Catharine White, who now owned lot 22, are said to have granted "reasonably close to one half acre to the church for a burying ground".

In 1873 a new church was built on the site of the present church. It was replaced in 1961 and 1966 by the present building. But the trustees of the church still owned the cemetery.

According to Mr Russell the first grave was that of Joseph Clarke aged 17. He was killed by a falling tree near 14th concession. He was carried through dense bush, a distance of about one and a half miles. We do not have a date but presume it was in 1838 or early 1839. The earliest date on a stone is that of Sarah Warren Jenner in 1839. She was the wife of Thomas Jenner Sr. The last known burial was that of Thomas Skinner (or Skipper) in 1938. So the cemetery was in use about 100 years. There is some discrepancy in dates here. Dorothy Bailey in the Harvey - Jenner book suggests that the cemetery was not used until 1852 or 1853. But we have seven dates earlier than that. Perhaps those deeds were not registered immediately.

A few graves were removed to other cemeteries. John Jenner 1811 - 1889 and his wife Hannah Russell 1814 - 1896 were removed to Pardoville. Susanna Grace, wife of John P Jenner, her children, Milton and John Jr. and Shirley, daughter of John P and Florence were moved to Maple Leaf, Chatham.

For about 20 years the cemetery was neglected. Lilacs flourished and spread in corners, Myrtle spread and covered some parts, grass and weeds grew unchecked. In one corner lilies of the valley choked out everything else. Stones leaned or fell over. Then in 1958 Mr John Jenner began a campaign to clear it up. Over the next two years volunteers spent many days cutting out over-grown shrubs, moving and repairing stones, levelling and reseeding. The front fence and center gate into the driveway were also removed. A part which had at one time been added at the back was returned to the farm then owned by Ivan Russell.

The stones were then rearranged in a semicircle. This work was completed in 1960 and a re-dedication service was held on Sunday September 18 1960 with Rev F G Risdon in charge and the Salvation Army Band from Chatham supplying music.

Before the restoration was begun in 1958 an official map was made showing the location of all the graves. It was kept in the safety deposit box of the church. Early in 1987 it was taken out and a new and clearer copy was made by Gary Crackel, a great, great, great, great grandson of Sarah Warren Jenner. However, that map had no dates and since the stones are deteriorating with age and weather, so that many dates cannot be read, we have been compiling a list of names and, as far as possible dates. A few we have not been able to find. Sources have been maps owned by Wilda Jenner and Ruth Jenner, the Harvey-Jenner book by Dorothy Bailey, family bibles and other family records, also a list compiled from stones by the Genealogical society.

Looking over the dates one notices the number of babies and young children, three babies in one family, three in another. Yet we know that others in those families survived. In one family a five year old boy died and a short time later a baby died at birth, two weeks later the mother died. In another family one child died of whooping cough, a second of typhoid fever and a third wandered onto the railway tracks and was hit by a train.

Violence figured in one death. Goldwin Russell told of a man who beat his wife so badly that the later died in childbirth at the age of 19. Mr Russell remarked that the man had a terrible temper!

Tuberculosis or consumption took its toll among young people. One of these was John Harvey. He had gone west in search of better health, died in 1902 in California. His wife brought him home for burial. One young man took his own life. Several women died under 40 leaving young families.

Some of the first settlers were buried there, among them William White and his son-in-law George Harvey who came here in 1828, Mr White from England and Mr Harvey originally from the Isle of Wight. Both were members of the first trustee board of the church. Thomas Jenner Sr who followed his two sons and a daughter from England in the early 1830's. Thomas Jenner Jr, a member of the first Raleigh Township Council. His son Peter was a lay preacher for some years, an important position when two ordained ministers were in charge of at least 12 churches. William West another member of the first trustees and Thomas Russell one of the early settlers.

Plot Map of Cemetery Page 2.

Among the women was Margaret Walker who, at the age of 65 stepped in as a housekeeper for a year when John Jenner was left with six children age 3 to 14 after the death of his wife Susie in 1920. No doubt there were other similar situations which we haven't heard about.

Note the number of Harveys, Russells and Jenners. In those days of large families there was much intermarriage. When a young man went courting he often took along a brother or sister and two marriages resulted. There were a number of these and many double first cousins as a result.

Descendants of some of these early settlers are still in the community, others have disappeared. Some of the names are completely unknown. We think that the Gartons and Humphreys once lived near the cemetery. One unknown was William Wright who was killed on the railroad in 1882. It is believed he was a transient worker. Although no one seemed to know much about him someone cared enough to put a stone up with the date of his death.

At the time when the restoration was begun in 1958, Mr Jenner contacted as many as possible of the relatives and descendants of those buried there and over the next two years received donations of over $2,200. After expenses connected with replacing the stones, moving and setting them in cement two feet deep and five feet wide in a semicircle and seeding the whole plot, a trust fund of $2,000 was established and invested. The interest has since provided for maintenance. A list of those contributing to that fund shows that some of them were from as far away as Toronto, Winnipeg, and California. People had not forgotten their old home and their ancestors and they made generous donations.

We owe much to those early settlers who, in spite of conditions we can barely imagine, established homes and families and laid the foundations of the church, school, and municipal government. They needed and helped each other with barn raising, threshings, quilting bees and, in time of trouble nursing. When bush covered much of the land a small child wondered away. The whole community turned out to search.

Please note that some dates were lost at one point.