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Old St Paul's Cemetery, City of Chatham

The Interior of the Old St Paul's Cemetery Site.

The Historical Area Sign.

Located right at the East end of Stanley Street in Chatham is the long forgotten Old St Paul's Cemetery in Chatham. It is quite surprising how little actually is known of the history of it as so many people in Chatham area actually know of it's existence. The property extends from the sidewalk back a long distance, and it extends from Ninth St on one side to within about 7 meters of the Rail Road on the other. We believe that the old Church was approximately centred on that property, however, getting any further information on this involves entering private property. Which we do not do without permission.

The Church seems to have been surrounded by a cemetery. In front the cemetery goes right TO the sidewalk according to our sensing. On the Rail Road side it seems to go within around 7 meters of the Rail Way except for following the edge of the high/low ground back when it gets to that area. On the other is Ninth Street, and it goes to the normal "Lot distance" from the street but no more. We believe that all present housing on that street is actually built over top of the old Cemetery.

The Old St Paul's Church burned in 1869. This happened so often due to the common use of candles in Churches. Shortly after the cemetery seems to have gone into disuse as the new cemeteries for Chatham were ready for use in 1871. I think that we should just say that there is controversy as to how many burials in this old cemetery were ever moved. It is likely a few were. The prevailing thought that we hear from historians is that most burials are still located there. Also, it is said that more than once remains have been found by service crews, etc. Let us just say that it is extremely likely that this is one cemetery where a large majority of burials were NOT moved. However, a few at least were, along with a few monuments.

It is thought that after the church burned, that the lot gradually became a lot pastured by cattle to "Keep the weeds down". Gradually the monuments disappeared. Many into the lots of neighbours just down the street. There are many rumours of sidewalks made of old stone monuments in those lots for many long years after, and rumours of some residences still having monuments in the basements to this very day. There are many "Stones" visible just on the surface today but these seem to be more "Trash" stones rather than parts of monuments or their bases. However, at this time this has NOT been researched.

We have been told by a historian in these matters that it is likely that the graves on the East side of the Cemetery were for the more well to do folks. That this was common practice back then.

Gradually the Cemetery was somewhat forgotten but even to this day, it is still well known by area residents, historians, and even many Chatham City residents, etc.

NOTE... To enlarge the following photograph please use Control and + or Control and zero to return.

Ald Cowan moved that the remains of the persons taken up during the excavation for Stanley Ave East Sewer be burried in Maple Leaf Cemetery in such place as the Chairman of the Board of Works decides. Carried.

See more photos of Old St Paul's Cemetery site here.