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Part of a News Story. Chatham Daily News Maybe?


(?) named Edward Basset Jones. He put the facts together anad conducted a dig that revealed some of the history of the Neutrals. The bones of over 35 fallen citizens lying where they had been when they died were uncovered on the cemetery and McGeachylands. As strange as it may seem they were later put in barrels and sold to local medical students.

The patch of land on which the cemetery stands was once the farm of William Mickle, then James Messmore , then Patrick Tobin. In 1869 the Corporation of the Towne of Chatham met in council, decided they needed a larger cemetery, and officially began to negotiate for this part of Tobin's farm. Until then, people from the city were buried in many different places; on the third lot east of fQueen Street on Indian Creek Road, sometimes on family plots, and sometimes in small church cemeteries. On July 8 1869 the towne agreed to purchase 20 acres of land for $3430 from the estate of Patrick Tobin. Alphonsus Baudin rector of St Joseph's Church purchased an additional 21 3/4 acres to house a Catholic cemetery, because another law prevented the sale of cemetery land to specific religious groups. With the new cemetery the towne government forbit burials inside the town limits and called for the re-interment of those buried locally to Chatham to Maple Leaf/St Anthony's. The last of the old church burial grounds were Old St Paul's on Stanley Street near CCI, the Presbyterian at the corner of Wellington and Adelaide near the Judy LaMarsh Building and the catholic cemetery behind St Joseph's Church on the intersection of Jeffery and Cross streets. The Catholic land became St Anthony's Cemetery. Finally town council decided to move the bodies from the other area cemeteries after allowing families to move their ancestors if they wished to the Potter's Field of Maple Leaf.

There is a bit of a mystery surrounding what happened then. A Potter's Field is a place where the poor are buried. No one kept track of who was buried in the New Potter's Field. Markers werer usually made of wood, which lasted only a few years and many people were buried without markers at all. We know that many area families moved their loved ones when the city government ordered the closing of local cemeteries, but were the rest of the bodies moved to Potter's Field? Not all were moved, we know that much. Several bodies have been accidentally unearthed where the old cemeteries were and headstones were stacked up on Stanly Street in the 1940's, then turned upside down and used as patio stones.

one thing we do know is that there used to be a stone near the train tracks and close to the road. It read, "In memory of an unknown man" and served as a marker for all the unmarked graves. Vic Miller archivist for St Joseph's Parish in Chatham confirmed that it was there as late as the 1950's. He worked for Union Gas then and was sent to investigate some underground pipes that would be submerged when the creek overflowed. Apparently, this was a hazard and the gas sent him over to put the gas line up in the air, flush with the road and tracks. So we build it a bridgeway and it ran a few feet in the air from Indian Creek Road to the old Graveyard House where former cemetery Keeper George Manninger lived. The stone was here then, right up against the base of the tracks and right near the road. I have no idea when it left. I remember George saying something about graves only having to be maintained for forty years or something. I guess the stone would have left after forty years then? That was the last recorded sighting of the marker of the Unknown Man.

There are many people buried in Old Maple Leaf whose lives were legendary and whose gravestones deserve a quiet visit. ...

Note Connie Rivard remembers passing this stone up to the approximate time period of 1989 to about 1992. So the stone was standing until this point.