Kenyon Cemetery History

History of Kenyon Presbyterian Cemetery

The following details and history of the Kenyon Cemetery were compiled by Mrs. E. Blair in March 1969.

Plan of the Cemetery:  There are three sections to the cemetery, South, North and West.  The family plots are known as Lots and rows of Lots as Concessions.

South Section, the oldest part of the cemetery, is on the south side of the church.  The concessions are numbered from the church south 1 to 13.  The lots are numbered from east to west.  Each concession does not have the same number of lots.

North Section, north-west of the church, has 10 concessions with 11 lots each, numbered from the church north and lots numbered from east to west.

West Section, across from the creek, has the concessions and lots numbered from North and South although the number of graves in the lots varies.  In 2013, an additional 1 acre lot was purchased immediately to the west of the existing West section.

Comments on the Cemetery Records: No records of burials were kept until 1901. Since then a list of persons who have died within the year is entered in the annual church report.  From 1840, when the cemetery began, to 1901, the record is not as complete.  For these years the information and names were taken from the headstones, ones supplied by relatives and other people and names taken from such sources as census records, township records, old newspapers and diaries.   The data in the records when taken from the headstones is exactly what is on the m.  Sometimes it may not be agreement with what is in the church reports.   Names not taken from the headstones have in brackets the source of the information in the comments section.

History of Kenyon Church Cemetery: In the year 1840, (Capt.) Norman MacLeod of Lot25- 9th Concession, Kenyon Township gave an acre of land at the crossroads, the south-east corner of his farm, as a site on which to build a church and lay out a cemetery.  This acre was extended westward and the whole area comprises what is now referred to as the South Section of the cemetery.   The earliest known burial was in 1841.  Additional land has been purchased 3 times.   The North Section, north-west of the church, was the first acquisition, and the first burial here was in 1921.   The second purchase, the West Section, is directly west of the North Section and across the creek.  The first burials hear was in 1964.  The third purchase was completed in 2013 and is a 1 acre lot directly to the west of the current West Section.   There are no burials as of yet in this new extension of the West Section.

A recent survey of the cemetery reveals the care taken through the years in recording the sale of lots, the headstones corresponding with a plan made by D.K. MacLeod which he copied from an earlier one.  Record books of purchasers of lots show that Kenneth Campbell was bookkeeper from 1885.  D.K. MacLeod took over from Kenneth in 1907 and in 1939 was replaced by Roderick Campbell.  A cemetery committee was first formed in 1933.  In the annual church report of that year the names are as follows: John D. MacLeod, Chairman, Norman K. MacLeod, Secretary-Treasurer, Roderick Campbell, Alex J. Campbell and Duncan K. MacLeod as Planner and Bookkeeper.  Dougal McMillan was added to the committee in 1956.  These men remained on the committee either as regular or honorary members during their lifetimes. Present five member committee plan, one being retired and one being added each year was introduced in 1938.

At first no record of burials was kept. From 1901, however, al list of those who died during the year is included in the annual church report. In 1951 Dr. D.N. McMillan, at that time minister of the church, prepared a cemetery book indicating purchasers and locations of lots with spaces for recording burials by graves in each lot. The caretaker as well as the minister has a copy of this book and it has proved a great help in keeping an exact record of burials.

In 1929, plans were made for the restoration and beautifying of the cemetery. These were completed by 1930 as indicated by the report of the Women’s Association, “Our plan of beatifying the local cemetery being approved and supported by Session and Trustees the sum of six hundred dollars was placed in the bank for this purpose. We feel much gratified with the very pleasing result. The work is a great credit to all who supported the undertaking by generous donations a labour well directed, “The church treasurer reports receipts for the cemetery of $1577.32. In addition to the $600 from the Women’s Association there were subscriptions from the congregation and friends from far and near. There were expenditures of $1201.73 for labour fence and land. It is not known who was in charge of the work but the names of Roderick Campbell and John D. MacLeod are mentioned in relation to this project. There was much volunteer labour by members of the congregation. This was a large undertaking for the days of depression and fine spirit of co-co-operation was shown in carrying it to completion.

Since then there has been continued interest in the upkeep and appearance of this cemetery. The planting of trees and shrubs on the church grounds and at appropriate places within the cemetery has been spread over many years. In 1937 the Young People’s Society undertook to plant a number of trees as a memorial of the coronation of George VI. They were assisted by a number of men from the congregation. Lombardy poplars and soft maples by the old cheese factory lane were included in this project. Other ornamental trees, the blue spruces, weeping birch and native cedars were planted by members of the cemetery committee from time to time. During his ministry Dr. D.N. MacMillan took a great interest in this work.

In 1940, the centennial year of the church, a cairn was built in the South Section on the site of the first church, the log one, in memory of the pioneers who settled the community. Their names are to be found on the old flat white stones in the area where the church stood.   Phrases such as “Native of Inverness-Shire” and “Native of Skye” and place names such as “Glenelg” engraved upon them give some indication of the part of Scotland from which they emigrated. These stones have weathered well, better than some more recent ones. The lettering is quite legible and the designs interesting, the Scotch thistle, the open Bible, the weeping willow and the closed hand with the index finger pointing upwards and the words “Farewell” or “At Rest” above. The stones also tell of hardships- children who died in infancy or childhood and young men and women on the threshold of life. Many, however, lived to a great age a few exceeding the hundred mark. In this section also are the names or three former ministers: The Rev .Adam F. MacQueen, the first resident minister of Kenyon Congregation, who was ordained and inducted in 1858 and who served until 1874: the Reverend W. A. Morrison who ministered from 1912 to 1921 : and the Reverend D.N. MacMillan who ministered from 1935 to 1959.

It has long been the practice to hold a Memorial Service and to decorate the graves with flowers. The first such service seems to have been on the Sunday of the Labour Day Weekend in 1933. At first most of the people attending came from within the bounds of the congregation. However, with changing conditions in the rural area, a considerable proportion of the plot owners are now located elsewhere. Many of these families come “home” for the holiday weekend. For this and other reasons attendance has increased. Since 1956 until recently a morning service and an afternoon service was held to accommodate people who might not be able to be present was there only one.

There has been an ever growing interest in the decoration of the graves. After Decoration Day during the 1950’s it was reported in one of the local newspapers that “the cemetery was like a large garden with all the beautiful flowers placed by friends and families on family plots. For many years Donald Duncan MacKinnon, who took a great interest in the cemetery, assisted the caretaker in helping people locate their plots and place their floral decorations.

During the early days of the church there was no regular caretaker, the work being done by members of the congregation. Since then the caretakers have been as follows: Roderick Campbell and his brother Dan M. Campbell, Frank Philips who retired in 1966 after twenty-two years’ service, Nelson Montgomery and John R. MacDonald: Margaret MacLeod from 2001 till 2018. The current caretaker is Audrey MacQueen.