Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Geary Street Cemetery

 
As you know from earlier posts, I enjoy taking pictures of historic sites throughout the City of Lakes. On Tuesday, July 15, my girlfriend and I visited St. Paul's (Geary Street) Cemetery in downtown Dartmouth. If you have ever gone up or down the hill on Alderney Drive, there is a good chance you have seen this graveyard.  Although small, it packs a major historical punch. It was definitely a personal favourite of John Martin, my great grand uncle who authored The Story of Dartmouth. What makes Geary Street Cemetery so interesting? For starters, it has a crypt (which looks like a bunker) that holds the remains of multiple 19th century members of the Dunn (old Dartmouth) family. Unexpectedly, the remains of a cousin of a Spanish Empress rest in the soils of this burial ground.
 
Page 61, Story of Dartmouth: The former part of the Common where now lie the ruins of an abandoned Catholic cemetery, should be one of Dartmouth's historic attractions. It is noteworthy for a mounded stone burial vault, for its great number of Indian graves, and for an unmarked tomb of a titled lady said to have belonged to the Spanish nobility. The complete story of her suspicious death on the present Montagu farm at Lake Loon, and the excitement in Dartmouth during the subsequent inquest in 1846, is fully related in Mrs. Lawson's History. Many of the town's early residents are buried there. The oldest headstone is for Andrew O'Neill, died August 14, 1832.
Around that time, Michael Dunn, a merchant already mentioned, conceived the idea of building a large vault for his family. It contains 13 coffins of adults and children, arranged in tiers on either side, and is one of the few vaults remaining in the Province.
The century-old graves of the Indians are identified by the oblong chunks of slate rock, laid in symmetrical rows in a separate section. Most Dartmouth Indians attended St. Peter's Church.

Page 203, Story of Dartmouth: The little graveyard of St. Peter's Church in Chapel Lane evidently was getting filled up by 1834, for a move was made about that time to obtain another site for a cemetery. There may have been also a mortality of cholera victims, which influenced towns-folk to discontinue burials there.
At any rate the following document was circulated among the citizens in October, and signed by the four Dartmouth Magistrates, Samuel Albro, George B. Creighton, E. H. Lowe and Dr. DeBrisay, brother of the late Minister. Then followed the names of 48 residents:
We the undersigned freeholders and inhabitants of the township of Dartmouth, upon considering the necessity of providing a place of burial for the congregation attached to the Roman Catholic Chapel, and the embarrassments that may result from burying in the ground on which the Chapel is now situated in the centre of the Town, are of the opinion that a part of the Common should be appropriated for that purpose, as there is no vacant ground that can be had in the neighbourhood; and we for the consideration aforesaid, do freely and voluntarily agree that the piece of land described in the accompanying plan, containing one acre, may be enclosed and used for the purpose of a burial ground as aforesaid; and we hereby surrender and relinquish our claim to it forever.
The plan was drawn by Deputy Surveyor J. G. MacKenzie, and the area was shown thereon, as has already been described on page 62. Legislation was subsequently secured, and in 1835 the new cemetery was opened on Geary Street. This was the first encroachment upon Dartmouth Common.

Page 299, Story of Dartmouth: Geary Street Cemetery should be restored either by public or private subscription, and made into a tourist attraction like old St. Paul's cemetery at Halifax. The breast-high stonewall could be replaced, and an appropriate plaque erected, noting the Thompson burial-place and that of Bartholomew O'Connor (q.v.), hero of the battles of Badajoz and Waterloo. The latter's gravestone contains such particulars, and is probably buried in the sod. It is doubtful if any other cemetery in the Province has such a unique repository as the Dunn vault. The grave of the Indian Chief should also be noted. Certainly no cemetery in Halifax County has such a number of Micmac graves as Geary Street. All are marked with simple slate slabs, which could be easily uprighted.
 





Photo credit: David Jones, July 15, 2014.
Photo credit: David Jones, July 15, 2014.


Photo credit: David Jones, July 15, 2014.


Photo credit: David Jones, July 15, 2014.


Photo credit: David Jones, July 15, 2014.
 
Photo credit: David Jones, July 15, 2014.

Photo credit: David Jones, July 15, 2014.


Photo credit: David Jones, July 15, 2014.


Photo credit: David Jones, July 15, 2014.

Photo credit: David Jones, July 15, 2014.


Photo credit: David Jones, July 15, 2014.


Photo credit: David Jones, July 15, 2014.


Photo credit: David Jones, July 15, 2014.



Photo credit: David Jones, July 15, 2014.

Photo credit: David Jones, July 15, 2014.





Photo credit: David Jones, July 15, 2014.



Photo credit: David Jones, July 15, 2014.








Photo credit: David Jones, July 15, 2014.

Photo credit: David Jones, July 15, 2014.

Photo credit: David Jones, July 15, 2014.

Photo credit: David Jones, July 15, 2014.

Photo credit: David Jones, July 15, 2014.




Photo credit: David Jones, July 15, 2014.




Photo credit: David Jones, July 15, 2014.

Photo credit: David Jones, July 15, 2014.



Photo credit: Emma Poirier, July 15, 2014.

Photo credit: Emma Poirier, July 15, 2014.



Photo credit: Emma Poirier, July 15, 2014.


Photo credit: Emma Poirier, July 15, 2014.

Photo credit: Emma Poirier, July 15, 2014.



Photo credit: Emma Poirier, July 15, 2014.


Photo credit: Emma Poirier, July 15, 2014.




















5 comments :

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. A few photos with a small stone standing, is that the graves of the Mi'kmaq? Is that all that is left of the markings?

    Jim M.

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    Replies
    1. I think the mi'k maw are buried in by all those big rocks kind of in a circle. There weren't any markings on their mass grave site :-(

      Delete
  3. In the 70's the gravestones that were in the upper part of the cemetery (beyond the Dunn vault) were moved, I presume by the City, to their present locations nearer the exit to Geary Street.

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  4. In the 70's, the gravestones that were in the upper part of the cemetery (above the Dunn vault) were moved, I presume by the City, to their present location near the exit to Geary Street.

    ReplyDelete