Pioneer Cemetery

Evangelical Lutheran Cemetery

1860 – 1886

 

Overview – Evangelical Lutheran Cemetery

When our committee reviewed the list of persons interred in the first pioneer cemetery, the words faith, commitment, perseverance, strength, fortitude kept recurring — hence the committee chose for their logo, “Generations of Faith”. It is that reality, “Generations of Faith” which bring us to this meeting today. Had it not been for the faith, commitment, perseverance, strength and fortitude of our pioneer fathers, as they experienced challenges, hardships, poor health, grief, and death itself, we would not be able to enjoy the privilege of celebrating 150 years.

Much of our community’s history lies buried in this cemetery. Unfortunately, during the intervening years from the cemetery’s active use to the present, those 126 brave souls have been forgotten. Present and future generations are deprived of the historical, social, economic heritage which lies buried in this forgotten cemetery. The Anniversary Committee is concerned and hopes to bring this information from the past to the present and preserve it for future generations.

Hebrews 1 1 refers to faith as being ‘sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see’. As a committee we have faith that our congregation will support the plan to restore the first pioneer cemetery of our community:

  • to remember and honour the faith, commitment, perseverance, strength and fortitude of these early pioneers; and
  • to restore their past into our present and preserve it so that future generations may share this heritage.

The first cemetery in Zurich and Area was established by the Evangelical Lutheran and Reformed Church in 1860. It was for several years, the only community cemetery.

Burials took place for 26 years and during that time 126 internments occurred.

Reflecting the pioneer risks and hardships of these early settlers, is the reality that many of the burials are children. One tragic example shows three children, from one family, dying of scarlet fever within a two week period.

Zurich Public School is directly beside the cemetery. A student in the school wrote a poem about the cemetery in 1919 or 1920 which depicts, with concern, the lack of attention to the no longer used cemetery. That poem is recited in the Hay Township History book of 1996.

In 1920 a cleanup of the cemetery occurred along with the building of a cairn.

The caim is now in a state of disrepair and in fact may represent some danger should cement blocks fall. The Anniversary Committee has identified the restoration of this first cemetery to remember and honour the faith and commitment of the founders of this congregation and community.

A monument on the present site bearing the names of those interred in the cemetery will bring the past to the present and make this information available to current and future generations. The plan would include an interlocking accessible walkway from the sidewalk to the memorial and around it, with a new appropriate fence around the perimeter.

The intent is to provide and protect some of the local history of our community along with an appropriate respect for those that are interred, – bring the past to the present and preserve it for future generations.

Evangelical Lutheran Cemetery — Points to consider
  1. ) The original Cemetery is located in the village and represents a strong segment of the early history of the community, ie countries of origin, life expectancy, communicable diseases, family size, birthing challenges, occupations etc
  • The original Lutheran Cemetery is located in the village beside the public school and is relatively unknown to the community.
  • For several years this cemetery was a community cemetery because it was the only cemetery from 1860 — 1871. As well as serving the members of the Evangelical and Reform Church, it was used by several denominations during this time, as reflected in the names of those interred.
  • Existing grave markers have been collected and are inside the cairn located in the middle of the old cemetery plot. It is not known in what condition these markers are.
  • The names of those interred in the cemetery are not accessible to the public at this site although the German records have been translated and a hard copy list is available.
  • The cairn is in a deteriorated condition and represents a safety concern.
  • The boundaries of the cemetery are undefined.
  • The site is not accessible.
  • The cemetery may be best described by a poem written by a public school student prior to 1920.

 

The Graveyard

Beside the village school is found

A Graveyard all forsaken,

Many people lie beneath the ground That shouldn’t be forgotten,

Over graves, the lilacs grow,

And all around the ivy creeps

Here and there the daffodils blow

As the wind o’er them sweeps,

In that graveyard lie many

Who have started our village

They came here without a penny

And lived in huts built so poorly

But now their graves ate all neglected

And their deeds are all forgotten They are not enough respected

For the work they’ve done for us.