Monday, March 04, 2024

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St. Davids-Queenston United Church Cemetery History

The Original St. Davids Cemetery

Major David Secord, after whom the village of St. Davids is named, donated land at the base of the escarpment for a church and cemetery in 1813.  The oldest dated stone is for Solomon Quick, who died in 1823.  History tells us, however that many early settlers in the St. Davids – Queenston area were buried here before that date, as St. Davids had a mill in 1782 and the village was burned by the Americans in the summer of 1814 during the War of 1812 (war broke out Jun 1812; hostilities ended Jun 1815).

In 1920, it was described that in this graveyard around the Methodist (now United) Church, there were many old gravestones with no name or with the stones chipped so as to be undecipherable.  It also described that many of the earlier graves having wooden crosses or slabs have not survived to the present day.  The two names that appear most frequently are those of Woodruff and Lowery.  Some interesting people resting in this cemetery include:

Major David Secord's headstone

  • Major David Secord, Sergeant in the Butlers Rangers, Major in the Lincoln Militia (formed in 1810), Magistrate during 1796, and Member of the Legislative Assembly of Upper Canada from 1811-1844, and for whom St. Davids is named, with his wife Mary Page;
  • Richard (‘King Dick’) Woodruff, a leading landowner and Member of Parliament;
  • Edwin David Lowery, a leading farmer whose descendants now own two exceptional local wineries;
  • Samuel Zimmerman the celebrated railway king who was reinterred here with his wife Margaret Ann Woodruff;

Many of these early settlers lived to great age:  William Chrysler, died 1824, aged 92; Ann Clement Woodruff, born 1788, died 1878, aged 90 years, while Richard Woodruff, her husband, died 1872, aged 88.  Major Adam Brown of Queenston, died 1874, aged 76; Col. Joseph Clement, died 1867, aged 76; and his wife aged 80.  Maria Dewy, relict of the late Deacon Jacob Beam, died 1881, aged 88 years.

Source:  Disappearing History of Niagara – The Graveyards of a Frontier Township – Bygones Publishing 2010 – Author David F. Hemmings.

The Existing St. Davids-Queenston United Church Cemetery

There was a time when the congregation felt there was an urgent need to develop a new cemetery.  The original graveyard was now full, and therefore, members and adherents were having to purchase burial plots in St. Catharines, Niagara Falls, Welland and Niagara-on-the-Lake areas. 

In February 1956, negotiations for the purchase of the Woodruff property directly south of the church began.  The Trustee Board represented the congregation and an agreement to purchase was signed in February 1957.  The existing orchard was removed and landscaping was completed according to the approved plans.  The property consists of two and one-half acres and contains approximately 2,000 grave lots.  

Today, the St. Davids-Queenston United Church Cemetery is an active graveyard available for both members of the congregation and non-members.  The cemetery is maintained by the members appointed by the congregation as Trustees of St. Davids-Queenston United Church.  


Copyright 2024 by St. Davids-Queenston United Church