Malahide – Barnum

Barnum Cemetery

 Lot 9
Concession 1 of Malahide

No longer visible
Was located in what became an old peach orchard south of

4460 County Rd 73 Aylmer, ON N5H 2R2

Malahide Township, Elgin County, Ontario


MA 409 – OGS 2582
Submitted by. Tony Hofstee, Elgin County Branch, OGS
May 1983
Revised and formatted for the Internet 20 November 2016 by Bruce C. Johnson Jr.
Copyright by the Ontario Genealogical Society, Elgin County Branch 1983 – 2002
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form, or by any means – electronic, mechanical, photocopying, microform reproduction, recording, or otherwise – without prior permission of the publisher.

    Barnum Cemetery

This cemetery used to be located in a peach orchard along present day Highway 73 just north of Port Bruce. According to local residents there were four or five stones set among the peach trees. About 15 years ago the peach trees were removed and the field cultivated and prepared for growing tobacco. The stones were set at the back of the field. Subsequently the stones were pushed into a ditch by a bulldozer used to clear the land. One stone was found intact and upon searching for others I came across a few pieces that appeared to come from one stone. Other pieces of unmarked stone were found in the freshly plowed field. The present owners of the field now knows about the importance of the stones and will keep an eye out for other pieces. It seems that the other four stones may be buried under about ten feet of dirt. Apparently a Kemp family now living in British Columbia has pictures of the old cemetery.

In about 2010 bones were found at the location which is now owned by the Danny Versnick family. See Aylmer Express article below.

Information added by James L. McCallum (Dec. 2001):

Descendants of pioneer families in the Copenhagen area told me that there was an inn near this cemetery, near the west end of the old lake road. The farm where the tiny cemetery was located was later purchased by James Dielman. It is known that Elijah Clemens had a son buried in this cemetery.
In 1981, I contacted Leonard Kemp in Surrey, British Columbia, whom I had been told had copied down the inscriptions from this cemetery while they lived on the property in the 1930’s. In a letter dated June 12, 1981 Mr. Kemp gave me the following information:

“Sorry to say the list you speak of has long since disappeared with all our moving. I do remember the names on the markers were Johnston or Johnson, and most of them were infants. We took care of the plot until we moved. Mostly girls I recall, Mary Ruth were two of them, and there was a Johnson who was a grown man. I heard from Mr. Crooker Sr., who was very old in 1936, that it was a flu epidemic that wiped out the family, but he admitted that he also had just heard that story”.

1, Broken stone, willow at top
In / memory of[first piece]Charlotte / daughter of Lewis / & Alnor ? JOHNSTON / who died / Sept. 5, 1852 ?
[second piece]………..? 1 yrs / 28 ds [third piece]
[ Lewis JOHNSON b. ca 1812 died 9 Nov 1855 at Yarmouth Twp., Elgin Co. His wife Eleanor O’Reilly died 14 Oct 1884 and is buried at the Seminary Cemetery in Union, Yarmouth Twp., Elgin Co.)

2. Stone
Hannah / wife of / Peter WOOLLEY / who departed this life / April 26, 1836 / AE 43 yrs & 7 ms / & 8 ds

Article in Aylmer Express 
ca 2010

Barnum Cemetery Article
Aylmer Express article


            Bones found on the farm of Danny and Linda Versnick at Imperial Road and Half Moon Road were human remains buried there in the 1800s.

            Provincial Police were called to the site, just north of Port Bruce overlooking Lake Erie, around 12:30 Dec. 8.

            A man operating a backhoe saw the bones as he was filling in a 300-foot-long trench dug for installation of a geothermal system.

            An OPP criminal investigations unit and a forensic identification unit were at the excavation site for two days.

            Their investigation, a check of historical records and interviews with area residents, indicated the site was a former cemetery.

            An anthropologist coroners office in Toronto confirmed the skeletal remains were of a historic nature and no further police investigation was required.

            Danny Versnick said the discovery was startling, especially for the man operating the backhoe. After seeing the bones, he contacted Mr. Versnick who in turn called police.

            He said his father Andy Versnick recalled seeing two gravestones on the property before the family bought the land.

            The stones were between rows of trees in a former peach orchard there. Eventually they were pushed into a nearby gully and the precise location of the graves lost.  Around 1960 a descendant of the two persons visited the area in an unsuccessful attempt to locate the graves.

            Mr. Versnick spoke to provincial officials who told him records showed the site was registered as Barnum’s Cemetery in the 1800s.  There were only two bodies interred there, one in 1836, the other in 1850.  He said the provincial officials said there were hundreds of such sites where families buried their dead on their farms and registered the site.

            Mr. Versnick said he would preserve the burial site. “I could have them moved, but I want to leave them at rest. I might plant some tree in the area”.  Two archaeologists put the remains back in place last Thursday”.