Long abandoned cemetery gets much needed facelift near Brockville
Published Tuesday, May 12, 2020 5:12PM EDT Last Updated Tuesday, May 12, 2020 7:23PM EDT
LYN, ONT. -- John Kruis and his wife were walking their dog this spring when he noticed something sticking out of the ground in a brush filled area behind his house near Brockville.
“I thought it might be a foundation, a barn foundation, and walked over to have a look and discovered it was a headstone. And then kicking around on the grass I found a few more,” Kruis said.
“I realized it was a cemetery. It was in quite the shambles actually.”
There is little history on the cemetery, known as the Booth burying ground.
Online records show 37 people were buried on the small piece of land, but there are over 50 small and large headstones scattered about the property, dating back to the early 1800s.
The site is on private property in the middle of a cornfield, but Kruis spoke with the owner and got permission to clean the brush out.
“It was really quite a mess. I don’t think anybody had been in here looking after it for quite some time. When I started pulling vines out of the dirt there were stones, headstones, started coming up with the vines so I realized there was a lot more under the ground,” Kruis said
“I expected that we might find eight or ten maybe under the grass and I thought it’d be a nice thing to take the grass trimmer and come back to do a little weed eating for a couple days and clean it up. I didn’t realize it was going to be the project it turned into.”
Kruis has been working at the cemetery for about five weeks. Neighbours in the area are happy that some local history is being brought back to life.
“I just think it’s great, it couldn’t be better. I’ve drove by it for years and really appreciate it being cleaned up,” said Don Johnston, who owns property near the site.
“It should be fenced and taken care of. I’m just looking forward to see it when it’s finished.”
The Dunster’s live across the road from the Kruis household in Brockville.
“I think it’s great that John has spent the amount of time he did to clean it up in respect to the history of the area. People who want to come now can find out about the Booths and the history here,” said Willie Dunster.
“In the time I’ve lived here, this is the first time I’ve actually went back. Before and after, I think it’s unbelievable, you know, the amount of effort that’s been put into this,” added his wife Lisa Dunster.
Kruis hopes that when he’s finished cleaning the area it can be maintained.
“I’d like to see it kept up a little bit maybe put a fence around it,” he said.
And he’s also learned a few things along the way
“Well, I’m older than I thought,” Kruis said laughing.
“That’s one thing I’ve learned. Other than that there a lot of other neighbours around that are interested in it. Once you get looking through the internet and get searching through some of these and get talking to some neighbors, it’s just an interesting thing to talk about.”
“If anybody knows anything about it or has an old album with some pictures that’d be great to know, maybe we can figure out what the rows look like.” Kruis added.
When told his progress in cleaning up the cemetery near Brockville has come a long way, he quickly responds:
“There’s still a lot to be done!”