By Lisa Terech, Community Engagement
A wonderful resource for historical research is our 1877 County of Ontario Atlas. It shows all townships in Ontario County (the forerunner to the Regional Municipality of Durham, with some boundary adjustments), towns, villages, and hamlets, and often these maps show details like locations of schools, churches and townships.
Looking at the map for East Whitby Township, I noticed a church and cemetery at the southeast corner of Concession 6, Lot 7. This today is the northwest corner of Wilson Road and Winchester Road. Interest piqued, I learned that this is known as the Elim Cemetery, what was likely a private burial ground, located on land owned (in 1877) by Henry Graham.
As can happen through the years, there appears to be stories that have evolved about this cemetery. Here’s what we know with certainty about this apparently abandoned burial ground.
First, I will say, this parcel of land is still zoned as a cemetery and appears to be its own parcel of land, according to the Interactive Mapping System from the City of Oshawa. This cemetery is on the Heritage Inventory, prepared by Heritage Oshawa, the city’s Heritage Advisory Committee, as a property of interest.
As mentioned, the cemetery appears in the 1877 Atlas; the next Atlas we have in our collection dates to 1895, and it does not show details like cemeteries or schools in the township views. It does note Union Cemetery’s location, but bear in mind, Union was occupying a good number of acres and was a major burial ground for Oshawa and Whitby at that time.
In the archival holdings, there is an undated transcription of five graves, commemorating Jacob Raicard (died 1872, aged 46), David Stephens (died 1877, aged 14), Mary Graham, nee Underwood (died 1877, aged 43), Mahala G Stephens (died 1869, aged 19), and Robert Henry Graham (died 1877, aged 13). Today, there appears to be only one marker remaining, and interestingly, it wasn’t included in the original transcription. It is for [ ] Elizabeth Postil, died 1863, aged 17 (stone broken, and her first name appears to be missing). In its inventory, Heritage Oshawa dates the cemetery as 1863, likely due to this surviving headstone.
Postil’s headstone is at the base of a stone pillar, encased in cement, by the entrance to this cemetery. This pillar can add some confusion to this cemetery as it may have been moved from Elmcroft Farm/Windfield Farms. Here is a photo of the pillar:
Note, the stone which states ‘Lot 12 Con 5 East Whitby,’ and this cemetery is most certainly located on Lot 7, Con 6. Information available from Windfield Farms confirms that Elmcroft was located at Lot 12 Concession 5. The Elim Cemetery stone certainly looks different from the one that says Elmcroft. It is interesting to note that Elmcroft farm started by George McLaughlin, son of Robert McLaughlin and brother of Col. Sam, and the land stayed in the McLaughlin family until it was purchased by EP Taylor, who would establish Windfield Farms.
As mentioned, the cemetery was located on land owned by Henry Graham, and two of his family members are buried here, his wife and son. Robert and Mary Underwood were married in 1860 and were parents to Annie, Robert, John, Ruth, and Margaret. Mary died in January 1877 of Pthysis, or tuberculosis. Their son Robert died a few months after, in June, of consumption, another term for tuberculosis. It appears sometime between 1877 and 1881, Robert remarried, and he passed away in 1912 in Orangeville.
According to records, there also appears to be two members of the Stephens family buried in the cemetery, Mahala and David, the children of Walter and Fanny Stephens. Walter and Fanny lived around Lot 5 Concession 5 in East Whitby, the parents of 9 children; they are both resting in Union Cemetery.
Jacob Raicard was 46 years old when he died in 1872, the son of Mark and Catherine, as per his headstone. His was married to Alvira, and it appears that they had four children. He was born in the US, immigrated to Quebec (as per the 1861 Census) but later moved to East Whitby Township (as per the 1871 Census).
Finally, the lone remaining headstone is for Anne Elizabeth Postil. She was the daughter of William and Sarah, the eldest of their children, who also included Francis, Frederick, Elisa, Mary, George, and Charles. Sometime between 1871 and 1881, the family relocated to Moore Township, Lambton County, which is where William and Sarah passed away, both in 1905.
Elim Cemetery appears to have been a private burial ground, used by people who farmed in northeast East Whitby Township, and unfortunately, due to the lack of records, it is unclear when it stopped being used as a burial ground. Today it is a quiet piece of land, tucked away from busy Winchester Road, serving as a somber resting place for 19th century settlers.