Beechridge Presbyterian Church
Cemetery Monument Inscription List
The Beechridge Presbyterian Church is an old church established to serve the needs of the early Scottish pioneers in the Beechridge and Scotch Settlement areas of Williamstown, Seigniory of Beauharnois, now known as Sainte-Clotilde and the neighboring Municipality of Saint-Urbain Premier. The earliest Church of Scotland services were held in the first school house in the early 1820s and the present church building was built in the 1830s on land donated for a church and burying ground.
The Beechridge Church and Cemetery is now located on Rte 209, 1.3km (0.8mi) NE of the junction with Rte 205, behind civic number 1065 Rang de Grande Ligne (see regional, local and property maps). If visiting, look for the sign at the gate. Although it is presently located a few hundred feet east of Rte 209, behind some greenhouse buildings, the old road in the 1830s (known then as the Chemin St-Pierre or as part of the Black Cattle Road) passed directly in front of the church building.
In the latter half of the 1800s, many of the original pioneer families moved to new land in the nearby Howick and Ormstown areas as well as the newly opened land grants in Ontario. The church and its dwindling congregation was eventually merged with the Georgetown Presbyterian Church in Howick. Today services are held in the old church during the summer only.
The Beechridge Cemetery is located on the east side of the church. It has been in steady use from the earliest days to the present time. Unfortunately it appears that there was never a formal plan set up for the cemetery, and no actual lot ownership. The privileges of burial were available to anyone in the congregation and families were responsible for positioning their burials and monuments. As a result, the positions of the monuments are very disorganized and the only records were those of the church registry books. In the mid 1900s, there was considerable vandalism of the monuments, many of which remain broken or damaged. Others have deteriorated due to the weak quality of the stone used in their manufacture. In spite of the condition of some of the monuments and the limited resources available, the general appearance of the cemetery is very good, the grass is kept well trimmed and is a tribute to the diligent efforts of the present volunteer custodians.
The purpose of this project was to identify and document all the available information on the cemetery while it was still readable, so that future researchers would be able to trace the ancestors buried there. The church records were copied to provide backup copies in the event of destruction of the originals and the names indexed to aid in searching all family entries. Until this documentation project, there was no map or identification of the individual monuments. The property was surveyed, monument positions mapped and numbers assigned to each of the surviving monuments or remains of monuments as shown on the cemetery map. All inscriptions that were legible, were recorded (except for the epitaphs unless they contained personal family information). In addition, digital photographs were taken of all the monuments or remains of monuments to record appearance and exact inscriptions. I plan to use the photos to create a CDRom Visual Tour publication in the near future. Meanwhile if you are interested in any one particular monument, contact me and I will forward the picture by email attachment.
Comparing the burial records of the church with the legible inscriptions on the monuments, indicate a considerable number of people who were buried in this cemetery without any known monument inscription to mark the place of burial. These non-memorialized burials have been listed in a separate Appendix and are indexed with the "App" reference in the List of Names.
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