If you’re attempting to trace ancestors and you believe they’re buried in a local cemetery, your first stop should be the historical society. Most historical groups have collected cemetery records and for a modest fee, they’re available for perusal.

For example, the family history committee of the Kings Historical Society has records of most existing county headstones at the courthouse museum. There’s an added bonus that may help you with your search, an extensive obituary file.

What prompts mention of headstone records is a story I found while reading Leon Barron’s photocopies of old newspapers. In a 1923 Advertiser is a short history of the Upper Canard cemetery with a record of the tombstone inscriptions. In the story that follows, note how many people died before age 50.

“One of the best preserved in the province is the ancient graveyard at the old Parade Ground, Upper Canard. It is under the care of the Baptist Church, but Jew and Gentile, bond and free are found there. The widow of Dr. Theodore Harding Rand bequeathed $1,000 for the upkeep. This is a fitting monument to one of Nova Scotia’s great sons, whose remains repose there.

“One gravestone goes back to 1767 – over a century and a half, and from that date there are many graves of the first generation of settlers, some of whom have no stone to record their life or death.

“The following is the list of the older ones; they are given alphabetically and not according to age.

  • “James Brag, died 1831, aged 35 years.”
  • “Perry Borden, Sr. died 1805, aged 66 years.
  • “Martha, wife of Benjamin Borden, 1822, aged 43 years.
  • “Williams Cogswell, died 1821, aged 24 years. Eunice, wife of William Cogswell, died 1845, aged 74 years.
  • “Elizabeth, consort of James Delap, died 1838 (illegible).
  • “Hannah English, wife of John English who departed this life 1767, aged XX.
  • “Elisha Eaton, died 1817, aged 71 years. Irene, wife of Elisha, died 1820, aged 66 years.
  • “Eunice Harris, died 1803, aged 35 years.
  • “Margaret Elizabeth, wife of John Harris, died 1821, aged 32 years.
  • “Martha Harris, wife of Daniel Harris, died 1802 aged 50 years.
  • “William Loomer, died 1826, aged 29 years. John Loomer, died 1832, 48 years. Lewis Loomer, died 1820, aged 56 years. Levi Loomer, 1843, aged 85 years. Oliver Loomer, illegible.
  • “Abigail, wife of John Pearson, died 1820, aged 47 years. John Pearson, died 1848, aged 80 years.
  • “Lydia Woodworth, wife of Levi Woodworth, died 1843, aged 81 years. Levi Woodworth, died 1828, aged 62 years.
  • “Jerusha Woodworth, died 1839, aged 35 years.
  • “Jacob Walton, merchant, died 1811, aged 66 years. Jacob Walton, M.D. died 1840, aged 56 years.
  • “Daniel Wood, died 1813, aged 56 years. Lucy, consort of Daniel Wood, died 1825, aged 67 years.
  • “Dr. Stephen Wheaton, died 1848, aged 76 years.

“The parade across the highway from the graveyard was set aside in the revolutionary days to keep a rebellious realm in awe. It was adopted by the early Congregationalists from New England, which was soon occupied by Henry Alline. It later became the First Baptist Church of Cornwallis.”

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