EARLY METHODIST CEMETERIES IN NIAGARA-ON-THE-LAKE
THE WARNER'S GRAVEYARD
A United Empire Loyalist Cemetery
CHRISTIAN WARNER 1754-1833
Born in Albany County, N.Y., Warner served in Butler's Rangers during the American Revolution, and settled in this vicinity shortly after the corps was disbanded in 1784. Converted to Methodism, Warner became the leader of one of the earliest "Methodist Classes" in the province. Services were held at his home, and in 1801 a simple frame chapel was erected on his property. It became known as the "Warner Meeting House" and was the first Methodist church in Canada west of the Bay of Quinte. This structure was replaced about 1870 by a new chapel. The adjacent "Warner Burying Ground" contains the graves of Christian Warner and other pioneer Loyalist settlers of this region.
Archaeological and Historical Sites Board of Ontario
The Warner Cemetery is located in Niagara-on-the-Lake, on Warner Road, approximately two miles east of the Homer Bridge; near the intersection of the Queen Elizabeth Highway (QEW).
For many years the cemetery was not well maintained and it became increasingly difficult to read many of the stones in the cemetery; one of the oldest stones still standing records the death of Sarah Lawrence who died in 1825. Sarah was related to the Methodist Class Leader, George Lawrence of Butler's Rangers. The Town of Virgil was initially named Lawrenceville, for George who had erected a Methodist Meeting House on his property in 1840.[United Church of Canada, Queenston web site.] Another very old stone marks the resting place of Stephen Secord, who died in 1808, aged 49. In the 1783 Niagara census of Colonel John Butler the name Secord occurs more frequently than any other. The names of other early settlers are also present, including Hostetter, Van Every, Clow, Ostander, Swayze, Durham, Berninger, McKinley, Hill, Cain and Collard.
1940 MEMORIAL TO CHRISTIAN WARNER
On September 29 1940, a monument to Christian Warner was unveiled in the Warner Burying Ground under the joint auspices of the Lundy's Lane Historical Society and the Warner Memorial Committee. Initially Christian's grave had been marked by the stock of his musket; however, the stock of the gun had disappeared by the 1930's.
[Excerpt Niagara Fall Gazette - undated]
1965 MEMORIAL TO CHRISTIAN WARNER
In June 19 1965, Christian received further recognition, when a plaque was erected by the Ontario Department of Tourism and Information, acting on the advice of the Archaeological and Historic Sites Board of Ontario. The press release issued at the time contained the following wording:
Christian Warner, one of the best known names in the history of the pioneer Methodist Church in the province was born at Beaver Dams, Albany County, New York, on November 7, 1754, and died March 21, 1833. He lived a long and useful life, governed by loyalty to the Crown and strict religious discipline. He embodied many of the better qualities of our pioneer ancestors, so necessary to their existence in a sparsely settled land. His burial took place in the old Warner Burying Ground, where he was laid to rest among many representatives of other early Niagara families.
LOCALS PROTECT THE HISTORIC CEMETERY
When the Ontario Government was designing the Queen Elizabeth Highway and it appeared that the road might encroach on the Warner Cemetery, the Directors of the Warner Cemetery Board, asked residents and other interested parties to send letters to the Member of Provincial Parliament and others suggesting an alternative should be considered, one that would preserve the historic Warner Cemetery. As a result of letters and public information sessions they were successful in saving the cemetery.
United Empire Loyalist Cemetery
NOTE: Lists of individuals buried in the Methodist cemeteries (often along with photo) can be found at www.canadianheadstones.com
UNITED EMPIRE LOYALISTS WARNER CEMETERY
The above sign is attached to the fence surrounding the Warner Cemetery. It recognizes the Warner Cemetery as the final resting place of many United Empire Loyalists, including Christian Warner and John Butler.
The cemetery was identified and designated by the Colonel John Butler (Niagara Branch) as a site of 'Cultural Heritage Value'.
METHODIST-UNITED CHURCH CEMETERY GATE STREET, NIAGARA-ON-THE-LAKE
Established in 1823
This land was purchased by the Methodists to build a meeting house and cemetery. Eventually, the frame church on this property was sold and moved to the corner of Gate and Prideaux Streets, where it became a residence. The cemetery was enlarged to include the area where the church had stood.
In 1874, the Methodist congregation purchased the Canada Presbyterian Church on Victoria Street and, on Church Union, it became Grace United Church.
Burials of Methodists and United Church members continued in this cemetery until 1952. This cemetery is now officially closed and maintained by Grace United Church.
[Map showing the location of:]
Grace United Church
Location of early Methodist Meeting House
Methodist-United Cemetery, Gate Street
METHODIST-UNITED CEMETERY, VIRGIL
The Methodist Meeting House at the Cross Roads was built on land owned by George Lawrence, a Palatine and former Butler's Ranger, to whom the property had been deeded by the Crown. George Lawrence was a Class Leader and held class meetings in his home until the Meeting House was built in 1848. The cemetery was established right behind the meeting house, which has now been demolished. This cemetery is closed and maintained by the town of Niagara-on-the-Lake.
Currently the corner of Four Mile Creek Rd and Niagara Stone Rd, Virgil.
Methodist-United Church Cemetery, Virgil
This Document was prepared, in June 2012, for Grace United Church, Niagara-on-the-Lake.