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More bodies than headstones at Mohawk Chapel

The Cultural Coordinator at the Mohawk Chapel in Brantford is trying to identify family lineage of those buried in the graveyard. With most graves being over 200 years old and with historical records having been shipped to London, Ontario to an archives center, this is proving to be a daunting task. The graveyard finds itself

The Cultural Coordinator at the Mohawk Chapel in Brantford is trying to identify family lineage of those buried in the graveyard. With most graves being over 200 years old and with historical records having been shipped to London, Ontario to an archives center, this is proving to be a daunting task. The graveyard finds itself with more bodies than headstones, so it may never be known exactly who are buried at the Chapel. The Mohawk Chapel was originally built as part of the Mohawk Village in 1785 and is the only building left standing of the village. According to Cultural Coordinator, Jaquie Jamieson, “I can only identify four graves here. Most of them are direct descendants of Joseph Brant. Also some family members of Pauline Johnson are also buried here as well. There are no records here that I know of.” Jamieson stated that the Mohawk Village was built one year after the Haldimand Deed of 1784 was granted to the Six Nations. Included in the Mohawk Village were a council house, Joseph Brant’s home and the Chapel. Jamieson is now reaching out to the community at large, asking for any information that people may have on who is buried at the Chapel. “If there are any community members that have any family that are buried here, please contact me. There are more people buried here than there are markers. Many descendants of Joseph Brant’s family are also buried here but not all.” The Two Row Times took a walk around the outskirts of the Mohawk Chapel and noticed most headstones were weathered and worn out. Many names on the headstones were difficult to decipher making it next to impossible to know who is buried where. “We’re basically looking for stories. If you know someone who is buried here please let us know so we can document it,” stated Jamieson. According to Barry Hill, who is the Chairperson for the Mohawk Chapel Committee, the committee itself oversees the activities of the Chapel in conjunction with the diocese. Sitting on the committee are representatives from Six Nations Elected Council, the community and the diocese. With the Mohawk Chapel in close proximity to the Mohawk Institute, one of Canada’s notorious residential schools, children were brought to the Chapel every Sunday for worship. The Mush Hole closed June 30, 1970. It is not known if those children who died while attending the Mush Hole were buried at the Mohawk Chapel. However, the Minister at the Chapel was also the Chaplain at the Mohawk Institute, “so he had two jobs,” stated Hill. Students who perished at the residential school were, “most likely buried at the Mohawk Chapel.” Hill also explained that until 1807, the Mohawk Chapel was the only church in Brantford, so many non-natives are buried there as well. After 1807, Joseph Brant donated three acres of land near BCI Highschool on West Street to build the church known today as Grace Anglican. According to Hill, there are no maps of the graveyard but several years ago a genealogy worker did a study of the people buried there. “But there’s not very many First Nations names on it,” stated Hill. “We do know that Pauline Johnson’s father, mother, grandmother and grandfather are buried there but we only know the approximate location where the grandfather is buried.” Hill stated that many of the records have been moved for safekeeping and now sit at Huron College in London, Ontario. “I went down there once last spring,” explained Hill, “and it’s a huge amount of material to go through. It includes all the baptismal, marriage and death certificates before 1970. It is the responsibility of the Chapel to maintain these records but due to the volume and wanting to keep the records safe, they were moved to the college in 1996.” Hill and Jamieson also mentioned that a few years ago, an attempt was made to identify gravesites. Clynt King who is the Environmental Officer for Six Nations Elected Council, brought in ground penetrating radar but the results came back inclusive because there were too many trees around the yard with roots stretching out in every direction beneath the surface of the ground. “Since the graves are so old (200+ years), they used the old wooden coffins back then, and no metal or nails that could be detected on the radar,” stated Hill. The Mohawk Chapel is open for tourists from May until October. In July and August, service is held every Sunday. For more information, contact Cultural Coordinator Jaquie Jamieson at 519-756-0240.

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Jen MtPleasant

Jen MtPleasant

Tuscarora Nation. Honours BA Criminology, Class of 2013. Advocate for missing and murdered ogwehoweh men and women. @JenMtPleasant

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2 Comments

  • hphpgrl
    August 14, 2014, 11:40 am

    *more bodies THAN headstones. The way you have it written means “more bodies, and after that, the headstones”

    REPLY
    • Clive Garlow@hphpgrl
      August 15, 2014, 9:44 pm

      @hphprl – More apples than oranges; more grapes than tomatoes; there were more Chevs at the rally than Fords. What’s so hard to figure out about that?

      REPLY
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