Searching For a Hidden Cemetery

Our day began with a drive to the Wellington County Archives near Fergus, Ontario. I wanted to see what information they may have on a Stewart family what was living in Ermosa (DNA is pointing me to a possible Stewart connection). The Grey County Archives is only open on Saturdays so we will miss visiting it.

The Wellington Archives is located in a beautiful building and after a summary of their holdings from a staff member I did some light research. I was happy to see they had some records from Normanby Township where mom’s family was from. I showed her the 1861 census index and she enjoyed looking at the different places people were born, mostly Scotland and Ireland.

We had lunch in Elora and after looking around we decided we loved his little town that has so much character. If I am ever back this way I will definitely be staying at the Historic Elora Mill which is being restored at the moment and is supposed to open later this year. The town is full of cute shops and the town has a wonderful feel, I would love to see it in the summer.

Our next plan was to find the elusive Orchardville Cemetery, this is my third trip to Grey and I still had not stopped there. This turned out to be a bigger deal than we had anticipated. Before searching for it we stopped at the Ayton Library to get directions, again we had wonderful help from a staff member and left feeling confident we would not have a problem.qVpvHqpsTvyMIXnHCLrE0g

We used our Sat Nav to get us close, which told us to pull over along the highway and walk, we believed it, a bit of a mistake. After wandering around and not seeing anything we headed back to the vehicle.

Feeling rather determined we stopped at three houses to ask directions…no luck. Back to the map, reviewed what Sat Nav was saying and I had an idea. I opened up my Find-A-Grave App. I was happy to see that the person who had uploaded the Orchardville Cemetery photos had also added photos of the road signs near the hidden turnoff.
We drove a little further up the road and recognized the sign from the App. I pulled over, and we walked to the top of the hill easily spotting the big white cross and headstones in the distance.
I finally was at the resting spot of Michael McMahon (1806-1856), my mother’s great great grandfather. Also mentioned on the stone is his grandson Michael McMahon (1854-1872), Cornelius’s oldest son.


Michael Sr. & his grandson Michael McMahon

Michael Sr.’s son Cornelius also has a headstone in this cemetery and likely is his final resting spot, although his name is on a headstone in St. Mary’s Cemetery in Ayton.


Cornelius McMahon’s headstone

I am not sure why but most of the headstones in the Orchardville Cemetery have been gathered and placed side-by-side in a cement slab.

We celebrated our success by treating ourselves to some food and wine!

Road Trip Progress

Yesterday traveled Toronto to Delhi 149 km

Met mom’s third cousin for the first time and stayed in the McMahon home that is 118 years old. The famous Irish welcome we were granted was followed by quick-witted conversation, offers of food and a warm place to sit by the crackling fire. We were quickly at ease with our newly met family; the conversation and stories flowed, soon followed by bursts of laughter. A sense of ease and comfort that can only be identified as the familiarity of family.


McMahon family home built in 1900


Followed by hours spent happily scanning their enormous family collection of pictures/documents


One of the 3 bins of family pictures and documents they have preserved + a very long evening of scanning = genealogy heaven


Today began with a visit to La Salette Cemetery to pay our respects to my mother’s great-great uncle Michael McMahon and many of his descendants buried there


Mary Stewart with her cousin John McMahon at Michael McMahon’s headstone in La Sallete Cemetery, Norfolk


Followed by a 166 km drive to our next stop at Saint Mary’s Cemetery in Ayton, Ontario. This is where my mother’s paternal great-grandfathers are both buried, William Stewart (1804-1883) and Cornelius McMahon (1824-1893). As well her paternal great-grandmother Sarah McCue/McHugh (1825-1915) and her great aunt Sarah Culliton (1866-1925).

Words cannot convey how amazing it has been the last couple of days. Connecting my mother with her McMahon family and seeing her standing beside the final resting place of people that she did not know the names of before I began my genealogy journey.

*featured image is the interior of the La Salette Catholic Church in Norfolk County, Ontario