Friday, 8 February 2013

Curious Pattern of Burial Dates

I've been looking at burial in records for Ottawa's Beechwood Cemetery for 1896-7. Typically through the summer and fall there were only two or three days between death and interment according to the burial register available on Ancestry.ca.  As the ground became frozen, and without machines for digging graves, I'd expected interments to cease. 

Starting with a death on December 24 there were many entries with a notation "vault" and interment dates the following May or June. But there were also interments with just a 2-3 day delays, some were with the notation "pauper grounds", others were in various cemetery sections. 
That pattern continued until the beginning of April when there were no further interments delayed beyond a couple of days. 
What's curious is that none of the deferred interments from December, January, February and March took place in April when the regular routine resumed. Any ideas why?

4 comments:

Old Census Scribe said...

I noticed this when doing transcriptions for the Toronto Trust Cemeteries Project.

Infant burials could quite often occur during the winter months, perhaps because they were small graves. Pauper graves, being closer to each other, might also have been simpler to prepare--and there may have been extra costs of vault storage.

Burials from the vault were probably scheduled around to accommodate the mourners' convenience, and some family members may have come into town from a distance.

I am going to fail on your first set of capcha tags.

Old Census Scribe said...

Another possibility in April. The ground would be too wet for a large group of mourners, but an immediate family of up to half a dozen could be given boards to stand on.

Anonymous said...

Margaret Anne said,
The cemetery employees were busy in April so likely postponed vault burials. They had the gardening, necessary April burials, April cold and showers. My ancestor, George Story, died in January, 1888 and was buried in Beechwood in June of that year. Some family would have been coming in from Pakenham for his burial, (they went to the Byward Market) so Beechwood was not much farther) In April 1909,one Story ancestor drowned near Pakenham when the buggy went into the overflowing Big Creek -April was a dangerous time to travel. Family sometimes want to have the tombstone erected before the burial. (another delay)
As an aside, in August 1888, the Story/Storey family transferred two females to Beechwood from the Sandy Hill burial ground, which was being closed.

Anonymous said...

As Old Census Scribe said the burials could have occurred much later at the convenience of the family or in some cases were some of the people placed in the vault over the winter months and then later buried in a cemetery that did not have a vault. I know this happened in the area I grew up in. The vault was at the main cemetery in the town and the burials happened later in local country cemeteries.