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The Quaker Cemetery
By far the majority of pages on this site deal with the military history of these historic lakes; that is to be expected due to the strategic importance the waterways held during times of conflict. This page is not about military history. Quite to the contrary, it is about a place and a people wholly devoted to peace- the beautiful little Quaker Cemetery in Grand Isle, Vermont.
A group of Quakers, or members of the Society of Friends, as they call themselves, settled early in the Champlain Islands. As early as 1801 the Friends on the island had built a meeting and school house on the lakeshore near the Mosher Hoag (Vantine) property.
The early Quaker settlers were active in horticulture on the islands, establishing many nurseries and orchards. To this day, the islands are known for their outstanding apple crops.
The Friends are, by virtue of their religious beliefs, strict pacifists. Doubtless their faith was sorely tested during the dark days of 1812-1814 when war came to the region. Mrs. George Fuller Tuttle tells us that "At the time of the battle on Cumberland bay, the Friends, at the regular hour, gathered in this building to hold "first day services," apparently oblivious to the roar of battle from three to six miles away, since their faith prevented any participation in the conflict.1"
As early as 1818 there was already a Friends' Burial Ground in Grand Isle, located close by Gordon's Landing, opposite Cumberland Head. On April 9, 1818 Silas Macomber deeded a site to Warren Corbin and Seth Griffith a piece of property adjacent to the cemetery for ten dollars. This property was to be used for a new meeting house. The photos seen on this page are from the ancient Friends' cemetery adjacent.
By 1836, the Quaker presence on the island had diminished significantly. Various controversies and schisms had developed within the groups in the area. The last service was held in the meeting house on what we now know as Adams School Road on November 17, 1836. The little building stood largely unused until 1880, when it was demolished.
In 1899, descendants of Friends on the island carted an enormous boulder from the lake shore, close by the site of the original log meeting-house to the old cemetery. Here it remains today, opposite the site of the second Meeting House, erected in 1818. The inscription, very difficult to read today, is as follows:
ERECTED A.D. 1899
The photos below show the cemetery as it appears today. Many of the stones are broken, some are tilted by frost heaves and stand at odd angles. The cemetery is well-maintained, there is a lovely new fence, the grass is mowed and someone has planted a hedge of evergreens around the edges of it. It remains today, as it was intended so long ago, a place of peace and rest.
(Click on the thumbnails to see a full-size image)
1THREE CENTURIES IN THE CHAMPLAIN VALLEY: A COLLECTION OF HISTORICAL FACTS AND INCIDENTS- TERCENTENARY EDITION. 1909: Compiled and Edited by Mrs. George Fuller Tuttle. Saranac Chapter, D.A.R. Plattsburgh, NY.
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