THE YOUNG TRACT BURYING GROUND:
FAMILY CEMETERY OF THE YOUNG AND NELLES FAMILIES OF
             HALDIMAND COUNTY, ONTARIO, CANADA
Timeline

1974 When my maternal grandmother took ill, I visited her in the Hamilton, Ontario
hospital where she was recuperating.  Realizing that there is no time like the present, and
not knowing much about her family history (other than they were locals), I took a paper
towel from the dispenser to use as a recording device (I still have this item) and wrote
down what my grandmother told me.  She said that her father's mother was a YOUNG from
Ryckman's Corners (now a part of Hamilton in the County of Wentworth which adjoins
Haldimand County).  I spent the next year researching the details of my connection with
the YOUNG family and learned that grandmother's grandmother was very much a
YOUNG - three of her grandparents had that surname (all first cousins).  Realizing that
biologically I was most strongly connected to my YOUNG ancestors I took a special
interest in this branch of my family.  Within a short time I had assembled documentary
evidence (thanks largely to my grandmother's aunt who was in her 90s at the time) to allow
me to became a member of the United Empire Loyalist's Association of Canada by virtue
of my descent from Lt. John Young of the Six Nations Indian Department during the
American Revolution.  The latter's father, Adam Young, the family patriarch in Canada,
served in Butler's Ranger's before being discharged by virtue of his age in order to set up
a farm to help feed the British garrison at Ft. Niagara.  Lt. John Young obtained a grant of
land from the Six Nations Indians along the Grand River, and his father and brothers
joined him there at the close of the War.  This grant is known as the Young Tract (and can
still be seen on modern County maps).

1975 While my family was quickly able to direct me to the burial places of all the
generations of my YOUNG ancestors back to my great great great great grandparents at
the Barton Stone Church Cemetery in Ryckman's Corners, and the more recent
generations in Hamilton Cemetery, it was a mystery as to where the earliest members of
the family were interred.  I was "missing" the location of Abraham Young and his wife
Eleanor Dennis, Abraham's father Lt. John Young and his wife Catharine Hill, and John's
father and the family patriarch, Adam Young (whose wife Catharine Schremling I knew was
buried in the Smith Cemetery at Ryckman's Corners since as a widow she resided with her
son Sgt. Daniel Young of Butler's Rangers who pioneered in that area after leaving the
Grand River in 1795).  I am a descendant of both Lt. John and Sgt. Daniel (two sons of
Adam and Catharine). I knew that the final resting place of my "missing" ancestors must
be somewhere along the Grand River in Haldimand County, but exactly where - I did not
know.

Historical Society members put me in touch with an authority on the history of the Young
and Nelles families, Mary Nelles who resided in the house built by Capt. Henry William
Nelles, the patriarch of the Nelles family of Haldimand County, and contemporary of
Adam Young.  She indicated that she had a picture of the Cemetery on the river flats and
gave me a name of a Young living along the River, who in turn gave me directions as to
how to find the Cemetery - but warned me that I wouldn't be able to see much as it was
very overgrown.  Search as I could I was unable to find anything that remotely resembled a
cemetery.  Mary Nelles said that at one time there were about 100 graves, many
surrounded by metal fence enclosures, but that there was nothing left to mark the location.  
In the 1940s one Helen Nelles compiled the only known transcription of the inscriptions on
the few headstones then legible; in the early 1940's a picture was taken of two Nelles
descendants (see later) standing by the only stone left upright; and a newspaper clipping
from 1 December 1948 reported that a descendant visiting from Vancouver found that "it
had been plowed up and sown with grain, having been completely overgrown with weeds
and brush.  Oddly enough, the only stone left intact was that of the old pioneer, Major
Hendrick Nelles, who died in 1791."

The story began to emerge that over the years the cemetery became very neglected.  The
last known burial in the Cemetery had taken place in 1925.  Many of the tombstones were
vandalized or knocked over by the occasional spring flood.  This led a group of Nelles
descendants in 1960s to remove the last standing stone, that of the family patriarch Capt.
Henry William Nelles who died in 1791, to the churchyard of the nearby St. Johns Anglican
Church where the stone was ultimately placed in a cairn to save this piece of family and
County history.  Unfortunately this had the effect of leaving the burying ground on the flats
at the mercy of the then owner of the surrounding land, one McSorley, who then removed
the remaining pieces of tombstones, placed them in a pit, and backfilled.  He was then able
to plow his land without the impediment and inconvenience of the Cemetery.  Thus the
Cemetery became part of a corn and soybean field and there was absolutely nothing to
provide a hint as to where the Cemetery was located other than the knoll it was known to
occupy.  Family members and locals were outraged, but no one had any authority to stop
McSorley from plowing over the graves of the ancestors of the Young and Nelles families.  
I was absolutely appalled at this situation, seeing it as one of the most disrespectful of acts
that was surely morally reprehensible and likely illegal.  Thus I set out to right a wrong.  
Little did I realize the 28 year struggle that lay ahead - I naively believed that I would just
need to inform the proper authorities and the plowing would stop and the Cemetery would
be returned to its rightful status.