Taylor Cemetery: “Consecrated, set apart, and dedicated forever.”

On October 1, 2013, I was honoured to be part of a dedication ceremony at Taylor Cemetery, located about five miles west of Bow City (which I have written about here and here). A ceremony was performed by Rev. Gordon Cranch of Vulcan; alongside a plinth and bronze plaque that had been installed previously by Vulcan County to commemorate this nearly forgotten pioneer graveyard.

There is a significant list of people whose efforts over the years made this day possible. These include the Ketchmark Family of Bow City; Liza Dawber at Vulcan County and Vulcan County Council, staff and administration; My mum and dad, Grandpa Koch and Earl Taylor; and also Chris Brown and Michele Jarvie of the Medicine Hat News and Calgary Herald respectively. My sincerest thanks to all of the aforementioned, and anyone I may have excluded unintentionally.

Also thanks to Sandra Stanway of the Brooks Bulletin, who attended the ceremony and wrote a nice piece on the consecration, including some of the project background, here. Further to Sandra’s piece, I have included links to further information on the Kinnondale community here and here.

Finally, I have included the text from the consecration performed by Rev. Gordon Cranch below. His words are well-chosen and poignant, and I believe are a fitting tribute to those souls left behind on the prairie, now to be remembered, forever.

It is my pleasure to be with you today to dedicate this marker and plaque for the Taylor Cemetery.

I got to doing a little research and found some items of interest on the subject of cemeteries and dedications.

Probably the most famous cemetery dedication was 150 years ago, when President Lincoln delivered his Gettysburg Address at the dedication of the civil war cemetery at Gettysburg. President Lincoln was not the main speaker, that would have been a gentleman by the name of Edward Everett who spoke for 2 hours. Oddly enough, no one remembers him or his message. President Lincoln spoke for 2 minutes and his speech is well known to this day: “Fourscore years and seven, our fathers …

So quantity does not outweigh quality.

I found a poem by Horatio Alger, For the Consecration of a Cemetery:

This verdant field that smiles to Heaven
In Nature’s bright array,
From common uses set apart,
We consecrate today.

God’s Acre, be it fitly called,
For when, beneath the sod,
We lay the dead with reverent hands,
We yield them back to God.

And His great love, so freely given,
Shall speak in clearer tones,
When, pacing through these hallowed walks,
We read memorial stones.

Here let the sunshine softly fall,
And gently drop the rain,
And nature ‘s countless harmonies
Blend one accordant strain.

That they who seek this sacred place,
In mourning solitude,
In all this gracious company
May have their faith renewed.

So, lifted to serene heights,
and purified from dross,
Their trustful hearts shall rest on God,
And profit by their loss.

We do not know with certainty who lain in this field for almost 100 years, but we can be sure that God knows. They were left to rest here while their families moved on to wherever they felt there was a chance for a better life.

We Anglicans have a service for everything so I am able to use the archaic and proper formula:

Whereas a piece of land situate at SW-14-17-18-W4 within our Diocese and jurisdiction has been appropriated for the burial of the dead; and whereas the said piece of land has been sufficiently enclosed and marked and is now ready for consecration.

Now therefore, we do consecrate the said piece of land, and do set it apart from all profane and common uses, and do dedicate to Almighty God for the burial of the dead; that the bodies of the faithful may therein rest in peace and the hope of the resurrection to eternal life; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

And we do pronounce, decree, and declare that the said land shall remain so consecrated, set apart, and dedicated forever; In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

And the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, be amongst you and remain with you always.

Amen.

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