Who are the forgotten dead of Vulcan County?

Whose remains are buried here?

During the decade after 1916, settlers fled the drought-ridden plains of southeastern Alberta en masse. As David C. Jones outlines in his book, We’ll all be buried down here- The Prairie Drybelt Disaster of 1917-1926, homesteaders often alighted with few possessions, many carrying only “the shirts on their backs”.

In some instances settlers were forced to part with something more dear, the remains of loved ones who had passed on, left behind in lonely, sometimes forgotten, prairie graveyards.

“We’ll all be buried down here in this dry belt, if we wait for the government to get us out,” Jones quotes one settler, who expressed his desire to “Quit the Dry Belt” in no uncertain terms:. “And parts of it are desperately desolate places to be buried in.

One such desperately desolate place was Taylor Cemetery, located in Vulcan County:

Along an unremarkable stretch of road, about seventeen miles northeast of the village of Lomond, lie the forgotten dead of Vulcan County.

On a wind-whipped knoll, just to the north of Secondary Highway 539, a lonely pioneer graveyard endures, as it has for almost a century. Within rest the remains of a forgotten few, the only legacy left by a handful of pioneer families who were driven from these drought-stricken plains after 1916. Today this little cemetery on the prairie holds a mystery, the identities of those laid to rest, and the number of individuals interred here, having been lost over time.

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Kinnondale School District No. 2096

Kinnondale School (top left) and teacherage on original site in 1941. Koch family farm (formerly John Tibbitts) in foreground. (Koch family photo)

By the end of 1909, the land boom in the area northeast of present-day Lomond was in full swing. According to a 1937 study by G.H. Craig and J. Proskie entitled  “The Acquisition of Land in the Vulcan-Lomond area of Alberta”, more than half of the homesteads and pre-emptions taken in the Lomond District between 1905 and 1935 were claimed in the four-year period following the opening of the area for settlement in 1906.

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Chronicling the pioneer-era people and places of the southern Alberta drybelt since 2009. Alberta Heritage Resources Foundation Heritage Awareness Award recipient.