It has long been recognized that cemeteries form an important link in our cultural and historical heritage. Whether plain or elaborate, gravestones are classified among the earliest examples of creative art. In addition, each and every stone is an irreplacable historical artifact, recording something of a community’s history.
As might be expected in an area with a rich and colorful past, this region is noted for many historic cemeteries. These may be found from Dorchester to Point de Bute; from Sackville to Jolicure; from Fort Beausejour to Port Elgin and all points between. One of the most interesting is the Methodist cemetery in Middle Sackville. A checklist of names on it’s headstones becomes a roll call of the early Yorkshire settlers on the Marsh. Buried here are members of the Atkinson, Fawcett, Dixon and Bowser families, along with many others.
The Fawcetts emigrated from Hovingham, Yorkshire in 1774 and soon became prominent in the life of the township. Numbered among the trustees of the first Methodist chapel were James Fawcett, John Fawcett Jr., and William Fawcett, who donated the land on which it was built.
The tombstone of the latter has long attracted attention for the grim tale it records:
IN MEMORY OF WILLIAM FAWCETT WHO WAS A PLAIN
INDUSTRIOUS HOSPITABLE AND DEEPLY PIOUS MAN
WHOSE UNIFORM AND CHRISTIAN CONDUCT GAINED HIM
THE RESPECT OF ALL WHO BECAME ACQUAINTED WITH HIM
WHILE READING ONE OF MR. WESLEY’S SERMONS
HIS IMMORTAL SPIRIT WAS INSTANTLY PRECIPITATED
INTO THE ETERNAL WORLD TO TAKE POSSESSION OF ITS
FINAL REST BY SOME MONSTER OF INIQUITY THAT WILL BE
DISCOVERED AT THE LAST DAY
WHO INTENTIONALLY SHOT HIM DEAD
THROUGH THE KITCHEN WINDOW
ON THE EVENING OF JUNE 19, 1832
IN THE 63RD YEAR OF HIS AGE.
READER BE YE ALSO READY
A search of newspaper files reveals few additional details. Fawcett’s obituary notes that
when the coroner was called, the body was found in a sitting posture, [the book of sermons] fixed firm in his hand, and open at Wesley’s text — 2 Samuel 18:33 — ‘O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would I had died instead of you.’
The plot thickens as the obituary concludes:
What renders this dispensation more particularly depressing, is that suspicion has fallen on his only son [Rufus] as perpetrator of the murder. Rufus was to be charged with the crime, and in the trial that followed, acquitted. He then left for the United States and
the murder on the marsh remains to this day, an unsolved mystery. Reader Be Ye Also Ready!