Return to Fort Haldimand

Carleton Island burial ground references.

Lossing, Benson J. The Pictorial Field Book of the War of 1812 (New York
1868), Page 660

"A little northward of the fort was the garrison cemetery; beyond this a fourth of a mile from the ramparts, is an ancient Indian burial-ground, in a grove of small trees on the verge of the river. In a grave that was opened there in the spring of 1860 was found the skeleton of a chief, then swathed in birch-bark, and next deposited in a board coffin. With the skeleton was found a silver gorget, on which was engraved a running deer; also a fine silver armlet (now in the possession of the writer) bearing the royal arms of England, silver ear-rings and other trinkets. Near this burial ground was found, a year before, a silver medal given by the British government to Colonel John Butler. It is known that Butler and Sir. John Johnson encamped, with the Indians from the Mohawk Valley, on Carleton Island in 1775, when on their
way to join the British at Montreal"

Town of Cape Vincent History, Child's Gazetteer (1890)

"The cemetery was on the plain east of the works, but very little remains of the head-stones at the present day. The relics found in and around the works consist of buttons, coins, tomahawks, flints, etc. Pieces of wrecked vessels are distinguished, on a still day, at the bottom of the river in the north bay. There is a sunken dock on the west side, and some little distance in the rear are the broken and almost obliterated graves of the soldiers' cemetery. When Charles Smyth obtained possession of the island, about 1820, many of the burial-places were still marked by carved oaken pieces of wood"

Numismatic and Antiquarian Society of Montreal - 1877

"...the western extremity of Carleton Island, which lies near Lake Ontario, on a promontory of land, ... To the rear of the fort, in a flat field, lie a number of graves, and further back, in a copse, is an old Indian burying ground."

Haddock, John A, History of Jefferson County New York, From 1793 to 1894 (Albany, NY 1895), Page 123

"Not far from the fort is an old burying-ground, in which many graves were found,"

Sylvester, Nathanial Bartlett, Historical Sketches of Northern New York and the Adirondack Wilderness, (Troy NY
1877) Page 259

"Not far from the fort is an old burying-ground, in which many graves were

Cape Vincent Eagle, Thursday, July 23, 1925,


The Watertown Times of July 16 had the following:

About two weeks ago, Garret. S. Jones, of Cape Vincent, and Alvin H; Dewey, of Rochester, while- searching for Indian relics on Carleton Island discovered the remains of what may have been an Indian, or possible a white man on the same site where Mr. Jones dug up an Indian skeleton but a few weeks ago. The skeleton was found in a flexed position. Remains of a wooden box' and a piece of bark were bound together with two wrought iron nails used in the construction of the box showing that the body was buried in a rude wooden casket of some sort. Mr. Dewey is head of the municipal museum of Rochester and is a recognized authority on the Indian archeology of this section. He expressed the opinion that although the body had been buried in a, box, it was an Indian and not a white man. It is probable that if the skeleton is the remains of an Indian, the latter was one of the Indians who took part in the American Revolution. At the time of the Revolution, the island was a rendezvous for British Tories, and Indians friendly to the British, it was from the post on Carleton Island that Joseph Brant led the Mohawks on the warpath against the whites in the Mohawk Valley. Others are of the opinion that the skeleton is the remains of some white man, probably a British soldier or Torie who was killed. The upland was occupied by the British for some time prior to the Revolution and even afterwards and the fact that the body had been buried in a wooden box leads one to believe that the skeleton is that of a white man, as the Indians are not known to have buried their dead in that way. However, the Indians did bury their dead in a flexed position, with hands elapsed across the breast and knees bent upward touching the body. Mr. Dewey is very familiar with Carleton Island and the surrounding country as he has spent much time here investigating and exploring for relics. He was much interested in the finding of the Indian skeleton by Mr. Jones a few weeks ago and the two decided to dig further on the same spot. They dug around the old roots of a tree and eventually came on the remains of the old box. The roots of the tree had grown completely round it. The skeleton had a deep gash in the skull, indicating that the person was killed - with a blow from a tomahawk or some similar instrument. The skeleton was found in a section known to have been an Indian burial ground. What was formerly a burial ground for white men is also located on the island and the British buried their dead there.

Cape Vincent Eagle THURSDAY, JUNE 4, 1925.



The following appeared in the Watertown Times of Monday evening:

Garrett S. Jones, of Cape Vincent, discovered the skeleton of an Indian on the north shore of Carleton Island Sunday afternoon. The skeleton was disinterred in an old Indian burying ground, about 500 feet in an easterly direction from the much talked about cave on the island.

The skeleton was that of a male, perhaps five feet ten inches in height. Mr. Jones said that every indication made him believe the grave was centuries old.

The burial was probably made more than 300 years ago, as few Indian burials were made in this section of the state after that time. The Iroquois moved southward, abandoning their fortified villages in the neighborhood of Adams and Ellisburg, prior to the coming of Champlain in 1615. After that time Northern New York was never used as a permanent habitation of the Indians.

The Indian grave was found in an odd manner. Mr. and Mrs. Jones and party had gone to the island for a shore dinner Sunday. After dinner Mr. and Mrs. Jones started out to hunt for Indian relics. On the north shore of the island there is a high bank. The wash of the St. Lawrence river has caused part of the bank to slide in. The end of one of the legs of the skeleton was thus exposed to view.

The Indian had been buried in a flexed position, his hands under his face, knees doubled up and lying on his left side. The body and sides of the grave were lined with cedar poles and a layer of Cedar bark was found inside, surrounding the skeleton. The top of the skull showed a deep fracture, one and a half inches long and one quarter of an inch wide, such as would be produced by a blow from a crude axe or celt.

Perhaps then, this Indian was out in scouting party when he suddenly received his death blow and was carried back to camp to be buried by his braves. There was some charcoal scattered through the top soil above the grave. here was no sign of an implement or tool in the grave with the skeleton. The grave was about 32 inches deep, ???3 inches long and about 18 or 20 inches wide.  The bones were in excellent condition considering the fact that there was an absence of the customary fire pits above the grave. Mr. Jones has the complete skeleton with the exception of the ribs and some vertebrae. The bones were quite soft, however. He is now having them washed and they will then be dried carefully in the sun and then baked to harden them. The skeleton will then be reassembled in natural form and if the Jefferson County Historical society desires the skeleton, it will probably be given to
the society.

JONES, Garrett S. Historical Sketch on Carleton Island and Fort Haldimand,
(Watertown NY, 1926)

Arranged for the Annual Pilgrimage of the Jefferson County Historical Society on July 31, 1926

"Nearby and on a plain east of the fort was a burying ground and on a point on the extreme north end was another, an Indian burying ground being located about a quarter of a mile or more to the northeast on a bluff. No trace of these are left, other than a few excavations where skeletons have been removed at different times. Seventy-five years ago carved oaken planks were
standing on some of the graves but at that time the inscriptions were all defaced except one as follows: J. Farrar, D. Fy., 1792."