Approximately 100 yards west of Portage Road on Lundy's Lane stood a Presbyterian Church built in 1775. It was a small red log building which stood on the highest ground on Lundy's Lane Hill (presently known as Drummond Hill). Along the south side of this church was a small enclosed grave yard.
Drummond Hill at 710 feet above sea level towered above the surrounding landscape.
To the south side of Lundy's Lane Hill (present site of Barker Street) was a young orchard below the grave sites. Among the tender trees stood a small house and a farm yard.
The closest house to the battlefield was James Forsyth's house ( present site of Ukrainian Catholic Church - Main Street). The next closest house was that of Haggai Skinner who lived north of the battlefield on present day Drummond Road. The only homes on Lundy's Lane were the homesteads of the Lundy's and the Green's quite a distance away.
Soldiers Monument at Drummond Hill Cemetery
Surrounding Lundy's Lane Hill were meadows and cultivated fields with thick woods less than a mile away stretching in every direction.
According to a letter written about the Prospect Hotel by the son of the original builder, Robert Fairbank, there is a tunnel that runs from Drummond Hill Cemetery to the Prospect Hotel. Now boarded up, it was originally used as an escape route by defenders, during the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812.
The first owner of Drummond Hill was James Forsyth. In 1798, he took out a patent for 400 acres of land including Drummond Hill.
The second owner of Drummond Hill was United Empire Loyalist, Christopher Buchner (originally spelled Boughner). He married Sarah Forsyth, the daughter of James and Eunice Forsyth.
Christopher set aside half an acre on Drummond Hill for a burying ground for his neighbouring settlers. At that time it was the only cemetery between Chippawa and Stamford. The oldest tombstone was that of John Burch’s dating back to 1797.
At the start of the War of 1812, Drummond Hill was fenced with logs and shaded by many maple and other large trees. The surrounding area consisted of several farm orchards and forest.
Buchner purchased 23 acres of land from his father in law, James Forsyth. This land included Drummond Hill.
John Buchner, the son of Christopher and Sara Buchner, fought for the British in the War of 1812. John saw action during the Battle of Lundy’s Lane on July 25th 1814 and it was during this battle that he was taken prisoner by American troops. Following the war, John Buchner was released.
After the original plot of land for the cemetery was filled, John Buchner donated another half acre so that it could be enlarged.
Catharine Buchner, the daughter of John Buchner married Donald MacKenzie. Through her inheritance she became the owner of the Buchner estate including Drummond Hill.
By 1860, all the available cemetery plots had again been filled. Donald MacKenzie, then owner of Drummond Hill was asked to donate more land in order to expand the cemetery. At first MacKenzie was reluctant to do so. He later sold more of his land holdings on Drummond Hill to allow for the cemetery expansion.
The property of Drummond Hill became part of the MacKenzie estate following the deaths of Catharine and Donald MacKenzie. The last surviving relative was John L. Mackenzie. He became the last private citizen to hold title to this historic battlefield and cemetery. Following his death, the property became a public historical site.
Today Drummond Hill cemetery encompasses four acres. In 1912, the cemetery and surrounding landscape was taken over by the Niagara Parks Commission.
Future plans include the restoration of the historic battlefield of Lundy’s Lane.
Date last updated:
February 20, 2012
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