At the time when Sutton Flats was no more than a hamlet, the pioneer families buried their dead in a cemetery situated in front of Olivet Church. It was only in 1855 that today’s Grace and Fairmount cemeteries, located higher up on Maple Road (just in front of Highland) were created.
The headstones from the cemetery at Olivet were transferred to these new burial grounds most likely in the 1870s. No visible traces of the first cemetery remain with only an old photo attesting to its existence.
Only the headstones were moved to the new cemeteries, some 55 total, dating from before 1855. The oldest currently dates from 1811 and honours the memory of Rebecca Baker, wife of Elijah Billings who was granted the lots in the heart of the village situated south of Maple Road, lots where the Town Hall, À la Fontaine restaurant, and the Museum were built. To this day, the remains of the pioneers still lie buried at the foot of Olivet Church.
In all likelihood, more deceased were buried in the original cemetery than headstones were moved. Not only is it probable that damaged tablets and wooden crosses were not relocated, but there may very well have been dead that were buried without having their tomb marked by a headstone.
So it is now to Grace Cemetery, reserved for Anglicans, and Fairmount, for those of other protestant denominations, that we must look to retrace the pioneer families of Sutton Flats. The headstones transferred from the first cemetery are scattered in the oldest sections of these grounds.
In Grace Cemetery, we find the Billings, Frary, Hurlburt, Powers, Spaulding, Squier, and Sweet families in particular, while Methodists, Baptists, and other protestant denominations are in Fairmount Cemetery. Some examples of these include the Bresee, Cutter, Dyer, Hubbard, Parsons, and Stetson families.
Jana Nutt and Moses Mills, parents of miller Reuben Mills, are among the pioneer families. They were buried at Grace Cemetery in 1856 and 1859, respectively. Reuben was buried in 1903 in Fairmount alongside his wife Ruth Sweet and his son Frederick who passed away in 1898 at the age of 48.
Located in Fairmount Cemetery, is the Legion Cemetery where soldiers were buried at their requests. This includes around 40 monuments surrounding a central cairn honouring the soldiers and their spouses.
The old Olivet Cemetery has since been transformed into a park by virtue of a clause in the contract signed when the Adventists purchased the church in 1876. The clause stipulated that the western grounds that served as a cemetery must always remain a public park. In 1910, the park changed hands to the Town who was charged with the responsibility of ensuring the tranquility of the area, prohibiting certain activities such as the installation of a skating rink or baseball field.
The park was dedicated to the soldiers who lost their lives in the great wars of the 20th century. Interestingly, no mention is made of the fact that the bones of the pioneer families of Sutton still lie beneath, an omission indeed worth mentioning.
Read also the article in the Voix de l’Est regarding the conference held on February 21st 2016 by the bioarcheologist Robert Larocque.