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Reesor Pioneer Cemetery is the final resting place of some of the early settlers of Markham Township

July 2022

The City of Markham, a city of around 340, 000 in southern Ontario, has its origins dating back to the early days of Upper Canada. Established as Ressorville in 1826 by Joseph Reesor, a Mennonite “Pennsylvania Dutch” settler, it’s one of the early villages in Markham Township.

A post office was opened in 1828, and the name of the village was changed to Markham. By 1850, Markham had a population of 650, and featured a woolen mill, a foundry and a distillery. The Toronto and Nipissing Railway arrived in 1870, with the village being incorporated by the end of 1872.

The Reesor family first settled in the area in 1804, when Christian Reesor immigrated to York County from Pennsylvania with his wife and children, settling on Lot 14, Concession 10 in Markham Township, just east of where Reesorville would later be established.

Tragically, Christian was killed on 26 March 1806, when a tree fell on him while he and his sons were clearing their land. He was buried in corner on the farm and when his wife Fanny died on 10 October 1818, she was buried in the same plot.

The cemetery was used as a family burial plot for around 90 years. Although the Reesor family is still a prominent farming family in the area, including a farm just south of Steeles avenue in Toronto which is said to be the only operating farm within the city limits, the cemetery land was expropriated by the federal government many years ago, and is now part of the Rouge Urban National Park lands.

The cemetery is well maintained, surrounded by a white concrete balustrade that was built in 1931. The entrance off Reesor Road is marked by a stone and masonry wall with a black iron gate, built in 2000. A short walk down the laneway takes you to the cemetery.

Reesor family members interred in the cemetery:
Cornell, Elizabeth (Stuart)
Hawkins, Darius James
Hawkins, Fanny (Reesor)
Hawkins, James
Hawkins, Mary Frances
Reesor, Abraham
Reesor, Ann
Reesor, Anna (Detwiler)
Reesor, Christian (b 1747)
Reesor, Christian (b 1794)
Reesor, Christian Jr. (b. 1823)
Reesor, Darius
Reesor, Elizabeth (Campbell)
Reesor, Fanny (Reiff)
Reesor, John
Reesor, Mary Jane (Campbell)
Reesor, Melissa Ann (Cornell)
Reesor, Walter


Reesor Family Cairn

A cairn was built at the corner of Highway 7 and Reesor Road in 1930, in honour of Christian and Fanny Reesor and their children, during one of the Reesor family reunions in 2004.

The cairn plaque reads as follows:

This cairn is respectfully dedicated to the honour of Christian Reesor and Fanny Reiff and their extended family, who made the arduous six week journey from Pennsylvania.  They came in five Conestoga wagons and settled in Markham Township in the autumn of 1804.

Celebrating the ties that bind us to our past and to our future generations.

The Reesor Family in Canada Bicentennial Reunion July 2, 3, & 4, 2004


Sources: The Reesors – Pioneers of the GTA | Hiking the GTA, Founding of Markham, The – Ontario Heritage Trust, Reesor Pioneer Cemetery, Markham – Ontario Ancestors (ogs.on.ca), Cemetery Photos: Reesor Pioneer Cemetery, Markham, Ontario (mytombstonepics.blogspot.com), Mr. Jay Reesor (Reesor Farm, As an Individual) at the Environment and Sustainable Development Committee | openparliament.ca, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Locust_Hill,_Ontario.

About the author

Bruce Forsyth

Bruce Forsyth served in the Royal Canadian Navy Reserve for 13 years (1987-2000). He served with units in Toronto, Hamilton & Windsor and worked or trained at CFB Esquimalt, CFB Halifax, CFB Petawawa, CFB Kingston, CFB Toronto, Camp Borden, The Burwash Training Area and LFCA Training Centre Meaford.

Permanent link to this article: https://militarybruce.com/reesor-pioneer-cemetery-is-the-final-resting-place-of-some-of-the-early-settlers-of-markham-township/

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