And God hath both raised up the Lord, and will also raise up us by his own power. 1 Corinthians 6:14

Some things in life are done because you have to do them, while others are done because you want to see them done. For many years I have had a plot map of the Alsace Cemetery. My mother Julianne Toeppner obtained it back in the mid 1970's after my father Fred passed away. Looking at the map I saw the names of many of my relatives, plus over the years I have added the names of loved ones as they passed on. My Grandfather Herb, Grandmother Susan and my mother in 2004.

While looking at the map over the years I have always been curious about all of the "unknown" graves indicated on the map. In the earlier years graves were marked with wooden crosses and with timethey just rotted away. My grandmother had talked about the Diptheria Epidemic of 1888-89 and how some families lost many of their young children.

What finally got me started on this project was an E-mail that I recieved from one of my cousins in October of 2008. She and her mother had been out to the cemetery and had noticed two headstones in the trees at the back of the cemetery. She asked if I could notify someone in charge of the cemetery to let them know they were back there. I went out one afternoon and after a quick search I did not find the stones. I talked to a gentleman who works for the Township of Nipissing about the two stones (the township takes care of the cemetery). He said the same as I had thought when I first heard about the two stones. He figures that they had been placed there when someone had put a newer stone in their place. I spoke to another person who helps maintain the cemetery and he said the same thing.

Being the curious guy that I am I visited the cemetery again and this time found the two stones. One is laying on the ground while the second one is leaning against a pine tree. While the one stone of cast cement has no engraving on it, the other one was readable with the help of a piece of chalk.

NOVEMBER 14 1888
17 YRS 6 MO'S 14 DAYS

The first thing I did was to check my plot map to see where Richard was buried. As I had suspected there was no marker on his grave, in fact there are no stones on any of the graves near him. Years ago the headstone must have just fallen over and someone had moved it to the back of the cemetery out of the way. I did a search on the Internet and found the death record of young Richard. He had died during the diptheria epedemic of 1888-89. With the help of Gladys Piper we beleive that Richard's parents were keepers of the Queen's Hotel in Commanda. This information is from the 1891 census and after that time the Fitzgeralds moved to the Klondike to seek their fortune in the gold fields. This is just one of the many lost stories of the people that first settled in this area.

Finding Richard Fitzgerald's headstone back in the trees has inspired me to do two things. The first was to find out more about the "unknown" graves and people of the Alsace Cemetery. The second is to get Richard's headstone back into the cemetery. The first half of my quest has been completed.

Jamie Toeppner

November 16 2008

Update 2011: Three years after I worked on my Alsace Cemetery Project we laid my uncle Stanley Toeppner to rest there. He had been very interested in my research as many of our relatives are buried there. I had printed out a booklet of all the names, and he mentioned that my grandmother would have known many of the people buried in the "unknown" graves. On the evening after Uncle Sandy was buried, I made a trip to the cemetery to see how his grave looked all filled in. As I stood and looked around, something caught my eye. I walked over the middle on the cemetery, and there leaning up against a clump of trees was Richard's headstone. I'm not sure who moved it there, but it was nice to see it relocated close to where he is buried. Possibly someday Nipissing Township may place the headstone on a proper base and maybe place a plaque with the names of the people who lay there with no proper headstone. When I visit a cemetery, especially alone.... I get a strong feeling that the people who rest there are happy that I took the time to remember them, and to visit.