history

Native burial found at Belle Vue in 1892

 

(Editor’s Note: This is the seventh in a series of articles by historian/genealogist Debra Honor regarding the Belle Vue house and its history. Honor is a member of the Belle Vue Conservancy.)

 

By Debra Honor UE, PLCGS

 

Little is known about the gravesite found at Belle Vue in 1892 by Perry Barclay Leighton. The exact location was never documented like a modern-day archaeologist would. Little was written in the Amherstburg Echo at the time. This was an accidental find by the owner. P. B. Leighton was a farmer, a real estate agent, an amateur “Antiquarian” and the owner of Belle Vue.

The first mention in the Amherstburg Echo was on 2 December 1892.

“The Indian relics found on the water lot of P. B. Leighton, some months ago, have been mounted by Mr. Leighton and are on exhibition at his office on Murray Street. D. H. Price, of Aylmer, a collector of Indian relics, was greatly taken up with these and considers them of great value. “

Over the years, the location of the burial was lost, but another article has clues. June 23rd, 1893, “While grading the bank opposite his residence, a few years ago, Mr. Leighton unearthed the remains of a dusky warrior of one hundred and fifty years ago, with all his accoutrements of war, religious symbols and fashionable adornments of that period.” Of all the 1,800 different pieces found, the most important were “a large solid silver cross 11 ½ by 8 ½ inches” and “a copper coin of 1736.”

A postcard of the Belle Vue shows the place from the Detroit River with the stones in front.

A postcard of the Belle Vue shows the place from the Detroit River with the stones in front.

The cross showed that the person was of high rank, possibly a chief of some tribe in the area. The coin gives us a clue to the burial time, which would have happened after 1736. But the coin is no longer among the artifacts of Leighton’s collection.

Again, the article of 1893 gives us a clue as to where the coin disappeared. “Mr. Leighton has not made a collection of old coins. In this respect, he yields the palm to his townsmen William S. and Frank M. Falls.” So most likely he gave the coin to them.

A lot of Perry Leighton’s collection was purchased by George MacDonald who donated his collection to the Windsor Community Museum. That is where the cross is now located.

As to the original burial ground location, there is a post card of Belle Vue from the river showing a sloping grade from the road to the river. Within the grass are white stones spelling out the name “Belle Vue”. Somewhere in that slope would have been the location of the burial. Since that time, the Mullen family have also changed the waterfront slope and added a little boat well. With all these changes, the exact spot is lost.

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Historian/genealogist to write series of articles on Belle Vue

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

A local history buff and genealogist will be sharing stories of Belle Vue’s history with the public.

Debra Honor is not only writing a book on the 200-year-old mansion’s history, but she will also be submitting articles and photos to the River Town Times on a monthly basis starting in January. She has been researching the Belle Vue property with husband Robert for the last eight years.

Honor said they have three full binders of information dating from the early history of the building to the present. However, they are always on the hunt for more information.

Belle Vue, as seen in Oct. 2016.

Belle Vue, as seen in Oct. 2016.

“We would like everyone else to realize the historical importance of the building,” said Honor. “I do more of the people stories. Robert does more of the building stories. He does more on the architecture. I’m the person who says that’s the one who did it and the time period.”

The Honors are gathering stories from those who used the building during the course of its history. They would also like more photos of the grounds, including the gardens but particularly the inside. She pointed out photos of the interior are tough to come by.

“Having pictures from different time periods would help us pinpoint time periods when things were changed,” said Honor.

If anyone has stories or photos regarding the Belle Vue property, contact the Honors at 519-736-7737.