Historical society hosting Hollen cemetery tour

By Liz Samis, Mapleton Historical Society

MAPLETON – For the past number of years, the Mapleton Historical Society has hosted cemetery tours and walks in the township and each year organizers are all amazed that a relatively small place like Mapleton Township has such a rich history. 

These events also provide opportunity for people in the community and those with roots from here to come back to share their memories and any research they have done.

This year the focus is on Hollen. The village of Hollen was founded in 1850 by Hugh Hollingshead from King Township and he commissioned the first survey of town lots and added his name to the new village, called both Hollin and Hollen.

Hollingshead built a sawmill and he put up the first bridge, thus making the settlement accessible to both Peel and Maryborough.

Samuel Robertson also came from King Township and opened up the first store in Hollen as well as post office in 1852. 

In 1853, Hugh Hollingshead had a flour mill going and was turning out shingles at the sawmill. Other businesses came in with stores, two hotels, a potash operation and there were the usual trades needed like a blacksmith, wagon maker, tailor and shoemaker.

The township erected a school in 1854 and both Methodist and Presbyterians had church buildings for their congregations.

In April of 1866, the first daily stagecoach with four horses carried the mail between Hollen, Drayton, Stirton, Alma, Elora and Guelph. 

By the 1870s Hollen’s population was 400; it was seen as a major trading centre. 

Two major events altered the course of this thriving village, which was said to rival Guelph in its early history. When the CNR Guelph Palmerston line bypassed Stirton and Hollen in 1871 and went to Drayton instead, businesses and people shifted. The second defining historical event was the building of the Conestogo Dam and how it split the community in two and isolated the community of Hollen. It changed the road system, families had to sell and move, churches were closed and the numbers of businesses and people declined. 

The cemetery is located north of the village and was established in 1854 on a two-acre plot. It was a municipal cemetery, not a graveyard associated with a particular church, so people of all different religious affiliations and backgrounds could be, and are still, buried there.  

In the early days, there were Quaker settlers who believe in absolute equality and as graveyards were very class conscious, they preferred “burying grounds.” Indeed, the actual name of the cemetery is the Hollen Burying Ground. Many early settlers are buried here. 

A cemetery tour on  Sept. 14 at 1:30pm will cover a number of families, some of which are still in the area. 

We want to honour those who have shaped our communities, but also share some of the funny stories and details we have learned. 

We look forward to giving people a glimpse of this lovely part of our township. Please join us that day.