Milldale Burial Grounds

While many of the Black families in Norwich Township attended the Otterville African Methodist Episcopal church, others chose to attend different churches. Robert (pictured above, left) and Harriet Williams (right) are buried in the Milldale Burial Grounds, a Friends (Quaker) burial ground associated with the Milldale Meeting. Robert and Harriet attended this meeting in their later years.

* * *

Robert Williams Sr. and Harriet Cooley Williams lived in Palmyra, New York, from their marriage in 1840 until 1853, when they moved to Norwich Township. Robert had been born enslaved in Virginia in 1819, but made his way to New York State at a young age. Here he met Harriet, born free in 1818. They were married in Macedon, Waine County, New York, in 1840.
Several of the Norwich Quakers, who had themselves emigrated from New York State from 1810, still returned to the United States for yearly meetings. Two of these Norwich residents, William Barker and Jesse Stover, met Robert and Harriet and persuaded them to move to Norwich Township in 1853. Robert and Harriet purchased part of lot 6, Concession 7 in Milldale. They had been farmers in New York, and in Milldale they continued to farm. In the off season Robert worked at William Barker's mill. Robert and Harriet remained in Milldale for the rest of their lives. Robert died in 1899, and Harriet in 1913 at the age of 95. They are buried in the Milldale Burial Grounds.
Like many families in the nineteenth century, the Williams family recorded the dates of birth of their children in the back of the family Bible. This Bible is now held in the Norwich Archives. It records the births of all nine of Harriett and Robert Williams' children: Ann Eliza (1840), Charles Andrew (1843), Robert Jr. (1845), Mary Jane (1848), and Harriet (1851), who were all born in New York State before they emigrated; and Elizabeth (1853), Martha (1856), John (1859), and Isaac (1861), all of whom were born in Milldale.