Peter Pond newsletter :: SEPTEMBER 2001 :: #9

Peter Pond

Peter Pond


I hope everyone had a good summer. Hits on the site have exceeded 7,600. Judy Pond has complete her own Peter Pond Pilgrimage and written several reports en route. Some of you may have received them including such highlights as: Seeing the old convent in St. Anne-de-Bellevue outside of Montreal built on the site of the former chapel where Peter Pond and others blessed themselves before paddling into the wild north, dinner at the elegant Beaver Club in Montreal which included seeing Peter Pond's name among a list of charter members under a glass case at the entrance, being welcomed as a Peter Pond descendant complete with newspaper story in Ft. McMurray, AB which has several buildings named after the explorer, touring Ft. Chipewyan on Lake Athabasca from which Peter Pond's protege, Alex. Mackenzie, made his two famous explorations and last but not least, a week's canoe trip down the Clearwater River which Peter Pond was the first white man to descend. All this was paid for by her Hanover, N.H. school district where she plans to place what she learned this summer into the curriculum. If anyone who didn't get one would like a report, I believe Judy would be happy to forward one to you. Let me know and I'll ask Judy.

Now into the fall, and we have news. It started as a pipe dream, but there are developments in my search for Peter Pond's unmarked grave. An engineering firm is willing pro bono to provide its radar scanning device used for such purposes just for this purpose. How did I get this far? Wild stuff, you say? Let me try to explain. The company is named Fuss and O'Neill, based in Manchester, CT. I read a newspaper article last November about F&O donating the device to find unmarked graves in an abandoned 18th century cemetery in Hartford, the state capital. I got enough nerve to write F&O in July and three weeks later they responded and said yes, noting they would appreciate any publicity generated from the project. I guess they did well by the Hartford story. And I told them my search has already gained newspaper and television notice.The matter rests in the hands of the Milford Cemetery Commission. How the project would be undertaken, I'm not sure, but I think F&O knows about such things. How would they know when they find the right guy? My guess is that there might be some kind of copper Indian knife, unique to the Coppermine River area of Western Canada, like the one he gave Yale president Ezra Stiles in 1790, or maybe some other significant Indian artifact. Please read pertinent correspondence below:

32 Elizabeth Street
Milford, Connecticut 06460
July 19, 2001

Jeffrey Heidtman
Chief Operating Officer Fuss and ONeill, Inc.
146 Hartford Road
Manchester, Connecticut 06040

Dear Mr. Heidtman:
Please find enclosed a clip from a Nov. 26, 2000 Connecticut New York Times story referring to your company. It mentions Fuss and O'Neill offering free service of a certain kind of radar scanner to try and find unmarked graves in an old Hartford cemetery. Could you extend a similar service to Milford? It regards the unknown gravesite of 18th century explorer Peter Pond. I believe he is buried somewhere in the pre-1800 section of Milford Cemetery on Gulf Street. He has no headstone. But I believe he is buried near his mother who does have a headstone. I am president and founder of the Peter Pond Society, which numbers close to 60 members in both the United States and Canada. Perhaps you have seen stories about my search for the gravesite in the CONNECTICUT POST newspaper and Channel 8 television. Peter Pond was born and died in Milford (1740-1807), but he is better known in Canada where buildings and monuments honor him. I contend there would have been no Lewis and Clark Expedition without Peter Pond's earlier explorations. You can find more about him on the Peter Pond Society website. The old website was at: Under what circumstances could you provide such service for free? If not for free, how much would it cost? Would it make a difference if we went through the Veterans Graves Commission in Milford? Thank you.

WilliamN. McDonald
Peter Pond Society



MILFORD -- The search for the grave of 18th-century explorer Peter Pond is going high-tech. A Manchester engineering firm has agreed to use ground-penetrating radarto search for Pond's remains in the old Milford Cemetery on Gulf Street. If any remains are found, it's possible DNA samples from Pond's descendants could be used to establish whether the remains are his.

Pond was a member of one of the city's founding families. He was born in Milford in 1740 and died here in 1807. He was a fur trader who mapped much of upper Canada, opening it to exploration. He also served as the fledgling U.S.government's ambassador to American Indian tribes in the Midwest. But he squandered his profits from the fur trade and died broke.

He was buried in an unmarked grave, said William McDonald of Milford, president of the Peter Pond Society. "His mother's grave is marked and he may be somewhere near her, but in those days they didn't have family plots," said McDonald, a sportswriter for the Connecticut Post. "They buried you where the next open spot was."

The engineering firm of Fuss and O'Neill -- which once used its ground-penetrating radar to map Hartford's Old South Cemetery -- will help search for Pond's grave, said company Vice President David Hurley. The company will do the work for free next time it's in the area on a paying job, he said. No date has been set, and the work would take two to four hours to complete, Hurley said in a letter to McDonald. The cemetery would not be disturbed by the equipment, which finds buried objects by sending radar waves into the ground and measuring their rate of return.

If bones are found in the area of the cemetery that dates to the period when Pond died, it's possible DNA samples would be used to confirm whether they're Pond's, officials said. The Peter Pond Society might also settle for "a suitable marker" on the gravesite, McDonald said. Timothy Clark, a descendant of Pond's, said he would be glad to give a DNA sample, "but there are a lot of Ponds with closer DNA to his than mine." He said Pamela Pond of Bethlehem is a direct descendant. She couldn't be reached Monday.

If the grave is found, Peter Pond may qualify for a headstone paid for by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, said Thomas Cody, chairman of the local Veterans Graves Committee. Pond served in the French and Indian War on the side of the British. Mayor Frederick L. Lisman said if Pond's grave is found, the city may place a marker. "He was a member of one of the founding families," Lisman noted.

Frank Juliano, Milford bureau chief, can be reached at 878-2130.

The above CONNECTICUT POST story appeared Aug. 28, 2001. Perhaps this is enough information to digest for now. Hope it all makes it to you by email on the first try. Let me know if problems. Incidentally, I have written several times to authorities in Prince Albert, SK on the relocation status of the Peter Pond cairn, but have received no reply. I guess bureaucracy works slowly, as probably will this grave search project. Will keep you posted.

Au revoir,



This just in. Had to relay it right away since was mentioned at end of Peter Pond Society9. Nice to see it's close to being resolved. Bill

I have spoken with Audra Norek yesterday, and am pleased to inform you that the plaque text for Peter Pond has been approved. The plaque has been ordered from the foundry, and we are currently working with the R.M. to develop the cairn site and to plan the unveiling. While nothing has been finalized, currently the tentative date for the unveiling is October 12, 2001. Thank you for your interest.

Deanna Litz
Cultural Resource Management Assistant,
Saskatchewan South Field Unit
Parks Canada

Peter Pond Society editor Bill McDonald

Au revoir,