Explore Oak Island Display  Chester Train Station, 20 Smith Road,
© Chester Municipal Heritage Society 2013
Articles and stories about the island and its treasure
Graves of Oak Island by Danny Hennigar @ Are there any people buried on Oak Island? This is a question I have pondered over the years and it defies logic and common practice to think otherwise. It was quite common in early years to bury family members on their property so they could be close to their families. As with many things related to the Island’s early history, all we can do is take the clues and build on them to reach conclusions that may or may not be accurate.                 Elizabeth Critz rests off route 12, the New Ross/Chester Basin highway, a mile or so back a  deserted woods road. Photo by Danny Hennigar Take the case of Donald Daniel McInnis, the man who is given credit by many for starting the treasure hunt at Oak Island in 1795. Like many researches, I too have combed the graveyards of Lunenburg County from Chester to Lunenburg and have not found a trace of the man. I have also walked the old pastures and woods of the famous island many times in a vain attempt to find some clues as to his final resting spot. The only thing I have ever seen is an obscure collection of rocks near what has become known as the Triton Shaft, 600 feet north of Borehole 10X where a sliver of shattered grey stone shows some letters and possible dates that may be consistent with his name. The rock is not whole and therefore is another one of Oak Island’s famous mysteries. We will never know if this is his tombstone removed years ago by a enthusiastic treasure hunters or simply a stone with letters that engage the imagination. Family members of Donald Daniel have stated that he is buried on the island, but where, and can we be sure?   sliver of stone with a name carved in it. Photo by Pierre Gauthier Recently, I found the resting place of some of Donald Daniel’s family in a local cemetery and not that long ago, the resting place of another man who’s name is synonymous with the beginnings of the treasure hunt, John Smith, who lies in the old Baptist Cemetery in the Village of Chester. A chance encounter with a local man informed that before the causeway was built at Oak Island, gravestones could be seen on the western shore and by his description, it seems to me it may be near or on lots 24 - 32. Failing memories however can be  dangerous places to rest with assurances. Resting spot of John, Annie, James, Sarah, Martin and Henry McInnis. Photo by Danny Hennigar Robert Restall and his son Robert Jr. (Bobby) are buried in the Western Shore cemetery within sight of the highway as is Robert’s loving wife Mildred. So is sixteen year old Cyril Hiltz who rests along side his father Marshall in a peaceful spot in Martin’s Point. As you may well know, Cyril, Robert, Bobby and Karl Graeser died together in a terrible tragedy at Oak Island in 1965. One evening over the summer of 2009 I received an Email from a cousin of mine who had a unique offer for me. She well knows my fascination with all things Oak Island and she informed that friends of hers had dug up a cross with Cyril Hiltz’s name on it and would I like to have it. It took a few weeks to finally make contact with the owners of this mysterious cross and one evening I went over to their place to have a look. It had been found while excavating a trench from the home they now, the former home of Cyril Hiltz, to an outbuilding. Insert photo of the cross. It stands about three feet high, had been cast out of iron  at a local foundry and has a memorial message cast into it’s face. It was badly rusted after years of being buried underground and in need of some care. It was embedded into a cement footing for stability and at one time must have been erected near Cyril’s home, perhaps even on his grave until a suitable stone monument was created years later. I took the cross home, sandblasted it, then gave it a liberal coating of white paint. Initially I was going to hold onto it until a suitable resting spot could be found then a thought hit me. When Cyril Hiltz died in August of 1965, his girlfriend was pregnant with their child. This child grew into a pleasant young woman who now lives close by and is very aware of her history and her connection with Oak Island. I phoned her one evening after I had finished the work on her father’s cross and told her of my discovery and asked her if she would she like to have it. I am pleased to report she has expressed interest in owning this piece, a fitting resting place. One footnote to this story is that I have met a few people who remember Cyril Hltz as a young man. One man, a friend of mine who used to play with Cyril when they were children shared a memory or two with me. Apparently, he possessed an active spirit and loved to carry on with his friends, a typically feisty teenager who seemed to like cigars and Lobsters. A few years ago, while taking down and packing up displays at the hall in Western Shore after another successful Explore Oak Island Days, a local man who once knew Cyril approached our small, tired group to share some of his memories. Even though Cyril Hiltz was a tender sixteen year old lad when he died, he had taken on responsibilities of a grown man and had served at least one trip on one of Lunenburg Nova Scotia’s famed offshore Scallop draggers. One night Cyril confessed to his shipmate that he was deathly afraid of drowning at sea so gave up on the lucrative, but extremely dangerous occupation. A short time later, Cyril died at the bottom of a water filled pit only 27 feet deep underneath of Oak Island’s battered old hide. The official cause of death was determined to be by drowning.