MDCP Record for 05160404
Collection Date: May 16, 2004
County or City: Hockley Valley
Collector's Notes: Yellow Morels (stain where cut or bruised). Site Description: Hillcrest with south/west exposure, elevation 1,370 feet. Mixed hardwoods mostly young Silver Maple saplings about 10 years of age, some Tulip Poplar, Balsam Fir and Apple trees. The area was once cleared for farm use but abandoned approximately 20 years ago. The mushrooms were found in an area of old growth hardwoods (American Ash) >70-80 years of age. Other Plants: Red Trilliums in bloom, some grasses showing, Ramps (wild leeks) and Trout Lilly. Soil: Sandy loam to depth of 8 inches, “L” layer mostly deciduous leaf and twigs, “F” layer indistinguishable, “H” layer 1/8th inch and bound in moss roots, “A” layer 2”-3”, “B&C” undetermined.
The area in general bares historical reference to the “Underground Railroad” and farms that were hacked out of dense bush cover which harbored ancient trees that still exist in protected zones of the Bruce Trail System. Hard woods like Maple and Beech several hundreds of years old still stand and White Cedar, some stunted others massive, core samples show they are 700+ years of age. Records of early European settlement begin in the early 1700’s and then show remarkable shifts in political, religious and moral attitudes over the next two centuries. The photograph is a west ward view of Hockley Valley site #7, on the left is a farm settled around 1876, to the right of the ravine is an old farm abandoned about 50 years ago but was originally cleared around 1850. Records of ownership are incomplete and show numerous alterations as recently as 1960. A local group (The Grey-Bruce Historical Society) has attempted to reconstruct lost records of those who settled here after escaping slavery in the south. This search was initiated back in the late 1980’s after the discovery of numerous “headstone burial pits”, which were uncovered at various sites throughout the county. Most curiously these pits did not represent a burial site but seemed to be a deliberate attempt to remove evidence of the gravesites from which they were removed.
There are many theories on why some one would want to remove or erase evidence of a burial site on their land. When 2nd and 3rd generation farms in remote areas commonly had family grave yards located in the back 40, why should this be of concern? The names on the headstones have been traced back to the earliest settlers who traveled the Underground Railroad. Research suggests that family lineage may have been of greater concern than whatever implications a gravesite might have on property value. Municipal records are lacking or incomplete with regards ownership of these lands to dates when other properties can be accurately traced.
The history is compelling, but where do the Morels come in? Apple trees! With subsistence farming being the first step to settling an area the crop of choice would be the apple, which readily produces a tradable commodity, hard cider. Settlers brought with them saplings of grafted strains, which produced large fruit. These saplings of course have traveled along way. The remains of the old orchards can still be found deep in the 3rd growth forests that line the Bruce Trail.