Section 7 Lot 1209

Oliver Billings Canwell was born in Peru, Oxford County, Maine to Oliver

  1. Canwell, a native of Fayette, Kennebec County, Maine and Philomena Andrews Canwell, a native of Paris, Oxford County, in the Pine Tree State. At the outbreak of the Civil War, he was the proprietor of a small country store in Peru. He enlisted and fought in forty-seven battles and was wounded five times. After the fall of Richmond Virginia, General Ulysses Simpson Grant appointed him as high Sherriff of the southern capitol. When he left that office the citizens of Richmond presented him with resolutions expressing their regards for his service.

He returned north to Boston and opened a restaurant and was known as the “Original King of Pie Alley” and made a fortune by cutting pies. He cut his pies into six pieces and was the originator of the modern plan of pie cutting in some places. To “keep himself from rusting” as he put it, he became the Sexton of the Dorchester Temple Baptist Church in 1889, on Washington Street at Welles Avenue which was designed by Dorchester architect Arthur H. Vinal.

Oliver Canwell was a member of the Benjamin Post, No. 68, of the Grand

Army of the Republic at 91 Park Street in the Fields Corner section of Dorchester. He was also a member of The Commercial Lodge of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, Ashmont Improvement Association, and the Union Veterans Union. He died of Pneumonia and Nephritis and was survived by his wife and two daughters. His residence was at 14 Welles Avenue near the church he served as Sexton.

This historical account was compiled by Cedar Grove Cemeteries Historian Robert Bayard Severy, and is entered into the contested Historical origins of Pie Alley.