Sunday, 28 April 2013

Missing headstones and Michael Caton's inspiration to me

I loved watching the Michael Caton episode of Who Do You Think You Are last week. His ancestor was friends with the bushranger, Thunderbolt, who is buried at Uralla Old Cemetery, right near my ggg-grandfather, Henry CRUCKSHANK and his wife Sarah Brownlow DIXON.

Michael's ancestor ended his days at an asylum in Sydney, and was buried in an unmarked grave there, along with many others. What struck a chord with me is that Michael left a small stone behind to show that someone had been there - I presume this is the basis of the same Jewish tradition. Many times I've searched for the final resting place of an ancestor, and bemoaned the fact there was no marker of any kind there eg Julia MOONEY (nee HOWE) at Campbell's Hill, Maitland, and Esther BIGGE (formerly SALAMON SPENCER FITZ STUBBS & counting!). When I win Lotto I'll put up headstones for every ancestor that's missing theirs. I think I'll take a leaf from Michael Caton's book and go to the site anyway, and give thanks to that ancestor for giving me life, because without them I wouldn't be here today. And to let them know that they're still in the thoughts (of at least one!) of their descendants.

So I'll have to plan a day to Sydney to look at the grass where quite a number of my people are buried. Luckily it's only an hour away, but then a lot of traipsing around each cemetery. A few years ago now another Cruckshank descendant and I did a weekend trip to Uralla to visit Henry & Sarah's grave, which took 5 hours/420kms. It was about this time of year, and the weather was perfect.

Henry's brother, Frederick CRUICKSHANK (yes, spelled differently), is buried out on a property he worked on at Gostwyck on the Salisbury Plains, right near the gorgeous All Saints Chapel, and his headstone is laying flat now and gets covered over with every flood, when there aren't sheep or cows walking all over it. His isn't the only grave on that property but only one of two stones visible - the other one has fallen over on it's face, or else it's so badly weathered it's now illegible. A few of us would love to have it moved to be near Henry's grave at Uralla. Do we leave him to rest there with the stone, or move the stone so that it's not completely buried and never to be seen again by anyone? Fred and his wife Helen Brownlow DIXON (yes, 2 brothers married 2 sisters) had no children, so it's Henry's descendants that would be able to visit. Presuming the property owners and Uralla Council were to give permission. Hmmmmm, what to do.


  1. Hi Janelle
    I enjoyed Michael Caton's episode of WDYTYA too. It would be lovely if you could put a fence around your ancestor's grave and erect a plaque about them too. I wonder if the land owner would allow it....

  2. Hi Kylie,
    Great idea. I'll add it to the list to put to the other descendants to figure out. We need Time Team out here to find the rest of the graves. I think there are about 15 burials in that paddock, although all the stones but 2 are overgrown.
    Thanks for commenting!

  3. How lovely that you'll replace the headstone's when you're "rich" Janelle... :-) I know the feeling...
    Wondering if the owners would allow a simple single memorial for the "15 burials" as a starting points, which records has the names those you know to be buried in that field... Just a thought.
    Regards Catherine

  4. Thanks Catherine for another great idea! I'll look into that & write any updates on here as they happen.

  5. That's terrific Janelle... Thanks for replying. Catherine.