T is for Trials, Tribulations and Tombstones

My A to Z 2016 theme is how to pursue an interest in family history/genealogy – I’d love you to join me on the journey.


41 Alexander DUNN
Alexander Dunn is buried in Winton Cemetery, Qld, a long way from his home in southern NSW.

Putting the cart before the horse, sometimes tombstones can reveal some of our ancestors’ trials.

How many of us have wandered cemeteries, sometimes just exploring and other times tracking down ancestral graves. We are shocked by the infant mortality revealed by tiny graves with touching tombstones. The death of young men in tragic accidents in those pre-safety-wise days, the horrors and risks hidden behind the deaths of young women who died of puerperal fever or simply being worn out from repeated births. I am always saddened by the deaths of people from many miles away who died and are buried far from their families.

Tombstones might be the only place where an ancestor’s place of origin is detailed as their divided loyalty is reflected by shamrocks and wattle. The sadness of the death far from Scotland or Ireland is mitigated when that person’s grave is wrapped around with the graves of their descendants. The conflicts of religion can be revealed by the burial of husband and wife in different part of a cemetery, not to mention the dilemma of whether to be buried with wife/husband #1 or a subsequent spouse.


Denis Scannell frm Co Kerry lowOf course our ancestors, especially our pioneers, experienced many trials and tribulations. Without family to support them they were vulnerable to economic downturns, poor agricultural seasons, death of spouses and dependence on employment. This is why we need to look, once again, at as many records as possible. Land selections (and the loss of property), news stories, insolvencies, bankruptcies and court cases can all illuminate your understanding. At least some of these involved trials of the legal as well as personal kind.

In times of war, there are the horrendous losses of (mostly) men, and the social impact of those who returned maimed and injured in mind or body. Throughout Australia there are memorials to these men who would have no grave in their own homeland…different types of tombstones. Each and every one of these losses created a great rent in the family’s fabric. Tribulation indeed.

children McDonald low
In memory of the children of John and Elizabeth McDonald, Winton Cemetery.

T is for Themes and Memes

 In S for Stories I wrote briefly about leaving our descendants our own stories. There are many themes which geneabloggers can use to structure their stories…some golden oldies and some current.

52 Weeks of Abundant Genealogy

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy and History

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories

Book of Me

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun

Sepia Saturday

Trove Tuesday

Why not check these out to see if they appeal to you?


Thank you for visiting me on this journey. I love comments <smile>

 There’s a plethora of reading choices on this year’s A to Z Challenge, so my challenge to you is to visit the sign-up page and select one (or more) blogs to read between the numbers 700-799.


n memoriam the children of John and Elizabeth McDonald, Winton Cemetery.

19 thoughts on “T is for Trials, Tribulations and Tombstones

  1. Tombstones are a rich source of genealogical data. It is important that we photograph and transcribe those we visit lest they be removed and ruined by heartless cemetery managements. I use Billion Graves to upload images for transcription.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wise words Jill. I especially focus on the ones that are looking unstable or where the writing is fading, or which show the person’s specific place of origin. I need to upload some to Billion Graves.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. There is a request on Billion Graves for Budermin Cemetery. I keep going to go but it gets dark before I finish work now we are heading to winter. I’m not saying you should go but how we can get images via Billion Graves.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Pauleen Hi. XX. You may have meant worn out from repeated births, not deaths, although I imagine there were plenty of families who lost many children as well. Love Peter

    Sent from my iPad


    Liked by 2 people

  3. You are up to T . I am truly amazed that you are coming up with a new blog every day in April . Tomb stones and tribulation are two great assets to us writing an interesting family history story but both we would lrather delay / avoid for ourselves.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Tombstones are sometimes the only record we will have for an ancestor, so thanks for highlighting this valuable genealogy source. Fascinating to see the light color of these stones and how they contrast with the marble, granite and slate stones of the northeast US where my ancestors settled. Molly of Molly’s Canopy http://mollyscanopy.com/

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I like the way that you led on from Tombstones to Trials and Tribulations. A reminder that gravestones can contribute so much information on, for example, place of death, circumstances, illness, and violence.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I love looking at tombstones and wondering what the lives of the deceased were like. Some share a lot, others not so much. The ones that intrigue me most are those that have no name, because no one had any idea who the person was when they were laid to rest.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. What a great post Pauleen! A different slant on Tombstones. It’s sad walking through old cemeteries to see the number of babies and young children there…. And congratulations for managing to keep up with the A-Z challenge while on walking Melbourne! How do you do it? 💗

    Liked by 1 person

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