Carmel’s Gravetales Geneameme

My geminate Carmel has challenged us to join in a geneameme inspired by last Tuesday’s ANZAncestryTime on Twitter. Like all good family historians, I love a browse through a cemetery even when frustrated because I can’t find who I’m looking for. So, with no further ado, here are my responses.

  1. A beautifully tended plot or cemetery

The gorgeous cemetery in the Bavarian village of Dorfprozelten. There are no relatives there any more as German graves have a fixed survival time but the love and attention given to the graves is inspiring. I especially like that seasonal decorations are also put on the graves along with flowers.

Dorfprozelten Cemetery
  1. Overawed by the size 

Although I’ve never visited in person, the sheer scale of Rookwood cemetery in Sydney intimidates me. One day I’ll get to Rookwood and to the other cemeteries in Sydney where various family members are buried.

  1. Coldest (temperature wise!)/ hottest

So many choices for both cold and hot! Perhaps Tuamgraney churchyard in Co Clare on a cold winter’s evening in December with the owls hooting. And for hot I’ll opt for my children’s aversion to crackly dry grass and the heat of the Murphy’s Creek cemetery (Qld) in summer.

  1. Smallest – most intimate

The graveyard at St Saviours Moorgate in Nottinghamshire is small but not tiny, yet the trees and some impressive memorials make it intimate.

St Saviour’s Moorgate
  1. Largest – tombstone or graveyard

The gravestone erected by my great-grandfather for his wife and his mother in the Charters Towers cemetery. It stands “head and shoulders” above most of the surrounding graves. It gave me my first clue, many years ago, that his mother had also emigrated, and had remarried.

Memorial for Emily Melvin and Margaret Wheaton, Charters Towers, Qld
  1. Most memorable, monumental or unforgettable

The one closest to my heart is my 2xgreat grandmother’s memorial in the Kilmorich kirkyard. The simple inscription on the base of the stone calls to me: “My star of life is set, I await the morning sun”. We visit Isabella Morrison McCorkindale every time we’re at Loch Fyne in Scotland.

Isabella Morrison McCorkindale’s memorial at Cairndow, Scotland.

Our youngest daughter might say either the Tuamgraney experience above, or receiving her 12th birthday present in the churchyard of Broadford/Kilseily parish church.

  1. Oldest grave found or oldest established cemetery visited

This is a tricky one as I’ve visited so many but I’ll focus on family rather than historic graves. The most memorable old one would be my 3xgreat grandfather’s in the Bothkennar kirkyard. It was half fallen when I saw it nearly 30 years ago and could read the inscription. On my most recent visit I couldn’t find it at all, just where I thought it should be approximately.

  1. Tribute memorial/building/experience

Our Kunkel family contributing to the restoration of the Kunkel-O’Brien grave at Murphy’s Creek was a rewarding experience. So wonderful to see it in good condition again.

Kunkel grave after renovation.
  1. Simple No marker 

So many pioneer ancestors didn’t have the money to pay for a gravestone, and if perhaps a wooden cross was erected, it would long ago have rotted away.

Sadly, so many of my first immigrants fall into this category: Denis Gavin in Crows Nest, his wife Eleanor Gavin and their daughter Julia Gavin Kunkel in Toowoomba, the Kents in Ipswich, Qld and so on.

  1. The unexpected power of the tragic

The sheer power of the war cemeteries of France and Belgium. The gut-wrenching sadness of visiting Villers Brettoneux on a freezing, foggy morning in November in 1992 with the frost crackling underfoot. So many men, so many lost without a trace. So many lying so very far from home. So very sad that for some relatives, ours may have been the first visit of a family member.

Villers-Brettoneux war cemetery and Memorial on a foggy, freezing winter’s morning . © P Cass 1992.
  1. Best find ever

Will be the day I find my 2xgreat grandfather’s death and burial location. Where are you James Sherry aka McSharry?

Or when I find where my great grandfather, Duncan McCorkindale, was buried in Glasgow.

  1. Locals lived here

Murphy’s Creek cemetery gives me a sense of intimacy and community that comes from generations having lived locally over the years.

Murphys Creek cemetery circa 1987/88. The Kunkel grave is on the right nearest the trees.
  1. The crematorium tour

No Thank You!!!

  1. Closest relatives are buried here e.g. parents, sibling/s

In typical Brisbane fashion, the interment of family members reflect the north-south divide. Some are in the Albany Creek cemetery/crematorium, others in Mt Gravatt.

  1. Most humorous incident

Although my husband is ambivalent about this, standing on the bonnet of the hire car to climb over the metal-spiked fence to access the Bodyke old cemetery. I didn’t injure any personal parts but I did have to make do with only one pair of trousers for the rest of my trip. Hardly compares to Sharn’s story!

  1. The funniest funeral

I’ve been to many funerals in my time, but funny is not usually something you would say about them. However the stories of a relative whose siblings regaled us with the mischief he got up to as a child were memorably amusing.

The tragic memorial to the massed grave of Famine victims near Bodyke, Co Clare.

Bodyke Famine Memorial Park
Bodyke Famine Memorial Park

7 thoughts on “Carmel’s Gravetales Geneameme

  1. This is quite a list, Pauleen. Got me thinking about the many cemeteries I have visited and how hard it would be to pick favorites. But hands down the smallest is a single. monument marking Hardscrabble Cemetery in Warners, N.Y., USA — which I discovered on a country drive visiting relatives. The original cemetery got plowed under, and a local lad had the monument placed — along with a historic roadside marker — for a scout project. And there it sits on a square of mowed grass at the edge of a farmer’s field.


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