C is for Charters Towers and Cairns

Join me on my Cemetery Searching expedition for the 2023 A to Z Blog Challenge. I’ll be re-visiting some cemeteries and preparing for a wish list of others. Some family members will be mentioned but I also have an interest in German family graves as well as those of people born in Co Clare Ireland.

Charters Towers, Queensland

My Melvin ancestors, Stephen Gillespie Melvin (SGM to me) and his wife Emily and their family, spent 30 odd years in Charters Towers where they ran refreshment rooms. Charters Towers was sometimes called “The World” because there were so many diverse people there because it was a mining town. A number of my genealogy mates also have ancestors who lived there. You can read a bit more about it here.

When Emily Melvin (nee Partridge) died in 1912, SGM had an ostentatious gravestone placed on the grave. It has a rather “look at me” presence in the Charters Towers Monumental and Lawn cemetery, standing out above most of the others. However, it was the inscription on it that gave me a break-through moment in my research. It included the name of his mother and her death in 1906. Until then I had no idea that Margaret had emigrated to Australia or that she’d married for the fourth time, on this occasion in Sydney. Like his mother, SGM would also marry four times at the death of each wife. There are other Melvin relatives’ graves in the cemetery but this is the main one for me.

In honour of Charters Towers’ mining heritage I’ve included this image. George Pollock was killed in an accident at the Block & Wyndham Mine on 26 July 1906. The inscription reads:

He left his home in health and strength, no thought of death was near. He had no time to say farewell to those he loved so dear. Short was the call he had from above, not a word to his loved ones could he say, his eyes closed in death, with thoughts of home. He silently passed away.

Strangely I can find no inquest for Pollock nor anything in Trove using various searches. His death is recorded as 27 July 1906 in the Qld BDM (ref 1906/C/2203)

Cairns, Queensland

The McLeod St Pioneer Cemetery is the oldest in Cairns and there are also Melvin family graves here, however I wanted to share a couple of other graves that I thought were interesting.

The impressively Irish gravestone of Norah Fox who died in 1911. The words include “fortified by the rites of the Catholic Church”.

There is an extensive obituary for Norah Fox on Trove here.

The following gravestone caught my eye because of my own families’ roles in the Queensland Railways.

Alexander was killed by a fall of earth when the timber propping up the second section of Number Four tunnel collapsed like fire tinder. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article39428447. Also see http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article39428447

Mary McCarthy was born in Tulla, Co Clare and died in Cairns on 16 August 1916. Her parents were Thomas Coughlin and Catherine Brassil (Qld BDM 1916/C/4211). Mary’s husband William John McCarthy was born in Tullamore, Co Offaly (then Kings Co). They married on 29 August 1888 (BDM 1888/C/478)

Robert Sunter was a Master Mariner who died in Cairns on 15 September 1934.

My first thoughts were that he may have been from overseas and that was why his shipmates had erected the memorial. However, the reality was quite different and there were extensive obituaries for him.

“CAPTAIN R. SUNTER” The Australasian (Melbourne, Vic. : 1864 – 1946) 22 September 1934: 11 (METROPOLITAN EDITION). http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article145241584

Martyn St Cemetery Cairns

And finally, the grave of my mother’s aunt Lucy and Lucy’s husband, Francis Ireland. You can search the cemeteries run by the Cairns Regional Council here.

Cemetery Searching Wish List

Cooma cemetery in NSW

When you go cemetery searching, do you look for relatives only, or get distracted by other interesting graves.

12 thoughts on “C is for Charters Towers and Cairns

  1. In answer to your question – I visit cemeteries not just to find relatives but to learn about the history and heritage of the people resting there. When time permits I take photos to upload to FindaGrave

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Pauleen, I was very interested to see the gravestone for Alex Corbett of Ross Shire, as my Morison family are from there. I love visiting cemeteries and I do get distracted with some of the huge gravestones that don’t belong to my family. I also love reading the inscriptions

    Liked by 1 person

  3. That first monument is quite something, and thank goodness for the inscription that helped you with your research. It’s easy to get distracted in cemeteries by the many beautiful and revealing stones. My personal favorites are the ones where a photo of the deceased, often in ceramic, is adhered to the stone.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m caught by ones who are buried far from where they normally lived also. The strange thing about the miner’s death was not being able to find a news story.


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