Saturday, 28 May 2016

The Importance of Cemeteries

One of my successful Trove finds the other day was the transcription of my 4x Great Uncle's father-in-law's headstone. But his was not the only one - over 20 headstones in Wingham Cemetery (formerly known as Bungay Cemetery) had been transcribed and published in this 1922 article. I found myself quite excited that someone in 1922 was ensuring the details were recorded. Then I read the beginning...

[Source: Last Resting Place. (1922, June 9). The Wingham Chronicle and Manning River Observer
(NSW : 1898 - 1954), p. 6. Retrieved May 28, 2016, from

Here's what it says...
"Nothing can be more instructing to a man of sensibility and feeling than a stroll through a graveyard, among the peaceful repositories of the dead. While gazing on the silent and sad mementos of mortality he learns how to appreciate his own condition, and reflect upon and sympathise with the fate of those who have departed before him. He sees, while conning over some exaggerated eulogy engraved by friendship or affection on the mouldering stone, the vanity of human exploits, and cannot but reflect that before a century will have passed away, every vestige of what lies before him will be gone, and not even a decaying particle of a monument will remain. Time will sweep relentlessly over every portion of the burial ground, and the ashes of friends and enemies, of the opulent and poor, of the proud and lowly, of the parent and child, will become mingled with the dust which enshrines them, and their resting-place will be undistinguished and unknown. 
(Compiled by E. McC. S. Hill, Fellow of the Society of Genealogists of London)— Wingham, N.S.W.
These records are being furnished to the Historical Society, Sydney, as well as to a similar body in the Old Country. In other parts of the State similar work has been done, and is still being done."
Did you love that first section as much as I did? I thought it was beautiful. Whoever wrote that deserves a medal.

An applause for the author.
[Source: Giphy]
While a lot of graves have lasted over 100 years, they do decay and can be damaged by weather and other means. Inscriptions become less visible and harder to read. It is exactly why going to cemeteries, taking photos, and transcribing details are so important. Some headstones are full of information other than the usual name and dates, such as occupation, native place and year of arrival. I do my best to contribute by transcribing headstones on Billion Graves. My favorite Australian cemetery website is the Australian Cemeteries Index. Both Billion Graves and the AusCemIndex rely on volunteers to transcribe and take photos of headstones. When I visit cemeteries, I take many photos - not just the grave I'm looking for, but of as many graves as I can.

The graves of my 3x Great Grandparents, Dr William Simpson Robinson &
Mariah Adelaide Riggs. Dresden Cemetery, Navarro County, Texas.
[Source: Personal Collection]
A snap I took while exploring Berrima Cemetery, New South Wales, in 2014.
I discovered this fallen & water filled grave at St Patrick's Cemetery, Parramatta,
New South Wales, in 2015. I wonder whose grave it is. 
Cemeteries are also important because they can tell us who lived in the area. None of my ancestors are buried near me - the closest is a four hour drive way. However, I love walking around my local cemeteries and reading the headstones. Sometimes a headstone will peak my interest and I'll do a search on Trove that night to try and find any stories about them.

And yes, I am that person who will excitedly yell out 'CEMETERY!!!' whenever I drive past one with family and friends. I've even shouted it a bit too loudly on the plane once.

So, have you been to a cemetery recently?  

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

One Hundred.

I would like to tell you a few things about Eunice Hazel Dyer if I may...

She was born the 3rd of May, 1916 in Bowraville, New South Wales, where her parents had a farm.

Eunice in 1949
[Source: Personal
She was the second child, and first daughter to James Albert Dyer (1887 – 1966) and Eva Florence Mackay (1888 – 1976).

She went to Missabotti School in her early years.

In the late 1920’s, her family moved to Kempsey so she and her eldest brother Claude could go to school.

Her parents pulled her out of school at the end of Grade 9 and returned to the farm.

She loved, and I mean loved learning. She was disappointed about having to stop going to school and work on the farm instead.

She had one older brother, two younger brothers, and two younger sisters. The boys have passed away. Her sisters are still living. [03/05/17 EDIT: One of her sisters passed away on July 13, 2016. Her youngest sister is still living.]

She pronounced ‘digest’ incorrectly until a teacher told her how. She pronounced the ‘dig’ as in dig, like you are digging a hole. She always laughed about it when she told me. 

In 1939, she went to the Sydney Sanitarium and Hospital where she spent four years training to be a Nurse – and she was successful! She graduated on December 28th, 1942.

On the 10th of September, 1944, she became qualified as an Obstetric Nurse.

Eunice Dyer, Graduation Photo 1942, Sydney Sanitarium & Hospital
[Source: Personal Collection]
Eunice Dyer, Obstetrics Certificate, 1944
[Source: Personal Collection]
Just over a month later, on the 12th of October, 1944, she married William D. D. Gow (1910 – 2003) in Sydney. They met on the beach at Nambucca Heads where he was a lifeguard. She chatted him up!

Wedding of Eunice Dyer & William D. D. Gow, Sydney, 12th Oct 1944.
[Source: Personal Collection]
Eunice & William rode a motorbike from Sydney to Melbourne together
before they had kids.
[Source: Personal Collection]

She had two children, a girl and a boy. While she was a stay at home mum, and more so once the kids were at University, she ran a private hospital from her home and cared for family friends in their time of need.

Her children playing in the backyard.
[Source: Personal Collection]

She was very proud of her children and instilled in them the importance of education, one that she never fully got. Her daughter became a Doctor and her son a University Lecturer.

She had two grandchildren, a girl and a boy, and she absolutely adored them! They made lots of wonderful memories together.

Soon after the birth of  their Grandson in January 1994.
[Source: Personal Collection]

She loved being in the kitchen and cooking for her family. She would never let anyone wash the dishes – that was her thing! If you attempted to wash the dishes, you were swatted away like a fly!

She loved watching the tennis, something which she got from her father and brother who played tennis in Bowraville and hosted tournaments. She loved talking about who was hot or not in the tennis world.

She loved chatting to her friends, and would want to know everything they were up to.

When her husband fell ill, she cared for him until he passed away in 2003.

William D. D. Gow & Eunice H. Dyer on a night out.
[Source: Personal Collection]
She was kind.

She was caring.

She was beautiful.

She had a wicked sense of humor.

She had the cutest giggle.

She made me J-walk with her once, and this was at a time when police were cracking down on J-walkers. An 80-something year old lady J-walking! Who woulda thunk it? 

But more importantly, she was my Nanna and we were close as anything. I would call her at the most random times of day purely because I felt like talking to her, or I saw something that reminded me of her. 

I adored her!
[Source: Personal Collection]
She passed away in Sydney on the 4th of June, 2012, 

I miss her. More than anything.

Happy 100th Birthday Nanna! I hope you and Poppa are rockin’ up there.

Nanna's 94th Birthday, 3rd May 2010
[Source: Personal Collection]