So, after all of my adventures at Toowong Cemetery, what was the end result? Did I solve all my brick walls in one fell swoop? Hardly…
In the end, I was successful in identifying only two out of ten family plots.
One plot was for my husband’s great grandmother, Charlotte MITCHELL nee EALING. Charlotte married Charles Edward MITCHELL on 24 December 1902 at Jireh Baptist Church in Fortitude Valley, Brisbane.1
Charlotte’s grave was very easy to find, in the end. It is in an area which, thankfully after all those hills, is easily accessible and there are not a lot of plots.
However, Charles’ was not so easy to find…
As you can see, only Charlotte’s name appears on the headstone which reads:
In Loving Memory
my dear wife and our mother
Died 26th July 1939, Aged 56 Years.
…But where is Charles? He passed away on 2 May 19512 and, according to the Brisbane City Council (BCC) online Grave Location search, Charlotte and Charles were buried in the same plot. But only Charlotte’s details are on the headstone, though there is room for Charles as well. Another mystery.
The other plot I was able to find was for the sister of my husband’s 2 x great grandmother. A rather distant relationship, I know, but you never know what extra tidbits of information you might find, like birthplace and so on.
So, to make it a bit clearer, my husband’s 2 x great grandmother was Martha Letitia CROFT who married James EALING on 5 November 1877 at the General Registry Office in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.3
Martha’s family story is a bit convoluted but interesting, especially with regards to her parents, but I will leave that for another post as it needs a whole post to give it justice.
But, basically, Martha was born on 28 February 1855 at 20 Wyndham Street, Marylebone, Middlesex, England to Thomas Holloway CROFT and Louisa CROFT nee ROCK.4 She had 3 sisters and one brother: Louisa Emma, Clara Eugenie, Emily Elizabeth and Thomas Stephen GJG.
The headstone I found belonged to Martha’s sister, Louisa Emma CROFT. Louisa married Robert James SIMPSON in Brisbane in 1878.5
You can just see that there is something extra at the base of the main headstone but you can also see that the concrete on top of the plot is broken and very unstable. I couldn’t see what was on the extra stone at the base.
But here is a close up of the main headstone…
Notice that Louisa’s husband, Robert James SIMPSON, died in a tragic accident. His entry on the headstone reads:
In Fond and Loving Memory
our dear father
ROBERT JAMES SIMPSON
who lost his life
through the capsizing of a whale boat
between Double Island Point, and Noosa,
28th May 1918,
aged 65 years 11 months.
Wow. Hmmm. It would be interesting to know more details about this accident. He was almost 65 years old. Why was he in a whale boat? Surely such an accident must have been reported in the newspapers? Where to look? Why, where else but the National Library of Australia’s online digital database, Trove, and guess what I found?
I had assumed from the headstone that Robert had drowned but was surprised to find from the newspaper article that he appeared to have died of heart failure instead after being carried ashore. Notice that the article says he is 67 years of age while his headstone is a specific “Aged 65 years 11 months”.
Also notice that on the headstone is their daughter “Alice CLOHERTY”. Any connection to the Captain CLOHERTY mentioned in the article about her father’s death? Possibly…
Another quick check of Trove and I found some marriage notices and articles which showed that on 7 January 1909 in Brisbane, Alice SIMPSON married Mr Valentine Cecil CLOHERTY of the Marine Department and eldest son of Mr James A. CLOHERTY, though some notices call him “Capt. James A CLOHERTY”.6,7
However, Capt. CLOHERTY could just as easily be Captain Thomas Alfred CLOHERTY, who was in the Brisbane Pilot Service and later Harbourmaster for the Port of Brisbane. Capt. Thomas Alfred CLOHERTY was apparently brother to James A. CLOHERTY and therefore uncle of Valentine.8,9
Despite being in the Marine Department, it is unlikely that it could have been Valentine as he was the lighthouse keeper at Goode Island in the Thursday Islands from 1916 until he died there in 1927.10 Which is also probably why his wife, Alice CLOHERTY nee SIMPSON, was buried in her parent’s plot.
Definitively confirming a link between the families and the “Capt. CLOHERTY” of the article would require more work than the quick bit of digging around I have done. But if there is a link, it somehow makes it even more tragic. Imagine being related, even by marriage, and having to tell his wife what happened. As it was, Louisa died just 2 ½ months after Robert.
In the Simpson plot is another, smaller headstone for Louisa Mildred COSTA who died on 1st June 1953:
Who was Louisa Mildred COSTA? A quick dash over to the Queensland Birth, Death and Marriage online index, put in the details from the headstone to find her death entry, and the result shows that Louisa is the daughter of Robert James SIMPSON and Louisa Emma SIMPSON nee CROFT.
Just like Charlotte MITCHELL nee EALING, there is a space on her headstone for her husband, but it has not been completed. The difference appears to be that he was not buried in the same plot, according to the Brisbane City Council grave location search, unlike Charlotte and Charles MITCHELL.
Lots of interesting BSOs! But it all shows how headstones can take you on a fascinating family research adventure.
If anyone has any ideas why one person may appear on a headstone and not another, even though buried later and in the same plot, I would love to hear them.
1 Queensland, Australia, marriage certificate no 1903/2322 (1903), Mitchell-Ealing; Registrar-General, Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, Brisbane.
2 Queensland, Australia, Death Register, 1951: B32004, Charles Edward Mitchell; Registrar-General, Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, Brisbane.
3 Queensland, Australia, Marriage Register, 1877: 5823, Ealing-Croft; Registrar-General, Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, Brisbane.
4 England, certified copy of entry in Register of Births for Martha Letitia Croft born 28 February 1855; citing March [quarter] 1855, 1A/410/428, Marylebone registration district; General Register Office, England.
5 “Queensland, Marriage Historical Index: 1829-1940,” database, Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, Queensland Government (https://www.bdm.qld.gov.au/IndexSearch/queryEntry.m?type=marriages: accessed 15 June 2015), marriage entry for Robert Simpson and Louisa Emma Croft, 1878; citing 1878/B5949.
6 WEDDING. (1909, January 11). The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864 – 1933), p. 7. Retrieved June 14, 2015, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article19558249
7 Family Notices. (1909, January 16). The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864 – 1933), p. 4. Retrieved June 14, 2015, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article19558968
8 Family Notices. (1925, June 5). Daily Standard (Brisbane, Qld. : 1912 – 1936), p. 5 Edition: SECOND EDITION–3 p.m.. Retrieved June 16, 2015, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article185189226
9 OBITUARY. Captain T. A. Cloherty. (1931, March 2). The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864 – 1933), p. 14. Retrieved June 16, 2015, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article21674057
10 THURSDAY ISLAND NOTES. (1927, July 13). Townsville Daily Bulletin (Qld. : 1907 – 1954), p. 11. Retrieved June 16, 2015, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article60724741