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Friday, 19 January 2018

Byles Family plot at Karori

When I looked at the prompt photo for Sepia Saturday this week I initially thought the dark shapes were nuns walking amongst the graves, but then realised they were trees. It looks like a small, neat cemetery layout, unlike many that I've visited in the past, while searching for graves of family members. Often those searches have proved futile, with the person apparently having no headstone, just an unmarked grave that I may or may not have managed to pinpoint somewhere.  

Karori Cemetery in the hills of Wellington NZ is large, covering over 40 hectares and being the last resting place of more than 83000 souls. I went there by bus and am not sure now whether or not I was able to ask directions at the office but I had a grave location and map and surprisingly enough was able to discover the family plot for my Byles great grandparents Mary Ann and Thomas Alfred Byles and their oldest daughter Ellen Mary, known as Nellie or Nell. Nellie died first aged only 29, and according to my aunt this was because she was broken hearted after her fiance was killed in WW1. Her mother Mary died 3 years later aged 54. Thomas survived his wife Mary by 27 years and is buried here with them.
 My grandmother Myrtle May was the nextborn child of Mary and Thomas. She died in Rangiora in 1959 but both she nor her husband/my grandfather Oliver Cruickshank who died in 1985 were cremated and do not have memorial plaques, so I was happy to be able to pay my respects to Myrtle's parents and sister there by their graveside. I was also glad to leave because the weather was threatening and because it felt rather an isolated place late in the afternoon where you wouldn't want to meet any unsavoury characters. It can also be quite sad reading the heartfelt memorials even when you have no connection to the people, particularly if they are for young children or babies.

Mary, Beloved Wife of Thomas Byles, died 11th Oct. 1924, aged 54 years
Thine Forever, God of  Love
Nellie, Beloved daughter of Thomas and Mary Byles
who fell asleep on 14 June 1920, aged 29 years
There is a link death cannot sever
Sweet Remembrance Lasts Forever

Thomas A Byles ,
Beloved husband of Mary
Passed away 12th March 1951
At Rest

Byles family plot
The photo above from the National Library of NZ shows people laying wreaths on ANZAC Day, 25 April 1921, less than a year after Nell died.

Marriage announcement for Thomas and Mary Ann in the Evening Post, April 1889.

I've posted about Thomas Byles before, for example here, in relation to the fact that I haven't yet been able to discover any documentary evidence to prove or disprove the family story that he arrived in New Zealand after having been discovered to be a stowaway in the late 1870s, but finding the Byles family plot was certainly a lot better than discovering during the same trip that his wife Mary's grandmother, Jane Key nee Berry, had been buried in the Bolton Street Cemetery in Wellington but that her remains had been dug up to make way for a motorway and the remains deposited in a common grave, together with over 3000 others. At least her name is recorded here.  

For more blogs on this week's prompt, go to Sepia Saturday #402

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