Thursday, December 31, 2015

To photograph or not to photograph ... that is the question: The gravesite of Walter John NORTHCOTE (1871-1954)

Today, my Mum and I visited Woronora Cemetery in southern Sydney. We visited the graves of my maternal grandparents, John Joseph WALTERS (1905-1970) and Lily Anne KINGSBURY (1902-1996), as well as my great Uncle Tom's grave, Thomas WALTERS (1909-1975), and my great Aunty Grace's grave, Grace O'LOGHLEN, nee WALTERS (1907-1992). For a separate blogpost about these graves, see The graves of three WALTERS siblings: John (1905-1970), Grace (1907-1992) and Thomas (1909-1975).

After finding the WALTERS' graves, we then went on to find the grave of Walter John NORTHCOTE (1871-1954), one of my father's uncles, my great-uncle. 
Walter John NORTHCOTE (1871-1954)


Before I went to the cemetery, I accessed the details of his  grave via the online search engine on the Wororona Cemetery website, called Finding loved ones. I also checked out his funeral notice in the Sydney Morning Herald and looked up the Australian Cemetery Index

The following details about his burial were available on the Wororona Cemetery website (Finding loved ones) about the grave of Walter John NORTHCOTE.


Online records of Walter John NORTHCOTE's grave.
 Died 17 June 1954
Roman Catholic Monumental Section 8, Grave no. 390, Woronora Cemetery


The online record above told me that Walter John NORTHCOTE was buried in the Roman Catholic Monumental Section 8 in Grave no. 0390 at Woronora Cemetery. His date of death was Thursday 17 June 1954 but his burial date is not included in these online grave records (above). However, his funeral notice on page 52 in the Sydney Morning Herald on Saturday 19 June 1954 notes that his funeral was held on Saturday 19 June 1954.

Walter John NORTHCOTE's funeral notice
Sydney Morning Herald, Saturday 19 June 1954, page 52



When I looked up Walter John NORTHCOTE's grave on the Australian Cemetery Index, the following information was provided. This information appears to indicate that his grave did not have a gravestone because the information is the same as the information on the cemetery's online information. That is, because there is no inscription like information, it appears that there is no inscription on his grave - probably no gravestone.


Information about Walter John NORTHCOTE's grave
Australian Cemetery Index


These online records, helped me to work out the date of his death and the location of his grave.

When we visited his grave (no. 0390 in the Roman Catholic Monumental Section 8 at Woronora Cemetery), there was no headstone or grave markings. I found it a bit disappointing and quite sad to find that his grave did not have a gravestone or any identifying information. However, we paid our respects by placing some flowers on the grave and took a photo of the gravesite. I felt a little bit weird taking photographs of a blank piece of grass but thought it was important to record his final resting places in some way. Although it appears to be a blank piece of grass, one of our ancestors lies below.

Walter John NORTHCOTE's gravesite at Woronora Cemetery
Died 17 June 1954
Roman Catholic Monumental Section 8, Grave no. 390


Despite having no gravestone, we were able to work out where his grave was located, based on the names and numbers of nearby graves. For example, Mary SIMPSON who died in 1954 was the grave next to Walter's grave (grave no. 0389, on the left of his grave). She died two days before Walter John NORTHCOTE.

Online records of Mary Simpson's grave at Woronora Cemetery. Died 15 June 1954
Roman Catholic Monumental Section 8, Grave no. 389



Mary Simpson's grave at Woronora Cemetery. Died 15 June 1954
Roman Catholic Monumental Section 8, Grave no. 389

Secondly, the next marked grave along (towards the right) was the grave of John Rosso who died in August 1955.

Online records of John Rossi's grave at Woronora Cemetery. Died 6 August 1955
Roman Catholic Monumental Section 8, Grave no. 394


John Rossi's grave at Woronora Cemetery
Died 6 August 1955
Roman Catholic Monumental Section 8, Grave no. 394


Thanks to the marked graves of Mary Simpson and John Rossi, we were able to work out the location of Walter John NORTHCOTE's unmarked grave.

Approximate location of Walter John NORTHCOTE's grave,
Woronora Cemetery, Sutherland, Sydney


So, what do you think? Is it worth photographing a gravesite without a headstone?






May they all rest in peace.



7 comments:

  1. I say definitely take a pic. I always do. It's our way of honouring the life of our ancestor. Michael Caton said it well in his episode of WDYTYA.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks Janelle. Will have to go back and watch the Michael Caton episode of WDYTYA. Thanks for the reminder.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I think it is important, especially if you gps it as well with your smart phone; then you can always find it again :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Great idea about the gps. I must do that next time I'm at the cemetery.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I have a few photos of unmarked graves. I suggest that the next time you visit, take either a chalkboard or a sign with the details on it, and photograph it again. You can always add the GPS details to the sign/ board when you get there. That way, you have an exact record of where your ancestor is buried.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Definitely take photos including one from a distance that shows landmarks/neighbouring graves so that yours is easily findable again. The GPS is a fab idea. We are in the throes of putting some simple headstones on ancestors' graves although some cemetery authorities aren't too co-operative.

    ReplyDelete