Sunday, August 26, 2012

The importance of the right burial plot

Dick Eastman, in his online genealogy newsletter, recently reported about the lady who found another woman buried next to her husband in the plot that she thought was reserved for her own use someday.
It seems that the cemetery's previous owners had sold the cemetery plot twice in the 1980s. The husband was the first to occupy the plot but the second person to be buried there was a woman from the other owner(s). The cemetery owners could not dig up the strange woman, but were willing to relocate the husband, so they could still be buried side by side.

Such mix-ups are rare, but widely reported when they do happen. An incident at Manly Cemetery was reported as far afield as Broken Hill, Darwin, Perth and Victoria. About 1901 a man bought a plot of land in Manly cemetery. He did so to prevent his mother-in-law being buried there. His sister-in-law was buried in Manly Cemetery and knowing that his mother-in-law wanted to be buried beside her, he bought the plot alongside so as to thwart her. However in June 1926 he discovered that she had died in 1921 and that her remains had been interred in his plot. The man had been separated from his wife for 30 years and blamed his mother-in-law for the alienation of the affections of his wife. The man had moved to Victoria, but when he returned to Manly he found his plot had been used and insisted that his mother-in-law be removed, and as a legal fight was not desired, the undertakers exhumed the body of the mother-in-law and removed it to another grave.
The story was reported in Barrier Miner (Broken Hill, NSW) Sat 26 June 1926 p.1; Northern Standard (Darwin, NT) Tuesday 29 June 1926, p3; Mirror (Perth, WA) Sat 26 June 1926 p.1; and Gippsland Times (Vic) Monday 28 June 1926, p3.

And a sign of the times – A printed notice on the gatepost at Manly cemetery: “This way In. One Way Traffic” from SMH Thursday 16 July 1953 p.1 Column 8.

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