One evening in late July 2009 my mother, Maureen, revealed that she had recently found out that her paternal grandmother was buried in an unmarked grave in her home town of Maffra, within the Gippsland region of Victoria, Australia. I realised I had never even asked about her paternal grandparents. I was suddenly filled with a million questions. That was the moment I became addicted to researching my family history.
All mum knew was her name was Ada Ellen, her maiden name was McEwan and she had died of tuberculosis two years after giving birth to Noel Jack Shingles (her father). A phone call to her cousin David, confirmed that he was in possession of a picture of both Ada and her husband Arthur James Shingles. An overnight visit was quickly organised.
The rest of the evening passed lost in the search engine of the Victorian Births, Deaths and Marriages website. Quite a few dollars later, we had downloaded Ada’s birth certificate and had a pretty good picture of the McEwan line in Australia.
A few days later mum, her sister Eileen, my daughter Tahlia and I piled into the car and headed from Geelong to Maffra. Imagine our joy when it turned out that the picture we were expecting was actually a painting from their wedding day.
The next day we organised to visit Maffra Cemetery to see Ada’s final resting place and were most surprised to find that three stones had been placed side by side. Ada’s father Peter and her younger brother Morris were to her left.
A few months later, Ada was no longer in an unmarked grave.