Week 4 of 52 (2020) – Close to Home

It’s taken me a few extra weeks to decide what I wanted to write for Week 4’s prompt. I would love to have a story about a homestead that was lived in by generations of the same family but alas I don’t really know if we had one of those.  The only thing I could think of was my great grandmother and family being together in unmarked graves – ‘Close to Home In Death’.

I have written a few times about the reason I started researching my family was a comment about my great grandmother being in an unmarked grave in Maffra Cemetery.  When we arrived at the cemetery to see her final resting place, we were shocked to see three stones laid out side by side.  Not only was my great grandmother unmarked but so was her father and a younger brother.  A few years later we also found out that one of Ada’s daughter’s-in-law was also in an unmarked grave diagonally behind and to the left of her.

Unmarked Graves

My great grandmother, Ada Ellen McEwan, was born on 13 Feb 1893 in Lake Tyers, Victoria to Peter McEwan and Ellen McCausland.  At the tender age of 18 she married Arthur James Shingles on 31 May 1911 at St Mary’s Cathedral in Sale.  Six children soon followed Hazel, (1911), Keith (1913), Edna (1914), Richard (1916), Gladys (1918) and finally my great grandfather Noel in 1920.  Sadly, two years later at the age of 29, Ada was taken by tuberculosis and died on 5 April 1922.  She was laid to rest in an unmarked grave on 6 Apr 1922 in Maffra Cemetery.

Two years later, her father Peter also died of TB on 17 Oct 1924 aged 60 and was buried to the left of Ada.

Five years later Ada’s younger brother Morris Matthew died on 23 September 1929 aged 22 in Sale Hospital as a result of a laceration to the brain caused by a kick from a horse.  He was buried the next day to the left of their father.

Jessica Frances Gibbons was born in Sale on 26 October 1915 to Leonard Gibbons and Lucy Amelia Strahan.  At the age of 21 she married Keith Ian Shingles (Ada’s second child) in 1936.  On 3 August 1937 she delivered a daughter Valerie Ada Shingles.  Sadly, exactly a month later, on 3 September 1937, Jessica passed away due to heart failure just before her 22nd birthday. She was laid to rest near her mother-in-law who she probably had never met!

Today, both Ada and Jessica have headstones.

Jessica having had two different headstones.  Her great grand-daughters organised one when they discovered she was in an unmarked grave.  When their mother Valerie passed away, she was buried with the mother she never knew and a new headstone was added.

Graves 2

My mother, Maureen, in 2013 with her grandmothers now marked grave. Jessica’s first headstone to the left.

As they are now

Mother and daughter together again on the right with mother-in-law/grandmother, Ada, to the left. Photo taken in November 2019.

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I have been researching my family history since 2009. I am interested it the family names Shingles, McEwan, Snowdon & Witt around Gippsland and Wodonga areas of Victoria, Australia

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