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Finding Families in Cemeteries
I am still participating in the 52 Weeks To Better Genealogy program and Challenge 22 was to spend time at Find-a-Grave. This doesn’t have a lot of relevance for Australian researchers, although there are 164 people listed in the Australian section, so I am looking at my favourite cemetery sites for Australia.
A quick and easy site is Australian Cemeteries which covers all States and Territories and it includes links to online data for either tombstones or burial records, home pages without online data, undertakers records, lookups, maps and photographs.
The story of my gg grandparents John and Helen Carnegie can be found here and this blog will look at information that is now available online about their grave.
They were buried in Toorbul cemetery so I selected the State section for Queensland, selected T and scrolled down to Toorbul. This revealed that it is now known as Toorbul Historic Cemetery and that there is online data and photos of the headstones. Several people have submitted transcriptions and photographs so I selected all links, compared data, other information and viewed all the photos. The Toorbul information has also been placed on Interment.net, another cemetery site for Australia.
A new feature on Australian Cemeteries allows you to do a Google search over the site for an individual surname, on a State by State basis. Assuming that the cemetery you want has searchable pages this can be a quick way to find people but be aware that not all information is online or in a format searchable by Google.
In my example I went to the State section for Queensland and put in Carnegie as a keyword. This search brought up a Google search page with eight references to Carnegie (and remember not all information is online) and of the eight, four referred to the Toorbul Historic Cemetery. There are links to the Interment.net site and also a link to Kerry Raymond’s South East Queensland cemeteries headstone photo collection with still more photos of the Toorbul Historic Cemetery.
Interestingly I first went to the Toorbul cemetery back in 1978 with the local historian for the area. At that time the cemetery was very overgrown and I would never have found it by myself. While the Carnegie grave was the only cement grave, there were other graves with wooden surrounds and markers. The headstone on the Carnegie grave was still intact and upright.
Since then it looks like a fire has been through and destroyed all the wooden evidence marking the graves and shattered the Carnegie headstone. The area has been cleared and a fence built and signs marking the location have been erected. There is even a memorial board listing all those buried there. I am pleased that the area is now preserved and recognised as an historic cemetery but it is a shame that all the remnants of the earlier cemetery have gone.
As I mentioned above, Interment.net is another site listing Australian cemeteries and is useful as a double check as not everything is listed in both.
Another useful gateway site is Cora Num’s Websites for Genealogists: an Australian gateway site for tracing your family history. Under Cemeteries there is a range of information divided up under National and State by State.
While it is easier than ever to find cemetery information online, there is still a lot of information recorded in genealogy, family history and local historical societies so don’t neglect to look there too. Good luck.