Headstones & Memorials

I went to the West Terrace Cemetery this morning looking for the grave of James and Mary Chapman but had no luck finding it.

I was thrilled, though, to find the following plaque commemorating Mary and Robert Thomas.

Mary & Robert Thomas

Mary & Robert Thomas

This is what is says:

Mary and Robert Thomas were among the first South Australian colonists, arriving with their four children aboard the Africaine in November 1836.  Their eldest son, Robert Jnr., had arrived earlier as part of Colonel William Light’s survey team.

Mary was an accomplished writer and poet, having published several poems while in England.  With her husband, she played an important role in documenting and commenting on early colonial life.

Robert Thomas brought the first printing press to the Colony and founded South Australia’s first newspaper, the South Australian Gazette and Colonial Register, Mary was a regular contributor and held an influential position for a woman of the period.

Mary’s diaries and letters provide a detailed account of the ups and downs of early colonial life, the harsh living conditions and ongoing financial struggles.  Through hard times, it was Mary’s commitment to her family astute way with finances that saw them survive.

Like many graves, the memorial which once adorned this site has been lost due to exposure to the elements.

Mary and Robert aren’t ancestors of mine it was just so good to read about a woman’s achievements in early South Australia as well as seeing the plaque where their headstone used to be.

This headstone I saw is being eaten away by the elements, I wonder how long it’s been there for.  You can’t really tell from the photo but it looked like it was melting into the ground.  There is no discernible writing on it at all.  Whatever type of stone it is it’s sad that it didn’t hold onto its information for future generations.

Wind and rain erosion

Wind and rain erosion

I wonder how long this headstone has been standing.

I wonder how long this headstone has been standing.

5 thoughts on “Headstones & Memorials

  • January 23, 2013 at 11:32 pm
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    The survival of stones seems to be so erratic yet the worst in terms of survival seem to be those black marble ones. The sad fact is that so many of our ancestors’ families couldn’t afford to put up headstones so I guess it’s not surprising we often come up empty-handed ourselves.

    Reply
    • January 24, 2013 at 9:04 am
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      In South Australia with the slate headstones Ive seen pieces flake off until there’s almost nothing left. Many of my family couldn’t afford headstones either. For some I’ve made a certificate with their vital statistics and a photo of the cemetery where they’re buried.

      Reply
  • January 31, 2013 at 11:22 pm
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    Very interesting story! I enjoyed reading your article with full of history. It’s good to read great piece of information like this.

    Reply
    • February 1, 2013 at 2:03 pm
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      Thanks Dana, I love researching history!! 🙂

      Reply
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