An historic discovery was made in the Grafton Bridge Cemetery this morning by Mr A Bond, sexton, who unearthed from a thick bush of ivy creeper a headstone which dated back to 1851, a period of 75 years.
The stone, a slab 3ft 6in by 2ft 3in, is Mount Eden blue stone, and the inscription was worked with quaint originality. It read: "Sacred to the memory of Charles Dickson, Esq., son of the late Major-General, Sir Jeremiah Dickson, KCB, died, 6th October, 1851, aged 28 years."
The cemetery is 77 years old, and the fact that the headstone has been in place for 75 years is taken to mean that it was probably the first monument erected over a grave in that cemetery.
For many years the headstone lay on its face, the inscription to the ground, and the ivy creeper in time completely covered it. It was only while cutting down the ivy to-day that Mr Bond came across the stone. He raised it and found the inscription in as good condition as if it had been completed to-day. The workmanship was crude, in the sense of spacing and punctuation, but apart from that it stands as an excellent idea of what the stone masons of early Auckland could accomplish.
A well known stone mason stated this morning that there was nothing like the stone in Auckland. It was the original Mount Eden blue stone and was, in his opinion, the first stone erected.
Auckland Star, 10 February 1927
How did poor Mr Dickson die at so young an age?
An Inquest was held on Tuesday last, at the New Leith Inn, Onehunga, before Wm. Davies, Esq., Coroner, on the body of Charles Dixon [sic], Esq. It appeared from the evidence produced that the deceased fell from his horse as he was riding towards Onehunga, between 8 and 9 o'clock on Monday evening, and was found by James Magee, the Ranger of the Hundred of Onehunga, about 10 o'clock, who had him conveyed to the New Leith Inn. The last place at which he was seen alive was at Mr. Tye's, Epsom. Dr. Warrington stated, he had made a post mortem examination of the body, and that the cause of death was Apoplexy, arising from the rupture of a large vessel at the base of the brain. The Jury returned their verdict accordingly.
Southern Cross, 10 October 1851
The bad news is that this important early headstone is gone. Section A of the Anglican section of the cemetery, where Dickson was buried, was carved away for the motorway, and his disinterred, cremated then reinterred remains are now part of the Anglican Memorial at the cemetery. Hopefully, somewhere, there's a photo. Instances like this remind me why we're lucky to have Sandy around.