Saturday, January 1, 2011

In the shadow of the bridge

Updated (and corrected) 5 January 2016.

This last lot of gravesites in the Wesleyan section are both on the border of the Anglican section and were either very close to or completely in the way of the second (and present) Grafton Bridge as it was being constructed, completed 1910. Some graves, as I understand, were relocated, but nowhere near as many as had to be relocated for the motorway 50-60 years later. Still, the presence of the bridge dominates this part of Symonds Street Cemetery.

Hopefully Sandy stops by and recognises this (above and below) -- she did a great post on her blog about the sad fate of Emily Keeling back in March 2010. Since then, kind folks have been by and repaired Emily's stone -- but the rest of the gravesite is crumbling.

This one (above) is the shattered stone for two of John Gittos' children, Laura Ann (died 16 January 1872 aged 2 years) and Ernest William (died 26 January 1879 aged 1 year 7 months). Their deaths was during the time that John Gittos was with his father and brothers running the Gittos Tannery at Avondale

This one is so badly smashed. it would take careful work with the cemetery plans and what remains of transcriptions to find out who's here.

This one is truly in the shadow of the Grafton Bridge; shifted on its base, surrounded by construction bare clays instead of the leaves and plants of the rest of the cemetery.

It actually serves to mark a maritime tragedy which was a bit of a challenge to track down, especially with the false lead of the date at the bottom: 8 October 1890. That wasn't when Mrs Isabella Gibson Henderson, wife of Henry Henderson, along with her infant son, drowned off the steamer Mararoa. It happened two years earlier.

The Mararoa, which left Auckland at 6 p.m. on October 3, arrived last night. On Sunday, while approaching the coast, she encountered a terrific gale with fearful sea, which continued till yesterday. At half-past 3 in the afternoon she was suddenly struck by an enormous wave of unusual magnitude, which broke on board with disastrous results. The passengers on the hurricane deck had no warning, and being unable to escape were hurled in all directions. Mrs Henderson (a steerage passenger) and her infant child were carried overboard without any chance of help, and drowned. Two other steerage passengers (Mr White and Mr Herbert) each had his leg broken, and one of the seamen named Jones also had his leg fractured. Another child of Mrs Henderson was fortunately caught by the rail, and hung suspended there until the vessel righted when it was rescued. Several other persons received severe bruises.

(Per United Phess Association.) Auckland, October 9. Mrs Henderson, the lady who was drowned trom the Mararoa, was the wife of Mr H Henderson who recently left Auckland for Ballarat where he is now carrying on business. Mrs Henderson left with her three children in the Mararoa last week in order to join her husband.

 (Otago Daily Times, 10 October 1888)

I am very thankful that the National Library of Australia have put their newspapers online, like those at our own National Library. I couldn't find a death registration for Mrs Henderson, so figured that she hadn't died here -- chances are, the drowning happened in Australian waters, as the Mararoa piled between the colonies of New Zealand and Victoria at the time. A search at Trove, and there it was.

The tragedy was all over the newspapers here at the time.

From inquiries we have made there appears to be very little doubt that the lady who met with her death under the sad circumstances narrated in the cablegram was a former resident of Auckland. She was the wife of Mr Henry Henderson, an upholsterer in Auckland, who recently proceeded to Ballarat, where he is now carrying on business. Mrs Henderson left with her three children in the Mararoa last week in order to join her husband. She is well-known in Auckland, and prior to her marriage was a Miss Froude, her father being Mr David Froude, of Surrey Hills. Mr Henry Henderson is a brother of Mr John Henderson, painter, of Wyndham-street. The hurricance deck on the Mararoa runs the full length of the vessel, and the second cabin is situated in the after part. None of the saloon passengers sustained any injury.

(Te Aroha News 13 October 1888)

According to this site, Isabella was named after her grandmother, Isabella Gibson, David Froude's mother. David Froude was an Auckland tailor by trade, born in Belfast, Ireland 17 February 1830, and died 26 August 1912. Even that family history site has the wrong date for Isabella's death.

And then there is the unforunate William James Green, who died 7 May 1873.
Auckland, April 29. Mr Green, clerk in the New Zealand Bank, was examining one of Pramton's revolvers in the bank last night, when it went off, lodging the bullet in his left breast, where it still remains. He is still living, but unable to be removed from the bank.

(Christchurch Star 30 April 1873)

While Mr Green, a clerk in the Bank of New Zealand, Auckland, was examining a revolver in the public room of the bank the other day, it accidentally went off, the ball entering the left side near the lower part of the sternum, cutting through the pectoral muscles in a slanting direciion towards the armpit. The bullet, it would appear, had steered clear of the lungs, as the wounded man breathed freely for hours after the accident took place. Death, however, was the result. Mr Green was an acccountant in the Union Bank, Dunedin, in the year 1866. His death, will be regretted by many friends who knew him well.

(Bruce Herald, 23 May 1873)

Dominated by the Grafton Bridge, here lies Rev Thomas Buddle.


The death is announced to-day of this gentleman, who had a large number of friends in Nelson, and who was sincerely respected by many who could not claim the privilege of friendship. He commenced his ministry in the Wesleyan Church in 1836, in Bishop Auckland, England, and very shortly afterwards came out to New Zealand, was elected President of the Australasian Conference in 1863, and first President of the New Zealand Conference in 1864. The early years of his ministry in New Zealand were devoted to Maori work in the Auckland district, but in 1866 he was removed from this sphere of usefulness to Christchurch, and was appointed Chairman of the Canterbury district. Subsequently he was stationed at Wellington and Nelson, and while a resident at the former place he was appointed a member of the University Senate, which he resigned upon removal to Auckland in 1874, when he was appointed Principal of the Wesley College at Three Kings, an office which he continued to hold until the sitting of the Conference of 1882 when he retired as a supernumerary. This was made the occasion of the Conference placing on record their sense of the invaluable services he had rendered, which they did in the following resolution : — " That the Conference having heard the request of the Rev. T. Buddie, to be permitted to retire from the full work of the Ministry, accedes thereto with regret. The Conference takes the opportunity of referring to the efficient services rendered to the Church of Christ by Mr Buddle during the long period of forty-seven years. It recognises the ability and fidelity with which he has discharged the multifarious duties that have been assigned him. It magnifies the grace of God whereby His servant has been enabled to occupy and sustain the highest offices in the Australasian Wesleyan Methodist Church. It records its gratitude to the Father of mercies for having spared him to see the enlargement and prosperity of the Church in New Zealand, with the begining of which he was so closely identified. It acknowledges with thankfulness to God the devotedness of his labours, both among the Maoris and English speaking population, these labours having been abundantly owned of God in the salvation of many souls. The Conference rejoices in the high honour that has been conferred upon Mr Buddle, in the presence of all the people, by the Government, as shown by the marks of distinction put upon him in recognition of his knowledge and wisdom in the affairs of State. Now that necessity is laid upon Father Buddle to ask for retirement, the members of the Conference unite in praying that the Lord Jesus Christ, who has guided, instructed, and blessed His servant in the past, will bless him yet more abundantly in the future, and that in the quiet happy evening of a well-spent life, both he and Mrs Buddle (who has been the devoted partner of his life and labors) may realize the richest fulfilment of the great and precious promises, which are to them and to their children.''

(Nelson Evening Mail, 26 June 1883)

What is left of William Phillipps' gravestone. According to the library's cemetery database:

The early 1880s map of the Wesleyan section has two Phillips graves at 4 C 153 and 4 C 154. According to the late 1950's tombstone transcriptions William Phillipps died 14 August 1863 aged 66 years and his wife Charlotte Phillips died 12 September 1868 aged 65 years.
Early 1900s repairs to the Wesleyan section refer to William Phillips, and describe the grave with an "iron railling 2 feet 8 inches high on masonry, headstone in centre 12 inches from West end".
Well, not any more.

Two more bridge construction survivors, those for the Culpan family.

And this one for Charles Hedgcock, died 1868, and Elizabeth, 1875.

Here's one of the gravesites which was probably in the way of work on the bridge.

Finally, the last resting place of Dr. Richard Day.

We regret to record in our obituary column the decease of an old and well-known colonist, Dr. Day. The deceased gentleman was one of the early settlers in the Hokianga district in 1840. From thence he removed to Auckland on the outbreak of the Heke war. For many years he filled the appointment, under the Provincial and General Governments, of public vaccinator, and bore a high reputation for skill and scientific attainments in the practice of his profession.

Of late years the growing infirmities of age caused him to retire from practice and from taking an active part in the management of the public institutions of the city with which his name had been so long identified. He passed away peacefully yesterday morning, having more than fulfilled the allotted span of three score and ten, at the residence of his friend Rev John Hobbs, of whose family he had been an esteemed member for nearly half a century.

(NZ Herald, 24 October 1879)

In 1866 he was Chairman of the Central Board of Vaccination for the Aborigines of New Zealand. It seems he had a coat of arms conferred upon him just four years before he died. Today, beside his grave, under the bridge, part of the homeless community of Auckland dosses down each night. The mattress was just to the left out of the photo shot. No one was home at the time.


  1. Lisa! I was truly delighted to see someone had gone to the effort of trying to at least fix up Emily's grave :-) Thank you so much for putting in your blog, i have also done a link from the photo in my blog back to your blog.

    Re the FROUDE grave. I photographed a grave at St Andrew's churchyard in Epsom of a John PROBERT who's wife was Jane Randell Burgoyne FROUDE, she'd have to be a member of that family surely?

    Lovely post ... I love reading the stories. You've excelled [and been very brave!]


  2. Thanks for the link from your blog, Sandy!

    Going back on that Froude family history link I found, it looks like Jane Randell Burgoyne Froude was David Froude's aunt. She married John Probert in Auckland in 1842.

  3. Fantabulous! I didn't look at the link "rolls eyes" :-) LOL i'm loving how our posts are crossing though :-) .. really adds some depth.


  4. Let me know if the links don't stand out enough from the background and text, and I'll tinker around with them a bit more.

    Yes, it's cool when I Google for info on someone -- and up comes your work! :-)

  5. Hi Timespanner,

    I have been enjoying your work and that of SandyEm and thought I might contribute a little. I took a photo of William Pillipps' gravestone in the 1990s which showed it had been severely damaged but repaired into 3 pieces. My pictures of James Green's stone are very difficult to read because it was really dirty and in a dark place. The William Culpan stone I photographed in a broken state and then in the repaired mode. The Hedgecock had been repaired also but was in one piece then. I also have several good photos of the Keeling gravestones before Emily Mary's stone was broken. When you were in the cemetery, did you find the peices of the stone of Titus Angus White and Thomas Partington, or have they been thrown on the scrapheap? I would love to know.


    Shirley Kendall

  6. I've checked through my photos, and can't see where I photographed them, so I don't know. I hope they're still there. I'll let Sandy know, in case she's seen something there.

  7. Hello to both of you... thanks for emailing me Lisa with regard to Shirley's comment.

    No sorry, i haven't come across the White or Partington grave sorry.


  8. Be patient with me you two, I still have not learned how to be anything but anonymous so far. The Titus White and Partington stones were lying under the bridge near the Froude gravestone but as they were nothing more than a collection of stone fragments which we pieced together to photograph, I guess they have gone altogether. Along with the McLeod stone over in the Presbyterian cemetery, I am wondering whether the gardeners have removed all the ivy from Thomas Peacock's grave where the 8 or so headstones were hidden with the McLeod one.

    The Vercoe and Paterson stones under the ivy were among the earliest ones I have found so it would be a great shame if they have been lost for the sake of removing the ivy. When I learn how to post the thumbnails, I shall send you the Keeling stones as they were and the other broken bits put together.

    I wondered why I knew the Rebecca Green transcription so well but had no memory of the gravestone posted by SandyEm so I looked up my Anglican photos and found the Green gravestone was a little white stone completely covered in ivy when I took the photo. If you two would prefer to left alone, please say so and I will not send any more messages but the subject is so dear to my heart and has filled many hours since 1985. My email address is should you like to chat with me away from the comment pages.


  9. I've sent you this via email as well, Shirley.

    Hi Shirley,

    Why would you think that you're not welcome to comment or add information about the Symonds Street Cemetery? I think it's wonderful that you're stopping by, and helping to fill in the gaps, seriously. I'd love to know where those two grave markers have ended up -- could they have been the ones right under the bridge, where there seems to be just bare earth and the impressions of something there? I'd have to check what we have to hand of the maps to see.

    Thank you for your information -- and for giving both Sandy and me the nudge to explore further. It is always wonderful to see another person around fascinated by the stories those memorials can tell us.

    All the best,


  10. Sorry to say no sign of an email in my mail. Perhaps Spam arrest discarded it but I thought it went into unverified. Could you try again and I will email Sandy as well. Thanks


  11. Hi Shirley,

    Well, the above is the email I did send. It depends on how sensitive your mail provider's inbox is, I guess. Feel free to email me at



  12. Dear Lisa,

    We are still having a lot of problems with our server and it appears that of lot of my files have been deleted. We are hoping to send just a bit at a time via Geoff which might prove to be helpful to you in the future. In my ignorance, I made a pdf file of all the Wesleyan photos to send you when Geoff realized that it was far too big to go anywhere. Thus the smaller files are a start. If they are no particular use, just get rid of them.

    Happy reading


  13. Thanks Shirley. I got the three files, but haven't have a chance to slow down tonight to look at them. Hope your email gets sorted out -- it must be frustrating for you. Cheers, Lisa.

  14. Oh look i've popped up again LOL. Mainly due to a photo I snapped at Waikaraka Cemetery last Sunday...that of Thomas CULPAN and his wife Alice. Thomas is the son of William CULPAN who died in 1904 and whose grave appears on here...under the bridge
    I only snapped Thomas's grave due to the sad little piece of stone with his name on. Turns out he was the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages for Auckland 1898-1920 and his wife Alice was a bit of a go getter too.


    1. Ohh i forgot to's Thomas CULPAN's grave


  15. Thank you for all the work you have done on this site - it is amazing.
    I am just putting together the connections in my tree for the Gittos family.
    John Gittos b1846 son of Benjamin Gittos, married my 1st cousin 3x removed Eliza Henry in 1869. Eliza was born in 1849.
    I am a little baffled as to the birth of Laura Ann GITTOS (see gravestone photographed and mentioned above) because if Laura was 13 yo in 1872 she must have been born in 1859. That would have meant that her parents - John was 13yo and Eliza was 10yo?
    Certainly Ernest William b 1877 and died 1879 fits into the family timeline - he is mentioned on the same gravestone.
    Additionally, I have found a grave stone on that was added in March 2015. This is the same gravestone for Ernest William and Laura but it is in one piece and standing up straight in the cemetery. Perhaps this gravestone was repaired between 2009 & 2015?
    Can anyone help me out?
    Many thanks
    Erica Henley

    1. My stuff up, actually. Laura was 2 when she died, not 13. The NZ BDM database confirms that her birth was registered in 1870.

  16. Wow, so pleased I found this site and that you have photographed the graves of several ancestors.