Blog post

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Strange things can happen in cemeteries

This evening I transcribed a few records from Springvale Botanical Cemetery on BillionGraves. My grandparents, and many other family members, are buried there although their markers have not been photographed yet.

Thinking about the lawn where my grandparents are buried, I remembered a strange incident that once occurred there.

It was the 80s – maybe 1985 or so. Although we lived interstate we visited Melbourne regularly and usually stopped by my grandparent's grave site. Springvale Botanical Cemetery is huge – 422 acres according to its website. The grave is in the middle of a wide lawn. All around were other lawns, monumental areas and empty land.

There was no-one else in sight.

There was no building or vehicle nearby.

We were alone.

In this broad, empty space we heard a most unexpected sound...

A phone ringing!

I realise that if you are Gen Y or younger that will not sound remarkable at all. Nowadays if that happened all sorts of plausible explanations would come to mind. Perhaps a visitor to the cemetery had dropped theirs? Maybe someone was accidentally (or otherwise) buried with their mobile phone? Can you get coverage 6 feet under? But remember, this was the 80’s. My quick, unverified internet research suggests that the mobile phone was introduced to Australia in 1987. They were huge, they were expensive. You would not leave one in a cemetery. I don’t think we were aware such things even existed.

I have no idea to this day where that ringing phone could have been.

Perhaps this is not quite the spooky ghost story you imagined when reading the title of this post… but it was strange, and it did happen in a cemetery.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Who was Minchin’s Mum?

Three years ago, I deciphered the name of a witness to my great-great grandparent’s marriage: Minchin Lewis. I suspected he was related to my great-great grandmother as she shares the Lewis name. Then, having found out a little more about him I learned that he had named their first born son James Abbott. My great-great grandmother’s first son also was James Abbott. That seemed like more than a coincidence!

Now I’m trying to find out a bit more about Minchin in the hope that they are related and it will lead me to more information on my great-great grandmother’s origins in Ireland.

Minchin married Martha Peoples in Victoria, Australia in 1890 (almost thirty years after the birth of the first of their nine children together!). I have obtained the marriage certificate.

Both Minchin and Martha were born in Ireland. Can you make out Minchin’s birth place in the top line?


Minchin’s father was John Lewis and his mother (second line) was Fanny _____? I think I know what the name is but I would like some opinions that are not biased by what I think it may be.


Can you help? Or even better, are you related to this couple?!