Friday, 16 November 2012

The Old Cemetery

Our old cemetery has improved steadily over the last few years. The grass is tidier, gravel covers openings where concrete had broken due to subsidence. The vast crop of gorse and broom in the gully has been dealt to. Many dedicated people have made this happen. Some descendants have put in plaques where none existed before. But there is a noticeable decline amongst some graves.

This is Joseph Swap's grave photographed in 2007. Joseph came from Aberdeen, Scotland and  became a prominent resident in the town from about 1879 to his death in 1908. He built many of the buildings we still have today including the Catholic Church. In this photo, his grave had been sprayed for weeds, but the obelisk is on a lean due to subsidence - the ground underneath the monument has given way. The wrought iron has been mangled due to the harvest of trees (I think in the 1960s).

This is his plot today.

Sideview.
Traditionally, descendants are expected to care for family graves. But many descendants often don't know the state of their ancestors' graves because they are not kept informed and do not live close by. Also some of the people buried here and in the new cemetery do not have descendants. Harry and Priscilla Holt for whom Holt Park was named had no children.
The Otautau Lions have been very active in helping to restore the old cemetery. And there are locals who would like to be a part of the restoration as well: restoring the headstones and wrought iron fencing, filling the holes in the ground left by the harvest of the trees. Maybe there is a way to reach these descendants and keep them up to date. Maybe they would be more than willing to contribute to the cost of this restoration.
I hope that when I take photos in another five years, Joseph Swap's obelisk will be among the many that have been restored and that the whole cemetery becomes a place to learn about the early residents of Otautau and surrounding districts.

2 comments:

web pastor said...

On behalf of the Affleck family I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to the kind people who were associated with the restoration of the 'Settlers Cemetery'.

It was indeed a pleasure to spend time at the grave of Andrew and John Affleck last weekend.

Again, thank you so very much and your effort is greatly appreciated.

Yours
Charles B Affleck
Invercargill

Cathy said...

Thanks for your comment, Charles. I have passed it on to the Otautau Lions Club and SDC staff.