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Week 9: 52 Weeks of Abundant Genealogy

March 18, 2012

Amy Coffin of The We Tree Genealogy Blog in conjunction with GeneaBloggers has called for bloggers of genealogy and family history to take on the 2012 challenge of  52 Weeks of Abundant Genealogy    This week’s topic is Cemeteries. Genealogists understand the full value of cemeteries and appreciate them in ways most others can’t see. Share a cemetery or cemetery experience for which you are most thankful. What makes this place special? What does it mean to you and your family history?

I am extremely thankful for the Violet Town cemetery in Central Victoria. Years ago when I first started researching my family history I was surprised to learn  that my grandfather was born at Violet Town.  This surprised me because my father was born at Richmond, an inner suburb of Melbourne. I had never heard there was a Violet Town connection and as it was only 50k from where I was living at the time, off I went for a bit of a look around, not expecting to find much. What I found there, set me off on this quest for all these years,  to find out all I could about my family history.

I was sure that none of my ancestors would have been important or wealthy enough to have had a headstone, so was surprised to see this family plot occupying a central position in the cemetery.  Buried here are a PATRICK BOYLE, his first wife MARGARET McCLINTOCK,  who he married in Ireland before emigrating to Australia. Also in this plot is his his second wife, MARIA CHUTE who he married after Margaret’s death. As I was in the very early stages of researching the family, I had very little knowledge of them, so was surprised to see that his daughter ELLEN BOYLE was also buried here after her death at age 18. What surprised me about this was that Ellen was married and had two children, but was buried with her parents. Something about this didn’t seem right, so off I went for more information on her death. I found that she was murdered by her husband in 1871 and  have blogged previously about The short life of Ellen Boyle. 

I was a little stunned to find that Ellen’s husband RICHARD CHUTE was the brother of her father’s second wife Maria. I’ve since found that this wasn’t completely unusual in the 19th Century. Both families were Irish and would have mixed together in their small community. I went on to find that the death of ELLEN BOYLE was reported in newspapers all over Australia.

PATRICK BOYLE was my 2nd great uncle, so the relationship is quite distant. However, I am forever thankful for that visit to the Violet Cemetery which set me on this path of researching and learning about the history of my family, which I knew very little about at the time.  This search has taken me to cemeteries around Australia and the world. Hopefully with many more visits to come.


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3 Comments
  1. An interesting story, and I like the photo too. I cannot resist cemeteries. I have probably taken foolish risks by exploring some on my own, but when I’m travelling alone it’s that or nothing. However I always check that I have mobile phone reception before walking away from my car, just in case I have a fall or encounter an undesirable character.

    • Judy I love searching around old cemetaries. The undesirables I usually worry about are snakes.

      • I’m not keen on snakes either, so in cemeteries I often walk with heavy, thumping steps. The vibration in the ground should make them move away in a hurry – but it can be hard on the nerves!

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