A Daily Photo Blog about Life in Northern New South Wales, Australia.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Ulmarra Cemetery: Samuel and Clara Weston

This is the weathered memorial to Samuel Weston who drowned when the S.S. New England was wrecked at the entrance to the Clarence River on 27th December 1882. He was a school teacher and the citizens of Cowper raised the money for the obelisk. This suggests he was a very well respected man.
The shipwreck is a terrible story of a Captain who ignored the displayed flags that it was too dangerous to cross the river bar and possible cowardice by the river mouth Pilot who would not launch his boat to attempt a rescue of the passengers and crew. Some were saved by 3 heroic Italians, they all received a gold medal for their courage.The Captain went down with the ship and after an inquiry the Pilot was relieved of his post.

A story leads to another story and was impressed and amazed by the life of his widow Clara Weston. After her husbands death she became the Sewing Mistress at the Grafton Grammar School and insisted that her daughter Una attend science classes. Una then went to Sydney University and became one of Australia's first female chemists.
In 1857 when Clara was 19 she lived in Watson's Bay, Sydney and never forgot the terrible cries on the night wind when the SS Dunbar was wrecked at The Gap with the loss of 121 lives. The poor woman, two terrible shipwrecks that probably haunted her life. Clara lived to 93 and loved her garden and reading the Psalms.
To read more about he Clara Weston click here.

Just a little bit about the Ulmarra Cemetery while we are here. The earliest inscription is 1868 and there are over 900 recorded burials. It is 5 kilometres from Ulmarra and located on a high ridge out of the swamps and lagoons. Due to it's isolated nature there has been very little vandalism and it is well maintained by the Clarence River Council. There are two sections about 200 metres apart, I presume one is Catholic and one Protestant.

This is my contribution to the Taphophile Tuesday meme.

13 comments:

  1. These sad stories of shipwrecks caused by human error never seem to end.

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  2. Clara had a very rewarding life, but not without some terrible trials.

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  3. Good post and great shots, Mark. Hope you're keeping dry up there...

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  4. Yes, I have noticed that, too, Mark. The cemeteries on the North Coast that I have wandered through (Wauchope and Alstonville on the Ballina Road) are apparently vandal-free and exceptionally well-maintained. I hope to have time to visit one of the cemeteries in Port Macquarie at the end of this week.

    Clara was long-time a widow: 49 years, longer without him, than with. And yet, even then having only been wed 7 years. She was a fine looking woman in her old age, and I note that the day before she died, she was in her garden. However, she had Welsh forebears, so say no more!

    Thank you for this contribution to Taphophile Tragics, Mark. I appreciate it.

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  5. Your top photo Mark really does tell a tale. Such an interesting capture with an interesting story. So much history and stories. Thank you for your research on this one.

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  6. I love the descriptions of the persons in question. A great one here. Thanks for telling us

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  7. I find this extremely interesting! I was just wondering how our Tyabb cemetery ranked "timewise" with those in other east coastal areas! Our Tyabb first inscription only preceded your earliest date by 2 years! Amazing that one person's life should be etched with the tragedy of two momentous shipwrecks!

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  8. Amazing to think that Clara went on to live to the ripe old age of 93years . .....what a wealth of memories .

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  9. Brave Clara made the best of it and lived a very long live despite all the ship troubles.

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  10. Very interesting stories. A nice bit of research!

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  11. Good stories about the Departed.

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