Jan 162013

It is amazing at times what we have that we don’t realise we have in our possession.

Michael Courtenay emigrated from Monaghan Ireland in 1865 aboard the Samarang. He was a carpenter and went to the Ipswich area working with the railway gangs. He took out a  land selection in 1868 which he had to release in 1887 as had been ill and unable to complete the required improvements.

He ended up in Brisbane and died suddenly at home 10 March 1912. s shown in this entry in the Courier Mail 11 March 1912

He was buried 11 March after a post-mortem in Toowong Cemetery. His death certificate was quite informative and for a change the question about how long in Australia and where was well answered.

Michael Courtnay Death Certificate

It helps to have an informant that actually knows the deceased, in this case his son Edward.

Michael has applied for the Queensland Old Age Pension in 1909 (actually it was 1908, Thanks Judy for the correction. I should have checked and not relied on memory for that. Judy Webster has done an index to the Queensland Old Age Pension applications on her page) when it was  introduced and was refused as he was not old enough so we know he did not have a lot of money. 

I have done a number of walk-throughs of Toowong Cemetery looking for family headstones and was not surprised to not find one for Michael.

Imagine my surprise when I was going through an old book that I had inherited from my Grandmother in 2001 to find this photo!

Also listed on the headstone was Michael’s little granddaughter Winifred Agnes Courtenay who died in 1913. This is interesting as when you do a Brisbane City Council Grave search you find that Michael and his wife Ann are buried in portion 15 section 9 grave 22 and that Edward his wife Mary and little Winifred are buried in the next plot Portion 15 Section 9 grave 21. It always pays to do a burial search and look in the cemetery and undertaker records when available.

I don’t know how long the photo had been in the book but I am very happy to have found it!

  9 Responses to “Tombstone Thursday Serendipity”

  1. Amazing what turns up, isn't it?! But I think you will find that Michael COURTENAY applied for the old age pension in 1908, not 1909. According to my index, his entry is in the first register (previous system location A/4774 at Qld State Archives), which covers 1 July – 10 Sep 1908.

  2. Fabulous. It's amazing (and sometimes freaky) what you find when you relook at things. It's an amazing find and a beautiful photo.

  3. Thanks Judy! That is what happens when you don't check and rely on memory.

  4. It was an amazing find. There have been many headstones lost over the years, particularly at Toowong which is on a hill with trees growing. Council has removed some headstones due to safety fears and unfortunately we have also had a number of vandal attacks.

  5. WOW!!! What a find, Helen. Congratulations, Catherine.

  6. Hi Catherine

    Yes I was very excited! I hadn't expected a headstone so wasn't disappointed when there wasn't one there but to find there had been one and that I had a photo was spectactular!

  7. Fantastic discovery Helen…shows the power of books, perseverance and revisiting information, as you've have reminded us before yourself.

  8. PS Love the Brisbane Council's grave search, thought to my knowledge Toowoomba were the leaders with this type of initiative.

  9. Brisbane City Council have had the Grave search for a number of years. A problem they have had is survival of records and the fact that Brisbane City Council as such did not start until 1925 as prior to that time it was individual councils.

    This has meant that the burial records for some of the early cemeteries no longer survive.

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