Friday, 8 May 2015

Charters Towers Pioneer Cemetery

We continue our journey through another of North Queensland's Pioneer Cemeteries. This post is about the Charters Towers Pioneer Cemetery. Between 1872 and 1895 over 5,000 people were buried in this cemetery.
Headstone in the Charters Towers Pioneer Cemetery, at grave of Maggie Kirk, died October 1886.
Photo: Trisha Fielding, 2012.
One of the most imposing headstones still standing in this cemetery is an ornately carved marble statue erected in memory of Maggie Kirk, who died, aged 38 years, in October 1886.  I'm not sure of her cause of death, but this headstone would have cost Maggie's husband James a small fortune.  The verse on the inscription reads:

I stand unmoved without a tear
Beside thy grave, ah, why is this?
Because I know thy ransomed soul
Is smiling in eternal bliss.

There are some really interesting symbols in this cemetery, many of which denote affiliation with Masonic lodges or Friendly Societies. The photo below is a headstone which is laden with symbolism.  It includes the heart in hand symbol denoting the Independent Order of Oddfellows - a mutual benefit society that provided aid to members in times of sickness and unemployment. I saw a few different examples of this symbol the day I visited. This headstone also shows the Eye of Providence - or, the all-seeing eye of God - an eye surrounded by rays of light, usually inside a triangle, as it is here. In this case, it is likely to be denoting Masonic membership. There's also a Pentagram (or Pentacle). If this symbol was meant to denote the Order of the Eastern Star (a branch of Freemasonry for women) it would have been inverted, that is, showing two points at the top of the star, so not sure about the meaning of this symbol here. I'm also not sure about the symbol on the left.  Happy to hear from anyone who knows what it means.

A fallen headstone in the Charters Towers Pioneer Cemetery.
Photo: Trisha Fielding, 2012.
This marble obelisk has fallen from its pedestal, but contains iconogaphy representing Freemasonry (compass & square) and the Independent Order of Oddfellows (heart in hand)
Photo:  Trisha Fielding, 2012.
If you're going to take a look at this cemetery, just a warning, there are millions of bindi-eyes all over the ground here, so wear closed in shoes and be sure to thoroughly brush them off before you get back in your car!

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