Secrets from the grave

Di and Woody Woodstock at the grave of John Flood in the Gympie Cemetery. His story and those of seven other Gympie pioneers will be shared with local history lovers at theGympie Family History Society’s cemetery crawl.
Di and Woody Woodstock at the grave of John Flood in the Gympie Cemetery. His story and those of seven other Gympie pioneers will be shared with local history lovers at theGympie Family History Society’s cemetery crawl. Craig Warhurst

WAS Gympie pioneer John Flood a true Irish patriot - as his epitaph states - or just an early-day terrorist who brought his anti-British Crown sentiments to the fledgling golden city?

You can decide once you've heard his story next Wednesday at the Gympie Family History Society's first cemetery crawl for 2012.

A convicted rebel who went on to become a Gympie newspaper owner and Widgee Shire chairman, John Flood's towering granite tombstone was erected following his death in 1909 by his "friends and admirers to commemorate his life's work in the cause of Irish nationality".

His story, and those of seven other graves and the people they honour, will be shared with "crawlers" under Wednesday's full moon.

If you're expecting ghost stories, you'll be disappointed.

Cemetery crawls are pure local history.

And, says Family History Society membership co-ordinator Di Woodstock, there's nothing spooky about holding them under a full moon.

"The full moon helps plan the four crawls we have a year and it also helps from a lighting point of view."

Di said the crawls were attracting up to 60 people, many who are regulars, and some who occasionally add vital information to the night.

"Sometime we get people who knew or know of the person or family whose story we're telling and they can give us information we didn't find in our research.

"One time we were sharing the story of two spinsters and an elderly lady in the group remembered them - they'd sewn her trousseau."

Di's husband Woody, who is secretary of the society, said the stories behind the names on old tombstones were sometimes intriguing, often surprising and always fascinating.

"We once researched a pioneer named Peter Duckworth and it turned out he had invented the original flood gates used to hold back the water in the goldmines," he said.

"But every gravestone tells a story and that's what we're doing - giving people a personal account of the lives they lived."

To hear some of Gympie's rich history, meet at the shed at the Gympie Cemetery for a 6.30pm start. Wear walking shoes and bring your torch. Cost is $5 on the night and includes supper and a booklet, a fruit and vegie tray will be raffled for $1 a ticket.

RSVP to Di 0419 224 628 for catering and printing.

Other names being researched for Wednesday's crawl include Grealy (Peter and family), Spalding - Katie, Griffiths - Samuel (brick maker), Brown (Norman Victor and siblings), Byrnes (Patrick and Bridget), and Allen (James and Susan)

Gympie Times

Topics:  gympie family history society, john flood

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