Secrets of the past
FINAL resting places and memorials vary and, sadly, are sometimes lost in time and geography.
Families move on or die out, leaving behind memorials of loved ones that can become forgotten and the stories of the people they represent fade.
The Express Examiner went on a fact-finding tour around the readership area to see what we could find out about some of these "hidden" people.
First stop was a lonely, single memorial cross in the dunes just north of Airforce Beach at Evans Head.
It is marked simply Edward "Ted" Probert 28-7-1942 - 2-10-2002.
His daughter, Eileen Stewart, still lives in the area and explained Mr Probert died 12 years ago after a sudden heart attack on the beach.
"The cross has been there ever since," she said. "He was a huge fisherman and had loads of local mates.
"The cross is pretty accurate to where he died."
Ms Stewart said her dad's best mate, a policeman, and a first aid teacher who was jogging by, came to his assistance as did the Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter.
"He had the best working on him and he fundraised every year for the Westpac Helicopter as he loved that charity."
ON the property of Brenda Pitman, near Myrtle Creek, is a small grave hidden across two paddocks, through a barbed-wire fence and in some undergrowth near the creek.
It belongs to Benjamin Sellers, the 64-year-old previous owner of the property where the grave stands.
"He owned a boarding house," local Keith Cole said. Mr Cole has been helping to maintain the isolated grave.
"And then he built a hotel on the opposite side of the street."
Mr Sellers was a well-known character on the Lawrence and Casino Rd for travellers, according to his obituary in the Northern Star, January 12, 1878.
"Old Ben Sellars (sic) ... will be much missed," it reads.
"He was a very old resident at Myrtle Creek ... and had become an institution of the road."
ONE of the saddest stories we discovered was just off the Summerland Way, also at Myrtle Creek, where the last resting place of Walter Derrett was situated in a travelling stock reserve near the river.
Derrett was an ex-serviceman who had served in South Africa and the Great War, but then committed suicide in 1928, his final actions being reported in a number of newspapers in the day.
"A determined suicide was committed on Good Friday night by an old man named Walter Derrett, by drowning in Myrtle Creek above the bridge at the rear of Mr J. Gulliver's home," The Richmond River Express and Casino Kyogle Advertiser reported on April 11, 1928.
The paper went on to say that Mr Derrett had written a letter to Constable Davey, of Rappville, which was timed to reach the officer after the troubled man had taken his life.
Const Davey hurried to the site to find, as stated in the letter, a neatly packed camp in a buggy with a tent fly over it.
Mr Derrett's dog was faithfully guarding the area, savagely barking at anyone who came near.
An initial search didn't uncover the body, but by Easter Monday morning Mr Gulliver discovered Mr Derrett floating face down a couple of hundred metres from the campsite.
MANY cemeteries have since closed or fallen into disuse in the area, including those at Woodburn, Wyan and the Old Tabulam cemetery at the Tabulam Golf Course.
Within well-known cemeteries there are the forgotten graves that no longer are maintained by volunteers or family members.
At Casino General Cemetery on West St, a broken tombstone covered in dead foliage and surrounded by an iron fence is the only physical memorial left of a young lad named David Skinner.
The 19-year-old man from Yorklea had been found dead in a paddock a short distance from his parents' farm on the morning of Tuesday, July 30, 1912.
From what the police were able to ascertain at the time, David had gone riding on horseback to do some shooting with his double-barrelled, muzzle-loading gun.
He didn't come home that night and the young man was found dead in the paddock the next morning by his concerned father, with his horse tied up at a nearby tree.
A coronial inquest found David Skinner had accidentally shot himself in the chest, while possibly cleaning his gun.
If you know of other unknown or forgotten graves you'd like to tell us about, call our office on 6662 2666 where we'll be happy to share their stories.