FADING NAMES: The Meston family headstone in Woodburn cemetery.
FADING NAMES: The Meston family headstone in Woodburn cemetery. Samantha Elley

Three siblings from a large pioneering family died young

AS THE years roll on, the names are getting harder to read on the large headstone.

The plot it marks is in Woodburn cemetery and is surrounded by a rusty red metal fence.

The people buried in the grave are all siblings from the Meston family, who lived in Woodburn in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

When Alexander Meston married Janet Louisa Garvan in 1867 they went on to have 12 children.

Alexander had moved from Ulmarra - after failing to grow cotton - to the Woodburn area as a mill owner, where he conducted sugar processing for a considerable time.

The first name on the family gravestone is that of Stuart Ross Meston.

He was born in 1887, the second youngest son of Alexander and Janet.

At 16 he had walked into a bedroom and saw a gun lying on a bed that an older brother had left there.

He picked it up by the barrel.

As he did, a charge went off, damaging his groin fatally. He died on November 20, 1903.

Only two years earlier, Stuart's older brother John had his name placed on the headstone.

As a 28-year-old John Hill, the second son of Alexander and Janet, had succumbed to 'brain fever' while living in Perth, Western Australia.

His parents were told the news via a wire and his body was brought home.

The last child buried in the small plot was the eighth child in the family, Una Mabel.

She was also the first to die as she passed way in 1885 at the age of only two-and-a-half.

While the other nine children went on with their lives, Alexander and Janet chose to be buried in the same cemetery as those who had predeceased them.

REFERENCES: Births, Deaths, Marriages, www.bdm.nsw. gov.au; Passing of a North Coast Pioneer, The Grafton Argus and Clarence River General Advertiser, August 19, 1921; Lismore Fatal Gun Accident, The Maitland Daily Mercury, November 20, 1903.

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