Lonely, But Mysterious Grave


Searching for forgotten graves

In a misty graveyard in Donacloney in County Armagh, Ireland, there is a mysterious and lonely little memorial with links to the Great Karoo.  The ancient stone, half hidden by undergrowth, proclaims it was erected in sacred memory of James Alexander, 23, who died in Beaufort West in 1854.  For years it has fascinated Alexander family members. Some of whom were not even sure where Beaufort West was.  Then two family members managed to make the trip to South Africa and the Karoo to try find out more about James. However, in Beaufort West, Des and Ulla Armstrong were stunned to find that there was no record of James Alexander being buried there.  The town’s records had been carried off in a flood way back in the 1940s and no detailed information on the cemeteries existed.  Sadly too the flood washed away many of the gravestones and those graves then forever remained unmarked.   So, despite the fact that Des and Ulla diligently searched the graveyards they were unable to shed any light on James’s story. It occurred to them that James may have come to South Africa like so many others in the mid-1800s suffering from a respiratory complaint. Perhaps he came to the Karoo in search of better health and like so many young men of the day worked as an English tutor on one of the farms.   Whatever his story, it remains one of the many mysteries of the Great Karoo.


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