The Lonely Graves

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[edit] Location

The Lonely Graves are located in Otago at Horseshoe Bend on the east bank of the Clutha River on the Miller's Flat-Beaumont Road south of Millers Flat. The area is called Rigney on the NZMS maps.

[edit] Description

There are two graves here, "Somebody's Darling" and William Rigney who is described on his gravestone as "the man who buried Somebody's Darling".

The story is that in 1865 goldminer William Rigney found the body of a young man who appeared to have drowned, on a beach at Horseshoe Bend on the Clutha River. Rigney decided to give the man a decent burial, and so he was buried with a wooden headboard onto which Rigney inscribed the words "Somebody's Darling Lies Buried Here." For many years Rigney tended the grave and when he died 48 years later, he was laid to rest beside the man he never knew.

Unfortunately this is not true, the body was found in February 1865 but not by Rigney. An inquest confirmed that it was probably the body of a Charles Alms, a butcher from the Nevis Valley, who drowned on the 25th January at Clyde, while herding cattle acrosss the Clutha River. There is no record of who buried the body. Some time later Rigney and another miner put a manuka fence around the grave and Rigney erected the wooden headboard.

The story was first published in the Tuapeka Times in 1901, and Rigney wrote to the editor explaining that he had neither found nor buried the body. Nevertheless, when Rigney died in 1912 he was buried beside "Somebody's Darling" and the words "Here Lies The Body Of William Rigney, The Man Who Buried Somebody's Darling" were placed on his gravestone.

As the DOC brochure says "The story has struck - the full truth shouldn't get in the way of a good story".

[edit] History

In 1863 this area supported a goldfield called Horseshoe Bend with approximately 200 miners and storekeepers. By 1865 the population had dropped to 72 people and 6 hotels.

[edit] Acknowledgement

DOC Brochure

[edit] Return to Otago Cemeteries

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