Finding our Ernest and Emily

I ran out of the door, already late for the 254 bus to Dewsbury, with the intent to finally find the grave of my Great Great Grandparents. It was the dying days of August, and the weather was aptly grey and gloomy. I had to catch the 202 from Dewsbury, up to Hanging Heaton, which I managed to catch just in time, and got off by St. Paul’s Church.

It was finally time.

St. Paul’s Church, Hanging Heaton on 16 August 2021. Taken by George Hall.

Alright, maybe I am being a little overdramatic, but I had been looking for this grave for over a year, whether it be marked or not. I had come across the burial record of Emily Hall by accident when I was supposed to be doing my maths homework and a few days later found Ernest’s burial record, which hadn’t been indexed for whatever reason.

I went up with my mum, and we walked around trying to find the grave, armed with a plot number that made no sense. To nobody’s surprise, it was pointless, and I left somewhat disappointed. It didn’t help that the churchyard was so extensive and in such an overgrown state.

Many moons passed as well two national lockdowns alongside my GCSE exams, so I became pretty preoccupied. I managed another search with my dad but to no avail and a post on the Batley History Group Facebook group.

The proper breakthrough came when I read, page by page, the burial register and came across a plot number that was one digit higher than mine. So I searched the fantastic Find A Grave and found that grave, and luckily it was visibly marked.

The Hanging Heaton Jungle.

Back to my excitement, in August 2021.

I strode into the churchyard and found the section I was looking for; it was hardly a beautiful place of rest but rather a jungle of weeds with bits of stone sometimes sticking out. I had accepted the challenge, though and began looking for the marked grave I knew that would be nearby to my Great Great Grandparents plot. Finally, after getting harassed by two dogs and probably being judged by their walkers, I found the grave. The tension was unbearable as I checked the grave on either side and realised that I was right.

I had found our Ernest and Emily.

Now, the grave has sunk, and half of it is missing, so it isn’t great and was a disappointment to me to an extent as I so greatly connect with Ernest. We were born on the same day, just 120 years apart, and he served and was injured during the First World War. Emily’s story and family are interesting and quite mysterious too, and once I found their grave, the connection between me and Emily got a lot stronger.

I tried my best and managed to make it more visible and left some fake flowers, that were quite pricy, to make it look and feel more loved.

Ernest and Emily’s grave

There’s no great end to this story or an important message, but I suppose it serves the purpose of warning you that you should expect the unexpected but also be prepared to persevere, and you will probably get there in the end.

1 Comment

  1. Who Am I? says:

    I love this post George! Beautifully written. Thank you for sharing your breakthrough with us. Excellent detective work, which is a lesson to us all! Never give up, investigate the people (in this instance – LITERALLY) around our ancestors, as they may give clues to where we might locate our family.

    Liked by 1 person

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