The recent chance discovery of an overgrown headstone in a cemetery near Manchester, England has brought a previously unknown chapter of family history to light.
The words on the headstone were "William Burton, died in New Zealand Sept 12th 1914 aged 27 years".
A couple of Manchester expatriates who moved to Christchurch just over a decade ago, were surprised in 2012 to find out that a descendant (a great great uncle) had travelled to New Zealand 90 years before them and even more so, that he had died at such a young age.
A Google search began and within a few clicks the story started to unfold.
William Burton and his young family moved to Huntly in the Winter of 1914. Within a few weeks, on his wife's 21st birthday, he was one of the 43 miners who died when the mine exploded in what is known as the Huntly Ralph Mine Disaster.
12th September 2014 sees the centenary of this tragic event and the Huntly Lions club are commemorating the disaster. They are also searching for living relatives to be part of the memorial event.
One half of the Christchurch couple, David Thorpe (aka D G Mitchellthorpe), a song writer and musician has recorded an EP titled COALFACE dedicated to William, the Ralph Mine Disaster and to mining communities all over the world.
David said "I have a family history steeped in and around mining, the story of WIlliam Burton struck a chord on every level and I was compelled to put pen to paper and get into the studio"
COALFACE will be available as a digital download from the site Bandcamp - dgmitchellthorpe.bandcamp.com/
Profits from audio downloads via Bandcamp will be donated to the Huntly Lions Club who have compassionately erected a grave marker for William's New Zealand grave site in addition to other memorials dedicated to the miners and the disaster.
David and his family will be traveling to Huntly for the memorial and services in September. For the first time they will meet a new branch of Kiwi relatives and David will perform the songs from COALFACE live.