I don’t know why, but I just love wandering through cemeteries. So much history and so many stories behind all those gravestones! But most of the time, there’s no way to discover what those stories are.
However, at the O’Keefe Ranch a few days ago, the cemetery was mostly of the folk who had lived and died there, so a little internet research (don’t you just love the way we can find almost anything we want to know……)
Cornelius O’Keefe was born in Ontario in 1838, came to British Columbia in 1862 following the Gold Rush trail. He didn’t make his fortune in gold, and went on to construction work, helping to build the town of 115 Mile House. In the 1860’s he purchased cattle in Oregon and brought them back to the Okanagan in BC where he preempted land with his partners (Thomas Greenhow stayed with O’Keefe to work the land, establish a general store, post office and stage depot).
O’Keefe established a relationship with a local native woman, Rosie, with whom he had two children. In 1877, he returned to his hometown of Fallowfield, ON and married Mary Ann McKenna, with whom he had 9 children. In 1899 Mary Ann died, leaving 8 living children from the ages of 6 through 21.
In 1900, O’Keefe at age 62, married again in his hometown, to Elizabeth Teresa Tierney, who was but 23 years of age.
Elizabeth and Cornelius had 6 children, the youngest born when he was 76 years. Elizabeth outlived Cornelius by only 10 years, living only to age 52.
Judging by the headstones, only Elizabeth’s children are buried in this cemetery, and I’m unable to discover much about most of them.
Interesting that ‘Mary’ is part of each of the girls names! All of these gravestones appear to be fairly new, and I assume replaced the original, and possibly not in the original places.
John Joseph ‘Tierney’ was the youngest son, and with his wife (yet another) Mary Elizabeth ‘Betty’ he worked to ensure the preservation of the ranch, and so we can still visit it today.
Cornelius’ partner Thomas Greenhow is also buried here – but I’ve been unable to learn anything of his history or his family if he had any.
Few other graves are marked here, and include some with just a simple cross and no indication of the person buried there.
Happy crawling! (This is just for you, sis!) Blessings, Peg