A grave situation – can you help?


The grave of Alice Maud Smith, but where is it? Could this be Brownhills? Any ideas welcome. Image supplied by Ruth Brierley.

I’ve had an unusual and interesting enquiry from reader Ruth Brierley, who’s got a great puzzle for us – ideal for a Sunday.

Rather than waffle on, I’ll let Ruth explain:


I hope you don’t mind me sending you a message but I’d like to pick your brains about a Brownhills family and my great-grandmother’s mystery grave.

She died quite young in Walsall in 1932 , and some time back we came upon a photo of her grave but with no indication of where it was located. We presumed it would be in Walsall or in West Bromwich where she was married. However it now seems she was born in Brownhills/Ogley Hay and may have been buried back there.

Her maiden name was Alice Maud Smith and she was the daughter of Edward and Emma Smith.

Emma was born Emma Cowley in 1862. Emma’s father was Thomas Cowley born 1815. They seem to have been a huge family and I’m just wondering if you happen to know where any of them are buried?

I’d just love to know where Alice’s grave is! Have been searching for a couple of years but obviously in the wrong places!

Thanks so much,

Now I’m sure the collective applied brains of the genealogy experts here can come up with something. Please help if you can.

If anyone’s near the cemetery, any chance of having a look, please? The railings look familiar, but there doesn’t seem to be anything beyond them, which is making me think this may not be Brownhills.

Please contribute if you can, and help Ruth find the grave in question. You know the drill; please comment here or mailmen: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com.

Thanks, and also to Ruth for a cracking enquiry.

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9 Responses to A grave situation – can you help?

  1. Andy Dennis says:

    Emma Cowley is in my fairly detailed family tree. Give me a day or two and I’ll see what I can find.

    Her sister Ellen features here http://brownhillsbob.com/2014/12/27/for-the-want-of-timber/

    • Ruth Brierley says:

      Thanks so much! Would appreciate that. I’d already spotted the previous article which was what prompted me to ask!

  2. Julie Handley says:

    Try calling bereavement services for the Walsall area on 0300 555 2848. They might be able to help you.
    Good Luck

  3. Andy Dennis says:

    While researching my own family tree I’ve encountered this “Emma” Cowley before. She was born and baptised in 1866 at Brownhills and Ogley Hay respectively, as Emily, daughter of Alfred Cowley and Sarah (Eames). Alfred was son of Thomas Cowley, born 1815 in the Slimbridge area of Gloucestershire. Alfred was brother of the Ellen I referred to, but Emily a.k.a. Emma was not their sister.

    In the 1871 census Emily was with family at The Square, Ogley Hay as Emily. At the same time Emma born 1863, daughter of Thomas 1815 was with family at “Cannock Chase”, which was probably what we know as Howdles Lane.

    In 1881 she was Emma Cowley, servant at the Robin Hood Inn, St John Street, Lichfield. Note the other Emma Cowley was recorded as sister-in-law with Ellen Dennis (born Cheltenham), wife of Thomas, at Lichfield Road, Ogley Hay (Tom Dennis was brother of my great grandfather).

    In 1883 Emma Cowley married Edwin Smith at Ogley Hay. In 1901 he appears as Edward Smith, at Norton Canes with wife Emma and daughter Maud – your Alice Maud. In 1911 she was Alice Maud Smith, a millhand in Bolton, born Brownhills (quite a move, that).

    I’ve sent out enquiries about the burial with a link to the blog. Hopefully, someone out there knows where it is. The advice about Bereavement Services makes sense.

  4. Ruth Brierley says:

    Wow! Many thanks for this. Obviously I’d been barking up the wrong tree! If this is the right Alice Maud Smith, then move to Lancashire would explain why I’d been unable to find her on the census (not that an Alice Smith is ever easy to track down!) Amazing! 🙂

  5. Andy Dennis says:

    Hello Stuart.

    Highly likely. What I suggest, and to Ruth as well, is send Bob an email asking him to forward so we can exchange information. If you know of an ancestor who should be in the 1911 census I can find out a connection (or not). If your ancestor is later, it is still not so difficult to make some connections.

    I only do family history as a hobby or pastime and I don’t ask for payment for my time, but I do have some useful experience.


  6. Ruth Brierley says:

    Hi everyone…thanks for all you help- good news is, we’ve found out where she was buried- at Great Charles Street cemetery. As I think most of the graves are now cleared I don’t expect the stone is there anymore, but at least I know the answer! 🙂

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