New headstone honours WW1 veteran
Headstone erected for unmarked grave of Pte. William J. Hiscock
It took a group effort from a few residents of New Perlican to get a headstone in place for a previously unmarked gravesite belonging to a First World War veteran from the Trinity Bay community. This task was part of a larger project to help remember those whose burial plots had for whatever reason been lost to time.
The previously unmarked gravesite of a First World War soldier now has a proper headstone, thanks to the enterprising work of some New Perlican residents.
William J. Hiscock, who died in Halifax in 1969 at the age of 70, served with the Newfoundland Regiment.
Several years ago, Sheila Piercey volunteered to create a cemetery plot plan for St. Augustine’s church vestry in New Perlican. Piercey eventually photographed every headstone in the three Anglican cemeteries and shared them with Heritage New Perlican.
There remained many gravesites without headstones, so Piercey and Heritage New Perlican chairwoman Eileen Matthews got to work trying to figure out who those people were.
Getting ahold of government statistics, Heart’s Content parish archival books, St. Augustine’s school journals and Trinity Church records, Piercey and Matthews spent four years poring through information. They feel the information collected for the two St. Augustine’s cemeteries is 90 per cent accurate. They are still working on gravesites at the St. Mark’s cemetery.
To help figure out who was buried where, Matthews and Piercey consulted Susie Smith, an elder resident of New Perlican who’s lived there all her life. Her husband served as sexton of the church and dug many of the graves by hand.
As they were identifying gravesites, Matthews received a call from an official with Veterans Affairs inquiring about the existence of burial plots for those who served. Funds of $200 per grave were available to cover perpetual care. Veterans Affairs was aware of just over a dozen existing in St. Augustine’s second cemetery.
Matthews and Piercey continued working on their own list and identified a few more gravesites belonging to veterans, bringing the final count to 22.
With help from Smith, they also found the burial site for Hiscock. The private’s service number was 6263. His first wife, Lilly Constance, died in 1941. They had one daughter, Emily, who later lived in Halifax. Hiscock married a second wife named Louise who is buried in the Catholic cemetery in Turk’s Cove. According to Matthews, people who remember Hiscock say he had a limp related to a war injury.
Working with The Rooms, Veteran’s Affairs and the office of local MP Judy Foote, a new headstone was erected, with financial support coming from the Last Post Fund.
Hiscock’s headstone was unveiled Sunday, July 10 at the annual Flower Service in New Perlican. New crosses built by local carpenter Kevin Roberts now stand at the previously un- marked gravesites.
A special cross was erected to honour Corbett Legge, the first lighthouse keeper at the Jean’s Head Lighthouse from 1915 to 1926. Smith is the granddaughter of Legge, who was also recognized alongside the second lighthouse keeper, Allan Ghent, through special heritage plaques. Ghent manned the lighthouse 1926-1931.
Those plaques, which will be placed in Ocean View Memorial Park, were unveiled on New Perlican Heritage Day, July 9.
The new headstone for Pte. William J. Hiscock was recently unveiled in New Perlican.
A few examples of the new crosses adorning gravesites that were previously unmarked in New Perlican.
Members of the Ghent and Legge families pose with plaques honouring the first two lighthouse keepers at the Jean’s Head Lighthouse — Corbett Legge and Allan Ghent.
Susie Smith (nee Legge) stands next to the gravesite of her late grandfather, Corbett Legge, the first lighthouse keeper at Jean’s Head Lighthouse in New Perlican.