The Lonely Graves
In 1863 this quiet rural area supported a goldfield called Horseshoe Bend and approximately 200 miners and storekeepers. By 1865 there were only 72 people left, support by 6 hotels.
According to popular legend, in 1865 William Rigney found the body of a young man washed up on a beach at Horseshoe Bend. After the inquest into the death of the unknown man, Rigney arranged for his burial and later marked the grave with a wooden headboard stating “Somebody’s Darling Lies Buried Here.”
Unfortunately this is just a story. The body was found in February 1865 but not by Rigney. An inquest confirmed that is was probably the body of Charles Alms, a butcher from the Nevis Valley, who drowned on the 25 January at Clyde, while herding cattle across the Clutha River. There is no record of who buried the body. Some time later Rigney and another miner put a manuka fence around the grave, and Rigney provided the wooden headboard.
The story was first published in the Tuapeka Times in 1901, and Rigney wrote a letter to the editor explaining that he had neither found nor buried the body. Nevertheless, when Rigney died in 1912 he was buried beside “Somebody’s Darling,” and the words “Here lies the body of William Rigney, the man who buried Somebody’s Darling,” were placed on his gravestone.
The story was stuck — the truth shouldn’t get in the way of a good story!
Department of Conservation