Corazon Miller is a NZ Herald reporter

Grave mystery: The headstone that travelled 7km

The discovery of a little girl's headstone at an Auckland property, seven kilometres away from where she was buried, is a grave mystery that's got everyone stumped.

The headstone belonged to a 12-month-old girl called Florence Owen who died almost 141 years ago on April 25, 1875 and was buried at the George Maxwell Memorial Cemetery in Avondale.

It was found at a Malvern Road address after contractors cracking concrete at the house discovered the headstone underneath.

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Auckland Council team leader Cultural Heritage Chris Mallows said a close inspection revealed it belonged to the young infant.

A death notice in the Daily Southern Cross on April 27 1875 stated: "On April 25, at the Whau, Florence, infant daughter of James Owen, aged 12 months. The funeral will leave her parents' residence for the Whau cemetery yesterday at 3 pm."

He said further investigation found that her father, James Owen, died in 1898 - 23 years after his daughter.

After he died he was buried in the same grave as his daughter.

"The actual headstone was removed at that point, we don't know how it ended up at the house," Mr Mallows said. "That's one of the big mysteries for us, we don't know if the headstone was given back to the family."

Adding to the mystery was the fact there was another 20 to 25 year gap between when James Owen died and the house, where his daughter's headstone was found, was built.

Council workers have done some work to restore the headstone and have returned it to Florence Owen's grave.

Council would also be interested in hearing from anyone who may be able to solve the mystery of just who Florence Owen was and how her headstone may have been moved.

- NZ Herald

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