Seen several years ago in an old Auckland cemetery. I read the word “shot” on this headstone inscription and knew I had to learn more about the life of Emily Keeling. Image: Su Leslie, 2013
Sometimes, all that remains for us to know and honour the dead are their headstones in long-abandoned cemeteries.
Four years ago, I found — quite by accident — this headstone.
Sacred to the memory of Emily Mary the beloved daughter of George and Emily Keeling of Arch Hill who was shot while on her way to the Primitive Methodist Church Bible Class Alexandra Street April 2nd 1886. Aged 17 years.
Guns deaths have traditionally been rare New Zealand, so I was curious as to how a 17 year old girl came to be shot dead on what was, even in 1886, an urban street.
So like any family historian, I went home and researched the life and death of Emily Keeling.
It’s a tragic story. Emily was a victim of intimate, or partner, violence — shot by a young man whose offer of marriage she had rejected.
I’ve written about Emily’s story in more detail in other posts:
And now for something completely different
A monument to loss, and a touchstone for action
Remembering Emily Keeling and working to end domestic violence
Four years ago the name Emily Keeling meant nothing to me. Now that I know her story, she has joined that tragically long list of names of New Zealand women murdered by men who knew and claimed to love them.
Names we must never forget — a list we must work to end.