Thomas Peden

Born: May 10th, 1904 Hutchinson Street
Died: Feb. 1st, 1905 Coral Hill
Buried: Feb. 2nd 1905, Maybole Cemetery
Age: Nine Months

While overseas on above date and while in Maybole, I made a trip to the cemetery to visit Wee Tom's grave.

As it had been forty odd years since I had been there, I was at a loss where to begin to look as there was no stone or marker over his grave, or that of my grandfather and grandmother Coburn whom he is buried beside.

I vaguely remembered however that he lay beside a close friend of my fathers, his partner in nearly all their fishing trips, who had been accidentally killed while examining a trap gun, a device used by game-keepers to alert them to the presence of poachers on their preserves.

A word about these guns themselves: they were usually concealed and with a trip rope or string attached to the trigger, and loaded with powder or a blank shell, so that on anyone touching the string, the gun would fire and so alert the game-keeper.

On this occasion an empty shell had been placed over the muzzle to keep the powder dry, and it was this shell that when the gun was accidentally discharged, just as he was bending over to look at it, that hit him in the head, killing him instantly. A headstone had been placed over his grave and if I could locate it, Wee Tom's would be there beside it.

To wander at random would have been of little use, so as the cemetery was situated on a hillside, I started at the top and systematically working my way downward, row by row along the paths scanning each stone as I went along.

On my arrival in town I wondered why it was that out of all the people I had know, the kids I had gone to school with, I could scarcely recognize a soul: but here was the answer. As I read the inscriptions on the stones, "In memory of, our old minister, the school master, the various teachers who had taught me, as I progressed from the infant class until the time I had to leave school.

Here and there as I moved down the hillside I came across the resting place of some of my boyhood friends, some, where the freshly turned earth, gave evidence of their recent internment, and like the turning pages of a book, the gap in time was slowly bridged.

Coming to a clear plot of grass I noticed a white cube or block of marble about 12 inches square, which looked as though it had been thrown down at random. On glancing at it as I passed, I got quite a start to see in red block letters my own name, "WILLIAM PEDEN"; no date or any other information, and for a moment I wondered, whether I was here in the flesh, or just a dream and that I would wake up in Winnipeg: or one of the residents underneath, just out for a stroll and a breath of fresh air.

I had reached the last row and on the main road and there before me was that which I had been looking for, the stone bearing the inscription, Alexander Gordon, accidentally killed and giving the day and date. My mission was complete, as I knew Wee Tom lay beside him.

On my way out I noticed that the sexton or care-taker was in his little house by the gate, and suspecting that he would be curious to know why I had been in there so long, who I was and what was my errand: so going in I introduced myself explaining why I was here,

He was a very kind and obliging and regretted that he had not been around when I came in, as he could have save me a lot of trouble. However from a shelf he took down a book and in a moment showed my all the particulars, even to the cause of death, "Whooping Cough", which at that time covered a multitude of diseases.

He next took out his tape and looking up the plot number requested me to accompany him, and arriving at the spot carefully measured it for me, so stooping down I removed a little bit of sod and earth; which Anne now has; so with my mission accomplished, and feeling a certain amount of satisfaction, quickly left.

William Peden

My Search for Wee Tom's Grave

December 18th, 1958
Maybole, Ayrshire

His shadow, searching row by row,
Brings to my bed a warmer glow,
He scans each passing stone and reads,
The epitaphs to the sleeping dead.

Now onward, backward, to and fro,
With measured tread his footsteps go,
Approaching near, then fade away
Throughout that cold December day.

No stone to mark my place of rest,
To help this searcher in his quest,
And fifty years and more have gone,
Since I came here to stay alone.

No stone I need for he I know,
Who seeks me in this place of woe,
Who scans each stone and plot of grass,
Will find my resting place at last.

The steps grow near, more surer led,
They stop beside my infant bed,
And from my neighbors sheltering stone,
Takes name and date and then is gone.

But not for long, he's back again,
I hear the muted voice of men,
This is the place you are kneeling on,
The resting place of your Wee Tom.

My infant spirit shouts with joy,
No longer am I dead,
And my infant arms are circling,
His aged and greying head.

I am lifted on his shoulders,
And with quick and eager tread,
We in Spirit, leave together
This hillside of the dead.

William Peden