The Missing Grave of Three Moxon Children

There’s a plain white headstone resting at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, Halifax, NS. It records the deaths of three young children during an epidemic in 1888. This memorial would not have taken up residence in the museum if not for another tragic event: the Halifax Explosion.

The nearby plague tells the tragic tale of a family first struck by deaths of wee ones then 29 years later by the demises of several remaining family members.

The inscription on the plague reads:

A Melancholy Tale

In 1917, Richard Moxon worked on the Halifax waterfront as a teamster. That year, he ordered a tombstone for three of his children who had died in an epidemic 29 years earlier. For some reason, Moxon asked the Robertson marine hardware store if he could store it in their warehouse.

On December 6, fate intervened. Among the deaths were Richard Moxon and all members of his immediate family. Their home, on Roome Street, was in the direct path of the explosion. After the explosion, the Robertsons tried to determine where Moxon’s children were buried but only discovered that the graves were “somewhere in Hants County”. The tombstone remained unclaimed in the warehouse until 1973 when William Robertson & Son were closing out their business. When the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic moved into the old Robertson store and warehouse in 1982, they stone was given to the Museum where it remains as a memorial to a double tragedy.

Richard Moxon

The inscription on the headstone reads:

George W. died Feb. 9, 1888, aged 5 yrs. & 4 mos.

Harry J. died Feb. 9, 1888, aged 3 yrs. & 4 mos.

Ettie May. died Feb. 19, 1888, aged 1 year & 5 mos.

Children of Richard and Elley Moxon.

Save in the arms of Jesus

Moxon Children Headstone

Searching the Nova Scotia Genealogy website, I found the death records for Richard Moxon and his wife, Ellie.

Death Records: Halifax: Year: 1917; Page 21; Number 129

Richard Benjamin Moxon, male, December 6, 1917, age 64, reside 17 Roome Street, Halifax, Occupation: Truckman, married, born Rawdon, Hants County, NS. Cause of Death: Shock due to injuries in explosion, Methodist, white, Physician: Dr. W. D. Frieee?, Snow & Co., Buried Fairview Cemetery, Halifax. Person making return: Charles Moxon, son, December 21, 1917.

Death Records: Halifax: Year: 1917; Page 245; Number 1469

Ellie E. Moxon, female, December 6, 1917, age 58, 17 Roome St., Halifax, Housewife, Husband: Richard C.(I’m certain it says C. but his middle name was Benjamin) Moxon, Cause of Death: Shock due to injuries in explosion, Methodist, white, Body not identified. Date of Returns: March 16, 1918.

I believe the Moxon family lived at Rawdon when the three youngsters died. The Four Nova Scotia Families: Hennigar, Elliott, Harvey, Chipman website has Richard Benjamin Moxon (1855-1917) born in Rawdon, Hants County, NS. Richard married Ellie Cann (born 1857-1917).

This site has only five children listed, but I believe the ones recorded on the stone at the museum are missing from the data. There is a gap in the years of birth of Ellie and Richard’s children, between 1881 and 1888, where George, Harry and Ettie would fit in.

The children listed on the site are Charles (1881), Alexander (1888), Fred (1889, Halifax), Roy (1893, Halifax) and Lillie (1897).

It appears the Moxon family moved to Halifax shortly after the death of the children, or shortly before Fred was born.

If anyone knows the resting place of George, Harry and Ettie Moxon, I’d be interested in adding the information to this blog. My guess is they rest either in the backyard of the Rawdon homestead or in the Methodist cemetery nearest to that home.

Moxon children headstone


14 thoughts on “The Missing Grave of Three Moxon Children

  1. Thanks for posting this very sad story. My curosity was peaked and I did a little searching. It actually is even more tragic than described: Richard and Ellie’s son Frederick Arthur (the Freddie listed in the 1901 Census at Halifax, with his parents and surviving siblings, married Cora E. Manning on January 22, 1913. Cora and their four young children, grandchildren of Richard and Ellie, also perished in the Halifax Explosion. Fred survived, remarried, and died at Annapolis Royal in 1953. Another son of Richard and Ellie, Alexander, born 1888, married Amelia Veniot in November 1916; Amelia is also listed as having perished in the Halifax Explosion (body not found/identified). Tragedy continued, as both Alexander and his brother Charles both died during the Spanish Influenza outbreak at Halifax, Alexander in October 1918, and brother Charles in November of the same year. It appears that, in addition to Fred, siblings Roy and Lillie survived both the Explosion and Influenza. Marriage records for both are found, and Roy’s enlistment records are also found, enlisting in Canadian Expeditionary Forces, c. February 1918.

    Census and City Directory Records seem to suggest that Richard and his wife, Ellie, may have moved to Halifax shortly following their marriage. The children listed on the headstone may very well be buried at a Halifax cemetery.

    • Thanks for sharing this information. I had noticed the other Moxon names when I searched for Ellie and Richard, but didn’t look to see if they were related. I thought they might be though.

  2. Richard Benjamin Moxon and Ellie Edith Cann were married 1 Apr 1880 in the Halifax Methodist Church (PANS RG 32 WB Vol 67 Pg 44 # 85), and probably lived there their entire marriage, Ellie Edith Cann was born in PEI to Thomas & Mary Cann. Richard was born in Rawdon to Charles W. Moxon (born England) and Mary J. Withrow. His mother died before 1874, and his father died 2 Jun 1874 in Halifax (PANS RG 32 WB Vol 38 Pg 107 # 60).


    • Hello John,

      Thank you for stopping by and sharing this information. The plaque near the headstone is misleading then. I imagine the children were buried in Halifax and not Hants County. Still, it wouldn’t be unusual for people to return to their birth place to bury (or baptise) their children.

      Were you aware of this headstone at the museum?

  3. Hi Diane:

    you are welcome to the information. I was not aware of the headstone in the museum. My interest in the Moxons was only tangential to my interest in the Cann connection. I am desended from Canns in Cape Breton and am tracking Canns.

    As to burial of children – either possibility is there. It would seem there are other Moxons in Hants and Colchester County that are related, but I am unaware of the burial places for the Moxon grandparents.

    Good luck with your search. If I find anything else I will post it for you.


  4. Hi there. My interest lies in the Physician that confirmed the demise of Richard Moxon – Dr W D Frieee, and many others who perished in the explosion. I would like to see a digital copy of these records to confirm that the surname was indeed Frieee (with 3 e’s). From the records I have read, Dr Frieee could indeed have come from another ship in port, or out of port, or the U.S. Any leads would be much appreciated.
    Sharon Friere

    • Sharon, if you follow the link in the post for Nova Scotia Genealogy, you can search for the death record and see the digital image. You’ll may also be able to see other death certificates at that time which may contain the doctor’s name.

      I am not related to this family and have no further information on Dr. Frieee.

  5. Hi Diane, I have just come across this post from 2012 – very poignant.

    The three Moxon children, whose original but unused headstone you came across in the museum, appear to be buried in the same grave as their parents in Fairview Cemetery, Halifax. Photographs of the tombstone, which includes their names and dates, can be found on

  6. According to Camp Hill Cemetery records in Halifax, NS the three children, who died in the epidemic of 1888, are buried there. There is a headstone marking this grave but it is for James Taylor and his family. Records show that James Taylor, his wife and son are buried there as well.
    The children’s names are on their parents’ headstone in Fairview Lawn Cemetery, this must have been done in remembrance as they’re not buried there according to the records.
    I contacted the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic back in 2000 and inform them of the location of the Moxon children’s graves. It appears as if they have not updated the information.

    • Thank you, Natasha, for adding this piece to the puzzle. It was believed (from another comment to this post) that the children were buried at the Fairview Lawn Cemetery. I guess because their names are on the headstone with their parents. I agree with you: the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic has not updated the information with this stone as of 2012, when I was there.

    • Natasha Doreen Moxon,

      I don’t know if you will remember me Elsie Lively.
      Decades ago we corresponded, before so much was computerized.
      I lost your email and details when my computer died.
      My Moxon line is still a brick-wall, even with so much computerized now.
      Hope you are well,

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