|About Joyce & Kay||Early Trustees|
|Bequests for restoration||History of the Stanthorpe Cemetery||Officiating Clergy|
|Bundaberg Serum Tragedy-Item of Interest||Historical Walk through the cemetery||Preserving our Cemetery|
|Cemetery Neglect||Interesting Headstones||Types of Monuments (photographs)|
|Community||Interesting Headstone inscriptions||Undertakers|
|Decorations on Monumental Inscriptons||Correspondence|
Cemetery Neglect from yesteryear
The question has been repeatedly asked. "What has become of the trustees of the Stanthorpe cemetery?" We remember, sometimes since, the aspirants to the office of trustee were numerous, and some little squabbling occurred on the head, but when duly appointed and gazetted, the officers referred to, appeared to imagine their work completed, like every other movement in Stanthorpe, interest was taken in the matter, while it, like the childs toy was new, but as soon as some little energy is required by the officers appointed, the honor seems to fade in the face of some little exersion.
The present state of the road to the Stanthorpe cemetery is disgraceful, and requires immediate attention, to say nothing of the fact, that up to the present time, no steps have been taken to fence the ground in. The principal part of the road requiring repair, is a swampy crossing, close to the burying ground, where it is a matter of impossibility for a funeral to cross at all in wet weather, and now it is necessary to travel a great distance around to avoid this dangerous place. Other spots in the road are almost impassable, while a trifling outlay would make all the necessary repairs.
The state of the actual burying ground makes the conduct of the trustees still more reprehensible. The graves are unprotected by any discription of fence, and left to the mercy of animals of all kinds of trampling and root down. We look upon the conduct of the trustees as deserving of severe censure, and the public are also to blame, for the unconcern exhibited in the matter. If the duly appointed officers do not feel inclined to move in the matter, it necessarily becomes a public duty to call a meeting, to take steps that are required to .............the Stanthorpe cemetery. We trust this.................... the proper authorities..........................the matter (the paper is torn and burnt at this stage and the rest is not readable).
Source: Border Post & Stannum Miner
Date: Friday, January 9, 1874
Preserving our Cemetery
People are strongly committed to the preservation and protection of human burial sites from unauthorized and unwarranted disturbance, by man or nature. It is wonderful to educate and assist people interested in protecting, restoring and preserving our historic sections of the cemetery. It is believed that the willful desecration or destruction of human burial sites is unacceptable in a civilized society. All over the globe, cemeteries have been threatened by neglect, insufficient funds, inappropriate development or insensitive public policy. It should be the council and communities primary objective to increase the awareness and highlight the importance of the ageing sections in our cemetery, as sources of community pride, while promoting an attitude of reverence and respect, and encouraging the further preservation of these unique historical resources for future generations to appreciate and learn from. If society fails to appropriately and adequately deal with this issue through some definitive action, whether legislative or otherwise, not only will genealogical and historical resources likely be irreparably harmed, but society will potentially lose a valuable resource for charting its inexorable course into annals of human history.
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A Monumental Task
An ambitious project to create a complete record of graves in Stanthorpe Shire is revealing forgotten stories about the district's past.
A keen genealogist, Joyce Bryant set out to record details of the Shire's cemeteries and gravesites when she realised that such a record would be useful to other genealogists.
With help from friends, Joyce began recording headstone inscriptions - initially handwriting and typing the details onto cards and as technology changed, onto computer.
When Joyce discovered new computer software which would allow her to include photographs and create a more comprehensive database, she enlisted the help of fellow genealogist Kay Cockram.
For the past two years, Joyce and Kay have met every Wednesday to work on the project, either visiting the Stanthorpe and Wallangarra cemeteries to photograph graves and record information, travelling into the bush to find lone graves or cemeteries at locations such as Maryland, Wilsons Downfall and Warroo, or compiling and up-dating their computer database.
"I've been on roads I've never seen before and gone places were you would never be (a) tempted or (b) invited to go unless there was a reason," said Kay.
"We've tackled leeches, cobblers pegs and spear grass, and snakes are a constant concern".
An offshoot of the project has been the discovery of a wealth of information about past residents of Stanthorpe.
As subscribers to internet genealogy lists, Kay and Joyce are often asked for information by people seeking information on family members buried in the Shire - and in return have discovered fascinating details about the district's past.
"We didn't set out to write local history. We are not looking for information on every headstone, but when something comes up, you feel obliged to record it," said Kay.
Stories uncovered include that of John Begg, who named his home "Lochnagar" in the McGregor Estate after the famous Scottish distillery near Balmoral, which was owned by his grandfather.
Joyce and Kay are also investigating the story of two children whose gravestones record that they were victims of the Bundaberg Serum Tragedy.
Their research has found that 12 children died in Bundaberg after they were inoculated against diphtheria with vaccines contaminated with Staphylococcus aureus, but why two of the children were buried in Stanthorpe is not known.
While headstones such as that of Edwin William Hollingworth, "third son of Admiral Hollingworth of the Royal Navy", reveal details about the deceased, other graves are marked only by names or in some cases by numbered wooden pegs.
The deterioration of some of the older headstones is another imperative for completing the project.
Information on many of the early wooden and metal headstones is already illegible, but thanks to Joyce's foresight in recording details many years ago, much information has been saved.
"Often unmarked graves can be identified by looking at the pegs on the graves next to them but the wooden pegs are deteriorating and once they are gone, there will be no way of identifying the graves," said Joyce.
Joyce and Kay recently completed their record of the Wallangarra Cemetery and have presented photograph albums and booklets to the Stanthorpe Shire Council, Stanthorpe and District Historical Society and Stanthorpe Library.
The booklet and database include thumbprint pictures and a brief history of the pioneers as well as copies of inscriptions.
"This will be a very valuable part of the history of the district," said the Mayor, Adrian Finlay.
"This is a tremendous act of community service and I am sure it will be a great addition to the records of the Shire."
Joyce and Kay are currently concentrating on up-dating their records of the Stanthorpe cemetery, starting from the older sections.
Although they have limited their work to gravesites before 2000, they expect that the project will take at least two more years to complete.
Their long-term aims include compiling a list of past cemetery trustees and funeral directors, and cross-referencing their database with Council information and obituaries.
They also hope to be able to organise a working bee of interested people to tidy up some of the older and neglected graves.
To those who have described Kay and Joyce's project as "morbid", they respond simply: "We're not living in the past. We're recording the past for the benefit of the future but living in the present."
Source: Border Post
Date: Tuesday, November 20, 2001
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