Ex­is­tence marked

Benalla Ensign - - News -

Uniden­ti­fied grave sites in the Moorn­gag Ceme­tery have had mark­ers in­stalled, some af­ter more than a cen­tury.

The Moorn­gag Ceme­tery, between Ta­tong and Swan­pool, saw its first burial in 1888.

With the ad­vent of the Anzac Cen­te­nary, lo­cal man Barry O’Con­nor sought un­marked graves of re­turned ser­vice­men for at­ten­tion by the Com­mon­wealth War Graves Com­mis­sion.

He found three, but in the process re­alised that nearly 60 other graves sites were not marked.

The Ta­tong Her­itage Group, with the Moorn­gag Ceme­tery Trust and the Be­nalla Fam­ily Re­search Group, em­barked on a mis­sion to place mark­ers on the graves.

This in­volved work­ing out who was buried where and match­ing the ceme­tery records with other lo­cal ac­counts.

Many hours were put into re­search­ing his­tor­i­cal sources such as old news­pa­pers, and fur­ther re­search was needed to de­sign the mark­ers them­selves.

Even­tu­ally Mr O’Con­nor set­tled on con­crete plinths with re­cesses in which to place the mark­ers

The re­sult­ing head­stones are at­trac­tive and clear, and should stand the test of time.

Fund­ing in­cluded gen­er­ous do­na­tions from some of the de­scen­dants of those in­terred with­out a grave marker.

Ta­tong Her­itage Group mem­bers set to work ear­lier this month fas­ten­ing the mark­ers to the plinths, then plac­ing the plinths on the ground.

Long-time gravedig­ger Ted Exton armed him­self with the Moorn­gag Ceme­tery Reg­is­ter and iden­ti­fied each grave site.

The mark­ers were in­stalled with great care, aligned with the ceme­tery lay­out and pre-ex­ist­ing stones.

The most chal­leng­ing place­ment was out in a grassed area, where the only sign that there had once been buri­als was a slight in­den­ta­tion ground.

Be­ing some dis­tance from the marked buri­als, some mea­sur­ing was needed to as­cer­tain where the graves were.

Many of the peo­ple named on the mark­ers were known of, or re­mem­bered by lo­cals.

A dif­fi­cult but in­ter­est­ing case was Hanah Brown. Her burial was recorded, yet there was no other record of a Hanah Brown hav­ing ex­isted at that time.

Ac­cord­ing to the Moorn­gag Ceme­tery Reg­is­ter, she was born in 1813 and died in 1898. in the

One ex­pla­na­tion is she was in­dige­nous.

The name is typ­i­cal of those en­dowed on the first Aus­tralians, a name thought more re­spectable than that given by her own cul­ture, and it would ex­plain why she was never recorded as a mem­ber of the pop­u­la­tion.

If this is the case, her birth date must have been a guess, for she would have been in her early 20s when white peo­ple ar­rived in the Ta­tong district.

The Moorn­gag Ceme­tery records have now also been digi­tised for on­line ac­cess and can be found at www.be­nal­ladis­trictceme­ter­ies.org that

Open gar­den: The gar­dens at Gi­rawheen have never been open to the pub­lic be­fore.

Marked for pos­ter­ity: Vol­un­teers at work mark­ing graves at Moorn­gag Ceme­tery.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.