Anyone, anywhere, will soon be able search a deceased relative’s name, and bring up a picture of their gravestone in Wedderburn’s cemetery.
That’s if everything goes to plan of course.
All sorts of things tell stories, and Wedderburn’s Historical Society is on a mission to save them.
Funeral order of services, eulogies, and gravestones are among the artefacts they plan to digitise.
The stones of the cemetery are one of the most visible links to individuals who have lived and died in Wedderburn.
Plotting the past
Wedderburn’s cemetery was first gazetted in 1876, but it had been used for burials for years, perhaps even decades, before this.
Twenty-month-old Mary Randale was the first recorded burial. Mary was interred in the Presbyterian section on June 1860.
Since that sad day 2400 people have been buried there. At least, that’s what the records say.
Hundreds, or even thousands, of unmarked graves could lie beneath the surface.
Children rest in many of those graves which are marked. Often whole families of brothers and sisters were taken in one short week.
I was just amazed at how many children, how many women who would have been mothers, died.Irene Finch
President of the Korong (Wedderburn) Historical Society Irene Finch doesn’t wonder that so many children passed away.
Conditions in the area were harsh for early European settlers. They faced new life in a foreign land, often with entire families in tow.
They had to build a house, feed a family, farm their land, and often dig a dam by hand.
In the 1880s years of drought dealt a severe blow to these men and women.
“It would have been a really tough time,” Ms Finch said.
“I was just amazed at how many children, how many women who would have been mothers, died.”
Who lies beneath the surface?
Wedderburn’s cemetery has its share of the greats, or their ancestors.
Delta Goodrem’s Wedderburn-link was revealed in an episode of Who Do You Think You Are.
Her great-great grandfather came to Wedderburn from Scotland, via India, and Ballarat. He lies buried in the cemetery.
Or there’s the gravestone with American military honours.
By United States law any eligible veteran can receive military honours on their death.
The one buried in Wedderburn had to wait 90 years for his.
Corporal Daniel Sullivan survived the Mexican-American War, before coming to Wedderburn, probably in search of gold. He reached his three-score and 10 years, plus a couple, before being buried in 1902.
It wasn’t until 1992 that the United States Caught up with Corporal Sullivan.
On August 16 a representative from the American Consulate traveled to Wedderburn, to unveil a memorial stone to mark the Corporal’s final resting place.
The fight to keep Wedderburn’s history alive
Digitised gravestones are part of a broader project to preserve Wedderburn’s history, by bringing it into the digital age.
It’s part of a project to preserve the living history of the town, as memories begin to fade.
It’s also the sort of information that can help people trace their family’s story in the district.
If say you wanted to know about your grandparents who owned the cafe on the main street in the 1930s, you could type their name into the database, and voila – any information about them would appear.
Mrs Finch said working closely with the cemetery trust meant the Historical Society has photos of all the graves on the database.
So, if Ms Finch typed in a family name, up would pop a picture of his grave.
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