East Wellington Cemetery book launched
Tailem Bend Historians have created a guide to the people buried in the cemetery, many in unmarked graves.
This post was contributed by Maxine Kiddie.
An East Wellington Cemetery book has been officially launched at the Hall Café.
Local identities and Coorong District Council representatives gathered for the event last Thursday.
The Tailem Bend Historians had received a Coorong council community grant to assist with the book’s printing.
The book came from research for an exhibition of the history of Tailem Bend, when it was found that there were many unmarked graves at the East Wellington Cemetery.
The first step was identifying who was buried in the cemetery from 1840 to 1895, as only 88 people were recorded on headstones.
During the 1800s, West and East Wellington serviced outlying settlements, including Tailem Bend, Woods Point, Westbrook, Ashville, Cooke Plains and the stations of Wellington Lodge, Poltalloch, Brinkley and Nalpa, so these locations were added to the search criteria.
Wellington Police Station almost certainly kept early records, but they were destroyed by fire.
Fortunately, newspaper reports of the day detailed proceedings at inquests and the subsequent burial of a deceased person.
The first reported burial was Frederick Oughton on October 9, 1847.
His death was not recorded in SA Deaths, but according to newspaper reports, he was working for the South Australian Company and drowned while swimming.
Upon death, a person was simply buried up on the hill, on the outskirts of East Wellington.
This hill was unfenced and constantly trampled by livestock on route to the busy River Murray crossing.
With headstones and burial sites continually being damaged and destroyed, local residents pressured the government to attend to the matter.
This resulted in the 1859 survey for a cemetery reserve of 15 acres.
Four years later, in April 1863, Special Magistrate EC Hughes chaired a meeting at which it was decided to take steps at once for enclosing the public cemetery with a substantial stone wall and iron gates, which were never erected, despite substantial public money being raised.
The cemetery reserves for East Wellington and Bedford were gazetted and officially vested in the District Council of Meningie on July 19, 1888.
Elizabeth Nicholls researched deaths from 1840-1895 which were merged with records transcribed by Christine Hartmann from 1895-2000.
The East Wellington Cemetery book contains details of 300 deaths, together with a selection of corresponding newspaper reports of the day.
Some who met their misfortune were simply crossing the river, or passing through on the road to the gold fields.
It is believed many travellers were buried in unmarked graves east of the cemetery’s boundary, commonly known as the “police paddock”.
Copies of the book will be housed at the Coorong council, Tailem Bend Historians Association, Tailem Bend Community Library and Murray Bridge Library, providing a record for interested persons and a direction for further interments in the East Wellington Cemetery.
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