During the very early days of the establishment of Maryborough there was no cemetery as such. Those who died were buried on the land they owned, or somewhere in the bush, this was especially true for those who lived beyond the boundaries of the township. When two of E.B. Uhr’s children died they were buried somewhere in the region of the rear of what is now Windsor House in Kent Street, Uhr having a store near the site of what was later Gataker’s warehouse. (1. Maryborough Widebay and Burnette Historical Society file G9)
The precise location of the graves was reported to have been on am easement connecting Kent and Wharf streets. E.L. McLucas, who lived in Windsor House circa 1947, allegedly rediscovered the graces which he said were situated against the back fence of the property. He cleared them so that photographs could be taken.
E.B Urh originally lived in a small house at Ululah, but later moved with his family to another house on the same allotment. Fanny Augusta Uhr was reputed to have been killed by lightning but later reports claim the child of thirteen months died from a sudden illness a few days before Christmas 1854. Her sister reported to have died at the age of twelve, nine years later, and was buried along side her. Their father was alleged to have planted a bunya pine at the head of the graves, but this and the graves themselves have long disappeared. (2. Ibid)
The Maryborough Chronicle later reported that the pine tree had been planted long before the deaths of the girls; Uhr had meant it as a Christmas tree for his children. (3. M/C. 25 February, 1935, p4)Reports of these graves vary and it is difficult to discover the truth with any accuracy. The graves were found in September 1891, ‘… at the back of Mr O’Regans’s new boarding house in Wharf street.’ The gravestones were reportedly discovered, ‘… about a foot beneath the surface and … well preserved.’ (4.Reproduced in M/C. 21 November, 1990, supplement p34)The pine tree shading the graves reportedly lasted for many years until it was poisoned sometime during the early 1930s. It fell in 1935 and was used for firewood. By then the gravestones were crumbling (6. M/C. 25 February, 1935, p4)
The dates of the children’s death are something of a mystery. The gravestones were still in place in 1956 when the city health inspector, A.F. Sprenger, claimed that they were the oldest known graves in Maryborough. The headstones were reported to have given the dates of deaths as, Fanny Uhr, 23 December, 1854 and Mary Uhr, 21 June 1853. The gravestones were removed sometime after 1956. (7. M/C. 1 June, 1956, p1) the precise location of the graves is not known.
When a survey of the new MaryboroughTownship was completed in 1852, Mr Uhr changed the family home to a new site facing Wharf Street, close to where the River View Hotel, also called the Melbourne Hotel, was built. Uhr’s property extended from a Wharf Street frontage to Kent Street where he had a wooden store built about 1852 on the same site later occupied by Gataker and Co.’s brick warehouse. The graves of the two children were made in the home ground behind the wooden store.
The graves were marked with a suitable headstone which remained above the burial ground until sometime during the First World War when the store had some extensions added. When extensions were made at the back of Gatakers, a concrete area was placed over the graves and the tombstone was moved 40 to 50 yards from the graves. At a later stage the head stone was placed in a small lane-way at the back of Windsor House. During 1980 a decision was made to replace the tombstone in a small park area on the corner of Wharf Street and March Street. While final plans were being made for the removal, the headstone disappeared. (8. Walker, Marie, private account written for the author, November, 1994)
Furber and Wilmhurst, and the graves of the McAdam family are located at the site of the first Maryborough cemetery at Baddow. When the township was removed this cemetery became neglected and rank with weeds. Another small unofficial cemetery was reputed to have been located somewhere between the town and the present rose gardens, near the site of the high school, although there are official listings of such a cemetery and reports of its existence are unconfirmed. The lands department of Maryborough have no record of such a site. The second official cemetery was located in Kent Street, at the present site of the rose gardens in Elizabeth Park. It was first registered as a cemetery in October 1871. As the town expanded, cottages were built all around this cemetery and the council were concerned over the dangers of public health.
A new cemetery at its present site was then registered and burials at the old cemetery ceased in 1873-just two years after the first burial. (9. Maryborough City Council cemetery records)There were few headstones, as many of the early pioneers couldn’t afford them. In 1907 the trustees of the second cemetery announced that anyone who had relatives or friends buried there and who wanted to move the headstones to the site of the new cemetery could do so. A plot of ground would be supplied free of charge.
In January 1920 it was revealed that the state government had promised to bring out a bill to transfer the freehold to council so that the ground could be used as a park – providing the council undertook to remove any bodies if relatives of the deceased demanded their removal. Alderman Lee Garde stated in council that he thought it would be a perfect site for a museum, but this never eventuated. (10.M/C. 21 January, 1920 and 23 June, 1921)
Between the years 1907 to 1921, the old cemetery was cleared, the remains were not removed.
At the site of the present cemetery, burials take place on a strictly denominational basis. Chinese, aborigines and South Sea Islanders were once buried just inside the main gate, largely in unmarked graves. In November 1923 the cemetery trustees handed over control of the cemetery to the council, as they could no longer look after it. George Wiley, secretary of the Cemetery Board of Trustees, informed the council that expenses had outweighed income by more than £133 for the year. (11. M/C. 28 November, 1923)
In August 1956 the Maryborough City Council announced that the cemetery would be expanded with the additional thirty acres which became a fourth cemetery, being designated a garden of rest. (12. M/C. 24 August, 1956, p1).This new section, the garden of rest, received approval in April 1959, and in September 1968 a licence was granted for the construction of a crematorium. (13. Paper given by historian Norman Buettel, 25 February, 1985, Maryborough, WideBay and Burnett Historical Society file C 28)
Sources and Notes
Maryborough, WideBay and Burnett Historical Society file G 9
M/C. 25 February, 1935, p 4.
Reproduced in M/C. 21 November, 1990, supplement p 34.
M/C. 27 June, 1924, p 4.
M/C. 25 February, 1935, p 4.
M/C. 1 June, 1956, p 1.
Walker, Marie, private account written for author, November, 1994.
Maryborough City Council cemetery records.
M/C. 21 January, 1920 and 23 June, 1921.
M/C. 28 November, 1923.
M/C. 24 August, 1956, p 1.
Paper given by historian Norman Buettel, 25 February, 1985, Maryborough, WideBay and Burnett Historical Society file C 28.
Matthews, Tony. (1995). River of Dreams: a history of Maryborough and District. Maryborough (QLD): Maryborough City Council.