THE SMALL cemetery at Whroo, in the forest near Rushworth, awoke from its solitude on Sunday.
Almost 400 names extracted from records of those buried there since the mid-1850s gold rushes have been inscribed on a large metal plaque and the monument was unveiled before a crowd of about 85, many of whom have ancestors in the cemetery.
The unveiling was done by Rushworth’s Joyce Kennedy, 95, who has Cochrane and Jones forebears in the cemetery, and Nagambie’s Edie Perry, 100, who is a descendant of the Welch family.
The cemetery has been closed for many years, the final plot pre-purchased and reserved in the name of Leslie Horsburgh, 86, who was buried in 1989.
Mary Horsburgh, 85, was buried in 1986.
A century earlier, Leslie’s forebears, James Horsburgh (1886) and Margaret Horsburgh (1893) were also buried at Whroo.
With no revenue from plot sales, the Whroo cemetery trustees, chaired by Stanhope’s Bob Holschier, have a difficult task to maintain fencing, gates and general upkeep of the burial ground.
On Sunday, the trustees were commended for their initiative and grateful descendants contributed spontaneously to the cause.
A number of visitors received copies of newspaper obituaries, some dating back 130 years.
Yvonne Sloper (nee Pettifer), of Avenel, received obituaries of ancestors John Pettifer, who fell in a mine shaft leaving a widow and eight children in 1869, Martin Pettifer (lung inflammation in 1900, aged 31) and Henry Pettifer (butcher, who died of consumption in 1909, aged 54).
Contemporary newspapers often gave vivid descriptions of the deceased and the funeral event.
The Rushworth Chronicle on August 24, 1900, told of Martin’s life, before explaining:
‘‘If evidence were required to show the respect in which Martin Pettifer was held by the whole community, the large and representative attendance at the funeral on Sunday furnished it’’.
Mrs Sloper was thrilled to hear this extract read to the gathering.
‘‘Henry Pettifer was my great-grandfather, according to our family tree, and John and Martin are obviously part of the clan,’’ she said. ‘‘I am a grandmother and my grandchildren can now obviously read about great-great-great-grandfather Henry, and visit his last resting place.’’
The cemetery is signposted off the Whroo-Nagambie Rd, in the former town of Whroo.