GRAVESITE HISTORIES PROJECTDescription of the Project
In 2011-2012 the Kojonup Historical Society members wished to enhance the basic cemetery records held by the Shire of Kojonup. It was the belief of the members that ‘everyone is significant to someone’ and so it was decided that we research what we could from local records and from the memories of the community and family members to write about as many people whose resting place was either Kojonup, Muradup or Boscabel Cemetery. A photo of each grave, a copy of the inscription on each headstone, a description of each grave including its condition, written histories of as many as possible and a list of references as to where that information was found was completed for all the graves. Note was also taken of known places where ashes have been scattered and other similar reports were made for known lonely graves in the area.
The Historical Society applied for and was granted a General Grant from the Lottery West for the employment of a local amateur historian – Barbara Hobbs. Reference files containing a double page on each grave, is available for viewing at the Kojonup Shire Library, the Kojonup Historical Society and the Tourist Visitors Centre situated at The Kodja Place. General Public can also ask for a copy from the Historical Society which may be able to assist with further information as well. (Copy and postage costs apply)
PDF file is a summary of all graves researched –at Kojonup, Muradup and Boscabel. For more details or further information please go to the contact page and drop us an email or letter. Open the PDF file here.
Early records show that there were three different sites for Wadjella* cemeteries within the present town area of Kojonup.
The earliest cemetery was recorded on the southern end of Soldier Road. The police were wanting to acquire P9 and P10 (‘P’ standing for Pensioner Guard Loc.) for a horse paddock which was ‘forty acres surrounding the old cemetery.” This request was made in 1864, so the ‘new cemetery’ further north had already been re-located before that date. The burial of Ellen Reilly in 1869 helps confirm the dates of the establishment of the present Kojonup Cemetery at prior to 1864. And thanks to research from Landgate, we know that the present cemetery was first surveyed in 1862, confirming the ‘old cemetery’ statement. Therefore in 2012, it can be stated that the present Kojonup Cemetery is 150 years old – an unwitting but significant note for the project that had been undertaken in this year!
We know that several Catholic family members were buried on land that belonged to the Noonan family and later Emily Church whose mother was Margaret Norrish (nee Noonan). At some time some, if not all these graves were moved by Emily and the Catholic community into the present cemetery, but in some cases it is believed it was just the headstones not the whole graves that were moved.
The earliest headstones from this group include: William Noonan 1862, Eleanor Noonan 1874 and Ellen Cronin (nee Noonan) 1884. Another early headstone brought into the town cemetery from the Norrish property ‘Warkelup’ was Richard Norrish (died 1871).
In 1899 two little daughters of William and Matilda Jones – Matilda Mary and her sister Anna Cecilia contracted measles and pneumonia and were buried one day after the other. Two other children also dying in 1899 were May Flanagan (3 years old) and John Flanagan (6 weeks old). The first identifiable grave in the ‘Protestant’ section is Clara Watts – died 1891, and her brother John Watts who died 1899. They were children of Frederick and Frederick’s first wife Mary Ann (nee Scrivener) Watts. Both John and Clara died as young adults.
The oldest known recorded burial is one of three children marked by a Shire Plaque (B35) that reads ‘Reilly Children’ – Ellen Reilly – born 1860 – Died 1869 – age 9 years, Others in this area are Michael Reilly born 1863 – died 1871 and George Reilly born 1868 – died 1899. Their father Michael Reilly, a soldier and then a Pensioner Guard – allotted P3 Kojonup Town Lot is also buried in this area died 1884 – an unmarked grave but listed in records as B35/B36.
*’Wadjella’ – White man – as distinct from ‘Noongar’- (indigenous) burial sites
The graves and areas mentioned above are significant as they are identified as the oldest known graves in this cemetery. Added to this is that they are also the graves of some of the influential early citizens and include soldiers and pensioner guards that were among Kojonup’s first white settlers.
There are however many significant members of the Kojonup and West Australian community also identified in this project. These can be investigated in the table which is part of this report. It includes, Elders of the Noongar community, explorers and naturalists, sportsmen and sportswomen, artists and writers, politicians and distinguished armed service personnel, agricultural innovators and inventors, soldiers from the Boer War Imperial army, World War One, World War Two, Korean, Malaysian and Vietnam wars and those that served on the home front, migrants from Italy, Poland, Dutch Indonesia and other countries and pioneers for most areas of the Kojonup Shire.
The Historical Society wished to emphasise that ‘everyone is significant to someone’ and it has been a pleasure to discover many of these stories and to work with the community which has been very forthcoming and pleased to have the stories recorded.
There are approximately 120 known graves in the Muradup Cemetery and around 5-7 unknown and 3 reserved. The cemetery is well maintained by the Shire with some local residents of Muradup also attending the graves regularly to ensure it remains tidy. The cemetery is on the Blackwood Road west of the Muradup town-ship and easily accessible.
The Larsens are the original pioneers of Muradup, followed closely by the Haggerty and Yates families. Henri and Catherine Larsen are the first known burials in this cemetery both dying in 1928 and Charles Yates was also buried there that year. There are also pioneer families from Jingalup,and the ladies Ivy Sturges (age 102) and Inez Sexton (age 100) are of special interest in this cemetery. People who worked for the railways and for the Muradup Co-operative including migrant families are included. There are several sad accidental deaths among youth and young adults that are reminders of the dangers that have always surrounded farm and railway life. The cemetery is a micro–community that represents the diversity typical of rural towns.
Boscabel Hall was opened on Boxing Day 1918. The Cemetery is located approximately one kilometre east of the Boscabel Hall, in a bush area – 200 metres from the Boscabel Road. The first grave is that of Mr James Hustler buried in 1922. Several important pioneer families are recognised. These include the Hunts, Hunters, Benns and Kelly families, all who arrived in the area in the first fifteen years of the 1900’s. Others such as the Harrisons were there a little earlier, but are represented in this cemetery by only one family member. A special mention of Mrs Myrtle Benn – teacher and founder of the Myrtle Benn Flora and Fauna Sanctuary needs to be made. The Cemetery is still a working cemetery, In the early days the area was known as Coben Soak.