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Grave remembrance in Braidwood – mapping the resting place of ancestors

Alex Rea 3 November 2019

Peter Smith and Margaret Royds OAM unveil the new map at the Braidwood Historic Cemetery. Photo: Alex Rea

It was fitting that on Halloween a ceremony was held at the Braidwood Historic Cemetery to unveil a new sign with a map of all the headstones.

The map has been the work of Margaret Royds OAM, who has been collating information over 10 years.

As a heritage town, many visitors to Braidwood come to find out where their ancestors were buried. While the Visitors Information Centre and Museum have some record, until now there was no way to direct families to their loved ones within the cemetery.

Some of Braidwood’s older generation helped with identifying the unmarked graves which were known to exist. There is also a corner of the cemetery for children and babies which were without names.

Peter Smith and Margaret Royds place flowers on graves. Photo: Alex Rea

Mrs Royds and the historical cemetery committee walked the cemetery and gave each grave a number and each row, a number and made a map with the help of a local graphic designer.

The Braidwood Community Bank sponsored the Braidwood Historic Cemetery headstone repairs with a $5350 grant, and a new notice board with the map was erected.

The Historic Cemetery was in use from the 1840s until 2007, with the earliest grave from 1847, and people buried there born as early as 1769.

Kathryn Whitfield with her father Norman Whitfield at the grave of his Great Great Grandfather. Photo: Alex Rea

The cemetery also contains an obelisk erected to the memory of the four Special Constables killed by the Clarke Gang Bushrangers in 1867.

In the future the committee hope to have a rock and plaque on each or a communal plaque noting the missing names and dates.

Robyn Amanda Bradley from Shell Habour to mark the sites for her father William Lawrence Bradley and grandmother Matilda Tilly Bradley. Photo: Alex Rea

Following that the energetic committee plan to produce a book with a photo of each headstone and the inscription.

At the short ceremony President of the Braidwood District Historical Society Peter Smith, noted just how many people were drawn to Braidwood to look for their ancestors.

Mrs Royds thanked the Nick Fry and Helen Farley from the Braidwood Community Bank for the grant funding through the Braidwood and District Historical Society.

She also thanked the surveyor Bob Richards, draftsman Mathew Hamilton, John Stahel from the Historical Society, John Tuckwell and the Garden Club, Phil Shoemark and her ‘right hand woman’ Gabby Frizzell.

Mrs Royds also thanked Mary Appleby and the year 7 elective students from Braidwood Central School who helped with the survey and planted trees in 2006.

Mrs Royds reminisced that when she first started on the cemetery work, Deab Wehby used to come down and have his lunch on the cemetery which was what prompted the idea for a seat.

“So now we can all have a look around and a rest” said Mrs Royds.

Peter Smith and Margaret Royds OAM toast the completion of the project. Photo: Alex Rea

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