Cann  River  Cemetery
1924 ~ 2009


 


Cann River is the township of the Cann Valley, extending north along the river.  The little township of Noorinbee is also located in the valley.  Cann River is a farming and timber town.  The first graziers into the valley came not from remote Melbourne, but down from New South Wales.  Many descendants of the pioneers who came to the district seeking alluvial gold, fertile ground and good timber last century still live around Cann River.

The earliest attempted settlement in the area was by graziers James Allen and a Captain Stevenson from New South Wales.  James Allen had arrived in Twofold Bay at Eden in 1836, and in search of more grazing land for the cattle he took up a station run at Cann River in 1841.  James Allen, Captain Stephenson who is buried at Rockton, just across the border, and the Boyds, also from NSW, had grazing runs in the Cann Valley area.  The abandoned their runs because Aborigines killed their cattle.  Other graziers such as the Alexander and Switzer families followed.  The Morgan family settled in Cann River in the early 1880's.  They faced arduous work clearing the land as it was heavily timbered, and suffered great isolation.  Supplies had to be bought from Orbost, and it took the drovers six days to reach there along the winding track that became the Princes Highway.  Descendants of the Morgans still own the original selection.  The next to take up land in the area was Charles Broome.  He was quickly followed by many more families from the Nicholson River near Bairnsdale.

The Cann River Cemetery is located on the south side of the Princes Highway about 1.5 kilometres east of the township.  It is slightly uphill, just past the Government Conservation Offices and between two mills.  The cemetery stands at the edge of a large State Forest.

The earliest interments in Cann River were on the Morgan property just west of the present Cann River township.  There are four graves: two members of the Morgan family, a Chinese gardener and a Mr. Farquar, who was bitten by a snake while surveying the proposed railway from Orbost to Bombala in New South Wales [it is recorded that he died in 1887].  A Mr. Sewell is buried across the Cann River on the ridge behind Dave Walker's property.  There is a grave of a child at Buldah and a male grave at the head of the Combienbar Valley, and perhaps others are scattered around according to folklore.

The Cann River Cemetery, comprising of four hectares, was established in the nineteenth century and officially gazetted on 11th May 1910.  The cemetery was established to serve the inhabitants of the Cann Valley including the townships, Cann River and Buldah.  The graves of the original settlers and other pioneer families in the valley, including descendants of the Morgan family, the Filmers, Broomes, Walkers, Petersons, Armstrongs, Camerons, Hadfields, Rothes and Wilsons are in the cemetery.  The headstones are mostly simple reflecting the economic status of the community and the modesty of the early settlers.  There are no official records of burials from the time of gazetting until 1930.  The first person buried after 1910 is a Mr. Wilson, whose grave is on its own outside the fence near the Roman Catholic section.  In the early days a few interments were made in a haphazard way in the corner nearest the highway.  There are unmarked graves around the present fenced area [when the cemetery was a timbered area], with a plaque on a low concrete base, north-west of the cemetery, in memory of those buried there.
The bronze plaque, erected in 1986, reads as follows.


Cann River Cemetery Trust
In Memory Of
Those buried in this area in the early years
No Official Records

JOSEPH  ARMSTRONG   6 yrs.    WILLIAM  HOWITT   10 yrs.
JOHN  WILSON JAMES   MARTIN
CAROLINE   RANKIN  VIOLET  CRAWFORD   5 yrs
WILLIAM  THOMPSON   69 yrs. PATRICK  FRANCIS
LILA   THOMPSON   7 yrs.   HENRY  POULTON

This section of the cemetery is a 12 metre square area, containing two other unknown graves and a grave of the Donald twins on the north side facing the highway.

In 1929 the condition of the cemetery was described as 'very rough', with uncleared bush enclosing it.  During that year the cemetery was properly laid out and subdivided into sections and paths, and working bees by the local shire engineer, residents and a hired drayman cleared the bush.  The total number buried in 1929 was eleven.  The descendants of Jonas Morris [died 23 October 1924], the oldest marked grave in the cemetery, requested permission in 1940 to have the grave moved from the unmarked section to the present cemetery.  The first burial since official records have been kept was that of Augusta Adelaide Amelia Broome buried on 19 February 1931.  The records were kept by Mr. S. T. Filmer from 1930 until 1988, a record in itself.  They are now held by a group of six trustees in Cann River. 

A small lawn section was established in 1976, in the Roman Catholic section, as there was only one headstone there, most memorials since then have been in the lawn section.  The first memorial in the lawn section was that of Gunther Roland Reidel on 21 January 1977.  In 1982 paths were eliminated, greatly increasing the number of remaining grave sites.  Of the total four hectare site about one hectare has been cleared.  The cemetery has a metre-high weld-mesh fence and gate on the northern side and part of the east side.  A post and wire fence surrounds the other sides.13

The cemetery is still in use today.

[Taken from "Cemeteries our Heritage" with kind permission from the author Dr. Celestina Sagazio].

Cost $35.00 plus $5.00 for postage to anywhere in Australia.


 

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