Towong Cemetery

 Also known as (Millers Hill)

Reference: * Department of Human Services: Cemeteries Unit Archives; File: H-CEM-580, File Opened May, 1869.

Data from the file, notes the following:

The Cemetery:

The cemetery was officially known as Towong Cemetery. It has also been known in recent years as Millers Hill Cemetery/ Millers Hill Pioneer Cemetery, but the official name is Towong Cemetery.

There is a letter dated 18th December, 1883 noting the name of the cemetery as Gravel Plains (Towong) Cemetery. But this is the only reference to use of this name.

Towong Cemetery of 3 roods, 11 perches, was approved by the Governor in Council on the 31st July, 1893 and gazetted on the 4th August, 1893.

On 29 August, 1893 the Governor in Council approved that burials in the Towong Cemetery be discontinued and this was gazetted on the 1st September, 1893. The cemetery was closed for burials on the 29th November, 1893.

Background:

Robert Seaton of Tooma, Upper Murray, NSW took a lease from the Crown of 146 acres, 1 rood, 32 perches on 12 May, 1869

A small section of this land was set aside as a burial ground and used over time.

On 17 May, 1880 a petition signed by 43 residents of Corryong and surrounding areas wrote to the Minister of Lands requesting that favourable consideration be given to approve the burial ground as a cemetery. The petition noted:

  • the cemetery had been in use for 39 years.
  • the land had been kindly donated by John Seaton to be used as a necropolis.
  • There were 40 burials to date in the cemetery; several with monuments.
  • John Seaton is willing to relinquish title and interest in the land.
  • As there was a road no longer in use near his property he requested that this road be given to him in exchange for the cemetery.

Approval for the road to be closed and sold to John Seaton was given by the Governor in Council on 22 February, 1886.

The cemetery was surrounded by private property with a small road leading to it from the Murray Valley Highway. The cemetery is approximately four kilometres west of Corryong, near the Kiandra turnoff.

On 18 December, 1888 the following Trustees of the Towong Cemetery were approved and gazetted on 21 December, 1888: David Evans, William Wheeler, John Jardine, Thomas Waters, James Wheeler, Hugh Harris, Thomas Donaldson, John Whitehead and Joseph Hanson.

On 24 February, 1936 the District Health Officer requested a report on the Towong Cemetery and Dr Franklin who conducted the survey, noted the following:

  • the cemetery was established about 70 years ago,
  • has not been used for burials for the last 45 years.
  • the survey noted 14 headstones and approximately 16 other graves.
  • listed the names that appeared on the headstones.

The names on the headstone noted in his report are:

1869                    Dixon DeBurch Victor Albert Armstrong (33)

1871     Emma M Jarvis (35)

1871     Alexander Phillips

1879     Anne Catherine Klippel (13)

1886                    Lucy Sheather (65)

1889                    Edgar Sheather (60)

1884                    Eliza McInnes (37)

1885                    Mabel Elizabeth Masters (1)

1871                    Thomas Evans (31)

1877                    Jos Evans (73)

It would appear the numbers in the brackets indicate the age of the person)

The Shire of Upper Murray in June, 1936 wrote to the Department of Lands and noted that the land should be fenced and the graves cared for. They noted that as of this date there were no Trustees for the cemetery. In July 1936 the Department of Lands replied to the Shire noting that no funds were available and that the Corryong Public Cemetery would be the most suitable for amalgamation with the Towong Cemetery.

On 23 September, 1936, page 2537, the amendment to the Cemetery Act was gazetted stating that the annexation of the Towong Public Cemetery to the Corryong Public Cemetery be approved. The Trustees for the Corryong Cemetery would act as the Trustees for the united cemetery.

On 6 February, 1961 the Corryong Cemetery Trust wrote to the Department of Health requesting to know the number of burials in the Towong Cemetery. The Health Department replied on 14 February, 1961 noting that they did no hold this information but cited data from the survey of Dr Franklin that there were 14 headstones and approximately 16 other graves.

On 5 August, 1982 the Public Health Division wrote to the Land Conservation Council noting that the “Heath Commission recommends that this reserve be retained in its present status.”

There are several notes in the file noting that the cemetery is known locally as the Millers Hill Cemetery, but the records do identify and state that it's correct name is the Towong Public Cemetery.

Additional:

The Genealogical Society of Victoria holds a file on the cemetery in its cemetery vertical files. The reference for this file is:

* “Millers Hill Pioneer Cemetery Headstones: 30/3/1853 – 30/8/1889”; Transcribed by Major R.L. Lyall, Bairnsdale, 1986 [V929.5945 MILL LYA]. In it is noted:

  • The cemetery is on private property. (Note: This is not accurate as it is surrounded by private properties. The cemetery was given to the crown and was gazetted.)
  • It lists 16 headstones, with two additional ones noted at the end.
  • There are 7 graves enclosed by ironwork, but with no name markings.

In a letter dated the 27th July, 1982 to the Shire secretary, Shire of Upper Murray, Corryong from J.T. Bennie, Secretary, Public Health Department there is the following paragraph:

“As you may know, by Order-in-Council published in the Government Gazette of 23rd September, 1936, the Towong Public Cemetery was placed under the control of the Corryong Cemetery Trust. The Trustees of the Corryong Cemetery are therefore responsible for the control and care of the Towong Cemetery. By an earlier Order-in-Council published in the Government Gazette of 1st September, 1893, all burials in the Towong Cemetery were wholly discontinued.”

The Corryong Cemetery Trust is currently under the responsibility of the Towong Shire Council – Corryong Office, and according to the official records is still responsible for the Towong (Millers Hill) Cemetery.

On two pages of material held by the Corryong Cemetery Trust providing some brief information on the cemetery, is the following note: “The Shire of Upper Murray Council agreed to accept appointment as Trustees for Millers Hill Cemetery in 1991.”

So it would appear that the cemetery is still on Crown land and still gazetted as a cemetery.

 

David Weatherill
Email: djweath@bigpond.net.au
Bundoora, Victoria, Australia
 

 

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