Grant was one of the main towns that came into being in the 1860s as part of the Crooked River gold rush. The township was originally known as Skye or Mount Pleasant but in April 1865 it was surveyed and renamed, Grant. At the time the population was believed to be about 1200 people and it continued to grow over the years to approximately 2000 people.
The township of Grant is located in the Dargo High Plains area just over 20 kilometres north-west of Dargo. Grant and its near neighbour, Talbotville, are located in the Grant Historic Area. One of the few remaining features of the old town, is the Grant Cemetery that is located off McMillans Track in a heavily timbered area on Grant Road between Grant Junction and the township.
On 12 April 1879 , Harry Harrison, William Copeland and William Morgan wrote to the Minister of Lands in the Colony of Victoria following a meeting of a majority of the inhabitants held on 5 April, 1879 seeking that a portion of land already used as cemetery in the area be surveyed and reserved as a cemetery. On 14 November 1879 the Assistant Surveyor wrote to the Department of Lands noting that, “I shall be camped on the Wentworth River about 22 miles from Grant about the end of this month. If the Grant Cemetery has to be surveyed I shall be glad to undertake the work provided I'm allowed mileage allowance from my camp in addition to the survey fee.” The site was surveyed on 8 March 1880 by another surveyor and on 27 April 1880 , the Governor-in-Council approved two acres as a site for a cemetery in the parish of Wongungarra (near Grant).
The cemetery of two acres at Grant was gazetted as Wongungarra (near Grant) on 30 April 1880 [VGG 941/1880] in the County of Dargo . The first Trustees were gazetted on 26 November 1880 [VGG 2834/1888] and were: Henry Harrison, William Copeland, William Henry Morgan, George Beverigge and Frank Walsh. On 17 February 1880 John Chrisman was gazetted as a Trustee to replace William Copeland, who had died. [VGG 404/1882].
In May 1891 the Secretary, Public Health Department, wrote to the Secretary, Shire of Avon at Stratford requesting the Shire hold a public meeting of the inhabitants of Grant for the purpose of filling vacancies on the Cemetery Trust. On 31 July 1891 Henry Harrison replied to the Public Health Department stating, “that it is of no use calling a public meeting as there is now no one who will be will take responsibility of acting (as trustees ).”
In 1966 the Shire of Avon wrote to the Tourist Development Authority in Melbourne seeking a grant of money ($160) to fence the two cemeteries of Grant and Talbotville. The shire noted that the towns in the old mining area still maintain their attractions for tourists. In February 1967 the Secretary, Commission of Public Health, replied to the Shire noting that funds were available for fencing and in 1967 an amount $60 each was approved for Grant and Talbotville Cemeteries . On 24 May 1967 the Council of the Shire of Avon was appointed as Trustees of the cemeteries at Grant and Talbotville. [VGG: 1774/1967]
It is believed that there were over thirty burials in the cemetery. There are still two headstones standing in the area and 31 grave sites appear to still be been marked out. Both graves containing headstones are still fenced. These two marked graves are for the following:
*REFORD , Alfred, died 10 December 1870 , aged 38 years and
Henry Harrison was the mining registrar for the Crooked River Mining Division from 1884 until the 1890s. He was also a storekeeper and mine owner, having purchased the Good Hope Mine in 1879. His was the sole remaining store at Grant in the early 1890s. In the 1880s, Henry Harrison was also the Deputy Registrar for Births, deaths and Marriages.
Further research has identified the following burials at Grant.
*SAVAGE, John, Painter, aged 42 years, died 10 April 1865 at the Alpine Hotel, Grant.
The GSV holds a small file on Grant Cemetery in its cemetery vertical files, “ Grant Cemetery , Dargo High Plains”. [V 929.5945 GRAN TET] prepared by Eric Tetlow.
In 2003 the cemetery was being maintained by the Overlanders 4x4 Club in conjunction with Parks Victoria. The cemetery is identified by a wooden sign erected just before the gate into the fenced cemetery area. If anyone has any further information on this cemetery, I would appreciate hearing from them.
The Wellington Shire has a Heritage Listing for the township of Grant and the cemetery: H8323-0004.
* Department of Human Services, Cemeteries and Crematorium Unit Archives Files:
August, 2009David Weatherill Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Bundoora, Victoria, Australia