Dedication of crosses at Penneshaw Cemetery

Penneshaw Cemetery

Sunday 2nd November, 2014 at 4pm.

On Sunday, 2nd November, a historic ceremony took place in the Penneshaw cemetery, Kangaroo Island, commemorating the dedication of 65 white crosses bearing the names of the deceased, on what where, previously unmarked graves.

Representatives from the Kangaroo Island community, Adelaide and Melbourne were present. The new white crosses also show the year of death and maiden names that were available. Gil Daw, president of the Kangaroo Island Pioneers Association (KIPA), welcomed everyone. He stated “one of the core objectives of KIPA, was to preserve Kangaroo Island history”.

In 2011, Kangaroo Island celebrated its 175th anniversary of the landing of the first “official” white settlers to the state of South Australia. At that time, a number of comments were made on the state of the Penneshaw cemetery, indicating that many old wooden grave markers had disappeared, or were randomly found on the ground. As the result, it was decided by KIPA to launch a project on replacement of markers, and to find out the proper locations of where the deceased were put to rest.

Gil thanked Chris Ward, historical officer for KIPA, who took up the unenviable task of countless hours of research. KIPA were supported financially by donations from Kangaroo Island Funerals, individuals and descendants of the deceased, and a grant from the Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal.

The Kangaroo Island Council and staff were thanked for installing the crosses, and for their assistance on the day. Gil also acknowledged the Council for their ongoing support and help on previous occasions. Apologies were read out, including from KIPA patron and MP Vickie Chapman. Gil also thanked KIPA patron and retiring Mayor Jayne Bates for her support over many years. Councilor Peter Denholm and director of business support, Ted Botham also represented KI Council.

Gil then introduced Sandy Brown, a well-known historian of Penneshaw, and Uniting Church lay- preacher. Sandy listed the names of the grave-sites that were marked by the new crosses. He stated that the deceased represented all walks of life on the island, with ages ranging from infancy to 98 years of age, the first child having been interred 134 years ago. They came from the Dudley Peninsula, including Penneshaw and outlying areas. Sandy also mentioned Betty Thomas, an indigenous woman, who was brought to the island pre-official white settlement by the sealers. Betty and Nat Thomas have a number of living descendants.

Sandy welcomed Lyn and Errol Firminger, who had travelled from Melbourne. Lyn is the great, great, great grand daughter of Donald McArthur, who was assistant lighthouse keeper at Cape Willoughby in 1860, and subsequently, a farmer in the district. Donald is the oldest known person to be buried in the cemetery. Sandy dedicated the new white crosses, and thanked God for the peoples’ lives and the pioneering roles they played.

Mayor Jane Bates, whose relatives were among those to receive white crosses on their graves, stated “Congratulations to the Kangaroo Island Pioneers Association”, and said “It was the ‘best project’ that added huge importance to the people who have gone before us, that helped shape our community today.”

Others who attended the ceremony, whose relatives’ graves bear the new white crosses include –

Coralie Brown - , is related to all the Bates and Chenoweth families and great aunts, Martha Davidson and Martha Bainbridge.

Anthea Taylor – related to Robert Barr Taylor

Bev Ward – Both of Bev’s great, great grandparents – Thomas Johnston and his wife Eliza.

Bev Willson – related to Ellen Willson

Rosalin Tretheway – Rosalin’s great grandfather, Captain James Richard Murray and his wife Mary Ann

Compliments addressed to the Council were also made by those attending the ceremony, as to the neat state of the cemetery, and how the new white crosses have enhanced this historic place.

Senator Bob Day