Hazelwood Cemetery

By Leo Billington

How people are remembered and not remembered

Hazelwood Cemetery 202203 - Grave with railings

Recently it was remarked that cemeteries hold a lot of history.

This history is given freely, sometimes with pride, sometimes with anger. Sometimes with disdain, perhaps even dismissive.

Headstones reveal plenty of the past. That is, if there is a headstone.

For example, at 2 1/2 years of age, young Mahomed Josfet Khan drowned in a pond at a Morwell farm while apparently chasing some ducks. Hazelwood Cemetery Trust records show he was buried on October 21, 1916. Muhammed (alternative spelling) was born in Morwell, and as a regular visitor to his grandfather’s Morwell farm, “the little chap was last seen alive at about midday, on Saturday, when he was playing among some ducks, of which he was very fond.” His body was recovered the following day.

Mahomed’s headstone names his parents. It is not readily known that his mother is buried in an unmarked grave in Melbourne as is his father, buried in another Melbourne suburban cemetery. His grandfather was a prominent Morwell citizen in the day, however, social norms and expectations did not tolerate mixed marriages. End of story – so to speak.

Mahomed’s grave is not elaborate. Plain and simple actually. It deteriorated over decades, the headstone showing faint lines of cracking. Brilliant yellow daffodils and snow-white jonquils had found a suitable home.Mahomed “lives on” in the strong memories of his extended family 106 years later. His grave has been fully restored in past weeks, a fitting and respectable memory to a loving child.

Hazelwood Cemetery 202203 - brick as headstone

On the other hand, Mr William Lacey, a resident of Gunyah, lies in an unmarked grave.

His death in November 1926 resulted from a fractured skull sustained by falling from a horse while returning home from Boolarra. At 62 years of age, Mr Lacey had been living and working as a farm labourer on Samuel Swindell’s dairy farm at Gunyah. Evidence given at a magisterial inquiry included “there was a full a bottle of whisky in the deceased’s coat pocket.”

William Lacey was a regular at Ashley’s Boolarra Hotel. He liked a whisky or two. An extra bottle for the long return trip home was quite on order. Returning home, William’s friend, James Cranny, “hit the horse with a stick”. William’s horse “set off at full gallop.”

A consequent magisterial inquiry was held before Mr L Vary JP and concluded – William Henry Lacey, died from fracture of base of the skull caused by accidentally falling from a horse near Boolarra on Tuesday, November 16, 1926.

William’s unmarked grave is recognised by a lone brick – see accompanying photograph.

Hazelwood Cemetery 202203 - Maria King

However, William is, respectively, not alone. Miss Maria King’s grave is right alongside.

Her faded headstone shows her death on March 26, 1904 tells us Maria is “at rest”. Maria’s mother and sisters grieved.

Maria’s obituary recorded ‘the sudden death of Miss King, postmistress, which sad event took place at the local post office on Saturday afternoon last. The deceased lady succeeded Miss Vigar as postmistress at Morwell in February, 1902, having been previously stationed at Penshurst for a number of years. She was not in good health when she settled in Morwell, and during the past twelve months suffered severely from asthma which had affected the heart.”

Maria King lived upstairs above the Morwell Post Office, then located at the corners of Tarwin Street and Commercial Road. Sister, Maude King was with Maria at the time of death.

Hazelwood Cemetery 202203 - Catterick Grave

On April 26, 1943, Beaufort A9-304 of 1 Operational Training Unit (1 OTU) based at East Sale in Victoria, crashed near King Island killing its crew of four as follows:- Sgt Edward John Offer 415676 (pilot), Flt Sgt Edward Waterman 405282 (observer), Flt. Sgt. James Henry Catterick 401742 (WAG) and Flt. Sgt. Graham Charles Nichols 405495 (WAG).

Flight Sergeant James Henry Catterick was born and raised in Morwell. Known locally as Jim, he was very popular through his involvement with football, scouting, cricket and a variety of community occasions.

A headstone names all family members and various In Memoriam notices placed in the local paper in subsequent years show a strong family bond was evident in the Catterick family.

Hazelwood Cemetery 202203 - Wooden Cross

Finally, an accompanying photograph of an old, rather solid, hard-wood cross placed in memory of someone. Hazelwood Cemetery records have been thoroughly trawled but to no avail. More intriguing, this cross is not in line with adjacent rows. It sits slightly aside from more substantial, neighbouring concrete graves. Our research will continue as further leads are followed up.