52 Ancestors 52 Weeks, Cemeteries

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Week 17: Cemetery

Well I am finally caught up with the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge.  The week 17 challenge is Cemetery.   This one was a no brainer for me – I had to write again about Karrakatta Cemetery, Perth, Western Australia.


Week 17 – Cemetery


If you have been following along with my posts over the past several months you will notice I wrote a large post about the Cemetery Renewal program that Karrakatta Cemetery is undertaking.  You can read the full post here – Cemetery Renewal, Karrakatta Cemetery, Perth, Western Australia.  In the article I outline what Cemetery Renewal means but basically it is the removal of headstones and reusing the space in between gravesites to conduct new burials.


I also discussed Saving Family Headstones at Karrakatta, a Facebook group that is working to stop the redevelopment by educating people.  In less than 12 months the group has got over 5,000 members. 


Why am I against Cemetery Renewal at Karrakatta Cemetery

London Cemetery, Family History HolidayCemeteries play such an important role in processing our grief.  They provide a link between the living and the dead.  I love to walk around cemeteries soaking up the history and seeing the intricacies in the headstone designs.  They also provide genealogists with a rich source of information that may not be available in other sources.  Once they are gone, they can never be replaced.


This is why the cemetery renewal at Karrakatta Cemetery is causing such angst.  People feel that they are being told how long they are allowed to grieve.  They feel that their loved ones are not deemed as worthy as others – some graves are saved whilst others go but it seems quite arbitrary.


Confused 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Cemetery - Karrakatta Cemetery Renewal

I have numerous family members buried at Karrakatta and I know some graves are no longer locatable.  When I went to Perth early last year I took a trip to Karrakatta and remember telling my son that I would need to teach him to read a map.  We had walked and walked looking for a grave for a distant relative but for the life of us we couldn’t find it. 

I figured we were reading the map wrong – I was wrong.  We were in the right place, it was just our ancestor no longer had a headstone.  Their grave was now a lawn area with other memorials going in above.  We were walking over the graves of, not only our relative, but the loved ones of many others.


Western Australian Cemeteries Act

As children we are taught to be respectful in a cemetery.  We are told to walk down the walkways and never to walk on a grave.  Yet here is a government sanctioned program –  Western Australian Cemeteries Act 1986 that is encouraging people to walk over the graves of others.  What does it matter that they died 100 years ago?  It shouldn’t matter.  Everyone should be respected in death.  The cemetery renewal program is allowing open disrespect to the deceased.


The below are just a few of my relatives who are buried at Karrakatta:

Matheson Family

Charles Gordon Matheson (5 July 1906 – 31 October 1954) – Gordon (as he was known) is my first cousin, twice removed.  He owned the Gordon Matheson Grocers that many Perth people would remember.  He’s buried in the Wesleyan FA section which is approaching renewal.1   In the Matheson family photograph Gordon is the baby on the lefthand side of the picture.


C1906 Matheson Family Perth Western Australia
C1906 Matheson Family Perth Western Australia

Charles Jardine Matheson (7 March 1880 – 29 August 1947) – Charles is my great-great-uncle. His son is Charles Gordon Matheson, the man standing on the left of the photo.  He is in Wesleyan BA section and as this section is deemed historical the gravesite will remain.2  His wife Emily Georgina Matheson (nee Hardisty) (1910 – 1 January 1953) who can be seen holding baby Gordon is buried with him.3


Robert Matheson (30 May 1853 – 4 November 1932) – Robert is my great-great-grandfather, seated in the photo next to his wife, Edith (nee Ford).  He is buried with her, and their daughter Margaret Emily (18 June 1883 – 26 April 1973) in Wesleyan BA section in the grave next to his son, Charles Jardine Matheson.  Their grave is in a historical section and will remain.4,5,6   You can read about Margaret in The Maiden Aunt, who is pictured standing in the back row on the righthand side.


Brand Family
Cemetery Renewal, Karrakatta Cemetery, Perth, WA
Fletcher, Gladys, Dudley, and Donald Graves, Karrakatta, Perth, Western Australia

Fletcher Alderwin (16 December 1881 – 23 August 1947) and Gladys Gwendoline Brand (16 June 1894 – 25 July 1973) are my great-grandparents.  Gladys is Robert and Edith Matheson’s youngest child, and is the girl seated on the floor.  They are buried in Wesleyan GC section which is an area approaching renewal.9,10  I have been told that because this grave is being maintained by the CWGC that they are safe.   I will continue to monitor their gravesite to ensure it remains.  You can read more about them in ANZAC Day – Fletcher Alderwin Brand.


Dudley Hilton Brand (7 August 1923 – 19 June 1944) and Donald Raymond Brand (5 July 1928 – 6 December 1944) are the sons of Fletcher and Gladys.  They, too are in the Wesleyan GC section, however their graves are earmarked for renewal.11,12   Dudley served in WWII, however, only some soldier’s graves are safe and he does not meet the criteria.  If you look carefully at the photo, you can see Fletcher and Gladys’ grave in the foreground and Dudley and Donald’s directly behind.  You can read about Dudley and Donald in Misfortune.


Thelma Kathleen Brand (4 October 1923 – 30 April 1986) – Thelma was the wife of my great-uncle Al, the eldest son of Fletcher and Gladys.   She is buried in the Roman Catholic PC section.  Her grave tenure automatically expired on 2 July 2012 regardless if the family paid for a longer term.7  As her plot term has expired, whilst not currently scheduled for renewal there is the strong possibility it will be in the future.


Other family members

Millicent Dolores Brand (nee Bayliss) – 1883 -2 March 1913 – Lola (as she was known) was my great-grandfather Fletcher’s first wife who died not long after they married.  Her gravesite has already been renewed so no visible marker shows where she lies.8

I have many, many more distant cousins, great-aunts and great-uncles buried at Karrakatta.  Some are safe, some are gone, and others face renewal.  I am still yet to full establish the fallout for my ancestors in this redevelopment.


Do you have family buried at Karrakatta?  How do you feel about the renewal program?  

Please tell me in the comments below.

1. Metropolitan Cemeteries Board, Western Australia, Burial of Charles Gordon Matheson, Application Number: KB00100917, http://www2.mcb.wa.gov.au/NameSearch/details.php?id=KB00100917, Accessed 19 April 2018.
2. Metropolitan Cemeteries Board, Western Australia, Burial of Charles Jardine Matheson, Application Number: KB00083124, http://www2.mcb.wa.gov.au/NameSearch/details.php?id=KB00083124, Accessed 19 April 2018.
3. Metropolitan Cemeteries Board, Western Australia, Burial of Emily Georgina Matheson, Application Number: KB00096372, http://www2.mcb.wa.gov.au/NameSearch/details.php?id=KB00096372, Accessed 19 April 2018.
4. Metropolitan Cemeteries Board, Western Australia, Burial of Robert Matheson, Application Number: KB00046693, http://www2.mcb.wa.gov.au/NameSearch/details.php?id=KB00046693, Accessed 19 April 2018.
5. Metropolitan Cemeteries Board, Western Australia, Burial of Edith Matheson, Application Number: KB00051426, http://www2.mcb.wa.gov.au/NameSearch/details.php?id=KB00051426, Accessed 19 April 2018.
6. Metropolitan Cemeteries Board, Western Australia, Burial of Margaret Emily Matheson, Application Number: KC00042187, http://www2.mcb.wa.gov.au/NameSearch/details.php?id=KC00042187, Accessed 19 April 2018.
7. Metropolitan Cemeteries Board, Western Australia, Burial of Thelma Kathleen Brand, Application Number: KB00170347, http://www2.mcb.wa.gov.au/NameSearch/details.php?id=KB00170347, Accessed 19 April 2018.
8. Metropolitan Cemeteries Board, Western Australia, Burial of Millicent Dolores Brand, Application Number: KB00013112, http://www2.mcb.wa.gov.au/NameSearch/details.php?id=KB00013112, Accessed 19 April 2018.
9. Metropolitan Cemeteries Board, Western Australia, Burial of Fletcher Alderwin Brand, Application Number: KB00083089, http://www2.mcb.wa.gov.au/NameSearch/details.php?id=KB00083089, Accessed 19 April 2018.
10. Metropolitan Cemeteries Board, Western Australia, Burial of Gladys Gwendoline Brand, Application Number: KC00042896, http://www2.mcb.wa.gov.au/NameSearch/details.php?id=KC00042896, Accessed 19 April 2018.
11. Metropolitan Cemeteries Board, Western Australia, Burial of Dudley Hilton Brand, Application Number: KB00074897, http://www2.mcb.wa.gov.au/NameSearch/details.php?id=KB00074897, Accessed 19 April 2018.
12. Metropolitan Cemeteries Board, Western Australia, Burial of Donald Raymond Brand, Application Number: KB00076139, http://www2.mcb.wa.gov.au/NameSearch/details.php?id=KB00076139, Accessed 19 April 2018.
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4 thoughts on “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Week 17: Cemetery

  1. Megan, first of all, congratulations on taking over the blog for the website of the Facebook group that is working to stop the redevelopment. That is amazing in less than 12 months, the group has gotten over 5,000 members! So very happy for you and your group.

    Your article is amazing, as usual. I agree with you that you can learn a great deal from the past in cemeteries. Piecing information together from dates, you discover a great deal. Especially where there are families in one cemetery – like in your case – there is a lot of rich family history there. It is amazing how you have so much great information about your family.

    Keep up the great work.

    Warm Regards,

    1. Hi Yvette

      Thank you for your kinds words. It is sad that we are having this fight to keep the graves at Karrakatta, however, it is heartwarming that so many people are working hard to stop it. I love exploring cemeteries, even ones where I don’t have ancestors, however must admit I’m excited to explore some in the UK later this year!


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