Foster Cemetery

History

1871 Stockyard Creek - Foster 2020

HISTORY OF FOSTER CEMETERY

Originally known as “Stockyard Creek Cemetery” – after the town of same name – it became Foster Cemetery later to coincide with the renaming of the town. While not recorded as a Cemetery in The Government Gazette until July 1873.

The first known burial on our 11 acre site occurred in October 1871.

For over 100 years, all interments at Foster were burials!

 These occurred according to religious denomination; with each local church nominating a member who would represent their parishioners on the Cemetery Trust; & be responsible for that area in our earliest burial grounds – now referred to as our Monumental section.

Graves in the Monumental section were numbered according to the order of burial within a denominational section; rather than according to their order in each row – hence the haphazard nature of the numbering. Unfortunately; a fire in 1931 destroyed all cemetery registers up to that point in time; & so current registers begins in 1932, with some references back to 1927. To add to the confusion with grave numbering; during the 1960’s the health commission declared that the cemetery – which was overgrown with blackberries and bracken – should be cleaned up. The metal, clover-leaf numbering pegs were removed to do this, but not replaced; which explains why there are many unmarked; & a considerable number of unknown graves in our grounds.

Our earliest Map was hand drawn & mounted on board. Maps have been renewed & updated from time-to-time through the years as the Cemetery has grown – most recently in 2019.

MOVING WITH THE TIMES

The Lawn Cemetery was established late in 1977, & has gradually become the most popular interment choice.

The First Mention of an Interment of Ashes in Foster Cemetery Register was in 1980 – both of these interments into existing family graves in the Lawn section. The first Interment of Ashes into a small designated area of the Lawn Cemetery took place in 1983. Our purpose-built Cremorial Facility was originally installed in 1995. According to an article in The Mirror at the time, this was the First such facility in a Victorian Cemetery. It comprised 16 x double niche units – with the First Interment taking place in 1996. At this time, the Facility was fitted into a cement base, laying flat above ground level. It was later lifted into an upright position; converted to our Cremorial Wall, & trebled in size.

The oldest map shows the presence of a small equipment shed beside the road, between Presbyterian & Anglican Monumental Sections. Later a larger timber shed was constructed at the top of the Monumental section – to the right hand side. This shed was demolished following the construction of the larger [Green powder-coated] building in 2011. The Rotunda was constructed in 2007; & the Toilet facility followed in 2009.

Beginning in 2016; extensive work was undertaken to record all Monumental Inscriptions; to upgrade our interment records; & to reconstruct the lost, historic records using Monumental Inscriptions & State Death Records. In 2019 we began the.. process of working with Chronicle to go digital. The first Cemetery Website went live early in 2020; & Digital Records Program will be launched soon

LOOKING AHEAD

In 2019 we set a 5 year plan into action. The acquisition of a large Departmental Grant enabled extensive improvements to our roads & drainage; & two smaller Community Grants allowed for the Restoration of 3 deteriorating Historic Monuments. Consultation with a local artist produced our Cemetery Logo – a fabulous visual representation of exactly what it looks like to stand at the top of our monumental section & look out over Wilson’s Promontory. We have established our self-guided Historic Cemetery Walks, with descriptive pamphlets available through the Foster Museum & Tourist Information. Regular working bees; along with painting of the Rotunda & Toilet, are gradually transforming our grounds into a far more attractive place to be. We have much more planned over the next few years; & look forward to seeing those plans come to fruition.