Original cemetery records now more than 140 years old have been uncovered, naming Wilhelmina Hermann as the first person buried in the Takalvan Street cemetery.
Bundaberg Regional Council records staff made the surprise find recently while digitising cemetery records.
Regional Supervisor of Cemeteries Nicholas Burfield said unlike other types of records, those held at the cemetery were permanent and could never be destroyed.
“While going through the boxes we came across three bound burial record books dating back to 22 May 1879,” Nicholas said.
“We knew we had photocopies of these records but didn’t realise we still had the original books which are now quite fragile.”
Viewing the books is a delicate process and staff are minimising the handling as much as possible.
The records show that on 22 May 1879 Wilhelmina Herman, aged 40 years was the first person buried at Bundaberg’s Takalvan Street cemetery when the original site on land opposite the old Blockbuster building was closed after approximately six years.
The plot number and type of burial reveals that she was buried in a public grave which, during those times, was quite common and meant the graves had no headstone.
Nicholas said due to their age, the books would be sent to State Records to be archived and stored in conditions appropriate for such fragile records.
The team has been diligently working to digitise local cemetery records to ensure the information is preserved and to allow for increased accessibility to the information stored within.
“Having all cemetery records digitised is a significant achievement and the last piece to undergo this process are the cemetery maps,” Nicholas said.
“I’m concerned about the valuable history in those maps which also date back to the 1800s and give us a good overview of who is buried at our cemeteries, and in which plot.
“For this reason, I’ll be sending the maps to State Records for preserving and in turn, they will provide us with the digital copies.
“Viewing the maps in a digital format will make it a whole lot easier when searching for information on behalf of the families of loved ones.”