Murray Bridge council CEO Michael Sedgman speaks at the unveiling of Mary Ann Edwards' restored grave on Monday. pic.twitter.com/aQNJWS77Lp— Peri Strathearn (@PeriStrathearn) May 16, 2017
An important part of Murray Bridge's colonial history will be better preserved thanks to restoration work carried out in recent months.
The grave of Mary Ann Edwards, the first European woman to settle in the area, was strengthened and a surrounding fence polished in the lead-up to an official unveiling on Monday afternoon.
More than a dozen of Mrs Edwards' descendants, as many working party members and others with an interest in local history gathered at her graveside on what would have been her 201st birthday.
It was only by chance that many of the family members had found out about the grave and its restoration.
Historian Shirley Watson happened to mention her search for Mrs Edwards' descendants to a neighbour; the neighbour was able to put her in touch with Claire Edwards, the wife of a great-great-grandson.
"Shirley had a phone call saying 'are you related?'; I said yes and started giving her the whole line," Claire Edwards said.
"The committee linked up a lot of things for us."
Mayor Brenton Lewis said it was appropriate that the ceremony also fell within May and South Australia's History Festival.
This is a community project, and I think that says a lot about Murray Bridge. We're very proud of our history in Murray Bridge.
Afterwards, those present adjourned to the council office for afternoon tea and to peruse a display about Murray Bridge's early pioneers.
Funding for the restoration came from the Murray Bridge Rotary and Lions clubs and the city’s council.
The working party included representatives of all three groups – Daryl Webb and Kevin Prosser; Ian Hollick; and Mr Lewis, Mr Sedgman and Malcolm Downie – plus Ms Watson, Ken Wells and Maureen Stones from the Murray Bridge and District Historical Society.
Murray Bridge High School students also helped by researching the Edwards family's history.
George and Mary Ann Edwards settled near what is now Hume Reserve, Murray Bridge in 1856, and for several decades the area was known to Europeans as Edwards Crossing.
Their family name is still borne by Edwards Square, the sound shell park on the corner of Bridge Street and Swanport Road.
Mary Ann Edwards died on December 13, 1890 at the age of 75.