Teddy’s grave poignant reminder of tough life in early Goldfields days

Moya SharpKalgoorlie Miner
Albert and Edith Murray with his mother Edna Murray holding baby Edith, with their six other children, outside the kero tin home.
Camera IconAlbert and Edith Murray with his mother Edna Murray holding baby Edith, with their six other children, outside the kero tin home.

If you visit the Kanowna Cemetery on Yarri Rd, just just out of Kalgoorlie-Boulder, the first grave you will see when you enter the gate is that of a little boy called Teddy.

Over the years when I have visited the cemetery, there has always been a teddy placed on the grave. As one disintegrates another is placed there. I have put one there myself many years ago.

As with every grave in the cemetery this has a family story. There are many infants in the cemetery, as there are in all the abandoned cemeteries on the Goldfields, but for some reason this grave touches the heart.

The details for Teddy are: Murray, Edward Alexander Beresford “Teddy”, 2 years 8 months, died May 25, 1909, at the White Feather Hospital, Kanowna; Cause: Acute Enteritis and lobar pneumonia; Father: Albert Edward Beresford Murray (hotel keeper), Mother: Edith Henrietta Johnstone.

I have not seen a photograph that more clearly depicts the hard life families led in the Goldfields in the early 1900s than the one accompanying this story.

The home of the Murray family in the background is made from flattened out kerosene tins.

You can imagine how cold in winter and hot in summer this house must have been.

However, they were better off than others who would have lived in tents.

You will see the younger children have no shoes.

When Teddy died, his father Albert was the hotel licensee of the Australian Bar Hotel in Isabella Street, Kanowna, and was the secretary of the Kanowna Racing Club.

He was 40 and had been born in Tasmania.

Teddy’s mother Edith was aged 34 and was born in NSW.

Two more children were to be born to the family after this photo was taken: William (Bill) Murray in 1910 and Patricia Jean Agnes Murray in 1912.

The following text was published in The Truth newspaper in Perth on October 13, 1906:

“The Australia Hotel at Kanowna is about the best house in the town.

“Mr Albert Murray, the new proprietor, does not aspire to the Sydney “Australia” style, but claims his liquor is just as good.

“Mrs Murray has full charge of the culinary department and the accommodation throughout is first-class.

“The billiard table is okay, and the stabling very convenient.

“Mr Murray cordially invites his Kalgoorlie, Boulder and all other mining pals to call and see him and have a real good time,” The Truth piece concluded.

By 1909 Albert had taken over the Gala Hotel in Kalgoorlie which is where their next child, Bill, was to be born in 1910.

Albert passed away in Perth in 1919 at age 50. Edith lived until 1956, passing away at 82.

They are buried together at Karakatta Cemetery in Perth.

Little Teddy’s grave will be restored in stage two of the Kanowna Cemetery restoration project.

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