St Joseph's Orphanage Cemetery
Location: Unable to confirm at present. I was told between Downie Avenue and Lee Court, Bucasia however it appears from further correspondence it was further west near the actual Orphanage swamp off Geoffrey Thomas Drive. (Can anyone provide verification of this?)
Local Government Authority: Mackay City Council
Access: Only approximate location of cemetery known. No noticeable markers to note actual location.
Pierre Bucas arrived in Mackay in 1869 from Brisbane. Born in Brittany, France
on 20 August 1840. He was the 11th child of a family of 12 children. He was
studying for the priesthood in Paris when answered a call for help and served in
the army of Pope Pius IX in Italy who was fighting for the papal states.
Bucas went to New Zealand in 1865 for ordination and served on a Maori mission.
At the time the British Army were involved in fighting the Maori in a serious of
as the "Maori Wars". Father Bucas it appears was accused of aiding the
Maori in their resistance to the British Army. He then arrived in Australia and
then proceeded to Queensland upon invitation by Queensland's catholic Bishop
the time there were French convicts from New Caledonia who had escaped and were
trying to settle on the Queensland coast In 1874 Father Bucas established an
orphanage in an area known then as "Marara". It later became
"Seaview" and is now known as "Bucasia". The orphanage buildings were situated on a
low sandy ridge separated from the sea in front by a strip of forest and closely
surrounded on all other three sides by a large swamp. The orphanage consisted of
a house for the priest to live in when he visited, a two storey dwelling for the
nuns and a dormitory on the ground level for the children.
Bucas brought the first nuns to Mackay, the Sisters of St. Joseph who ran the
orphanage from 1876 to 1879. When they withdrew, they were replaced by the
Sisters of Mercy who ran the orphanage from 1880 to 1885.
In 1884, following a visit from a medical officer, strong concerns were made about the location of the orphanage as well as the ongoing serious health problems with the children. The medical Officer, Dr Cutfield reported that many children had an unhealthy appearance and suffered a heart condition, which he believed came a malarial disease from being located in the swampy area.
suffered badly from what was called then "Malarial Poison" which was
thought in those times to be poison that emanated from swamps. It wasn't till
research many years later that it was discovered to be a disease carried by
1885 the Queensland Government discussed the closure of the orphanage and
relocation of the remaining children. A new orphanage known as the "Meteor
Park" orphanage was built 11 km's from Rockhampton in 1885 and the 57
remaining children from Mackay arrived there on 22 December 1885. This orphanage
was later known as 'Neerkol".
At least 19 children died at the St Joseph's orphanage during the period of when the orphanage was in operation. There are no headstones to mark these burials or is there an indication of where the burial ground was. The former site of St. Joseph's orphanage was in later years identified by the number of fruit trees planted by the orphanage inhabitants, mangoes, guava's etc.
Bucas also tried to establish an Aboriginal Mission in the Cape Hillsborough
area following the failure of the orphanage. In 1912 he left Mackay for
Barcaldine where he lived in semi retirement. Father Pierre Bucas died in
Rockhampton, on October 26, 1930, aged 90 years. He was buried in Rockhampton
however in 1946 his remains were brought back to Mackay and reinterred in the
old Mackay Cemetery.
memorial to father Bucas was unveiled in 1988 on the sand dunes on the Bucasia
Number of Burials: at least 19 as per the Mackay Deaths Register.
Notes: The Cemetery has no identifiable graves.
|Surname||First Names||Death Date||Age||Notes|
|BAKER||William||10 August 1885||6 years||Son of Robert BAKER.|
|BERGIN||Henry||13 June 1884||9 years||No parents names given on Death Registration.|
|BOLAND||Eva Mary||29 March 1885||2 years||Daughter of Michael and Mary BOLAND.|
|BUCKLEY||Loftus||2 October 1885||5 years||Son of Thomas BUCKLEY and Mary GARNER.|
|CALLEGHAN||Michael Francis||3 March 1882||5 years||Death registered under
Surname of CALLAGHAN.
Son of Denis CALLAGHAN and Margaret Agnes MURPHY.
|FITZGIBBON||Richard Beagley||5 March 1884||1 year||Death registered under name of Richard Bedgley FITZGIBBON. Son of Mary FITZGIBBON.|
|HALL||Patrick||2 August 1880||4 years||No parents names given on Death Registration.|
|HALLIGAN||Mary Kate||19 July 1884||6 years||Daughter of Patrick HALLIGAN and Mary Josephine DUNN.|
|HALLIGAN||Patrick||8 June 1884||11 years||Son of Patrick HALLIGAN and Mary Josephine DUNNE.|
|LONG||Henry Vincent||16 November 1885||8 years||Son of Henry LONG and Lucy Mary TRACEY.|
|LYNCH||Margaret||2 July 1883||4 years||Mothers Surname of Death Registration given as LYNCH.|
|MAY||Ernest||27 January 1885||3 years||No parents names provided on death registration.|
|RICHARDSON||Joseph||8 July 1883||4 years||Mothers Surname of Death Registration given as RICHARDSON.|
|ROLLS||Henry||6 February 1885||9 years||Son of Henry ROLLS and Elizabeth ?.|
|ROLLS||Walter||2 June 1885||6 years||Son of Charles ROLLS and Elizabeth ?.|
|SIMMONDS||Thomas William||20 January 1885||3 yrs 6 mths||Son of William SIMMONDS and Ann Jane KING.|
|SMYTH||Joseph Charles||7 December 1884||9 years||No parents names provided on death registration.|
|STRONG||Alice Armstrong||25 March 1882||12 years||Death Registered under the
name of Alice ARMSTRONG.
No parents names provided on death registration.
|TURNER||Charles||26 April 1881||2 years||Son of William TURNER and
b. 30 May 1879.
birth registered under name of Charles Clark TURNER
Bucasia - A Short History, by Betty Clark, Mackay Historical Society.
Daily Mercury article 1988 undated, Mackay Historical Society archives.
Mackay Burial Register, Mackay City Council.
Mackay Family History Society Archives.
Genie Gossip, Mackay Branch Genealogical Society of Queensland, No. 70, March 1995.
Queensland Pioneers Index 1829-1889.
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