Family of the late Ipswich pioneer Janet Bright gathered at Ipswich Cemetery to unveil the plaque dedicated to her after she was buried in an unmarked grave at the site 77 years ago.
Family of the late Ipswich pioneer Janet Bright gathered at Ipswich Cemetery to unveil the plaque dedicated to her after she was buried in an unmarked grave at the site 77 years ago. Rob Williams

Research puts name to a grave

AN eight decade old family mystery was finally laid to rest at the weekend, with descendants of an Ipswich woman gathering to mark her final burial place.

For decades the grave site of local woman Janet Bright had been a mystery even to her own family members, but following a series of enquiries by great-grand daughter Melinda Hashimoto, Janet's final resting place was determined in an unmarked location at Ipswich cemetery's Presbyterian B Section.

Through research with the family historian Maralyn Lloyd and inquiries to the Ipswich Cemetery she discovered the grave site after realising she was looking under the wrong surname.

Her great-grandmother had remarried before falling ill with breast cancer and had to relocate from Longreach to Ipswich for treatment, where she died away from her family.

Janet was buried in a pauper's grave as her young daughters were not able to afford a headstone.

Ms Hashimoto said her family was pleased to have located the grave site and unveiled a plaque to remember and commemorate Janet's life on Saturday.

"My mother has always wanted to find where her grandmother was buried," Ms Hashimoto said.

"It's a shame in one way that it wasn't found a generation or so back. But my mum, the cousins, their children will be attending so that will be good. More than anything for my mum it has been a relief that she has finally found where she is buried because she has always wondered what the story was and why it was so difficult to find her.

"For my mum it is relief and for those of us that are a little bit younger it is exciting to find out about family that we didn't know about and to get to meet them."

She said after researching her father's family history, she decided to look into the mystery for her mother.

"I assisted in researching a document of my father's family history overseas which I achieved last year and decided, if I can do that from the other side of the world, then it shouldn't be too difficult to locate my great grandmother's grave in Ipswich," she said.

Retired Reverend David Secomb conducted a short ceremony for members of Janet Bright's family at Ipswich Cemetery with members of the Bright, Nelson and Armstrong families travelling from Mackay to South Australia to attend.

Ms Hashimoto said her research uncovered a fascinating story of hardship.

"Janet was a woman with strong character who could be said to be ahead of her time," she said.

Born in Aramac in 1879, Janet Bright lived in Winton and eventually moved to Longreach.

She married John Thomas Nelson in 1899 and gave birth to 13 children. She then relocated to Ipswich to get treatment for cancer.

"Janet seemed content to live out her days in Parrot Lane, Longreach, until breast cancer forced her relocation far away from family in Ipswich," Ms Hashimoto said.

Janet passed away in the Ipswich Hospital on March 19, 1939 and was buried shortly afterwards.