Share this article


​First Cemeteries ​
​The first two cemeteries to serve the town were Braamfontein and Brixton, both now full. Before they were established, a makeshift cemetery was laid out in the town centre, on the corner of Harrison and Bree streets, and as the town grew, these corpses were exhumed and re-buried in Braamfontein Cemetery, established in 1887.
The first person buried in town was Mary Dearlove, who died on 29 March 1887, at the age of 45. Her nephew, J Dearlove Hardy, a transport rider, recalls the event in The Sunday Times of 23 April, 1911:
"It was in March 1887 that I dug the first grave on the Rand. My Aunt Mrs Mary Dearlove fell ill . . . I outspanned on what is now Market Square and let the oxen graze there whilst I walked up to where my Aunt lay ill in a tent. There were two doctors in attendance, a German and an Englishman who had come with the rush.
"But they could not save her, and I had to go to Captain von Brandis and asked him where they buried people. He said he did not know if there was a place, but he would send a man with me to point out a plot for a Cemetery. I had the first grave marked out and my boys dug it.
"A Carpenter friend of mine John Malzer helped with the Coffin; but the nearest Minister was in Pretoria. We sent to Pretoria but there was no conveyance available, and a Mr Rens officiated at the graveside reading the burial service. As we got back from the Cemetery a Wesleyan minister turned up."
The first census was held on 2 April 1890, when the town was four years old, and being South Africa, only whites were recorded: 119 128.