On 30 April 1895 a petition by 54 Swanson residents (see appendix in Rugged Determination p.165) was presented to the Commissioner of Crown Lands for five acres to be set aside for a cemetery. The land, gazetted in 1896, was situated a short way up what is now known as O’Neills Road.
Trustees were appointed in 1897: John Moul, Edwin Freeman, William Hieatt, Lawrence Teirney, Herman Erikson and John Davey (secretary). A few months later, Anthony Christian submitted a tender for the supply of fence material for the site and a grant of £20 for fencing material was awarded.
The ‘Weekly News’ reported in July 1897:
“several of the settlers in the locality have, to their credit, turned out and fenced in the cemetery, and also built a small mortuary church.”
James Smith was the first person to be buried there. While helping to prepare the land, he was heard to remark: “I wonder who will be the first person buried here”. He died on 20 December 1897 aged 44, having previously worked as a gardener under the supervision of his father-in-law Samuel Taylor, a former head-gardener for Sir George Grey on Kawau Island.
The cemetery records between 1897 and 1908 are missing, so there is no official record of where James Smith is buried, but it is generally understood by members of the Smith, Taylor, Christian, Hieatt and Sisam families, that he was buried in the grave surrounded by the low wrought iron railings on the right, just inside the cemetery gates.
Rugged Determination, p83