Officer to be honoured at Maryborough service
A POPULAR and well-known police officer of the Wide Bay has been officially recognised as having been killed whilst on duty 131 years after his death.
Retired police officer Noel Sparks and his wife Denise were visiting the Maryborough Cemetery after the 2012 floods to check on Denise's great-grandmother's grave.
It was there that they stumbled across the dilapidated grave of Senior Constable Henry James Fetheston.
They took interest in it straight away - reading Psalms and verses by Shakespeare on a very elaborate monument at the cemetery.
"I thought who was this guy and if he is not on the police honour roll for being killed on duty, how did he die,” Noel said.
Henry was born in 1859 in Watergrasshill, Cork, Ireland and, after immigrating to Australia, was sworn into the Queensland Police Force on June 12, 1878.
In 1879, he was posted to Maryborough where he served for six years before his untimely death.
Snr Const Fetheston was riding through the Police Paddocks in Tinana on February 23, 1885 when his horse bolted.
As he tried to calm him, he was thrown off, landing on a log before being crushed by the falling horse.
He was found at 5am and died at 7am the next day from severe internal injuries.
Noel found most of his research through detailed Chronicle reports.
Noel said Snr Const Fetherston was a well-respected man who was both a member of the rowing club and one of the local cricket clubs.
In a testament to his popularity it was reported more than 200 people attended his funeral service.
At the time, members of the Wide Bay Police Force and the citizens of Maryborough paid for and erected the monument.
"What I love about it is, you think Maryborough would of been just a port then and to find so much money for him and have so many people attend the funeral is pretty incredible. Because everybody has to get here, some people by train, others by horse, buggy, bicycle or walk,” Noel said.
Just prior to Police Remembrance Day last year (September 16), Queensland Police Commissioner Ian Stewart publicly announced the late Snr Const Fetherston's name had been added to the Queensland Police Service Honour Roll and the National Police Memorial, Canberra, acknowledging Snr Const Fetherston had been killed as a result of injuries sustained while on duty.
"Sgt Neville Zarckovich, Officer In Charge, Howard Police Station wrote and submitted the report that would see Henry Fetherston recognised as an officer who had been mortally injured in the line of duty,” Noel said.
"He was the person who excited Brisbane enough to go and check out who he was. That also led to finding some great nieces through ancestry.com.
"One of them was a doctor in Melbourne who attended the ceremony in Canberra and got onto other nieces in Ireland, Scotland and Canada.
"Doing their family tree, so far removed being 1885, they wondered what had happened to him and who he was.
"The family was delighted to find out that he was a person that the community loved and respected.”
Noel said having him added to the honour roll will also ensure that Henry's grave site will always be well looked after.
There will be a commemoration service held for Snr Const Henry James Fetheston on August 11 from 9am at the Maryborough Cemetery.