Agnes Folkes died of diptheria in 1870 at the tender age of three months old. She fell ill during floods and the high waters made the creeks impassable - her family was unable to get her to Stawell for medical assistance. Her grave is a stark reminder of the harsh and isolated lives led by the pioneers of the area.
A LONELY MOUNTAIN GRAVE
At the Foot of Mackey's Peak
HISTORY TOLD BY CHILD'S SISTER.
At the foot of Mackey's Peak in the Grampians, there is the lonely grave in which the first child born in Hall's Gap, Grampians lies sleeping. The headstone bears the inscription "Erected to the memory of Agnes Folkes, died 4th July, 1870, aged 3 months."
Mrs. E. Lloyd, of Fyffe Street, Thornbury, in a letter to Mr. Venables, Stawell Shire Council Secretary, said she had been asked by her niece to write and tell why the little child was laid to rest there.
"We had a big flood, and could not get into Stawell," writes Mrs. Lloyd, "so father had to walk to Mount William and get permission from Justices of the Peace to lay her to rest in the little grave there. My father made the coffin of red gum timber and also made the slab, and also wrote the name on it too. It is a long time ago, but I can remember that morning when my two brothers carried the little white coffin to the grave, and my father read the burial service. At the time we were living on what is now the sports ground in a five-roomed house made of bark. I think we left the Gap in 1873, and went to Stawell to live. We went to the old Common School. I think my father went to Halls Gap over 83 years ago. He was the first man to cut timber there, and he and his mates had a pit saw. Some time after father made a water mill, and it was there that I was born in a tent on the 14th June, 1860, so that you can realise that I am a very old woman (over 80 years of age). My father had the contract for carting water pipes and laying them and I often think what a wonderful water service Stawell people have. We used to buy our water and pay 4/ a load for it from over the Big Hill, and it was muddy. Father had a big mill up from where the Hall's Gap School now is. He made the road up the Mount and had the Mill on the Flat Top. That is waht they called it then, I do not know what they call it now. But Hall's Gap is not like it was when we were children. We all spent the happiest days of our lives along old Stony Creek. The roads were always lined with teams carting timber to Stawell, and we used to see on the roads Ted Evans, Ted Stephens, Chamings and others."
Accompanying the letter was a photograph of the original slab made by Mr. Folkes and erected over the grave of his little daughter.
The grave still attracts considerable attention, and many people have expressed the opinion that it would be a graceful act on the part of the Stawell Shire Council to erect a wooden fence around the lonely grave of the little child who died there 70 years ago.
An information sign alongside Agnes Folkes' grave in Halls Gap displays the following text:
A short life...
The Folkes Family operated a local sawmill here, supplying timber for surrounding farms, fences and mines. It was a harsh and isolated life.
Aged only three months, little Agnes Folkes died of Diptheria. Her parents were unable to ride through flooded creeks to reach the doctor.
Her father made a small coffin of local timber and buried her here near their log homestead.
Timber harvesting finally ceased in the Grampians National Park in June 1995.