Pioneers immortalised in stone

ENGRAVING: Edward Davis engraving a memorial to Boston Island's Watherston pioneers who died in World War One.
ENGRAVING: Edward Davis engraving a memorial to Boston Island's Watherston pioneers who died in World War One.

BOSTON Island pioneers have been immortalised in a memorial on the island.

MEMORIAL: The memorial as it stands between the old homestead and the school on Boston Island.

MEMORIAL: The memorial as it stands between the old homestead and the school on Boston Island.

A granite block carved by Boston Island owner Peter Davis's son Edward Davis now stands on the island, inlaid with four replica supreme sacrifice plaques commemorating the four Watherston sons who died in World War One.

James and Isabella Watherston, who developed Boston Island, had 10 children, and four - Edward, Cyril, Frank and James - were lost in WWI, along with a cousin.

Port Lincoln's Lee Clayton discovered two of the sons' plaques, also known as war discs or dead man's pennies, at local historian Eric O'Connor's deceased estate in 2001.

He then searched for the other two discs, and found them with Watherston descendent Alex Hayward, who now lives in Victoria, and Maxine Williams, who lives in Adelaide.

Mr Clayton is submitting the discs to the Canberra War Memorial, but bought replica discs and had them engraved in Port Lincoln for the memorial.

He said it took just 35 days for Edward Davis to create the memorial, made from Boston Island granite.

The half-tonne memorial stands about five feet tall in front of the island's original homestead and school building.

The Watherstons built the school as it was easier than taking their 10 children to Port Lincoln for school by boat every day.

The teacher lived on the island, in the school building.

The family was dogged by tragedy, losing their sixth child Cranston to diphtheria in infancy.

"Diphtheria was a killer of many children in those times," Mr Clayton said.

Tragedy struck again when James and Isabella drowned while being rowed out in a dinghy by one of their sons to the cutter in bad weather, while many of the children stood and watched helpless on the beach.

"The teacher was there the day of the accident when James and Isabella died," he said.

"He didn't see it happen, but most of the children did, including the four that later went to war and got killed."

Mr Clayton expects to self-publish his book on the Watherstons in August or September.

"The idea is that the book will be available around the anniversary of the enlistment date of the four men, which was September/October.

"They've waited a long time to have their say."