For 148 years, Mounted Trooper John Duff had been buried in an unmarked grave, in the corner of Greta Cemetery.
But after some research from his descendants and help from Greta Public Cemetery Trust, his final resting place was located and he was honoured with a headstone acknowledging his service to the town and Victoria Police.
Constable Duff died on November 11, 1871, breaking his neck when his horse bad bucked and thrown him off its back.
He would later be described as “an efficient and well-conducted member whose death was a great loss to the department”.
Speaking at a service in Greta on Wednesday, Constable Duff's great great niece Heather Wood said she was grateful to be able to stand by his marked grave site.
“We believe that he was proud to be serving his community as as police officer and gave his best in that role … He was young and it was tragic that he didn’t have an opportunity to live a longer life,” she said.
“To now know that our family and any future generations can come here and pay their respects brings us a lot of joy.
"This commemoration acknowledges a life lived and valued, a life lost while serving the community as a mounted trooper.”
Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton was one of the guests at Greta for the event, saying the headstone was important to remember the legacy that police officers have left in communities.
“Most of the time you join an organisation to make money, with Victoria Police you join to make a difference,” he said.
“I can only imagine how chuffed he would be that there were so many people standing here today to remember his service and contribution to the community, 148 years later.”
Greta Cemetery is also the resting place of Ned Kelly and some of his relatives, which was alluded to by the Victoria Police boss during his tribute to Constable Duff.
“It wasn’t an area without crime - there were a number of notable crime elements that were being dealt with at that time, some of which are notably in this very place," Chief Commissioner Ashton said.
Wangaratta Police Service Area commander Inspector Kerrie Hicks said the service and dedication of officers like Constable Duff was continued today at small stations such as Glenrowan, Whitfield and Moyhu.
“There are so many values shared by our mounted officers and our single-member officers,” she said.
“We are often supported by the incredible local volunteers in responding to trauma, with the added difficulty in the rural city where trauma is never anonymous.
"I continue to be amazed by the grit and resilience of our community to not only response, but thrive in times of adversity.”
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