You may have noticed mostly Trove Tuesday posts and monthly Passing of the Pioneers from me lately, but there’s been a good reason. Aside from school holidays, that always slow me down, and family keeping me busy in general, I’ve been writing the history of the Harman family of Byaduk for a Diploma in Family Historical Studies. So for something different, I thought I would share some snippets from my research so far and some other news.
It’s been difficult for me to get to the out-of-town places that may hold information to help my Harman research, but I’ve found ways around it. I’ve mentioned in a earlier post about an email enquiry to the Port Fairy Historical Society that resulted in some wonderful Harman history forwarded to me. I have also contacted both Macarthur Historical Society and Hamilton Historical Society by email to first find out what they have, to weigh up a visit. Unfortunately, I can cross Macarthur H.S. off my list but Hamilton H.S. do have some other bits and pieces relevant to the Harmans’ lives in Byaduk that will help develop their story. There is still the Port Fairy Genealogical Society , somewhere I hoped to visit during a short holiday to the town in January. The heat got the better of me and the beach won out. I will now have to resort to an email enquiry.
I’ve known for sometime that the State Library of Victoria held a copy of a letter written about the voyage of the “Duke of Richmond” to Portland in 1853, the same voyage that brought James and Susan Harman to Victoria. I’ve always had great intentions to get to the library and view it, but I realised that was not going to happen. Instead, I made use of the Library’s wonderful copying service and last week I received a copy of a beautiful letter from 1853 written by Mrs Maria Taylor (nee Ridgeway), just after her arrival at Portland. She describes aspects of the voyage including the food and the crew and the conditions on arrival at Portland including the price of vegetables and employment opportunities.
Archival Access has been a life saver for records from the Public Records Office of Victoria (PROV). Recently I received a disc in the mail with a copy of the Victorian Inquest file for a cousin, Charles Frederick Ward, who died in the Ballarat Asylum in 1928. I am trying to build a profile of Charles, knowing little of him except his birth and death dates and that his mother, Isabella Harman, died while giving birth to him, an only child.
The most significant thing I had found to date, thanks to James Harman’s will, was that Charles’ aunt, spinster Henrietta Harman, a daughter of James, played a big part in his upbringing. Henrietta is the person who my Harman history will revolve around and to know more about Charles is vital in reaching my final conclusions. Details from the inquest were useful and I discovered he was only in the asylum a matter of weeks ,taken there by the police after being found in a malnourished and agitated state in Ballarat. He was 42 when he died.
Also on my Archival Access disc were Wills and Probate records for my gg grandfather, Reuben James Harman, gg aunt Henrietta Harman and ggg uncle Jonathan Harman. Well, well, well. The things I have found out about the Harman family dynamic, particularly those I am directly descended from is amazing and while not altogether surprising, it was still confronting to see the written proof. Henrietta’s will is an absolute gem and some of the items she bequeathed where her Mason & Hamlin organ and framed photos of her parents James and Susan Harman, her brother Albert, her nephew Charles Ward and herself. What I would do to see a photo of Henrietta. I still have some more Probate records to get from PROV, so I will again call on the wonderful services of Archival Access.
So that’s my thesis, but I’ve been up to a some other things. My I’ve Lived in Hamilton, Victoria Facebook group continues to grow. now with 2313 members and over 1800 photos. I highly recommend anyone with a family link to Hamilton and even the surrounding towns to check it out. We have some keen family and local historians among the members and those that have joined for research purposes have had success. I have found that someone usually knows something about most topics raised and we have all enjoyed learning more about our hometown.
Some mini-reunions have evolved from the group, but on the past weekend, over 30 former Hamilton residents attended a reunion in Brisbane. They had a fantastic day and are planning another for 2015. Thank you to Helen for getting the reunion up and running and those that helped her with memorabilia and other arrangements. It really has been wonderful to see not only the reunions, but the collaboration among members to solve mysteries, share stories and discuss current Hamilton events and issues.
Don’t forget the Western District Families Facebook page. “Likes” are about to reach 150 which is exciting and it’s been great to see others sharing photos to the page.
As mentioned, I was in Port Fairy in January and amassed an array of photos. Currently, I’m slowly preparing two posts, each on the Port Fairy Cemetery. I hope to get a least one of them out soon . Also, I have ideas for posts coming out my ears, but I will just have put them on hold until the second half of the year, but there will be some good things to look forward to in the meantime. We will continue The Vagabond‘s journey through the Western District, finishing off the Portland area and then on to Warrnambool, and I still have many photos from a Portland trip two years ago to share. And I have some more Hamilton photos along with some interesting stories I’ve picked up from the Hamilton group and of course some more great stories about my Western District Families.
To close, may I share a little from Edna Harman’s history of the Harman family of Port Fairy. Edna was a granddaughter of George Hall Harman. Unmarried, she served with the RAAF in WW2 and after that devoted much of her time to recording and preserving the history of Wangaratta, writing a book and tirelessly volunteering with the Wangaratta Historical Society. The following is an excerpt from her closing paragraph about her maternal grandparents the Grahams of Port Fairy. The subject is Edna’s great-grandmother Mary Graham.
“My eldest cousin often tells me she can recall seeing great Grandmother (Mary) Graham and she remembers her bests as a ‘little old lady sitting up in bed, smoking, of all things a pipe’. Mary Graham died in 1898 at the age of 93 years” (Harman Family History,(1970), Held by the Port Fairy Historical Society)