In Broad Daylight

A few years ago, I wrote a post about the youngest son of Joseph Harman and Sarah Mulberry of Byaduk and formally of Melbourn, Cambridgeshire. “Alfred Winslow Harman – Stepping out of the Shadows” was so named because research for the post uncovered things about Alfred I hadn’t known.

Finding a photo of Alfred was the next aim and I thought I had just one shot at it…a photo of the Rupanyup Rifle Team c1880-90.  Having seen their great Facebook page, I thought I would contact the Rupanyup Historical Society.  I soon heard back from Helen, the society’s Secretary. The society had a meeting the following evening and the President was an expert on the Sargood Shield.   That was great news as the Rupanyup Rifle Club had great success in the Sargood Shield, a highly prized annual competition between Melbourne and country Victorian teams. Alfred was captain of the team in 1886.

Helen came back to me after the meeting and finally I was able to see Alfred Harman, out of the shadows and in broad daylight.  Helen had emailed me a photo of the 1885 Rupanyup Rifle Club. Alfred is the middle row, first on the left in this photo of the 1885.  To give you some idea about where he was in his life,  he was thirty-three years old, married for seven years and father to a six-year-old son.  His brother-in-law Samuel Miller is in the back row, third from the left.  There are some impressive Hairy Mancestors among them.

Image courtesy of the Rupanyup Historical Society.

Image courtesy of the Rupanyup Historical Society.

Thank you so much to the Rupanyup Historical Society.  Please go and check out their wonderful Facebook page on the link – Rupanyup Historical Society Facebook Page.  It was there I found WW1 photos of Alfred Harman’s great-nephews Robert and George Cruikshank, my 2nd cousins, 3 x removed,  who grew up in Rupanyup.  I also found photos of members of the Loats and Starbuck families who had lived in the Muddy Creek area, near Hamilton, and with whom I have family links.


James and the Bushranger

My son is now eleven and thinks he’s a bit too cool for history.  But not all is lost. Often I can get him interested in history without him even realising.  Besides taking advantage of his confinement in the car when travelling through the Western District and imparting snippets of history to him, I know that I can take him anywhere historic if I can capture his imagination.  I knew I could do that at the Port Fairy Cemetery in January.  I was after some more headstone photos and the lure for Lachlan was the chance to see the grave of a bushranger.




The story of “Dick” the Bushranger unfolded just up the road from the cemetery, in front of the St Patrick’s Catholic Church on the Port Fairy/Yambuk Road, now known as the Princes Highway. We visited the church in 2014 and Lachlan took the following photo.





It was 12 February 1859 and the local constabulary had heard two bushrangers were approaching the town.  With only three local mounted police, they split up to make sure all roads into town were covered.  Constable Wigmore came face to face with the alleged bushrangers at 5.00pm near St. Patrick’s church.  After some questioning, he attempted to arrest them and warned them he would shoot if they continued walking toward the town’s centre.  One of the men refused and produced a pistol and Constable Wigmore felt he had no choice but to follow through with his warning and he shot the man.  The following report appeared in The Age of 24 February 1859.  Another report was published in the Geelong Advertiser of 23 February 1859.



The name of the dead man was not known.  His companion, William Darcy, said he only knew him as “Dick” and said they had met at the Yambuk Hotel where they allegedly stayed the night before.





William Darcy was charged with highway robbery by Portland police in the days after, as reported in the Portland Guardian and Normanby Advertiser on 2 March and stood trial in May 1859. Darcy was found guilty and sentenced to five years hard labour for assault and highway robbery as reported by the Portland Guardian and Normanby Advertiser on 13 May 1859.  Witness statements at the committal hearing published on 2 March would suggest both men were guilty and they didn’t support Darcy’s claim that he and “Dick” were at the Yambuk Inn, rather camped by the road.  But many questions remain and it was only the word of the defendant against the two witnesses, that led to Darcy’s charges.  “Dick” had no opportunity to give his side of the story.

A search of the Central Register of Male Prisoners at the Public Record Office of Victoria (PROV VPRS 515) found that William Darcy (no. 4481), a Presbyterian, was just twenty-three and had arrived in the colony alone and had no relatives in the colony.  He was sent to Pentridge Prison. Beyond William Darcy’s personal information, there was little else to take from the file.

“Dick” was buried in the Port Fairy Cemetery in a grave marked with rocks.  In recent years, an addition to the grave is a headstone, with the words “Did He Deserve This?”.  I’ve been on one of Maria Cameron’s wonderful Port Fairy cemetery tours and she believes from her research, that “Dick” was Frederick, but the mystery remains as to his true identity.

The story of “Dick” the bushranger is unlike any other bushranger story I could share with Lachlan.  As the dying man took his last breath, Lachlan’s gggg grandfather James Harman was present.


"A BUSHRANGER SHOT." The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 - 1954) 24 Feb 1859 .

“A BUSHRANGER SHOT.” The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 – 1954) 24 Feb 1859 <;.


It was no surprise to learn that James and his brother, possible Jonathan Harman, were heading out of town toward Yambuk.  Although I am yet to fully establish James’ movements from the time he disembarked from the Duke of Richmond at Portland harbour in 1854 until he arrived in the Byaduk area around 1861, I do know that James was first employed at Boodcarra between Port Fairy and Yambuk.  I took this photo of Boodcarra from a moving car, simply because the road at that point is not good for stopping.




By 1859, James may have resided at Port Fairy, so he would be visiting Yambuk.  A reason for a visit was to see good family friends and later extended family, the Olivers who were living at Yambuk around that time.  Jonathan and Reuben Harman later married two of the Oliver girls.  They were also church friends of the Harmans, another reason James, a Wesleyan Methodist local preacher, may have headed out the Yambuk Road.  Perhaps there was a prayer session at a the home of another Wesleyan Methodist.  When there was not a local Methodist church, gatherings were held at private homes, by candlelight, and often running late into the night.  Whatever the reason, I am sure it was a trip James and his brother never forgot.

So mission accomplished, Lachlan learnt something of his family history and I got more headstone photos to add to my collection.   You can see some of those photos in my two Port Fairy cemetery posts to date – Port Fairy Cemetery Part One and Port Fairy Cemetery Part Two.


Trove Tuesday – Rebecca’s Trees

Trove is great for finding photos and it was the Trove picture search I headed to recently looking for the home of George Hall Harman and his wife Rebecca Graham formally of James Street, Port Fairy.  I knew the house no longer existed and with the help of a family history written by George and Rebecca’s granddaughter Edna Harman,  I thought I had roughly found the location of the house while visiting Port Fairy in January 2014.

During the past year, more information was forthcoming when Mike Harman contacted me.  Mike is my Nana Linda Hadden’s first cousin, both grandchildren of Reuben James Harman, a nephew of George Hall Harman.  Mike passed on some of the work his sister Joan had done on the history of the Harmans and the information about George Hall Harman, caught my eye.  Apparently, when Rebecca passed away in 1902, grieving George planted four Norfolk Pines in front of their home in James Street.

Armed with that knowledge while visiting Port Fairy in January, I headed to James Street.  Port Fairy has many Norfolk Pines lining its streets but in the Harman’s block of James Street there are just four, all in a row and only a few doors up from where I previously visited.  I thought if George did plant the trees those standing before me had to be “Rebecca’s trees.”


Once home, I went in search of an old photo of James Street.  The State Library of Victoria’s (SLV) collection was the likely place to find one but instead of searching directly at the SLV site, I chose Trove, my preferred ‘search engine’.  I seem to get better results when I search Trove, I like the filters that aid the search and I can tag my results or had them to one of my many lists.  I searched for “James Street Port Fairy”  and toward the top of the search results was a photo from the Lilian Isobel Powling collection at the SLV.  It was of James Street from 1958 and it gave me more than I expected.

JAMES STREET, PORT FAIRY.  Image courtesy of the State Library Collection.  Photo by Isobel Powling, 1958.  Image no.  H2008.75/102

JAMES STREET, PORT FAIRY. Image courtesy of the State Library Collection. Photo by Isobel Powling, 1958. Image no. H2008.75/102

The photo was looking right at the house that once stood behind the pines, presumably that of George and Rebecca Harman.  The top of St. John’s Anglican Church is visible in the background.

I did take a photo from a similar angle to the 1958 version but a little further back.


Although it is hard to see, the top of the church is now obscured by pines and an electricity pole stands in the same spot as 1958.

Recently on the Victoria Genealogy Facebook group’s feed, there was a discussion about family stories becoming family “fact” so I would like to make sure Rebecca’s trees are more than a family story.  I have a lot of Harman information from the Port Fairy Historical Society, but there is no information about the trees.  The Port Fairy Gazette is a possibility, but my first step will be to confirm exactly where the Harman’s lived in James Street.  However, I’m a little “Harmaned out” at the moment and would like to focus on some of my tree’s other branches, so in-depth research will have to wait for now.

Called by God

While writing the history of the Harmans of Byaduk, I immersed myself into the family’s daily lives and at times felt as though I was there with them.  With my ggg grandfather James Harman, I was among the congregation at the Byaduk Methodist Church and traversed the countryside as he conducted his Local Preacher duties. I attended sheep and Pastoral and Agriculture (P&A) shows and learnt the finer points of tilling the soil at ploughing matches.  I  felt James’ pride in 1907 as he stood with his fellow pioneers and friends for a photograph before his beloved Byaduk Methodist  Church and shared his satisfaction when he won a Lincoln ram at the Hamilton P&A show.

BYADUK PIONEER DAY - March 27, 1907.  JAMES HARMAN (Back Row, 6th from right), JONATHAN HARMAN (Back Row, 5th from right), ELIZABETH OLIVER, widow of REUBEN HARMAN (Front row, 2nd from right).  Photo courtesy of the Hamilton History Centre.

BYADUK PIONEER DAY – March 27, 1907. JAMES HARMAN (Back Row, 6th from right), JONATHAN HARMAN (Back Row, 5th from right), ELIZABETH OLIVER, widow of REUBEN HARMAN (Front row, 2nd from right). Photo courtesy of the Hamilton History Centre.

Yesterday I “visited” James again and felt something I had not felt before.

The post False Alarm, revealed my ongoing frustration of not  having an obituary written about  James Harman, my favorite ancestor. One like those written for his brothers  Jonathan and Walt, lengthy, information packed tributes that told me much about the type of men they were.  An obituary for James in the Hamilton Spectator came close but I wanted more.

Just a few weeks before my thesis was due, the newspaper the Spectator and Methodist Chronicle (Melbourne 1914-1918) came online at Trove and there was an obituary for James.  Unfortunately the article was still undergoing quality control checks so the wait was on.  My “Electronic Friend” would send  an email when the article was ready to go but no amount of checking my inbox made the article come.  The submission date for my thesis came and went and still the article was unavailable.  Yesterday it was ready.

The obituary was signed by W.H.G  and knowing something of the Byaduk Methodist Church helped me identify the author as the Reverend William Herbert Guard who presided over the church at the time of James’ death . His tribute answered one of my questions about James.  When did he become involved with the Wesleyan Methodist Church?  Was it when he arrived in Port Fairy in 1852?  Or when the family spent some time at Muddy Creek before going to Byaduk.  Muddy Creek had  a strong Methodist community of Wesleyans, Primitives and Reformers who had arrived via Port Fairy.  But, according to Reverend Guard, James’ commitment to Methodism began before leaving Cambridgeshire.

Reverend Guard visited James in his last days and recounted those visits but it was his recollections of James’ final hours that were the most powerful.  “I’m going home” a weakening James told him and then in his last moments James raised his hand and uttered his last word “Coming” and with that he passed away. James was ready to meet his God.   Many obituaries describe the last moments of a person’s life but often in a clinical fashion. W.H.G.’s description was spiritual.  Such was James’ devotion it could be nothing less.

James was not just “going home” to God, his beliefs gave him faith that  he was also going home to my ggg Grandmother  Susan Reed.  The obituary confirmed for me the bond he shared with Susan, forged over 64 years.  Susan died on April 10, 1916 and James on August 13 in the same year and I have always thought their the few months apart was too long a time for James. He had lost the woman who gave him the strength to go on and after only four months they were reunited at the Byaduk Cemetery.




There is little information about Susan’s life besides her birth, death and children in-between.  But she was with James when they left Melbourn, Cambridgeshire as newlyweds and endured a forgettable voyage on the Duke of Richmond.  She travelled with him from the port of Portland to Port Fairy for James’ first employment in Victoria and together they endured the pioneering life at Byaduk.  No doubt she sat up late into the night waiting for James to return from church meetings and sheep shows in neighbouring towns.

Reverend Guard brought to my attention something about Susan I did not know and it was sad to read of her blindness in her last years.  That is now obvious when I look at her in this treasured photo passed on to me by James and Susan’s great-grandson Mike Harman.

JAMES & SUSAN HARMAN.  Photo courtesy of Mike Harman & family.

JAMES & SUSAN HARMAN. Photo courtesy of Mike Harman & family.

On reaching the end of Reverend Guard’s tribute, chills had come over me and  tears filled my eyes.  Since that first reading I have thought often of those last hours of James’ life with sadness.  After the many emotions I have felt while researching James’ life, for the first time I was feeling grief.  It  is the only time I have felt that emotion about my long departed ancestors.  Usually such discoveries evoke feelings of jubilation such as the revelation  my ggg Grandmother Ellen Barry died in a house fire caused by her insobriety or  learning my gg aunt Ellen Harman dropped dead on the floor while cooking breakfast for her son.  While I did feel sad for their unfortunate passing, in the back of my mind was the thought “That will be good for the family history”.  But the tears that came to my eyes when reading about James was not because this useful information missed my thesis, it was because I felt like I was saying goodbye.

As I snap myself back it into reality, I remind myself that with this never-ending journey that is family history, new stories of James will emerge and I can once again join him on his life’s adventures.



"In Memoriam." Spectator and Methodist Chronicle (Melbourne, Vic. : 1914 - 1918) 11 Oct 1916: .

“In Memoriam.” Spectator and Methodist Chronicle (Melbourne, Vic. : 1914 – 1918) 11 Oct 1916: <;.

In the Social Pages

A former Melbourne newspaper  Table Talk (1885-1939), a weekly social publication, had its release online at Trove at few months ago.  It  quickly went on my list of favourite newspapers for the photos, the fashion and the insight into the social life of Victorians, particularly the upper classes.   There was no need for Facebook in those days.  Socialites just had to share their status with Table Talk and friends could read with envy of trips to London, extended stays in fine Melbourne hotels or a day at the local fox hunt.

In a Trove Tuesday post in June, I lamented that I had been unable to find any family members in Table Talk.  I dug a little deeper and finally I found a photo of a 2nd cousin 2 x removed, Pauline Florence Marchant.


GEELONG NOTES. (1933, November 16). Table Talk (Melbourne, Vic. : 1885 - 1939), p. 48. Retrieved July 19, 2014, from

GEELONG NOTES. (1933, November 16). Table Talk (Melbourne, Vic. : 1885 – 1939), p. 48. Retrieved July 19, 2014, from

Pauline was the daughter of Percival “Percy” John Marchant and Elsie Annie Hughes of Geelong.  On her paternal side, Pauline was a granddaughter of Samuel Thomas Marchant, a well-known optician from Geelong and later Melbourne, and Emily Jane Entwistle.  On her maternal side, she was the granddaughter of Frederick Charles Hughes and my ggg Aunt Martha Harman of Hamilton.  Pauline was photographed at St Claire, her families’ residence near the Geelong Botanical Gardens.  St Claire is a lovely home and still stands today.  Pauline’s father Percy was also an optician as was her maternal uncle Russell Hughes of Hamilton.

Table Talk is full of Western District people so check it out.



Maniacs and Milestones

It’s been awhile since I let you know what I’ve been up to.  In just under two weeks (or hopefully before) I will submit a thesis, a history of the Harman family, to the Society of Australian Genealogists for assessment.  It’s been a crazy 12 months and if I had known some of the things life was going to throw at me over the year, I would probably would not have started it.  But I did and I’ve almost made it and I know it will be worth it.

Mania has made its presence felt lately and that’s not just me as I  finish my Harman history.  Rather, the two mystery children of my ggg uncle Jonathan Harman have bestowed their mania upon  me.  A few months back I wrote about Looking for Mary Ann.  Well I found her.  She did not die as a baby as many Harman researchers have assumed, including myself.  Instead, in the years after her mother’s death in 1884, Mary Ann sunk into a deep depression before her admission to the Ararat Asylum in 1893 where she was a patient for six years.  Thirty two years later her brother Jonathan was also admitted and remained there for 15 years.



ARARAT ASYLUM. Image Courtesy of the State Library of Victoria, Image no. H32492/2366

Since my suspicions were confirmed I have felt so sad for their father Jonathan.   Despite the death of his wife Mary Oliver at age 41, 46 years before his own death, two children dying as babies and one as a teenager, two children in the Ararat Mental Asylum and an illegitimate grandchild, he was a kind man with a happy demeanor.  I’ve actually grown quite fond of him.   I’ve also been struck at how his life evolved so differently to his brother’s, my ggg grandfather James Harman.  Both settled and farmed in Byaduk until old age and each had 10 children but that’s where the similarities ended.  Yet Jonathan appears to have accepted his lot in life and maybe his Methodist beliefs enabled him not to have feelings of regret or envy toward his brother.  Instead they were close to the end.

While there have not been  many new posts in the past few months , Western District Families has still been passing a few milestones.

Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria J.T.Collins collection.  Image no. H98.252/296

Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria J.T.Collins collection. Image no. H98.252/296

Recently the blog passed 100,000 page views and is now well on the way to 110,000.  There are now  162 of you following the Western District Families blog and 264 people “like” the Facebook page.  Thank you to everyone who has subscribed to the blog or liked the page.  I’ve been  delighted with Western District Families’ rise this year and I think the Facebook page has a lot to thank for that.  While I may not have time to write a blog post, I can always find a moment to share a photo or link or post one of the 300 posts from the past three years.

During August and September I have posted regular articles from the Hamilton Spectator to the Western District Families Facebook page.  The articles are about WW1  but not news from overseas. Rather they are about the war related happenings in Hamilton during that time.  I’m interested in the residents’ first responses,  their changes in attitude toward the war and toward the many people of  German descent living in nearby towns such as Tabor and Hochkirch .  I do know that anti-German sentiment did grow resulting in a change of name for Hochkirch to Tarrington, a safe Anglo-Saxon name taken from the nearby estate once owned by Stephen George Henty.  I’m also keen to see how The Hamilton Spectator reported those matters.

In around two weeks I hope to hit the ground running with some new blog posts and I can’t wait.  I’ve missed it but I have 20 draft posts in various stages of completion and I’m itching to share them.  For “Trove Tuesday” fans, there is also a long list of “Trove Tuesday” type articles ready to go.  So thank you for hanging in there and I’ll be back with you soon.


Looking for Mary Ann

A week ago, Karen Annett of the Annett Family Australia Facebook group, posted on another group, Victorian Genealogy, about a missing family member, Frances Annett (born 1840, Seven Oaks, Kent).  As a member of the Annett Family group, I had previously read about the search for Frances, one of those elusive women we often come across in our family trees.  Frances had arrived with her parents William and Mary and siblings to Portland in 1853 and that is the last record of Frances’ being.  In reply to Karen, I posted a message of support that she shouldn’t give up hope of finding Frances, giving her a brief summary of my search for Mary Ann Harman.

For my 300th Western District Families post, this is the extended version of  the story of Mary Ann Harman who I thought was…


LOST WITHOUT TRACE. (1931, December 10). Chronicle (Adelaide, SA : 1895 - 1954), p. 62. Retrieved June 2, 2014, from

LOST WITHOUT TRACE. (1931, December 10). Chronicle (Adelaide, SA : 1895 – 1954), p. 62. Retrieved June 2, 2014, from



Mary Ann Harman has always been a mystery.  I have accounted for all the first generation Harmans of Byaduk, their births, death and marriages.  Except for Mary Ann, the daughter of Jonathan Harman and Mary Oliver.

Born in 1869, the sixth child of Jonathon and Mary, Mary Ann drops off the radar after birth.  I’ve checked and double checked her birth record and yes she was definitely born.  Over the 20 years I’ve researched the Harmans, I reached the conclusion she had died as an infant.  Not that unlikely since her younger siblings Joseph and Sarah died during the 1870s, Joseph as a baby and Sarah aged six.

My pursuit of Mary Ann has not been a desperate one because. as she was a child of my ggg uncle, I thought I could live with the fact she was missing.  However, because I’m writing a Harman family history I considered I would have to get some of the records I have refrained from getting before.  Recently I received a copy of Jonathan Harman’s will from PROV via Archival Access, and the mystery deepened because there in black and white was the name of Mary Ann.  At the time of his death in 1930, Jonathan had four daughters, besides Mary Ann, and two sons,  Arthur a farmer from Byaduk and Jonathan, a man I considered  the black sheep of the family.  No surprise to me, he was not named in his father’s will.

Jonathan snr. left his ready money and money in the bank to all his daughters, with a proviso that it did not include Mary-Ann.  He bequeathed the net profit of one of his properties to his daughters…except Mary Ann.  Arthur was to receive the balance of Jonathan’s estate “but subject to and charged with the payment by him of the annuity of twenty pounds to my daughter Mary Ann during her life…”.

So Mary Ann wasn’t dead, rather 61 years of age in 1930, but why was she treated differently to her sisters and Arthur?  Was she untrustworthy or did her father think she was not worthy of a share of his property?  Why did was left an annuity instead?  Was she not capable of supporting herself?  The discovery in Jonathan’s will certainly raised more questions than it answered.

But it meant I could begin searching for her again with renewed confidence.  I went straight to the Victorian Death records and searched for “Mary Ann Harman” (assuming she never married) and found the closest match – Mary Ann Harman born about 1873, died Ararat 1948, parents unknown.  If  that is my Mary Ann,  the fact she died in Ararat possibly answers some of my questions.  The reason being there was a lunatic asylum in Ararat (Aradale).

A search of Trove only found a Law Notice from 1951 declaring the said Mary Ann Harman intestate, however it confirms to me that the Mary Ann who died in Ararat was a spinster.

Advertising. (1951, February 8). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), p. 18. Retrieved June 2, 2014, from

Advertising. (1951, February 8). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957), p. 18. Retrieved June 2, 2014, from

Now I have some new leads.  I’ll follow-up probate records and check for an inquest, with the latter helping me confirm if the said Mary Ann was in Ararat Asylum.  But maybe Mary Ann was merely the female black sheep of her family and moved away from the fold and it’s possible that the male black sheep was living with her.  My reason for that thought is that my only other Harman connection to Ararat was Mary Ann’s brother Jonathan jnr. further supporting my case that I’m on the right track with Mary Ann.

After Jonathan jnr. married Hannah Keyte of Arapilis in 1904,  they moved to Kingaroy, Queensland.  Hannah appears to have remained in Queensland but Jonathan disappeared after 1913 reappearing again at the time of his death in 1941 at Ararat.  I do know that after Jonathan’s death there was an inquest, raising the possibility he was in Ararat Lunatic Asylum and a copy is now a must.  To think I have driven past the imposing building of Aradale, on a hill east of Ararat, hundreds of time, looking up and wondering what when on behind its walls.  Now I’m a few steps closer to discovering if members of my family knew exactly what life was like as an inmate.

ARARAT ASYLUM c1880.  Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria.  Image no. H1887

ARARAT ASYLUM c1880. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria. Image no. H1887

Writing the Harman family history has  helped me get to know Jonathan Harman snr.  better than I did before and it would be tragic if either or both Mary Ann and Jonathan jnr. were inmates at the Ararat Asylum.  Between 1871 and 1886, he saw the passing of three of his 10 children and his wife Mary at just 43. Then, one by one, his remaining children moved away from Byaduk leaving him alone, while his brothers’ children continued on in the town, growing and prospering.

So in conclusion,  to all of you, including the Annett family researchers, never give up hope that you will one day find your Mary Ann.


**Tours are now held within Aradale, during the day by the Friends of J Ward (a hospital for the criminally insane also in Ararat) and ghost tours by night,conducted by Eerie Tours .Aradale operated from 1867 until 1998.