Passing of the Pioneers

The stories of the Western District pioneers continue with June Passing of the Pioneers.  Pioneer obituaries come from a woman who was the first European woman at Colac, a man who survived a ship wreck of Tasmania, and a Reverend who started his career as a journalist for the London Times. Look out for the July obituaries when Passing of the Pioneers celebrates a birthday.

Nicholas COLE: Died 22 June 1879 at Darlington. Born in England and heir to an estate in Plymouth, Nicholas Cole decided to try his luck in Australia and arrived in Sydney in 1839. During his voyage, he met another man Peter McArthur and together they sailed on from Sydney to Geelong. They became partners and took up the West Cloven Hills and Menningort runs at Darlington. Those early pioneers faced many hardships including the Black Thursday fires in 1851. Nicholas ran Merino sheep and built up a herd that produced high yields of good quality wool. More information about Nicholas, thought to be a descendant of “Old King Cole” the subject of the nursery rhyme of the same name, is at the following links –

Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria

SHEARING SHED, WEST CLOVEN HILLS (1987) Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria J.T. Collins Collection, La Trobe Picture Collection. Image no. H95.200/65

Elizabeth YOUNG: Died 11 June 1892 at Barongarook. Jean Young was born in Scotland in 1823 and as a girl sailed to Tasmania with her parents and her father worked as a solicitor in Hobart. In 1841, she married Hugh Murray. They moved to Geelong and Hugh, considered the founder of Colac, moved to that area, before Jean and her young son joined them, becoming the first European woman in the district.  She raised a family of fourteen children and endured the many hardships faced by early pioneer women in Victoria. Among other things, Jean and Hugh were founding members of the Colac Presbyterian church and Jean remained a pillar of the church during her life. Hugh passed away twenty-three years before Elizabeth in 1869.

George COXON: Died 20 June 1892 at Portland. George Coxon was born and married in England and in 1857 he and his family, including seven children, travelled to Victoria. After a short time on the Victorian goldfields, he took up farming pursuits in the Casterton district.  In his later years, he moved to Portland where he passed away.  A profile of George and his family his available on the SW Pioneers website –

Lawrence McKENNA: Died June 1914 at Curlew Hill.  Lawrence McKenna was born around 1830 in Ireland and travelled to Adelaide around 1861. The South Australian explorer John Stuart was about to leave on a government funded expedition to cross the continent and Lawrence joined his party. Stuart eventually abandoned his attempt. After ten years on the goldfields of Victoria and New Zealand, Lawrence gained work at Woodhouse near Dunkeld in 1872. He took a trip back to Ireland in 1874 then returned to Dunkeld to marry Elizabeth Irwin and they settled at nearby Curlew Hill.  In 1900, he was badly burnt while trying to protect his property during bushfires and never fully recovered.

Sophia GERDTZ: Died 5 June 1914 at Hamilton. Sophia Gerdtz was born in Germany around 1831 and arrived in Melbourne during the early 1850s. Her family travelled to Hamilton, where few buildings stood. She first married Robert Thomson at Lyne Station in 1852 but was left a widow during the 1860s. She then married storekeeper Cavendish Neville.  Again widowed, she spent the last years of her life living with her son at Pierrepoint, just out of Hamilton.

 Bridget McNAMARA: Died 19 June 1914 at Tower Hill.  Born in Ireland around 1843, Bridget McNamara arrived with her parents to Port Fairy in 1852 and they settled near Farnham and later Dennington. In 1866 at Warrnambool, Bridget married Hugh Reilly, afterwards settling at Southern Cross were they lived for the rest of their lives.

THE Roroit Sentine[?] AND Tower Hill Advocate. (1914, June 27). Koroit Sentinel and Tower Hill Advocate (Vic. : 1914 - 1918), p. 2. Retrieved July 1, 2014, from

THE Roroit Sentine[?] AND Tower Hill Advocate. (1914, June 27). Koroit Sentinel and Tower Hill Advocate (Vic. : 1914 – 1918), p. 2. Retrieved July 1, 2014, from

Reverend George Duke LEE: Died June 1915 at Hamilton. Born in Derbyshire, England around 1830, George Lee first worked as a reporter for the London Times in America. After briefly returning to England he sailed to Victoria aboard the Blue Jacket in 1853 and made for the Ballarat goldfields. He worked as a teacher but left after medical advice as his eye sight was failing. Instead, he went on a lecture tour for the Sons of Temperance Friendly Society through the Western District. While visiting Chetwynd he became interested in the teachings of the Presbyterian church and entered the Ministry. He was sent to the St. Johns Presbyterian Church at Cavendish where he remained for thirty years.

Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria

ST JOHNS PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, CAVENDISH (1974). Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria J.T. Collins Collection, La Trobe Picture Collection. Image no. H94.200/605

When George retired around nine years before his death, he moved to Hamilton.

William ALFORD: Died June 1916 at Ellerslie. William Alford was born in England around 1831 and twenty-one years later he travelled to Australia. He was a steward on the ship he sailed aboard which wrecked off the Tasmanian coast. William and other passengers were able to reach shore on a dingy and they walked to Hobart without shoes. William then travelled to the goldfields of Victoria, working as a driver with the gold escort out of Ballarat and later driving the mail coach between Ballarat and Geelong. He moved to Ellerslie in the mid-1860s and he remained there for the remainder of his life. William was a caretaker of the local Mechanics Institute and was involved with the Ellerslie Football Club.

James WORLAND: Died 18 June 1916 at Warrnambool. James Worland was born in Melbourn, Cambridgeshire around 1851 and arrived in Port Fairy two years later with his parents and they settled in the Warrnambool district. When working age, James took a job at a tannery and later purchased his own tannery. William also took up many roles in the community including warden of the Christ Church and a founding member of the local branch of the Society of St. George. At the time of his death, he left a widow and nine children.

William DAVIDSON: – Died June 1917 at Woolsthorp.  Born at Aberdeen, Scotland, William Davidson arrived at Port Fairy in 1855. He first took up labouring at Minjah, a property near Hawkesdale before opening a store at Woolsthorpe. He later  then turned to dairy-farming.  William was known as “The Chaffer” around Woolsthorpe because he enjoyed having a tease.  A widower at the time of his death, William had twelve surviving children.

Passing of the Pioneers

Collecting the obituaries for August Passing of the Pioneers, I discovered that many of the  pioneers had either worked for or had a father who for the Henty brothers. Hannah Spiken and Elizabeth Stevenson were both born at the time their fathers worked for the Hentys, with Elizabeth born at Munthum Station.  Harriet Tate was also at Munthum Station where she worked as a nursemaid.

There is also the story of John Bodey who lived to 106 and Mary Finn who’s husband’s family operated the Glenelg Inn, around which the town of Casterton grew. The hotel still operates today. Also included are two of the wealthier pioneers of the Western District, Alexander Davidson and James Whyte.

Alexander DAVIDSON: Died 17 August 1874 at Portland. Western Victorian squatter, Alexander Davidson was born in Inverness, Scotland in 1801. He acquired his wealth during his time as co-owner of Satimer station at Wando Vale. In later life, he built the Portland home, Wando Villa and contributed extensively to the Portland Wesleyan Church. The Glenelg and Wannon Settlers website has further information on Alexander Davidson on the Wando Vale settlers page.

James WHYTE: Died August, 1882 at Hobart, Tasmania. James Whyte and his brothers were pioneers of Coleraine, with the main street named in their honour. Born in Scotland in 1820, Whyte arrived in Tasmania with his family in 1832. In 1837, James and his brothers William, George, Pringle and John arrived in Port Phillip settling at Konowootong near Coleraine.

James then moved to Clunes taking co-ownership of a large station where gold was later discovered. In 1853, he returned to Tasmania, a much richer man and ran for the seat of Brighton during the 1854 election. He was unsuccessful, but ran again in 1856 and won a seat in the Legislative Council of Tasmania.  In 1863, he became Premier, holding the post until 1866.

Despite their name held in perpetuum at Coleraine and a state leader among them, the Whyte Brothers hold a place in the darker history of the Western District. In March 1840, the brothers took part in the massacre of at least thirty aboriginals at The Hummocks near Wando Vale. The Museum Victoria website gives an account of what became known as the Fighting Hills Massacre.

Joseph COUCH:  Died 30 August 1911 at Portland. Joseph Couch, born in Cornwall, arrived in Victoria aboard the Mary Ann in 1856.  He spent 17 years working for Edward Henty before taking up the role of curator of the Portland Botanic Gardens.  Joseph was curator for twenty-six years demonstrating a great knowledge of plants and a passion for the gardens.  Joseph’s memory continues with his name on a plaque on the curator’s cottage at the gardens.

Mary FINN:  Died 15 August 1913 at Kew. Mary Finn was born in Ireland and arrived on the ship Susan in 1839 with her family. In 1852, Mary married Edmund Kirby, one of Casterton’s earliest settlers.  The marriage took place at the Glenelg Inn  built on a part of Springbank station run by the Edmund Kirby, his brother James and sister Mary. The Kirby’s later took on the ownership on the hotel, previously operated by Mary’s late husband, and the town of Casterton grew around it. The Glenelg Inn still operates today.  One of her sons was John Finn Kirby, owner of 1911 Melbourne Cup winner, The Parisian.  More information on the Kirby family is on the Glenelg and Wannon settlers website.

John BODEY:  Died 21 August 1916 at Camperdown. Ireland native, John Bodey was born in 1810 making him 106 at the time of his death.  He lived through the reign of six British monarchs. This article appeared on his 100th birthday and outlines some of the events which occurred during John’s long life:

Centenarian’s Recollections. (1910, May 24). The Horsham Times (Vic. : 1882 – 1954), p. 1. Retrieved August 23, 2012, from

Having a keen interest in politics, John voted in a by-election at Warrnambool not long before his death. Upon John’s 105th birthday, his son George talked about his father’s longevity and  independence.

INTERESTING CENTENARIAN. (1915, July 3). Border Watch (Mount Gambier, SA : 1861 – 1954), p. 4. Retrieved August 23, 2012, from

Edwin Clough DERMER: Died 26 August 1917 at Ballarat. Edwin Dermer was born in London and worked as a clerk for the Bank of England where his father was a departmental manager.  At eighteen, Edwin headed to Australia where he became a gold buyer at Melbourne, before heading for the goldfields of Ballarat. After around twenty years on the diggings, Edwin moved into retail, first as a manager of a crockery shop and then manager of a drapery business.  He then opened a grocery business in Mair Street.

Work aside, Edwin was a founding member of the Druids Lodge, a member of the Orion Masonic Lodge and president of the United Friendly Societies Dispensaries.  He was had a keen interest in state and federal elections and served as a deputy returning officer for the electorate of Ballarat West.  In fifty years, he never missed a game of cricket in Ballarat.  One interesting point of interest in Edwin’s life was his wife was born in the same street in London and attended the same school, however, they did not meet until they came to Victoria.


PASSING OF THE PIONEERS. (1920, August 24). The Horsham Times (Vic. : 1882 – 1954), p. 4. Retrieved August 20, 2012, from


Annie DONNELLY:  Died August 1933 at Warrnambool.  Annie Donnelly of Irish descent married James Percy Skeyhill.  They spent time at Terang where their son Thomas John Skeyhill was born in 1895. The family moved to Hamilton with Thomas educated at St Mary’s Convent School.  Thomas enlisted for WW1 and it  changed his life. While at Gallipoli, a shell blinded Thomas and upon his return he published his war poetry and travelled overseas on lecture tours.

The Sydney Morning Herald published an example of his poetry at the time of his death in 1932, as a result of an airplane accident in the United States.  The full obituary is here and another from a local perspective was in the Camperdown Chronicle published May 26, 1932

TOM SKEYHILL. (1932, May 25). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954), p. 16. Retrieved August 24, 2012, from

Annie and husband Thomas moved to Warrnambool where Thomas operated the Warrnambool Cordial Co. until his death in 1932, just a year before his wife.

Harriet TATE: Died August 1935 at Portland. Harriet Tate arrived in Australia from Ireland as a seven-year old.  At just eighteen, she married William Jackman, an early Wimmera pioneer.  In her early years, Harriet worked for Edward Henty at Munthum Station.  William and Harriet moved to Portland in their later life, with Harriet spending the last twenty-five years of her life in the town.

Hannah SPIKEN:  Died 3 August1936 at Portland. Born in Portland around 1864 Hannah was the daughter of John and Hannah Spiken. John worked for the Hentys and Hannah was said to have followed behind the plough, planting potatoes.  At eighteen, she married Walter Dennis Pitts a union which lasted fifty-four years.

Elizabeth STEVENSON: Died 3 August 1938 at Coburg.  Elizabeth was born at Merino Downs around 1863, the daughter of Joseph and Mary Stevenson. Joseph was working for the Hentys at Munthum station at the time of her birth, but the family later moved to Portland.  Elizabeth married William James Dunne of Ararat and they spent some time in Portland before moving to Ballarat.

John NIDDRIE:  Died August 1939 at Hamilton. John Niddrie was born at Cherrymount near Glenthompson around 1865.  John and his four brothers spent much time in the bush as children and as a result all became accomplished bushmen.  They also were able to climb tall trees, a skill they learnt from local aboriginals.  John married Florence James of Hamilton.

Henry Dyer RUNDELL:  Died August 1941 at Hamilton. Henry Rundell was a long time resident of Condah, the son of John and Mathilda Rundell.  John was from Cornwall and Mathilda from Somerset. Henry married Annie Dawkins and they celebrated their Golden Wedding anniversary only months before Henry’s death. Henry was a dairy farmer at his property Swamp View near Condah and he was a parishioner of the Church of England.

Passing of the Pioneers

I enjoy finding stories of pioneer women, as they give me some idea of the lives lived by my own pioneering female ancestors.  March Passing of the Pioneers introduces a plucky pioneer, Elizabeth Cole.  Elizabeth and another pioneer, Annie Alexander both made their mark in roles not traditionally considered the domain of women. Among the passing gentleman, I enjoyed the story of John McClounan, a well-travelled pioneer.

Mr John Lang CURRIE: Died 11 March 1898 at St Kilda. John Currie was a Western District pastoralist. He was born in Selkirkshire, Scotland in 1818 and came to Australia in the 1840s and purchased Larra Estate near Camperdown in 1844.  He later bought Tintanga and Gala Estates. He bred merino sheep known for the high quality of their wool.  For more information, his biography is on the Australian Directory of Biography site.

THE PASSING OF THE PIONEERS. (1898, March 12). Camperdown Chronicle (Vic. : 1877 – 1954), p. 3. Retrieved March 23, 2012, from

John McCLOUNAN: Died 2 March 1902 at Green Lake. John McClounan was born in Scotland in 1832 but left when he was twenty-one.  But not straight to Australia.  He first travelled to America where he spent seven years and then on to New Zealand for around six years.  He and his brother, his travelling companion, then moved to the goldfields of N.S.W. and then to Victoria and Deep Lead near Stawell.  They gave up on mining and moved to Green Lake to farm.  It was on this property John died, forty years later.  He was unmarried.

Isabella SPALDING:  Died March 1907 at Warrnambool. Isabella Spalding was “another pioneer “Mother of Israel”” lost to the Western District.  Aged ninety-one, her husband, James Davidson had died forty-six years before and according to the obituary, she “trained up five sons and four daughters to man and womanhood”

John Henry OLIVER:  Died 23 March 1909 at Horsham. John Oliver was the brother-in-law of Jonathon and Reuben Harman. The obituary states John arrived in Melbourne with his family in 1848. It was in fact 1849 aboard the Courier.  John had spent time around Byaduk where his family settled, however, he bought land at Sailors Home near Dimboola in the early 1870s.  After a stroke, John did return to Byaduk trying to regain his health, but he eventually returned to the Wimmera to live out his last months.

William Snaith WARD: Died 14 March 1913 at Ballarat. On arrival at Geelong in 1857, William Ward headed straight for the goldfields of Ballarat. He mined the “Hit and Miss” shaft at Creswick before taking time of mining to run the coach on the Ballarat-Buninyong Road. The lure of gold was too great and he headed to the goldfields of N.S.W. and one time drilled for coal in Gippsland.

Margaret CAMPBELL: Died 10 March 1914 at Casterton. Margaret arrived at Portland with her parents in 1855 after sailing aboard the Athletae.  She married Donald Ross in 1857 when she was around twenty-six.  They moved to Hamilton, then Sandford before settling in Casterton on the corner of Jackson and Clarkes Street in the house both Margaret and Donald died about fifty years later.

James FERGUSON: Died March 1914 at Beulah. Scottish born James was one of the early settlers at Beulah and was known around the town as “The Laird”. He was one of the first representatives of the newly formed Karkarooc Shire in 1896.  In 1908, he travelled to England and visited the place of his birth in Scotland.

Dugald MAIN:  Died 9 March 1916 at Ballarat. Dugald arrived in Geelong aboard the Star of the East in 1854 and then settled in Ballarat.  He was a builder by trade and sat on the committee of the Ballarat Orphan Asylum.

Alexander McKAY:  March 1919 at Carlton. Alexander, formerly of Mortlake, was a Scot through and through and was a keen participant in Highland games throughout the district. He was an excellent player of the pipes and excelled at the heavy lifting events of the games, such as the caber toss.

Edmond DWYER:  Died 14 March 1930 at Condah. Edmond at ninety-two was the last of the pioneers to arrive on the General Hewitt in 1856. He initially went in search of gold near Beaufort at the Fiery Creek diggings, before turning to road contracting at Portland. He worked the road from Portland to Hamilton for many years.

Mary McDONALD:  Died 4 March 1932 at Hotspur. Mary McDonald was a very old pioneer when she passed away in 1932.  She was born in the Isle of Skye in 1838 and was a teenager when she arrived at Portland with her parents in 1853 aboard the New Zealand.  She married Archibald McLean in 1862 and they settled at Hotspur and raised eight children.

Mary Jane JONES:  Died March 1932 at Portland. Mary Jane Jones was born in Portland in 1859.  She first married a Mr Jennings and they had two sons before she married Alfred Fredericks.  They had a further six children.

Martha RIGBY:  Died 11 March 1934 at Hamilton. Born in Lancashire, Mrs Jackson arrived at Portland with her parents, John and Sarah Rigby, in 1859. They settled at Heywood where she married John Jackson.  They later moved to Hamilton.  Mrs Jackson left a large family of ten children, thirty-two grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren (this was reported as seven great-great-grandchildren, so they either forgot the great-grandchildren or it was meant to read great-grandchildren).

Emma HOLMES:  Died March 1935 at Drik Drik.  Emma was a knitter.  She knitted during the Great War for the troops and later for the Methodist Babies Home at South Yarra.  Emma arrived at Portland as a seven-year-old in 1852.  She married William Mullins and they settled at Drik Drik, with Emma considered to be the first white woman to settle there.  Surely a tough time for a new bride.

Annie Gray ALEXANDER: Died 14  March 1937 at Toorak.  Annie Alexander was born near Beechworth around 1861.  She married Henry William Witton in the early 1880s.  They took up residence at Dimboola in the 1890s.  After Henry’s death, Annie did something a little different to some of the pioneer women I have written of before. She published the Dimboola Banner newspaper until 1918.

Maria Jane TAYLOR:  Died 20 March 1939 at Portland. Maria Taylor was an active member of the Myamyn community even up until months before her death at aged ninety.  She was born at South Portland and later married John Treloar at Myamyn where they lived out their lives.  Mrs Treloar had a large family of thirteen, eight of whom were still living at the time of her death.

Elizabeth COLE: Died March 1942 at Bostocks Creek. What a great pioneer Elizabeth Cole was. Born at Poplar, London in 1845, she came to Australia with her parents in the early 1850s.  She married Alexander Dalziel at Lethbridge in 1862.  At the time of her death, Elizabeth and Alexander had 120 descendants including sixty-five great-grandchildren.  What got me about Elizabeth was she was that she had been a bullock driver and one with great skill.  She also had memories of Eureka, could recall Lethbridge as a canvas town and the slab huts of Port Fairy and considered kangaroo a delicacy.  In her later years, she enjoyed listening to that modern contraption, the wireless.

PIONEER DIES IN 97th YEAR. (1942, March 17). Camperdown Chronicle (Vic. : 1877 – 1954), p. 3. Retrieved March 23, 2012, from

Mary MURRAY:  Died 17 March 1944 at Hamilton. Mary’s father was an overseer for Edward Henty at Muntham where she was born.  At the time, she was the first white child born at Muntham.  At some time, she married Mr Hallam and had many great pioneering stories.

Jean EDGAR:  Died March 1947 at Harrow. Jean was another wonderful pioneer who had been in Victoria for ninety years.  She arrived aboard the Severn which carried another great pioneer, the thoroughbred King Alfred, one of Australia’s early champion sires.

OBITUARY. (1947, March 13). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 4 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved March 23, 2012, from

In 1874 she married into the pioneering Minogue family at Harrow where she lived for the rest of her life.

Passing of the Pioneers

Once again an interesting band of Western Victorian pioneers were found in newspaper obituaries from February.  There is a tightrope walker, philanthropist, a motor car pioneer and several hardy pioneer women.  It continues to amaze me the lives the pioneers lived.  I mean, who could imagine a tightrope walker living in Portland in the 19th century, in fact at anytime!

Thomas STODDART: Died 20 February 1905 at Ballarat. When next in Ballarat admiring the many statues in Sturt Street and the Botanical Gardens, thank Thomas Stoddart. He was responsible for getting the ball rolling for leading Ballarat identities to give statues or money towards statues, to the city. From digger to stockbroker, Stoddart donated twelve statues to the city of Ballarat in 1884 after a trip to Europe. This act of philanthropy saw some of Ballarat’s other wealthy citizens bequeath money to fund more statues.  In fact, John Permewan who featured in December Passing of the Pioneers donated the well know “Hebe” which stands in Sturt Street.  As well as the obituary from the Horsham Times a lengthier obituary appeared in The Argus on February 21.



John COFFEY:  Died 9 February 1908 at Melbourne. John Coffey was born in Limerick, Ireland and came to Australia with his brother in the 1860s. He first went to the Wimmera while carting between Melbourne and the Wimmera. Making a permanent home there, he worked as a farmer and a hotel keeper.  He left a wife, Catherine Almond, five daughters and three sons.

Thomas HENNESSY: Died 19 February 1908 at Horsham. Thomas Hennessy arrived in Victoria in 1859 aboard the Royal Charter from Limerick, Ireland. He began farming around Koroit, lost a leg, and moved to the Pimpinio district where he farmed for many years.  An accident prior to his death contributed to his demise.

James DAVIDSON: Died 12 February 1913 at Narrawong. James Davidson, born at Narrawong, was described as a “good all-round citizen” in his obituary. He was involved in the mounted rifles and athletics.

Matilda GILCHRIST: Died 14 February 1914 at Hawthorn.  Born in Paisley, Scotland, in 1920 she arrived on the Star of the East in 1855.  Her husband Thomas Lang was a well-known horticulturist in the late 19th century.  Matilda was a principal of a girls’ school in Ballarat for a time.

Mary Ann DREW: Died 15 February 1915 at Willaura.  Born in Buckinghamshire, England,  Mary Ann Drew came to Victoria in her twenties during the 1850s. She worked at Golf Hill Station at Shelford for George Russell, before moving to Sandford where she married William Lindon. Mary Ann lived at Willaura with her daughter for the last ten years of her life.

Edward Harewood  LASCELLES: Died 12 February 1917 at Geelong. Lascelles is a well-known name in WesternVictoria.  Not only does his name form part of the Geelong wool broking firm Denneys Lascelles & Co, the town of Lascelles in the Mallee was named after him.  Edward Lascelles was born in Tasmania in 1847, married Ethel Denney and they had six children.  He was a leader in vermin extermination on his property in the Mallee and was the first to introduce share farming in Victoria.

Isabella McDONALD: Died February 1918 at Dandenong. Isabella McDonald arrived in Victoria with her widowed mother in 1863. The following year she married journalist, Mr Dudeney, who had gone to Ballarat to report on the Eureka Stockade riots. Only after a few years of marriage, Mr Dudeney passed away and she married John Whitehead a worker at the Ballarat Post Office and later the GPO in Melbourne

Martha MATHEWS: Died 14 February 1918 at Buninyong. Martha Mathews was a colonist of 64 years, arriving in Victoria to join her husband, Richard Phillips on the goldfields of Ballarat. Martha enjoyed telling stories of the goldrush days.

OBITUARY. (1918, February 18). The Ballarat Courier (Vic. : 1914 – 1918), p. 6 Edition: DAILY.. Retrieved February 26, 2012, from

Janet SIMPSON: Died 19 February 1920 at  Bondi, New South Wales.  Janet Simpson, her husband Robert Clark and four children sailed for Australia in 1857. One child, Agnes died during the journey. At the time of their arrival, the train line to Horsham was under construction, so the family took a coach to Stawell, then bullock wagon to Horsham.  She was one of the many pioneer women who coped under tough conditions.

Obituary. (1920, February 27). The Horsham Times (Vic. : 1882 – 1954), p. 5. Retrieved February 26, 2012, from

William HANLON: Died 19 February 1923 at Portland. William Hanlon was the mayor of Portland 11 times.  His interests within the municipality included President of the Portland Free Library.

William ROBERTSON: Died 2 February 1924 at Portland.  A colonist of seventy-seven years, William Robertson arrived in Portland as a five-year old with his parents.  He had travelled to New Guinea and Western Australia as well one time riding in the Great Western Steeplechase at Coleraine.

Charles Francis PATTERSON: Died 17 February 1933 at Portland. Charles was born in Portland in 1857 and spent some time in Western Australia on the railways.  It was there he met his future wife and after marriage, they returned to Portland to raise ten children.  Charles was a popular figure around the town and he worked in the fish distribution business.

Alfred Irvine HOGAN: Died 8 February 1934 at Portland. From tightrope walker to sawmiller, Alfred Hogan was an interesting chap.  Arriving in Portland as a young man, he gained notoriety as a tightrope walker performing daredevil tricks in the mould of “Blondin” the French tightrope walker.  Age must have caught up with his tightrope walking feats and he turned to sawmilling, with his obituary crediting him as a pioneer of sawmilling in the Portland district, an industry which became one of the biggest in the area.  Alfred also had a keen interest in Australian Rules football and was one of the people behind the development of Hanlon Park, which is still home to the Portland Football Club today.

Mary Jane SPIKEN:  Died February 1934 at Warrnambool. Mary Jane Spiken’s mother Anna Harland arrived in Victoria with members of the Henty family.  Anna married John George Spiken with Mary Jane born around 1861 at the Henty homestead.  Mary Jane married William Jenkins and they had seven children.  She was a wealth of knowledge on the early days of Portland.

Fanny Ann MALSEED: Died 13 February 1936 at Myamyn. Fanny Ann was the daughter of James and Eliza Malseed of Mount Richmond.  She married Thomas Edmund Adamson around 1886 and they raised eight children.

Richard YOUNG: Died 16 February 1939 at Horsham. Richard was born at Clunes and moved to Horsham with his parents as a ten-year-old. He married Isabella Anderson and they raised a large family. Richard was a keen footballer and  played for United Traders football club.  He was a founding member of the Horsham Football Club and was an active member of the local fire brigade.

Walter Birmingham EDGAR: Died 22 February 1939 at Portland. Walter Edgar was born at Pine Hills Station at Harrow in 1856.  Educated at Hamilton College, he achieved the double honor of dux of the college and athletic champion.  Despite studying civil engineering  at Melbourne University, he returned to Pine Hills to take up agriculture pursuits.  In 1882, he married Jessie Swan of Konongwootong.  In the years before his death, Walter toured England, Scotland, Norway and Sweden with his daughter.  In his younger days, Walter was something of a cricketer and golfer.  He and his father played some part in the Aboriginal cricket team touring England in 1867.  The team included Johnny Mullagh who Walter often played cricket with.

Obituary. (1939, February 27). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 3 Edition: EVENING.. Retrieved February 28, 2012, from

Ann NIVEN: Died 24 February 1942 at Coleraine. Ann Niven’s came to Australia at five, but without her parents.  They arrived at a later date, but until then Ann was under the guardianship of Mr and Mrs Christorphen.  They lived where Balmoral now stands, but then it was only bush.  She married William Bird, living at Wombelano and then for the last thirty-two years of her life, at Coleraine.  Mrs Bird was the mother of eleven children.

Patrick HENRY: Died February 1942 at Terang. Patrick Henry, with his parents, settled in the Woodford area upon their arrival in Australia in 1866.  He began driving bullock wagons as a teenager and worked in that occupation until he was eighty-six.  When he finally retired, it was thought he was the oldest bullock wagon driver in the Western District.

Thomas Turner SHAW:  Died 1 February 1949 at Beaumaris. Thomas Shaw was the son of Thomas and Catherine Shaw. He was born in Victoria in 1864.

THOMAS TURNER SHAW c1866.  Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria.  Image no. H2013.172/23

THOMAS TURNER SHAW c1866. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria. Image no. H2013.172/23

Thomas Shaw was a not only a pioneer of fine merino wool production but also motoring in Victoria.  He drove one of the first steam cars and was also a founding member of the Royal Auto Club (RACV).