Passing of the Pioneers

February Passing of the Pioneers has obituaries from some of the Western District’s early colonists.  They include Fanny Fisher and John Kelly, both born in Tasmania. They each lived in Victoria for 79 years by the time of their deaths.

Alexander LEARMONTH:  Died 8 February 1874 at Hamilton. The Learmonths were one of Hamilton’s most noted families. Alexander was the eldest of four brothers to immigrate to Australia and in time their paths led to Hamilton.  Alexander arrived in 1857 and immediately took an interest in the town’s affairs. He  founded the Hamilton municipality and was the first Mayor of the Borough, holding the office for six years. The contribution Alex Learmonth made to Hamilton in those early days was immense.

OBITUARY. (1874, February 24). Portland Guardian and Normanby General Advertiser (Vic. : 1842 - 1876), p. 6 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved February 20, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64743791

OBITUARY. (1874, February 24). Portland Guardian and Normanby General Advertiser (Vic. : 1842 – 1876), p. 6 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved February 20, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64743791

Alexander was a trustee of the Hamilton Mechanics Institute.  After his death, funds raised built an extra room named the Learmonth Memorial Hall. He also served as a territorial Magistrate, Coroner, Government Auditor and many other offices, too many to list, but all are in his full obituary.

HAMILTON MECHANICS INSTITUTE

HAMILTON MECHANICS INSTITUTE

John KELLY:  Died 7 February 1914 at St Helens. John Kelly, born in Tasmania, was one of the oldest residents in the Port Fairy and Yambuk district when he died in 1914. He had been in Victoria for seventy-nine years, having arrived aged three.  He first resided at Casterton, then near Port Fairy and later he ran a general store at Yambuk. His wife passed away forty-one years before him and he left seven children.

John Wishart GIBSON: Died 10 February 1914 at Colac. John Gibson was a Geelong importer before purchasing a large amount of land in and around Colac. He was a keen golfer and enjoyed playing the Port Fairy Golf Links on his summer holidays. John’s wife Grace signed the 1891  Women’s Suffrage Petition at Highton. They had five children.

Fanny Mercer FISHER:  Died 25 February 1914 at Dobie. Fanny Richardson was the oldest resident in the Ararat district at the time of her death, aged eighty-one. She had been in Victoria for seventy-nine years and that was also thought to qualify her as the oldest lady colonist in the state. Apparently she shared the title with a Mrs Pearman and a Mrs Creswick until they both passed away. Fanny, born in Tasmania, was the daughter of David Fisher. He took up the position of manager for the Derwent Company bringing him, and later his family, to Geelong in 1837. A letter from David appears in Letters from Victorian Pioneers.  In 1850, Fanny married James Richardson.

John Henry JACKSON: Died 2 February 1915 at Casterton. John Jackson was born in Longford, Tasmania in 1829.  At fourteen, he travelled to Victoria to work for his uncles Samuel and William Jackson near Sunbury. When his uncles purchased Sandford Estate from John Henty in 1847, John rode from Sunbury to Sandford by himself aged eighteen. He remained there for the rest of his life. John married Marianne Bowtell in 1855 and they had two sons and three daughters.  John was one of the earliest J.P.s in the area and was a Honourary Magistrate.

John HOWELL: Died 17 February 1915 at Orford. John Howell was born in the Port Fairy district around 1843 to Irish parents.  He selected land at Orford in 1867 and remained there until his death. He never married, and due to his thrift was a donor to many worthy causes. He left three brothers and five sisters.

Reverend Mother Mary Josephine CLANCY:  Died February, 1915 at sea. The Reverend Mother Josephine was one of the founding members of the Brigidine Convent in Ararat, arriving around 1888 from Ireland. With guidance from the much admired Mother Josephine, the convent school, was highly regarded. Marian College still operates today. Sadly, after a trip home to Ireland, Mother Josephine passed away on the ship during the return voyage.

Hugh CAMERON:  Died February 1934 at Drumborg. Born in Portland around 1855, Hugh Cameron moved around the Western District for several years, finally settling at Drumborg. He lived at Condah, Willaura, Telangatuk and Branxholme.  He married Mary Cameron of Toorak and they had five boys and two girls.

Ellen McDONALD:  Died 4 February 1937 at Moonee Ponds. Ellen McDonald lived in Portland for most of her 76 years but moved to Moonee Ponds for the last thirteen years of her life. During her time in Portland, where her husband Thomas Hickey ran a livery stable, Ellen attended All Saints Church. After the move to Melbourne, Ellen enjoyed returning to Portland for her annual holiday.  She left Thomas, five sons and two daughters.  A son John, a veteran of the Boer War, predeceased her.

Samuel ARTIS: Died February 1938 at Port Fairy. Samuel Artis was born around 1858 and worked for the Belfast and Koroit Steam Navigation Company for many years and was at one time, foreman of the wharf. Samuel was also an expert on the history of Port Fairy.

Frederick H. BEST: Died 29 February 1940 at Winslow. Frederick was born in England in 1849 and arrived in Portland with his parents, in 1852.  He began work as a tanner at fifteen and work around Australia and New Zealand for the following ten years.  He married Louise Cardinal at Woolsthorpe in 1875 and set up a tannery business at Winslow.  It became the biggest tannery outside the larger cities.

William McKENZIE:  Died 2 February 1949 at Newfields. Born at Carranballac Station in 1868, William McKenzie was the youngest of thirteen children. He worked as a shearer through the Western District and N.S.W. before taking up dairy farming around the turn of the century. William married Augusta Schmidt in 1896.

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.

“FLORA”

“POMONA”

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 http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article75176846

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 http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article73190179

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 http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64391911

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 http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/235471

THOMAS TURNER SHAW c1866. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria. Image no. H2013.172/23 http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/235471

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).