Passing of the Pioneers

A small group of Western District pioneers join Passing of the Pioneers this month.  Among them are immigrants from Scotland, England and Canada and, as usual, each have an interesting story. Their names have now been added to the Western District Families Pioneer Obituary Index.

Peter DALLIMORE – Died September 1901 at Warrnambool.  Peter Dallimore was born in New Brunswick, Canada around 1842.  His father Captain Joseph Dallimore was born at the Isle of Wight in 1805.  He went to North America and married Mary Smith of Philadelphia.  The settled at St. Andrews in Charlotte county, New Brunswick, Canada where Peter was born in 1842.  In 1850, Mary Smith died.  Peter arrived in Australia and  went to the Warrnambool district in the late 1860s.  He married Marianne Meek on 15 March 1870 at St. James Cathedral in Melbourne.

"Family Notices." The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957) 19 Mar 1870: .

“Family Notices.” The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957) 19 Mar 1870: <;.

Peter set up a wool-scouring business on the banks of Lake Gillear near Allansford.


 "[No heading]." Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 - 1873; 1914 - 1918) 21 Dec 1870: 1. .

“[No heading].” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1873; 1914 – 1918) 21 Dec 1870: 1. <;.

In 1876, father  Joseph Dallimore arrived to Victoria aboard the Macduff.  He died at Warrnambool in 1878 and was buried at the Warrnambool Cemetery.

In the 1884, when journalist The Vagabond was touring Victoria, he called in on Peter Dallimore.  I  feel that he  may have crossed his wires, thinking Peter was a “native of the Old Dominian”…Virginia.  Peter was from Charlotte County in New Brunswick in Canada.  There is also a Charlotte County and a Brunswick in Virginia and no doubt Peter had a North American accent further confusing The Vagabond.

"PICTURESQUE VICTORIA." The Australasian (Melbourne, Vic. : 1864 - 1946) 10 Jan 1885: 43. .

“PICTURESQUE VICTORIA.” The Australasian (Melbourne, Vic. : 1864 – 1946) 10 Jan 1885: 43. <;.

Peter Dallimore was buried in the Warrnambool Cemetery with his father and wife.  I have the Cemeteries of the S.W. USB that includes the Warrnambool Cemetery and a photo of the Dallimore headstone.  It is very informative and includes a memorial to Peter’s mother and all dates and places of birth.

George MARRINER – Died 7 September 1911 at Colac.  George Marriner was born in Fulham, London around 1833 and arrived in Australia around 1857. George was a nurseryman and established the Fulham Nursery in Colac.  He was also a founding member of the Colac I.O.O.F. In 1908, George’s wife Elizabeth was sitting by the fire in their home when her clothing caught alight.  George, in his mid-seventies, returned to the room and tried to douse the flames but to no avail.  Elizabeth died from her burns.  At the time of George’s death he had three sons and a daughter.

Thomas STAINSBY – Died 26 September 1914 at Warrnambool.  Thomas Stainsby was born in Melbourne in 1848.  He went to Warrnambool and worked as a bootmaker and lived on Raglan Parade.  Thomas took a keen interest in all sports in Warrnambool but cycling and pedestrianism where his preferred sports and was a handicapper for both.  He was also a sergeant in the Volunteer Militia and was involved with the Church of England men’s society.  Thomas had a shop in Fairy Street, Warrnambool and rode his bike each day from his home in Raglan Parade.  On the morning of his death, he rode to work as usual but on his return home around lunchtime, he collapsed off the bike and died soon after.  As two of Thomas’ sons were members of the Warrnambool Brass Band, the band did not play at the Saturday afternoon football or the evening pictures on the day of Thomas’ death.

Ellen MAY – Died 27 September 1914 at Ecklin South.  Ellen May was born in Berkshire in 1834.   She arrived in Australia in 1857 aboard the Sir William Fyre and in 1860 she married George Rodgers at Ballarat.  Their first child was born at Smythesdale in 1861.  During the early years of their marriage, George tried gold mining around the Haddon area and operated a grocers at Speciman Hill.  Eventually, they selected land in the Heytesbury forest, near Cobden and named their property Sunny Banks.  Ellen and George had seven children and one of those, Ellen Matilda Rodgers married my 1st cousin 4 x removed, Arthur John Harman, in 1891.  Arthur was a son of Jonathan Harman.

John Hutchinson MURRAY – Died 23 September 1935 at Glenthompson.  John Murray was born at Brighton in 1873 to William Murray and Harriett Hutchinson.  William Murray was the owner of Brie Brie near Glenthompson and had resided there since 1869, breeding fine Merino sheep.  When John was twenty-two, he built a golf course at Brie Brie, after playing the game in Scotland. It was one of the first private golf courses in Victoria.

John Murray was also a keen student of Australian History and had many books on the subject.  He was also interested in the history of Brie Brie with Sir Thomas Mitchell having passed over the same land while exploring Western Victoria in 1836.  In 1909, when that part of Brie Brie was sold off, John removed a tree that one of  Mitchell’s party had marked.  He was concerned bushfires would eventually destroy the tree and history would be lost.  He donated the trunk to the town of Hamilton as a public memorial.  The trunk was positioned in the Hamilton Botanic Gardens with a pair of whale bones.  The display was removed in 1984.  John was buried on the private cemetery at Brie Brie along with his parents and other owners of the property.  More about the Major Mitchell tree trunk is on the following links:

James Patrick DEVLIN – Died 4 September 1942 at Portland.  James Devlin was born at Cape Bridgewater in 1858.  He first worked for John Thomas Edgar at Kadnook near Harrow, then moved to Edgar’s station Thackaringa near Broken Hill.  At Broken Hill, James caught the mining bug and prospected first at Broken Hill and then Kalgoorlie where he spent thirty years.  He was manager of several different mining ventures while in Kalgoorlie.  James was also associated with Sir Sidney Kidman, possibly during their time in Broken Hill, and was good friends with Thomas Browne aka Rolf Boldrewood, author of “Robbery Under Arms”.  In 1891, James married a Portland girl Kate Duffy and they had two children.  In 1908, James returned to Portland residing in a property at North Portland until his death.

Jane KIRKWOOD – Died 2 September 1944 at Hamilton.  Jane Kirkwood was born at Hamilton in 1856, the daughter of  Scottish immigrants, William Kirkwood and Jane O’May.  The Kirkwoods lived at Buckley Swamp.  In 1885, Jane married William Chadderton and they settled at Glencoe near Bochara.  William was a renown breeder of Jersey cattle.  After William’s death in 1916, Jane moved into Hamilton to live until her death in 1944.  She was buried at the Hamilton Old Cemetery.





Jessie Cairns SPALDING – Died 25 September 1944 at Cobden.  Jessie Spalding was born in Scotland in 1861.  As a baby, she travelled with her parents to Australia, arriving at Geelong.  They then went on to the Ballarat diggings.  From her time at Ballarat, Jessie recalled the visit from the Duke of Edinburgh in 1867 as depicted in the engraving below.

Samuel Calvert, engraver. Image Courtesy of the State Library of Victoria.

Samuel Calvert, engraver. Image Courtesy of the State Library of Victoria.

When Jessie was eighteen, she moved to Camperdown where she met Thomas Fletcher.  They married and raised a family of ten children.  One son was killed fighting during WW1.  At the time of her death, Jessie had thirty-five grandchildren and forty great-grandchildren.

More Soldiers, More Sorrow




Writing the profiles of the Hamilton WW1 soldiers has highlighted the month of August of 1915, 1916 and 1918 as particularly sad times for the town’s residents.  There was heaving fighting at Gallipoli during August 1915 with the battle of Lone Pine, the Charge at the Nek and the attack on Hill 971 and Hill 60.  During July and August 1916 there was heavy fighting at the Somme, France with the battles at Fromelles, Pozieres, and Moquet Farm.  During August 1918, there was the Battle of Amiens.  Many Hamilton men lost their lives during those months.

You can now read forty profiles of Hamilton’s WW1 soldiers from the tab at the top of the page “Hamilton’s WW1“.





Currently, I’m working to finish the profiles of the men who died during August, particularly those for whom it is now 100 years since they made the ultimate sacrifice.

The stories of Albert Sheehan, Arthur Lewis and Claude “Dot” Douglas are particularly sad considering they watched the occupancy in their tent diminish. Thirteen men occupied their tent at the start of their Gallipoli campaign.  By the beginning of August, only the three Hamilton mates were alive.  As the month passed, one by one, Albert, Arthur, and Claude did not return.  By the end of August 2015, their tent was empty.


Image Courtesy of the Australian War Memorial. Image no. P00649.004

Image Courtesy of the Australian War Memorial. Image no. P00649.004


There is also the story of Lieutenant Edward “Ted” Henty of the 8th Light Horse Regiment (8th LHR), grandson of Stephen George Henty.  Before departing overseas, he married his sweetheart at Hamilton’s Christ Church. Ted was killed during the charge at the Nek.  A son he would never know was born in the months after his death.  Also killed at the Nek and with the 8th LHR was William Hind, who at the time of his enlistment was beginning his career in the printing industry with the Hamilton Spectator.  One man, an officer from an esteemed Victorian family, the other a private of working class blood, but each with so much more to offer.  They bravely gave their lives in what was one of the most futile battles of WW1.


"DISTRICT HONOUR ROLL." Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 - 1918) 23 Sep 1915: 6. Web. .

“DISTRICT HONOUR ROLL.” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 23 Sep 1915: 6. Web. .


With each profile, I attempt to uncover how the enlistment affected the family and the town’s residents and how each lost man was remembered.  In some cases, the shock of the loss of a son saw the death of a parent soon after, as was the case with the father of Arthur Lewis.  Other men had wives and children. I’m writing the profile of William John Clyde Kirkwood, a man who sits on the edge of my family tree with a Kirkwood link through marriage. The effect of his death on his children reverberated for well over a decade.  Parents and wives had exhausting ongoing correspondence with the Defence Department, often for years, sorting out pensions, medals and personal effects.  Some had to get around administrative challenges of incorrect names given at enlistment or the death of the listed next of kin.  There were also the men who returned home, like William Brake and Albert Davies (below) who never fully recovered from their war experiences.



STANLEY & ALBERT DAVIES. Image courtesy of the Australian War Memorial. Image no. DA15721


It is a privilege to research the stories of the Hamilton’s soldiers.  It’s easy to feel an attachment to them and in a small way feel the sorrow of their families, in the reading of their service records, letters published in the Hamilton Spectator, and looking at photographs of young, fresh faced men with innocence in their eyes.  One such soldier was Stan Niddrie (below) a quiet country lad, at home on his horse with his dogs bringing up a flock of sheep. He also shared his thoughts in letters home to his sister.  Nineteen at the time of his enlistment in September 1915 and just 5’4″, Stan would stand six feet tall during his service, working his way through the ranks, reaching Sergeant just before he was killed near Villers-Bretonneux in August 1918, only months from going home.  Stan’s eyes would have seen much during his three years of service, their innocence taken away.


STANLEY ROY NIDDRIE. Image courtesy of the Australian War Memorial. Image no. DASEY1899

STANLEY ROY NIDDRIE. Image courtesy of the Australian War Memorial. Image no. DASEY1899


The stories of the men, each from different backgrounds, with different war experiences, and different fates, all end the same.  There were no winners from The Great War and we really don’t understand what those that lived it endured.  Albert Lewis, writing home after the Gallipoli landing so rightly said, “I am certain there is not a single person in Australia who can near realise what their boys went through”.




Passing of the Pioneers

When an obituary has only a female pioneer’s married name, I do like to find their maiden name. This month, there was one such pioneer, Mrs Susan Sloan. After a quick search, I found on her death record her father’s name recorded as Francis Sloan. As I don’t want to make assumptions based on a death certificate, I will continue to call her Mrs Susan Sloan, however I will keep trying to find her maiden name in the future as I have an interest in Susan as you will see in her obituary below.

Marks DAFFY: Died 22 February 1902 at Cundare. Marks Daffy was born at County Clare, Ireland and arrived in Melbourne in 1857. He spent his first five years in the colony around the Barrabool Hills near Geelong, working on various farms.  With money saved, Marks selected land in the Colac district after the passing of the 1862 Duffy Lands Act. He set about building a fine dairy farm, using his good eye for stock to select the best dairy cows.  He gave up dairy-farming after twenty-five years and settled into an “easier” life as a grazier.  In 1887, after dissatisfaction with the Colac Shire, he ran for a seat which he won. Around eighteen months before his death, a fall from his buggy eventually left him bedridden and ultimately  claimed his life.  His funeral procession was a mile long and was the largest to arrived at the Cundare cemetery.

William MOODIE:  Died 25 February 1914 at Coleraine. William Moodie arrived in the Coleraine district with his Scottish parents at the age of six weeks around 1841. His father took up the property Wando Dale at Nareen and so began William’s life on the land, breeding some of the finest wool stock. After taking over the property from his parents, he built the current Wando Dale Homestead (below) in 1901.

“WANDO DALE”, NAREEN. Image courtesy of the J.T. Collins Collection, La Trobe Picture Collection, State Library of Victoria. Image No. H94.200/302

He also spent a good part of his seventy-three years in public life. He was a member of the Casterton Roads Board and the Wannon Shire Council. He was also involved with the P&A Society, the local Horticultural Society and St Andrews Church at Coleraine. William Moodie left a widow, seven sons and five daughters.

John KELLY: Died 7 February 1915 at Macarthur. John Kelly arrived from Tasmania, his birthplace, with his family when he was three years old. If John was eighty-five at the time of his death, it would mean that he arrived in Victoria in 1833, so I’m thinking it may have been a little later. Even still, he was an early arrival in the colony. John worked as a carrier with his brother, working the route between Geelong and stations as far west as Casterton.  He also ran a store at Yambuk for many years and took up property at Codrington.  He died at the home of his daughter Mrs Hindhaugh of Macarthur.

John MURRAY: Died 13 February 1915 at Hamilton. Born in Stirlingshire, Scotland, John Murray was a resident of Hamilton for over fifty years by the time of his death. His family arrived at Geelong aboard the Chariot of Fame and went directly to Hamilton. He spent much of his working life as a labourer and was a member of the Court Brotherhood  of the Ancient Order of Foresters for over forty-five years. He was a widow and left five sons and one daughter from a family of twelve children.

Jane O’MAY: Died 17 February 1916 at Buckley Swamp. Jane O’May was born in Paisley, Scotland in 1822 and married William Kirkwood in 1842. William and Jane arrived at Portland in 1852 aboard the John Davis. They travelled by bullock dray to Warrock, near Casterton.

First Issue, August 20 1842. (1916, February 23). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 - 1953), p. 2 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved February 22, 2013, from

First Issue, August 20 1842. (1916, February 23). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 2 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved February 22, 2013, from

The Kirkwoods were hard-working pioneers and Jane left a large family at the time of her death.  hree daughters were still alive along with twenty-four grandchildren and twenty-one great-grandchildren. Jane’s grandson, William Kirkwood of the Hamilton South area, married my first cousin 4 x removed, Sarah Ann Reed.

James COWELL: Died 24 February 1917 at Mortlake. James Cowell was born in Cambridgeshire around 1838 and by 1868, had already established a butcher’s shop at Mortlake. He later became a road contractor for the local Shire. One of James’ three sons, Pte Harry Cowell, lost his life at Gallipoli.

Joseph WOMBWELL: Died 9 February 1918 at Casterton.  Arriving in Portland in 1853 aged seventeen years from Essex, England, Joseph Wombwell’s first job was at the Henty’s Muntham Station.  He married Betsy Ann Coulson in 1869, the daughter of Christopher Coulson and Mary Frances Stubbs and stayed in Merino until 1875. They then moved to Casterton and lived in a bark hut while Joseph ran a carrying business between Casterton and Portland. One claim to fame is that he delivered the “first load of grog” to the Sandford Hotel. The Hamilton Spectator also published a lengthy obituary for Joseph Wombwell

Susan SLOAN: Died 9 February 1918 at Hamilton. Susan Sloan was born in Glasgow, Scotland and after arriving in Portland in 1855, she went to Ararat where she married Thomas Sloan. They returned to Portland and ran a shipping business, but the trade was tough and they moved inland to Hamilton where there were greater opportunities, and they established a cordial business. Thomas died in 1910 and Susan continued to run the business until her death, after which time family members continued its operations until 1930. The Sloan’s cottage Whinhill in Pope Street, Hamilton was featured in an I’ve Lived in Hamilton, Victoria group post as it is a highly visible and known to most who have lived in Hamilton. None of us knew the history of the cottage and there is still more we would like to find out.  The cordial business operated behind the cottage.

John MOFFATT: Died 9 February 1926 at Chatsworth. John Moffatt was born in Scotland in 1854 and arrived in Victoria with his parents in 1872 and resumed his education at Geelong Grammar.  At age 19 he took up the running of the Burnewang Estate near Bendigo before he inherited Chatsworth House from his uncle John Moffatt in 1879. He also leased his uncle’s property Hopkins Hill from the estate’s trustees. John Moffatt was a sat on the Shire of Mt Rouse and was a member of the Landowner’s Council.

DEATH OF MR. JOHN MOFFATT. (1926, February 10). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), p. 21. Retrieved February 28, 2014, from

DEATH OF MR. JOHN MOFFATT. (1926, February 10). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957), p. 21. Retrieved February 28, 2014, from

John Moffatt’s uncle, John Moffatt, has been a Passing Pioneer and his obituary offers more history about the Moffatt family.



The Muddy Creek Reeds

Researching the family of my ggg grandmother Susan has been like searching a muddy creek looking for clues with reeds blocking my way.  The thing is Susan was a Reed and for a time members of her family lived at Muddy Creek.

The main challenge has been the family name.  My ggg grandmother and her siblings were christened as Reed .  She and her family were Read on the 1841 and 1851 UK Census and on Susan’s death record.   Despite the variance,  I had chosen to call Susan and her parents and siblings by the surname Read.   Then I found that Susan’s brother William was living just down the road from her in Victoria.  In 1866 when William married Sarah Burgin, he was William Read.  By 1869, and the birth of William’s first child, he was Reed.  That was the surname taken by his children and that went with him to the grave.

Even though the “Reed” name was consistently used by William from 1869, always lurking is the thought that at sometime the name may be Read.  Or Reid.  Especially in the newspapers.

Susan and William’s story began in Cambridgeshire, first in Melbourn where Susan was born in 1830 and then Whaddon where William was born in 1835.  They remained in Whaddon until they left England.

From the 1841 UK Census, the Read family of Whaddon appeared a fairly typical family in the village.  Parents William Read and Mary Waymant had four children, Susan being the eldest.  William senior was an agricultural labourer.  By the time of the 1851 Census it was clear that over the preceding decade, life for the Read family had changed somewhat.  Susan, recorded as Sussanna was now head of the household, her occupation “pauper”.  There were two new children in the family, Julia aged 7 and John aged  6.  They, along with Sybil then 13 and James 11, were also paupers.  William jnr. 16, was working as an agriculture labourer.

The most noticeable difference from the 1841 Census, other than most of the family being paupers, is that parents William and Mary were not in the house on the night of the 1851 Census.  No amount of searching has found a trace of them on that night or there after.  The other missing family member was Isabella, then 16.  I found her in Bassingbourn working as a servant.  She married in 1853 to Henry Cutts but she died in 1856.  In addition to the information on the Census,  in 1847, another child was born to William and Mary, a son Alfred William.  Like his parents, I have not found any further trace of him.

If William and Mary had died by 1851, it raises questions about Susan’s emotions about leaving for Australia in 1852, shortly after her marriage to James Harman.  Departing would have been heart wrenching enough, but to leave her brothers and sisters under such circumstances must have been extremely difficult for Susan.  She named three of her children after her siblings, Alfred, Julia and Isabella.

Sometime over the following eight to ten years, William jnr left England for Australia but I have not been able to find his arrival in Victoria.  A lot of “William Reeds” and ” William Reads” arrived in Victoria during the 1850s and 60s and that is assuming he came directly to Victoria.

He had arrived in Australia by 1866 as he married Sarah Burgin in that year.  Sarah was the daughter of Richard Burgin and Eliza Addinsall and was born in Lincolnshire, England in 1846.  The Burgins arrived in Geelong in 1854 aboard “Josuha“.  They settled at Muddy Creek, south of Hamilton.

William and Sarah had seven children:

WILLIAM – Born 1869 at Macarthur; Died 1952 at  Hamilton;  Never married.

ELIZA MARY –  Born 1871 at  Hamilton; Died 1954 at  Hamilton;  Marriage – James Percy CLAYTON in  1896.

MARTHA –  Born 1873 at  Macarthur;  Died 1945  at Warrabkook;  Marriage – James Ernest FORD in  1901.

ALBERT –  Born 1874 at  Warrabkook;  Died 1954 at Hamilton;  Marriage –  Elilias PATMAN in  1904.

JOHN –  Born 1877 at Warrabkook;  Died 1878 at Warrabkook.

SARAH ANN –  Born 1879 at  Warrabkook;  Died 1948  at Hamilton;  Marriage –  William KIRKWOOD in 1903.

ALICE –  Born 1882  at Warrabkook;  Died 1974  at Hamilton;  Marriage – Henry Alfred BREWIS  in 1904.

Another difficulty with William Reed is that he lived at both Warrabkook near Macarthur and Muddy Creek, near Hamilton, but he could also be recorded as living at South Hamilton as Muddy Creek fell in the Parish of South Hamilton.  I also can’t rule out nearby Yulecart being used as his place of residence.   So that leaves me searching for William Read or Reed (or Reid) at two locations with four possible place names across the same time period.

In 1888, William was executor of his father in-laws  will.  Noted was William’s signature, “William Reed” and his residence Warrabkook.

Advertising. (1888, June 6). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), p. 9. Retrieved May 22, 2013, from

Advertising. (1888, June 6). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957), p. 9. Retrieved May 22, 2013, from

Not taking a lead from his father in law, William passed away the following year, on December 23, 1889, intestate.   William’s two brother-in-laws William  Burgin and my ggg grandfather James Harman, lodged applications to administer the estate.  However,  William’s wife Sarah was granted administration.  The notice, below, said William was from South Hamilton while Sarah was from Muddy Creek, South Hamilton.

Advertising. (1890, January 30). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), p. 10. Retrieved June 15, 2013, from

Advertising. (1890, January 30). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957), p. 10. Retrieved June 15, 2013, from

William was buried at Hamilton Old Cemetery and his headstone recorded his place of death as Muddy Creek.



It was William’s’ probate papers that told me more about him.  William owned six properties at the time of his death, three in the Parish of South Hamilton, two in the Parish of Warrabkook and one in the Parish of Yulecart.

One of the properties in South Hamilton of 94 acres, had a five-room stone dwelling with an iron roof and all walls plastered.  One ceiling was still canvas lined.  There was also a stone out building.  This would have been the Reed’s Muddy Creek residence.  The other two smaller properties were next to the “home paddock”.  They were all partially fenced with an old log fence and post and wire.  There is a clue to how long William may have been at Muddy Creek.  The improvements on the properties had occurred over 30 years.  That would go back to around 1859.

This list of tender bids, presented at the District Road Board on February 20, 1863 includes a W.Reed who lodged a tender to repair the ford at Muddy Creek.  He did have the cheapest quote but he was beaten to the job by contractors, Vivian and White.

DISTRICT ROAD BOARD. (1863, February 23). Portland Guardian and Normanby General Advertiser (Vic. : 1842 - 1876), p. 2 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved June 14, 2013, from

DISTRICT ROAD BOARD. (1863, February 23). Portland Guardian and Normanby General Advertiser (Vic. : 1842 – 1876), p. 2 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved June 14, 2013, from

The two properties in the Parish of Warrabkook were close by to the Eumeralla River and they can be seen on the  Parish of Warrabkook map from 1879.  John Kirkwood, father-in law of William’s daughter Sarah owned the property to the west.  To the north was the property of William Burgin, William’s brother-in-law.

The larger property of 229 acres  had a four room mud dwelling with a two room wooden add-on.  There were three brick chimneys and the walls were papered.  Two rooms had pine lined ceilings.  This would have been the Reed’s Warrabkook residence.  Improvements on the property had taken place over 22 years, beginning around 1867.

This Local Land Board notice from 1871  reports on an application from W.Reed of Warrabkook.

LOCAL LAND BOARD. (1871, November 30). Portland Guardian and Normanby General Advertiser (Vic. : 1842 - 1876), p. 6 Edition: EVENINGS. Retrieved June 14, 2013, from

LOCAL LAND BOARD. (1871, November 30). Portland Guardian and Normanby General Advertiser (Vic. : 1842 – 1876), p. 6 Edition: EVENINGS. Retrieved June 14, 2013, from

It seems that while William may have bought land at Muddy Creek first, he and Sarah spent the early years of their marriage at Warrabkook, although there did seem to be some going backwards and forwards until their third child, Martha was born.  It was some distance between Muddy Creek and Warrabkook, but I think William may have taken a shorter more direct route than Google Maps offers, with a distance of around 42 kilometres.  Susan lived at Byaduk on the way.  The map below shows Warrabkook (A), Byaduk (B) and Muddy Creek (C).

Later they seem to have spent more time at Muddy Creek.  There was a strong Methodist community and the Reeds were members of the Muddy Creek Primitive Methodist Church.  In 1929, Sarah Reed laid the foundation stone for a new Muddy Creek Pioneer church .  Daughter Martha’s  wedding notice from 1901 has Sarah from Muddy Creek and Warrabkook.

SOCIAL. (1901, May 7). The Horsham Times (Vic. : 1882 - 1954), p. 1. Retrieved June 15, 2013, from

SOCIAL. (1901, May 7). The Horsham Times (Vic. : 1882 – 1954), p. 1. Retrieved June 15, 2013, from

While I can’t find William Reed’s South Hamilton properties on land maps, the road names around Muddy Creek/Yulecart give a clue.  Like at Warrabkook, the Reed, Burgin and Kirkwoods were never far away from each other.

Until now, I have recorded Susan as Susan Read on my family tree and William as William Reed which is a bit messy.  Writing this post as forced me to look harder at the sources and I have decided that I will change all those I have listed as Read to Reed as that is what Susan and her siblings were christened.  I will still need to factor in the different name variables.

William and Susan were not the only Reeds of Whaddon to come to Australia.  Their sister Sybil lived in Ulmurra, New South Wales.  Her husband John Revell was the puntman on the Coldstream River at Ulmurra.  At the time of Sybil’s death in 1903, Susan placed a notice in The Hamilton Spectator for her younger sister.

So for at least three of the Reed family, life improved and the move to Australia must be attributed to that.  William would not have owned six properties had he stayed in Whaddon.  Although they led  hard pioneering lives, at the end, I doubt they had few regrets.

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

OBITUARY. (1874, February 24). Portland Guardian and Normanby General Advertiser (Vic. : 1842 – 1876), p. 6 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved February 20, 2013, from

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.



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.

The Hungry Eagle

I had to share this story with you.

John Kirkwood was the father in law of Sarah Ann Reed, the niece of Susan Reed, wife of James Harman.  While checking his rabbit traps, John found a large eagle caught in a trap.  He took the bird to the Hamilton home of Robert Stapylton Bree on North Boundary road.  Bree chained the raptor in the garden to keep other birds away but he got more than he bargained for with the bird’s voracious appetite.

The Portland Guardian, (50th Year of Publication.) With which is incorporated The Portland Mirror. (1892, May 18). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 2 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved June 14, 2012, from

I wonder what happened to the eagle?

Dozens of articles about eagles and hawks caught in rabbit traps abound found at Trove.  Some eagles still flew with the traps attached and one poor bird was reported with a trap attached  for months.


On sad note, 10 years on, in 1902, John Kirkwood succumbed to influenza.  His obituary appeared in The Horsham Times of October 28, 1902.  John had died in the Hamilton Hospital on Wednesday October 22.  On October 31, 1902, the obituary of John’s daughter, 20-year-old Mary Agnes Kirkwood.  She had passed away on  October 26.

OBITUARY. (1902, October 31). The Horsham Times (Vic. : 1882 – 1954), p. 3. Retrieved July 15, 2012, from



A search of Trove found that in 1902 there were reports of an influenza epidemic.  The Horsham Times reported many cases in the Wimmera area.  Such was the outbreak,  it had an effect on The Horsham Times.