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.

Passing of the Pioneers

When I started posting pioneer obituaries under the heading “Passing of the Pioneers” in July 2011, I never imagined that “Passing of the Pioneers” would still be going three years on. (I didn’t think Western District Families would still be going). Nor did I expect that I could announce this month marks the posting of the 500th pioneer obituary. Over the three years, thanks to the stories of those 500 pioneers, the amount I have learnt about Western District history and the families who built that history has been invaluable. However, the best aspect has been the number of people who have contacted me after finding their pioneering ancestor in the posts. I hope what I have provided has gone a little way toward them learning more about their ancestors’ lives.

The precis I give for each pioneer summarises the obituary that appeared in the paper when the pioneer passed away.  I don’t check the facts written there, such as ships sailed on or years of arrival.  I do search for the maiden name of married women, simply because I prefer to list them with their maiden names and not Mrs A. Smith, for example.  Sometimes I will search for further information about a pioneer and in the entry I include links to the sources I have found. So basically, what I give you is an index to pioneer obituaries with a link to the original and from there you can make what you like of the information provided at the time of the pioneer’s death. Obituaries are, after all, an inaccurate source as the information contained is second or third hand and rarely do you read of negative characteristics of a person or their failures in life.

Importantly, I must thank Trove Australia because without the digitised newspapers I would never have been able to find the 500 obituaries of some of the Western District’s great pioneers.

You can either search or browse the Passing of the Pioneers obituaries. Search a family name in the search box on the side bar of this page or select “Pioneer Obituaries” in the category box, also on the sidebar.  You can then browse through the 36 posts beginning with the most recent.  Simply click on the name of the pioneer to go to the newspaper obituary. If you find a family member, feel free to comment and give more information if you have any.  Leaving a comment increases your chance of finding someone else researching the same person.


This month’s pioneers include two men who knew family members of mine with both men being important figures in their respective towns. There is also a bricklayer, a publican and one of the men who discovered the Londonderry mine at Coolgardie, Western Australia.

Hugh MURRAY: Died 28 July 1869 at Colac. Hugh Murray was born in Scotland about 1814 and arrived in Tasmania with his parents and siblings in 1823.  At the age of twenty-three, Hugh left Tasmania for Victoria and settled on the banks of Lake Colac before there was a town and today is considered Colac’s first white settler. Hugh had pastoral interests but also sat as a Magistrate at the local Colac Magistrates Court. Last month’s Passing of the Pioneers included the obituary of Elizabeth Young of Hobart who married Hugh Murray in 1841.

EARLY SETTLEMENT AT LAKE COLAC c1875, BY NICHOLAS CHEVALIER.  Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria.  Image No.  H3572

EARLY SETTLEMENT AT LAKE COLAC c1875, BY NICHOLAS CHEVALIER. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria. Image No. H3572

Hugh knew my ggg grandparents Thomas Gamble and Ellen Barry but not in the way one would like their ancestors to be acquainted with an outstanding citizen of Colac. It started with Thomas Gamble, said to have been employed by Hugh Murray to make bricks for his new home at Lake Colac, thus prompting the Gambles to move from Geelong to Colac. Their relationship soon soured. As early as 1851, Thomas’ wife Ellen faced Magistrate Murray in the Colac Court of Petty Sessions charged with drunkenness, one of dozens of charges she would face during her life and it certainly wasn’t her first. In January 1853, Thomas Gamble faced court as the defendant in a case against Hugh Murray. Although the handwriting in the original register of the Colac Court of Petty Sessions (p.83) is difficult to read, I can make out the words  –  “Thomas Gamble – Charged alleged arson in setting fire to Hugh Murray Esq.”.  Fortunately, the case was  dismissed.

Peter LEARMONTH: Died 19 July 1893 at Hamilton. Peter Learmonth was one of Hamilton’s most prominent citizens from the 1860s to the time of his death, contributing greatly to the growth of that town and the  villages surrounding it. Born in Scotland in 1821, Peter travelled to Tasmania to meet up with his brother William who had already bought land in that colony. Gold attracted Peter and he left for the Californian goldfields in the late 1840s. With no success, he made his way to Victoria in the early 1850s and had good fortune on the Castlemaine goldfields. Getting out while ahead during the mid-1850s, he took up a manager’s job at Merino Downs station owned by Francis Henty, but not before marrying Mary Jarvey Pearson at Portland in 1854.  By 1859, Peter purchased Prestonholme on the banks of the Grange Burn near Hamilton from George Younger and proceeded to build the Grange Burn Flour Mill. He later purchased mills at  Byaduk, Sandford and Penshurst.  The homestead at Prestonholme and the mill still stand today on the Mill Road, Hamilton.

PETER LEARMONTH'S PRESTONHOLME MILL.  Photo courtesy of Denis Steer.

PETER LEARMONTH’S GRANGE BURN MILL. Photo courtesy of Denis Steer.

Not satisfied with his milling empire, Peter established P.Learmonth & Co Stock & Station agents in Gray Street, Hamilton. Peter’s sons continued the business after his death.

P. LEARMONTH & CO. STOCK & STATION AGENTS. GARY STREET, HAMILTON, WILLIAM TIBBITS (c1896). Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria. Image no. H83.253/1

Peter Learmonth was a member of the Dundas Shire Council for nine years, serving as President for four successive terms, a record he still holds. He was also one of the first councillors of the Borough of Hamilton. Peter was one of the driving  forces behind the Hamilton & Western District Boys College and Alexandra Girls School, two schools that built Hamilton’s foundations as an education town.

HAMILTON COLLEGE.  Image Courtesy of the State Library of Victoria, J.T.Collins Collection.  Image no. H97.250/74

HAMILTON COLLEGE. Image Courtesy of the State Library of Victoria, J.T.Collins Collection. Image no. H97.250/74

ALEXANDRA COLLEGE, [No heading]. (1874, July 11). The Australasian Sketcher with Pen and Pencil (Melbourne, Vic. : 1873 - 1889), p. 52. Retrieved July 24, 2014, from

ALEXANDRA COLLEGE, [No heading]. (1874, July 11). The Australasian Sketcher with Pen and Pencil (Melbourne, Vic. : 1873 – 1889), p. 52. Retrieved July 24, 2014, from

The Hamilton Hospital was another of Hamilton’s institutions that Peter Learmonth helped set up and was President of the Hospital for eighteen years.

HAMILTON HOSPITAL.  Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria, Image no. H32492/2732 ,

HAMILTON HOSPITAL. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria, Image no. H32492/2732 ,

Two of  Peter Learmonth’s children married into families that were also influential in Hamilton ‘at the time. Eldest son James Allan Learmonth married Annie Thomson, daughter of John Thomson of Monivae in 1886.  A daughter Mary married the son of another prominent Hamilton man, David Laidlaw jnr, son of saddler and self-made man, David Laidlaw. Mary’s obituary appeared in April 2013 Passing of the Pioneers.  Messrs. Learmonth, Laidlaw and Thomson were a force to be reckoned with and include Peter’s brother, Alex Learmonth, also a man of much influence, and it is not surprising that they were able to grow Hamilton into one of Victoria’s most eminent towns.

Later in life, Peter purchased land in Mexico and gave his share to two of his sons. He also purchased Correa Estate” near Dunkeld and pursued pastoral interests with much success.

A supporter of the temperance movement, Peter was president of the Total Abstinence Society and the work of he and John Thomson, saw a Temperance Hall opened in Kennedy Street, Hamilton. They obtained an existing building and converted it to suit the needs of the Society.

As I write my Harman family history and delve into the local histories of Byaduk and Hamilton, Peter Learmonth comes up time and again. A Methodist, he knew my ggg grandfather James Harman and at one stage James was acting as an agent for farm machinery on Peter’s behalf.  James’ daughter Julia married George Holmes jnr, the son of George Holmes who was a manager of the Grange Burn mill before managing the Byaduk mill. George Jnr worked at the Penshurst mill and took over the Sandford mill with his brothers.

Peter Learmonth passed away at his home at “Prestonholme” .  He was seventy-four.


Dundas Shire Centenary, 1863-1963. Hamilton Spectator for the Dundas Shire Council, [Hamilton, Vic.], 1963.

Garden, Donald S. (Donald Stuart) and Hamilton (Vic.). Council Hamilton, a Western District history. City of Hamilton in conjunction with Hargreen, North Melbourne, 1984.

Glenelg & Wannon Settlers (website)

Macdonald, Anita Mariposa : a story of the Learmonths of western Victoria and Mexico, 1834-1930. Heatherleigh Publishing, [Melbourne], 1982.

John SYMONS: Died 10 July 1914 at Hamilton. Born in Cornwall around 1828, John Symons’ trade was ship’s carpenter and after his arrival at Portland in 1854, his skills were in demand with much building work required. From Portland, John moved to Balmoral before settling at the Wannon, near Hamilton. John farmed but was also a contractor for the Roads Board and later the local Shires. One of his most important works in the district was constructing the bridge over the Wannon River at Redruth, a necessity to enable travel from Hamilton to Coleraine and beyond. Timber for the bridge was cut using pit saws and John did much of that work himself. During his marriage, John and his wife raised eleven children with seven still living at the time of his death.

William DUNN: Died 1 July 1914 at Box Hill. William Dunn arrived in Victoria in 1855 from Somersetshire aboard the Raven’s Craig.  After two years in Geelong, he rode by horseback to Hamilton, his home for the next forty-four years.  As a bricklayer and builder, he constructed the Victoria and Colonial banks in Hamilton with William Holden and  Budock Vean, a home in French Street, Hamilton still standing today.  A devout Methodist, he held various positions within the church.

FORMER BANK OF VICTORIA, GRAY STREET, HAMILTON.  Image courtesy of the J.T. Collins collection, State Library of Victoria.  Image no.   H97.250/89

FORMER BANK OF VICTORIA, GRAY STREET, HAMILTON. Image courtesy of the J.T. Collins collection, State Library of Victoria. Image no. H97.250/89

Jane DONNELLY: Died 1 July 1914 at Hawkesdale. Born in Ireland around 1834, Jane Donnelly arrived in Australia in the 1860s, settling at Myamyn. She married William Walshe and they raised six children. In the meantime, Jane established the Foresters Hotel at Myamyn and ran a store to cater for the many carriers who used the town as a stopover on their travels.  After the death of her husband, Jane remarried to William Jenkins in 1883 and for a time ran the former Victoria Hotel at Portland.

John MUNRO: Died July 1914 at Hotspur. John Munro was born in Scotland around 1833 and sailed to Hobsons Bay aboard the Champion of the Seas in 1854. Gold must have been his primary reason for coming to Victoria as he spent time around the various diggings before travelling to New Zealand and the goldfields of Otago. After two years, he returned and took up residence at Portland and married in 1867. For many years, he was a storekeeper and post office operator.  He also engaged in farming pursuits and in the early 1890s took up land at Hotspur. At the time of his death, he left a widow and nine children. He was buried at the Hotspur Cemetery.

Alexander John McLEAN: Died 23 July 1915 at Hamilton.  Alexander McLean was born in Scotland around 1836 and arrived in Sydney as a three-year-old with his parents. They later moved to Victoria, taking up residence at Tower Hill. From there, Alexander went on to Myamyn and then Macarthur where he was a founding member of the Methodist Church.  Alexander enjoyed telling stories of the pioneer days, before bridges spanned creeks or railways traversed the countryside.  Alexander and his wife had nine children.

Sarah Ann FARNHAM: Died 21 July 1916 at Hamilton. Born in Somersetshire, England around 1839, Sarah Ann Farnham arrived at Portland in 1858. She married Andrew Lockie at Portland in 1860 and by 1866 they had moved to Hamilton were Andrew ran a saddlery business.  Leaving a family of six children and her husband, Sarah Ann was buried at the Hamilton Old Cemetery.

Mary SAVIN: Died July 1918 at Muddy Creek. Mary Savin was born in Oxfordshire and sailed to Victoria with her parents in 1853.  Around 1855, the family travelled north to Muddy Creek where they settled. Two years later, Mary married John Addinsall and they had a family of twelve children. Like many of the early settlers at Muddy Creek, Mary was a Methodist and it was in a crowded Muddy Creek Methodist Church where Mary was given her last farewell.

John HUXLEY: Died 21 July 1918 at Portland. John Huxley was born in Portland around 1863. During the 1890s, John travelled to Western Australia, lured by the discovery of gold, but unlike the other July pioneers who chose to seek their fortunes, John struck gold in a big way. John and several other men discovered the rich Londonderry mine at Coolgardie, Western Australia. Having made his fortune, John returned to Victoria and purchased the Straun Estate at Merino. A keen racehorse owner, one of John’s big successes came less than a year before his death, when his horse the Ruralist, trained by James Agnew of Hamilton, won the Great Western Steeplechase at Hamilton in September 1917. The horse was also a two-time Brierly Steeplechase winner at Warrnambool.  John passed away at his seaside home Kenly at Portland and was buried at the South Portland cemetery.

Christina Emily FORD: Died 26 July 1931 at Hamilton. Christina Ford was born in Macarthur in 1880 into a well-known pioneering family. In 1905, she married William Baker and they moved to Portland and  raised nine children. Christina was a keen volunteer for the Portland Football Club and was a member of the Australian Women’s National League.

Charles HOLDER: Died 21 July 1922 at Warrnambool. The story of Charles Holder’s life appeared in the Portland Guardian on 28 September 1931, nine years after his death and it gives a great account of Melbourne and Victoria in the 1840s. Charles Holder was born in Bristol, England around 1838 and from the moment he set sail on the Wardshipton as a three-year-old with his parent and siblings, his great pioneering life had begun. The voyage in 1841, with almost 300 other immigrants was harsh with twenty-four deaths including twenty-two children.  hree of those children were Charles’ young sisters. Arriving at Hobson’s Bay, Charles, his parents and two remaining siblings, took a steamer along the Yarra River to Melbourne.

MELBOURNE 1841.  Image Courtesy of the State Library of Victoria,  Image no. H6262/2

MELBOURNE 1841. Image Courtesy of the State Library of Victoria, Image no. H6262/2

After spending time on stations around Melbourne, including Dandenong as a boy and young teenager, Charles made his way to the Western District, working at The Gums between Caramut and  Penshurst. By that time, it was the early 1850s, and Charles headed to the Bendigo diggings but like so many his luck was out and he returned to the west of the state, working at Grassmere near Warrnambool. In the early 1860s, he selected his own land at Cooramook and remained there for the rest of his life.

An obituary in the The Register (Adelaide) on September 2, 1922 , published at the time of Charles’ death has further detail of his pioneering life.

Ellen OSBOURNE: Died 15 July 1934 at Hamilton. Born at Portland, Ellen Osbourne married local builder Thomas Cruse and they continued to resided at Portland. She raised a family and was a devoted member of the Church of England.  Prior to her death, Ellen had been ill for many weeks and as a consequence was admitted to Kia Ora Private Hospital at Hamilton.  Ellen needed a blood transfusion but unlike today when we take for granted stocks of blood at hospitals, in 1934 there wasn’t a Red Cross Blood Bank. Therefore, Ellen’s son donated the blood required for the transfusion.  Unfortunately, it was not enough to save his mother.

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

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.



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.