James and the Bushranger

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

 

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

 

ST. PATRICK'S CATHOLIC CHURCH, PORT FAIRY.

ST. PATRICK’S CATHOLIC CHURCH, PORT FAIRY.

 

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

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

 

YAMBUK HOTEL

YAMBUK HOTEL

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

“A BUSHRANGER SHOT.” The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 – 1954) 24 Feb 1859 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article154837960&gt;.

 

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

 

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

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

 

Port Fairy Cemetery – Part Two

I promised a second Port Fairy Cemetery post months ago and finally, here it is.  Considering the number of photos I have from my January 2014 and 2015 visits, there could be a third and maybe a fourth installment.

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Clara Atkinson died in Port Fairy on 8 April, 1873 aged fifty-one.  Her husband John Henry Atkinson a chemist, ordered a headstone to remember not only Clara but the two babies the couple lost in 1856 and 1858.

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“Family Notices.” Portland Guardian and Normanby General Advertiser (Vic. : 1842 – 1876) 21 Apr 1873: 2 Edition: EVENINGS. Web. 12 Jan 2015 .

If it wasn’t for the words “San Francisco” on the headstone, this post would have been much shorter.  Seeing San Francisco on a headstone in Port Fairy stirred the “how” and “whys” in me and I had to find out more.  Baby Lucy Jane Atkinson passed away in San Francisco on 28 June 1856.  She was buried at the Lone Mountain Cemetery in San Francisco aged one month.

Two years later in Warrnambool, on 30 October 1858, Clara and John lost another baby, Clara Bevans aged fifty days.

The Atkinsons seem to have arrived at Hobson’s Bay on 14 July 1858 from San Francisco aboard the Mary Robinson as cabin passengers.  If those passengers were the said Atkinsons, Clara would have been heavily pregnant with baby Clara.

“SHIPPING.” The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 – 1954) 26 Jul 1858: 4. Web. 12 Jan 2015 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article154873476&gt;.

Searches for a John Henry Atkinson, Chemist at Trove brought up many references to Sandhurst (Bendigo) where a John H. Atkinson had a spot of bother in the courts, leading to insolvency.  I was beginning to wonder, first if that was the same John H. and secondly was there a link to an important and influential resident of Bendigo from the 1860s, Harry Leigh Atkinson who at the time of his death was considered one of the largest landholders in Victoria?  

Using Trove and records from Ancestry.com.au, I began to piece the jigsaw together. The only solid clue to John Henry Atkinson’s past came from his death notice that stated he was the brother of the Portland Shire Secretary, Edwin Atkinson and that John died in Exmouth, England.

“Family Notices.” Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953) 1 Apr 1887: 2 Edition: EVENING. Web. 12 Jan 2015 .

That information was useful as I was able to find the following information about John’s will:

“Wills and Bequests.” Table Talk (Melbourne, Vic. : 1885 – 1939) 2 Sep 1887: 7. Web. 12 Jan 2015 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article146710419

Suddenly I had the names of nieces and nephews to trace and the clue of Nafferton, Yorkshire which led me to the 1841 UK census.  Brother of John, Edwin Atkinson helped me find John’s birthplace, Kilham in Yorkshire and his baptism in March 1822. His parents were Thomas Atkinson and Harriet Parkin. Checking the 1841 census, I found a John Atkinson “druggist” aged 20 living at Kilham.

Back at Trove, I found a man by the name of John Henry Atkinson of Launceston qualifying as a chemist in 1849.

 

“[No heading].” The Courier (Hobart, Tas. : 1840 – 1859) 14 Mar 1849: 2. Web. 13 Jan 2015 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-page638262&gt;.

Less than six months later, a John Henry Atkinson was a cabin passenger aboard the Spartan bound for San Francisco from Launceston.

“Shipping Intelligence.” Launceston Examiner (Tas. : 1842 – 1899) 1 Aug 1849: 7 Edition: AFTERNOON. Web. 12 Jan 2015 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article36258021&gt;.

With the knowledge about Kilham, Yorkshire, I discovered John had another brother, Thomas Parkin Atkinson which led to the name of another brother, Dr. Alfred Atkinson.  With that confirmation that John, Thomas, Edwin and Alfred Atkinson were cousins of Dr. Harry Leigh Atkinson.

“Family Notices.” The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957) 21 May 1866: 4. Web. 13 Jan 2015 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article5763019&gt;.

With that solved, I was still interested in why John was in San Fransisco.  I discovered a reason when I read the notice of Dr Alfred Atkinson’s death at Eaglehawk.  Alfred went to Bendigo in 1862 after many years in California.

“THE BENDIGO ADVERTISER.” Bendigo Advertiser (Vic. : 1855 – 1918) 17 Mar 1876: 2. Web. 13 Jan 2015 .

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The Webb family headstone remembers parents William and Elizabeth Jane Webb and their children William Robert James and Edith Gertrude.

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WEBB FAMILY GRAVE

William Webb Sr was born in Wiltshire around 1830.  He arrived in Port Fairy about 1852 and married Elizabeth Jane Francis in 1858.  They had eleven children including William Jr and Edith. Edith passed away in 1875 aged two and her brother William Jr passed away in 1886 aged twenty-six.  In 1911, mother Elizabeth passed away aged seventy-two years.

William Webb Sr passed away in 1919 having lived to the age of 89 years.  During his life, he established himself as a leading citizen of Port Fairy, spending forty years on the Borough council with a record seven terms as Mayor.  From the Victorian Heritage Database, I found William established an iron casting business in Gipps Street, Port Fairy with his brother Henry in the 1850s that included carriage making and a horseshoe forge. He later moved the business to Sackville Street.

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“Cruelty to a Horse.” The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957) 8 Jul 1919: <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article4718862&gt;.

“BOROUGH OF PORT FAIRY.” Port Fairy Gazette (Vic. : 1914 – 1918) 22 Feb 1915: 4 Edition: EVENING. Web. 11 Jan 2015 .

Seven members of the Gibson/McKechnie family were buried in the following plot.

 

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GIBSON/McKECHNIE FAMILY GRAVE

John Gibson was a President of the Port Fairy Shire and was a renown breeder of stock horses at his property Leura. He married Sarah Ann Taylor in 1856.  They had a large family and one of their first losses was daughter Margaret in 1877 aged six.  The following year Ann passed away aged eighteen.

John died in September 1887 only a month after being elected shire president.  Only the week before, his eldest son Thomas Edward Gibson had died as a result of an old injury.

“Brevities.” Camperdown Chronicle (Vic. : 1877 – 1954) 5 Oct 1887: 3. Web. 18 Dec 2014 .

“Wills and Bequests.” Table Talk (Melbourne, Vic. : 1885 – 1939) 16 Dec 1887: 4. Web. 18 Dec 2014 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article146710973&gt;.

In 1889, John’s daughter Alice Gibson married Richard Stirling McKechnie of Balmoral.

“Family Notices.” The Australasian (Melbourne, Vic. : 1864 – 1946) 23 Feb 1889: 53. Web. 18 Dec 2014 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article139697003&gt;.

In 1890, a son Richard was born to Alice and Richard but he died in the same year and was buried in the Gibson plot.  Alice passed away in 1894 and was also buried in the Gibson family plot. Richard McKechnie remarried to Jessie Ireland of Port Fairy.  At the time, he was living at Lagoon Lodge, located to the west of the town.

David Gibson was the next member of the family to pass away, on 24 June 1895 aged thirty-one.

John Gibson’s wife Sarah Ann died in 1899 at Port Fairy.  She was buried in another grave with their youngest son Charles James Gibson who died in 1902 aged twenty-three.  Also Sarah’s mother Ann Taylor who died in 1909 aged eighty-seven.

As I moved away from the grave, something caught my eye on the bottom right-hand corner of the headstone – “G. Harman, Port Fairy”

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There is only one G. Harman of Port Fairy I know of and that is ggg uncle George Hall Harman whose own headstone in the Port Fairy Cemetery is below.  He was buried with his wife Rebecca Graham and their headstone remembers their daughter Edith who died in 1866 at Byaduk.

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GEORGE HALL HARMAN

GEORGE HALL HARMAN

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REBECCA GRAHAM

The following headstone originated out of tragedy.

SEARLE FAMILY GRAVE

SEARLE FAMILY GRAVE

On a Sunday morning during December 1886, Annie Edith Searle daughter of nurseryman Henry Searle and Phoebe Robins of Port Fairy, drowned at Boarding School Bay, just west of the township.

“THREE LADIES DROWNED.” The North Eastern Ensign (Benalla, Vic. : 1872 – 1938) 19 Jan 1886: 2. Web. 19 Dec 2014 .

Mother Phoebe, passed away on 19 April 1909 aged eighty-seven and her husband Henry Searle passed away eight months later, on 27 December aged eighty-six.

“PORT FAIRY.” Geelong Advertiser (Vic. : 1859 – 1924) 7 Jan 1910: 4. Web. 11 Jan 2015 .

In 1922, another daughter Alice Amelia was buried in the plot, passing away at the age of sixty-three.

“Family Notices.” The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957) 19 Jan 1921: 1. Web. 19 Dec 2014 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article1733152&gt;.

The following grave is that of infant Robert Vincent Ware.

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GRAVE OF ROBERT VINCENT WARE

Robert Ware was the two-year-old son of James Ware and Jane Mailor and was born in 1854 at Belfast.  He died in 1856.

 

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From the 1856 Victorian Electoral Roll,  I found that James Ware was a licensed victualler and was a leaseholder on the corner of James and Bank Street , the location of the Caledonian Inn in Port Fairy. Construction of the inn began in 1844.

CALEDONIAN INN, PORT FAIY

CALEDONIAN INN, PORT FAIRY

James and Jane had at least another three children after Robert’s death, Susan, Alice and Mary Ann. They were born at Port Fairy and Rosebrook. I’m still to find what happened to James Ware, but I do know that by 1894,  Jane had moved to Melbourne, taking up residence at Bella Vista in East Melbourne where Susan passed away in 1894 .

“Family Notices.” The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957) 5 Mar 1894: 1. Web. 14 Jan 2015 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article8730679&gt;.

Looking at the 1903 Victorian Electoral Roll, the Ware’s may not have been guests at the luxury boarding house Bella Vista, as Mary Ann’s occupation was listed as “boarding-house keeper.”

Jane Ware passed away in Sydney on 17 September 1900.  She died at 71C Darlinghurst Road, at that time operating as a boarding house.

“Family Notices.” The Australasian (Melbourne, Vic. : 1864 – 1946) 29 Sep 1900: 55. Web. 14 Jan 2015 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article139156386&gt;.

Daughter Mary Jane stayed on at Bella Vista and  passed away in 1939.

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“Family Notices.” The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957) 10 Feb 1939: 10. Web. 17 Jan 2015 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article12095589&gt;.



The headstone of Abijah Brown is one of the most distinctive in the Port Fairy cemetery.

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GRAVE OF ABIJAH BROWN

The 1856 Victorian Electoral Rolls shows that Abijah was at that time the licensee of the Stag Hotel in Sackville Street.

SEACOMBE HOUSE, PORT FAIRY FORMALLY THE STAG HOTEL.

SEACOMBE HOUSE, PORT FAIRY FORMALLY THE STAG HOTEL.

Abijah’s nickname was ‘Clockey’ because of the large gold watch and chain he wore and he took over license of The Stag hotel, Port Fairy in 1855. Pamela Marriott in her book “Time Gentlemen Please,” mentions Abijah was a jeweller which explains his gold watch.  Abijah was also a councillor for a short time.  Prior to going to the Stag Hotel, he ran the Plough Inn at Killarney.  He died on 19 July 1862.

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The men buried in the last two graves of this post had family links through marriage.

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HEADSTONE WILLIAM MUSGREAVE AND HANNAH KIRK.

Rupert Kirk was a former army captain who purchased over 300 acres of land at Land Cove, Sydney in 1831.  He established a soap making business and named his property Woodford Park. He was also the father of William Musgreave Kirk buried in the Port Fairy Cemetery (above).

“Classified Advertising.” The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 – 1842) 13 May 1841: 4. Web. 20 Dec 2014 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article2553302&gt;.

RUPERT KIRK. Artist: Maurice Felton Surgeon. Sydney / del.t March 27th 1841.” Image courtesy of the Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales

Rupert passed away on 8 March 1850.

“Family Notices.” The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954) 11 Mar 1850: 3. Web. 20 Dec 2014 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article12916317&gt;.

Only weeks earlier, Rupert’s son William Kirk married Hannah Lindsay in Sydney.

“Family Notices.” The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954) 26 Jan 1850: 3. Web. 20 Dec 2014 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article12915234&gt;.

William was living in Mudgee, N.S.W. after his marriage in 1850

“Advertising.” The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954) 6 Mar 1850: 3. Web. 20 Dec 2014 .

Alos at that time, William’s sister was living in the Port Fairy district, marrying Horace Flower there in 1850 as reported by The Argus on 19 October 1850.  William  Kirk was in Victoria some time from the early 1850s living by the Merri Creek near Woodford.  He died there on 11 July 1855.

“Family Notices.” The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957) 18 Jul 1855: 4. Web. 20 Dec 2014 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article4812501&gt;.

Hannah Lindsay, William’s wife passed away on 2 December 1864 and was buried in the same grave.

“Family Notices.” The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957) 13 Dec 1864: 4. Web. 20 Dec 2014 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article5748104&gt;.

As mentioned, there is a link between William Kirk and the next grave’s occupant, Lloyd Rutledge.

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HEADSTONE OF LLOYD RUTLEDGE

If you believe in ghosts, Lloyd Rutledge’s grave is a must see especially if you visit on the night of 17 December when Lloyd is said to appear each year at his grave. Lloyd was the younger brother of William Rutledge who arrived in Port Fairy around 1843 and established William Rutledge & Co. a mercantile company shipping goods to and from England. William Rutledge had married Eliza Kirk, a sister of William Kirk (above) in Sydney in 1840.  That marriage was most likely the catalyst for William Kirk and his other siblings to move to Victoria.

When William Rutledge first arrived in Australia in 1829, he settled himself in Sydney and once established brought his siblings in Ireland to Australia.  Lloyd followed him to Port Fairy and worked with him at William Rutledge & Co.  In 1852, Lloyd returned to Sydney to marry Isabella Bennett, daughter of Richard Bennett.

“Family Notices.” The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954) 6 Aug 1852: 3. Web. 20 Dec 2014 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article12938972&gt;.

The Rutledge, Bennett and Kirk family were all intertwined through marriage.  William Rutledge married Eliza Kirk, maternal aunt of Lloyd’s wife Isabella Bennett.  Isabella’s brother Richard Bennett Jnr wrote the articles that make up the book “Richard Bennetts’ Early Days of Port Fairy.”

Only a month before Lloyd and Isabella’s wedding, William Rutledge sent Lloyd to Portland on a mission.  Desperately in need of labour, William wanted Lloyd to meet the incoming immigrant ship Runnymede.  Accompanying Lloyd was Thomas Browne, better known by his pen name  Rolf Boldrewood , the author of “Robbery Under Arms.”   Supplied with blank forms of agreement from William, Lloyd boarded the ship and signed up seventy passengers for work, ignoring the police interest in his activities.  Boldrewood wrote about the event in an article entitled “Desirable Immigrants” published in The Australasian on 8 July 1905.

“TOBTLAND.” Colonial Times (Hobart, Tas. : 1828 – 1857) 2 Jul 1852: 3. Web. 20 Dec 2014 .

  Lloyd was a racehorse owner and steward.

“VICTORIA.” The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954) 10 Oct 1854: 3. Web. 17 Jan 2015 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article12961947&gt;.

He also rode in races and these results from 22 February 1856, show him running third at the Portland races aboard “Tross”.

“THIRD DAY, THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 21ST.” Portland Guardian and Normanby General Advertiser (Vic. : 1842 – 1876) 22 Feb 1856: 1 Supplement: SUPPLEMENT TO THE PORTLAND GUARDIAN.. Web. 17 Jan 2015 .

Also racing was “Alice Hawthorne” who was later one of Victoria’s leading racehorses, competing  in a NSW vs Victoria match race in 1857, a forerunner to the first Melbourne Cup in 1861   You can read more about Alice by clicking on the link on her name.

In 1855, Lloyd had a two-storey home constructed in Port Fairy and named it Cooinda.  It was there in 1858 that Lloyd’s life would end at just thirty-one years of age.  Partial to a drink, Lloyd was climbing the stairs of Cooinda after a drinking session when he fell backwards down the stairs and broke his neck.

 

“Family Notices.” The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957) 21 Dec 1858: 4. Web. 12 Jan 2015 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article7306711&gt;.

Cooinda moved into the hands of the Finn family of Port Fairy.  In 1918, they sold the house.

“PROPERTY SALES.” Port Fairy Gazette (Vic. : 1914 – 1918) 9 Sep 1918: 2 Edition: EVENING. Web. 15 Jan 2015 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article91988481&gt;.

Cooinda fell into a bad state of disrepair.  It was known locally as the “haunted house” with Lloyd said to appear at the top of the stairs each 17 December.  In the 1950s, the house was demolished.  It was from then that Lloyd supposedly moved his annual “appearance” to his graveside.  More information on an investigation into paranormal activity at the grave site is on the Port Fairy Cemetery website.

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SOURCES

Australian Electoral Rolls (Australian Electoral Commission) – Ancestry.com.au

Bennett, Richard and Critchett, Jan Richard Bennetts early days of Port Fairy. W.I.A.E. Press, Warrnambool, Vic, 1984.

Marriott, Pamela M Time gentlemen please! : an history of Western District inns, 1840-1915. Pamela M Marriott, [Flemington, Vic.], 2001.

Port Fairy Public Cemetery website

PORT FAIRY CEMETERY PART ONE

Trove Tuesday – Rebecca’s Trees

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

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

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

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

JAMES STREET, PORT FAIRY.  Image courtesy of the State Library Collection.  Photo by Isobel Powling, 1958.  Image no.  H2008.75/102 http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/95700

JAMES STREET, PORT FAIRY. Image courtesy of the State Library Collection. Photo by Isobel Powling, 1958. Image no. H2008.75/102 http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/95700

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

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

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

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

Port Fairy Cemetery – Part One

If you find yourself travelling along Victoria’s south-west coast, don’t miss the Port Fairy Cemetery.

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Last summer, I revisited the cemetery with the aim of photographing as many headstones as possible.  During our four days in Port Fairy, the weather was hot and our days were spent at the beach.  My only chance was to head off early to beat the heat.   I took the dogs, and after a stop at the beach for a run, them not me, we arrived at the cemetery around 7.30am.

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Taking photos and holding two dogs on leads, is not an easy task.  I’m glad they didn’t see the rabbits sitting among the graves but I didn’t count on the burrs.  Soon the dogs were stopping periodically to pick burrs from their paws.  I didn’t get as many photos as I would have liked but I have captured some of the older and more interesting headstones.  I will post the photos in two parts.

On one of my past visits to the Port Fairy Cemetery, I joined a tour run by the Port Fairy Genealogical Society.  It was fantastic and I wished I had our knowledgeable guide Maria Cameron on this visit as I tried to remember the stories behind the graves.

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As sealers and whalers, Charles Mills and his older brother John, first saw Port Fairy in 1826, eight years before the Henty brothers arrived at Portland.  However, their whaling camps were not considered permanent in comparison to the Henty settlement, thus the Hentys take the title of first European settlers in Victoria in most discussions on the topic.  Launceston born Charles Mills passed away in 1855 aged 43 and John in 1877 aged 66.   The biography of the brothers is on this link – John and Charles Mills 

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HEADSTONE OF BROTHERS CHARLES AND JOHN MILLS

“BELFAST.” The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 – 1954) 21 Nov 1855: 6. .

This was the home of John Mills in Gipps Street, Port Fairy just across the road from the port where he was harbour master.

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FORMER HOUSE OF JOHN B. MILLS, GIPPS STREET, PORT FAIRY.

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Port Fairy Harbour

PORT FAIRY HARBOUR

An obituary for John Mills, published September 28, 1877 in the Portland Guardian:

“BELFAST.” Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953) 28 Sep 1877:.

The Portland Guardian published an interesting article about the Mills Brothers on September 21, 1933.  It included their life stories and that of their father Peter Mills who served as secretary to Governor Bligh  – Early Settlers

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GRAVE OF BROTHERS CHARLES AND JOHN MILLS (Foreground)

William and Agnes Laidlaw were early pioneers of the Port Fairy district, arriving from Scotland with their family around 1841.  William was born on January 20, 1785 and died on April 6, 1870 and Agnes was born on September 20, 1790 and died  on February 12, 1867.

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HEADSTONE OF WILLIAM AND AGNES LAIDLAW

“Family Notices.” Illustrated Australian News for Home Readers (Melbourne, Vic. : 1867 – 1875) 23 Apr 1870 .

At least two of their children had great success.  David Laidlaw went on to serve five times as Mayor of Hamilton and was also a leading businessman in that town.   Robert became well-known in the Heidleberg area as a land owner and sheep breeder.  The following is a family photograph taken at Robert’s 90th birthday.  Robert is at the front with the white beard and brother David to his right.

“A Nonagenarian Birthday Party.” Table Talk (Melbourne, Vic. : 1885 – 1939) 23 May 1907: .

James Andrews (1780-1855) and Elizabeth Andrews (1811-1870) nee O’Brien and their two sons, Michael and Patrick lie in the following grave.

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HEADSTONE OF JAMES AND ELIZABETH ANDREWS AND THEIR SONS MICHAEL AND PATRICK.

The headstone is difficult to read from the photo, so I have transcribed it:

Sacred to the Memory of 

James Andrews

Formally of Ratoath County Meath

Ireland

Died January 1855 aged 55 years

Elizabeth Andrews

His Beloved Wife

Died 26 August 1870, aged 59

Also their two sons

Michael

Died 3rd May 1854 aged 15 years

Patrick

Died 15 March 1863, Aged 23 years

There was little information around about the Andrews family but I thought I would check shipping records.  An Andrews family arrived at Portland during October 1853 aboard the Oithona.  They were from Meath, Ireland, matching the headstone.  The family consisted of James, aged 56, Elizabeth aged 45, Patrick aged 12, Fanny aged 10, James aged nine and Therese aged 2.  On arrival James snr and the family went on to Port Fairy of their own account.  If this is the same Andrews family, James was in Victoria only two years before he died.

After sorting my photos I’m really disappointed with myself.  The following Goldie family grave is one I remember well from the cemetery tour.  Maria pointed out the top of the grave purposely broken off to signify a life cut short. Firstly, I didn’t get a photo of the top of the grave and secondly I didn’t get a photo of the reverse side of the grave

Instead I got the following photo showing John and Elizabeth Goldie epitaphs.

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GOLDIE FAMILY GRAVE

If I had a photo of the reserve side, you would also see three babies. It was their the lives cut short:

Catherine Goldie
Died in Scotland Feb 1859
Aged 21 Months

Margaret
Died Sep 1862 Aged 19 Months

John
Died May 1864 Aged 17 Months

John Goldie and Elizabeth Clarke arrived in Melbourne aboard the Greyhound in 1862.  With them were their children, Elizabeth aged 11, James aged 2 and Margaret aged 1.  John was born in 1862 at Port Fairy and Margaret barely survived the voyage, dying in 1862.

John Goldie snr was a pioneer of the agricultural industry, working with the Agricultural Department planting experimental crops.  Photos of one of his experimental sugar beet crops is below.

JOHN GOLDIE'S SUGAR BEET CROP TRIALS.   Image Courtesy of the State Library of Victoria.  Image no. IAN01/10/95/20  http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/40232

JOHN GOLDIE’S SUGAR BEET CROP TRIALS. Image Courtesy of the State Library of Victoria. Image no. IAN01/10/95/20 http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/40232

John died in 1901 after a cow knocked him down.  Elizabeth had passed away 29 years earlier aged 45.

Son of John and Elizabeth, James Goldie. who was two when he arrived at Port Fairy. was a previous Passing Pioneer – James Goldie obituary

The grave of William Kerby goes back to the earliest years of the cemetery.  William was buried in 1847 in a grave with headstone and footstone arranged by his wife Mary.

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GRAVE OF WILLIAM KERBY

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HEADSTONE OF WILLIAM KERBY

Look a little closer at the next headstone and a sad story begins to emerge.  A check of the marriage record of Robert and Annie Grosert sees the story turn sadder still.  Robert Grosert, the son of  a Port Fairy butcher and himself in the trade was born in 1852.  He married Irish immigrant Annie Greer in 1877.  By November 14 of that year Robert was dead and by December 4, so was Annie.

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GROSERT FAMILY GRAVE

George Best was born in Port Fairy in 1853, a son of  George Best and Lucy Weston.  He married Emilie Melina Jenkins in 1877 at Wagga Wagga, NSW and they settled at Port Fairy.  George enjoyed sailing and it was while competing in a regatta on the Moyne River at Port Fairy in March, 1891, he was knocked overboard and drowned.

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BEST FAMILY GRAVE

A diver recovered George’s body from the river floor.  A team of townspeople worked on George for two hours trying to revive him.  An  account of the drowning appeared in the Portland Guardian on March 13, 1891 and described the incident and the preparations of the diver which makes interesting reading.

An inquest was held into the accident.

“THE BOATING FATALITY AT PORT FAIRY.” The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957) 10 Mar 1891: 5. Web.<http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article8482214&gt;.

Coincidentally, George’s father, George Best snr a Port Fairy saddler, drowned in almost the same place 30 years before.  His body was never located.

“THE EDUCATION DIFFICULTY SOLVED.” The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 – 1954) 23 Apr 1861: <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article154888852&gt;.

George and Emilie’s daughter, Elsie May Best was buried with her parents.  She died on October 10 1897 at Port Fairy aged 20 years and 10 months.

“Family Notices.” The Australasian (Melbourne, Vic. : 1864 – 1946) 23 Oct 1897: 55. <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article138629574&gt;.

George’s wife  Emilie Melina Jenkins died in a private hospital “Somerset House” in East Melbourne on April 10, 1924.

“Family Notices.” The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957) 12 Apr 1924: <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article1903476&gt;.

When you walk through a country cemetery and see dozens of unfamiliar names, then later research those names, it’s amazing what you can dig up, so to speak.  Francis Alexander Corbett is one such name. Francis born in 1818, was buried in the Port Fairy cemetery with his wife Ellen Louisa Lane.

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GRAVE OF FRANCIS ALEXANDER CORBETT AND HIS WIFE ELLEN LOUISA LANE

After searching Trove newspapers, I discovered that Francis arrived in Australia in search of gold and after some time on the diggings went to Melbourne and worked as a reporter for the Argus. Not fond of the work, he moved to the Census Commission conducting the 1854, 1857 and 1861 census as Census Secretary.  He was also a life member of the Royal Society of Victoria.

corbett1

In 1857 he wrote a book Railway Economy in Victoria and in the same year married Ellen Louise Lane born c1829.  During the 1860s, Francis and Ellen moved to Port Fairy and Francis managed the estate of James Atkinson.  They later moved to Kirkstall near Warrnambool.  In 1889, the following article appeared about Francis Corbett in the Australian Town and Country Journal:

“Western Seaports of Victoria.” Australian Town and Country Journal (Sydney, NSW : 1870 – 1907) 5 Jan 1889 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article71113608&gt;.

Francis was visiting Port Fairy when he died suddenly at the Commercial Hotel (now Royal Oak Hotel) on June 10, 1893.

ROYAL OAK HOTEL, PORT FAIRY (FORMALLY THE COMMERCIAL HOTEL)

ROYAL OAK HOTEL, PORT FAIRY (FORMALLY THE COMMERCIAL HOTEL)

“Family Notices.” The Australasian (Melbourne, Vic. : 1864 – 1946) 17 Jun 1893: 42. <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article138656519&gt;.

An obituary appeared in the Argus:

“COUNTRY NEWS.” The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957) 12 Jun 1893: <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article8563251&gt;.

The information contained in Francis’ will was even more enlightening especially that about his brother John Corbett.

“Wills and Bequests.” Table Talk (Melbourne, Vic. : 1885 – 1939) 28 Jul 1893: <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article145711319&gt;.

I tracked down John Corbett or rather,  Admiral Sir John Corbett born 1822 and died 1893, five months after Francis.

“[No heading].” South Australian Chronicle (Adelaide, SA : 1889 – 1895) 16 Dec 1893: 4. <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-page8442835&gt;.

On December 4, 1904, 11 years after Francis, Ellen passed away at St Kilda.

“Family Notices.” The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957) 5 Dec 1908: <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article10188785&gt;.

Five members of the Finn family lie in the following grave.  The first to pass was John Finn in 1879.  John was the owner of the Belfast Brewery and the Belfast Inn with his licence issued in 1841. He was also one of the trustees of the old cemetery which possibly refers to the Sandhills Cemetery although the Port Fairy cemetery website says. at times both cemeteries were referred to as the “old cemetery.”

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FINN FAMILY GRAVE

The next death in the Finn, family was John’s daughter-in-law Ellen, wife of Laurence Finn.  In 1896, Laurence and Ellen’s youngest son, George passed away aged 25.

“Family Notices.” The Australasian (Melbourne, Vic. : 1864 – 1946) 21 Mar 1896: 45. <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article139723181&gt;.

Another son, William Henry passed away in 1902.  That left just Laurence who died on May 24, 1914 aged 81 years.  His obituary appeared in the May 2013 Passing of the Pioneers.  Laurence died a wealthy man having inherited land from his father, however his will was contested.  A hearing in 1916 saw many witnesses called to assess the soundness of Laurence’s mind when his will was drawn up.  The article is available on the following link – http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article73880024

Just a handful of graves, yet so many interesting characters and stories.

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For more information about the Port Fairy Cemetery, check out the website –  Port Fairy Public Cemetery.   Also ABC Local Radio did a great story on the cemetery including an interview with Maria Cameron and you too can listen to Maria talk passionately about the cemetery.  There are also photos with the story which are so much better than mine.  It is available on the following link  – Radio Interview.  The Find A Grave entry for Port Fairy has had some great work done on it with hundreds of headstones photographed.

PORT FAIRY CEMETERY PART 2

Harman Housekeeping

It’s time to tie up the loose ends with my Harman research before I launch into writing a thesis on the Harmans of Byaduk (1852-1952) for a Diploma in Family Historical Studies.  That’s a daunting thought despite what you may think.  I write often about my family here, especially the Harmans, I have  research gathered over 20 years and I could ramble for 20,000 words about the Harmans if anyone would listen.  Putting the research together into one structured and organised piece is what I find daunting.

So daunted in fact,  I purchased Hazel Edward’s Writing a Non-Boring Family History and revisited a NLA podcast – “How to write history that people want to read” by Professor Ann Curthoys and Professor Ann McGrath.  Not that I’m worried about it being non-boring or uninteresting, I need tips on putting it all together

Structure aside, there are still some unanswered questions about the Harmans that need resolution.  The year the Harmans arrived in Port Fairy from N.S.W. is one question.   Looking for leads,  I contacted the  Port Fairy Historical Society (PFHS) hoping they may have something.  Robyn Bartlett, an archivist at PFHS got back with the news there was a lot of information particularly from a source I had forgotten as a possibility but was not unexpected.  Last week I received a nice thick parcel from the PFHS.  Thank you Robyn,  You provided a wonderful service.

After the dancing died down and I carefully examined the contents of the envelope, I knew If I got nothing else from the information Robyn sent (which I doubt will be true), I have had my Who Do You Think You Are (WDYTYA) moment.  You know that moment  when a celebrity finds a family member that helps defines them, explains their career path or personality traits.  It is different to the other WDYTYA moment when a celeb. visits the former home of an ancestor and feels some affinity.  I have had that moment too.

My WDYTYA moment came as I read several letters written by my 2nd cousin 3 x removed, Edna Harman, formerly of Wangaratta.  Distant cousin I know, but as I read the letters I could feel her passion for her family’s history and history in general .  It was like reading me.  Edna wrote six letters over a 20 year period from 1963 to the PFHS.  I knew she was an active member and one time research officer of the Wangaratta Historical Society and had also co-written a book,  Wangaratta: old tales and tours (1983) with Judy Bassett.  Edna’s grandfather George Hall Harman left Port Fairy for Byaduk with the other family members, but later returned to Port Fairy where he remained for the rest of his life.  That is how Edna came to have a Port Fairy connection.

LETTERS FROM EDNA

LETTERS FROM EDNA

Edna’s letters contain snippets of some wonderful family stories and as luck would have it, Edna put those stories. and others she had gathered from cousins, into a text book, complete with photos (yes, she used photo corners!).  There are pages and pages of history of the Harmans of Port Fairy and her family in Wangaratta including her father Herbert Harman, a long serving journalist with the Wangaratta Chronicle.  One of Herbert’s poems was in the package, and I had to smile because the subject  was the S.S.Casino.  The steamer was the subject of a recent Trove Tuesday post.  A story of Edna’s grandfather’s visits to Wangaratta resonated with me,  George Harman would take a bunch of boronia for his granddaughter.  That reminded me of my grandmother Mavis Riddiford telling me about grandpa Percy giving her bunches of boronia.

I am eternally grateful to the late Edna Harman, and I am sorry that I never met her.  I know I would have liked her.

I have also been buying a few certificates that I have need to help answer some questions, well at least try.

Reuben Harman died in 1883 at only 44,  less than half the age of most of his siblings.   I wanted to find the cause of his death,  and check his “length of time in the colony” status, to compare with the other family members.  Turns out Reuben died of hydatids, a condition on the increase in the Western District during the 1880s and was probably caught from his dogs or dirty drinking water.  This article from the Horsham Times of  March 16, 1883, warned of the dangers of hydatidis and its spread.  Reuben died weeks later on April 28.

hyd

The Horsham Times. (1883, March 16). The Horsham Times (Vic. : 1882 - 1954), p. 2. Retrieved August 21, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article72872771

The Horsham Times. (1883, March 16). The Horsham Times (Vic. : 1882 – 1954), p. 2. Retrieved August 21, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article72872771

I have also purchased the marriage certificate of Sarah Harman, sister of Reuben.  She married Walter Oakley in  1864 but married again to George Adams in 1885.  When I first wrote about Sarah and Walter I heard from  Brad,  a member of the Oakley family.  As the family story goes,  Walter disappeared while delivering horses to India, part of the active export trade during the later half of the 19th century.  I wanted to know how Walter’s “disappearance” was explained on Sarah’s second marriage certificate.  It said that Walter was “not seen or heard of or from for a period of nine years”.  That would make it around 1876 when he disappeared, leaving Sarah with four children aged six to eleven,

Finally, I  purchased the death certificate  of Charles Frederick Ward, son of Stephen Ward and Isabella Harman and grandson of James Harman.  Isabella died during child-birth and the Harman family raised Charles and from what I can gather, his aunt Henrietta played an integral part.  Charles died in 1928 at Ballarat aged just 42, presumably unmarried and childless.  It always appeared that something tragic had happened to Charles, but I had never found anything in the papers.   Now the story is much clearer.  Charles Ward died in the Ballarat Asylum, later known as the Lakeside Hospital, from “organic disease of the brain” and yes, confirmation he never married or had children.  Of course, this now leads me down the path of inquest and asylum records, but if I am to know the part that Harmans of Byaduk played in the life of Charles, particularly Henrietta, I do need more.

HEADSTONE OF CHARLES WARD AND HIS MOTHER ISABELLA HARMAN

HEADSTONE OF CHARLES WARD AND HIS MOTHER ISABELLA HARMAN

The next steps in my research will be a call to the Macarthur Historical Society,  a visit to the State Library of Victoria for some elusive Byaduk history books, PROV for land records and correspondence with living Harmans.  Just all the things I’ve put off for the past twenty years.

_______________________________________________________________________________________

While I’m here talking about corresponding with living Harmans, it is worth mentioning some of those descendents I’m keen on catching up with.

Descendants of:

Gershom HARMAN (1869-1940) and Elizabeth HILLIARD (1874-1931) of Byaduk

Related Names:

ADDINSALL (Wallacedale)

WHEELER (Branxholme)

Walter GREED (1870-1955) and Jessie HARMAN (1871-1949) of Hamilton

Related Name:

JONES (Mumbannar)

James HANKS (1871-1909) and Ellen May HARMAN (1881-1948) of Horsham

Related Name:

WOODS (Horsham & Kaniva)

Reuben Edward HARMAN (1894-1959) and Elizabeth Evaline HENRY (c1900-1979) of Preston.

Related Names:

KING (Thornbury)

SIMMONS (Mordialloc)

 

 

 

 

 

Trove Tuesday – S.S. Casino

The idea of catching a steam ship from Portland to Melbourne 100 years ago sounds romantic until one considers the stretch of coastline  navigated to reach Melbourne – the Shipwreck coast.  There have been over 200 wrecks along the entire stretch of coast and from Port Fairy to Apollo Bay alone there have been 80 shipwrecks.

Early settlers used steamers to transport wool and other freight to the Melbourne ports and back. Stephen Henty purchased his own steamers to make the trip.  The steamers were also for passage,  an alternative to the rough hair-raising ride of a Cobb & Co coach or later, the train.

Advertising. (1868, February 12). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), p. 1. Retrieved July 8, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article5790334

Advertising. (1868, February 12). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957), p. 1. Retrieved July 8, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article5790334

One steamer that regularly made the journey from 1882 was the S.S.Casino, notching up 2,500 trips along the southern coastline.  Owned by the Belfast and Koroit Navigation Company the ship was built in Scotland.

S.S. CASINO.  Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria.  Image no.  H92.302/23 http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/195620

S.S. CASINO. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria. Image no. H92.302/23 http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/195620

The Casino is the subject of the this week’s Trove Tuesday post because on July 10, 1932, the steamer made its last voyage.  Just short of the Apollo Bay pier, the S.S. Casino struck a sandbar and sunk.  Ten lives were lost.

casino1

TEN PERISH IN WRECK. (1932, July 11). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), p. 7. Retrieved July 8, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article4462307

TEN PERISH IN WRECK. (1932, July 11). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957), p. 7. Retrieved July 8, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article4462307

The Portland Guardian reported on the disaster, noting one of the survivors, 11-year-old Joan Greer, was the daughter of a worker at the Richmond Hotel in Portland.  Remarkably, while the girl travelled on the Casino, her mother took the train for the return trip from Melbourne to Portland.  One of the victims was Helena Gill, the stewardess with 40 years service.

casino3

Wreck of the Casino. (1932, July 11). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 - 1953), p. 2 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved July 8, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64298698

Wreck of the Casino. (1932, July 11). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 2 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved July 8, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64298698

 

An unfortunate oversight was an advertisement that ran in the Portland Guardian on July 11, the day after the wreck.   It  advised that passage was available to Melbourne weekly aboard the S.S Casino, “weather and other circumstances permitting”.

Advertising. (1932, July 11). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 - 1953), p. 4 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved July 8, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64298708

Advertising. (1932, July 11). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 4 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved July 8, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64298708

Tomorrow at 11am the Port Fairy Historical Society will remember those that lost their lives on the S.S. Casino, 81 years ago.  More information is on their Facebook page.

The S.S. Casino still lies at the bottom of the ocean off Apollo Bay and is now a dive wreck.  The anchor is displayed outside the Apollo Bay Post Office.  There is more information about the steamer’s history on the Victorian Government’s Department of Planning and Community Development website.

 

Passing of the Pioneers

Welcome to a bumper May Passing of the Pioneers. So many interesting pioneers passed in the month of May, I had to leave some for next year. Those that remain had such great stories that it was necessary to share some extra bits and pieces found about them. Some just passed through the Western District from time to time, others lived there only for a short period while others were residents for over fifty years, but they all left their mark in some way. They include army captains, ship captains, a dentist and a naturalist.

Captain Foster FYANS:  Died 23 May 1870 at Newtown. Western Victorian historian, Margaret Kiddle, wrote in her book Men of Yesterday: a social history of the Western District of Victoria (1834-1890) “the story of  Foster Fyans’ commissionership is a joy to historians” (p.50) . Born in Dublin, Ireland, Foster Fyans was an army captain. He enlisted in 1816 and served with different regiments of the British army including a stint in India. On arrival in Australia in 1833, he became the captain of the guard on Norfolk Island and remained there for two years. In 1837, he left the army and headed to Port Phillip to become the first police magistrate at Geelong.

From 1840, Foster Fyans held the important position of  Crown Lands Commissioner for the Portland Bay area.  A squatter taking up land had to seek permission from the Commissioner and pay an annual fee. The Commissioner’s word was law and there was no arguing with Foster Fyans, a man with a temper.  He tangled with many squatters including the Hentys.  Governor  La Trobe had his moments with Fyans and Kiddle cites La Trobe declaring Fyans “secured to him the chance of a duel once at least in the week as long as he may live” (p.50).

As commissioner, Fyans would ride great distances from Geelong through to Portland and into the Wimmera, a formidable task but his skills marking out selections  may not have been as great  according to Richard Bennett’s Early Days in Port Fairy (edited by Jan Critchett).  Fyans’ marking of runs “amounted to almost a farce” as Bennett  described the technique used by Fyans:

They were usually laid off in ten mile blocks, measured with a compass in his hand, and timing his horse.  A blackfellow followed, and notched a tree line.  When the Commissioner had travelled what he considered the distance, he notched a corner tree with a broad arrow, and then rode off again at right angles to the next corner, and so on round the block.  Captain Fyans was a bluff old gentleman…” (p.26).

Despite his ways, Fyans was kept on as Commissioner because there was no one else qualified to do the job.

THE LATE CAPTAIN FYANS. (1870, June 18). Illustrated Australian News for Home Readers (Melbourne, Vic. : 1867 - 1875), p. 114. Retrieved May 19, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article60449034

THE LATE CAPTAIN FYANS. (1870, June 18). Illustrated Australian News for Home Readers (Melbourne, Vic. : 1867 – 1875), p. 114. Retrieved May 19, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article60449034

Foster Fyans died at Balyang (below) in the Geelong suburb of Newtown and while the house was demolished in 1896, the site is now a part of the Balyang sanctuary. Around the Geelong area the Fyans name is still present with Fyans Street and the suburb, Fyansford. Around the Grampians there is Lake Fyans and Fyans Creek.

BALYANG, RESIDENCE OF FOSTER FYANS c1851. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria Image no. H88.21/107 http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/71805

William CARMICHAEL:  Died May 1890 at Macarthur. William lived at Harton Hills, near Macarthur. According to his obituary, William purchased the property in 1843 from squatter James Hunter.  However, the Macarthur Historical Society website states William bought the property from the Bolden brothers in 1842.  Any wonder William’s  obituary notes there were “many and varied stories” about how he acquired Harton Hills.

Captain Alexander CAMPBELL:  Died May 25, 1890 at South Yarra.  Alexander Campbell was born in 1803 in Argyleshire, Scotland and followed his brothers to Tasmania in 1825. After farming for a few years, Alexander left for Sydney in 1831. The following year a position in charge of the whaling station at Portland was offered to him but he didn’t take up the role until 1836.  In the meantime he went whaling, sailing as far as Japan. After Portland, he went on to Port Fairy where he stayed for about fifteen years.  In that time he built at least two cottages, one occupied by his sisters. In 1851, he became a harbour master and later moved to Gippsland where he returned to farming.  In his last years, Alexander and his wife moved to Caroline Street, South Yarra where  he died aged 87.

Captain David FERMANER:  Died May 1893 at Newport. Earlier this year I wrote a Trove Tuesday post entitled Gilding the Lily.  Captain David Fermaner may have been guilty of just that.  At the time of his death, Fermaner, a whaler, was credited as being Victoria’s earliest colonist and that he was standing on the beach at Lady Bay when the ship carrying the first Henty’s reached the Victorian coastline. However, after reading Jenny Williams Fawcett’s account of David Fermaner and his link to the legend of the Mahogany Ship, it became obvious telling the truth was not one of his strong points.

CAPTAIN DAVID FERMANER. Image courtesty of the State Library of Victoria Image no. H2889/85 http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/68327

After his time in the south-west, Fermaner later became pilot and harbourmaster at Port Albert in Gippsland.

William Thomas PILE:  Died 25 May 1901 at Portland. William Pile was born in Devonshire, England and as a boy served an apprenticeship in the fishing industry at Hull.  With an urge to see the world, he became a sailor and in 1852, his ship Cossepore arrived at Portland, but he travelled on to Geelong and like many other ships’ crew he left and headed to the diggings.  The thrill of the high seas and travel was a greater lure and he returned to England. It was not until 1854 on a return visit to Portland, he decided to settle.

William’s working life in Portland started as a fisherman and in 1869 after a trip home to England, he returned with a new type of gun to harpoon whales.  He bought into a wattle bark business with Stephen Jarrett that proved lucrative. In 1876 William became a Portland Councillor and then Portland Mayor in 1880 and 1886.

Stephen DUDDEN:  Died 2 May 1903 at Hamilton. Stephen Dudden was born in Somersetshire around 1819 and arrived in Victoria in the 1860s. Stephen showed some entrepreneurial skills setting up a refreshment tent opposite the Hamilton Lands office, in Brown Street, during the rush to buy land after the passing of the Land Act in 1860. He later went  to Portland working as a stonemason and then retired to Myamyn. In the month prior to his death, a dehydrated and disheveled Stephen was found by a Hamilton policeman and taken to the Hamilton Hospital where he remained until he passed away from senile decay.

Janet MILLAR:  Died 3 May 1910 at Portland. Janet’s obituary named her only as Mrs Browning, so I turned to the Australian Death Index to find her birth name, Janet Millar. Janet and her husband John Browning arrived in Victoria in 1849 and headed to Portland to set up a school. With the discovery of gold, the school was abandoned and the Brownings headed for the diggings. They returned to Portland and eventually John set up another school, John Browning’s Boarding School for Boys.

Janet was eighty-eight at the time of her death and had kept relatively good health and was still tending her home.  However, it was a once in a lifetime chance to see Halley’s Comet in 1910 that led to her demise. She had been out early on cold mornings trying to catch a glimpse of the comet and developed a chill, too much for her weak heart.

Laurence FINN:  Died 24 May 1914 at Port Fairy. Laurence Finn from Tipperary, Ireland arrived in Melbourne with his parents in 1841 and in 1843 they settled in Port Fairy. In 1858, Laurence married Ellen Crowe and they took up residence at Comely Banks, Port Fairy. Laurence’s father ran the Belfast Inn for a time until he let the lease lapse. As a the only child from his father’s second marriage, Laurence and his children inherited a large amount of land. Laurence was a Justice of the Peace and was a member of the Port Fairy Agriculture Society.

John McCOMBE: Died 7 May 1916 at Casterton. Fourteen-year-old, John McCombe arrived in Melbourne aboard the Champion of the Seas in 1854. His family headed directly to Portland but John soon moved on to the Casterton district taking up work at Dunrobin and Nangeela. He purchased a bullock team and began a carrying business and moved to Sandford around 1861 after he married. Four years later he bought land at Deep Creek, Corndale and he remained there until his death.

Frederick Sunderland Wood MAWSON:  Died 19 May 1916 at Geelong. Frederick Mawson was a dentist and he travelled the Western District and Mt. Gambier inspecting the teeth of the residents.  Born around 1843, Frederick studied dentistry in England and practiced in Yorkshire.  After acquiring the necessary qualifications for Australia, Frederick set up practice in Geelong and for a few years had a practice in Mt Gambier.

DENTISTRY. (1914, April 2). The Casterton News and the Merino and Sandford Record (Vic. : 1914 - 1918), p. 1 Edition: Bi-Weekly. Retrieved May 23, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article74760513

DENTISTRY. (1914, April 2). The Casterton News and the Merino and Sandford Record (Vic. : 1914 – 1918), p. 1 Edition: Bi-Weekly. Retrieved May 23, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article74760513

This “advertorial” from the Border Watch gives a good description of Frederick Mawson and his dentistry.

dentist1

F. J. Mawson,. (1899, April 5). Border Watch (Mount Gambier, SA : 1861 - 1954), p. 4 Supplement: Supplement to the BORDER WATCH. Retrieved May 23, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article81713460

F. J. Mawson,. (1899, April 5). Border Watch (Mount Gambier, SA : 1861 – 1954), p. 4 Supplement: Supplement to the BORDER WATCH. Retrieved May 23, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article81713460

 

George Deihl McCORMICK: Died 29 May 1916 at Warrnambool.  Born in Toronto, Canada, George McCormick arrived in Victoria in 1852. He farmed and apparently became a part owner of Cobb & Co. coaches. While I can’t find evidence of this claim, George did know a lot about Cobb & Co. as recorded in his reminisces from 1902 with a writer from the Warrnambool Standard. The article also appeared in the Portland Guardian of January 20, 1902

mccorm mccorm1 mccorm2

This is a perfect opportunity to show a Cobb & Co. coach and the Leviathan coach, introduced in 1862, was the height of madness. Smaller coaches would have been scary enough to ride in as they hurtled along unmade roads. But a coach for 89 passengers. What were they thinking? George’s account above mentions the perils facing the Leviathan coach, but it was not the risk that proved them unsuccessful. Rather, the driver’s whip could not reach the front horses, so a bag of stones were carried to throw at the leaders.

COBB & CO COACH WITH 89 PASSENGERS.  Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria Image No. H4051 http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/72175

COBB & CO COACH WITH 89 PASSENGERS. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria Image No. H4051 http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/72175

George became a police magistrate in 1882 and purchased Bournfield Park Estate at Woodstock near Whittlesea and in 1889 he arrived in Warrnambool.  He remained there until his death.  He left a wife, Barbara Waddell and five sons and four daughters.

John James VILLIERS:  Died May 1917 at Warrnambool. London born John Villiers was a talented man. He arrived in Victoria in 1858 aged around seventeen and headed to the diggings. In the early 1860s he went to Warrnambool and his obituary in the Argus May 12, 1917 said he ran a painting and decorating business in Libeig Street and imported crockery.  John’s  interest in painting went beyond house painting.  He enjoyed painting landscapes in oils and watercolours and once he presented a painting to the Warrnambool Art Gallery.

A man of the arts, John was also an amateur dramatic and vocal performer and organised dramatic events to raise money for the likes of the Warrnambool Hospital and the Mechanics Institute. John was a part of the earliest known sound recording in Australia by Warrnambool shoe shop owner, Thomas Rome on one of the first Edison phonographs. John Villiers sang The Hen Convention and if you click on the link, you can hear the song. More information about Thomas Rome and John Villiers and their recordings can be found in a story by ABC Southwest from 2010.

Sarah BARKER: Died May 1917 at Ararat. Most months I can find a pioneer that I have even just a tenuous family link to.  This month it is Sarah Barker. Sarah was the mother of Stephen Ward. Stephen married Isabella Harman, daughter of James Harman. I didn’t know that Sarah Jerrett, as she was in her obituary, was formally Sarah Ward and Sarah Baker.  When I read the obituary however, it mentioned the Ward connection and her son Stephen.

Sarah, from Norfolk, England and her first husband James Ward, arrived at Portland in 1852.  She was twenty-three.  Sarah remained there until the late 1890s when she moved to Ararat. Prior to that  Sarah and James had seven children. including second youngest Stephen in 1867. James died in 1879 and Sarah married Francis Jerrett in 1883.

John GURRY:  Died 24 May 1917 at Condah. John Gurry and his wife left Ireland for Portland in 1857. They tried Harrow and Branxholme, running the Western Hotel there, then settled in Condah where John ran a farm. In their later years, they moved into the Condah township. John was buried in a family grave at Portland.

OBITUARY. (1917, May 28). Port Fairy Gazette (Vic. : 1914 - 1918), p. 2 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved May 23, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article88021627

OBITUARY. (1917, May 28). Port Fairy Gazette (Vic. : 1914 – 1918), p. 2 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved May 23, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article88021627

Adam EDGAR:  Died 8 May 1941 at Tapanui, New Zealand.  At the age of six, Adam arrived in Portland aboard the Severn in 1857 with his parents, James and Isabella and his eight siblings. The family went straight to Pine Hills  Harrow the property of James Edgar’s brother, David. Like his cousins and siblings, he was educated at the private school David Edgar had established at Pine Hills.  In 1871,  Adam married Margaret Huston and in 1875, they left for New Zealand where they stayed for the rest of their lives. One of Adam and Margaret’s sons was the Reverend James. Huston Edgar, an explorer, missionary and author who spent much of his life in China. His obituary is below. Adam’s sister Jean Edgar was a Passing Pioneer from March 2012.

MR. J. H. EDGAR DEAD. (1936, April 6). The Courier-Mail (Brisbane, Qld. : 1933 - 1954), p. 14. Retrieved May 26, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article36803018

MR. J. H. EDGAR DEAD. (1936, April 6). The Courier-Mail (Brisbane, Qld. : 1933 – 1954), p. 14. Retrieved May 26, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article36803018

Captain Robert Ernest BAKER: Died 4 May 1943 at Larpent. What an interesting character Captain Baker was. Not a ship’s captain, but a captain in the AIF during WW1 he served with the 8th Light Horse. Reading his eighty-eight page service record, I found that Baker was actually a Lieutenant when delisted and was a just temporary Captain at one time during his service. “Captain” does have a better ring to it.

This wonderful photo from the Australian War Memorial has a real Western District flavour but sadly only one, Robert Baker, returned.  Captain Baker is seated on the left.  He was forty-one at the time of enlistment.  The other men are seated right:  Keith Allan Borthwick of Armadale. Standing from left: Major Thomas Harold Redford of Warrnambool, Lt Edward Ellis Henty of Hamilton, Lt Eliot Gratton Wilson of Warrnambool.

Edward Ellis Henty was the grandson of Stephen George Henty. He,  Borthwick, Redford and Wilson joined up on the same day, 21 September 1914 and all died on the same day, 7 August 1915 at the battle of The Nek at Gallipoli.  Robert Baker’s war was plagued with illness, including dysentery and lumbago, but it probably saved his life.  On 7 August 1915, he was in the No 1 Australian Stationary Hospital on Mudros.

Image Courtesy of the Australian War Memorial P00265.001 http://www.awm.gov.au/collection/P00265.001

Image Courtesy of the Australian War Memorial P00265.001 http://www.awm.gov.au/collection/P00265.001

After the war, Captain Baker transformed his property at Larpent into a sanctuary for the native fauna.  He often contributed to the Nature Notes in the Argus.

NOTES FOR BOYS. (1930, September 9). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), p. 9. Retrieved May 26, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article4189243

NOTES FOR BOYS. (1930, September 9). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957), p. 9. Retrieved May 26, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article4189243

In 1936, he offered kangaroos from his own sanctuary to the Healesville sanctuary.  Healesville Sanctuary was in its first years as it was officially opened in 1934.

Healesville Shire Council. (1936, May 2). Healesville and Yarra Glen Guardian (Vic. : 1900 - 1942), p. 3. Retrieved May 26, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article60453763

Healesville Shire Council. (1936, May 2). Healesville and Yarra Glen Guardian (Vic. : 1900 – 1942), p. 3. Retrieved May 26, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article60453763

Herbert Edward RIPPON:  Died 19 May 1954 at Hamilton. Herbert Rippon was the son of George Rippon, part owner of the Hamilton Spectator Herbert lived at Edradour, a house on Ballarat Road, Hamilton I must have passed a thousand times.  Photos of Edradour can be seen on a Hamilton real estate agency listing. Herbert inherited ownership of the Hamilton Spectator in 1899. The Victorian Heritage Database has a short bio on Herbert and he was one of the original backers of Sir Reginald Ansett, then a Hamilton resident. He also was a director of John Thompson & Co department store of Hamilton.