Hamilton Old Cemetery

In 1850, Henry Wade, the surveyor for the Portland district, completed a plan of the township of Hamilton, then known as The Grange.  He was under instruction from Robert Hoddle, the head of the Melbourne Survey Office.  Hoddle requested Wade set aside eight acres for a cemetery.  Wade surveyed a site on the then Wannon Road, later known as Coleraine Road. That site became the Hamilton Cemetery but is now more commonly known as the Hamilton Old Cemetery after the first burial at the Hamilton Lawn Cemetery in February 1970.  Some burials occurred at the old cemetery after that time, but generally with existing graves.

 

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Of the cemeteries I have visited in the Western District, the Hamilton Old Cemetery is the one closest to my heart. The following grave is the one that first took me there.  The time of my first visit is unclear but maybe as a toddler.  I’m not sure who I even went with.  Maybe my Nana or my great auntie Rosie, both daughters of Thomas and Sarah Hadden. Both Nana and Auntie Rosie took me to the cemetery many times as a child.

 

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The visits to the cemetery were a regular Sunday ritual. If I heard Nana say, “Those flowers would be nice for the cemetery”, I knew the camellias or the dahlias were in bloom and a cemetery visit was impending. Of course, there were also the visits on significant dates.  Nana and Auntie Rosie would weed the plot and put fresh flowers in the vases and I would fill the vases with water at a nearby tap.  The vases in the photo (above) have been with the grave since the beginning as Mum remembers them when she was a child visiting the grave.  And now my son, a fourth generation descendant, has visited the grave of his gg grandparents Thomas and Sarah.

Thomas Hadden was born in Cavendish in 1879, a son of a Scottish immigrant while Sarah was born Sarah Elizabeth Harman at Byaduk.  Her mother, Lizzie Bishop, passed away when Sarah was seven and she and her two siblings were raised by their father Reuben and step-mother Emma Lorden.  Thomas Hadden and Sarah Harman married in 1904 at Byaduk.  They raised seven children in a small house on Coleraine Road, their first-born Lucy Angelina in 1905.

 

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THOMAS HADDEN & SARAH HARMAN

 

Both Sarah and Tom passed away in their sixties. Tom in 1943 aged sixty-four and Sarah in 1948 aged sixty-five, both still relatively young.

When I was ten, there was another grave to visit at the cemetery, that of my great Uncle Len Hadden.  We probably visited it before that, but it’s not in my memory. My great-aunt Jessie was buried in 1969, but I was one-year-old and don’t remember her, but I do remember Uncle Len.

 

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Arthur Leonard Hadden (below), better known as Len, was the second child and oldest son of Thomas and Sarah.  He was born in  February 1907 at Hamilton.  Len attended the Hamilton State school and became a butcher.

 

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Len married Jessie McPhail in October 1928 at Hamilton.  Jessie was born at Tahara to Archibald McPhail and Jessie Wilson in 1905.  Jessie and Len had four boys.

 

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ARTHUR LEONARD HADDEN & JESSIE McPHAIL

 

Visiting Uncle Len at his home on Port Fairy Road, Hamilton during the 1970s was memorable.  Then a widower, he was in his mid-sixties but he seemed very old to me.  I recall he always had the newspaper open on the table and the radio going, the racing station I think, and he didn’t talk much to me, not in the way his younger brother Bill did anyway. Uncle Len had an ankle biting silky terrier called Scruffy I was a bit scared of and a talking cockatoo.  Most memorable was his outdoor dunny, the only one I had seen at the time, and I can still recall the smell which was probably phenyle.

 

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From the Hadden’s, the next of my family graves are those I discovered when I began researching my family history.  As a child, I had no idea there were others in the cemetery related to me.  Little did I know my great-grandmother Sarah Harman’s great-uncle and aunt William Reed and Sarah Burgin were there and not too far away either.

William Reed and Sarah Burgin were the subjects of my post The Muddy Creek Reeds.  There you can read about William’s early life in Cambridgeshire and later as a husband and father living at Muddy Creek.

 

reed

 

Also buried there is Edna Alice Ford, a grand-daughter of William and Sarah.  Her parents were Martha Reed and James Ernest Ford and she was their fourth born.  There is also William Reed Jnr, the eldest child of William Reed and Sarah Burgin. Dying aged eighty-six, William never married.

Not far away is the grave of another of William and Sarah’s children, Sarah Ann Reed (below). She married William Kirkwood of Buckley’s Swamp in 1903.  They settled at Buckley’s Swamp and raised a family of at least seven children.  I have several more photos of Kirkwood graves and I will feature those in a future post on the Hamilton Cemetery.

 

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There are more of the Reed family graves to photograph including William and Sarah’s daughter and mother of Alice Edna Ford, Martha Reed and her husband James Ford.  Also daughter Eliza Reed and her husband James Clayton and her sister Alice Reed and Alice’s husband Henry Brewis.  Williams and Sarah’s son, Albert Reed and his wife Elilias Patman are also buried in the cemetery.

Nearby the grave of William and Sarah is the last resting place of Sarah’s parents Richard Burgin and Eliza Addinsall.  They were from Lincolnshire and arrived at Geelong aboard the Joshua in 1854.  Accompanying them were their children, Richard Jnr, Sarah, William and baby Hannah.  According to the passenger list, they were heading to nearby Batesford, the home of relatives.  They eventually made their way further west and were in the Hamilton district by 1858 when their daughter Eliza was born.  They settled at Muddy Creek, a small settlement just south of Hamilton with a large Methodist population.

 

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Devout Wesleyans, the Burgins attended the Muddy Creek Methodist Chuch.  That is where the Burgin, Reed, Harman connection all began.  My ggg grandfather was a local preacher and in the early 1860s, before he settled his family at what would become Byaduk, Muddy Creek was their nearest church.  James’ wife Susan Reed was a sister of William, who arrived in the district from England as a single man and settled around Muddy Creek.  Sarah and William met, possibly at church, married and the rest is history.

The first burial in the Burgin plot was Eliza Burgin Jnr who passed away in 1874 aged sixteen.  Her mother Eliza followed in 1883 aged sixty-six then father Richard who passed away in 1888 aged seventy-eight.

 

"The Horsham Times." The Horsham Times (Vic. : 1882 - 1954) 8 Jun 1888:.

“The Horsham Times.” The Horsham Times (Vic. : 1882 – 1954) 8 Jun 1888:<http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article72883526&gt;.

The last burial was, Hannah Burgin who never married and passed away in 1923 aged seventy.

Still close by is the grave of Sarah Harman’s 1st cousin 1 x removed, Jessie Harman.  Jessie, of Byaduk, was the daughter of Reuben Harman and Elizabeth Oliver and married Hamilton man, Walter Greed in 1898.

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Walter’s parents, John Weaver Greed and Emma Grinter started an undertaking business in Hamilton in 1861.  Around 1890, it was taken over by Walter’s younger brother Frank after the death of their father. It  became known as F.Greed & Sons and today the descendants of John and Emma run the business on the site where the business began 154 years ago.

Walter was the nephew of Abraham Greed a Hamilton coachmaker and at one time, Mayor. When he finished school, Walter went to work with his uncle in the coach building trade.  After their marriage, Jessie and Walter lived at 21 Stephen Street (below), with not only their children, Vera and Arthur, but at times, Jessie’s mother and two sisters, Beatrice and Sarah.

 

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Jessie and Walter’s son Arthur married Evelyn Sack around 1928 at the Hamilton Baptist Church, just a couple of blocks from the Greed home.

 

"SOCIAL." The Horsham Times (Vic. : 1882 - 1954) 22 Jun 1928:.

“SOCIAL.” The Horsham Times (Vic. : 1882 – 1954) 22 Jun 1928:<http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article72628020&gt;.

 

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FORMER BAPTIST CHURCH, HAMILTON

 

Evelyn was born in Shepparton, but her family moved to Hamilton soon after and her father Frederick Sack operated a jewellers and optician business in Gray Street.  The family lived at 46 Martin Street.

"Advertising." Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 - 1873; 1914 - 1918) 8 Jun 1918 http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article119502851>.

“Advertising.” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1873; 1914 – 1918) 8 Jun 1918 http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article119502851&gt;.

 

Arthur Greed worked in the materials and curtain department in Miller’s store also in Gray Street.  After he and Evelyn married, they lived at 20 Stephen Street, across the road from Arthur’s parents.  In their later years, Arthur and Evelyn retired to Portland.  They passed away within three months of each other in 1993.

 

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We now make our way to the opposite end of the cemetery to the Diwell plot.  On my last visit, I found another Diwell grave along the way.

 

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I’ll have to use the cemetery records to find out who it belongs to, however, I have narrowed it down to possibly being Jonathan Richard Diwell, born at Hamilton in 1919 and who died in Hamilton in 1928.  He was the son of William Diwell and Vita Gleeson and grandson of Richard Diwell and Elizabeth Jelly, buried in the next featured grave.

This grave is the most ornate of my family graves at the cemetery, the final resting place of my gg grandparents, Richard Diwell and Elizabeth Jelly and four of their children.

 

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You can read more about Richard and Elizabeth in the posts Elizabeth Ann Jelly and Another What the Dickens Moment.

Buried with them are four children including the baby Elizabeth gave birth to in 1900, with both dying as a result.  Also Richard and Elizabeth’s seventh child, Ernest Richard. He died in 1939 aged forty-eight after accidentally drinking spirits of salt.

 

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The grave is looking a little worse for wear.

 

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There are still several Diwell related headstones to get photos of.  They include Richard and Anne’s three young granddaughters, Hilda, Linda and Margaret the daughters of Margaret Ann Diwell and her husband Frederick Coustley.  There are also Richard’s sister Margaret Ann McClintock and her daughter Martha Emily McClintock and another daughter Mary Crawford McClintock who married John Blackney.

Since my collection of Hamilton Old cemetery photos is close to 200, this is not the last post on the cemetery.  Next, a tour of some of the graves of those who shaped Hamilton.

SOURCES

Garden, Donald S. (Donald Stuart) and Hamilton (Vic.). Council Hamilton, a Western District history. City of Hamilton in conjunction with Hargreen, North Melbourne, 1984, p38.

Hamilton History Centre Driving Tour

Gardner, Margaret & Heffernan, Val & Hamilton History Centre (2007). Exploring Hamilton : mini histories for drive no. 1. Hamilton History Centre, Hamilton, Vic, p15.

Victoria. Register of Assisted Immigrants from the United Kingdom. Microfiche VPRS 14. Public Record Office Victoria, North Melbourne, Victoria, sourced from Ancestry.com.au

 

©Merron Riddiford 2015.  The use of the content and images in this post is according to Western District Families’ Creative Commons License

Misadventures, Deaths and Near Misses

Sometimes the Misadventure, Deaths and Near Misses (MDNM) posts are like a newspaper version of Funniest Home Videos (I’m thinking of the horse in the sidecar last edition), but there is, of course, a serious side.  The accidents of Western District pioneers remind us of the dangers they faced in their everyday lives. Even mundane clothes washing could turn disastrous.

Fire was ever-present in early homes for light, cooking, warmth and washing.  That led to many injuries and women were the most likely victims simply because they worked with fire often and their long dresses were prone to catch.   My own family did not go unaffected by fire.  My ggg grandmother, Ellen Gamble, lost her life in a house fire from a knocked candle and my ggg aunt, Jane Diwell passed away after catching fire while boiling turpentine and beeswax.  Newspapers articles on the danger of fire were often published.

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What to do in [?]ase of Catching Fire. (1900, May 12). Australian Town and Country Journal (NSW : 1870 - 1907), p. 43. Retrieved May 4, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article71380496

What to do in [?]ase of Catching Fire. (1900, May 12). Australian Town and Country Journal (NSW : 1870 – 1907), p. 43. Retrieved May 4, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article71380496

The following ladies all had accidents with fire and for each it was their impractical dresses that contributed to their injuries.

In 1889, Jane Brennan was travelling home from mass with her husband and son, when the boy smelt smoke.  They blamed a hot axle until they found  Jane’s dress on fire.  Despite her husband’s desperate attempts to douse the flames, Jane received severe burns.  Mr Brennan also had bad burns including his fingernails burnt off.  Despite being transported to the Ararat Hospital, a later edition of The Portland Guardian reported Jane had sadly died.  The cause of the fire was unknown.

For Constance Sarah O’Connell of Heywood and Eva Dyson of Bessiebelle, it was domestic duties that resulted in their burns.  Mrs O’Connell was tending a copper in the backyard of the Commercial Hotel, Heywood where she worked, when her dress caught fire.  A doctor was called from Portland to tend Mrs O’Connell’s burns but the poor woman was sent by afternoon train to Hamilton Hospital where she later died.  I am curious why she did not go to Portland, closer than Hamilton.

Eva Dyson was carrying out her household chores in front of a fireplace when her dress caught fire.  Her screams brought her mother and sister who were able to extinguish the flames but not before they all also suffered burns.

A past edition of MDNMs discussed the frequency of headlines such as “Peculiar Accident” or “Extraordinary Death” in the papers.  The death of  Matthew Kelly of Eurambeen was definitely “extraordinary” or maybe just what can happen when a joke gets out of hand.

The Portland Guardian,. (1888, July 23). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 - 1953), p. 2 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved May 7, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article63589310

The Portland Guardian,. (1888, July 23). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 2 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved May 7, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article63589310

On July 25, 1888, The Portland Guardian reported that Mrs Kelly would stand trial over the manslaughter of her husband.  I did not find an article about her trial and the result.

A peculiar accident occurred at the Ararat Railway Station in 1922 and the cause was the railway bell.  A Minyip lady received stitches above her eye as a result.

A RAILWAY BELL MISHAP. (1922, November 21). The Horsham Times (Vic. : 1882 - 1954), p. 5. Retrieved May 8, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article72741866

A RAILWAY BELL MISHAP. (1922, November 21). The Horsham Times (Vic. : 1882 – 1954), p. 5. Retrieved May 8, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article72741866

NEAR MISSES

It was a near miss for James Hadden, my gg uncle,  working at a saw bench at Mt Sturgeon Station, near Dunkeld.  The saw went between his fingers and while he suffered some nasty cuts, his fingers remained intact.

On September 12, 1884, two “cowboys” rode up beside the mail coach between Nhill and Dimboola causing the horses to bolt.  Both the driver and the only passenger Mrs Dungey of Kaniva, were thrown from the box seat of the coach.  Fortunately they both survived but Mrs Dungey was badly injured.  The driver managed to get the coach back in order, surprisingly with the help of the two culprits.  They loaded Mrs Dungey and the driver took her to a doctor in Dimboola.  The police investigated the incident, the second of its kind in a short period.

Mr Shrive did something that still occurs regularly today.   He fell from a ladder.   Notice Mr Shrive’s accident was the third of its kind around the time of  June 1888.

HARROW. (1888, June 29). The Horsham Times (Vic. : 1882 - 1954), p. 3. Retrieved May 8, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article72883804

HARROW. (1888, June 29). The Horsham Times (Vic. : 1882 – 1954), p. 3. Retrieved May 8, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article72883804

A bull had the last word when  Mr D. Williams, a butcher, was attempting to slaughter it.  The beast kicked its leg out,  pushing the butcher’s knife into the lower arm of Mr Williams, inflicting a nasty wound that cut the artery.

Albert Reed of Muddy Creek was my 1st cousin, 4 x removed, a nephew of my ggg grandmother Sarah Harman (nee Reed).  He owned a cantankerous young Jersey bull that happily roamed the paddock but would not enter the cow yard.  Until one day in August 1913 when it chose to jump the fence into the cow yard where Albert was standing.  It immediately charged Albert and for sixty metres, it pushed Albert along the ground trying to lift him up onto its horns.  Finally William broke free and called for help but the only person home was his mother Sarah Burgin, then 67.  Between them they were able to secure the bull.  It was later shot.

F.Lovell of Portland had a very near miss!

ACCIDENT. (1906, September 28). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 - 1953), p. 3 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved May 9, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article63963309

ACCIDENT. (1906, September 28). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 3 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved May 9, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article63963309

in 1889, Reverend Father Foley was on his way home from conducting mass at Goroke when he came across John Breen .  John had fallen from a horse and had broken his leg.  Rev. Father Foley constructed splints from the bark of a tree, lifted John into his buggy and transported him to Nhill hospital.  Dr Ryan of the hospital was most impressed with the surgical skills shown by the man of the cloth.

The Hungry Eagle

I had to share this story with you.

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

The Portland Guardian, (50th Year of Publication.) With which is incorporated The Portland Mirror. (1892, May 18). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 2 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved June 14, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article65439001

I wonder what happened to the eagle?

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

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

OBITUARY. (1902, October 31). The Horsham Times (Vic. : 1882 – 1954), p. 3. Retrieved July 15, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article72851290

 

KIRKWOOD GRAVE – OLD HAMILTON CEMETERY

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

They Were Not Alone

I used to imagine life for my great-grandmother, Caroline Kirkin, arriving in Victoria in 1913, with husband Thomas Riddiford and  five sons and the difficulties she faced as a woman in such circumstances.  Hardly pioneer times, but without siblings and parents, and living in the small country town of Smeaton, north of Ballarat, she must have felt alone.  She may not have had the companionship of other women at a time when she was raising small children with more on the way.  In time, she would have made friends, but  would that have been the same as having family to share memories of growing up in London, a long way removed from country Victoria.

I have also considered life for Susan Reed, my ggg grandmother and wife of James Harman.  She arrived at Portland in 1852, a new bride at 22.  As assisted immigrants, James had to work for a local property owner to repay their passage, and Susan would have been left alone.  Babies began to arrive in 1854 and James would have been busy establishing a life for them.  Images that would come to mind resembled a Frederick McCubbin painting.

Even Rosanna Buckland, who has led me on a merry chase, has evoked similar feelings within me.  I felt for her on her on the treacherous voyage to Australia on the “Bombay” and then living in the “bush” at Mt William station with her husband James Mortimer.

Later in my research, when I began to investigate the siblings of  these three women,  my picture of their lives in Australia changed.  I snapped out of my romantic imaginings to the reality that these women had a greater support system than first thought.  They were definitely not alone.

Susan Read left siblings, including a brother William, at home in Melbourn, Cambridgeshire.  Searching the Victorian BDM’s for Susan’s death record, using just parent names, brought up a William Reed who died at Muddy Creek, in 1889 with the same parents as Susan.  I had found Susan’s brother living just down the road from her.  William married Sarah Burgin in 1866 and they had seven children mostly in the Warrabkook area.

Woman of mystery Rosanna Buckland, was not the only member of her family who could lay claim to the title.  Rosanna had a younger sister Elizabeth, who married Richard Myhill in Berkshire in 1851.  While browsing the passenger list of the “Bombay“, the Mortimer immigrant ship, I found Richard and Elizabeth Myhill also on board.  Elizabeth got off the ship, but where she went after that is unknown.  Richard Myhill shows up time and time again in the records and newspapers, but married to Isabella Ross (1860) not Elizabeth Buckland.  So at least for some part, Rosanna had the support of her sister, who may have been a welcome helping hand on the “Bombay“.

Caroline Kirkin had a younger sister Ada.  Ada married Frederick Sturdy in London in 1911 and  had three children by the time Caroline departed for Australia.  By 1914, Ada, Frederick and children were themselves sailing for Australia.  I first found this after a search of Frederick William Sturdy at Ancestry brought up a match on the Australian Electoral Rolls.  The record listed his wife as Ada Sturdy and they were living in Sturt Street, Ballarat, the same town as Caroline.  How could I have not known about Caroline’s sister and her family?  No-one had ever mentioned them. The Sturdys stayed on in Ballarat before moving to Melbourne sometime around the outbreak of WW2 as Frederick had enlisted.

Caroline Celia Ann Kirkin

But wait that’s not all.  I was researching Caroline’s father Frederick Kirkin, who lived and died in London.  He was from a family of ten children, so I proceeded to find out more about them.  I knew that Frederick’s sister had married a Henry Smith, and it was another search at Ancestry  which brought up a match for Elizabeth Rose Smith on the Australian Electoral Rolls in 1919 at Geelong.  A search of her death record showed she was in fact a Kirkin.  Elizabeth and Henry had three daughters, two I have confirmed came to Australia, but at the time I did not follow them up further.  All along Caroline’s aunt and cousins were living in Geelong.

But wait that’s not all.  Recently Dad told me he had thought of the two families he boarded with in Geelong as a teenager.  He had talked of them in the past, by name, but names I was not familiar with.  He thought maybe they were related to Grandpa, and I immediately thought of Riddiford relatives, although I thought I had them covered.  I completely overlooked a possible Kirkin link.   I worked back from the death and cemetery records of the couples.  To my surprise, the wives of each of these families had the maiden name Smith, none other than Emily Eliza and Elizabeth May, daughters of Henry and Elizabeth Smith.  They had married Fred Baverstock and Fred Harrison in Geelong.  Dad had been boarding with his first cousins twice removed and did not know it.

But wait that’s not all.  Whilst this research was going on, I found a UK Incoming Passenger List  record for Caroline’s parents, Henry and Amy Kirkin.  They had arrived in London in 1926 from Melbourne. Nothing unusual with that. They may  have visited daughters Caroline and Ada and sister Elizabeth, but what was that reference to their last place of permanent residency? New Zealand? A search for people researching the Kirkin name revealed one with a New Zealand email address.  I contacted him, asking if he had any clues. I mentioned a daughter, Ivy, who I had found no trace of in English records.  Could she have been in New Zealand?  He replied that Ivy did go to New Zealand, married and he was her grandson. His father had mentioned that Henry and Amy had gone to New Zealand on holiday to visit their daughter.   He was not aware of them living there for an extended period.   More research is required on Henry and Amy’s New Zealand adventure, as while they returned to England in 1926,  they were on the 1928 New Zealand electoral roll.  They both died in London, Amy in 1929 and Henry in 1935.

Suddenly I had Kirkin relatives in both Victoria and New Zealand.  A long way from thinking that Carolyn was the only Kirkin in the Southern Hemisphere.

So with my romantic illusions shattered, I am reminded that often the lives we perceive for our ancestors is not always as it was.  The more information we can gather goes a long way to creating a realistic picture of their lives.  Researching brothers and sisters of direct ancestors can help fill in some of the gaps and if you are like me, the brothers and sisters sometimes led more interesting lives.

While I cannot forget the many pioneer women who did suffer hardship from isolation, not seeing another woman for months, these three women were not in that category.  Aside from the arrival of a relative, in Susan’s case, she may have formed networks via the families’ strong links with the Wesleyan Methodist Church. Rosanna could have shared the company of the other station hand wives, living and working at Mount William station.  Despite feeling somewhat cheated by my discoveries that Susan, Rosanna and Caroline’s lives may not have been as I first thought, I am now compensated  by having Kirkin and Read/Reed links close to home.  Rosanna still owes me!

The Leader of the Pack

When I think of my ancestors, the first name that comes to mind is James Harman.  I don’t know why.  Maybe it’s because if I was to a pick a leader of my ancestors, the boss or the chairperson,  I think It would be James.

In the 15 years or so I have got to know my ggg grandfather, I have imagined him as organised, official and proud.  He was a leader in the church and the farming community speaking up for what he believed.  I can just  imagine him standing before my other ancestors, organising and guiding them.  Who would be his deputy?  I would think either of James’ brothers Jonathon or Walt who, in their own activities in the community, were of  the same mould.

James was born in Melbourn, Cambridgeshire in 1830, the son of Joseph and Sarah Harman.  He married Susan Reed of Whaddon on August 15, 1852 just two months later on October 20, 1852 they set sail aboard the “Duke of Richmond” bound for Portland, Victoria, Australia.  They spent time in Port Fairy before settling at Byaduk in the early 1860s.

At Byaduk, James was involved with the church, served on the first committee of the Byaduk State School at the age of 81, and farming activities such as ploughing competitions and the Farmers Union.

James and Susan had 10 children from 1854 to 1875, five boys and five girls.  Even that was orderly.

Reuben James   Birth: 1854 in Port Fairy, Victoria  Marriage: 1877 in Byaduk, Victoria to Elizabeth BISHOP Death: 05 Jan 1937 in Ballarat, Victoria.

Alfred   Birth: 1856 in Portland, Victoria  Marriage: 1883 to Louisa NEWMAN Death: 06 Nov 1922 in Byaduk, Victoria.

Isabella   Birth: 1857 in Port Fairy, Victoria Marriage: 1885 to Stephen WARD Death: 02 Aug 1886 in Port Fairy, Victoria.

George Henry   Birth: 1860 in Port Fairy, Victoria Death: 1861 in Hamilton, Victoria.

Julia   Birth: 1861 in Muddy Creek, Victoria  Marriage: 1882 to George HOLMES Death: 20 Dec 1896 in Casterton, Victoria.

Martha    Birth: 1863 in Byaduk, Victoria Marriage: 08 Nov 1888 in Hamilton, Victoria to Frederick Charles HUGHES Death: 28 Dec 1960 in Hamilton, Victoria.

Henrietta   Birth: 1866 in Byaduk, Victoria. Death: 1952 in Hamilton, Victoria.

Albert    Birth: 1868 in Byaduk, Victoria Marriage: 1907 to Emma CARMICHAEL Death: 26 Nov 1927 in Byaduk, Victoria.

Alice   Birth: 1871 in Byaduk, Victoria Marriage: Dec 1896 in Macarthur, Victoria to William James McLEAN Death: 21 Jun 1927 in Hamilton, Victoria.

George    Birth: 1875 in Byaduk, Victoria Marriage: 1908 to Hilda May HILL Death: 25 Sep 1947 in Hamilton, Victoria.

It was reading James’ Will, written in 1914, that really defined him for me.  In great detail,  he had carefully considered his beneficiaries and ensured that Susan and his spinster daughter Henrietta would be looked after once he was gone.  It also offered information of James’ property and farm related assets.

The first of James’ last wishes was that his watch and chain be passed on to his grandson, Albert Lionel HARMAN, the eldest son of George HARMAN.  Daughter Henrietta was to receive the furniture in the  house and all household effects.   She was also the beneficiary of James’ poultry.  He  made provision for Henrietta to stay in the house with James’ grandson Charles, only son of  Isabella who died when Charles was a baby.

Farming implements, including a chaff cutter and a set of harrows, were left to son Alfred.  He would also receive two horses and their harness, a number of sheep and half of the grain and hay on the farm at the time of James’ death.  James had a contingency if there was  no grain or hay on the property at the time of his death.  If this was to happen, Alfred would receive £30 instead.  There were conditions for Alfred however. He had to undertake to give his mother Susan 15 shillings a week and give £100 to each of his sisters, Martha and Alice within a year of his father’s death.

Reuben and Albert shared in a large amount of James’ land at Byaduk and Lake Gorrie, near Macarthur.  The description of the property at Byaduk known as the “House Paddock” gives some idea of the out-buildings that existed but also James’ methodical approach to such matters.  It read:

“…commencing at the junction of the Hamilton to Byaduk main road with the Louth road running southerly along the said main road to the entrance gate thence Westerly along the wire fence to the corner of the stack yard and including the woolshed and barn thence Northerly along the wire fence to the Louth road thence along the Louth road easterly to the commencing point.”

The  partnership of James and Susan Harman was to come to a rapid close in 1916.  On April 10, Susan passed away aged 86.  Just over four months later on August 14,  James himself died also aged 86.  Together they had left England as newlyweds, settled themselves in Victoria before starting their large family.  They had seen births, deaths and marriages as their family extended and together they witnessed the growth in the country they had arrived in over 60 years before.  It seems right they went so close together after 64 years of marriage.  They were buried side by side at the Byaduk cemetery.