Passing of the Pioneers

November sees more interesting obituaries from the Portland Guardian.  The Horsham Times is now available at Trove, so I have included obituaries from that paper.

Read about a long time manager of Burswood, the Henty homestead, a man who grew new teeth at 80 and two women who lived in the same houses for over 60 years.

Benjamin EDRICH: Died 18 November 1887 at Portland. The Portland Guardian reported at the time of Benjamin EDRICH’s death that another resident “had been removed by the hand of the “Grim Destroyer”.  Benjamin had been in the hotel business for many years.

George BUSH: Died 18 November 1909 at Portland. George BUSH arrived in Portland in 1853 in his early twenties.  A seaman, George was instrumental in rescuing passengers from the wreck of the “Jane” at Bridgewater some years later.

Peter GOLDSMITH: Died 23 November 1909 at Portland. Peter GOLDSMITH arrived in Portland in 1853 aboard the Cornelius captained by Thomas H. CLARKE. Clarke’s son Thomas Denton CLARKE was mentioned in the October Passing of the Pioneers.  Four months after his arrival Peter GOLDSMITH married Miss BLAY and they had nine children. He was eighty-five at the time of his death.

Michael TOBIN: Died 13 November 1916 at Murtoa. The Horsham Times reported the death of Michael Tobin, a Justice of the Peace and former Councillor with the Dunmunkle Shire.  Michael arrived at Geelong in 1853, with his parents from Kilkenny, Ireland.  He worked with his father who ran a carrying business to the diggings.  Michael later lived in the Warrnambool area where he married Mary CLUNE.  In 1872, Michael was one of the first settlers in the Wimmera.

Obituary. (1916, November 21). The Horsham Times (Vic. : 1882 – 1954), p. 4. Retrieved November 24, 2011, from

George JARRATT: Died November 1919 at Portland. George JARRATT arrived in 1848 to Portland and married soon after.  He and his wife, a daughter of Thomas KEAN, had twelve children.

Rose Genevive McCRYSTAL: – Died 8 November 1920 at Caulfield. Rose McCRYSTAL, was the daughter of well-known Portland resident Pat McCrystal. She married W. PEARSON, and moved to Hamilton. After her husband was killed in a buggy accident, she moved back to Portland where she married Antonio RIZZO in 1891. They later returned to Hamilton.



William POLAND: Died 20 November 1922 at Portland. William POLAND arrived in Portland in 1856. He met Edward HENTY and acquired the position of manager of Burswood, the Henty’s original homestead. William held the position for twenty-five years.

“HOME, SWEET HOME.”. (1934, November 15). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 1 Edition: EVENING.. Retrieved November 24, 2011, from

Mary Stanton SLEEP: Died 3 November 1923 at Portland. I enlarged this obituary to make sure my eyes weren’t deceiving me.

OBITUARY. (1923, November 8). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 2 Edition: EVENING.. Retrieved November 24, 2011, from

Mary Sleep was ninety-five when she died in 1923, however, the obituary reads she arrived in Portland in 1836 as a married woman!  I think this may have been a typo. A check of the Victorian Marriage Index shows Mary married Francis ROW in 1853.

Isabella MARSHALL: Died 8 November 1927 at Portland. Isabella MARSHALL managed to pass Mary SLEEP (above) for the longest time in one house.  She lived in the same house for sixty-five years. Originally from Scotland, Isabella arrived in Portland aboard the Indian Ocean in 1854 with her husband William ROBB.  She was ninety-six when she died and left seven children, twenty-three grandchildren, twenty-nine great-great-grandchildren and one great-great-great grandchild.  She was buried at the North Portland Cemetery.

Sarah MILLARD: Died 10 November 1927 at Paschendale. Sarah MILLARD was the daughter of William MILLARD of Narrawong. She married William Henry ANNETT in 1870 and they had ten children, eight sons and two daughters.  William, or Henry as he was known, was also known as the “Father of Wallacedale”.  He died only weeks earlier than Sarah on 29 September. Unfortunately I missed his obituary for the September Passing of the Pioneers, as it appeared in an October issue, but it will definitely appear in September 2012.  Henry’s obituary is one of the best I have read, and what a life he led, especially before he married Sarah.  If you can wait until next year, this is the link:  Obituary of William Henry Annett.  I also spent too much time trying to find a link between Sarah MILLARD and William MILLARD, the winner of the first Stawell Gift.  He may have been Sarah’s brother, but there were a lot of Millards.  Research for another time.

Agnes MUIR: Died 10 November 1942 at Horsham. Agnes MUIR arrived in Brisbane with her new husband Ralph CHEQUER in 1886 aboard the Roma, having married in their home country of Scotland before departing. Over the years, they spent time in Melbourne, Portland and Quantong. At Quantong, the CHEQUERS cleared the land and planted orchards and for thirty years Agnes helped Ralph with the orchard work. One memorable event for the CHEQUERS was in 1911 when they travelled to England for the coronation of King George V.

James COLES: Died 18 November 1944 at Stawell. James COLES was born in the mid-1850s close to the Melbourne GPO.  After time in Avoca, James moved to Stawell as a teenager, later to marry Louisa GILHAM.  He remained in Stawell until his death at ninety-one, aside from a short stint at nearby Fyans Creek.

Thomas THOMPSON: Died 17 November 1945 at Portland. Thomas THOMPSON from Ireland began his time in Australia in Western Australia as a miner. Unsuccessful he headed to Victoria and the Portland district.

OBITUARY. (1945, November 19). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 3 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved November 25, 2011, from

Annie KERR: Died November 1947 at Portland. Annie KERR was the daughter of early Portland residents, her father a doctor. Interesting that he had not practised before his arrival in Portland!  Annie went on to marry John NEWTON.

Joseph Levi Richard BAKER: Died 27 November 1950 at Hamilton. Joseph BAKER was born around 1877 and lived in Collins Street Hamilton. He enjoyed tennis and summer trips to Portland. The obituary reported he was known throughout the Commonwealth for his calligraphy skill. He left a wife Bertha and two daughters.

Carl Frederick Wilhelm PULS: Died 12 November 1953 at Lower Norton. Carl PULS had many claims to fame, but one was his ability to grow new teeth at the age of eighty. Carl was a respected pioneer of the Horsham district and was sadly found dead by his car after a trip to gather wood.

John BERRY: Died 12 November 1953 at Horsham. John BERRY’S death came on the same day as Carl ULS (above).  The BERRY family were pioneers in the Blackheath district, north of Horsham. They later moved to Horsham and John attended the Horsham State School.  John married Ethel KNIPE of Ballarat and worked at Horsham car dealer Wilson Bolton for over forty years. He held one of the first driving licences in Victoria but had driven previous to that, in a time when a licence was not required…scary. I noted that John had a brother James from Hamilton. This may have been the same James BERRY of James Berry & Sons Jewellers, a long established business in Hamilton when I was growing up there in the 1970s and 80s.

Passing of the Pioneers

This is the fourth “Passing of the Pioneers” and includes a chess champion who lived in Merino and plenty of Irish influence.  They highlight some of the pioneers of Victoria’s Western District by way of their obituaries as published in the Portland Guardian.  If you would like to read the full obituary, just click on the pioneer’s name.

Mrs Emma HAY: Died  4 October 1888 at Portland. This obituary demonstrates the tone of many at the time.

OBITUARY. (1888, October 5). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 2 Edition: EVENING.. Retrieved October 26, 2011, from

George BEVAN: Died  17 October 1888 at Portland. George owned and died at the London Hotel in Portland.  His family notice shows he was born in Somerset, England and was fifty-nine at the time of death.  George had been in Portland since the early 1860s and was a keen sportsman and former Town Councillor.

Mary ROGERS: Died October 1912 at Greenwald.  Mary Rogers was eighty-six at the time of her death and had lived in Victoria for sixty years.  She originally went to Tasmania from Ireland with her parents as a small child.  Mary married Francis Egan who had passed away thirty years earlier.

William Sudgen Price LEWIS: Died 4 October 1915 at Hamilton. William Sudgen Price Lewis was the stepson of Richard Lewis, a former owner of Rifle Downs at Digby.  Born in Tasmania in 1835, William and his brother came to live with Richard Lewis when Richard and their mother married in 1841. In adult life, William leased Hilgay station for a time, bred fine livestock and was a member of several racing clubs. He later retired to Hamilton.

John H. ROW: Died 27 October 1926 at Portland. John Row was a Portland jeweller.

Advertising. (1879, March 27). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 2 Edition: MORNINGS.. Retrieved October 27, 2011, from

John McDONNELL: Died 17 October 1930 at Moree. Mr McDonnell was originally from Ireland and arrived in Australia in 1863 via Liverpool. He was considered one of the oldest people in the district. He married Catherine FAHEY and they selected land at Moree in 1865.

Catherine Bridget SAMPEY: Died October 1933 at Melbourne. Catherine Sampey arrived in Melbourne from Ireland aboard the Red Jacket in 1852. She travelled on to Chetwynd with her brother James Sampey and she later married Patrick WHITE of Casterton.

Elizabeth MONOHAN: Died 12 October 1933 at Casterton. Elizabeth Monohan was 100 when she died. Arriving from Ireland aboard the Frances Henty at age twenty-one, seventy-nine years before, she was still able to converse in Welsh and Gaelic in her later years. In 1859, she married John Glover at Sandford House.

Julia Teresa DOYLE: Died October 1934 at Portland. Born in Tipperary, Ireland but remembered as “a true type of a fine old English lady”, Julia Doyle arrived in Australia as a six-year-old in the mid-1850s. She married Frances SUTTON in 1874 and together they had six daughters and two sons.

Ernest John SEALEY: Died 25 October 1935 at Casterton. In his younger years, Ernest Sealey worked as a bullock driver transporting wool. In later worked on Portland’s deep-water pier, hauling logs from the forests to the pier.

Charles PRATT: Died 26 October 1935 at Birchip.

Obituary. (1935, November 4). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 2 Edition: EVENING.. Retrieved October 27, 2011, from

And so begins the obituary of Charles Pratt.  Charles or Charley has he was widely known, was born at Mumbannar in 1870.  In 1891, he went to Beulah in the Mallee and worked with his step-brother and later selected his own land near Watchupga.  He married Annie LAVERY in 1914 and they had three sons.

Thomas Denton CLARKE: Died 5 October 1937 at Hamilton. Thomas, born around 1847 at Liverpool, was the son on Captain Thomas H. Clarke who was a trader in Portland.  Thomas jnr was a champion chess player and a composer of chess problems.  He won many competitions for both pursuits.  Composing problems up until his death, it was considered probable, according to the obituary, that he was the world’s oldest composer.

James McCLUSKEY: Died October 1942 at Koroit. James McCluskey was born at Portland in 1857, not long after the arrival of his parents on the ship, British Empire. Soon after, the family travelled by bullock wagon to Kirkstall near Warrnambool.  In his early working life, James drove pigs to Port Fairy in order to load them on the steamer Casino to go to market in Melbourne.

Mary PRATT: Died 7 October 1942 at Greenwald. Mary, the widow of George COWLAND, was eighty-seven at the time or her death.  There were twelve children in their family.  Her obituary recalled her pioneering traits.

OBITUARY. (1942, October 26). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 2 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved October 27, 2011, from