Passing of the Pioneers

Collecting the obituaries for August Passing of the Pioneers, I discovered that many of the  pioneers had either worked for or had a father who for the Henty brothers. Hannah Spiken and Elizabeth Stevenson were both born at the time their fathers worked for the Hentys, with Elizabeth born at Munthum Station.  Harriet Tate was also at Munthum Station where she worked as a nursemaid.

There is also the story of John Bodey who lived to 106 and Mary Finn who’s husband’s family operated the Glenelg Inn, around which the town of Casterton grew. The hotel still operates today. Also included are two of the wealthier pioneers of the Western District, Alexander Davidson and James Whyte.

Alexander DAVIDSON: Died 17 August 1874 at Portland. Western Victorian squatter, Alexander Davidson was born in Inverness, Scotland in 1801. He acquired his wealth during his time as co-owner of Satimer station at Wando Vale. In later life, he built the Portland home, Wando Villa and contributed extensively to the Portland Wesleyan Church. The Glenelg and Wannon Settlers website has further information on Alexander Davidson on the Wando Vale settlers page.

James WHYTE: Died August, 1882 at Hobart, Tasmania. James Whyte and his brothers were pioneers of Coleraine, with the main street named in their honour. Born in Scotland in 1820, Whyte arrived in Tasmania with his family in 1832. In 1837, James and his brothers William, George, Pringle and John arrived in Port Phillip settling at Konowootong near Coleraine.

James then moved to Clunes taking co-ownership of a large station where gold was later discovered. In 1853, he returned to Tasmania, a much richer man and ran for the seat of Brighton during the 1854 election. He was unsuccessful, but ran again in 1856 and won a seat in the Legislative Council of Tasmania.  In 1863, he became Premier, holding the post until 1866.

Despite their name held in perpetuum at Coleraine and a state leader among them, the Whyte Brothers hold a place in the darker history of the Western District. In March 1840, the brothers took part in the massacre of at least thirty aboriginals at The Hummocks near Wando Vale. The Museum Victoria website gives an account of what became known as the Fighting Hills Massacre.

Joseph COUCH:  Died 30 August 1911 at Portland. Joseph Couch, born in Cornwall, arrived in Victoria aboard the Mary Ann in 1856.  He spent 17 years working for Edward Henty before taking up the role of curator of the Portland Botanic Gardens.  Joseph was curator for twenty-six years demonstrating a great knowledge of plants and a passion for the gardens.  Joseph’s memory continues with his name on a plaque on the curator’s cottage at the gardens.

Mary FINN:  Died 15 August 1913 at Kew. Mary Finn was born in Ireland and arrived on the ship Susan in 1839 with her family. In 1852, Mary married Edmund Kirby, one of Casterton’s earliest settlers.  The marriage took place at the Glenelg Inn  built on a part of Springbank station run by the Edmund Kirby, his brother James and sister Mary. The Kirby’s later took on the ownership on the hotel, previously operated by Mary’s late husband, and the town of Casterton grew around it. The Glenelg Inn still operates today.  One of her sons was John Finn Kirby, owner of 1911 Melbourne Cup winner, The Parisian.  More information on the Kirby family is on the Glenelg and Wannon settlers website.

John BODEY:  Died 21 August 1916 at Camperdown. Ireland native, John Bodey was born in 1810 making him 106 at the time of his death.  He lived through the reign of six British monarchs. This article appeared on his 100th birthday and outlines some of the events which occurred during John’s long life:

Centenarian’s Recollections. (1910, May 24). The Horsham Times (Vic. : 1882 – 1954), p. 1. Retrieved August 23, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article73125828

Having a keen interest in politics, John voted in a by-election at Warrnambool not long before his death. Upon John’s 105th birthday, his son George talked about his father’s longevity and  independence.

INTERESTING CENTENARIAN. (1915, July 3). Border Watch (Mount Gambier, SA : 1861 – 1954), p. 4. Retrieved August 23, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article77776418

Edwin Clough DERMER: Died 26 August 1917 at Ballarat. Edwin Dermer was born in London and worked as a clerk for the Bank of England where his father was a departmental manager.  At eighteen, Edwin headed to Australia where he became a gold buyer at Melbourne, before heading for the goldfields of Ballarat. After around twenty years on the diggings, Edwin moved into retail, first as a manager of a crockery shop and then manager of a drapery business.  He then opened a grocery business in Mair Street.

Work aside, Edwin was a founding member of the Druids Lodge, a member of the Orion Masonic Lodge and president of the United Friendly Societies Dispensaries.  He was had a keen interest in state and federal elections and served as a deputy returning officer for the electorate of Ballarat West.  In fifty years, he never missed a game of cricket in Ballarat.  One interesting point of interest in Edwin’s life was his wife was born in the same street in London and attended the same school, however, they did not meet until they came to Victoria.

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PASSING OF THE PIONEERS. (1920, August 24). The Horsham Times (Vic. : 1882 – 1954), p. 4. Retrieved August 20, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article73177733

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Annie DONNELLY:  Died August 1933 at Warrnambool.  Annie Donnelly of Irish descent married James Percy Skeyhill.  They spent time at Terang where their son Thomas John Skeyhill was born in 1895. The family moved to Hamilton with Thomas educated at St Mary’s Convent School.  Thomas enlisted for WW1 and it  changed his life. While at Gallipoli, a shell blinded Thomas and upon his return he published his war poetry and travelled overseas on lecture tours.

The Sydney Morning Herald published an example of his poetry at the time of his death in 1932, as a result of an airplane accident in the United States.  The full obituary is here and another from a local perspective was in the Camperdown Chronicle published May 26, 1932

TOM SKEYHILL. (1932, May 25). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954), p. 16. Retrieved August 24, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article16866051

Annie and husband Thomas moved to Warrnambool where Thomas operated the Warrnambool Cordial Co. until his death in 1932, just a year before his wife.

Harriet TATE: Died August 1935 at Portland. Harriet Tate arrived in Australia from Ireland as a seven-year old.  At just eighteen, she married William Jackman, an early Wimmera pioneer.  In her early years, Harriet worked for Edward Henty at Munthum Station.  William and Harriet moved to Portland in their later life, with Harriet spending the last twenty-five years of her life in the town.

Hannah SPIKEN:  Died 3 August1936 at Portland. Born in Portland around 1864 Hannah was the daughter of John and Hannah Spiken. John worked for the Hentys and Hannah was said to have followed behind the plough, planting potatoes.  At eighteen, she married Walter Dennis Pitts a union which lasted fifty-four years.

Elizabeth STEVENSON: Died 3 August 1938 at Coburg.  Elizabeth was born at Merino Downs around 1863, the daughter of Joseph and Mary Stevenson. Joseph was working for the Hentys at Munthum station at the time of her birth, but the family later moved to Portland.  Elizabeth married William James Dunne of Ararat and they spent some time in Portland before moving to Ballarat.

John NIDDRIE:  Died August 1939 at Hamilton. John Niddrie was born at Cherrymount near Glenthompson around 1865.  John and his four brothers spent much time in the bush as children and as a result all became accomplished bushmen.  They also were able to climb tall trees, a skill they learnt from local aboriginals.  John married Florence James of Hamilton.

Henry Dyer RUNDELL:  Died August 1941 at Hamilton. Henry Rundell was a long time resident of Condah, the son of John and Mathilda Rundell.  John was from Cornwall and Mathilda from Somerset. Henry married Annie Dawkins and they celebrated their Golden Wedding anniversary only months before Henry’s death. Henry was a dairy farmer at his property Swamp View near Condah and he was a parishioner of the Church of England.

Passing of the Pioneers

April Passing of the Pioneers reminds me how much can be learnt about Western Victorian history from reading pioneer obituaries. This month sees some prominent men of 19th century Western Victoria, James Dawson, James Thomson and John Kirby.

I am also learning more about the wonderful homesteads dotted throughout the Western District. The Monivae, Longerenong and Mt. Koroite Homesteads are all mentioned this month.  If you click on the homestead name in the obituary, the link will take you through to the Victorian Heritage Database and relevant homestead’s listing.

James DAWSON: Died 19 April 1900 at Camperdown. James Dawson was born at Linlithgow, Scotland in 1806. His mother, Johannah Park, was a niece of explorer Mungo Park. James left Scotland in 1840, bound for Victoria. He initially purchased a property on the Upper Yarra at Melbourne, but later bought a property at Port Fairy.  He erected a house he had brought in pieces from Scotland. The property was known as Kangatong Estate.  While there, he commissioned artist Eugene von Guerard to paint nearby Tower Hill.

He sold the property and moved to Keilor then Camperdown.  After two years away in Scotland, James returned and was appointed Protector of Aboriginals, a role that saw his greatest contribution  to Victorian history. He was also an honourary superintendent of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and amateur taxidermist. A large collection of his taxidermy was presented to the Museum connected to the Melbourne Mechanics Institute.

William BAILEY:  Died 25 April 1906 at Ballarat. Born in about 1828, William arrived in Victoria in 1848. He went to Ballarat during the gold rush and remained there until his death.  he Ballarat papers were speculating at the time of his death the value of his estate, thought to be £400,000 thanks to mining and squatting. He had a number of children who had been successful including Stephen who was a station owner at Orange N.S.W.  The boys were also good cricketers.

Margaret Bennett MARTIN:  Died 22 April 1909 at Portland. The wife of Mr Francis Findon Levett, Margaret Martin was eighty-five years old at the time of her death.  She had been in Victoria since her early teens.  She had many stories about the early days of the Portland district.

James ALGIE: Died 17 April 1910 at Stawell. Jame Algie was a veteran of the Crimean War. He was born in Glasgow around 1832 and joined the 71st Highland Light Infantry from Glasgow in 1849 and served in Greece and India. He lived in Stawell for forty years.

Thomas CLOHESY:  Died 24 April 1910 at Hamilton. Thomas Clohesy had been in Victoria since in 1871. He made the journey from Ireland with his father and brother, but sadly his father passed away on the voyage. He at one time worked at the estates of the Chirnside brothers.

James THOMSON:  Died 25 April 1910 at Hamilton. James Thomson was born in Balnachole, Scotland in 1823. He and his wife travelled to Australia in 1852. With him, he brought sheep farming experience which he tried, first at Edenhope in a partnership and later at Hamilton at the well known Monivae estate. James purchased Monivae in 1870 from the estate of Police Magistrate Acheson Ffrench. The property was 18,000 acres and James ran Angus cattle and Lincoln sheep. The Victorian Heritage Database lists he also bred rare Scottish ponies, collie dogs and goats.

MONIVAE 1966.  Image Couresy of the J.T. Collins Collection, La Trobe Picture Collection,    State Library of Victoria.  Image no. H97.250/44 http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/230077

MONIVAE 1966. Image courtesy of the J.T. Collins Collection, La Trobe Picture Collection, State Library of Victoria. Image no. H97.250/44 http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/230077

I have an interest in the history of the Monivae property and it’s homestead as I attended Monivae College in Hamilton which, for a short time in the 1950s, ran the school from the homestead before moving to the current site. The school retained the Monivae name.  At school, we learnt a lot about Acheson Ffrench, the original owner, but I knew nothing of James Thomson’s links to the homestead.  Ffrench named Monivae after Monivaea Castle, his father’s castle in Galway, Ireland.

I discovered, thanks to the Victorian Heritage Database, that James Thomson built the existing Monivae homestead, known as “Old Monivae”, rather than Ffrench. Ffrench had lived in another home on the property and it was later left empty by Thomson.  The bluestone for the new homestead was taken from a quarry on the property. James also donated bluestone for St. Andrew’s  Presbyterian Church, which stands with the Hamilton Anglican Church on Hamilton’s “Church Hill”. Their spires are landmarks on the Hamilton skyline.  Nana and several other Haddens were married at the Presbyterian Church.

St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Hamilton

James INGLIS:  Died 12 April 1914 at Ballarat. James Inglis ran the Ballarat coachbuilding business of J. & J. Inglis. with his brother John. His father started the business in 1860 after he took his family from Melbourne to Ballarat. James was just three at that time. The original business was at Market Square but later moved to nearby Creswick Road.

Robert DALGLEISH: Died 12 April 1914 at Learmonth. Robert Dalgliesh arrived in Ballarat around 1850 from his native Roxboroughshire, Scotland. He tried his luck on the diggings, brought property with his brothers, then returned home to Scotland in 1856.  In 1860, he was back and bought a property at Learmonth, Salwick Hall“, from his brother. It was there he died in 1914.

William UREN:  Died 19 April 1914 at Berringa. Before travelling to South Australia with his wife during the 1860s, Cornish born William spent time in Chile, South America.  He and his father worked in silver mines.  While in South Australia he worked in the copper mines before moving to Ballarat.  He was a shift boss at the Midas and Lone Hand mines.

Agnes LUNDY:  Died 16 April 1916 at Horsham. Agnes came to Australia from Scotland during the 1860s and worked for Sir Samuel Wilson at Longerenong near Horsham. That is where she met her future husband, William McClintock. William was a cousin of Sir Samuel and worked as an overseer at Longerenong.  They remained at Longerenong for some time, before William bought land and bred find woolled sheep and thoroughbred horses.

Sybil GAIN:  Died 28 April 1921 at Horsham. Sybil Gain was ninety years old at the time of her death and was one of the Horsham district’s oldest pioneers. She arrived in Victoria from Scotland during the 1850s.  She married three times. Her husbands were  John Morrison who she married at nineteen, William Knipe and John Gillies. Gillies was a pioneer of the  flour milling industry at Horsham while Sybil was a foundation member of the Horsham Presbyterian Church.

John RUNDELL: Died 19 April 1925 at Condah. Born in Cornwall around 1840, John Rundell was a well-known member of the Condah community. He arrived as a child aboard the Birmingham with his parents and spent time with his father at the Ararat goldfields.  He married Matilda Hardy upon his return. Matilda later died and John married Agnes Willling. John was a road contractor and spent many years building roads between Portland and Hamilton for the Shire.

Catherine HANLEY:  Died 12 April 1929 at Hamilton. Catherine Hanley was an early pioneer of the Portland district, having arrived in Adelaide around 1856 from Donegal, Ireland. It was in Adelaide that she married her husband, James Ball in 1858. They then journeyed to Portland where James farmed. After the death of James Ball, Catherine moved to Hamilton.

Hannah HATHERELL: Died 13 April 1934 at Lyons. Hannah Barr would have had some great pioneering stories to tell.  She and her husband ran the first and apparently the only hotel in the Lyons/Greenwald area.

Obituary. (1934, April 16). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 2 Edition: EVENING.. Retrieved April 25, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64285471

Mrs John MOLLOY: Died April 1934 at Hamilton. Mrs Molloy was born in England and travelled to Portland with her parents aboard the Flora McDonald. While in Portland she knew Stephen, Edward and John Henty and had many stories to tell about them. She moved with her parents to Coleraine and after her marriage she moved to Hamilton. She was a devout Roman Catholic and crocheted an alter cloth for the St. Marys Church, Hamilton.

Eliza CALLAWAY:  Died 3 April 1942 at Maryborough. Eliza was the daughter of Charles and Anne Callaway and was born in Amherst, Victoria in the mid-1860s.  During the 1870s, the Callaways moved to the Heytesbury Forest near Timboon where Charles selected 240 acres. He cleared the land and grew hops until red spider began destroying the crops.

Obituary. (1942, April 10). Camperdown Chronicle (Vic. : 1877 – 1954), p. 3. Retrieved April 25, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article26091893

John Finn KIRBY:  Died 7 April 1942 at Portland. John Kirby was quite a man. Born at Springbank Casterton in 1858, he completed his schooling at Ballarat College. He then worked for seven years as a stock and station agent in Ballarat, before returning closer to home in 1882 to work as a stock and station agent at Coleraine. He eventually bought the business.

Among his many positions around the district, he was both a Councillor and three time president of the Wannon shire.  He was a chairman of directors of the Western District Butter Factory Ltd. and a Justice of the Peace.

John was a talented sportsman and excelled as a footballer, including a stint in the metropolitan league. Probably his greatest sporting achievement was as a racehorse owner.  His horse The Parisian won the 1911 Melbourne Cup.  He also had success with a steeplechaser, Napier which won the Great Eastern Steeple at Oakbank, South Australia and the Grand Annual Steeplechase at Warrnambool.

John Kirby married Elizabeth Crowe in 1885. They resided in the Mt. Koroite homestead overlooking the Coleraine racecourse. The Victorian Heritage Database mentions extensive renovations to the homestead after Parisian’s success in the Cup.

Robert Arthur LIGHTBODY: Died April 1949 at Drik Drik.  Robert Lightbody was the third son of the wonderful Rebecca Kitson remembered in the January Passing of the Pioneers. Robert had fine clerical skills and was a Justice of the Peace, secretary of the Drik Drik Butter factory, Drik Drik P & A Society, Drik Drik school, Drik Drik Repatriation commitee and the Drik Drik cricket club. As if wasn’t busy enough, he was also a local preacher of the Methodist church for sixty-five years. His wife, Ellen Jones, must never have seen him.  All that activity must have contributed to him living to the ripe old age of ninety-three.