News you say?

On Sunday night, the Western District Families Facebook page was restored. Thank you for your continued support of the page. Still, nothing is ever certain and it’s worth subscribing to this site to ensure you continue to stay connected with Western District Families.

Western District Families

If you have dropped by my Western District Families Facebook page since Thursday you will have noticed it’s looking slightly different.  I’m sure you’ll be surprised as I to learn Facebook thinks my page is…wait for it…a news page.  

Photographer: John Henry Harvey c1900. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/41449

As you’ll know, most of the news I share is as old as that in the photo below.

Photographer: Lindsay Cumming c1910s. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/25931

The page may or may not be back. I’ll just have to wait and see what happens over the coming days…or weeks. On the bright side, this site has nothing to do with Facebook and can continue as normal. After all, this site is the WDF’s Facebook page’s reason for being.

You can stay connected with Western District Families by subscribing here. Each time I publish…

View original post 132 more words

News you say?

If you have dropped by my Western District Families Facebook page since Thursday you will have noticed it’s looking slightly different.  I’m sure you’ll be surprised as I to learn Facebook thinks my page is…wait for it…a news page.  

Photographer: John Henry Harvey c1900. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/41449

As you’ll know, most of the news I share is as old as that in the photo below.

Photographer: Lindsay Cumming c1910s. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/25931

The page may or may not be back. I’ll just have to wait and see what happens over the coming days…or weeks. On the bright side, this site has nothing to do with Facebook and can continue as normal. After all, this site is the WDF’s Facebook page’s reason for being.

You can stay connected with Western District Families by subscribing here. Each time I publish a new post, you will receive an email notification. I have lots planned for the next few months with March being Women’s History Month and April is Western District Families’ 10th birthday and, of course, Anzac Day.

The Hamilton’s WW1 Facebook page is still active and I’ll start some regular posts there, and don’t forget the Western District Families YouTube channel.  You’ll not only find videos I have made, but also a great playlist of videos relating to Western District history.  You can find the playlist on the link-Western District History

Besides that, I’ll continue to receive my news by traditional means…

Photographer: Joseph Dunne c1928. Image courtesy of the Museums Victoria Collections https://collections.museumsvictoria.com.au/items/773162

…and I’ll wait.

Photographer: Victorian Railways c1947. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/446848

 

A story of Black Thursday – 6 February 1851

Today is the 170th anniversary of Black Thursday when Victoria burned. The day lingered long in the minds of the early settlers. It was mentioned in their reminiscences and in their obituaries. It was a historic marker on the timelines of their lives, just as were the reigns of monarchs, wars, and the battle of Eureka.  Some were just days old on 6 February 1851 but their connection to that day carried with them until death.  Some spoke of that day with their families and those memories were repeated in obituaries. 

Coming after a year of drought, it was a day like the settlers had never experienced with extreme heat and strong winds. Dust storms swept the colony.  As the temperature climbed, fires broke out across Victoria. 

Mary Learmonth (nee Pearson) witnessed the destruction of the day. She was nineteen and living with her parents at Retreat run near Casterton.  Such was the intensity of the fire, birds, and wildlife sought refuge at their homestead. The fires would remain fixed in Mary’s memory for another reason.  Her mother died two days later on 8 February 1851. 

BUSHFIRE 1864). Engraver: Frederick Grosse. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/236429

For Margaret Kittson (nee Jennings), Black Thursday remained a vivid memory.  She was also nineteen and on the day she was in Portland with her mother as embers rained down onto the streets. They heard their home at Bridgewater was destroyed. They rushed home only to find it still standing but those around it were gone. 

The obituary of Frederick Bilston mentioned his experience of the Black Thursday despite him being only fifteen months at the time. And while his own memory of the day would have quickly passed, it stayed in the memories of his parents, Thomas and Annie.  Not only did they lose their livelihood on 6 February 1851 but they fought for their own survival and that of their family and neighbours.  Frederick’s father owned the Bush Tavern on the Fitzroy River at Heywood, then known as Second River.   
 

“BLACK THURSDAY,” IN THE PORTLAND BAY DISTRICT. The Melbourne Daily News (Vic. : 1848 – 1851), p. 2.  http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article226521766

Years later, eldest son George Yarra Bilston aged eleven at the time of Black Thursday, wrote his memoirs in which he recalled the day.
 

Memories of the Past (1939, March 2). Portland Guardian, p. 6 (EVENING.).  http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64391965

Thomas Bilston also held property south of Heywood on the Surrey River. One of his employees, William Brown lived there with his wife Margaret and young family. With the help of Annie Bilston, Margaret put three of her young sons in a cedar box and covered it with a damp cloth. As they made their escape, the fire was on their heels and caught on to the box. Annie and Margaret threw the burning box, with the infants still inside, into the Surrey River, saving their lives. The box still existed in 1937 when it was exhibited at Merino.

PERSONAL NOTES. (1937, August 2). Portland Guardian, p. 3 (EVENING.).  http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64276575

In 1895, in recalling his life for the Casterton News, William Moodie, then of Wando Dale at Nareen, revisited 6 February 1851.  He was ten and on his way to Portland to continue his education.
 
After being several months at Wando Vale it was found desirable to send me somewhere to finish my education, and as Mr. John Browning had recently opened a boarding school in Portland my two uncles and I started on 5th July 1851, to ride there. We stayed at the Smoky, now Hotspur, that night, and started off the next morning a smoking hot day, memorable ever since as “Black Thursday” and rode into Portland with the fires raging around us. We left the Heywood Hotel, then kept by Bilston, half an hour before it was burnt to the ground, and had to gallop for our lives through the Nine Mile Forest, the road only being a narrow cleared track. We arrived safely, and I often wonder how.

BLACK THURSDAY – THE TRACK OF DEATH. Artist: William Strutt. Image courtesy of the State Library of NSW https://search.sl.nsw.gov.au/permalink/f/1cvjue2/ADLIB110315047

He continued,
I have seen some hot things in fires since, but never saw Black Thursday equalled. A messenger was sent down from Wando Vale that night to Portland, riding all night, to tell Mr George Robertson that 2000 sheep, his woolshed, and timber for a new house had all been burnt. He started off straight back riding the same horse and was home at Warrock in good time on the moning of the 7th, showing what grass-fed horses could do in those days. (Portland Guardian, 23 September 1895)

THE BUSH ON FIRE (1865). Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/236426

 
Margaret Young died at the age of 101 in 1918. Her obituary mentioned she was, “widely known for her kindly and generous attributes, had a remarkably clear recollection of events which passed during her long life. She had lived during the reigns of no fewer than six British sovereigns, namely George III, George IV, William IV, Victoria, Edward VII, and George V.”  It didn’t, however, mention her remarkable story from Black Thursday. Fortunately, she told Janetta Robson who recounted the story in 1933. Margaret, her husband Samuel and their children were living at the Grassdale run near Digby, owned by brothers John and George Coldham.  It was George Coldham who was named in Margaret’s Black Thursday story:
 
A STORY OF BLACK THURSDAY.
(By Mrs. J. Robson).
This little story was told to me by Mrs. Young. You have all heard of Black Thursday, on February 6th, in the year 1851, when nearly the whole of Victoria from the Murray to the sea was on fire. In the Western District on a station employed as a shepherd was a Mr. Young with his wife and two boys, who resided in a little two-roomed hut. Mrs. Young was a smart energetic woman and particularly clean and neat. Her little house was spick and span and everything shining. She not alone cleaned inside her house, but she had a ti-tree broom and used to sweep all round her little hut, She used her broom with such good effect that there was not a leaf or blade of grass for half a chain round her hut. Their employer, Mr.Coldham, used to tease the little lady that she would have all the grass swept off the paddock.
 
Well, the morning of Black Thursday dawned so-called because it got so black with smoke one could not see half a chain away. The sky looked crimson and the heat, as the day went on, became terrific. There was a strong northwind blowing all day. Everyone knew there must be a terrific fire not far away, so everyone made what preparation they could. Towards midday, the heat was like a furnace, and birds and kangaroos and wallabies were flying and rushing south. Mr. Coldham arrived at Mrs. Young’s hut in great haste, on his horse, a big strong grey, named General, covered with foam. He called out to Mrs.Young that the fire was quite near to the hut, and to put some food together quickly, and he himself pulled the double blanket off her bed and lifted the two boys on General, and told Mrs. Young to sit behind him and hold on tight. So away they rode to the Miatike Creek. Mr. Coldham dipped the blanket in the water, and the four of them sat on General’s back with the wet blanket spread all over them. The fire came like a tidal wave burning leaves and fern scattering all over them. It blew over the creek and went on its way of destruction,
 
They sat there in the creek for hours till it was safe to leave. Old General and the wet blanket had preserved their lives. They rode across the burnt paddock and what was their joy to see the little hut quite safe from harm. As there were no trees near it and the grass all being swept away around, the fire had passed on and never touched it. (Portland Guardian, 7 August 1933

A BUSHFIRE TO THE NORTH OF MOUNT MORIAC (1854). Artist: Michael Minter. Image courtesy of the State LIbrary of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/75390

Other notable losses in the district were at the property of Mr. Millard on the Surry River who lost his wheat.  Mr. Howard the sub-collector of customs at Portland lost his new cottage, the furniture, and outbuildings. To the east, Niel Black at Glenormiston lost thousands of sheep and Messrs Cole and Ware lost their woolsheds.

DOMESTIC INTELLIGENCE. (1851, February 7). The Argus, p. 2. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article4776049

Further north, Mr. Ritchie near Mt Napier lost crops and fencing. Fires burned around The Grange (Hamilton) and the ground between there and Mount Sturgeon (Dunkeld) was blackened.

DOMESTIC GAZETTE. (1851, February 8). Port Phillip Gazette, p. 4. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article224813332

The driver of the mail coach from Geelong to Portland witnessed hundreds of horses galloping east to escape the flames.

THE LATE BUSH FIRES (1851, February 10). The Argus, p. 2.  http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article4776100

A BUSH FIRE IN AUSTRALIA, Artist: James Turner. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/40610

The losses were extensive throughout the Western District.

THE LATE BUSH FIRES (1851, February 10). The Argus, p. 2.  http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article4776100

THE TRACK OF THE BUSH FIRE (1879). Artist: Samuel Calver. Image courtesy of the State LIbrary of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/157938

Belfast (Port Fairy) was threatened.

FIRES AT PORT FAIRY. (1851, February 12). Geelong Advertiser, p. 2 (DAILY and MORNING). http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article91916148

BLACK THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 1851 (1888). Engraver: F.A. Sleap. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/47777

Along the coast, fires burned from Geelong to Loutit Bay (Lorne) and through to Apollo Bay and up into the Otways.

“BLACK THURSDAY” IN THE CAPE OTWAY FOREST. (1851, February 12). Geelong Advertiser p. 2 (DAILY and MORNING).  http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article91916146

Artist William Strutt arrived in Victoria in 1850 and was in Melbourne on the day of the Black Thursday fires. The eerie mix of dust, smoke, and red sky along with the emerging stories of the terror stayed with him. On his return to England, he was inspired to paint his masterpiece Black Thursday in 1854 bringing together all of what we have read above, such as the mobs of horses, settlers running for their lives, and birds and kangaroos fleeing. 

You can read more about what the painting represents on the link to an article from The Herald of 1865 – Mr. Strutt’s Picture of “Black Thursday”. The painting now hangs at the State Library of Victoria (SLV) and you can read how the painting made its way from England to Adelaide in 1883 and then to the SLV in 2004, on the link – Black Thursday: William Strutt’s “Itinerant Picture”

BLACK THURSDAY, William Strut (1854). Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/74159

Further reading

Geelong Advertiser – 7 February 1851 – A description of 6 February 1851 at Geelong

Geelong Advertiser – 12 February 1851 – A description of 6 February 1851 at  Portland 

Geelong Advertiser – 19 February 1841 – Losses at Portland 

South Australian Register – 25 February 1851 – Reports from across Victoria

Empire (Sydney) – 5 March 1851 – A description of 6 February 1851 at Warrnambool

 

Passing of the Pioneers

The first of the pioneer obituaries for 2021, a year which also marks the 10th birthday of Passing of the Pioneers in July.   There won’t be a Passing of the Pioneers post next month because I’m aiming to do an all-female version in March for Women’s History Month, and another in April as part of the Western District Families’ 10th birthday celebrations.  April is the month with the smallest number of published pioneer obituaries.  Since 2015 my time leading up to April has been spent writing posts for Hamilton’s WW1 in preparation for Anzac Day and the Passing of the Pioneers post has missed out.  I’m going to make a special effort to get some April obituaries out for what will be the 80th edition of Passing of the Pioneers.

This month there are ten obituaries including the wife of a Baptist minister and a successful racehorse trainer from Warrnambool.  Don’t forget to click on the underlined text which will take you to more information about a subject. 

WALTERS, Hugh Oxenham – Died 10 January 1891 at Warrayure.  Hugh Walter was born in England around 1821.  He married Jane Walter in Devon in 1845 and they started their family.  In 1853, they left England for Australia, settling in the Geelong district. Around the late 1860s, Hugh took up land at Warrayure, east of Hamilton.  He named his property  Devon Farm.  There he bred high-quality long-wooled sheep and purebred poultry, Hugh’s wife Jane died in 1877 aged fifty-three.  Hugh remarried to Mary Houston in 1879. 

Hugh was described as a “quiet, unassuming man”.  Away from his farm, he enjoyed showing sheep and poultry, and with much success. In 1887, at the Horsham Grand National Show, for example, Hugh’s sheep won three first prizes and two second prizes, and his poultry, four first prizes, and three second prizes.  He also enjoyed ploughing competitions and was a member of the Hamilton Farmers’ Union.

Hugh was sixty-nine at the time of his death leaving his widow Mary and eight children, four sons, and four daughters. He was buried at the Hamilton (Old) Cemetery.  

KEARNEY, Mary – Died 27 January 1892 at Hamilton.  Mary Kearney was born in Ireland around 1834 She married Michael Cummins and they settled in the Warrnambool and Port Fairy districts. In 1864, a daughter was born at Byaduk south of Hamilton. Michael Cummins died in the same year leaving Mary with young children. The following year, 1865, a Mrs Cummins applied to the Hamilton Hospital and Benevolent Asylum for assistance. She was given an allowance for groceries but was told nothing more could be done for her.   

In 1872, Mary married William Arnott of South Hamilton and a son was born that year. On 27 January 1892, Mary was visiting her old friend Mrs Bloomfield.  While they admired Mrs Bloomfield’s garden, Mary suffered an apoplectic fit. She died two days later at the age of fifty-eight. Mary was buried at the Hamilton (Old) Cemetery.

GRAVE OF MARY ARNOTT (nee KEARNEY), HAMILTON OLD CEMETERY

SEYMOUR, Robert – Died 15 January 1896 at Glendinning. Robert Seymour was born around 1831.  He was the manager of the Spring Hill station north of Harrow from the late 1860s. In 1871, he married Mary Johnstone Dunn Beath, a daughter of David Beath the first storekeeper at The Grange (later known as Hamilton).  A child was born in Horsham in 1875 and in the same year it was reported in the Hamilton Spectator Robert was very sick and his recovery looked unlikely.  

Around 1882, Robert took over the management of the Glendinning station near Balmoral. During his time there, he collected samples of stream tin or alluvial tin. Other landholders in the district had also discovered stream tin, giving a group of men hopes gold and other minerals may have been present in the district. In 1892, Robert and others including Messrs Horwitz and Rippon from Hamiton formed a company to undertake further exploration. Robert died in 1896 at the age of sixty-five.  He was buried at the Hamilton (Old) Cemetery. 

GRAVE OF ROBERT SEYMOUR, HAMILTON (OLD) CEMETERY

HUTTON, Thomas – Died 5 January 1900 at Penshurst.  Thomas Hutton was born in Hobart in 1843. Around 1846, having heard of good grazing land in the colony of Victoria his father David travelled to Portland. He leased part of the Purdeet run near Mt Rouse (Penshurst) and the family moved to Victoria to join him.  David bought Purdeet in 1851 and changed the name to Cheviot Hills. Thomas was educated at Hamilton under Mr Moss and Cavendish under Mr Elliot, the headteacher at the local National School.

On finishing school, Thomas went to Port Fairy where he is older brother George was a general merchant. Thomas eventually went in partnership with him. He was still taking an interest in farming at Penshurst in partnership with his brother William in the property Gazette station. During that time, Thomas and William built a woolshed on the property, still in use today William died in 1869.

Advertising (1865, March 11). Hamilton Spectator and Grange District Advertiser (Vic. : 1860 – 1870), p. 3. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article194470503

Thomas was very active in public affairs at Port Fairy.  Like his brother, he was a member of the Port Fairy Borough Council and Mayor from November 1875 until July 1876.  His brother George Hutton was Mayor from 1872-1874. Thomas was also a Lieutenant with the local battery of the Garrison Artillery. He was also a member of the Masonic lodge. 

David Hutton died in 1875 and Thomas went back to Cheviot Hills to join his brother John in its running. He married Jean Mason in 1878, the eldest daughter of Captain Mason of Port Fairy.  David and Jean and their family lived at Eden, a home build on the Cheviot Hills property.

In 1884, Thomas donated a row of Norfolk pines for planting on the western side of Sackville Street, Port Fairy (at right in the photo below).

NORFOLK PINES IN SACKVILLE STREET, PORT FAIRY c1960, Photographer: Lillian Powling. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/95732

During the 1880s, Thomas was on the Penshurst railway committee. He was also a Justice of the Peace and secretary to the managers and committee of the Penshurst Presbyterian Church for many years. In 1889. Thomas became a Mount Rouse Shire councillor. He went on to serve twice as President, in 1893-94 and 1896-97.     

FORMER MT ROUSE SHIRE OFFICES, PENSHURST, 1968. Image courtesy of the John T. Collins Collection, State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/233458

Thomas died in January 1900 at the age of fifty-six leaving his widow Jean, three sons, and two daughters.  He was buried at the Port Fairy Cemetery. Jean died on 19 October 1925 at Hawthorn.

SINCLAIR, Jane Roderick – Died 5 January 1900 at Casterton. Janes Sinclair was born in  Glasgow around 1822 and arrived in Australia in the 1850s. She married Baptist Reverend Ebenezer Henderson in 1861 at Morpeth near Hinton, New South Wales.  Ebenezer had arrived at Hinton in February 1861 after an invitation for him to be the pastor of the Hinton Baptist Church.  He was a widower with a son and daughter and had previously been in Geelong. Ebenezer resigned his position in September 1867 and by the early 1870s, the Hendersons were in Warrnambool. In 1873, Ebenezer accepted the position of pastor at the Hamilton Baptist Church. 

FORMER HAMILTON BAPTIST CHURCH.

Jane helped out with the Baptist Sunday School. She was also an active member of the Hamilton Ladies Benevolent Society. The group gave her a send-off in 1891 when it was decided the Hendersons would leave Hamilton due to Ebenezer’s failing health. It was said at the send-off, Jane was always available to help someone in need.  The couple was also given a send-off by the Baptist Church community in August 1891.

The Hendersons took up residence in Kew, however, things did not go well. Jane had a fall while stepping from the train.  Also, Ebenezer’s health didn’t improve and medical advice suggested the climate in Hamilton may be better than in Melbourne. The news the Hendersons were returning was announced in the Spectator in March 1893.  They eventually moved to Casterton to live with Ebenezer’s daughter Mary Hughes.    

Jane died at Casterton in January 1900 at the age of seventy-eight.  Her remains were transported from  Casterton to Hamilton by train and she was buried at the Hamilton (Old) Cemetery.

GRAVE OF JANE HENDERSON (nee SINCLAIR), HAMILTON (OLD) CEMETERY

Ebenezer died in 1904 at Casterton, the oldest Baptist pastor in Australia. In 1918, the Hamilton Baptist Church unveiled a memorial pulpit dedicated to Ebenezer.  Jane was remembered. She “was well-beloved, and it was due to her loving care that he (Rev. Henderson) was so long sparred. She helped all who were in sorrow.”

No title (1902, December 13). Weekly Times (Melbourne, Vic. : 1869 – 1954), p. 9. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article221241039

FOLEY, Thomas Nicholas – Died 28 January 1913 at Hamilton. Thomas Foley was born at Coleraine in 1867. His father Cornelius was the manager at the nearby Mt Koroite station, something he would do for thirty-five years.  In 1891, Thomas married Margaret Maria O’Hagan and they settled at Coleraine and started a family.  They were living on the Cavendish Road and Thomas was breeding and showing pigs.  In 1903, Thomas took up the freehold and license of the Hamilton Inn in Lonsdale Street, Hamilton from Mary Meagher.

DOYLE’S HAMILTON INN, LATER FOLEY’S HAMILTON INN. FORMERLY IN LONSDALE STREET, HAMILTON, C1880 Image no. B 21766/53 Courtesy of the State Library of South Australia https://collections.slsa.sa.gov.au/resource/B+21766/53

His brothers were also in the hotel trade with Cornelius Jr the licensee of the National Hotel at Coleraine and John, the licensee of the Hermitage Hotel at Harrow.  Thomas had the entire premises renovated on purchase of the inn.

Advertising (1903, November 24). Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918), p. 1. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article226112992

Thomas has a keen interest in sport particularly coursing.  His dogs were runners up several times at the Commonwealth Stake at Camperdown. He also enjoyed football and often donated trophies to the local league.  Thomas was a staunch supporter of the Labor party and a member of the Australian Natives Association (ANA).  In January 1912, Thomas transferred the license of the Hamilton Inn to Jemima Grogan but retained the freehold.

On 23 January 1913, Thomas, by then living in Coleraine Road, Hamilton suddenly fell ill and there were fears for his life. It was reported in the Hamilton Spectator the following day he was suffering from heart failure.  The next day, the Hamiton Spectator was happy to report Thomas was out of danger.  His health failed again and he died on 28 January.  Thomas left his widow Margaret, and a young family of three boys, and four girls. He was buried at the Hamilton (Old) Cemetery. 

In 1914, Jemima Grogan moved on from the Hamilton Inn and the hotel was put up for sale.

Advertising (1914, March 28). Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918), p. 3.  http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article119826027

In 1917, Thomas and Margaret’s son Cornelius was killed in Belgium.  A memorial to him was added to the Foley headstone at the Hamilton (Old) Cemetery (below).

GRAVE OF THOMAS FOLEY, HAMILTON (OLD) CEMETERY.

UEBERGANG, Charles – Died 18 January 1918 at Warrnambool. Charles Ubergang was born in  Marzdorf, Silesia, Prussia around 1828. Military service was compulsory for young men but Charles was found to be unfit for service.  Around the age of twenty-one, he made his way to Australia.  His obituary states he took the ship Flying Fish to Adelaide arriving in 1848, However, Shipping Intelligence from the time, and printed in the South Australian Register, show a Charles Ubergang arrived via the ship Alfred from Hamburg, arriving on 6 December 1848. Rather than go overland to Victoria, Charles caught a boat sailing from Adelaide via Tasmania.  He made his way to the Warrnambool district and spent time there as a carrier, taking goods to the goldfields.  He was living in Purnim in 1853 when he was naturalised, giving him the rights of a citizen of the colony.  He married in 1854 to Augusta Klose

In 1855, Charles selected land close to the junction of the Hopkins River and the Mt Emu Creek, east of Warrnambool. It was there in 1862 when his sister-in-law was bitten by a snake. Despite the efforts of Charles and a doctor to save her, she died as a result.  Around 1893, Charles moved into Warrnambool and took up residence in Raglan Street. Augusta died in 1917 and Charles lived only months after, dying on 18 January 1918 at the age of ninety.  He left three sons and four daughters and was buried at the Warrnambool Cemetery.

JESSUP, Elvina – Died January 1920 at Warrnambool.  Elvina Jessup was born in 1849 in Norfolk, England, and arrived in Portland with her parents in 1852 when she was three years old. Her father Walter became a police constable in the town.  In 1869, Elvina married Benjamin Jewell and they went on to have nine children at Casterton  They later moved to Allansford where Benjamin died in 1896.  At the time of her death, Elvina left a sister, seven children, twenty grandchildren, and one great-grandchild. She was seventy-four.

SAVIN, William – Died January 1924 at Portland. William Savin was born at Launton, Oxfordshire England around 1843. He arrived with his parents Samuel and Hannah at Portland in 1853 aboard the ship Eliza.  The family first went to the Crawford estate near Condah where Samuel had work.  They then moved further north to Muddy Creek, south of Hamilton where Samuel took up land.  

MEMBERS OF THE SAVIN FAMILY ON THE BANKS OF MUDDY CREEK c1885. Image courtesy of the Museums Victoria Collections https://collections.museumvictoria.com.au/items/772275

William married Elizabeth Addinsall in 1865. He later took up land with his brothers in the Macarthur district.  He retired to Portland around 1899.  There he was involved with the Portland bowling and golf clubs. Elizabeth died in 1912 and the following year, William remarried to Theresa Lear.  At the time of his death, he left his widow Theresa and his three daughters from his marriage to Elizabeth.

CONNELLY, Henry ‘Harry’ – Died January 1940 at Warrnambool. Harry Connelly was born at Yangary in 1866.  First sitting on a horse as a baby, Henry started his career as a jockey as a young boy, winning races in the country and Melbourne. He also spent time living in Sydney where he rode more winners. Harry later turned to training horses and his first big success came in 1900 with the horse Aquarius winning the VRC Grand National Hurdle,  That win helped him get more clients and for the next twenty-six years, he had a successful training career.  He would spend the winter and spring at Caulfield then return to his Warrnambool stable at the Warrnambool racecourse for summer and the autumn.  In 1909, he trained Aberdeen to third in the Melbourne Cup, 

Harry married Agnes Lucas in 1890. Two of their sons followed Harry into the racing game, with Joseph and Robert becoming jockeys.  They rode for Harry as Robert did in 1918 when he rode Cobram, owned and trained by Harry, to a win in the Grand National Steeplechase. Henry’s grandson was photographed on the horse after the win. 

HARRY CONNELLY TRAINS HORSES ENGAGED IN NATIONAL STEEPLECHASE (1921, May 28). The Herald (Melbourne, Vic. : 1861 – 1954), p. 4 (SPORTING EDITION).  http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article242503979

It was said Harry was camera shy but newspaper photographers managed to capture him several times, particularly at the Warrnambool May Carnival.  He was a fixture at Warrnambool meeting and he didn’t miss a Warrnambool winter meeting for fifty years.

WESTERN DISTRICT TRAINER DEAD (1940, February 3). Weekly Times (Melbourne, Vic. : 1869 – 1954), p. 55. Retrieved January 9, 2021, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article225983711

   

Harry at the races in Melbourne in 1919.

 

SNAPPED AT MELBOURNE RACE MEETINGS (1919, December 6). Weekly Times (Melbourne, Vic. : 1869 – 1954), p. 18.  http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article222567323

Harry (left) at the Warrnambool May Carnival in May 1921 with Robert Hood, one of his long-time owners.

RACING AT WARRNAMBOOL (Victoria), MAY 3, 4, and 5. (1921, May 14). The Australasian (Melbourne, Vic. : 1864 – 1946), p. 48.  http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article140258819

Harry (left) at the 1929 Warrnambool May Carnival.

SOME WARRNAMBOOL PERSONALITIES. (1929, May 11). The Australasian (Melbourne, Vic. : 1864 – 1946), p. 25 (METROPOLITAN EDITION).  http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article141392076

Harry at the 1936 Warrnambool May Carnival in 1936, four years before his death.

WARRNAMBOOL (V.) RACE WEEK (1936, May 16). The Australasian (Melbourne, Vic. : 1864 – 1946), p. 27 (METROPOLITAN EDITION).  http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article141773372

Harry died in 1940 leaving three sons and two daughters.  An extensive article about Harry’s racing career and the horses he trained can be found on the link to the Sporting Globe –        http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article178135059

A New Year Dawning.

Happy New Year. I hope 2020 was kind to you.  The photo below was taken on a New Year’s Day at Erskine House, Lorne.  A beach holiday at Lorne was, and still is a popular summer destination for Western District people. 

NEW YEAR’S DAY AT LORNE. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/4178468

2021 is a milestone year for me because it marks the 10th birthday of  Western District Families (WDF).  I forgot WDF’s 9th birthday in April 2020 so I best not forget this year.

Before moving on to 2021, a look back at 2020, a good year for WDF. It took a pandemic and lockdowns, but more people visited the site than ever before in 2020, a year when I published fewer posts than ever before. The Western District Families Facebook page also had a good year.  We saw some great photos, many with equally good stories. Best of all, from my prompts, the most wonderful stories and memories flowed from the page followers, now almost 10,000 in strength.

LITTLE AIRE FALLS, BEECH FORESTc1906. Photographer: J.M. Arndt. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/122909

WILLAURA STATE SCHOOL c1910. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/310021

Finally, Hamilton’s WW1 Facebook page passed 500 followers despite me not posting there as much in 2020.  Because it was a “stay at home” Anzac Day, I posted a virtual Last Post with images of the men from Hamilton who lost their lives during the Great War.

 

Thank you to everyone who has supported this site and the associated Facebook pages. I still have to pinch myself when I look at the number of WDF followers and the numbers reading my posts. It is much appreciated.

2020 gave me an opportunity to do something I had only dreamt of doing. That was to visit Byaduk, the home of my Harman and Bishop families, and talk to the locals about their town’s history. But as luck would have it, I was invited to speak at Byaduk on Australia Day.

BYADUK

It was an absolute highlight of my time researching and writing about family history and I was able to meet the wonderful Byaduk community, some of whose families have been in the district for more than 150 years. Long time followers will know I have written much about my Byaduk families here and I also wrote a family history Providence: the story of James and Susan Harman and their descendants for a Diploma of Family Historical Studies in 2016.  James and Susan were among the first settlers at Byaduk in the year the post office opened in 1863.

Another family history related highlight of 2020 was the opportunity to speak to the Hamilton U3A via Zoom. Putting my big collection of photos to good use, we took a virtual tour of the old Hamilton Cemetery looking at the symbolism of some of the headstones and monuments and the stories behind the graves. It was fun and good to share my passion for the cemetery with others.

HAMILTON (OLD) CEMETERY

As mentioned, I didn’t get many posts published this year but the ones I did, I enjoyed researching. The most significant and moving post of 2020 was from October, The Great Flood of 1870 with a focus on the loss of life at Coleraine. It was a post prompted by a headstone I saw at the Coleraine Cemetery in between lockdowns this year.

COLERAINE CEMETERY

I was surprised to find it was not the most viewed new post for the year. Instead, that honour went to the September Passing of the Pioneers post.  Looking back on it now, it was the most detailed of the 2020 Passing of the Pioneer posts and included ten most interesting subjects such as Duncan Stewart of Camperdown, Elizabeth Brown of Hamilton, and Barnabas Hamilton of Kirkstall.

The most viewed post of 2020 was again The Big Flood published in 2016 about the disastrous 1946 Western District floods.  The high numbers are aided by the hits which come each time there are storms and/or heavy rain in the Western District and people get on the search engines for information. With storms forecast over the coming days, I expect the post to kick off its 2021 views.  However, disaster posts are popular. When the Earth Moved at Warrnambool published in 2018 moving in on The Big Flood as the most popular post

A nice surprise came with the most viewed Hamilton’s WW1 post. It was the story of former Hamilton State Scholl teacher Stephen James Filmer, written a few years ago now. I knew of Stephen before I wrote his story. He was the youngest child of the Filmer family of Byaduk and his sister Hazel, the eldest child, married my 1st cousin 4 x removed Absolam Harman of Byaduk.  Stephen was killed at Bullecourt in May 2017.  I’m so pleased people are reading Stephen’s story.

WALTER STEPHEN FILMER. Image courtesy of the Australian War Memorial https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/H06583/

I can’t promise how many posts I’ll get out to you this year, but there will be some. I can promise the photos will keep coming on the WDF Facebook page and I won’t forget to celebrate Western District Families’ 10th birthday.

Wishing you a happy and healthy 2021.

Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/369609

Passing of the Pioneers

When I begin researching a Passing of the Pioneer post, I have two aims – not too many Hamilton obituaries and as many women as possible. Unfortunately, as I often do, I failed this month with four Hamilton people from eight obituaries and one woman.  When I started Passing of the Pioneers, only the Portland Guardian and Camperdown Chronicle, along with The Argus were available at Trove newspapers, the source of the obituaries. Eventually, the WW1 years of many Western District papers became available including the Hamilton Spectator. It was 2016 before the Hamilton paper was digitised from 1860 to the WW1 years.  Since then I’ve been playing catch up on Hamilton obituaries. 

Finding the obituaries of women has been an issue all along with many women’s deaths marked with a family notice or a few lines in the main section of the paper. Some deaths were not mentioned at all or were only known of if death was a result of an accident or an inquest was required. It was usually women of a certain status who received an obituary of any substance. Even then, I often need to refer to a husband’s obituary to fill in the gaps between the woman’s birth, childbirth, and her death.  This month the woman I have found to remember was not of a high class, but she was of high character making her worthy of the obituary she received. 

MINOGUE, Simon – Died 12 November 1880 at Portland. Simon Minogue was born around 1815 in Ireland.  He married Johanna Quin in County Clare and they had two sons Daniel and Jerome before they boarded the Agricola for Port Phillip in 1841. In the months after arriving in Victoria, the family moved to Portland and Simon took up Wattle Hill in West Portland.  Stephen Henty was the vendor and Simon paid £10 per acre.  He also bought land at Mount Clay and Bridgewater.

In July 1849, Simon was the successful tenderer to provide 100 piles for the construction of the Portland dam. Simon was an active member of the Catholic community in Portland. In April 1857, he was a trustee of the land set aside for a Catholic Church in Portland.  He also contributed £30 to the building fund. In 1858, he was elected to the Roads Board.  Simon died in 1880, leaving his widow, Johanna, and nine children.  Johanna died just eight years later in 1888.

BUTLER, Josiah – Died 18 November 1890 at Hamilton. Josiah Butler was born around 1841 in Brixton, England.  He arrived in Victoria around 1857 and spent time at the goldfields.  He then went to the Balmoral district where he worked as a hawker for storekeeper James Cuzens.  On 1 July 1878, he married Sarah Ann Goss at the home of Sarah Ann’s brother in Gray Street, Hamilton. It was around the time Josiah moved to Hamilton and started the construction of a soap works.  It was located in the vicinity of the Friendlies Oval in King Street and opened in July 1879. Josiah spent £1000 on equipment but it took time to get the factory operational because there was no ongoing water supply. The winter of 1879 saw water reverses build-up and by January 1880, Josiah was producing three tons of soap a week and sending five tons of tallow a month to Melbourne. 

Advertising (1881, October 4). Hamilton Spectator, p. 3. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article226063235

Josiah later moved into candlemaking but poor health saw him sell the business in February 1883 to Denton Bros. By June 1883, he had opened the Economic Cash Grocery in Gray Street, not far from the Thompson Street intersection. He sold all manner of things including sporting goods, bicycles, and tricycles.

Advertising (1883, June 9). Hamilton Spectator, p. 4. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article225495881

Tricycles for adults (below) were taking off and in 1884, Josiah attempted to start a tricycle club in Hamilton.

AN ADULT TRICYCLE. Image courtesy of the State Library of South Australia. Image no B 34321B 34321 https://collections.slsa.sa.gov.au/resource/B+34321

He also had an interest in cricket and in 1885, donated a Challenge Cup for a series of matches between the Hamilton Academy and the Portland College. In 1886, as an agent of Messrs Bussey & Co., he donated a cricket bat to the highest Hamilton scorer in a match against Ararat. 

Later, Josiah moved east along Gray Street to the corner with what is now Cook Walk, where he ran a fancy goods store.  He died in 1890 leaving his widow Sarah, three daughters, and two sons.  Sarah carried on the store no doubt helped by two of her daughters, Rachel and Elizabeth who later ran a fancy goods and toy shop at 45 Brown Street Hamilton until their retirement in 1954.  Sarah died in 1932, and Rachel and Elizabeth died within two months of each other in 1959.

SANDISON, John – Died 12 November 1901 at Glenisla. John Sandison was born in Aberdeenshire, Scotland around 1831.  At age sixteen, he left for Australia and found work at Skene station near Hamilton. The 1850s saw the discovery of gold and John set off for the diggings not only in Victoria but also the New Zealand goldfields.  Once back in Victoria, he secured the mail run between Apsley and Hamilton.  In 1861, John married Mary Alexander, and the following year he opened a butcher shop in Gray Street, Hamilton at first in partnership with Mr. L Kaufmann.  They dissolved their partnership on 1 September 1866 and John continued on alone.

Advertising (1866, November 10). Hamilton Spectator and Grange District Advertiser, p. 3.  http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article194467086

John was a member of the Hamilton Mechanics Institute and sat on the committee. 

HAMILTON MECHANICS INSTITUTE

He also enjoyed sport and was involved with local athletics. Eventually, John selected land at Glenisla in the Western Grampians.  In January 1899, a fire broke out at Glenisla spreading on to John’s property.  He lost all his grass and fencing. In July that year, his wife Mary died.

John died in 1901, leaving three sons and four daughters, the youngest being seventeen.  John was buried at the Hamilton (Old) Cemetery (below).

GRAVE OF JOHN SANDISON, HAMILTON (OLD) CEMETERY

KENNEDY, Christina – Died 1 November 1909 at Hamilton.  Christina Kennedy was born in 1855 at Geelong.  She married Alfred Bulley in 1872 and their first child was born in 1875 at Brunswick.  Alfred worked on the Ararat to Hamilton railway line during the 1870s and in 1881, a daughter was born at Coleraine. Around 1891, Alfred contracted spinal disease attributed to working in wet conditions on the railways. It left him an invalid.  Life became very difficult for Christina, caring for Alfred and her daughters.  In 1893, their plight came to the attention of the Hamilton Ladies Benevolent Society.

HAMILTON HOSPITAL AND BENEVOLENT ASYLUM. (1893, July 13). Hamilton Spectator p. 4. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article225182270

In 1902, Alfred applied to the Old-Age Pensions Court for an allowance. He couldn’t make it to the court so Christina represented him.  The court heard she earned 15 shillings a week as a laundress. One of her daughters helped while the other stayed at home with Alfred. From her earnings, she had to pay rent on their home in Milton Street.  The Reverend Canon Hayman acted as a witness and said Christina was a “respectable hardworking woman”. Alfred was granted 6 shillings a week

Christina worked hard and attended Christ Church Anglican Church on Sundays but she fell ill in 1909 and required an operation. She died in the Hamilton Hospital on 1 November 1909 aged fifty-four.  Christina’s obituary was one normally seen for a woman of a higher station but it demonstrates she obtained much respect, not just pity.

…was a striking example of what a woman may accomplish.  Her life was not a path of roses, for the thorns of adversity were in her way for several years, and she had been the practical breadwinner for her household over a long period…but notwithstanding the burden thus placed upon her she faced her task bravely, and by her indomitable spirit of perseverance and industry had gained the highest, admiration and respect from all. But despite the fact her hands had to be used in the performance of work of somewhat heavy manual character, she preserved her womanly characteristics continuously, and in all her intercourse with others, there was a fine air of refinement and gentleness, combined with kind heartedness, which irresistibly appealed for appreciation. In all the work she was compelled to do for others the latter were always pleased to have her service again. Her character was upright and her actions just, and it Is worthy of commendation that the fine high principles which enabled her to struggle on despite great disadvantages and guided her in the upbringing of her family. who helped her in later years,…”
Christina left Alfred and her daughters, Jessie and Hannah.  The girls continued to look after Alfred until his death in January 1911.
 

GRAVE OF CHRISTINA BULLEY, HAMILTON (OLD) CEMETERY

FIELDER, William John – Died 10 November 1917 at Camperdown.  William Fielder was born around 1846 in London and arrived in Australia about 1853 with his parents.  His father Thomas was an officer with HM Customs in Melbourne. Thomas died suddenly in 1875 and soon after William arrived in Camperdown. In 1878, he married Matilda Sophia Greer.  William worked as a painter, decorator, and signwriter.

Advertising (1902, August 14). Camperdown Chronicle, p. 1. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article26568362

William was heavily involved with the Camperdown Amauter Theatrical Society and performed in many plays and operas.  He also played with the society’s orchestra and painted all the scenery.  He considered his time with the theatrical society the happiest time of his life. He was well-read and sat on the committee of the Camperdown Mechanics Institute.  He was also a member of the Camperdown Bowling Club.

Matilda died on 14 September 1897 at their home in Brooke Street. She was just forty-seven. In August 1908, William decided to live with his daughter in Queensland. He was given a send-off at the Mechanics Institute while the Camperdown Brass Band played outside.  As reported in the Camperdown Chronicle, William in his speech at his send-off said he was proud because, “…Camperdown had been loyal to him and he had been loyal to Camperdown. He had never got anything outside Camperdown that he could get in it. He had made that the rule of his life. He trusted that everybody would do the same. Camperdown was one of the best places in the world. He believed in it.”

William did not stay away from Camperdown long returning within a few years.  He died in 1917 and was buried at the Camperdown Cemetery leaving five daughters to mourn his loss.

An obituary in the Camperdown Herald of 14 November 1917 mentioned William had originally worked at the Argus newspaper.

SCULLION, John James – Died 13 November 1918 at Terang. John “Jack” Scullion was born around 1867 at Mount View Garvoc and remained there for the duration of his life. With two of his young brothers, he carried on the running of Mount View for their father John.  Jack was president of the Garvoc Racing Club and he served on the board of the Garvoc Butter Factory.  Jack never married and was just fifty-one at the time of his death.  Requiem mass was held at St Thomas Catholic Church, Terang (below).

ST THOMAS CATHOLIC CHURCH, TERANG. Image courtesy of the State Library Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/63483

The funeral left the church for the Terang Cemetery.  The Advocate newspaper reported,
The cortege, one of the longest seen in the town, comprising…representatives from most distant parts of the Western District, was a strong proof of the love in which his friends held him, and the respect in which he was held by those who, though associated with him publicly, did not always share his views – no surer sign of recognised worth.
 

WHITEHEAD, Robert – Died 5 November 1922 at Warrnambool.  Robert Whitehead was born in 1849 at Goodwood on Spring Creek, south of Caramut, the home of his father Robert.

“GOODWOOD” c1859. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/475909

Robert was one of the first students at Melbourne Grammar School which opened in 1858.  Robert had an interest in racing and did some amateur riding during his early years.  Prior to his death, Robert Whitehead senior divided the Goodwood property among his sons.  Robert named his share Wurroit and built a home in the 1870s (below).  He married Jane Phillips in 1877 and they raised a large family.

“WURROIT”, 1984. Image courtesy of the John T, Collins Collection, State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/4116726

Robert was a breeder and judge of sheep and horses. In January 1900, a grass fire went through Wurroit and only the homestead and paddocks close to the homestead were saved. He lost 2000 sheep. Jane died in October 1908 leaving Robert, three sons, and three daughters.  

In 1913, Robert married Myrtyl McFarlane and two daughters were born in the following years. They spent time living in Kerford Street, Malvern, and at Spring Gardens in Warrnambool where Robert died in 1922.  

CARTER, William – Died 14 November 1927 at Hamilton. William Carter was born in 1853 at Portland.  Soon after the family moved to Hamilton and William went to school at Hamilton and Western District College.  In 1879, he married Emma Crossy and they would go on to live in Pope Street.  William worked as an accountant and auditor and in 1882, he took over the business of the late H. W. Thirkell. 

Advertising (1882, February 11). Hamilton Spectator, p. 2. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article226058332

William and Emma had five children, but four predeceased their parents.  In 1884, Francis died aged six months. Minnie died in 1886 aged fifteen months. In 1889, seven-year-old Charles died, and in 1892, Percival died aged five years and five months.  Their only surviving child and firstborn, Annie Julia married in 1902.

William’s passion was volunteering with the Hamilton Fire Brigade.  He was one of the founding members of the brigade, elected to office at the first general meeting in January 1881 and he was a long-serving Captain.  He was a very active member and a special presentation was made to him in August 1888. He retired from fire fighting duties in 1898. but he remained on the committee and helped out with the fire brigade sports.

Since its beginnings, accommodating the brigade was an issue. They started out in a council owned timber building next to the Town Hall when it was Gray Street,  The brigade soon outgrew and during the 1890s there was a big push for brigade owned and built fire station.  While some committee members were keen on the idea, William Carter later admitted he preferred the option of the brigade buying the existing station.  He was overruled and the new fire station opened in 1901.  William said it was then he’d realised it was the right thing.  He served as vice president of the brigade committee becoming president in 1918 when the position became vacant due to the departure of William Melville to Melbourne.

FORMER HAMILTON FIRE STATION c1903. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/399013

William was also the secretary of the Hamilton Christ Church Anglican Church, the Hamilton Friendly Societies Union, and the Hamilton Angling Society. He was also involved with the Hamilton Rope Quoits Association.

William died suddenly in 1927 aged seventy-four, leaving his wife Emma.  He was buried at the Hamilton (Old) Cemetery with his children.  Emma died in 1942.

GRAVE OF WILLIAM CARTER AND FAMILY, HAMILTON (OLD) CEMETERY

 

 

Passing of the Pioneers

Eight new obituaries enter the Obituary Index this month.  Four of the eight men were involved in the liquor trade either as publicans or wine and spirit merchants.  Unfortunately, there are no women this month. Hopefully, I can make up for it in November.

CARMICHAEL, George – Died 30 October 1885 at Casterton.  George Carmichael arrived at Point Henry near Geelong with his brothers William and James around 1839.  They went to the Port Fairy district where they took up land, George at Spring Creek. On 22 April 1850, George married Mary Fraser and they went on to have ten children. The following year, George took up the Retreat run on the Glenelg River near Casterton from John Pearson.  The Black Thursday bushfires had been through the property in February that year.  He also purchased the Refuge estate of 600 acres around twenty kilometres from Retreat

George invested in good stock and the10,000 acres of Retreat went on to become one of the finest runs in the colony. His Merino sheep were among the best in Australia as were his cattle and horses.  At one point he owned one of the leading sires of the Western District, King Alfred (below).  He also owned well-known sires Lord Clyde for which he paid £750 and Agronomer.  

King Alfred. (1870, November 12). Australian Town and Country Journal (Sydney, NSW : 1870 – 1907), p. 24. Retrieved October 30, 2020, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article70463151

In 1867, George and Mary’s daughter Grace died aged seven.  For many years, George was a Glenelg Shire Councilor including time as Shire President. He retired from his position in 1868 when he took up residence with his family at Claremont in Newtown, Geelong.  

CLAREMONT, NEWTOWN. Image courtesy of the J.T.Collins Collectin, State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/230837

During the time the Carmichaels were living in Geelong, Mary died on 6 May 1872 while at St Kilda.  George remarried the following year to Anne Wright.  George was a great supporter of the Casterton Racing Club and was a steward of the Geelong Racing Club.  He was always ready to help those in need and offer advice.   

George left his widow Anne and his large family.  Retreat and Refuge estate were sold in 1886.

RUTLEDGE, Richard – Died 28 October 1887 at Warrnambool. Richard Rutledge was born in Ireland and arrived in NSW around 1838 following his brother William who was at Molonglo Plain near Queanbeyan.  Richard stayed in NSW for four years before going to his brother’s run at Kilmore.  He remained there until 1845 when William took up the Farnham Park run near Warrnambool and Richard settled on part of it. 

From 1847, Richard was the honorary secretary of the Port Fairy Racing Club and raced steeplechasers at the course.  He also bred carriage horses with the successful sire Cantab. He made several trips back to NSW to bring back cattle and horses and on one occasion, he married Alice Dickenson at Parramatta on 11 August 1849.  In April 1852, Richard went off to the goldfields at Mt Alexandra. He was there for about a year and made £100 after much hard work.  In 1860, Richard and his family went to England so his daughters could be educated in that country. They lived in Brighton but returned home after five years because the cold weather was affecting Alice’s health.  They arrived back in Victoria in January 1866.

Richard was buried at Tower Hill next to his brother. It was one of the largest funerals seen in the district.  He left his widow Alice, three daughters, and a son.

PHILLIPS, Lionel – Died 3 October 1889 at Hamilton.  Lionel Phillips was born around 1847.  On coming to Australia, he spent time in Sydney around 1875 before going to New Zealand. He was a wine and spirit merchant in Queen Street, Auckland before becoming the manager of Ehrenfried’s Brewery at Thames on the North Island. On 6 May 1879, he returned to Sydney to marry Frances Marks at the Great Synagogue in Elizabeth Street.  By 1882, Lionel was the manager of the Phoneix Brewery near Richmond on the South Island. Around 1883, he returned to his former premises in Queen Street, Auckland, and reopened his wine and spirits business.  In 1884, he was insolvent, owing £1200 to his creditors. 

Lionel and his family returned to Sydney around 1886. In early 1889, Lionel with a Mr Williams, purchased the Western City Brewery in Hamilton and he moved his family to Victoria.  The family resided in Milton Street. 

VIEW OF HAMILTON VICTORIA. (1888, April 17). Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918), p. 1 (SUPPLEMENT TO THE HAMILTON SPECTATOR).  http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article225809074

Lionel was quick to involve himself in the community.  He joined in on the organising of the Hamilton Hospital Carnival and was selected as chairman of the Procession committee. Lionel was a large man who suffered from asthma.  He developed bronchitis during September and never recovered.  He was just forty-two at the time of his death.  He left his widow Frances and a large family.  Lionel was buried in the Jewish section of the Hamilton (Old) Cemetery.  The remains of his headstone are below.

GRAVE OF LIONEL PHILLIP, HAMILTON (OLD) CEMETERY

COWAN, Duncan – Died 21 October 1891 at Hamilton.  Duncan Cowan was born in Paisley, Scotland around 1831 and arrived in Hamilton around 1871. On 13 December 1876, he married Eliza Swan at the Caledonian Hotel in Hamilton.  Duncan was a cousin of Hamilton butcher Thoms Brown and he went to work for him as a bookkeeper and remained for around eight years, In 1883, he then went to work as the actuary at the Hamilton Savings Banks in Gray Street. He was one of the leading parishioners of St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church. 

ST ANDREWS PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH & HAMILTON ANGLICAN CHURCH c1890 Image Courtesy of the State Library of Victoria. Image no. H11827 http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/69513

On the day of Duncan’s funeral, the bell of St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church tolled.  He left his widow Eliza and a young family of four sons and one daughter. During WW1, two of Duncan’s sons served with Duncan Jr awarded a Distinguished Conduct Medal.

CAMPBELL, Archibald Thomas – Died 29 October 1891 at Hamilton. Archibald Campbell was born around 1823 in Argyleshire, Scotland.  He arrived in Adelaide around 1850 but when gold was discovered in Victoria, he headed off to the Bendigo diggings.  He was there for some time before going on to the Murray district.  In 1860 he returned to Scotland where he married Mary Isabella McCallum. Archibald with his new bride, returned to Victoria the following year.  It wasn’t long before Archibald and his family were off to New Zealand where Archibald operated a shop in Dunedin until 1872 when they returned to Victoria. 

Archibald took up the license of the Green Hills Hotel at Condah and operated it until 31 December 1875.

Advertising (1872, December 25). Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918), p. 1. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article194844688

 In 1877, Archibald moved to Hamilton to run the Argyle Arms Hotel in Gray Street.

Advertising (1878, February 14). Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918), p. 1. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article226067802

He remained at the Argyle for around three years. In 1880, one of Archibald and Mary’s sons Allen died at Condah aged seven. By 1884, Archibald had opened a wine and spirit store in Gray Street.  The family home was at Pennycross on the Dunkeld Road, South Hamilton (now Ballarat Road).

Advertising (1890, February 18). Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918), p. 3. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article225770051

Archibald left his widow Mary, three sons, and three daughters.  

BRAIM, Thomas Henry – Died October 1891 in Derbyshire, England.  Thomas Braim was born in Yorkshire in 1814 and was educated at St John’s College Cambridge.  He arrived in Tasmania with his wife Elizabeth Liley in 1836 to take up the position of headmaster at the Bishop’s Grammar School School in Hobart.  In 1840, he arrived in Melbourne and established a school at the Wesleyan Chapel on the corner of Swanston Street and Flinders Lane. It didn’t get off the ground so he went to Sydney where he successfully applied for the position of headmaster of Sydney College.  During his time in New South Wales, he published educational books and a history of NSW. 

Thomas and his family returned to England in 1845 for a year before returning to Sydney.  In Victoria, Port Fairy townsmen James Atkinson and William Rutledge asked Thomas to their town to set up a school.  He travelled there on the Essington. the boat of Charles Mill of Port Fairy.  He set up a grammar school in James Street (below)

BRAIM HOUSE, JAMES STREET, PORT FAIRY

Soon after arriving in Port Fairy, Thomas was ordained and was put in charge of St Johns Church, then a small wooden chapel with room for fifty parishioners.  While in the district, he also established schools at Yambuk, Farnham, and Tower Hill. In 1854, Thomas became Archdeacon of Portland and was in the role when the foundation stone of St Stephen’s Church was laid.

St Stephens Church Foundation Stone

 

St Stephens Church Portland

On 16 August 1860, Elizabeth died at Port Fairy.  Thomas remarried the following year to Caroline Simpson.  Suffering poor health, Thomas went on leave to England in 1865 but he never returned to Australia.  He died in 1891 leaving his widow Caroline.  You can find out more about Thomas Braim on his entry in the Australian Biography Dictionary on the link – Thomas Henry Braim

REEN, Timothy Denis – Died 11 October 1892 at Hamilton.  Timothy Reen was born in County Kerry, Ireland around 1842.  He arrived in Australia around 1867 aged twenty-nine. Eventually, he got work on the construction of the Ararat to Portland railway line which opened in 1877.

In 1879, Timothy married Catherine Murphy at Hamilton. They went to Melbourne and Timothy took on the license of the Yarra Hotel in Conventry Street, South Melbourne that year.  In August 1882, they returned to Hamilton and Timothy took up the license of the Hamilton Inn in Lonsdale Street (below).

HAMILTON INN, LONSDALE STREET, HAMILTON. Image courtesy of the State Library of South AustraliaB 21766/53 https://collections.slsa.sa.gov.au/resource/B+21766/53

In 1885, he took over the nearby Caledonian Hotel.

Advertising (1885, October 15). Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918), p. 1. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article225775361

In 1887, Timothy and Catherine’s daughter Kate died and was buried at the Hamilton (Old) Cemetery.  In August 1891, Timothy laid down plans to extend the accommodation at the Caledonian Hotel as well as adding several loose boxes.

Timothy was a devout Catholic and a great supporter of St Mary’s Catholic Church in Hamilton.  He was also one of the main drivers behind the construction of a parish school. He was a very close friend of Monsignor Michael Shanahan of St Mary’s.

ST MARY’S CATHOLIC CHURCH, LONSDALE STREET, HAMILTON

In 1890, three seats became available on the Hamilton Borough Council so Timothy ran.  He received overwhelming support, finishing second in the polling behind Robert Stayplton Bree. Much of the debate during the election campaign was focused on the construction of a corporation saleyards in Hamilton, something that had been a hot topic for some time and would go on for a further decade.  In September 1892, Timothy drove some of his fellow councillors to inspect one of the proposed sites for the saleyards. He caught a chill which developed into severe congestion of the lungs which eventually claimed his life.

Timothy’s body was taken to St Mary’s Church and his open coffin was placed before the altar. 

DEATH OF CR. REEN. (1892, October 13). Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918), p. 3.  http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article225179741

On 13 October, a large crowd of mourners gathered to follow Timothy’s remains along Lonsdale Street, Hamilton en route to the cemetery.   At 2.30 pm, thirty-four members of the Hibernian Society entered the church to join Monsignor Shanahan.  The coffin was lifted and carried out to the waiting hearse.  Monsignor Shanahan travelled to the cemetery in a carriage behind the hearse, followed by the Hibernian Society, the mourning coach with Catherine and two of the eldest children, then the councillors followed by around sixty more vehicles, thirty men on horseback and many on foot.  The procession stretched around two kilometres.

GRAVE OF TIMOTHY REEN, HAMILTON (OLD) CEMETERY

Timothy left his widow Catherine, three sons, and three daughters, the eldest eleven and youngest just eight months old. In 1893, Catherine continued the running of the Caledonian until 1894. She also donated money to the Hibernian Australian Catholic Benefit Society (HACBS) after Timothy’s death. Timothy acquired much property during his time in Hamilton, including the Caledonian but also the large property Broxbourne which was retained after his death and leased by his estate.  Monsignor Shanahan was one of the executors of Timothy’s will.

Advertising (1894, May 19). Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918), p. 3.  http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article225780745

The Caledonian hotel was sold to Daniel Scullion in 1907.  Catherine died in 1909 at Hamilton.  Timothy and Catherine’s daughter, Julia joined the Loreto order of nuns in 1902.  Known as Sister Eucharia, she taught for many years at the Dawson Street campus of Loreto Convent and also Mary’s Mount in Ballarat.  Timothy Jnr served during WW1.

 NEHILL, William Francis – Died 9 October 1936 at Terang.  William Nehill was born around 1849 in County Limerick, Ireland. He arrived in Australia with his parents around 1852 and they settled at Birragurra.  In 1875, William married Roseanne Campell who was also born in Ireland. They went on to have three daughters and five sons together.

Around 1888, William leased the Terang Hotel, eventually buying it.  In 1900, he built a new hotel on the site and he went on to own it until his death. William was a keen cricketer and was captain of the Terang team for many years.  He was also involved with coursing.   He was a devout Catholic and a great supporter of St Thomas’ Catholic Church in Terang

ST THOMAS CATHOLIC CHURCH, TERANG. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/63483

In 1930, William was checking out the new St Thomas Parish Hall and fell from the stage, breaking his leg which left him incapacitated.  In October 1932, Roseanne died aged eighty-one.  William survived for a further four years until his death in October 1936.  More than 200 cars were in the funeral cortege, at the time, the most seen at a funeral to pass through Terang. There were more than 500 people at the Terang Cemetery.  Two of William and Roseanne’s children predeceased them including Edmund who died of wounds in France during WW1.

William’s daughter Mary continued to run the Terang Hotel until 1939 when the hotel was leased.

Terang (1939, February 9). Advocate (Melbourne, Vic. : 1868 – 1954), p. 29.http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article172029920

The Great Flood of 1870

The year 1870 was wet across Australia. In January, summer storms brought flooding to Ballarat and Bendigo. Then for several months floods plagued NSW and Queensland.  Winter came and the Western District received more than its share of rain.  

PENSHURST. (1870, August 27). Hamilton Spectator p. 3. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article196303848

The rain continued into spring and the Hamilton Spectator reported on 10 September 1870, “The present extraordinary season, according to many of the oldest inhabitants has not been equalled in the Western District of Victoria for the last eighteen years.” That came after 1½ inches fell across 4 and 5 September causing the Grange Burn at Hamilton to swell. Mail to the town was blocked for two days with creeks along the route on the rise. 

The Hopkins River was up and water lapped the back door of the Hexham Hotel.  Mail couldn’t get through to Warrnambool from Melbourne and at Allansford, not only the old bridge washed away but also new bridge under construction. 

LATEST INTELLIGENCE. (1870, September 13). The Ballarat Star, p. 3. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article218798397

The Wannon River (below) was raging and there were reports of trees going over the Wannon Falls. Further downstream, the road from Sandford to Casterton was cut and a bridge at Sandford was washed away.

WANNON RIVER, OCTOBER 2020

Streatham saw the largest flood the inhabitants could remember with families evacuated and the telegraph office flooded. At Skipton, the rise of Mount Emu Creek soon saw the streets flooded.

THE SKIPTON SHOW. (1870, September 14). Hamilton Spectator, p. 3. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article196301671

At Coleraine, settled on the banks of Bryan Creek,* the water rose rapidly.  

TOWNSHIP OF COLERAINE, Victorian Office of Lands & Survey, Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/93052

The Hamilton Spectator‘s Coleraine correspondent summed up the town’s experience during the rains of September 1870, pointing to the rapid rise of the water and the plight of the McCaskill family.  He offered a grim assessment…”if the stream had not suddenly fallen, that a coroner’s inquest in the locality would have taken place.”

COLERAINE. (1870, September 10). Hamilton Spectator p. 3.  http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article196305637

Bryan Creek, a tributary of the Wannon River, rises up near Vasey about thirty-five kilometres north-east of Coleraine, not far from the Dundas Ranges. Several small creeks run into it as it flows through the valleys of rolling hills.  Those open hills enhance the beauty of the district but as Adam Lindsay Gordon wrote in his famous poem “The Fields of Coleraine”, “…the gullies are deep, and the uplands are steep” expediting water runoff into the creek. 

VIEW TOWARD THE COLERAINE TOWNSHIP, Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/63291

By the end of September 1870, farmers were lamenting the wet weather as potatoes rotted in the ground and shearing was delayed.

COLERAINE. (1870, October 1). Hamilton Spectator p. 3. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article196307121

Unsettled weather continued throughout October. On Friday 28 October 1870 in Coleraine, it was humid with a squally wind.  
 

COLERAINE c1880 Image No. [B 21766/52 State Libary of South Australia https://collections.slsa.sa.gov.au/resource/B+21766/52

As the day moved into night, clouds appeared and lightning illuminated the sky like nothing the residents had seen before. Thunder rumbled for two hours. Rain began to fall “gentle and warm” and then, when it seemed to have past, the people of Coleraine “went to repose, fearing nothing from the weather”.
 

COLERAINE. (1870, November 2). Hamilton Spectator p. 2.  http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article196303181

Among them was Emma Laird who lay down with her sleeping infants James and Isabella.  She lived in a cottage behind the Albion newspaper office (below). The Drummond family, David, Margaret and their children were her neighbours.  David’s niece Janet was staying over for the night.

THE ALBION PRINTING OFFICE, WHYTE STREET COLERAINE, Image courtesy of the Museums Victoria Collections https://collections.museumsvictoria.com.au/items/772470

Closer to the creek, carrier William Lewis, William Weaven, and another man were camped on what they thought was high ground near the bridge.  There was no sleeping under the stars for them that night, instead they made their beds under the dray of William Lewis to shelter from the storm.
 
As the town went to sleep, little did they know what they thought was the sound of gale force winds roaring through the trees was actually water raging along Bryan Creek.  Heavy rain in the catchment area was rapidly entering the waterway.  At Gringegalong close to the creek’s headwater, water was knee-deep within an hour. By midnight Bryan Creek was “a roaring torrent and inundated the sleeping town” having risen five feet in two hours. There was chaos. People ran between houses trying to wake the occupants and soon a crowd was gathering near the lowest part of the town where the cottages were submerged in water. 
 

THE FLOODS. (1870, November 3). Portland Guardian and Normanby General Advertiser p. 2 (EVENINGS). , from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article65423451

The Coleraine correspondent for the Hamilton Spectator opened his front door only to be almost swept off his feet by the rush of incoming water. He managed to close the door again but only with the help of another person.  He said outside it was “a sea, roaring and boiling, and crushing all in its course.”
 
Such was the commotion, the order to which the events of that night occurred differ slightly between eye-witness accounts from the likes of the Hamilton Spectator‘s correspondent and the Coleraine Albion reporter.  Piecing the various reports together, I believe this is how it all unfolded.
 
Around 12.30 am, an attempt was made to rescue residents on the low ground including those at the residence of Robert Wright the brickmaker on the banks of the creek, and dressmaker Betsy Gillies.  In the nick of time, the Wright family got themselves across the deluge to safe ground. Miss Gillies was woken from her slumber and also escaped.  In both cases, another few minutes, and the outcome would have been disastrous. 
 
Attention then turned to the two cottages behind the Albion office, that of the Drummonds and Lairds.  By now, the water was knee-deep and the current was too fast to safely cross. Constable James Mahon made a dash for it but was carried away. Fortunately, he managed to land on top of a pigsty and was able to get back to safety.  He tried again and was able to save one of the children.  Storekeeper Louis Lesser also headed across the water and rescued another child.  He was also able to lift Mrs Margaret Drummond out of the water and on to the roof of a cowshed.  Her husband, David Drummond got three children to safety and went back for three more, James and Margeret Jr and his niece Janet. He had one on his back and one in each arm as he made his way across.  Suddenly, the current caught him, and all four were swept away.  
 
Charles Loxton, the young accountant from the National Bank of Australasia (below). attempted to cross on his horse.  They were both swept away and it was then the rescue was abandoned.
 

FORMER NATIONAL BANK OF AUSTRALASIA, WHYTE STREET, COLERAINE.

Around 1.00 am the water had fallen enough for another attempt to cross to the cottages.  Margaret Drummond was found sitting on the cowshed but the rescuers worst fears were soon realised.  During all the commotion, Emma Laird and two of her children had washed away on their beds as they slept.  William Lewis and William Weaven camped by the creek were swept away from beneath the dray. Their friend managed to get himself to safety.
 
By 8.00 am on Saturday morning, the creek had “assumed its natural proportions” and the horse of Charles Loxton grazed nonchalantly by the creek. It was as though nothing had happened, 

WHYTE STREET, COLERAINE. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/385977

But looking around the town it was anything but normal. It was devastating. “The scene when morning dawned was heartrending. Men, women, and children were found on chimneys and housetops; and all sorts of property was floating about”. The water was three feet deep in McLean’s timber yard and the store of Edmond Dacomb (below) was also flooded.

Also flooded was the store of Abraham Lesser and his brother Louis, a hero only hours earlier.

COLERAINE IGA FORMERLY THE STORE OF A. LESSER & CO., WHYTE STREET, COLERAINE.

The bridge over Bryan Creek on the Penola road, was destroyed, and the streets were a mess.  Almost ominously, headstones at Alfred Priest’s monumental yard were scattered.  There was slime everywhere the water had been.  Logs, bales of wool and a haystack had washed down the creek.  Further downstream, Murdoch McCaskill’s farm once again suffered damage.  

The harrowing task of searching for bodies began at first light with the whole town turning out even though very few had slept. Holes were checked and logs turned over. By 6.00 pm on Saturday evening, five bodies had been recovered, all of them children.  Five adults were still missing.  On Sunday, the bodies of Emma Laird and William Lewis were found.  Later, the searchers noticed a piece of clothing pocking out from under a huge log.  It took around fifty men to remove the log and expose the body of Charles Loxton 

As they were found, the bodies were laid out in McKnight’s “old courtroom” and family gathered around their lost loved ones. George Trangmar the coroner issued the certificates of burial. The funeral for eight of the victims took place on Monday 31 October at 6.00 pm. The coffins left McKnights for the cemetery with the Oddfellows in the lead, two abreast, then a hearse with some of the coffins, followed by a wagon with the remainder. There was a very large cortege and to emphasise the tragedy, reports mentioned there were thirty to forty women in attendance. It was not customary for women to attend funerals in those times.

COLERAINE CEMETERY

The body of William Lewis was taken to Sandford for burial.

The Portland correspondent for the Hamilton Spectator told of how the news of the lives lost at Coleraine came in by telegram subsequently casting a gloom over his town.  He hoped a suitable monument would be erected to remember the bravery of Charles Loxton and David Drummond.

A week on and William Weaven’s body had not been found but his family kept searching along the creek for him but to no avail.  During September 1872, human remains were found in Bryan Creek about five kilometres downstream from the bridge at Coleraine.  The local police decided an inquest was not necessary as it seemed almost certain the remains were those of William Weaven.

THE VICTIMS 

DAVID DRUMMOND and his children James and Margaret DRUMMOND.

David Drummond married Margaret Watson in Tillicoultry, Scotland on 12 June 1852 (1) and they boarded the Chance at Liverpool, England on 23 July 1852 (2). It was a difficult journey with forty-six deaths and on arrival in Melbourne on 28 October 1852, the ship was quarantined and remained so for almost three weeks.  Once on dry land, the couple made their way to the Geelong district.  A son James was born in 1853 but sadly he died the next year (3). Another son Richard was born in 1854 (4) and a daughter Margaret in 1857 (5).  James was born in 1862 at Duck Ponds near Geelong (6).

The family moved west to join other members of the Drummond family sometime after 1862 with John born at Casterton in 1867 (7). It was there in the same year, Margaret Jr aged ten, faced the Casterton Court of Petty Sessions. Her charges of stealing a pocketbook were eventually dismissed.  It was also the year David Jr died at Sandford aged seven (8). The following year baby John died, also at Sandford. (9) In 1869, another son was born and named David (10).  He was born at Dundas suggesting the family had moved to Coleraine, within the Shire of Dundas.  

After the tragic death of her husband and children in 1870, Margaret Drummond continued to live in Coleraine. In her old age, she lived with her son Richard. She died on 1 March 1914 her life punctuated with tragedy. She was buried at the Coleraine Cemetery with David, James, and Margaret (11). Richard died on 17 July 1932 at Coleraine (12).  Margaret’s other surviving son David Jr. settled at Streatham. He died in 1941 at Sebastopol (13).
    

GRAVE OF THE DRUMMOND FAMILY, COLERAINE CEMETERY

Janet DRUMMOND
 
Janet, the niece of David and Margaret Drummond was born at Branxholme in 1861, the daughter of George Drummond and Margaret Scott (14).  Her father owned the Shamrock Inn at Coleraine from the early 1870s and then the Koroite Inn from February 1876.
 

GRAVE OF JANET DRUMMOND AND HER PARENTS GEORGE AND MARGARET, COLERAINE CEMETERY.

Emma Jane LAIRD and her children James and Isabella –

Emma Jane Laird was born around 1842 as Emma Jane Till.  Emma arrived from Middlesex, England in 1861 aboard the Oithona and went to work as a housemaid at Dundas station for Samuel Proudfoot Hawkins (15). She married James Laird in 1864 (16).  The following year, a daughter Louisa Matilda was born at Coleraine (17).  Isabella Jane was born in 1867 (18) followed by a son James Alexander in 1869 (19).  James Snr and Louisa were not mentioned in newspaper reports of the flood.  James appears to have worked for a contractor and may have been away working, maybe the same reason Louisa went into the care of her grandparents at Casterton in the years after the flood.  That however soured when in 1876 Alexander Laird took his son James to court for costs incurred for board and lodging of Louisa. At the age of eighteen, Louisa married John McCreddan in 1883 (20). She died at Noradjua in 1887 aged just twenty-one (21).

Charles Arthur LOXTON 

Charles Loxton was born in Liverpool, Lancashire in 1847, a son of George Loxton and Catherine Holland (22).  The Loxton family including eight children arrived on the Catharine Mitchell when Charles was three in 1853 (23).  It’s not clear when twenty-two-year-old Charles went to Coleraine for work but it may not have bee long before the flood. The National Bank of Australasia where he was an accountant was opened in 1870. Charles’ brother Holland Loxton was the town clerk at Kew. In 1948, Charles’ grave at the Coleraine Cemetery was restored using money donated by then-current and past residents. More about the grave can be seen on the link to Monument Australia – Grave of Charles Arthur Loxton

William LEWIS

William Lewis was a son of Thomas Lewis and Rebecca Braham and was born in Tasmania in1843 (24). At some point, the family travelled to Victoria and settled at Sandford and William worked as a carrier. On Saturday 22 October 1870, he departed the stores of Stephen Henty in Portland with goods for Coleraine.  It would be his last job. William was twenty-seven at the time of his death.

William Eric WEAVEN

William Weaven was a son of Thomas Weaven and Christiana Butcher and was born at Portland in 1844 (25). 

 

FLOODING IN OTHER AREAS OF THE WESTERN DISTRICT

At Brung Brungle Station at Redruth (Wannon) close to Coleraine, and owned by John B, Hughes, employee William DUNTON was drowned while trying to save the station’s stud rams.  He fell from his horse into the water and despite being a strong swimmer and struggling for some, exhaustion saw him and succumb to the waters.  William was a local boy born around 1853, a son of William Dunton and Elizabeth Edwards.  He was buried at the Coleraine Cemetery on 4 November 1870.

Also at Redruth, trees were washing down the Wannon River and hitting the bridge on the main road to Coleraine. On Saturday afternoon 29 October at about 2.30 pm the bridge, only six years old was washed away.  Trees were going over the Nigretta and Wannon Falls.  The local correspondent for the Hamilton Spectator ventured to the Wannon Falls and found a “huge boiling cauldron” beneath.  Trees from further up the river lay below.  He then went to see the bridge on the main road. It was on its last legs and soon it washed down the river towards the Wannon Falls.

REDRUTH. (1870, November 2). Hamilton Spectator, p. 2.  http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article196303182

WANNON RIVER FROM THE WANNON BRIDGE, WANNON, OCTOBER 2020.

With the bridge out, the only way to get the mail through was a rope over the river or behind the path of the falls (below).  

WANNON FALLS, OCTOBER 2020

At Hilgay not far from Coleraine, John MOFFAT was drowned.  A number of horses on the property were in hobbles and stranded in deep water.  The owners of two of the horses offered £1 each to anyone who would go underwater and cut the hobbles.  Shortly after, John Moffat asked one of the owners for a knife and a pipe of tobacco.  He didn’t say he was going to free the horses but instead just “strolled away.  Later it was noticed he was missing and a search was made.  His clothes were found on the river bank by his friends but his body couldn’t be found.
 
At Roseneath on the Glenelg River north of Casterton, eleven-year-old Lewis Frank Russel RALSTON, a son of Robert Ralston and Jane Ross was drowned in the river. 
There was an electrical storm at Casterton and subsequent floods were considered the “greatest floods ever” or at least since 1851.  Stores and homes were flooded while at nearby Sandford, the bridge over the Wannon River washed away. At Balmoral, the “old” bridge was gone and around Harrow, the water offered “an almost uninterrupted swim”.
 
At Hamilton, communications were down and the Hamilton Spectator said it “rained in torrents for hours”.

THE WEATHER AND THE TELEGRAPH.— (1870, October 29). Hamilton Spectator p. 2. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article196304024

One report suggested around 34 mm of rain fell in a short time. The bridge over the Grange Burn on the Dunkeld Road (now Ballarat Road) was partially washed away. Further downstream, the Grange Inn on the banks of the creek was in more than a metre of water resulting in the kitchen breaking away and washing down the creek. One of the abutments on the nearby Portland Road bridge had washed away and the roadway had fallen in. 

LOOKING TOWARDS THE SITE OF THE FORMER GRANGE INN AND THE DIGBY ROAD BRIDGE OVER THE GRANGE BURN FROM THE PORTLAND ROAD BRIDGE.

To the east, sheep washes were swept away at Strathkellar and around 600 sheep were drowned at Warrayure. At Portland, the storm was spectacular and around 17mm of rain fell.

OUR LETTER HOME. (1870, November 5). Hamilton Spectator, p. 4.  http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article196303362

 A horse was struck by lightning at Streatham and at Colac, the heaviest ran in years fell. Murray Street was like a river and Lake Colac was rising. 

DISASTROUS FLOODS. (1870, October 31). The Age, p. 3.  http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article189331161

At Ballarat,  the rain brought the worst flood in memory. 

BALLARAT. (1870, October 29). The Herald, p. 3. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article244717929

There were cries of “Not October storms again” as people recalled the floods in the town the year prior. Then Bridge Street was a river (below) but in 1870, the water level exceeded that high mark.

DISASTERS AT BALLARAT. (1869, December 1). Illustrated Adelaide Post (SA), p. 4.  http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article245004026

COLERAINE’S FLOOD HISTORY

The people of Coleraine have been no strangers to flooding over the years.  For example, there was 1893, 1906, 1983, and more recently 2016, the worst flooding since 1946 the year of ‘The Big Flood‘ across the Western District.  Even earlier this month while writing this account, two days of almost constant rain saw the Bryan Creek once again rise resulting in some minor flooding. 

The flood of October 1870 was disastrous and possibly the worst in the town’s history but as there weren’t official records kept for rainfall and the creek levels, it is difficult to compare. The only comparison can be made with the number of fatalities and fortunately, there has never been a repeat of the loss of life seen in 1870. 

You can find more about the history of flooding at Coleraine from the following video prepared for the Southern Grampians Shire Council investigation into the 2016 Coleraine floods.  You can read the full report on the link – Coleraine Flood Investigation

Bryan Creek – While researching the 1870 floods, I came across several variations of the name of the creek which passes by Coleraine, Bryan Creek, Bryan’s Creek, Bryants Creek, Koroite Creek, and Koroite Rivulet.  The use of Koroite comes from the Koroite run.  The homestead stood on the northern bank of the creek just west of the township once known as Bryan’s Creek from the name of the run taken up by John Bryan in 1837 and later his brother Samuel.  In 1937, the Portland Guardian claimed Samuel Pratt Winter said in the Hamilton Spectator in 1878, also the year of his death, that somewhere along the line someone had added a”t”. 

Pioneers of Wannon Country. (1937, December 20). Portland Guardian, p. 2 (EVENING.).  http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64277877

However, going back to 1849 and a description of the boundaries of the Koroite run, both Bryan’s Creek (possibly the aforementioned pastoral run) and Bryant’s Creek are referred to. 

Advertising (1849, March 5). Port Phillip Gazette and Settler’s Journal p. 4. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article223156343

I chose to use Bryan Creek, the name used by local and state government agencies.  


SOURCES

1.  Scotland, Marriages, 1561-1910, FamilySearch, David Drummond, 1852, FHL Film No. 1040210 

2.  PROV, Assisted British Immigration Index, VPRS 14, Book 7, Page 54, Chance, 1852

3.   Victorian BDM’s Death Index, James DRUMMOND, 1854, Reg. No. 3277/1854

4.   Victorian BDMs  Birth Index, Richard DRUMMOND, 1854, Reg. No. 6918/1854

5.   Victorian BDMS Birth Index, Margaret DRUMMOND, 1857, Reg. No. 15416/1857

6.   Victorian BDMs Birth Index, James DRUMMOND, 1862, Reg. No.  1963/1862

7.   Victorian BDMs  Birth Index, John DRUMMOND, 1867, Reg. No. 7017/1867

8.   Victorian BDM’s Death Index, David DRUMMOND, 1867, Reg. No. 9949/1867

9.   Victorian BDM’s Death Index, John DRUMMOND, 1868, Reg. No. 545/1868

10. Victorian BDMs  Birth Index, David DRUMMOND, 1869, Reg. No. 7703/1869

11. Victorian BDM’s Death Index, Margaret DRUMMOND, 1914, Reg. No. 1220/1914

12.  Victorian BDM’s Death Index, Richard DRUMMOND, 1932, Reg. No. 8881/1932

13.  Victorian BDM’s Death Index, David DRUMMOND, 1941, Reg. No. 2076/1914

14.  Victorian BDMs  Birth Index, Jennet DRUMMOND, 1861, Reg. No.3467/1861

15.   PROV, Assisted British Immigration Index, VPRS 14, Book 13A, Page 141, Oithona, 1861

16.  Victorian BDMs, Marriage Index, Emma Jane Till, 1864, Reg. No. 3529/1864

17.  Victorian BDMs  Birth Index, Louisa Matilda LEARD, 1865, Reg. No.4907/1865

18.  Victorian BDMs  Birth Index, Isabella Jane LAIRD, 1867, Reg. No. 20916/1867

19.  Victorian BDMs  Birth Index, James Alexander LAIRD, 1869, Reg. No. 21412/1869

20.  Victorian BDMs, Marriage Index, Louisa Matilda LAIRD, 1883, Reg. No. 3794/1883

21.  Victorian BDM’s Death Index, Louisa Matilda McCREDDEN, 1887, Reg. No. 3417/1887

22. Liverpool Record Office; Liverpool, England; Liverpool Church of England Parish Registers; Reference Number: 283 PET/2/37

23.  PROV, Unassisted Passenger List, Catharine Mitchell, Fiche 27, p. 7, Charles LOXTON

24. Libraries Tasmania, Name Index: 1089108, Births, William Lewis, 1843, Resource: RGD32/1/3/ no 2271

25.  Victorian BDMs  Birth Index, William WEAVEN, 1844, Reg. No. 30623/1844

Newspapers

 

Passing of the Pioneers

September Passing of the Pioneers sees ten new obituaries enter the Obituary Index. I started writing in mid-August and between limited time and some interesting stories among the subjects, it’s taken me almost to the end of September to finish.  You can read about a father and son, a woman who lost her sons during WW1 and another her grandson, and two young people who did so much in their comparatively short lives. There are also some connections as there often are.  They include two Branxholme pioneers who both operated out of the same shop. One of them became mixed up with rogue Hamilton solicitor Louis Horwitz just as another of the subjects did, however, their experiences were very much different.

WALKER, Duncan Stewart – Died 29 September 1889 at Camperdown. Duncan Stewart was born around 1827 in Arglyeyshire, Scotland. After the death of his father, Duncan came to Australia with his mother, arriving at Geelong in 1841.  Just thirteen  Duncan gained employment at Kardinia on the Barwon River, the run of Dr Alexander Thomson remaining for ten years.  He then went into partnership with Robert Lowe in a tanning and currier business on the Barwon River.  It operated successfully until the river flooded in June 1852. The following year the partnership was dissolved.

Advertising (1853, March 5). Geelong Advertiser and Intelligencer (Vic. : 1851 – 1856), p. 2 (DAILY.). Retrieved August 30, 2020, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article94360577

However, Duncan started a partnership with another member of the Lowe family in 1853 when he married Robert’s sister Margaret.  Soon after he bought two lots of land at Lismore in September 1853 at a price of £25. Around 1860, he took over operations of the Leura Hotel at Camperdown and he and Margaret moved to that town

LEURA HOTEL, CAMPERDOWN. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/307684

After selling the hotel in 1867 to John Wiggins, Duncan went into partnership with John Paton in the Dixie estate on the Mount Emu Creek near Terang, but eventually, Paton left the partnership.  Duncan was elected to the Hampden Shire Council in 1870 and sat until 1888 serving as president for the last two years.  He was also the first chairman of directors of the Cobden Cheese and Butter Factory in October 1888.

COBDEN CHEESE & BUTTER FACTORY. Image courtesy of the Museums Victoria Collections https://collections.museumsvictoria.com.au/items/772409

Duncan was an elder of the Terang Presbyterian Church,(below), and was also involved with the church at Camperdown and Ecklin. He had a special interest in ensuring the religious needs of the Presbyterian community of the Heytesbury Forest were met.

TERANG PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria. Image no. H32492/3044 http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/63615

In 1886, Duncan sold Dixie estate.

Items of News. (1886, December 11). Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918), p. 3. Retrieved August 30, 2020, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article226158486

It was subsequently subdivided.

SUBDIVISION OF DIXIE ESTATE Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/85606

After his death, memorial services were held for Duncan at the Presbyterian churches in the Terang district.

BROWN, Elizabeth Moncreif – Died 2 September 1900 at Hamilton. Elizabeth Brown, known as Bessie was born at Hamilton in1868, the eldest child of butcher Thomas Brown and Mary Ann Cameron.  When she was eight, she suffered from a bout of severe inflammation of the lungs damaging one of her lungs permanently. Bessie never married and devoted her life to her faith, charity, and temperance.  She was an active member of Hamilton’s St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church as a Sunday School teacher and honourary organist for around ten years.  

ST. ANDREW’S PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH (foreground) c1890. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/69513

In May 1900, at the financial business meeting of the church, Bessie was given a purse of sovereigns in recognition of her work as the organist.  She was also given a bound copy of the new Hymnary which was making its way into Victorian Presbyterian churches after being adopted by churches in Scotland.  Her father spoke on her behalf saying Bessie’s work was “purely a labour of love, and from sincere desire to advance the welfare of the church.”

Bessie was a member of the Hamilton branch of the Band of Hope, the Hamilton Total Abstinence Society, Society of Christian Endeavour of which she was treasurer, and she was secretary of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) from the time of its inception in Hamilton. At the last WCTU meeting before her death on 14 August 1900. when the time came for Bessie’s secretary’s report, her father was called on to read it, with the chairman commenting he was sorry they could not induce her to read the report herself.  

On 29 August 1900, Bessie contracted a cold, and inflammation to her lungs resulted. She rallied for a time, but things took a turn for the worse on 1 September and she died the following morning aged just thirty-two. She was remembered for her quiet, unassuming nature and her devotion and enthusiasm to her various voluntary endeavours.  That admiration was evident with the large attendance at Bessie’s funeral. The pallbearers were made up of prominent townsmen including three past and future Hamilton Mayors. 

Items of News. (1900, September 6). Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918), p. 2. Retrieved August 29, 2020, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article225689541

After Bessie’s death, The Band of Hope held a special night of entertainment to honour her work with the organisation.  Bessie’s father Thomas died in 1903 and in 1904, memorial windows in honour of Bessie and Thomas were unveiled at St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church.

RYAN, Anthony – Died 2 September 1901 at Perth.  Anthony Ryan was born to Thomas Ryan and Margaret Witherow at Sebastopol in 1871. Thomas worked with Victoria Railway and with the opening up of the railways in the south-west in the late 1870s, the Ryans moved close to Hamilton. Thomas worked as the railway gatekeeper at Pierrepoint on the Penshurst line. Anthony, known to all as Tony, attended the Warrayure State School just east of Hamilton.  He was a very bright student and his final marks saw him offered a scholarship to the Hamilton Academy to complete matriculation.  While still a student, he was also helping as an assistant teacher, and on finishing his matriculation, he began teaching in his own right at the Academy.

THE HAMILTON ACADEMY. Image courtesy of the State Library of South Australia https://collections.slsa.sa.gov.au/resource/B+21766/58

He was then appointed headteacher of St Mary’s School in Hamilton. Around the same time, Tony’s younger brother Edmund was following in his footsteps. He had received a scholarship from the Academy and was dux in 1890.  Edmund was then was taken on as an articled clerk with local solicitors Samuel and Horwitz. He showed an aptitude for the law but his life was cut short at just seventeen. Edmund died on 20 June 1892 from rheumatic fever.  Tony and Edmund’s mother had only died in the months before.

That same year, Tony left education and himself went in the law, working as a clerk for Samuel & Horwitz and beginning his study for the law examination. When partner Samuel Samuel was elected to Victoria’s Legislative Assembly for the seat of Dundas in April 1892, Tony became his private secretary. Samuel, however, died suddenly in Melbourne on 28 July 1892.  Tony got involved with the Hamilton branch of the Progressive Political League. He was appointed acting honorary secretary in January 1893 and in August 1893 was elected president.  He was vice-president of the Catholic Young Men’s Society. He was also the secretary fo the Grangeburn Cricket Club and 4 October 1895 turned down a nomination for President because he would “probably leave Hamilton”.

Probably became definitely soon after when Tony aged twenty-four announced he was leaving for the Western Australian goldfields. On 17 October 1895, he was given a send-off at the Caledonian Hotel. It appears he travelled first to Niagara close to 200 kilometres north of Kalgoorlie and where gold was discovered in January 1895.  It was there he had an interest in a butcher shop with Mr Hill.  He then headed to the goldfields further north in the area between Leonora and Laverton, at the Mounts Margaret, Morgans, and Malcolm goldfields.

Tony got into action quickly and threw himself into the community. He was chairman of the first progress committee at  Malcolm and chairman of the hospital committee. He contributed to the Goldfields Press and the sporting journal The Umpire.  He also joined Charles Geddes in partnership in building the Royal Hotel at Malcolm 1897 which they conducted successfully.  

ROYAL HOTEL, MALCOLM (1899, June 3). The Menzies Miner WA, p. 8. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article233066431

It was eventually time for both Tony and Charles Geddes to move on.  They sold the Royal Hotel and in September 1898, they were given a send-off by the people of Malcolm They explained their partnership would continue and they knew of some land which had not been prospected so they were going to try their luck. Two months later it was announced they were opening the Golden Pinnacle mine at the British Flag. Their luck must have been out because  Tony apparently ended up at Freemantle working at solicitors firm as an accountant. He then worked with a solicitor in Perth, before joining Dalgety & Co.  He then returned to the east and Hamilton.

GRAY STREET, HAMILTON. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/399057

On 7 March 1899, the Young Catholic Men’s welcomed Tony back to Hamilton and gave a talk about the geography of inland Western Australia, an area he described as the “land of sand and sorrow”. Over summer 1900, as all good Hamiltonians do he enjoyed a holiday in Port Fairy staying at the Star of the West Hotel. He also joined the Liberals and at a meeting in Hamilton in April 1900 to discuss all things political in the Shire of Dundas, Tony was appointed chairman. He also returned to work for Louis Horwitz.  It was said he assisted Horwitz on his work “The Consolidation of the Statutes of Victoria.” volumes of which were published in 1898 but also in September 1899. That would have left little time for Tony to contribute.

LOUIS HORWITZ (1898, December 1). Melbourne Punch , p. 2. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article180221822

The goldfields of the west were once again summoning him.  At least friends from Mount Margaret who had notified him of a chance for candidature in upcoming WA elections It was an opportunity Tony couldn’t miss. He had a yearning for political life. In February 1901, a group met at the Prince of Wales Hotel in Thompson Street Hamilton to once again farewell Tony before his departure for the west. Louis Horwitz was among the speakers.

PRINCE OF WALES HOTEL, HAMILTON. (1888, April 17). Hamilton Spectator, p. 2 (SUPPLEMENT TO THE HAMILTON SPECTATOR). http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article225809074

The Evening Star in Perth conveyed news of the send-off from an article from The Age.  They added the following,

Political (1901, March 7). The Evening Star (Boulder, WA), p. 3. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article202849093

Unfortunately for Tony, he was not accepted as a candidate for the Labor party. His time away impeded his chances and he just missed out to fellow candidate George Taylor.  Tony joined George’s campaign assisting him in winning the seat.  On 16 April 1901, Tony was given a send-off at Lenora before his return to Perth after the elections.  He was presented with an inscribed gold locket.     
The Mt Lenora Miner, reflecting back only five months before when Tony was leaving Leonora, commented, “frequent were the remarks that the future premiership of the colony was within Mr Ryan’s grasp”.  The Mount Morgans Miner remembered him as one of the pioneers of Malcolm.  Tony was only thirty when he died but had done so much and had such a bright future. He was likened in several obituaries to West Australian Charles Vosper who died in January 190. They were taking similar paths into Western Australian public life.  They were also buried in the same cemetery, both in the Roman Catholic section.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 
On 5 December 1902, a group of Hamilton townsmen met at the Prince of Wales Hotel to discuss a memorial for Tony. On 10 February 1904, a memorial was unveiled at the Hamilton (Old) Cemetery.  Senator Trenwith was in town at the time so was asked to assist with the unveiling along with Father Shanahan.  A letter was read from Louis Horwitz who could not attend.

MEMORIAL FOR ANTHONY RYAN, HAMILTON (OLD) CEMETERY

BEST, Jabez – Died 9 September 1903 at Branxholme. Born in Hastings, England around 1821, Jabez arrived in Tasmania with his parents in 1829.  He remained there until  23 September 1843 when at the age of twenty-two, he boarded the Minerva and travelled to Portland Bay.  His brother Thomas had arrived there a year earlier on 20 April 1842 also on the Minerva. Thomas had made his way to the area known then as Arrandoovong, later becoming Branxholme. and was running the Travellers Rest hotel. 

In 1853, Jabez married Nanny Penrose and they went on to have six children.  Jabez ran a store in Branxholme and was also the first postmaster, not to mention the Electoral Registrar, Dog Inspector. the correspondent for the Common School, and Registrar for Births, Deaths, and Marriages something he did for forty years before his daughter Sarah carried on the role. Jabez was a member of the Branxholme Presbyterian Church congregation and was the first secretary of the Branxholme Branch of the British and Foreign Bible Society.

Jabez, who lived in Wyndham Street, Branxholme was rightly opposed to the poor treatment of the local aboriginals who knew him as “Sixty-Six”.  He was an abstainer and member of the Sons of Temperance. At the time of his death, he was the oldest pledged total abstainer in the Commonwealth having attended the first public Temperance meeting held in Tasmanian sometime around 1840.

Jabez left his widow Nanny, two sons, and four daughters to mourn him. He was buried at the Branxholme Cemetery, The Best family are remembered on the Branxholme Pioneer Wall, below.

BRANXHOLME PIONEER WALL

HAMILTON, Barnabas – Died 19 September 1907 at Kirkstall. Barnabas Hamilton was born around 1830 in Dunbar, East Lothian, Scotland. As a young man, he made a trip to New York but returned to Scotland where he married Ann Hope on 27 May 1854. Not long after, Barnabas and Ann, along with John, Catherine, and Matthew Hamilton, the parents and younger brother of Barnabas, began their journey to Australia. They set off from Aberlady, East Lothian travelling first to Edinburgh then Glasgow and then on to Plymouth, England where they sailed aboard the Oithona on 21 October 1854. They arrived at Portland on 30 January 1855.

John and Catherine went on to Warrnambool while Barnabas and Ann went to Kirkstall as Barnabas had obtained work on the property of Andrew Laidlaw. He remained there for three years before joining a shearing team at William Rutledge’s property Farnham Park between Warrnambool and Tower Hill. Barnabas and Ann settled at Kirkstall and raised six children. Barnabas was an elder of the Koroit Presbyterian Church (below).    

KOROIT PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/389090

Barnabas was seventy-seven at the time of his death and left his widow Ann, four sons, and two daughters. He was buried at the Tower Hill Cemetery. Ann died in 1916. 

In 1937, four years after the death of Barnabas and Ann’s son John Hope Hamilton (see obituary below), a dusty box was found amongst his things.  Inside was an old diary belonging to Barnabas. It was then found Barnabas had visited New York prior to his marriage to Ann and their departure for Australia.  In the diary, Barnabas went into great detail describing the daily routine of the Sing Sing prisoners and the design of the prison.  You can read more on the link – Diary of Barnabas Hamilton.

SILBERBERG, Mayer Matus – Died 6 September 1908 at St Kilda. Mayer Silberberg was born around 1843 in Poland. While Mayer was still a young child, he and his parents Sciacob (Jacob) and Golda, two elder sisters and an elder brother made their way to England. They then left London on 2 August 1853 aboard the ship Asia bound for Australia, arriving at Port Phillip. They settled in Melbourne and Jacob ran a shop in Queen Street. At one stage the family was living in Bourke Street opposite the Theatre Royal.

When he was fourteen, Mayer’s mother Golda died on 17 August 1857  aged forty. By then, Jacob was running a small shop in Little LaTrobe Street and by 1860, Mayer was working at the pawnbroker’s store of Wolf Brasch in Swanston Street. Wolf was also Mayer’s brother-in-law having married Esther Silberberg in 1857. 

Jacob Silberberg moved to Macarthur by 1863 to operate the  French General Store and Mayer followed his father.

Advertising (1863, March 6). Hamilton Spectator and Grange District Advertiser, p. 1. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article194859010

Jacob built a new store in Macarthur in 1866 which Mayer helped him run. In 1869 and at the age of twenty-six, it was time for Mayer to out on his own and he took over the store of Jabez Best (see obituary above) at Branxholme.  

Advertising (1869, May 15). Hamilton Spectator and Grange District Advertiser, p. 1. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article194473249

In 1872, Mayer married Caroline Issacs and they went on to have seven children. He also continued to build up his business.

Advertising (1872, August 21). Hamilton Spectator, p. 3.  http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article194847009

Mayer took over the shop of Mr Maxwell at Condah in 1879. He took out a grocer’s liquor license as he had done with the Branxholme store, something that would not have happened while teetotaller Jabez Best owned it.   

Advertising (1899, July 29). Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918), p. 3 (SUPPLEMENT TO THE HAMILTON SPECTATOR). Retrieved September 6, 2020, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article225680581

In January 1885, there was a fire at Mayer’s Branxholme store. The family home was attached and they lost all their possessions but Mayer rebuilt. 

“Advertising” Hamilton Spectator  14 February 1885:   http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article225661212

Mayer also took part in money lending.

Advertising (1889, August 15). Hamilton Spectator p. 3. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article225764094

Mayer was active in the community.  He was a member of the Branxholme Mechanics Institute and a founder of the Branxholme Debating Society. He was secretary of the Branxholme Cemetery trust for seventeen years.  On 1 May 1885, a rifle club was formed at Branxholme on Mayer’s suggestion and he was a member of the first committee. Mayer was a Portland Shire councillor for around fourteen years and was president at the time of Australia’s Federation in 1901

In February 1902, Mayer announced was retiring from business and was moving to Melbourne. In March 1902, he resigned from his position on the Portland Shire Council  He was described by the Portland Guardian as the “Pooh-Bah” of Branxholme. The following month, on 4 April 1902, a gathering was held at Branxholme to farewell Mayer and Caroline from the district.  John Thomson of Monivae presided and various tributes were paid, telling of the charitable work of the pair.  They were presented with two silver dishes.  The inscription read, “Presented to Mr, and Mrs. Silberberg by the residents of Branxholme and Condah, as a token of esteem and regard, on their departure from the district after a residence of 32 years”. Soon after they moved to their new home in  High St, Prahan. 

In November 1903, Mayer lent his son Sidney £2000 plus interest so Sidney, a solicitor could enter a partnership with Hamilton solicitor Louis Horwitz. Horwitz guaranteed Sidney a return of £1000 return per annum. In June 1904, Horwitz left Hamilton for Western Australia. Reports came back a week after his departure that had fallen overboard from a ship between Adelaide and Freemantle and drowned.  Soon after, Sidney began hearing his partner had misappropriated significant sums of money from many Hamilton and district residents.  It turned out Horwitz didn’t drown.  He had faked his death and was subsequently brought back to Victoria to stand trial, leading to jail time.  That didn’t help Sidney.  He was insolvent and his father became a creditor of Horwitz.  Sidney faced the insolvency court in 1906.         

Mayer Silberberg died on 6 September 1908 at his home in High Street Prahan, leaving his widow Caroline, four sons, and three daughters. He was buried at the Melbourne General Cemetery. Mayer left money in his will to the St Kilda and East Melbourne Synagogues, the Children’s Hospital, and the Melbourne Jewish Philanthropic Society.

The repercussions of Sidney’s failed partnership with Louis Horwitz were still dragging on in 1913, as Mayer’s family were trying to settle his estate.  Proceedings in the Insolvency court focused on a second mortgage taken out by Mayer on land in Hamilton and the underestimation of his proof of debt.  If you are interested in learning more you can read the related articles on the following links – Insolvency Court 1 – 7 November 1913 and Insolvency Court 2 – The Outcome – December 1913 

URQUHART, Alexander Wilson – Died 20 September 1911 at Myamyn.   Alexander Urquhart was born in Glasgow, Scotland around 1822.  He arrived at Portland in 1853 and got work at Bowett station.  Soon after he married Euphemia McDonald of Branxholme. About ten years into their marriage they moved to the Whittlebury district near Condah.  Alexander obtained work as a shepherd for Cecil Cooke at the Lake Condah estate. He continued in that work for forty-seven years eventually working for Cecil’s son Samuel Winter Cooke.

In 1901, a bushfire that started at Tahara spread to the Condah area. Alexander’s wife Euphemia had her hands and feet badly burnt and was lucky to be saved by one her sons. Their home was not saved.  Alexander and Euphemia took up residence at the Condah Hills homestead where their son John was the manager.  Euphemia, who never fully recovered from the shock of the fires, died in July 1907. When Condah Hills was sold by Samuel Winter Cooke in 1911, Alexander went to live with his son but his health quickly declined.  Alexander left five sons and three daughters and was buried at the Myamyn cemetery.

BARCLAY, Janet – Died 4 September 1916 at Hamilton.  Janet Johnstone was born around 1840 in Scotland. Her family arrived in Victoria was she was still a young child and her father John Barclay operated the Greenvale Inn near Heywood. Janet married James Bannam in 1864 and they went on to have nine children.  She was an active woman, often outdoors, and was an excellent horsewoman. Janet had great community spirit and was always ready to help.  Back in the times when medical help was still some distance away, she was often called on to for assistance. 

In early June 1895, an explosion at the sawmill of James Bannam at Dunmore near Heywood, her son Arthur Bannam was killed along with her brother Robert Barclay.  WW1 broke and Janet grandson John died in 1915 from wounds received at Gallipoli.  Janet fell sick in September 1916 and was taken from her home in Milltown to the Hamilton Hospital where she died. She was buried at the Hamilton (Old) Cemetery. Janet left her husband James, seven sons, and two daughters.

McPHERSON, Mary – Died 30 September 1920 at Bostock’s Creek.  Mary McPherson was born in Canada to Scottish parents around 1848.  She arrived in Australia with her parents when she was four.  In 1869, Mary married Arthur Clingin. Arthur had discovered the Homeward Bound reef at Hillsborough in north-east Victoria around 1865.  They went on to have eight sons and two daughters. Arthur died in November 1897.  At the time her youngest child was just five and her oldest twenty-six. Mary made a move to the Camperdown district around 1900. She spent fifteen years living at Bostocks Creek. Tragedy came in November 1912, her son Wilfred, known to the family as “Little Billy” died in Albany, Western Australia at the age of thirty-two,

Mary was a member of the local Church of England congregation and helped out with community events. During WW1 three of Mary’s sons enlisted and she did her bit with the Red Cross.  The war, however, took its toll on Mary who suffered anxiety while her sons where away, heightened by the capture of her son George as a POW.  George died in a POW camp from pneumonia in 1918.  Mary died on 30 September 1930 and was buried at Camperdown Cemetery,  

HAMILTON, John Hope – Died 13 September 1933 at Camperdown.

SOME OF THE JUDGES, ROYAL AGRICULTURAL SHOW—No. 3. (1911, September 21). Table Talk (Melbourne, Vic.), p. 19. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article146571833

John Hamilton was born at Kirkstall around 1856 to Barnabas Hamilton and Ann Hope. When still a boy, he went to work at nearby Farnham Park where his father also worked.  After seven years John was taken on as manager and remained for a further four years.  He then rented a dairy farm from William Horne at Allansford sending milk from his cows to the Warrnambool Butter Factory.  In 1882, John married Mary Alice Smith of Port Fairy. 

John and Mary then moved to Renny Hill on the banks of Lake Bullen Merri at Camperdown, with John taking over the running of the dairy which at the time was at the top of Park Lane, later named Taylor Avenue. Eventually, John became the manager of the whole estate from about 1911. The family lived in the manager’s residence (below). until around 1921 when they moved to their own home in Taylor Avenue opposite Rennyhill.

MANAGER’S RESIDENCE RENNY HILL, CAMPERDOWN (1899, August 12). Leader (Melbourne, Vic ), p. 1 (SUPPLEMENT TO “THE LEADER”). http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article198073954

When John arrived at Renny HIll the cows were mostly Jersey but he purchased a shorthorn bull at the Royal Melbourne Show, greatly improved the herd. He also set about improving the dairy and built a piggery.  So successful was his farm management, he won the Leader Dairy Farms Competition, worth 50 guineas, and open to all farms in the State. Mr. Hamilton’s portion of the prize was an inscribed silver teapot, given to him by William Taylor. Photos of Renny Hill also appeared in the Leader newspaper as seen below.

RENNY HILL, CAMPERDOWN (1899, August 12). Leader (Melbourne, Vic), p. 1 (SUPPLEMENT TO “THE LEADER”). http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article198073954

The following year, the Camperdown Chronicle included John in a series “Talks with District Dairymen” and he imparted his expert knowledge of dairy farming. A sample is below

TALKS WITH DISTRICT DAIRYMEN. (1900, May 17). Camperdown Chronicle p. 3. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article26108100

William Taylor wasn’t keen on cropping, but eventually, John convinced him to trial three acres of oats. So impressive was the crop, oat cropping became a regular part of the farm.  John also trained sheep dogs and was in demand as a cattle judge at agriculture shows throughout the Western District and the Royal Melbourne Show.  He was also involved with the Camperdown Pastoral and Agriculture.

During WW1, George Leonard Hamilton, a son of John and Ann served with the 7th Field Engineers as a farrier reaching the rank of Sergeant and being Mienitoned in Distpatches.  Mary died on 11 November 1931.  In March 1933, just six months before John’s death, the Camperdown Chronicle ran a story on John, preserving some of his memories.  John was seventy-seven at the time of his death on 13 September 1933. He was buried at the Camperdown Cemetery leaving five sons and one daughter.

Passing of the Pioneers

Some of my favourite early settler stories come from those who had almost a lifetime of experiences before they reached Victoria.  Some of those I’ve written about here had travelled to such places as the Americas, the Middle East, and Indonesia during the 1840s and 1850s.  One of the subjects this month, Adolphe Destree had similar experiences and had basically travelled around the world before he reached Portland in his early twenties.  Nine others join Adolphe for June and while they hadn’t travelled the world, they still have their own interesting stories to tell.

DESTREE, Adolphe Jean Baptist – Died 11 June 1875 at Hamilton. Adolphe Destree was born at The Hague, Netherlands around 1835. He trained as a watchmaker and spent time working in Europe and London before travelling to North America.  After working in New Orleans and New York he sailed to Melbourne arriving in April 1857 on the Hussar

SHIPPING INTELLIGENCE. (1857, May 1). Mount Alexander Mail p. 4. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article197086715

After some time working in Melbourne and only still in his early twenties, Adolphe made his way to Portland. He set up shop there, working out of the Portland Dispensary in Percy Street.

Advertising (1858, April 2). Portland Guardian and Normanby General Advertiser (Vic. : 1842 – 1843; 1854 – 1876), p. 3  http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64570850

In 1860, Adolphe decided to leave Portland for Hamilton.

Advertising (1860, February 29). Portland Guardian and Normanby General Advertiser p. 3. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64513647

He set up shop in a slab hut near the corner of Gray and Brown Streets, Hamilton, then known as Keepings Corner after the local tinsmiths operating from that corner.

Advertising (1860, June 2). Hamilton Spectator and Grange District Advertiser, p. 1.  http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article194860690

On 1 February 1863, Adolphe married Annie O’Donnell and a son Adolphe Jr was born at Hamilton in 1864, the first of a family of five sons and one daughter. Henrietta born in 1868 sadly died at the age of ten months.

Adolphe moved his business from the slab hut to a more substantial shop in Gray Street closer to the intersection with Thompson Street. On the night of 20 September 1870, a fire broke out in Gray Street destroying seven shops including Adolphes.  Like many of the business owners, the Destree’s lived behind the shop and lost all their possessions.

DISASTROUS FIRE AT HAMILTON. (1870, September 21). Hamilton Spectator p. 2.  http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article196305860

Adolphe moved into a shop across the road near the corner of Gray and Thompson while he rebuilt and he moved his family to Kennedy Street.

Advertising (1870, September 21). Hamilton Spectator p. 3. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article196305853

Adolphe had an active public life.  He was on the committee of the Mechanics Institute from 1861 and the committee of the Hamilton Hospital and Benevolent Asylum from the mid-1860s. He was elected to the council in 1865 and was elected Mayor in 1868. With a young family, Adolphe was interested in the provision of education in the town. He was a shareholder and early director of the Hamilton & Western District College Company Ltd. and the honourary secretary and treasurer of the Hamilton Common School.

On 11 February 1875, Annie gave birth to a son Harold but exactly four months later on 11 June, Adolphe died after a short illness leaving Annie and five young sons. He was only forty. Adolphe was buried at the Hamilton Cemetery (below).

GRAVE OF ADOLPHE DESTREE, HAMILTON (OLD) CEMETERY

Annie initially continued on Adolphe’s business but by September 1875 she had sold to Farroll & Sons Jewellery Importers.

TYTHERLEIGH, Robert – Died 17 June 1889 at Casterton.  Robert Tytherleigh was born in Axminster, Devonshire, England in 1807.  He arrived at Portland in January 1857 aboard the Mary Ann with his wife Susan and two sons, James and George.  The family settled in Portland and Robert began work as a blacksmith and farrier in Percy Street.

Advertising (1860, February 15). Portland Guardian and Normanby General Advertiser p. 4  http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64513528

In 1881, Robert and Susan went to Casterton to live with his son.  He died in June 1889 aged eighty leaving Susan and five sons. One son and a daughter predeceased him.

In 1907, a son of Robert and Susan, John Tytherleigh must have been doing some family history research when he wrote to the Portland Guardian, hoping to find out the details of the arrival of the Mary Ann in 1857. The Guardian in response reprinted the shipping details from the papers edition of 30 January 1857.

The Emigrant Ship Mary Ann (1907, March 20). Portland Guardian p. 3  http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article63964872

FALKENBERG, Johann – Died 9 June 1899 at Byaduk.  Johann Falkenberg was born around 1835 in Prussia.  He arrived in Adelaide around 1852 and spent time in South Australia working for his brother before travelling to Victoria. He was just east of Hamilton at Pierrepoint for a couple of years before returning to South Australia. It wasn’t until 1863 when Johann finally settled in Victoria, taking up one of the first selections at Byaduk. In 1868, he married Ann Hallam and they went on to have a large family. Sadly Ann died in 1881 aged thirty-two leaving Johann with seven young children.

On several occasions, Johann wrote letters to the editor of the Hamilton Spectator. In 1874, he wrote of the plight of the selector farmer competing for land against the graziers.

THE HAMILTON LOCAL LAND BOARD. (1874, December 5). Hamilton Spectator p. 4.  http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article226073023

He had ongoing sheep thefts from his properties and in 1884, he wrote of what appeared to be a case of one law for some and not for others.

FOREIGNERS AND ENGLISH LAW. (1884, September 30). Hamilton Spectator p. 4.  http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article225660441

Rabbits were in plague proportions around the Byaduk area during Johann’s time there, living in the stones from the ancient lava flow of Mount Napier.  Johann felt he was the “greatest sufferer” in the rabbit situation.

Items of News. (1892, August 13). Hamilton Spectator p. 3. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article226167070

Johann died in 1899 aged sixty-four and was buried at the Byaduk Cemetery.  He left four sons and three daughters, the youngest of whom was nineteen.

GRAVE OF JOHANN FALKENBERG, BYADUK CEMETERY

KERR, Elizabeth Adams – Died 1 June 1913 at Hamilton. Elizabeth Kerr was born in Glasgow, Scotland around 1833.  She arrived in Sydney with her parents in November 1841 aboard the Trinidad.  Her father Thomas Kerr was a police constable in Sydney but he took up a job of customs officer at Portland which saw the family’s move to Victoria.  In 1850, Elizabeth married Walter Herd and they moved to the Coleraine district. They raised a family of five daughters but Walter died in December 1876 and was buried at the Coleraine Cemetery. In 1878, Elizabeth married  Thomas Penhall in 1878 and she continued living at Coleraine.  Thomas died in November 1912 so Elizabeth moved to Hamilton to live with her cousin Albert Kerr of Lonsdale Street. She died there on 1 June 1913 leaving five daughters.

BROKENSHIRE, John – Died 4 June 1914 at Hamilton. John Brokenshire was born about 1849 in Cornwall, England, and arrived in Australia around the mid-1860s.  In 1872, he selected seventy-seven acres of land in the Victoria Valley which he sold in March 1877.  He had married Emma Cooper in 1876 and the couple moved to Hamilton where John worked as a labourer. Their first child, a daughter Emily, was born that year.

The Brokenshire family saw much tragedy. John and Emma had nine children in total. Three children were born between 1876 and 1880 but by the end of 1880, they had all died.  Baby John died in February 1879. Then came a diphtheria epidemic in 1880.  Emma and her daughter Emily were admitted to the Hamilton Hospital in late April displaying symptoms of the disease. Emily died and was buried on 2 May.  Young Henry also fell ill and died on 19 May from erysipelas, a complication of his diphtheria diagnosis. In a matter of fifteen months, their three babies were gone.  Four more children were born during the 1880s, but three-year-old Thomas died in January 1888.  Two children were born in the 1890s, Elizabeth in 1892 and Joseph in 1895.

On 21 April 1914, another of the Brokenshire children would meet an untimely end. Twenty-six-year-old James was killed while helping convert the former Wesleyan Methodist Church in McIntyre Street, Hamilton into a private home.  The scaffolding James was standing on collapsed, and he fell onto a pile of bluestone and died soon after. John took the news hard and he died less than two months later. It was thought the shock of losing James advanced his demise.  John was sixty-five and left his widow Emma and two sons and two daughters.  Then on 27 March 1918, more tragedy when one of the remaining sons Joseph was killed in action in France

DAVIS, Hester Jane – Died 4 June 1914 at Mortlake. Hester Davis was born in Somerset, England about 1850 arriving in Victoria when she was around sixteen.  She married Thomas Montgomery on 28 April 1870 at Warrnambool.  They had no children.

Illustrated Australian News for Home Readers, 21 May 1870 http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article60449106

THOMAS MONTGOMERY – VIEWS IN AND AROUND MORTLAKE. (1902, February 8). Weekly Times p. 11.  http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article221230136

The Montgomery’s lived at Killymard at Mortlake. Thomas was a shire councilor and also served as shire president with Hester accompanying him to many official functions. Hester was a devout Methodist and attended the Mortlake Methodist Church (below). She was involved with the church community in many ways including as a Sunday School teacher.

MORTLAKE METHODIST CHURCH. Image courtesy of the Museums Victoria Collections https://collections.museumvictoria.com.au/items/771417

Hester died in 1914 aged sixty-four. She was remembered at a memorial service at the Methodist Church on 21 June 1914.  Memories of Hester, written by congregation members were read. 

IN MEMORIAM SERVICE. (1914, June 24). Mortlake Dispatch p. 2.  http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article119790806

In September 1916, a memorial tablet for Hester was unveiled at the Mortlake Methodist Church. Thomas had remarried the year before to the widow of the Reverend H.J. Brownell, the former minister of the Terang and Mortlake Methodist Church who died in October 1898.  Thomas Montgomery died in March 1920.

RIGBY, William – Died 17 June 1914 at Portland. William Rigby was born in Staffordshire around 1850 and arrived in Victoria aboard the Athletae with his parents in 1855.  The family settled in Heywood. When William was older he went to work for the shire council and was the caretaker and librarian of the Heywood Mechanics Institute. In 1872, he married Sarah Ann Lovell.  In May 1898, William’s wife Sarah Ann died aged forty-four. in 1901, William remarried to Caroline Heazlewood Bye. William was a member of the Sons of Temperance and the Methodist Church. In January 1905, William went to Portland to celebrate the jubilee anniversary of his family’s arrival in Victoria.

Portland Guardian, 1 February 1905 p2 http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article63691228

In March 1913, William resigned from his position as an officer of the Heywood Shire Council.  He had bought a cottage in Portland and was retiring there.  He died only fifteen months later at the age of sixty-five. He left his widow Caroline and his children from his first marriage to Sarah Lovell.

HEALY, Margaret – Died 8 June 1917 at Macarthur. Margaret Healy was born around 1837 in Kilkenny, Ireland. She arrived in Australia around 3 June 1852.  In 1854, she married Joseph Twist and they settled at Macarthur then known as Eumeralla. At the time there were only three tents and a wooden building called Robbies Store.  Margaret lived out her life at Macarthur and was eighty-six at the time of her death.  She left her husband Joseph, two sons, and four daughters. Joseph Twist died in 1919.

AUSTIN, Harriet – Died June 1917 at Hamilton. Harriet Austin was born in Huntingdonshire, England around 1837.  She married Thomas Walker and they had two children before they boarded the Ocean Home for Victoria in 1860.  On arrival, the Walkers headed for Hamilton settling in North Hamilton.  Around 1907, Harriet and Thomas took up residence in Collins Street, Hamilton.  Harriet died in late June 1917 and was buried at the Hamilton Cemetery on 26 June. She left her husband Thomas and five sons and two daughters. Thomas placed a Bereavement Notice in the Hamilton Spectator.

 Hamilton Spectator, 30 June 1917 p. 5 http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article119852490

MITCHELL, Alfred – Died 15 June 1932 at Sandford. Alfred Mitchell was born at Henty near Merino in 1865. On the death of his father Richard, Alfred inherited part of his land and after buying further land, he was able to establish the property, Trevellas Downs.  In 1888, he married Elizabeth Cox. Alfred was a leader of agriculture in the district and always open to new ideas.  His dairy herd was considered one of the finest in Victoria.  He was also a Justice of the Peace and Glenelg Shire councilor for 22 years from 1908 to 1926 and from 1928 to 1932 and president in 1916/7.  In 1931, Alfred lost his woolshed, skin shed, and grain when a fire went through Trevellas Downs.

THE HOMESTEAD AT TREVELLAS DOWNS, c1900. Image courtesy of the Museums Victoria Collections https://collections.museumsvictoria.com.au/items/769284

At the time of his death, Alfred left his widow Elizabeth, four sons, and two daughters.  He was buried at the Sandford Cemetery.