Broken Memories-Hamilton (Old) Cemetery Part 4

This is my first Broken Memories post in over three years. This story of the Chadwick family has waited in my drafts all that time. There are more Broken Memories stories waiting too, so watch out for those. Hopefully, the wait won’t be as long.

If you would like to know more about the Broken Memories series, follow the link to an introduction covering broken graves, who is responsible for their repair, and the regulations Victorian cemeteries adhere to-Broken Memories…An Introduction. You’ll find links to three previous Broken Memories stories at the bottom of this post.

The story behind the grave of Sarah Chadwick and baby Rae is one about the twists and turns of life and left me wondering, as I do about many graves in the Hamilton (Old) Cemetery, how long since a loved one stood before the grave and remembered those within.



Sarah Jane Morris was born at Geelong in 1858, a daughter of Henry Morris and Susan Best.1 In 1880, she married Englishman Thomas Taylor Chadwick.2 A son Edgar Henry was born in 1885 at Mortlake.3

In 1886, the death of Edgar Henry Chadwick, son of Thomas T. and Sarah Chadwick, was registered in Albury. It seems unfeasible for the Chadwicks to be so far north, particularly when they first showed up in Hamilton in the first half of 1886. However, aside from Edgar’s birth at Mortlake, there is no other reference to him aside from the death in Albury.

The Chadwicks arrived in Hamilton around May 1886 with Thomas taking over the business of John West in Gray Street, next to what is now the National Bank.

Drapery of T. Chadwick (1888, April 17). Hamilton Spectator, p. 1 (SUPPLEMENT TO THE HAMILTON SPECTATOR).

Advertising (1886, November 2). Hamilton Spectator, p. 4.

The Chadwick family grew in 1890 with the birth of Constance Winifred.4 In 1892, Sarah fell sick, and the doctor diagnosed influenza, but her condition worsened. Sarah had consumption (tuberculosis). She died on 5 August 1892, the day of her thirty-fourth birthday, leaving Thomas and infant Constance. Sarah was buried at the Hamilton (Old) Cemetery.

Family Notices (1892, August 6). Hamilton Spectator, p. 3.

Thomas could easily have felt cursed when, two months after Sarah’s death, the fire bell he heard on the night of 7 October 1892 from his home in Lonsdale Street was signalling a large fire at his shop. He rushed to the scene to see the building engulfed in flames. The fire started at Miss McGowan’s fancy goods shop and spread to her fruit shop next door, and then to Thomas’s shop. Miss McGowan was in the backyard of her shops in a distressed state, suffering from shock.

Thomas had just received £1500 of his new season’s stock, with a total stock of £5000. A fire sale and his insurance enabled him to get his shop up and running again. A. Miller & Co. owned the building, which was insured.

Advertising (1892, October 22). Hamilton Spectator, p. 1.

Thomas remarried in 1894 to Annie Vagg.5 A son Rae Hamilton Chadwick was born at the Chadwick home Olinda on 29 May 1895 6, but he died a month later.7 Rae was buried at the Hamilton cemetery in an unmarked grave to the left of Sarah’s grave.

Family Notices (1895, July 2). Hamilton Spectator p. 2.

Thomas and Annie left Hamilton in the late 1890s for Welshpool in South Gippsland, almost 500 kilometres from Hamilton. Thomas had a career change, taking up dairy farming at Hazel Park on the Agnes River.

THE AGNES RIVER. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria

He was soon running a successful operation.

A TOORA DAIRY FARM. (1898, November 19). The Australasian, p. 9.

In 1903, the Leader newspaper reported Thomas was milking ninety-five cows daily and had built a milk processing factory on his property to overcome the distance to the nearest factory. The same year, a daughter Dorothy was born to Thomas and Annie.8

Fire again brought despair to Thomas’ life in January 1908 when dozens of properties in the district were burnt out. Thomas was one of the “heavy losers”. By 1927, when Constance married 9, Thomas and Annie were living in East St. Kilda. Constance spent her married life in Sea Lake in the Mallee.

Soon after, Thomas and Annie moved to Caulfield North. Annie died in 1950 and Thomas the following year.

Family Notices (1951, February 17). The Herald (Melbourne, Vic. : 1861 – 1954), p. 6. Retrieved August 15, 2019, from

Constance, the only known living child of Sarah, died in 1975, aged 84. Her death registration shows her mother’s name as “unknown”.10

It’s been over 120 years since the Chadwicks left the Hamilton district. Life moved on, time passed, and with the barrier of distance, maybe there was never the chance to return to Hamilton to visit the graves of Sarah and Rae. Now, those who remembered them are long gone.

The passage of time has not been kind to Sarah’s monument, with the column having fallen from its mount and the slab broken. It is in the southeast corner of the cemetery, an area with many missing and broken headstones. On the crest of the Coleraine Road hill, this section faces exposure to the weather from the southeast. It is also within easy view of the passing highway, possibly making these graves more vulnerable to vandalism over the years.

I often pass Sarah and Rae’s graves and little changes, but on a recent visit, I noticed someone had plucked an urn from the rubble and placed it on the monument.

Broken Memories: Hamilton (Old) Cemetery Part 1  The tragic story of Frances and Samuel Hing

Broken Memories: Hamilton (Old) Cemetery Part 2 Joseph Lissiman…a ghost story

Broken Memories: Hamilton (Old) Cemetery Part 3 The Gorman family… victims of a ‘”dreadful disease”

Additional Sources

  1. Victorian Birth Index, Sarah Jane Morris,1858, Registration No.12405/1858
  2. Victorian Marriage Index, Sarah Jane Morris,1880, Registration No. 4925/1880
  3. Victorian Birth Index, Edgar Henry Chadwick,1885, Registration No. 12134/1885
  4. Victorian Birth Index, Constance Winifred Chadwick,1890, Registration No. 13549/1890
  5. Victorian Marriages Index, Thomas Taylor Chadwick,1894, Registration No. 52/1894
  6. Victorian Birth Index, Rae Hamilton Chadwick,1895, Registration No. 12727/1895
  7. Victorian Death Index, Rae Hamilton Chadwick,1895 Registration No. 9486/1895
  8. Victorian Birth Index, Dorothy Leila Chadwick,1903, Registration No. 14699/1903
  9. Victorian Marriage Index, Constance Winifred Chadwick,1927, Registration No. 344/1927
  10. Victorian Death Index, Constance Winifred McDonald, 1975, Registration No. 11361/1975

Hamilton’s WW1 update

Sometimes it looks like little is happening on this site, but I’m often here updating and, hopefully, improving it. One of my recent updates has been the Anzac Avenue page. You may remember Anzac Avenue, Hamilton’s lost avenue of honour was the beginning of Hamilton’s WW1 and I’ve since recorded the details of other memorials around Hamilton. You can see the new look page below.

I have also added a supplement to the page about the location of the avenue, and it’s not exactly where the current sign stands. You can read more on the link below, or follow the link from the Anzac Avenue page.

The Hamilton’s WW1 page below will take you through to pages about other memorials and avenues of honour around Hamilton and the stories of Hamilton’s men and women who volunteered for the Great War.

I still have much to do on these pages, mostly housekeeping. For example, the links to the Trove newspapers at the bottom of the biographies are no longer working as they should. The links go to a page of tagged articles in chronological order. They still go there but the page will look like this:

If you click on the cross beside “sortby:dateAsc”, the articles will appear. They come up in order of relevance but you can click the sort button at the top of the list to change to “Years (earliest first)”. I have about 170 of those to fix, so eventually they will be as they were.

Earlier this year, the National Archives of Australia (NAA), shut down the Discovering Anzacs site. All the Hamilton’s WW1 biographies have links to the service records at Discovering Anzacs, so now they don’t work either. It was a wonderful site and more user-friendly than finding records on the NAA site.

The NAA is planning a new site that will incorporate both WW1 and WW2 service records. Since that announcement, like Trove, the NAA has secured funding so hopefully it won’t be too long before the new site is up and running. If you liked Discovering Anzacs, it is now archived on Trove’s Web Archive on the link- Discovering Anzacs. You can read more about the decommissioning of the site on this link-NAA

Soon Hamilton’s WW1 will have two new pages. One for the Hamilton YMCA Roll of Honour, and another will have a full Roll of Honour with the names from all the memorials in one place.


Take A Photo-The Swimming Hole

It’s some time since my last “Take A Photo” post, so if you are joining me for the first time, the idea behind the theme is to take an out-of-copyright photo from the Western District and delve into the story behind it.

Summer is a perfect time to share one of my favourite Western District photos. It comes from the collection of Gabriel Knight held by the State Library of Victoria (SLV). Gabriel was the principal at the Cressy State School from 1909 to 1915. He arrived as the town was entering a period of growth, including the construction of a larger school. Gabriel’s lens captured the change.

The photo comes with the title, “Children playing in the local swimming hole, Cressy” (c1909-1915). The swimming hole looks like it could be a dam.

CRESSY SWIMMING HOLE. c1909-1915. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria.

It is in fact, a section of the Woady Yallock River that meanders past Cressy.

BRIDGE OVER THE WOADY YALLOCK RIVER. c1909-1915. Photographer: Gabriel Knight. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria.

I love viewing SLV photos because you can zoom in to see more. We can look closer at the boys on the bank. Notice the boy coming in from the water with a hat? To view the photo at the SLV, follow the link-Cressy Swimming Hole.

Zooming a little more, we can see the bikes, and one boy has spied the camera. There’s always one in a crowd. Of course, there is a dog. The best photos seem to always have a dog.

A pile of clothes, shoes, and hats lay dumped on the bank.

In the water is Gabriel Knight himself. Unless he used a timer and was a fast runner, it’s unlikely he took the photo himself.

We know what Gabriel looks like from a staff photo taken when the new Cressy State School opened.

STAFF OF CRESSY STATE SCHOOL, 1913. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria.

Also evident in the photograph are four wires strung across the river.

They were for unconfident swimmers who could move along the wires between banks.

Sadly, the wires didn’t help 15-year-old William Leslie Hellier during the summer of 1913 at the Cressy swimming hole. He set off in the morning, telling his father he was going fishing with friends. It was a hot day, and with little shade along the river, the water was tempting. William, known as Leslie, was a non-swimmer, although he had told his father otherwise. He thought he’d be safe close to the wires. Holding on, he made it to the other side.

His mate, Douglas Thornton, last saw Leslie on the opposite bank. Time passed and suddenly Douglas wondered where Leslie was. He looked around and called out, “Les!”, alerting others who started a search. Joseph Parker ran to inform Constable Edgar Taylor, who raced to the swimming hole, stripped down, and joined the search in the water. A further five to ten minutes passed before Richard Middleton called out. He had found Leslie. About 45 minutes had elapsed since Douglas first noticed him missing.

Constable Taylor attempted resuscitation on the unshaded riverbank for around ten minutes, then loaded Leslie’s lifeless body into a gig. He drove to the police station where Gabriel Knight met him. Gabriel suggested first aid continue until the doctor arrived from Beeac. On arrival, Doctor Hicks pronounced Leslie deceased.

The witness statement provided by Weering onion grower, Joseph Parker, described the wires across the river, “I saw four wires stretched across the creek and they were fixed to posts on both sides of the river, the wires were about one to two feet above the water.” The inquest heard the river was ten feet at its deepest.

You can read the findings into Leslie’s death online at the Public Record Office of Victoria on the link-Inquest of William Leslie Hellier.

WOADY YALLOCK RIVER, CRESSY. c1909-1915. Photographer: Gabriel Knight. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria.

The next reference I found about the swimming hole was from March 1915. To coincide with the examination of the school’s swimming class, Gabrielle Knight organised a swimming demonstration at the “school swimming hole”. It was open to men and boys, with a special event for ladies. The competitions included a prize for the longest dive, but significant was a demonstration of “rescue and release” with one child completing a mock rescue of Gabrielle Knight.

It was not long after, in June 1915, that the people of Cressy farewelled Gabriel Knight and his family. Gabriel had received a transfer and his departure was a great loss to the town.

A final mention of the swimming hole comes from January 1918.

Cressy and Lismore Pioneer and Western Plains Representative, 2 January 1918

We know there were wires across the river in January 1913 when Leslie Hellier drowned and we know Gabriel Knight wasn’t in Cressy beyond mid-1915, so it leaves me with some questions. Did the swimming hole move after the death of Leslie or in 1918, were they simply replacing the original wires?

To end, I’ll leave you with another of Gabriel’s beautiful photos. This time, two local boys watering their horses at the Woady Yallock River.

BY THE WOADY YALLOCK RIVER. Photographer: Gabriel Knight. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria

You can read two previous “Take a Photo” posts on the link-Take A Photo.

Trove Tuesday-Help Save Trove

Today is Valentine’s Day but I’m not writing about that. However, I am writing about one of my great true loves…Trove.

You may have heard the news that the National Library of Australia’s (NLA) website Trove lacks funding beyond July 2023. Without the required funds, services will reduce, and at worse, Trove will cease. That news means different things to different people. This is what it means to me and those who enjoy the history of the Western District.

Trove launched in December 2009 and immediately opened the doors to new information not just for historians, but for all Australians. And it was, and remains, free to use.

Historic newspapers, just one feature of the site, saw my family history research of seventeen years suddenly take new directions. Newspapers were already available, but for the broad range of titles Trove offers, it meant hours in a state library trawling through microfilm, never to reveal the level of information one can find at Trove.

Western District Families (WDF) began in April 2011 to share newfound information about my family, along with interesting stories from the Western District’s past, barely read since the time they were printed. Since then, I’ve not only written about Western District families, but also about events in history they experienced, such as bushfires, floods, and earthquakes.

In 2012, a fellow geneablogger, Amy Houston, came up with the blogging prompt ‘Trove Tuesday’, suggesting each Tuesday, geneabloggers share their findings from Trove. Quickly embraced, geneabloggers still publish ‘Trove Tuesday’ posts today. This is my 107th Trove Tuesday post. At one stage, I wrote a TT post for eighty-one consecutive weeks.

I started Passing of the Pioneers in 2012 which led to the addition of the WDF Obituary Index to this site. Today the index has the names of around 1000 Western District people who had an obituary in historic newspapers at Trove. It is still a work in progress and is not possible without Trove.

In 2014, Inside History magazine, with the NLA, ran a poll to select a newspaper from six candidates to be digitsed for inclusion at Trove. The Hamilton Spectator was among them. Past and present Hamiltonians from as far away as Texas and The Hague, who were members of the ‘I’ve Lived in Hamilton‘ Facebook group, got behind the poll. Through the group, they’d seen the value of the already digitised Specs from 1914 to 1918, for learning about the town’s past.

The Hamilton Spectator won. Next was a Pozible campaign run by Inside History to fund the digitisation. Again, Hamiltonians stepped up with the $10,000 goal quickly met. The result was Spec-tacular.

I’ve written about my love for Trove and its benefits many times. For example:

Trove Tuesday was my first Trove Tuesday post and included the discovery my grandfather appeared as a witness in a murder trial, something his sons never knew.

I wrote One Stop Shop before I found the names of Hamilton men memorialized in a now-lost avenue of honour, Anzac Avenue. Hamilton’s WW1 grew from that with the stories of 160 Hamilton WW1 volunteers, and more to come. Having access to the Hamilton Spectator gives each story a heart. Letters written from the front and published in the paper are invaluable, plus the everyday happenings in Hamilton provide an insight into the feeling of the town during that time.

Written at the time of the Trove upgrade in 2016, Troveitis ends with a postscript with news of funding cuts to the NLA, the beginning of what could be the end.

The Western District Families Facebook page with over 11,000 followers is primarily about photos found at Trove. Even the smallest of clues can draw a story out of a photo. Trove newspapers are vital for turning those clues into something more. The story of Daystar and his owner John Ross, below, is an example.

Image courtesy of the Museums Victoria Collections

In 2015, the State Library of Victoria approached me to digitise Western District Families for the NLA’s digital archive. It’s updated annually to include my most recent posts. If my site were to end tomorrow, I should feel reassured the 458 posts and 205 pages, rich with Western District history, will remain in perpetuity for others to learn from and enjoy. If I tell others my site is in the archives “forever”, I add, “…or until the funding runs out.” That’s not my dry humour. It’s the unfortunate truth.

If you would like to know more about Trove’s future, follow the link to the Genealogical Society of Victoria blog, or The Guardian from 6 January 2023.

There are currently several parliamentary petitions set up to support Trove by calling for the full funding of the NLA. The link below will take you to one of those petitions. It closes on 22 February 2023, so please consider signing before then. You may not use Trove yourself, but if you enjoy Western District Families, it’s all thanks to Trove. Please show your support.

Passing of the Pioneers

There are ten obituaries for the September edition of Passing of the Pioneers. They include a woman from Apollo Bay and a man who was born in Canada. Hotels get a mention again and there is the story of a Branxholme recluse. Each subject now goes on to the WDF Obituary Index. Don’t forget to click on the links (underlined text) for more information on a subject.

MEREDITH, Robert – Died 14 September 1897 at Yeo. Robert Meredith was born in County Sligo, Ireland around 1827. He married Susannah McNamara, and the couple left for Australia in 1858. A son was born on the voyage. The couple settled at Queenscliff then, after around ten years, they moved to Yeo, near Colac, where Robert farmed. During the 1880s, he carried mail from Colac to Yeo. Robert and Susannah raised five sons and three daughters. Robert died in 1897 and Susannah remained at their property Lightwood Park and died there in June 1913.

SMITH, Maria – Died 18 September 1897 at Hamilton. Maria Smith was born in 1843 at Great Swanport, Tasmania, a daughter of blacksmith Robert Smith and Emma Farrell.1 In 1851, Maria came to Victoria aboard the Shamrock with her mother.2 On 24 November 1864 at Geelong, Maria married George Rippon, a writer for the Geelong Advertiser, and a son, John James Rippon, was born the following year. George and Maria lived in Moorabool Street with further children born at their home, sons George in 1867 and Herbert in 1869, followed by daughters Martha in 1870, Emma in 1872, and Alice in 1874.

In July 1876, George entered a partnership in the newspaper the Hamilton Spectator, in the state’s west and the family moved. George was very active in the Hamilton community and their home, Altham Lodge on the corner of Dryden and Collins Streets, saw many guests, including visitors from out of town. Maria was renowned for her hospitality. Maria and George shared a loved of the sport coursing with George, the president of the Hamilton Coursing Club.

Maria was a charitable woman as expressed by Canon Tucker of the Hamilton Anglican Christ Church after her death, “By a thousand quiet acts of Christian charity she had made herself beloved by the sick and needy about her”. She was just fifty-four when she died in 1897. George died two years later. They are buried with their family at the Hamilton (Old) Cemetery, below.


KENDALL, Elizabeth – Died 8 September 1903 at Apollo Bay. Elizabeth Kendall was born around 1835. She came to Australia with her husband John Cawood and a child was born in Geelong in 1861. Soon after, they were at Apollo Bay and among the first white settlers in the area.

Apollo Bay became a logging district and there was an influx of mill workers. Elizabeth saw a need for a restaurant and started offering meals from their home and then accommodation. The Cawood’s Milford House built in 1870, soon became well known to travellers to the district.

On 4 September 1880, the American ship Eric the Red hit the Otway Reef while travelling to Melbourne. Four people drowned in the wreck, including one crewman. The ship was laden with American treasures for the International Exhibition at Melbourne’s Royal Exhibition Building. Soon after the wreck, those items washed up on beaches along the coast. Furniture and fittings from Eric the Red went into the bedrooms of Milford House and the Cawoods built an extension to the home using timbers from the ship.

MILFORD HOUSE, APOLLO BAY. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria

A visitor to Milford House in 1888 wrote of Elizabeth telling him she was looking at increasing the accommodation at the house. During the visit, John Cawford was pruning his extensive orchard and Elizabeth served fruit and cream. In 1898, fire swept through Apollo Bay and destroyed the orchard, at the time considered one of the best in the colony. John was not there to witness it, having died two years before. But Elizabeth saw the flames come close to her home.

At Elizabeth’s funeral on 10 September 1903, her charitable acts for the needy of the town were remembered. She was considered the “preeminent woman of the town”. Interestingly, she was the first woman in ten years to be interred at the Apollo Bay cemetery. Elizabeth left seven sons and two daughters at the time of her death.

At a memorial service for Elizabeth at Apollo Bay on 13 September, the word “motherly” was what best described Elizabeth…”the mother of Apollo Bay”. Reverend Lowe also described her as one of the “Marthas, always serving and helping”.

Milford House was auctioned in November 1903. In later years, it was destroyed during bushfires.

Advertising (1903, November 23). Geelong Advertiser, p. 3.

HOWARTH, William – Died September 1904 at Branxholme. William Howarth was born in Lancashire around 1814 and worked in law offices as a young man. He arrived in NSW and worked in the legal field before travelling to Victoria during the gold rushes of the early 1850s. While in Melbourne, he met a man who had imported stone pavers, but since all interest was in gold, and not construction, William had the chance to purchase the pavers for a cheap price. As people moved away from the diggings, the pavers were in demand, and William turned his outlay to a profit of several hundred pounds.

In the late 1850s, William settled at Branxholme and opened a general store. During his time in Branxholme, William divulged nothing of his life and the locals were unaware if he even had living relatives. It was rumoured he lost money during a land boom. He was a Justice of the Peace and, with his early legal experience, could act as a magistrate if required. In 1859, he was instrumental in Branxholme becoming a gazetted polling place.

William built a cottage in Monroe Street, Branxholme, but within a few years, he built a bluestone house in front of it, thought to be designed by architect Charles Fox. Built with stone carted from Mt Sturgeon near Dunkeld, for a considerable fee, it was considered palatial for the town.

WILLIAM HOWARTH’S FORMER HOME, BRANXHOLME. Image courtesy of the John T. Collins Collection, State Library of Victoria

Once the house was built, William left his business and lived “in seclusion” with all the rooms unfurnished except for the one William used as a bedroom. When he died, the interior was just as it was when built. William’s obituary said it was quite a costly home in the end. More information about the cottage-Victorian Heritage Database –

CLUNAN, Sarah – Died September 1906 at Dunkeld. How different life for Sarah Clunan may have been if her journey from Ireland to Australia at nineteen had taken her to Sydney as planned. Her entry on the passenger list of the Sir Edward Parry in 1848 shows Sarah, along with several other passengers were “originally for Sydney, remains at Port Phillip”.1 In 1850, Sarah married George Mahony. The obituary of Sarah’s son, Patrick Mahony in 1912, mentions Sarah and George settled at Mount Moriac near Geelong. They then went to Dunkeld around 1865, where they remained until their deaths.

Sarah left three sons, five daughters, and twenty grandchildren at the time of her death.

  1. Public Records Office of Victoria, Register of Assisted Immigrants from the United Kingdom, VPRS 14/P0000, Book No. 2/3, Sir Edward Parry, 1848, Sarah Clonen

POOK, Mary – Died 24 September 1906 at Dunkeld. Mary Pook was born around 1830 in Brixton, England. She married Edwin Collins at Brixton in 1852. The obituary of Mary’s daughter, Jane Collins, says Mary and Jane arrived at Portland around 1858 aboard the Great Britain. They were to meet her husband Edwin, who had travelled ahead and was at Hamilton. It must be noted the Great Britain arrived in Victoria to Hobsons Bay with immigrants in 1857 and 1859 but not Portland. I also haven’t found Mary or Jane on the passenger lists.

Once the family reunited, they settled in Hamilton where Edwin was a butcher, but they moved to Dunkeld by 1861. Edwin continued butchering, but in 1866, he took over the Royal Mail Hotel. He then ran Dunkeld’s Family Inn (below).

In 1877, the railway arrived in Dunkeld. Edwin built a hotel on the corner of Sterling and Skene Streets, opposite the station, and named it appropriately, the Railway Hotel. Edwin Collins died at the end of 1881 and Mary took over the ownership of the Railway Hotel and her son Adolphus held the license. In March 1894, Mary’s daughter Jane took over the license of the Railway Hotel.


Mary still owned the Railway Hotel at the time of her death. Her probate file held by PROV has an interesting inventory with all the items in the Railway Hotel listed, from pillows to brushes and combs provided for guests’ use in each room. Mary also owned ten parcels of land in the Dunkeld township and one on the outskirts of town. The Railway Hotel was sold in 1907.

Advertising (1907, April 6). Hamilton Spectator, p. 2.

McPHEE, Alexander – Died 27 September 1916 at Hamilton. Alexander McPhee was born on the island of Mull off the coast of Scotland around 1833. He arrived in Victoria about 1852 aboard the Marmion which arrived at Portland. With him were his parents, Donald and Mary, and his siblings. They left Portland for Muntham station near Merino, where the family was engaged to work.

Alexander married Sarah Prider in South Australia, and in 1855 they settled at North Hamilton near the Coleraine Road. Alexander was a member of the Independent Order of Rechabites from around 1873.

When WW1 broke, Alexander’s grandson Norman McPhee of Hamilton enlisted in December 1914. In January 1916, Alexander’s son Jack, who had earlier moved to New Zealand, enlisted with the New Zealand Forces. Alexander died in September 1916, saving him from the grief of the loss of firstly Jack, killed in Belgium in June 1917, and three months later Norman, who died from wounds, also in Belgium.

Alexander was buried at the Hamilton Old Cemetery, less than 350 metres from his home. In later years, after the subdivision of the land he once owned, a new street was called McPhee Street. He was buried with his wife Sarah and his parents, Donald and Mary. This is the family plot in 2015.

When I photographed the plot in 2021, I noticed the headstone of Donald and Mary had fallen.

WILSON, Frank – Died 7 September 1917 at Hamilton. Frank Wilson was born in Ontario, Canada, around 1860. He started work in the printing industry, giving him an opportunity to travel to Australia for the Melbourne International Exhibition in 1881 to oversee a printing machinery exhibit. He stayed in Australia and got a job in the printing department of the Daily Telegraph and later the Evening Standard, which was then taken over by The Herald.

Frank then found his way to St Arnaud and was involved with the Lord Nelson mine in the town, working on the machinery. He married Ellen Morrison in St Arnaud in 1901 and they had two daughters and two sons. Frank also worked on mining machinery at Omeo and Stawell. They had arrived in Hamilton by 1909 where Frank ran the Cossar printing machine and suction gas plant at the Hamilton Spectator.

THE HAMILTON SPECTATOR c1905. Image courtesy of the Museums Victoria Collections

In 1913, Frank faced insolvency. He cited old debts, increased cost of living, and high rent as the cause of his money troubles. Frank was an excellent banjo player and gave tuition to several students in Hamilton. He also played at local concerts.

WHELAN, John – Died 15 September 1918 at Dixie. John Whelan was born around 1840 in Limerick, Ireland. He arrived in Victoria in 1868 on the Southern Ocean. He went to Port Fairy, and that’s where he married his wife, Mary O’Grady. They spent time in the Tower Hill district, and the Garvoc district, before living at Keayang near Terang for around twenty-two years. Mary died around 1913, and John died five years later. He left two sons and three daughters at the time of his death in 1918.

PERRY, Frederick – Died September 1942 at Casterton. In the 1850s, Frederick Perry’s father, John, was the manager of the Upper Crawford station near Condah. That’s where Frederick was born in 1854. In the early 1860s, the family moved to Lexington station near Moyston. It was while at Lexington that Frederick’s older brother William was found dead in a waterhole on 25 October 1860 after going missing while running errands for his father. Foul play was called, but an inquest found William accidentally drowned. Despite that finding, 82 years on, Frederick’s obituary stated Wiliam was murdered. It was said it was the reason for the family leaving the district.

The Perrys headed for the Digby district and Frederick attended the Digby school before getting work at Rifle Downs station. It was there Frederick married Helen Gull in 1876. Eventually, Frederick was a manager material himself and he took over the management of Runnymede near Sandford.

A change of pace came in 1913 when Frederick took over the Digby Hotel where he remained for sixteen years. He retired to Casterton, where he died in 1942.

Passing of the Pioneers

There is no shortage of obituaries for publicans. This edition of Passing of the Pioneers sees another two join the long list already named on the Pioneer Obituary Index. You’ll also read about the first butcher in Casterton and the story behind Camperdown’s famous clock tower. Remember to click on the underlined text to go to Trove newspaper articles and other related information.

BEATH, David Alexander – Died 21 July 1883 at Hamilton. David Beath was born around 1810 in Scotland. He became a merchant and travelled to Ireland where he married Marion Johnston in January 1837.¹ Around 1840, David and Marion arrived in Victoria. David firstly took up grazing land at Moonee Ponds west of Melbourne, then in 1842, he was granted a grazing licence at Western Port, south-east of Melbourne, near what is now Hastings. That was not a successful venture and in 1846, he applied for insolvency.    

Next, David and Marion went to the Burnbank area between Ballarat and Avoca around 1847. In 1848, David accepted a mail run between Buninyong and Horsham via Burnbank, a route of over 220 kilometres.

SATURDAY MORNING, JUNE 24 (1848, June 24). Geelong Advertiser, p. 2

David, Marion, and their family arrived at The Grange (now Hamilton) in 1850 and took over the store of Mr. Malcolm. Then, the settlement was close to the banks of the Grange Burn between the Digby and Portland Roads.

021 (2)

The map below shows Beath’s Store.

After the survey of the township of Hamilton, David ceased operating his store at the creek side location but remained living on the property he named Craigievar overlooking the rising new township of Hamilton.

Screenshot 2021-07-22 212821
BEATH’S STORE. Photo from the interpretive board at the Hamilton Wetlands.

David moved his store to Gray Street, Hamilton, but the name “Grange Store” remained. He also went into business with Ephraim Taylor in the buying and selling of sheepskins and greasy wool. Their partnership ended in 1862.

David was a trustee of the Hamilton Savings Bank and after the death of Alex Learmonth, he became the actuary.

Advertising (1874, March 14). Hamilton Spectator p. 1.

David died in July 1883 and was buried at the Hamilton (Old) Cemetery, below.

Beath (3)

1 The Belfast Newsletter, Belfast, Northern Ireland, (1828-1907), 24 Jan 1837, p. 3

DOLMAN, William – Died 17 July 1884 at Coleraine. William Dolman was born in Bristol, England around 1805.  He arrived in Victoria in the early 1840s and went to Muntham station between Coleraine and Casterton. From there, he went to Casterton and opened the first butcher shop.

In 1858, William married Uleyear Wombwell. The couple lived at Merino, where William opened another business.

MERINO, c1859. Photographer Thomas Hannay. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria

They then left for Coleraine around 1863, and William started the first butcher shop in that town. The following year, he competed in a trotting match to Hamilton with Mr. Payne.

Local News. (1864, February 26). Hamilton Spectator and Grange District Advertiser p. 2.
Local News. (1864, March 11). Hamilton Spectator and Grange District Advertiser , p. 2.

In 1876, William sold the butcher shop stock as he was leaving butchering. Mr. Wombwell took over the business. The following year, William opened a store in Pilleau Street Coleraine, and in 1878, he bought Coleraine’s Criterion Hotel. He sold the hotel in 1880, and as reported at the time he, “intends shortly to embark in another speculation in Coleraine”. It’s unclear if that eventuated.

William died in 1884. The funeral procession to the Coleraine Cemetery was over a kilometre long. In his time in the Western District, William never moved over twenty miles of the Muntham homestead where he started out. William’s wife Uleyear died in 1912.

MANIFOLD, Thomas Peter – Died 19 July 1895 at Melton. Thomas Manifold was born around 1865 at Purrumbete homestead near Camperdown, the second son of John and Marion Manifold.

THE LATE MR T. P. MANIFOLD. (1895, July 27). Weekly Times p. 10.

When Thomas was twelve, his father died and Thomas inherited the property Wiridgil (below).

The Pastoralists’ review, Vol. 19 No. 4 (15 June 1909)

Thomas and his brothers were keen horsemen and enjoyed racing and polo. In 1895, the brothers made up the Camperdown polo team.

MANIFOLD BROTHERS, 1 APRIL 1895. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria

On 19 July 1895, Thomas rode with the Melbourne Hounds in a hunt at Melton. His horse Postscript fell at a jump, killing Thomas. He had only just mentioned to his fellow riders he had ridden the mare for five years and she never made a mistake jumping.

Thomas’ body was returned to Camperdown for his funeral, the largest seen in Camperdown.

THE LATE HUNTING FATALITY. (1895, July 23). The Age, p. 6.

Thomas bequeathed money to St Paul’s Anglican Church in Camperdown and the church put the money toward a church hall and Sunday School. The selected design (below) was constructed in 1896.

PARISH HALL & SUNDAY SCHOOL CAMPERDOWN. (1897, April 1). The Church of England Messenger for Victoria and Ecclesiastical Gazette for the Diocese of Melbourne, p. 1

In addition, Thomas bequeathed £1000 for the construction of a clock tower in Camperdown. The council agreed, and the result was the wonderful clock tower below, synonymous with Camperdown.

THE CAMPERDOWN CLOCK TOWER. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria

McNICOL, Donald  – Died 19 July 1903 at Camperdown. Donald McNicol was born in Oban, Scotland around 1812. He arrived in Australia in 1839 to take up work with Niel Black, who had arrived a few months earlier with Donald’s brother Duncan. With his wife and three daughters, Donald spent a few months in the area that would become Ballarat before going to the Terang district in 1840.

Lake Terang
LAKE TERANG. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria

The McNicols settled on the banks of Lake Terang and were one of the first European families in the area. After ten years, the family moved to the Camperdown district and Donald went into partnership with his brother Duncan in the properties Wuurong and Basin Banks. They dissolved their partnership around 1874, and Donald sold all but 50 acres of Wuurong to Thomas Shaw. In 1848, Donald and Duncan opened a store at Old Timboon, a settlement which gave way to nearby Camperdown, and also operated the first post office there.

Donald remained Scottish to the end and would kilt up for Caledonian Society events in Melbourne. In 1864, he attended the first Grand Highland Gathering of the Western Caledonian Society in Warrnambool.

FASHIONABLE INTELLIGENCE. (1864, April 21). Melbourne Punch p. 6.

Family was important to Donald, something that stemmed from his childhood growing up in Scotland.

PERSONAL. (1903, July 22). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957), p. 5.

Today, you can see a plaque dedicated to the McNicol family in Mary Bradshaw Avenue, Terang.

WINTER, Sarah – Died 12 July 1911 at Hamilton. Sarah Winter was born in Devonshire around 1838. She married Jeffery Callard, and they left England for Australia on the British Empire, arriving at Portland in 1857. They remained there until the mid-1870s when they went to Hamilton. In 1881 Thomas bought the Hamilton Tannery from butcher Thomas Brown.

Advertising (1881, July 5). Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918), p. 3. Retrieved July 6, 2021, from

Situated close to the Grange Burn at the end of Moore Street, Jeffery successfully built up the business. He died in December 1902, and with the help of her sons, Sarah continued running the tannery. 


Sarah died in 1911, leaving three daughters and four sons at the time of her death. She was buried in the Baptist section of the Hamilton (Old) Cemetery with Jeffery, and their son Thomas, who died in 1898.


HARWOOD, Louisa Jane – Died 5 July 1914 at Geelong. Louisa Harwood was born in North Cornwall in 1836. With her mother and sisters, she travelled to Australia in 1849, arriving at Adelaide. In 1854, she married Caleb Mountjoy, and they moved to Avoca in Victoria.

There was an opportunity on the coast to the south, and Caleb and his brothers, Lawrence and Thomas, took up the Loutit Bay run, later known as Lorne.

LOUTIT BAY. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria

Caleb also had land at Barrabool Hills near Geelong, but he and Louisa went to live at Yan Yan Gurt at Deans Marsh for many years before retiring to Geelong. In March 1904, Louisa and Caleb celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary.

Wedding Bells. (1914, April 10). Spectator and Methodist Chronicle, p. 605.

In her later years, Louisa spent much of her time knitting fine lace for doilies, which were sold at church fetes and other charities. She was also a member of the Methodist Church.

Louisa died suddenly in 1914 and was buried at the Barrabool Hill Cemetery, Highton.

You can read more about the Mountjoy family on the link to Otway Life-The Mountjoys of Lorne.

DANCOCKS, Edward Bearcroft – Died 3 July 1915 at Casterton. Edward Dancocks was born around 1840 in Gloucestershire, England. In 1852, he arrived at Portland Bay with his parents, brothers Hercules and John, and sister Kate. From Portland, the Dancocks family travelled to Wando Vale before making their way to the Henty property, Merino Downs.

MERINO DOWNS, c1920. Photographer: Elizabeth Mason. Image courtesy of the Museums Victoria Collections

John went to work for Edmund Kirby at Springbank near Casterton and later was the manager at adjoining stations, Pieracle and Runnymede. In 1871, Edward married Martha Foster. His two brothers had earlier married Martha’s sisters.

During the 1880s, Edward took up the Casterton Hotel and operated it for the next twenty years.

CASTERTON HOTEL, c1880. Image courtesy of the State Library of South Australia, Image no, B 21766/79

In 1905, Edward retired but continued living in Casterton until his death.

SWAN, Jane – Died 29 July 1918 at Lismore. Jane Swan was born in Scotland around 1844 and arrived in Victoria aged six. Her family settled in the Windermere district near Ballarat. On 4 May 1865 at Windermere, Jane married William Oman of Browns Waterhole (Lismore) and they settled there.

Jane was a member of the Lismore Presbyterian Church, and during WW1, the local Red Cross. For the war effort, Jane knitted three pairs of socks a day until she had a fall on 18 July 1918 and broke her thigh. She died eleven days later. Jane had eleven children, and ten were still living at the time of her death. Jane’s funeral was the day following her death, and sixty cars and horse-drawn vehicles followed the hearse to the Lismore Cemetery.

DRUMMOND, Robert George – Died 13 July 1924 at Hamilton. Robert Drummond was born in 1869 at Coleraine, the son of George and Margaret Drummond. George operated Coleraine’s Shamrock Inn until 1876, then the Koroite Inn. A year after Robert’s birth, in 1870, his sister, uncle, and cousins drowned when flood water inundated their home at Coleraine. In 1882, when Robert was thirteen, George Drummond died. Robert went to school in Coleraine before working for a short time for James Trangmar in his store in Coleraine, next door to the Koroite Inn.

STORE OF JAMES TRANGMAR, COLERAINE. Image courtesy of the Museums Victoria Collections

He then returned to school at Portland College. After leaving, he secured a job at the Horsham branch of the Bank of Victoria. In 1893, Robert went to Western Australia in search of gold. His mother Margaret died the following year. She had continued to run the Koroite Inn after the death of George Drummond, but she retired in 1891 and leased the property. The photo below from 1919 shows the Koroite Inn with Trangmar’s Store, next door.

WHYTE STREET, COLERAINE INCLUDING THE KOROITE INN, 1919. Image courtesy of the Museums Victoria Collections

Robert returned to Victoria and got work with Hepburn, Dowling, and Crawford, auctioneers at Casterton. He married Annie Fitzsimmons in 1898 and in the next year applied to take over the licence of the Koroite Inn, of which he was a part-owner.

In 1902, Robert purchased the freehold of the Victoria Hotel in Hamilton.

Victoria Hotel

Robert got involved with many community activities in Hamilton, including his election in 1907, as president of the Hamilton and Western District Licensed Victuallers’ Association. In 1920, Robert leased the hotel and the following year went into partnership with Cecil Miller in Miller and Drummond, Stock and Station agents in premises Gray Street next to the Victoria Hotel in Gray Street. You can just see the sign in the photo above.

Robert was a good singer known for his comedic performances and he took part in many theatrical productions. He was a member of the Caledonian Society and a director of the Hamilton Electricity Company. He was a vestryman of the Christ Church Anglican Church, a member of the Masonic Lodge, and a member of the directorate of the Associated Oil Corporation, Ltd.

Robert was buried at the Hamilton Cemetery and left his widow Annie and two daughters who donated a stained-glass window to Hamilton’s Christ Church Anglican Church, in his memory.


Passing of the Pioneers

Passing of the Pioneers is back and for this June edition, there are ten obituaries. Among them is the story of a man with links to royalty who led a quiet life in Hamilton. Also, the story of a woman whose time spent running the Railway Hotel at Dunkeld may have given her the crowd control skills to defuse a fracas at the Portland lock-up. All proof that obituaries are perfect for finding a good story from the Western District’s past.

CLARKE, Phillip-Died 26 June 1892 at Condah. “Poor Phil Clarke will be missed for many a day, for a kindlier heart never beat in a human breast, and there are many in the district can bear witness to the truth of this assertion”.

Phillip Clarke was born around 1836 and arrived in Portland in the early 1850s. He married Mary O’Meara, a daughter of Patrick O’Meara of Drumborg, and they raised a large family.

In 1890, Phillip took on the license of the Green Hills Hotel at Condah.

Advertising (1890, July 26). Hamilton Spectator p. 3. R

He was only at the hotel for just over two years, when he died suddenly in June 1892. The funeral saw forty buggies and seventy horsemen follow his body to the Condah Cemetery.

Phillip not only held the freehold of the Green Hills Hotel but also the general store and blacksmiths. In November 1892, the properties, along with a cottage, were auctioned as one lot.

Advertising (1892, November 17). Hamilton Spectator p. 2.

Mary continued living at Condah. I believe this photo held by Museums Victoria with the subject identified as Mrs. P. Clarke depicts Mary Clarke, despite the location given as Branxholme.

MRS. P. CLARKE. Image courtesy of the Museums Victoria Collections

Mary died in 1925 in Portland, aged eighty-two.

HEARN, George Henry-Died 8 June 1910 at Hamilton. George Hearn was born around 1836 on the Isle of Wight, where his father, Brown Hearn, was the keeper of Carisbrooke Castle at Newport on the island.

Along with George, two of George’s brothers, Cornelius and Brown, came to Victoria. Brown arrived in the 1850s and from1863 ran the Western Hotel at Dunkeld before holding the license of the Cavendish Family Hotel. It seems George and Cornelius arrived later. Cornelius first appears in Hamilton in 1879, operating the billiard room at the Victoria Hotel. I think George arrived around the same time. The year before, Brown Hearn Sr died at Carisbrook Castle and was buried there.

Around 1890, George leased a hut on land in South Hamilton from solicitor Angelo Palmer, paying his rent quarterly. George never married and was a retiring man but developed a friendship with butcher James Steel of North Hamilton, having Sunday lunch with him each week. In April 1904, George’s brother Brown died at Cavendish. In 1906, Corneliu Hearn died at the Hamilton Benevolent Asylum.

As George aged, it became difficult for him to get to James Steel’s house on the other side of town, and his visits ceased. He received the old-aged pension, but it was the kindness of Samuel Keen and his wife Annie that saved George from an end like Cornelius at the local benevolent asylum. In his last weeks, the Keens took George in and he died at their home in South Hamilton in 1910. He was buried with Cornelius in the Anglican section of the Hamilton (Old) Cemetery.

George had an interest in genealogy and shared his knowledge of the Hearn family with James Steel. The family name, he said, went back several centuries and was originally Heron, with a heron forming part of the family coat of arms. Also, George’s grandfather was on Admiral Nelson’s ship at the Battle of Trafalgar. A connection with the royal family on the Isle of Wight went back many years, with several generations of George’s family in charge of the royal residence.

Queen Victoria’s grandsons Prince Alfred and George, born in 1864 and 1865 respectively, would visit the castle. George’s obituary mentioned he gave the young princes rides in a pony cart. However, Cornelius’ obituary mentioned he also gave rides to the princes, but in a donkey cart. That makes more sense than ponies because Carisbrook Castle still has donkeys, descendants of those used to drive a mill at the castle. The castle website has a page dedicated to the donkeys, a feature of the castle since the 16th century.

In 1881, those same young princes were in Australia and toured the Western District.

ARRIVAL OF THE PRINCES IN MELBOURNE. (1881, July 2). Leader (Melbourne, Vic. : 1862 – 1918, 1935), p. 1 (THE LEADER SUPPLEMENT). Retrieved June 22, 2021, from

They stayed overnight in Hamilton on 24 June 1881 at the Commercial Hotel and left by the train the following morning.

COMMERCIAL HOTEL, HAMILTON. Image courtesy of the Museums Victoria Collections

James Steele encouraged George to reacquaint himself with Alfred and George, but, such was his way, George didn’t want to intrude. One of those young princes became King George V and he held a special place in the hearts of Hamilton residents. So much so, that they contributed financially to a bust to honour the King after his death, still standing today in the Hamilton Botanic Gardens.

You can see the grave of George’s father Brown Hearn at Carisbrooke Castle on the link Brown Hearn’s Grave and the grave of his brother William on the link William Hearn’s grave.

RYAN, Annie-Died 2 June 1914 at Harrow. Born around 1836 in Tipperary, Ireland, Annie Ryan arrived in Portland while still a young girl. She soon headed for Harrow and worked in sales at John Davis’ Hermitage Store for a year before marrying Thomas Henry Peet in 1856.

Annie and Thomas remained in Harrow for the duration of their lives. During the 1870s, Thomas was the licensee of the Spur Inn at Harrow. Thomas died in 1900. Annie moved in with her daughter Agnes, wife of James Kirby of Harrow, and died at her home in 1914. Along with her daughter, Annie also left three sons. She was buried at the Harrow Cemetery.

O’FLANAGAN, Elizabeth-Died 18 June 1915 at Hamilton. Elizabeth O’Flanagan was born around 1846. She married Andrew Mason and a son, James Kenneth Mason, was born at Port Fairy in 1875. Andrew died in 1881 at Port Fairy, aged thirty-six.

After Andrew’s death, Elizabeth moved to Hamilton and took a “responsible position” with J. Thomson and Co. in Gray Street in the millinery department around 1890.

Advertising (1892, September 22). Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918), p. 3. Retrieved July 2, 2021, from

She then went out on her own, opening her first shop in Gray Street, As well as selling millinery and fancy goods, she ran an employment registry from her shop.

In May 1904, Elizabeth applied for a pension in the Hamilton Court of Petty Sessions. She told the court her business did not make any money, and she intended to close it. Her son, the verger (caretaker) of the Hamilton’s Christ Church Anglican Church, was in no position to assist her. The local pound keeper, Annie Bloomfield of South Hamilton, acted as a witness for Elizabeth. She mentioned some time ago Elizabeth lost her sight and the community raised money to send her to the eye and ear hospital for treatment. An adjournment was called to give Annie time to close her business. There was not a follow-up case.

Elizabeth didn’t close her shop, rather in 1905, she moved to a shop in Brown Street. By 1909, Elizabeth was living in Lonsdale Street. She died at the Hamilton Hospital in 1915.

MARTIN, Elizabeth Ann – Died 24 June 1915 at Mortlake. Born in Cornwall around 1849, Elizabeth came to Australia when she was five. She married John Heard, and they took up residence in Mortlake, where they lived for over sixty years. Elizabeth was a member of the Mortlake Red Cross League and contributed to the war effort. For example, in June 1915, she donated six handkerchiefs and six pillowcases to the Red Cross. She left three daughters and one son at the time of her death.

Elizabeth was a member of the Mortlake Methodist Church congregation and on 12 July 1915, a memorial service was held to honour her life.

MORTLAKE METHODIST CHURCH. Image courtesy of the Museums Victoria Collections

BARNES, Henry Bond-Died 21 June 1915 at Werribee. Born in Chicago around 1856, Henry arrived in Victoria as a child with his parents. He started in newspapers in 1874 when he co-founded the Ripponshire Advocate at Beaufort.

Riponshire Advocate p. 1.

With the land opening up in the northwest of Victoria, Henry saw a need for more newspapers. In 1879, he started the East Charlton Tribune. He then moved on to Dimboola and started the Dimboola Banner in 1877. He was there for three years before going to Nhill, where he established the Nhill Free Press and the Lillimur and Kaniva Courier. The weather was too warm for Henry in the Mallee and he turned to Gippsland and established a second newspaper in Warragul, the Warragul News, After a short stint in Tasmania he started the Foster and Toora Mirror, He also purchased the Toora and Welshpool Pioneer.

Around 1902, Henry headed west again and established the Werribee Banner, followed by the Winchelsea and Birregurra Ensign. With the railway expansion through Cressy, Henry saw an opportunity and in 1909, Henry established The Cressy & Lismore Pioneer.

Cressy and Lismore Pioneer and Western Plains Representative p. 1.

He remained living in Werribee until November 1914, when he moved to Cressy.

CRESSY, c1913. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria

Henry was visiting Werribee when died suddenly on 21 June 1915, aged sixty-four.

STARK, Jane-Died 5 June 1917 at Mortlake. Jane Stark was born in Cornwall, England, around 1826. She married Thomas Rundle, and they arrived in Victoria in 1855. Jane was described as a “capable nurse” for Doctor Sweetman. She left two sons and four daughters at the time of her death.

McBEAN, Alexander-Died 13 June 1917 at Casterton. Alexander McBean was born in Scotland around 1842. He arrived in Portland in the 1850s. Alexander, also known as “Sandy,” learned his trade as a teenager. He first worked around the local stations before Mr. W. Handley at Sandford offered him an apprenticeship as a blacksmith. Later Alexander moved to the Ballarat district, then Edenhope before arriving in Casterton. During that time, he married Emma Smith in 1870.

At Casterton, Alexander ran a blacksmith’s shop behind the building, which would later become Cawker’s Mart. He then built his own blacksmith and wheelwrights shop.

BLACKSMITH SHOP OF ALEXANDER McBEAN, CASTERTON c1880. Image courtesy of the Museums Victoria Collections

In 1882, he sold the business to John Illingworth but remained working there overseeing operations. Alexander then left for Harrow, where he remained for some years.

In 1896, Alexander investigated the purchase of Mr. Grant’s blacksmith shop in Casterton to resume business in that town, while also continuing to operate at Harrow. About 1907, he returned to Casterton and opened a blacksmith in Henty Street near the bridge over the Glenelg River.

THE BRIDGE OVER THE GLENELG RIVER c1930. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria

Advertising (1911, June 10). Advocate, p. 2.

Alexander’s son George joined him in business, and he remained working until his death in 1917,

Alexander was on the board of management of the Scots Presbyterian Church at Casterton and was an elder of the church when a new church was built in 1909.

SCOTS PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH CASTERTON. Image courtesy of the State LiIbrary of Victoria

He was also a Freemason and a member of the Sons of Temperance. Alexander’s funeral left his residence, Linwood, in Robertson Street, for the Casterton Cemetery Casterton. He left his widow Emma, five sons, and three daughters. Emma McBean died in 1925.

LUCAS, Alfred – Died 9 June 1938 at Pomborneit. Alfred Lucas was born at Kirkstall around 1881. In 1902, he married Eliza Lovett. They settled in the Pomborneit district on their property Bonnie Brae and Alfred ran dairy cows.

During the 1910s. Alfred moved into the stock and station business, working over the twenty years for auctioneering firms Doherty & Co. and Stansmore & Co. Eliza died in 1929 and Alfred died in 1938, leaving two daughters and three sons.

COLLINS, Jane Sophia – Died 20 June 1940 at Dunkeld. Jane Collins was born in Brixton, England around 1855. With her mother, she arrived at Portland when she was three aboard the Great Britain. They were to meet Jane’s father Edwin, who had travelled ahead and was at Hamilton. Once the family was reunited, they moved to Dunkeld and Edwin took over the Royal Mail Hotel in 1866. He then ran the Family Hotel in Dunkeld.

On 15 May 1876, Jane married mounted police constable William Young of St Arnaud at the hotel. William was stationed at Portland, and the couple settled in that town and started their family.

In 1877, the railway came to Dunkeld. Finding his hotel wasn’t close enough to the new station to capitalise on the extra business, Edwin Collins built the Railway Hotel opposite the new railway station.

Items of News. (1878, January 3). Hamilton Spectator, p. 3.

Edwin Collins died at the end of 1881 and his wife, Mary, took over the ownership of the Railway Hotel. and Jane’s brother Adolphus held the license.

For Jane, life as the wife of a police constable was not without excitement, and living in the police quarters next to the Portland lock-up meant she was close to the action. On 31 September 1891, police intervened after a sailor accused two men of punching him at Portland’s London Hotel.

THE LONDON HOTEL, c1890. Photographer: Oliver Dolphin. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria

Constables Heaney and Scanlon arrested the men and took them to the lock-up. Once there, one prisoner overpowered Constable Scanlon. Constable Heaney went to his aid, but the second prisoner grabbed him. There was a scuffle with the constables receiving injuries. Jane heard the raucous and bravely intervened, hitting the two prisoners with a set of handcuffs, taking the men by surprise. It gave the constables a chance to overpower them and lock them in the cells. Jane’s heroics did not go unnoticed. The Portland Guardian, on 27 April 1892, reported how word of the incident got back to the chief commissioner of police, who suggested Jane should receive a reward of £5 for her bravery while placing herself at great risk.

William Young retired from the police force and he and Jane settled at Hamilton around 1893. The following year, Jane took over the license of the Railway Hotel in March, when her brother Adolphus moved to Hamilton to take up the Grange Hotel. Only months later, William Young died suddenly on 25 September 1894 at Dunkeld, aged fifty-two, leaving Jane and their four sons.

Jane continued in the hotel and in 1899, she married Adolphus Winter Lineker, a tailor. A daughter was born the following year. In 1903, Jane transferred the hotel license to her husband, but in1906, Jane’s mother Mary Collins died, leading to the sale of the Railway Hotel.

Advertising (1907, March 23). Hamilton Spectator, p. 2.

Jane and Adolphus moved to Portland in 1909 with Adolphus opening a tailoring business in August of that year.

Advertising (1909, August 27). Portland Guardian, p. 2 .

Around 1912, the family moved again, with Adolphus opening a tailoring business in Ryrie Street Geelong, but that was not their last move. The Australian Electoral Rolls over the next twenty years show Jane and Adolphus in Webster Street, Ballarat in 1916; Mair Street, Ballarat in 1919; Brighton in 1925; and Commercial Road, Koroit in 1931. It was there Adolphus died in 1934, aged seventy-one.

Jane moved back to Dunkeld to the home of her son. She died there in June 1940, aged eighty-five. She left four sons and one daughter. Jane’s funeral was in Koroit and her burial took place at Tower Hill Cemetery with Adolphus.

Passing of the Pioneers

It’s Women’s History Month and since I haven’t had time to write something new, I’m sharing the March 2017 Passing of the Pioneers post with the obituaries of thirteen women from across the Western District.

Western District Families

It’s Women’s History Month so I thought I would have an all female Passing of the Pioneers. Men have dominated past Passing of the Pioneers posts so I didn’t think it was going to be easy. However, I managed to find thirteen obituaries of some amazing women including sisters.  There was a common theme with several losing their husbands at an early age, leaving them to raise children alone. There is also extra information for most of the women so click on any underlined text to read more about the subject.

Mary DRISCOLL – Died 3 March 1908 at Portland. Mary Driscoll was born in Kent around 1828 and later married James Wadmore.  The couple came to Australia on the ship Constant on her maiden voyage for shipping agents Messrs S.G.Henty & Co with James acting as doctor’s assistant on the voyage. They arrived at Portland Bay on 24 February…

View original post 2,855 more words

Passing of the Pioneers

Finally, a new post and it’s Passing of the Pioneers. In this edition, you can read the stories of four women and five men, including a father and son, from the Western District’s past.  December Passing of the Pioneers posts are always sadder with deaths occurring in the lead up to Christmas Day and sometimes on the day itself. One woman featured this edition was preparing her home for Christmas visitors when she died, and another died on Christmas Eve.

The fourth edition of Passing of the Pioneers in October 2011 had an entry for a man whose fascinating story has stayed with me. In October 2019, when invited to speak at the Hamilton History Centre on interesting early settlers, I knew I had to include that man…Thomas Denton Clarke of Merino. Now his father, Thomas Clarke senior, becomes a Passing Pioneer.  His story is the feature this month, but it really only touches the surface of his interesting life, one that has given me some understanding of how his son became the man he did.   

It’s been awhile so don’t forget if you click on any of the underlined text, you will go to the original source, most times a newspaper article at Trove with more information about a subject,

CLARKE, Thomas Henry – Died 2 December 1865 at Merino.  Thomas Clarke was born in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, England, and baptised in July 1815. From a family of sailors, he soon took to the sea, gaining certification as a Master Mariner.  In 1844, he married Mary Ellen Denton in Liverpool, and four children were born.

Life at sea

Thomas went off sailing the world, leaving his family for long periods of time.  For several years, he made an annual voyage to Portland at the helm of his brig Cornelius, taking the course via the Cape of Good Hope en route to Portland and via Cape Horn on the way home.

In 1850, he travelled via Hobart.

PORT OF PORTLAND. (1850, December 27). The Argus, p. 2.

The cargo on the trip back to London in 1851 may have been on the nose at the end of the voyage.

SHIPPING INTELLIGENCE (1851, February 5). The Melbourne Daily News, p. 2.

The Cornelius sailed into Portland Bay, just in time for Christmas 1851.

PORT OF PORTLAND. (1851, December 31). The Argus, p. 2.

PORTLAND BAY c1851. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria

On 11 February 1852, the Cornelius was running late departing Portland but would sail for London the following day.

PORT OF PORTLAND. (1852, February 11). The Argus, p. 2.

The problem was, Thomas was having trouble mustering a crew for the voyage back to London, as were many ships because of the rush to the diggings.  Thomas eventually set off with a skeleton crew, including a young local boy, Joseph Pearson. High winds upon his already delayed departure saw Thomas take a risk rather than wait in port any longer. He sailed the Cornelius between St Lawrence Rocks and Portland Bay, an action not advised by others, including well-known local master mariner Captain James Fawthrop. 

Thomas got through successfully, but it wasn’t until he arrived in England he realised the ship’s false keel was missing, left behind on a reef in the St Lawrence passage.  

LAWRENCE ROCKS, PORTLAND BAY, 1865. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria

Thomas was barely back in London when he set sail again for Portland, arriving on 18 January 1853.

PORT OF GEELONG. (1853, January 12). The Argus, p. 4.

After a couple of months in port, he returned to London on 1 April 1853 carrying wool and a box of gold dust.

PORT OF PORTLAND. (1853, April 18). The Argus p. 4.

He reached Dover in 108 days. While there, he put in a good word for the port of Portland, a place he had developed a fondness for.

THE PORTLAND GUARDIAN AND NORMANBY GENERAL ADVERTISER (1854, February 9). Portland Guardian and Normanby General Advertiser, p. 2.

The following year, 1854, started in the same way, when Thomas arrived at Portland Bay on 4 February.

PORT OF PORTLAND. (1854, February 17). The Banner, p. 8.

This time, however, Thomas had his wife and children on board.

PORTLAND BAY c1857. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria

Once in port, Thomas fell ill and required an operation.  Soon after, he advertised the Cornelius for sale.   

Advertising (1854, February 20). Portland Guardian and Normanby General Advertiser, p. 3

Thomas finds his land legs

Thomas stayed on dry land and went into business as an auctioneer in Gawler Street, Portland, thus beginning the next chapter in his life.

Advertising (1854, June 15). Portland Guardian and Normanby General Advertiser, p. 3

But he couldn’t part with the Cornelius, instead putting a master in charge of her. On 3 September 1854, the Cornelius set off to Singapore via Sydney when it wrecked on the Great Barrier Reef near Raine Island in the Torres Strait.

Life in Merino

On 28 May 1855, Mary Ellen died at Portland aged just thirty. In the months after, Thomas and the children went to live at Merino Waterholes, now Merino, where he set up an auctioneering business known as the Merino Auction Mart.

Advertising (1856, February 29). The Argus, p. 7.

In 1857, Thomas built the Farmers Arms Inn, later known as the Railway Hotel.

Advertising (1857, February 4). Portland Guardian and Normanby General Advertiser, p. 3

Aside from getting his own businesses off the ground, Thomas was very active in the community. In June 1857, he formed the Merino Flour Mill Company, calling for 200 shares at £10 each.  A wind-powered mill was earlier proposed and shareholders had already invested in that option.  Thomas put forward the option of a steam mill and many of the investors of the wind-powered mill were prepared to transfer to the steam option.

On 1 February 1859, a boiler and other related machinery made in Kirkcaldy, Scotland, arrived in Merino from Melbourne. It created a lot of excitement among residents with “five drays…drawn by 24 pure Clydesdale horses, …declared by competent judges to be the finest heavy draught horses seen in this part of the district”.  You can read more about the mill’s construction on the link- Merino Flour Mill.

TOWNSHIP OF MERINO. (1859, February 9). Portland Guardian and Normanby General Advertiser, p. 2

The two-story mill is in the photo below from 1859, the year if its contruction. Over 160 years later, the mill building still stands.

Photographer: Thomas Hannay. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria

As the mill equipment was arriving in town, a school was under construction at Merino.

TOWNSHIP OF MERINO. (1859, February 9). Portland Guardian and Normanby General Advertiser, p. 2

As stated in the article, the school would open owing money.  Thomas Clarke was on the first Merino School committee in 1858 and appointed secretary and treasurer. He also had the task of organising a suitable school building. After locating one, there were insufficient funds leaving Thomas and committee chairman Reverend Russell to make up the shortfall of £88. They hoped for reimbursement once the school was operational and receiving subscriptions or government support.  Money was tight, and Thomas tried various methods to keep the school going and pay its debts.

In August 1860, Thomas wrote a letter to the Hamilton Spectator and Grange District Advertiser calling for subscribers to the school. There were men in the district, he said, who had bought the finest land in the country for a “trifling” price, and surely they could help keep the school going and put the books in the black. “Nothing will teach the young colonists and the rising generation to more patriotism than promoting their moral character and education-an example I have never lost sight of since I first landed on Australia’s shores.”  

During what was a busy period of his life, Thomas remarried in 1857 to Ann Clarke. In 1860, he suffered the misfortune of losing his crops to a bushfire in the district. In 1861, he was appointed a trustee of the land set aside for a Church of England building at Merino. St Peter’s Church, Merino, did open, but not until December 1867, two years after Thomas’ death.

ST PETER’S ANGLICAN CHURCH, MERINO. Image courtesy of the Museums Victoria Collections

Thomas was deputy registrar for Births, Deaths, and Marriages at Merino from 1862, and the pound keeper.  He was also a handy fill in if a doctor or a clergyman wasn’t available. He had a good knowledge of medicine, most likely picked up during his time at sea, and he helped many in the district.  Assisting the school and some failed speculating proved detrimental to Thomas as he fell into insolvency in 1863. In October 1864, he was appointed as a valuer for the Glenelg Shire Council, receiving an annual salary of £58.

Thomas wrote many letters to the editor of the various district papers. In July 1857, he penned a detailed letter to the Portland Guardian and Normanby General Advertiser supporting the idea of the construction of a lighthouse on Lady Julia Percy Island around 35 kilometres south-east of Portland Bay, even offering advice on the construction.  The lighthouse never eventuated.  In another written in August 1863, after a visit to Portland, Thomas told of walking the beach and finding debris from a ship. He identified it as a  piece of American pine, matching the description of debris found at Swan Island near the entrance to Port Phillip Bay,  He explained how debris washed up on the beach at Portland could in fact be debris from a ship wrecked anywhere between Cape Bridgewater and Wilsons Promontory.

Thomas was just fifty at the time of his death in 1865, but what a life he led.  He left his widow, Ann, and eight children, including four young children born over the previous eight years.  On the day of his funeral, the cortege left Merino for Portland at 10 am with many people making the journey.  It was raining in Portland, keeping people away. Thomas was buried at the Portland North Cemetery overlooking Portland Bay which meant so much to him.  Ann died in 1898.

Thomas Clarke’s legacy

In 1867, the Merino correspondent for the Portland Guardian and Normanby General Advertiser reported on the growth in Merino and promoted the district as a good place to settle with a bright future.  He said, “Much of the early history of Merino is connected with the late Captain Clarke whose enterprise and energy gave an impulse to the early progress of the town.”

Thomas’ contribution to the maritime history of Portland was remembered in 1904, when the Portland Guardian recounted the 1854 voyage of the Cornelius from England.  That was the same voyage Thomas brought his family to Victoria.

The Portland Guardian, (1904, February 3). Portland Guardian, p. 2

An article in 1919 about Thomas’ life said he was a failure on the land, with many of his speculations not successful and suggesting his “ill fortune” followed him to the end, but it was full of praise for his life on the sea:

Captain Clarke’s early life was devoted to the sea, as were those of his ancestors for generations back. His experiences in the tea, sugar, timber and metal trades when in command, at different periods, of the ships Earl Grey, George Canning. Countess West-Moreland, Cornelius and Ruby, trading from India, Turkey, China, West Indies, Australia, and many other parts, would fill a good sized volume. From the end of the forties to the middle of the fifties, he traded regularly between London and Portland, the passage and back being made usually once a year, chiefly in the Cornelius…

The article also told of an c1851 painting of the Cornelius sold at a clearing sale after the death of Donald Cameron of Oakbank near Heywood in 1879. The auctioneers forwarded it to Thomas Clarke Jr at Merino and John Smith of Grassdale had a print made of the original.

DISNEY, Robert – Died 21 December 1875 at Hamilton.  Robert Disney was born in County Cork, Ireland around 1831 and arrived in Victoria in 1852, and was a police cadet by the end of that year. A year on and Robert was a Sub-Inspector and then Sub-Lieutenant. He spent time as a gold escort at Beechworth, Castlemaine, and Ballarat, among other places. In 1858, he was the officer in charge of the escort at Dunolly.

DUNOLLY. (1858, August 10). Maryborough and Dunolly Advertiser, p. 1 (SUPPLEMENT TO THE M.&D. ADVERTISER).

Robert spent time in Ararat around 1864 before moving on to Swan Hill. In 1865, he received a promotion to Inspector 2nd Class, and the following year, 1866, he went back to Beechworth. In March 1869, Robert led a troop of mounted police to escort the Duke of Edinburgh Prince Alfred to Sandridge pier after a visit to the colony. A few months later, Robert received a transfer to Benalla before Kyneton for four years. By that time, Robert had reached the rank of Senior Inspector. 

In 1871, another transfer took Robert to Hamilton, where he was the District Inspector of Police, and took up residence in French Street. In November 1875, illness forced his retirement, and he was soon bedridden. Robert succumbed to his condition on 21 December 1875, aged forty-four. Robert was very popular in Hamilton and a lengthy funeral cortege, including many police members, left his home on 23 December for the Hamilton (Old) Cemetery.    


TWOMEY, John Joseph– Died 1 December 1879 at Carlton.  John Twomey was born around 1790 in County Cork, Ireland. He married Margaret O’Connor, and they raised a large family.  Around 1842, the Twomey family arrived in Victoria and about 1851, John took up the Kolor run near Mt Rouse, south-east of Hamilton. He and his sons took up surrounding land, and each had their own portion. Edward had Langulac, Daniel and John Jr shared Kolor, and Timothy was at Banemore.  

In August 1865, John’s wife Margeret died. It came only months after a tragic loss for the family. On 5 April 1865, their son John and his wife were on the SS Western travelling overnight between Melbourne and Port Fairy. On arrival at their destination, John was nowhere to be found. Investigations found he didn’t disembark at Warrnambool, so he most likely fell overboard some time after he was last seen on deck, about seven miles off Warrnambool. A £100 reward was offered for the return of his body and John Sr continued on in partnership of Kolor with Daniel.

In August 1868, Daniel Twomey held a ceremony at Kolor for the laying of the foundation stone for a new homestead he was building. John Twomey had the honours and on taking the trowel he declared, “the stone well and truly laid”      

“KOLOR. Image courtesy of the J.T. Collins Collection, State Library of Victoria

John went to live at Langulac the property of his son Edward, around 1875. The older man in the photo below, taken at Langulac, could be John. 

LANGULAC HOMESTEAD, c1875. Image courtesy of the Museums Victoria Collections

Somehow, John came to be living in a boarding house at 11 Drummond Street, Carlton and he died there on 1 December 1879, aged eighty-nine.  His body returned to Hamilton and buried in the Roman Catholic section of the Hamilton (Old) Cemetery.  His impressive monument also included a memorial for his missing son John Jr.  A charitable man until the end, John bequeathed £100 to the Hamilton Hospital.


TAIT, James – Died 28 December 1880 at Camperdown.  James Tait was born in County Caithness, Scotland in 1809.  He lived in Glasgow for around twenty years before travelling to Australia about 1854 with his wife, Jane Wares. Three years later, the Taits arrived at Camperdown and James opened the first store in the town. It was on the corner of Adeney and Campbell Streets, but in time, he constructed a store in Scott Street, later known as Penzance House (below)

James Tait’s Camperdown Store c1859 Photographer: Thomas Hannay, Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria

James was a founding member of the Hampden and Heytesbury Roads Board. He was also an elder of the Presbyterian Church from 1863 and involved with the Sabbath school. He promoted temperance and religion and managed several of the local temperance societies.  

James died at this home in Scott Street, Camperdown in 1880. His burial took place at the Camperdown Cemetery, with around forty vehicles and twenty men on horseback making up the cortege. His widow Jane died in 1898.

TWOMEY, Daniel– Died 30 December 1891 at Penshurst.  Daniel Twomey was born in County Cork, Ireland around 1832, the fourth son of John Joseph Twomey (see above) and Margaret O’Connor. The Twomey family arrived in Victoria around 1845, and Daniel’s father took up the Kolor run at Mount Rouse. Daniel and his brother joined their father in acquiring land and later, Daniel took up the running of the Kolor run with his brother John.   

On 5 April 1865, John disappeared from the SS Western.  He died intestate and since he left a widow and a part share of Kolor, a “friendly” court case found it necessary to sell Kolor to dissolve John and Daniel’s partnership,  Daniel then purchased the property outright and set about building a new homestead.  He employed Melbourne architects Reed and Barnes with partner Joseph Reed appearing to have the design credit for Kolor homestead. Reed and Barnes came with good credentials. They had recently finished designing Rippon Lea at Elsternwick, the Melbourne Town Hall, and the former Menzies Hotel on the corner of Bourke and William Streets, Melbourne. Joseph visited Kolor in 1868 to inspect the site and the building started soon after. 

In August 1868, Daniel held a ceremony at Kolor for the laying of the foundation stone for the homestead. Around 200 people, including workers, were there to see John Twomey Snr. take a trowel and lay the stone.

JT Collins Collection, La Trobe Picture Collection, State Library of Victoria

On 6 September 1871, Daniel married Helen Cameron, and they had four children.  Helen died in 1890 while away in Europe. Daniel felt the loss immensely and his health suffered. During late November 1891, he had a minor stroke but by Christmas Day, he was getting into the festive sprit. However, between Christmas and New Year, he suffered another stroke, and died on the morning of New Year’s Eve.   They left two boys and two girls under the age of twenty, all away at school in England.  Described as a lover of sport and a friend to the poor, Daniel had a gentle nature .  The funeral cortege left Kolor for the Hamilton (Old) Cemetery.


CLARKE, Anne – Died 13 December 1892 at Portland. Anne Clarke was born in Devon, England, around 1813 and arrived in Portland on the ship Francis Henty in 1854. 

THE FRANCIS HENTY, c1858. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria

She opened a school for young ladies in Gawler Street, Portland, in 1857.

ANNE CLARKE’S SCHOOL FOR YOUNG LADIES c1859 Photographer: Thomas Hannay. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria


Advertising (1889, July 17). Portland Guardian, p. 2

Her obituary mentioned many of the girls she taught married in the Western District and Anne also educated their girls. In January 1891, Anne announced she was retiring and Miss Hayden would take over the school.

Advertising (1891, February 25). Portland Guardian p. 3

Anne fell ill in late 1892 and the news reached Casterton, with the Casterton News reporting Anne had taught many girls from that district. She died on 13 December 1892.

Anne was among the women named in the Book of remembrance of the pioneer women of the Portland Bay district (1934). It mentioned before her arrival in Victoria, Anne taught at the school for the daughters of clergymen mentioned in Jane Eyre. That was the Cowan Bridge school in Lancashire, attended by the Bronte sisters in the 1820s.

DELANEY, Mary Ann – Died 2 December 1911 at Hamilton. Mary Ann Delaney was born around 183. She married John Cain in 1850. By 1861, they were living in Harrow and remained there for thirteen years before moving to Hamilton. Six sons and five daughters were born to Mary Ann and John, who lived in Milton Street, Hamilton. On the day before her death, neighbours saw Mary Ann hanging curtains on her front windows preparing for Christmas visitors. Her burial took place at the Hamilton (Old) Cemetery (below).


BYRNE, Elizabeth– Died 12 December 1918 at Telangatuk. Elizabeth Byrne was born in Liverpool, England, and married there in 1858 to Thomas Jasper.  They had two daughters in Liverpool, Sarah and Maria, before leaving for Australia. There arrived at Hobsons Bay in April 1864 aboard the Albion.  They went first to Penshurst (then known as Mt Rouse), then Dunkeld before finally settling at Telangatuk, north east of Balmoral. They had a further nine children over that time. Thomas died in 1900.  At the time of Elizabeth’s death in 1918, she had ten children still living, 26 grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren. The photo below shows descendants of Thomas Jasper and Elizabeth Byrne, picnicking near Balmoral c1905.  Among them, is their son William, the only person named in the photo.

MEMBERS OF THE JASPER FAMILY, BALMORAL, c1905. Image courtesy of Museums Victoria Collections

LORD, Eliza – Died 24 December 1934 at Port Campbell. Eliza Lord was born in 1853 at Geelong.  Her family went to the Ballarat diggings and her miner father Samuel Lord was at the Eureka stockade in 1854. In 1865, Samuel selected land at Pomborneit.  Known as Lissie and proficient in several languages, she started teaching in 1871 at Pomborneit. Her appointment was as a “teacher without salary” and she remained until 30 September 1873, when she retired.  Her report stated she… “requires only a little more experience and training to make a very fair teacher”.¹ Eliza had other plans and on 11 February 1874, she married John Bowker at Christ Church, Geelong.

The Bowkers settled at Camperdown, where John operated a butcher shop and they started a family.

MANIFOLD STREET, CAMPERDOWN c1882. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria.

In the early 1880s, they moved south to Princetown on the coast. There wasn’t a school, and the townspeople were keen to have one built, with Eliza suggested as a teacher.

CURRENT TOPICS. (1884, March 22). Camperdown Chronicle (Vic. : 1877 – 1954), p. 2. Retrieved December 27, 2021, from

Eliza was a member of the Princetown Church of England congregation. During WW1,  Eliza and John’s son Alwynne (below) was killed at The Nek, Gallipoli on 7 August 1915 while serving with the 8th Light Horse Regiment.

In 1928, John died and Eliza continued to live out her days at the family property Kangaroobie, Princetown. She died on Christmas Eve 1934, aged eighty-two, leaving three sons and one daughter. Eliza’s burial took place at the Port Campbell cemetery.

  1. Public Records Office of Victoria, Teacher Record Books, VPRS 13579/P0001, Teacher Record No. 5201-5500, Eliza Bowker, Record No. 5278   

Discover your ancestors in lockdown

Recently, I had the pleasure to chat with Gavin from ABC Ballarat about using spare time in lockdown to kick off your family history research. You can hear more on the link to the ABC…

During the segment, I mentioned the links available here at Western District Families, which will take you to websites of family history and historical societies across the Western District. There are also Facebook pages and other useful links to help you discover your Western District family. Just go to the links tab at the top of the page or follow this link…

I haven’t managed a post here since April. My intentions have been good with near-complete drafts for April to July editions of Passing of the Pioneers, but I just couldn’t finish them before the end of their respective months. At least next year, I will have those four months ready to go. August Passing of the Pioneers will not happen and I’ll turn my attention to getting a September edition out.

I’ve had draft posts on various topics building up over the past couple of years and the number is now at 75. If I could get the time, there would be lots of new reading for you. There are around 500 published posts, so if you are new to Western District Families, there’s plenty of reading to keep you going until my next new post.

Wet weather and lockdowns have slowed my cemetery visits, but I managed a quick stop at the Old Dunkeld Cemetery recently and I’ll leave you with a photo from my visit.