Passing of the Pioneers

The Portland Guardian obituaries from August recognized several residents with very early links to the Portland district. It is well worth reading their obituaries in full.

Robert HEAZLEWOOD:  Died 3 August 1892 at Portland.  Robert was one of Portland’s oldest residents at the time of his death.  He had been in Portland for around 40 years arriving from Tasmania where he had resided since age 16.  Robert ran a farrier business and was considered the best of his trade in the town.

Thomas KEAN:  Died 8 August 1892 at Portland. Thomas arrived in Melbourne in 1843 and went to Portland in 1845 to take charge of the Customs boat.  He did leave for a time when he caught “yellow fever” and joined the hunt for gold.  Unsuccessful, he returned to Portland to resume his position on the Customs boat. and was also a Councillor on a few occasions.

Frederick SAUNDERS:  Died 11 August 1914 at Narrawong.  At eighty-eight years old, Frederick Saunders had been in Australia for eighty-three years.

Francis ROBERTS:  Died 5 August 1920 at Orford. Francis was born in Tasmania and came to Victoria as a nine-year-old.  He spent time at the Firey Creek diggings and selected land at Broadwater where he farmed for the most part of his life.

Eliza Ann MALSEEDDied 13 August 1920 at Myamyn.  Eliza Malseed epitomized the pioneering women of the south-west.  She arrived in Portland from Ireland with her brothers, later marrying a cousin, James Malseed.  She and her husband, along with a small group of pioneering families, forged a life on unsettled land around Cape Bridgewater.  She was remembered as widely read and extremely charitable.  She was eighty-five when she died.

John Read HEDDITCH  Died 12 August 1927 at Cape Bridgewater.  The Portland Guardian reported that John was a descendant of the Hedditch family who arrived in Adelaide in 1837 aboard The Eden.  Also, John was apparently the first white child to be born at the Henty brothers’ Bridgewater run.  He was born in 1847.

William Henry MILLS:  Died August 1931 at Trafalgar.  William’s obituary is an interesting one, not only for its insight into early Australian history, but it demonstrates the need to check the “facts” presented.  William was born in Port Fairy in 1848 and remained there before moving to Gippsland in the late 1870s.  His father was credited as being one of the early discoverers of the south-west of Victoria, arriving in 1825, two years before the Hentys.  The obituary reports that William’s grandfather was the secretary to “Captain Blyth (sic) the then Governor of Victoria”.  Of course, the obituary writer was talking of Captain William Bligh, whose official title was Governor of New South Wales.  Captain Bligh did have a nineteen-year-old secretary by the name of  Peter Mills.

Arthur Harold SUTTON: Died August 1935 at Portland.  This is a most glowing obituary and includes a description of the funeral service.  Arthur was only fifty-three at the time of his death, which shocked Portland.  His parents were Strathdownie pioneers, where Harold was born.  He served in WW1, ran a successful wool export business, and served on the Portland Council.  Over 500 mourners were at his funeral, with over 100 cars (remember this is 1935) following the cortege.  This is an extensive obit which includes details of his children.

Michael James MINOGUE:  Died August 1935.  Michael was the youngest son of Mr and Mrs Simon Minogue, early pioneers of Portland.  A natural horseman, he at one time trained thoroughbreds.

Frederick William BILSTON:  Died August 1935 at Sandford. Frederick was the son of Thomas and Annie Bilston who arrived in Victoria in 1836. Another son, George Yarra Bilston was reportedly the first white child born in Melbourne.  A sister born in 1840, was claimed as the first white child born on the Glenelg River.  Frederick was born in Heywood in 1849 while his parents were running the Heywood hotel.  He trained horses in his early life with the likes of Adam Lindsay Gordon.  He then became a bootmaker and then a carrier.  An expert blade shearer, Frederick would ride to N.S.W to work sheds.  His obituary includes stories of the 1851 bushfires, bushranger Frank Gardiner and high-jumping.

4 thoughts on “Passing of the Pioneers

  1. I wonder what F Saunders first name was? I have saunders from the Portland district however my Nicholas Saunders emigrated to Portland 1820’s so this one may not be related. Couldn’t find anything on ancestry. BTW loving your blog 🙂


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.