On July 22, 2011, I posted the first Passing of the Pioneers, and 12 months on I am preparing to post the 13th edition.
There are now over 180 links to Western Victorian pioneer obituaries at Western District Families and the 13th edition will see the total go over 200.
Reading all those obituaries has been a privilege and has taken me on a wonderful journey, not only through the history of the Western District but to places such as game parks in Africa and the silver mines of South America. The lives I have glimpsed into range from that of the gentry to general hands, but all have shared in making Western Victoria the place it is today.
Some of the pioneers were born during the early days of Victoria, while others dared their lives aboard immigrant ships in the hope of a better life. Many travelled from the ports to the Western District by bullock wagon on rough tracks, while enduring unfamiliar conditions. They built houses on land that would one day see towns such as Penshurst, Hamilton, and Balmoral grow around them.
The women from the pioneering era deserve recognition. Some were alone among men, left to bear and raise children and turn their canvas tents or slab huts into homes. Many endured loneliness, but as towns grew some became involved with community activities such as the church. Despite their hardships, many of these women’s obituaries noted that even in old age they would reminisce about those times.
Obituaries came after the pioneer “crossed the Great Divide”, penned by someone who too had heard the stories but may not have had all the facts. That is my warning to you while you read obituaries and in the July 2012 Passing of the Pioneers, I will show this with an obituary from my family.
Having said that, it is the snippets of information within them that make obituaries a worthwhile family history resource. Names of children and their married names, places of residence, occupations, and immigration details are just some of those snippets which you can then test against the relevant records.
Many of the obituaries I have read have moved me, inspired me, and led me to further research. I have listed just some of those, not so much for the achievements of the subject but the stories they tell. Click on the pioneer’s name to go to their original newspaper obituary or the date to go to the Passing of the Pioneers post where the obituary appeared: