It was a chance discovery while searching the fifteen or so years of the Hamilton Spectator available at Trove. There in the search results was an article from 1910. That wasn’t expected when only the WW1 years and the decade 1870-9 were available. Curious, I tried a search of “Harman” and the result was dozens of articles from the 1880s to 1910. Trove had surprised me adding a further three decades of Specs and I couldn’t have been happier. Since that day a couple of months ago, I have searched, tagged and found out an incredible amount of new detail about my Hamilton district families. Also, surnames, street names and locations bring such a sense of familiarity when reading my hometown newspaper, even issues from 100 hundred years before I was a resident.
One of the first items of interest I found was an obituary for my gggg grandfather Joseph Harman from 1893. His son James converted to Methodism around 1851 while still in England. Joseph, entrenched in the Church of England, didn’t share his son’s enthusiasm for Methodism. However, when the Harmans moved to Byaduk in 1863, the first church built was Wesleyan Methodist and James Harman, by then a Local Preacher, was one of the forces behind the church. Joseph had little choice but go along to Methodist services, but as soon as a Presbyterian Church was built at Byaduk eighteen years later, he made that church his Sunday morning destination. There were no family loyalties when it came to Joseph’s faith. It would seem that although the new church wasn’t Church of England, it was more to his liking than the teachings of John Wesley. Granted the Presbyterian Church was less than a mile down the road from his home but the Methodist church was only that distance again further on.
Also found was a rare obituary for a female family member. Although it doesn’t tell me much about my ggg grandmother Sarah Hughes‘ life, the 400 mourners at her funeral tells me something of the sort of person she was.
There are also some great articles about Sarah’s husband James Bishop but I’ll save those for a post just about him because he was a character.
Something I enjoy reading in old newspapers is the seemingly mundane day-to-day goings on in a town. Of course, it’s even better when a story includes a family member. Like the time in 1899 when my gg grandfather Richard Diwell of Hamilton complained about the night soil man.
The night soil man Frederick Malster was given the right of reply after the investigation into Richard’s complaint.
One of the best finds so far were a number of sketches included in a Hamilton Spectator supplement in 1888. The Spec had the sketches of businesses and scenes of Hamilton made by a Ballarat company. Sketches such as these give us a chance to see how things have changed…
And how other things have barely changed at all…