It’s a bumper Passing of the Pioneers for December with twenty-five new pioneer obituaries from across the Western District. Christmas is a particularly sad time to lose a loved one and this month there are five pioneers who passed away on Christmas Day. Two of those were at Casterton on Christmas Day 1917. As with most months, there are those with something in common. This month, sons or grandsons at war was a common theme. Remember to click on any underlined words to find further information about a subject.
David Wright BRAYSHAY – Died 16 December 1888 at St Kilda. David Brayshay and his wife Maria Scott arrived in Buninyong near Ballarat around the time the Union Jack Lead near Warrenheip Street opened in 1857. He opened a drapery with a Mr O’Donnell almost opposite the Robert Burns Hotel in Warrenheip Street. They then built a brick shop near the centre of the township. When the partnership dissolved, David remained in the brick shop and expanded into groceries. During his time in the town, he was a Buninyong Councillor from 1863 until 1869.
Things turned awry in 1869 when the Ballarat Star reported David’s insolvency and an order of compulsory sequestration. His insolvency case continued in the courts into 1870 and it was not long after David and his family arrived in Hamilton. David purchased a large amount of land near Buckley’s Swamp and took over the running of Hamilton’s Victoria Hotel.
David was again drawn to public life serving as a Hamilton Councillor and Mayor. On 14 February 1884, the Hamilton Spectator reported David wanted to let 1000 acres of land, reclaimed from Buckley Swamp, for farming purposes. David’s contribution to reclaiming the swamp was remembered in his obituary in the Hamilton Spectator.
During December 1888, Hamilton agents Robert Stapylton Bree & Co. advertised the sale of David’s land at Buckley’s Swamp because he was leaving the district. The following advertisement appeared in the Hamilton Spectator on 13 December 1888 for the auction on the following Saturday.
The sale was then postponed because David, staying at The Esplanade Hotel in St Kilda, fell ill and died the day after the scheduled sale. He left his widow Maria, one son and seven daughters. Maria died at Hamilton in 1902.
Ann SAVAGE – Died 4 December 1898 at Hamilton. Ann Savage was born in Walkern, Hertfordshire, England around 1823. She arrived in Victoria during the 1850s and in 1857 at Geelong married Mark William Hughes, widower and father of two sons. The couple arrived at Strathkellar around 1859 and their first child Ellen was born at Hamilton that year. In 1862, a son Frederick Charles Hughes was born. Mark set up a nursery business in Gray Street, Hamilton selling seeds and flowers and the family moved to Gray Street. In 1888, Ann and Mark’s son Frederick married my ggg aunt, Martha Harman, daughter of James Harman, Mark Hughes died in March 1897 and Ann survived for less than two years after. Ann was buried at the Old Hamilton Cemetery.
John MacLENNAN – Died December 1908 at Mumbannar. John MacLennan was born at Contin, Ross-Shire, Scotland around 1825 and arrived at Portland aboard the John Davis in 1853. With a good knowledge of sheep, John was employed by Henry Monro at Upper Crawford Station near Hotspur for six years then at Rifle Downs working for Richard Lewis. In 1869, John took up land at Mumbannar where he was always willing to let the passing travelling public stop at his homestead.
Elizabeth KINSELLA – Died 6 December 1914 at Hamilton. Elizabeth Kinsella was born in Dublin, Ireland around 1828 and arrived at Geelong with her husband Richard Mullin during the mid-1850s. After living in Geelong for a couple of years, they moved to Portland and then Hamilton around the mid-1860s. They lived in Cox Street and Richard worked as a carpenter. In her later years, Elizabeth was independent and had a great memory of all significant dates from her life. Elizabeth left three daughters at the time of her death.
John LUCAS – Died 5 December 1915 at Macarthur. John Lucas was born in Tasmania around 1841 and arrived with his parents in Victoria as a young boy. He lived at Macarthur from the mid-1860s and he worked as a bootmaker. He married Bridget Haley in 1863. Bridget died in 1903 at Macarthur. John’s obituary indicates he had previously been married. At the time of his death, John had five sons, three daughters, forty-four grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
Helen LAIDLAW – Died 18 December 1915 at Hamilton. Helen Laidlaw was the second daughter of James Laidlaw and Mary Coates and was born at Learmonth on 24 September 1860. In the 1870s Helen’s father purchased Lake Wallace Station near Edenhope. He was soon back in central Victoria, purchasing Amphitheatre Station south of Avoca around 1880. It was at Amphitheatre Station where Helen married John Fenton of Ararat in 1884.
The following year, Helen and John’s first child Gwendoline was born at Ararat. Soon after they arrived in Hamilton and Nellie was born there in 1887. John ran a stock and station agency in Gray Street, Hamilton and served as Mayor from 1904 to 1906.
On 21 June 1915, Helen and John’s eldest son John Wilfred Fenton enlisted, embarking on 18 November 1915. Around two weeks later, Helen fell ill and her condition deteriorated until her death on 18 December at the Fenton home Lantana in Gray Street aged just fifty-five. On 19 June 1918 John Wilfred Fenton, by then a Military Medal recipient, died from the effects of gassing in France. Helen was buried at the Old Hamilton Cemetery and a memorial to John Fenton Jr appears on the headstone.
William BROWN – Died December 1915 at Branxholme. William Brown was born around 1825 in Scotland and arrived in South Australia about 1850. Three years later he married Maria Boyne, arriving in the Western District around 1863. William worked at Muntham and Grassdale stations near Digby then owned by John Coldham. By 1869, they were living at Branxholme where their daughter Agnes was born. William worked as a contractor around the Branxholme district. In February 1909. William lost a daughter and wife. First his daughter Mrs Rosina Joyce of Branxholme then just ten days later his wife Maria died. Two of William and Maria’s grandsons, brothers Matthew and Thomas Joyce were both killed in France while serving in 1917.
Isabella IRVINE – Died 15 December 1916 at Mortlake. Isabella Irvine was born at Newcastle on Tyne around 1849 and arrived at Portland with her parents and three siblings in 1854 aboard the Indian Ocean. In 1875, Isabella married Thomas Keogh and they spent their married life living in Mortlake. At the time of her death, Isabella had three sons and one daughter. Two sisters were also still alive, Annie Boswell Irvine Small and Tomina Irvine Small both living in Mortlake and married to brothers Thomas and Charles Small.
Henry POTTER – Died 4 December 1916 at Hamilton. Henry Potter was born around 1841 in Norfolk, England and arrived in Adelaide with his parents around 1854. The family moved to Portland and Henry became an apprentice plasterer. After his apprenticeship, Henry entered into a partnership with Thomas Wyatt lasting forty years. Henry married in 1861 to Catherine Stokes. In 1870, Burns and Wyatt moved to Mount Gambier where they remained for five years completing several large jobs including the Mount Gambier Church of England. By 1874, Henry and Thomas had moved their business to Hamilton and worked on the Alexandra Ladies College and the Hamilton and Western District College. In his later years, Henry was a Clerk of Works for the Hamilton Borough Council on projects such as the Hamilton YMCA (below). At the time of his death, Henry was the oldest living member of the Grange Lodge of Freemasons.
Thomas McALLEN – Died 16 December 1916 at Port Fairy. Thomas McAllen was born around 1836 in County Clare, Ireland and left when he was twenty-seven with his wife Jane. They arrived at Port Fairy and first lived at Yambuk then Tyrendarra. Thomas retired to Port Fairy around 1910 and lived in Polding Street where Jane died in March 1915. At the time of his death, Thomas had three sons and four daughters. Thomas was buried at the Yambuk Cemetery.
Janet Manson CLARKE – Died 17 December 1916 at South Yarra. Janet Clarke was born in Scotland around 1835 and on 23 August 1858, she married John Kennedy MacMillan a young Presbyterian minister. With a demand for Presbyterian clergymen in Victoria, Janet and John left for Australia soon after their marriage and made their way to Beechworth where John was inducted as Reverend of the Beechworth Presbyterian Church. In 1869, Reverend MacMillan was appointed to the St Andrews Presbyterian Church and remained there for thirty-five years.
Janet was also active in the community and was a founding member of the Hamilton Ladies Benevolent Society. In 1891, Janet travelled to the “old country” Scotland accompanied by one of her daughters.
Reverend MacMillan died in February 1904 and Janet survived him a further twelve years. When she died, Janet had three daughters and five sons. She was buried at the Old Hamilton Cemetery.
Elizabeth BYRNE – Died 12 December 1917 at Tellangatuk. Elizabeth was born in Liverpool, England and was married there in 1858 to Thomas Jasper. They arrived at Port Fairy around 1864 on the Birkenhead. By then the couple had three young daughters. After spending some time in Port Fairy, they went to Mount Rouse then Dunkeld before settling at Tellangatuk around 1872. The couple had ten children. Thomas died on 7 May 1900. Elizabeth and Thomas had a further nine children after their arrival in Victoria and when she died, Elizabeth had twenty-six grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
Bridget GHEOGHAN – Died 25 December 1917 at Casterton. Bridget Gheoghan was born in England in 1839 and arrived in Australia in 1853 In 1870, Bridget married Robert Pierce at Penola. Bridget and Robert lived at Mount Gambier for eighteen years before moving to Casterton around 1880. At the time of her death, Bridget had one daughter and four sons, with her youngest son John serving in France. John died of pneumonia in France on 17 November 1918, seven days after the Armistice.
Mary Clare TYNAN – Died 25 December 1917 at Casterton. Mary Tynan was born in Ireland around 1864 and arrived with her husband Richard Bolton in Victoria around 1885. They headed to Casterton where Richard opened a barrister and solicitor practice. Better known as Clare, Mary left one son and two daughters when she died during the evening of Christmas Day. Her son Richard was away on active service at the time of her death and returned to Australia on 1 July 1919. She was just fifty-four. Richard Bolton died in April 1920.
William Henry ROSEVEAR – Died 27 December 1917 at Condah. William Rosevear was born around 1848 and in 1869, he married Margaret Morrison. He was a bootmaker at Condah for forty years. William enjoyed cricket and football and was a longtime goal umpire for the Condah football team. He left his widow Margaret and four sons.
John GILL – Died 1 December 1918 at Koroit. John Gill was born at Galbally, Ireland about 1844. He arrived in Melbourne around 1864 and headed straight to the Koroit district to join family members. He was a carpenter by trade but turned to farming. In 1891, John married Margaret McGrath and they had three children. John was buried at Tower Hill cemetery.
Catherine GRANT – Died 7 December 1918 at Digby. Catherine was born in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1839. She arrived in Australia aboard the Lord Raglan in 1862 with her parents and they made their way to the Digby district. Catherine’s was a tragic life. In 1865, she married Thomas Finlay and they had a son Edward in 1867 but tragedy struck in December 1869 when Thomas died as the result of a fall from a hay wagon.
On 8 March 1880, Edward Finlay then fourteen was accidentally shot while he and a friend prepared for a hunting excursion. Edward died a short time after. Catherine lost the two closest to her in the space of eleven years. She never remarried and continued living at Digby for the next thirty-eight years. As she grew older, living alone became more difficult and on 15 December 1913 Catherine slipped while tending to her chickens and dislocated her shoulder. In February 1915, Catherine fell in her backyard and broke her elbow. On 7 December 1918, Catherine died aged seventy-nine and a large cortege followed her remains to the Digby Cemetery two days later.
Charles Henry JOHNSTONE – Died December 1930 at Mortlake. Charles Johnstone was born around 1843 and arrived in Victoria as a fourteen-year-old. It wasn’t long before he was drawn to the goldfields and spent time at the Ballarat and Clunes diggings. Still keen to chase his fortune, Charles went to the goldfields of New Zealand but had no success. After his return, Charles selected in the Laang district west of Cobden. In 1871, he married Louisa Molyneaux from Garvoc. Louisa died in 1923. At the time of his death, Charles had sixty-eight grandchildren and forty-five great-grandchildren.
John McLean GALLACHER – Died 1 December 1933 at Hamilton. John Gallacher was born around 1867 at Redruth on the Wannon River. As a young man, John went to the Wimmera as land became available but returned to the Western District. He married in 1899 to Emma Payne and they settled at Mount Eccles near Macarthur. In 1917. the family moved to Hamilton and John and Emma were given a send-off at Macarthur’s Methodist church in July 1917. In his younger years, John excelled at football, cricket, boxing and rope quoits. His obituary stated John, “by his sterling manliness. won hosts of friends, by whom he was highly respected.” John and Emma had five daughters and one son and each of the girls became teachers. John was buried at the Old Hamilton Cemetery and forty-five cars followed the hearse to the cemetery.
Janet Scott MacDONALD – Died December 1934 at Peterborough. Janet was born around 1844 near Mount Buninyong. Her parents had arrived three years earlier from Perth, Scotland. She married Charles MacGilivray in 1869. In 1873, they moved to Peterborough settling “in the wilderness on the banks of Curdie’s Inlet”,
In the early days, Janet welcomed pioneering clergymen into her home and Charles MacGilivray was behind the construction of the first church at Peterborough. Janet was often turned to when a history of the town was sought. She could tell of the times she was lonely when barely anyone else lived around or the tales of the many shipwrecks along the coast near Peterborough. Janet’s six sisters all lived into their eighties and two were living at the time of her death.
Thomas O’HALLORAN – Died 24 December 1934 at Hamilton. Thomas was born at Allansford around 1868. His first job was with James Farrar, a Warrnambool coachbuilder. He then went to Macarthur operating a coachbuilding and undertaking business. In 1893, Thomas married local girl Mary Ann Lucas a daughter of John Lucas (listed above). Around 1915, Thomas and Mary Ann moved to Hamilton and Thomas opened Thomas O’Halloran & Son undertakers in Lonsdale Street.
Mary Ann died in 1929 and since Thomas’ health was not good, he retired soon after. Thomas was considered one of the best cabinetmakers in the state. His craftsmanship is still on display today in St Mary’s Catholic Church Hamilton, with Thomas having made the tabernacle and canopy over the altar and the confessional. He also made the St. Mary’s Church WW1 Roll of Honour. It was in the same church a Requiem Mass was held for Thomas on Boxing Day after he died on Christmas Eve from a lengthy illness.
William Charles PEVITT – Died 25 December 1938 at Heywood. William was born around 1857, a son of Henry and Harriet Pevitt. He married Alice Hannah Scantlebury at Sandford in 1880 and they had four children. Alice died in 1893 at Heywood aged thirty-one. After Alice’s death, William lived with family at Merino and then Homerton. In 1907, William married Mary Ann Brown at Warrnambool. William returned to Heywood and lived there until his death. Mary Ann died around 1935.
George Edwin CHARMAN – Died 21 December 1942 at Coleraine. George Charman was born in 1852 at Moorabbin. He married Elizabeth Hollis at Portland in 1877. They spent the first nine years or so of their marriage at Portland before moving to Coleraine where they remained and had eleven children. A sad time came in 1897 when their third daughter Mary Ann died suddenly aged fourteen.
In 1922, Elizabeth died and in time George moved in with his daughter Edith, wife of Ben Rigby. It was there George died in 1942. He was buried at the Coleraine Cemetery.
James WILSON – Died 25 December 1944 at Portland. James Wilson’s parents were earlier settlers at The Lagoons, Bridgewater where he was born in 1863. In 1886, he married Priscilla Hollard. James ran a hairdresser and tobacconist shop in Portland and did some work for Messrs Learmonth & Co auctioneers in Portland.
He spent time in Melbourne running a business and living at 346 Burwood Road Hawthorn in 1918 before moving back to Portland in 1937. James was closely associated with the Methodist Church and Sons of Temperance. Priscilla died in January 1943 at Portland. James and Priscilla had no children.
William Henry ANDERSON – Died 23 December 1950 at Ballarat. William Anderson was born around 1861 at Linton and married Edith Gardiner of Smythesdale. The couple moved to the Otways, early pioneers of the district. William ran dairy farms at Princetown and Carlise River. They remained in the district until 1914 when William and Edith moved to Wangoom, near Warrnambool but remained in dairy farming. After WW1, William’s returned servicemen sons took up soldier settlement blocks at Chocolyn and William and Edith moved there until 1930. They then moved to Ferguson Street, Camperdown. William was a member of the Oddfellows and enjoyed following football and cricket. He was buried at the Camperdown Cemetery. Edith died in November 1951 at Camperdown.