Wonderful Western District Women Part 2

It’s Women’s History Month and this is my second instalment of Wonderful Western District Women.  As in Part 1, I share the stories of five women I’ve been taken with while writing Passing of the Pioneers over the past five years.  In this post, all five women were in business in some capacity. One was also a teacher.  All are very similar in the level of perseverance and determination they displayed, but each led very different lives.  For example, two never married with one shunning the company of others and the other drawing people to her. As noted in one of their obituaries, they are “those splendid women, whose unselfish, unwearying zeal helped to make the Victoria of today”.  Click on the underlined text for more information about a subject.

DONNELLY, Jane (c1834-1914)  Also known as Jane Walsh and Jane Jenkins.

Jane Donnelly was born in Ireland around 1834 and arrived in Victoria in the early 1860s.  She married William Walsh in 1865 and together they operated the Forester’s Hotel at Myamyn.  Jane and William had three children before William died in 1877 aged forty-nine. It was the same year a fourth child was born. Jane continued to run the hotel although she did try to sell it. In 1881, the hotel was badly damaged by fire leading to Jane’s insolvency in 1881 with debts of £145.

“Advertising” Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953) 24 April 1880: 3 (MORNINGS.). 

 

“Items of News” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 19 May 1881

In 1883, Jane married William Gordon Jenkins and they went to Portland to run the Victoria Hotel.  The building was dilapidated and they were soon closed down.  That appears to have been the end of Jane’s days in the hotel trade.  In their later years, Jane and William moved to Hawkesdale to live with Jane’s daughter.  Jane died at Hawkesdale in 1916 aged eighty.  William died the following year.

STEWART, Christina (1825-1921) Also known as Christina McPherson.

Christina Stewart was born at Kingussie, Scotland around 1825 and travelled with her husband, Duncan McPherson, to Australia in November 1851 on board the Hooghly.  While Duncan went off to the goldfields, Christina waited in Melbourne until they journeyed to Portland and then on to Strathdownie. In March 1857, Duncan purchased the Woodford Inn located just north of Dartmoor on the Glenelg River and a son Alexander was born in the same year. The inn was a busy place as it was at a crossing point on the river with a punt moored at the inn for that purpose. Christina had eight children and during her child-bearing years, rarely saw another white woman. She made friends with the local Aboriginal women, teaching them to cook and make damper. If she had guests staying at the inn, the Aboriginals caught crayfish in the river for her.  The McPhersons eventually moved to Hamilton, residing in Coleraine Road.  Christina died there in 1921 aged ninety-six.

RYAN, Mary  (c1834-1914) 

When I wrote about Mary Ryan for Passing of the Pioneers, there was little known about her other than she ran a servants’ registry office in Hamilton and she died ten months after fire burnt her home down. I also gathered from her short obituary, she was very independent. Mary never married and living a seemingly solitary life, save for the interactions through her business. When Mary died there was no-one to give the names of her parents, so her death record shows her parents as “unknown”.  Since her Passing of the Pioneers appearance, more Hamilton Spectators have become available at Trove and I’ve been able to find out a little more about Mary.

The earliest newspaper reference I could find of Mary Ryan in Hamilton was in 1864 when she advertised her dressmaking services in the Hamilton Spectator and Grange District Advertiser.  Her advertisement said she was “late of South Yarra” and she was operating from Thompson Street. Other women in Hamilton including a Mrs Owens were combining dressmaking with servant registry businesses so it was a natural progression for Mary to do the same.  She began advertising both services in 1867 from a shop in Gray Street.

“Advertising” Hamilton Spectator and Grange District Advertiser (South Melbourne, Vic. : 1860 – 1870) 29 June 1867 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article194474076

In September 1870, fire swept through several shops in Gray Street, destroying Mary’s shop.  The report in the Hamilton Spectator said the occupants were able to get their valuables out. Mary appears to have rebuilt and on 8 March 1877 the land where her shop stood was sold, the Hamilton Spectator published the results of the sale.

“Items of News.” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 8 March 1877: http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article226045698 .

Mary responded in the next edition.

“VALUE OF HAMILTON LAND.” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 10 March 1877: <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article226042386&gt;.

Mary expanded into millinery and drapery.  Only days after Mary placed this advertisement, she sold her shop on  13 July 1878, by auction but I wasn’t able to find a report of the sale in the paper.

“Advertising” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 2 July 1878:  <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article226069431&gt;.

Two years later, an incident highlighted the potential dangers for a woman living alone.

“HAMILTON POLICE COURT.” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 5 August 1880: <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article225488525&gt;.

That wasn’t the only such incident.  In October 1888, some local “larrikins” were in court charged with “rocking” Mary’s roof in Gray Street.  They also verbally abused her, calling her by name, well aware of who she was.  In her evidence, Mary stated her residence was opposite the Hamilton Mechanics Institute.  In 1895, Mary moved her business to Cox Street and by 1905, she had moved to Brown Street near the Hamilton Railway Station.  On 2 November 1910, Mary suffered another blow when fire swept through her shop and residence.  Built of pine, the shop burnt quickly and only a small box of valuables was saved.  Fortunately, Mary was away from home at the time.

Mary remained stubbornly independent in old age despite becoming very frail.  She stayed in her home, but besides the hospital, it seems she really had nowhere else to go.  In February 1914, a fire broke out in her home, accidentally started when Mary dropped a lit match on some papers on the floor.

“FIRE IN BROWN STREET.” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 20 February 1914: <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article119823533&gt;.

While she wasn’t injured in the fire, it may have taken a toll as she passed away eight months later.  Her age was given as eighty.

“Hamilton Spectator” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 15 December 1914: <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article119874336&gt;.

SLOAN, Susan  (c1844-1918)

Susan Sloan was born in Glasgow, Scotland and after arriving in Portland in 1855, she went to Ararat where she married Thomas Sloan the following year.  Thomas ran a soda water manufacturing factory. In 1867, Susan returned to Portland with Thomas and they built the White Horse Brewery and a bakery in Gawler Street. Trade was tough and they moved inland in 1873 to Hamilton where they saw greater opportunities. Thomas purchased the North Hamilton Brewery from his brothers James and Robert.  In 1882, Thomas had a timber building constructed in Cox Street for a cordial factory.

Grace Sloan, a daughter of Susan and Thomas suffered consumption since 1893, and on doctor’s advice, she left Hamilton for a drier climate with friends in N.S.W. She departed on her journey but only reached Melbourne before her conditioned worsened and she telegraphed Susan to go to Melbourne. Grace improved so Susan returned home. A week or so later, Susan heard Grace had died in a Melbourne Hospital on 20 July 1895 aged twenty-one.  A memorial service was held at Hamilton’s Christ Church, where Grace had sung with the choir. The following year Susan had a close call herself.

“Items of News.” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 12 March 1896: 2. Web. 10 Mar 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article225868558&gt;.

In 1903, the Hamilton Spectator reported Susan had sold the North Hamilton Brewery to Mr J.B.Webb.  He didn’t do much with it and in 1904, the Sloans revitalised it with new equipment. They did the same at the cordial factory where they could produce up to sixty dozen bottles per hour.  Susan advertised prior to Christmas 1908, citing her fifty-two years in the business.

 

“CHRISTMAS DRINKS.” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 17 December 1908: 4. Web. 10 Mar 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article225895607&gt;.

Thomas died in May 1910 and Susan continued to run the business until her death, after which time family members continued operations. The Sloan’s cottage Whinhill in Pope Street, Hamilton still stands today.

“WHINHILL” – THE FORMER COTTAGE OF THE SLOAN FAMILY, POPE STREET, HAMILTON.

 

WADMORE, Sarah Jane (1859-1941)

Sarah Wadmore was the youngest daughter of Cape Bridgewater pioneers James Wadmore and Mary Driscoll. She was born in 1859 and only a month after her birth, James Wadmore drowned after he was washed off rocks while fishing on the west coast of  Cape Bridgewater.

By the age of fifteen, Sarah was helping her brothers on their mother’s farm. Mr and Mrs Joseph Voysey from the local state school saw something special in her and offered to train Sarah as a teacher.  In 1880, Sarah became head teacher at the new Kentbruck school.  Prior to that she was living at Bacchus Marsh and teaching at the school of Mr and Mrs Voysey.  From Kentbruck, Sarah was head teacher at the Tahara State School twelve years, her last teaching appointment.   In 1905, Sarah and her sister Anne moved to Annesley in Julia Street, Portland to operate a private boarding house.

“ANNESLEY’, JULIA STREET, PORTLAND. Image courtesy of the J.T. Collins Collection, La Trobe Picture Collection, State Library of Victoria. http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/233404

One of their first “guests” at Annesley was Rosalie Brewer, the only child of the previous owner, Dr Brewer. Rosalie was confined to bed at Annesley for over twenty years until her death on 2 March 1926 at the age of fifty-seven.  Sarah, then sixty-seven, along with her sister, gave Rosalie the love and care a mother would, nursing her through those years.  Sarah’s mother Mary also moved into Annesley from her home at Cape Bridgewater and she died there in 1908.

Inspired by the pioneering life of her mother and others at Cape Bridgewater, Sarah had a great interest in the history of Portland and its pioneers.  It was always her ambition to publish the history of Portland’s women and in 1934, with the approaching centenary of the arrival of the Henty Bros, Sarah and two other local’s, Mrs Marion Hedditch and Mr E. Davis of the Portland Observer produced a booklet entitled Portland Pioneer Women’s Book of Remembrance for the event.  As Secretary of the Portland Pioneer Women’s Association, she was also the main force behind the Pioneer Women’s statue near the Shire Offices at Portland.  Also in 1934,  Sarah contributed to a supplement for the Portland Guardian for the centenary of the arrival of the Hentys at Portland Bay called Lone furrows on sea and land, or, Historical Portland .  For the publication, Sarah wrote of the Reminiscences of a Pioneer State School Teacher

“OBITUARY” Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953) 6 January 1941: 1 (EVENING). Web. 15 Mar 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64398666&gt;.

Sarah had a busy life. Many fundraisers, Pioneer Women’s Association meetings and even art exhibitions were held at Annesley.  At one stage, she travelled to England visiting Sussex the birthplace of the Henty brothers. She was interested in the Scout movement and donated a flag to the Portland Scouts. Sarah was also active in the St Stephens Anglican Church community and the church was conveniently across the road from her home.

ST. STEPHEN’S ANGLICAN CHURCH, PORTLAND

A wonderful life closed on New Year’s Day 1941 when Sarah died at Annesley at the age of aged eighty-one. Sarah’s obituary closed with, “It may be truly said of Miss Wadmore that she shares largely in the honour of those splendid women, whose unselfish, unwearying zeal helped to make the Victoria of today”.

 

You can read Part One on the link – Wonderful Western District Women Part 1

 

Wonderful Western District Women Part 1

On International Women’s Day this is for the women of the Western District.  The women who arrived in a new country, often as newlyweds with no other family, those who walked behind a plough planting seed, those who didn’t see their husbands from dawn to dusk or weeks at a time and the women who gave birth in a tent or shack sometimes without another woman present.  It’s for the benevolent women, the pillars of the church, the businesswomen, the matriarchs, and in many cases their husband’s rock. It’s for those women who lost their husbands young, and were left to raise children and survive in a man’s world. For many of these women, their lives went by unheralded.

Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/54600

As it’s also Women’s History Month, this is the first post during March remembering some of the great pioneering women of the Western District.  Firstly I will focus on those I’ve discovered through monthly Passing of the Pioneers posts. For many of those women, I’ve had to draw on their husband’s life story to get some idea of their own.  For others we are lucky as something of their lives still remain, maybe a letter or a diary and we glean some idea of who they really were. Even in their obituaries, women were mostly known by their husband’s name for example Mrs John Little or Mrs James Berry. At least those who were given an obituary have something of them left behind, for others their lives passed silently and without celebration.

Hopefully the women I have selected to celebrate this month are representative of those women whose stories have been lost.  Also, because most women lived behind the names of their husbands, I’ve chosen to remember the women by their maiden names.  Click on the underlined text through the post to read more information about a subject.

BLACK, Janet (c1822-1903) Also known as Janet Laurie and Janet Black

http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article77974940

Border Watch (Mount Gambier, SA : 1861 – 1954) 6 May 1933: http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article77974940

Janet was born in born in Lanarkshire, Scotland in 1822, the daughter of Professor Andrew Nicol a linguist, university lecturer and head of a boys’ college. Janet, one of eight daughters, attended boarding school and like her father could speak several languages. In 1841, she married the Reverend Alexander Laurie and shortly after they sailed to Port Phillip aboard the appropriately named William Nicol, arriving in February 1842.  Alexander was appointed minister for the Portland Bay Presbyterian Church so they sailed for Portland Bay.  On arrival at Portland, Janet was carried ashore and on the same day she gave birth to her first child Alexander John Laurie.  The Lauries couldn’t stay at any hotels because of quarantine restrictions so they camped under a shelter near the flour mill in the bitter cold,  They soon settled in the town and another son Andrew was born the following year.

The year 1848 was tumultuous for Janet.  Alexander was accused of spending time in the company of a young lady, even travelling away with her.  The church frowned on his behaviour and Alex was removed from his role, not because of the shame he brought to his wife and children, but the shame he brought to the church.  A report of his falling out  appeared in the Geelong Advertiser of July 11, 1848.  In 1850, Alexander started making the news in a different way when he took over the Portland Herald in Gawler Street.  The Portland Guardian remarked,”Mr Laurie would have seemed to have abandoned the use of his church for the Herald and exchanged religion for politics”.

In 1854, Alexander died at the age of thirty-six, leaving Janet with four young children. She took over the running of the Portland Herald and after a short break, resumed publication every Friday with a promise the paper would be “renewed in strength and efficiency” and before long the subscribers to the paper grew.

“Advertising” Portland Guardian and Normanby General Advertiser (Vic. : 1842 – 1843; 1854 – 1876) 9 November 1854: 3 (EVENING.) http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article71571179

Janet also set up an employment registry in 1856 operating it until 1861 from her home in Percy Street.

“Advertising” Portland Guardian and Normanby General Advertiser (Vic. : 1842 – 1843; 1854 – 1876) 3 November 1858: 3 (EVENINGS.). http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64509486

Janet finished up the Portland Herald in 1860 and she and the children went to Mount Gambier where she assisted two of her sons in setting up the Border Watch, a paper still published today. The paper was established in the name of second born son Andrew, then seventeen and the first edition published on April 26, 1861. The name for the paper came from Janet as there was a Border Watch newspaper on the border of Scotland and England. Given the close proximity of Mount Gambier to the South Australian/Victorian border, it was the perfect choice.

In the same year, Janet married widower Joshua Black of Cork Hill, Bridgewater. Joshua was a father to seven children and Janet must have been busy helping her sons with the paper and the duties of matrimony. Janet and Joshua had three children together, the first in 1862 when Janet was forty.  By 1865, there were fifteen children aged from twenty-two to newborn. Joshua Black died in 1876 aged seventy-six.  Janet continued on at Bridgewater and was involved in the community.  

BRIDGEWATER BAY

She died in 1903 aged eighty-one and was buried in the North Portland Cemetery in the same grave as Alexander Laurie. The Portland Guardian of 29 July 1903 reported that “the funeral procession was one of the largest, if not the largest seen in Portland.” Returning to Alexander in death was possibly something Janet would not have wanted. Her thirteen years with Alexander were not happy times.  Aside from his adultery, it seems Janet also endured family violence.  She was known throughout her life as having a hearing impairment, put down to the cold on her first night in Portland.  Ann Grant and others in a paper, “Portland – The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth”, tells of police records showing Janet had charged Alexander with assault and her deafness was in fact caused by a blow from him.

COLE, Elizabeth (c1845-1942).  Also known as Elizabeth Dalziel.

Elizabeth Cole was seven when she sailed into Hobson’s Bay in December 1852 with her family aboard the Bombay, the same ship my ggg grandparents James Mortimer and Rosanna Buckland arrived on.  Once in Port Phillip Bay, the ship was placed in quarantine because of a typhus fever outbreak on board.  During the 111 day voyage, at least twenty-four of the 706 passengers died from various causes including typhus.  After they disembarked, the family went to the diggings at Ballarat.

“OLD COBDEN RESIDENT” The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957) 12 March 1938: <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article11174181&gt;.

The family then went to Port Fairy and Elizabeth remembers the first bullock team of Walter Manifold and was soon driving bullocks herself and despite being only a teenager, gained a reputation as one of the finest bullock drivers around.  From Port Fairy, her father purchased land at Yambuk.

Elizabeth was only seventeen when she married twenty-eight year old Alexander Dalziel on 31 July 1862 at Lethbridge where Alexander ran a boot store servicing the large canvas town set up for the men working on the Moorabool viaduct.  They then went to Bannockburn before moving to Carpendeit near Cobden in 1885. In 1891, Elizabeth signed the Women’s Suffrage Petition.  After Alexander died 1928 aged ninety-four, Elizabeth lived with her granddaughter at Cobden. At the time of her death at age ninety-six, Elizabeth had six sons, three daughters forty-five grandchildren, sixty-five great-grandchildren and one great-great grandchild.

HAZELDINE, Eliza (1857-1941)  Also known as Eliza Lea.

Eliza Hazeldine was born at Portland in 1857 and started her working life as a teacher.  Her first school was Portland North followed by Koroit, Corindhap, Coleraine, Queenscliff and Casterton. Her teaching career ended in 1890 when she married Job Lea.  The couple’s first son was born the following year, the same year Eliza signed the Women’s Suffrage Petition.  A second son was born on 22 March 1892. A month later on 22 April 1892, Job died of typhoid fever aged thirty, leaving Eliza with two children under two.  She returned to family in Portland before opening a drapery store at Condah Swamp.  Eliza applied to run the first Post Office in the district and in 1899 her application was approved and the Post Office opened with the name Wallacedale.

"Wallacedale." Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 - 1953) 15 February 1899: 3 (EVENING). Web. 6 Mar 2017 .

“Wallacedale.” Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953) 15 February 1899: 3 (EVENING). Web. 6 Mar 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article63675448&gt;.

Eliza played piano and organ and taught her boys with Charles showing great talent in acquiring three theory certificates from Trinity College, London.  When the boys were older, they helped Eliza in the post office.  She was also a generous community member, donating to various causes. In 1902, she started the fundraising for the purchase of a piano for the Wallacedale Hall donating  £1.  Although she was a devout Methodist, when the Wallacedale Presbyterian Church was built in 1913, Eliza donated the linoleum.

War broke in 1914 and on 22 January 1915, son Charles enlisted leaving for Egypt a month later. Charles served with the 2nd Field Artillery Brigade and found himself at Gallipoli where he was killed on 26 July 1915, six months after he left Australia.  The loss of Charles brought great sorrow for Eliza and she placed an “In Memoriam” notice for Charles and her late husband Job each year until her death.

"Family Notices" Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 - 1953) 24 July 1933: 2 (EVENING.). Web. 5 Mar 2017 .

“Family Notices” Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953) 24 July 1933: 2 (EVENING.). Web. 5 Mar 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64282976&gt;.

During the war Eliza was a great contributor to the Red Cross. In 1919, Eliza returned to Portland where she died in 1941. Charitable to the end, Eliza left £100 to the Portland Hospital.

KITTSON, Rebecca (c1827-1929) Also known as Rebecca Lightbody.

"No title" The Australasian (Melbourne, Vic. : 1864 - 1946) 23 July 1932: 4 (METROPOLITAN EDITION). Web. 7 Mar 2017 .

“No title” The Australasian (Melbourne, Vic. : 1864 – 1946) 23 July 1932: 4 (METROPOLITAN EDITION). http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article141361822

Rebecca was born at Fermanagh County, Ireland and arrived at Melbourne with her parents James Kittson and Katherine Trotter in 1841 aboard the Westminster.  Rebecca remained in Melbourne while her father went ahead to Cape Bridgewater to settle, joining her family in 1842. On 22 January 1852, Rebecca, described as the “fair Lady of the Lake” married Wesleyan minister Reverend William Lightbody at Geelong.  Rebecca and William rode on horseback from Bridgewater to Geelong, the location of the nearest minister, married and rode home again.

William was the itinerant minister for Port Fairy, Warrnambool and Portland and they spent time at each of the parsonages, raising a family of four sons and two daughters.  In March 1879, William visited a property he owned at Drik Drik and fell ill there.  He made it back as far as Mount Richmond where a doctor was called. He was then transported home and appeared to be on the mend.  Having business in Portland, he asked his son to drive him into town but William died on the way.

On Rebecca’s 100th birthday, Reverend Toi of the Portland Methodist Church presented Rebecca with 100 shillings, one for every year of her life.  On her 101st birthday, a celebration was held and Rebecca proved she still had her wits about her.

“A GRAND OLD LADY.” Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953) 9 February 1928: 3 (EVENING). http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64264653

A colonist of eighty-eight years, Rebecca was a month from her 102nd birthday when she died at Portland in 1929.

READ, Rachel Forward (1815-1904).  Also known as Rachel Hedditch.

"Bridgewater Pioneers Commemorate Centenary of Landing of Mr. and Mrs. Richard Charlton Hedditch." Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 - 1953) 27 June 1938: 4 (EVENING). Web. 7 Mar 2017 .

“Bridgewater Pioneers Commemorate Centenary of Landing of Mr. and Mrs. Richard Charlton Hedditch.” Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953) 27 June 1938: 4 (EVENING). http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64279418

Rachel Forward Read was born in Dorsetshire, England and married Richard Charlton Hedditch in 1837.  The following year they planned to travel to Australia but the ship, The Eden was stuck in the then frozen Thames River and the voyage was delayed. They eventually arrived in Adelaide in 1838.  In 1841, they left for Tasmania but heard favourable reports about Portland Bay and the Henty’s settlement so they made their way there, but not before their son Charlton was born.  Rebecca and Richard were appointed to run the Portland Church of England school where Rachel taught the infant classes.  They then took up a pastoral lease at Bridgewater in 1845 and Rachel opened the first post office there in 1864, operating it for thirty-five years. The Hedditch property was known as Lal Lal Homestead.  The Book of Remembrance of the Pioneer Women of the Portland Bay District includes a letter Rachel wrote home to her mother on Christmas Day 1848.  She was thirty-three and life was very difficult.  It shows the depth of her faith and how she appreciated the isolation of Bridgewater for raising the children away from the bad influences in the town.

“…last Sunday after dinner I was considering whether it would be wrong to devote part of the Sabbath in writing to you, and coming to the conclusion that under present circumstances it not,  I rose to take a sheet of paper from my portfolio, when I felt quiet unwell, and continued worse, until about ten o’clock, when I gave birth to a little girl – stillborn – an event which I had long dreaded, for my hands were always full.  I also expected to suffer from the heat, for it is usually very hot here…but it has been cooler this summer…How apt we are to murmur and despair, forgetting our Heavenly  Father does all things for our good.  Although I felt amiss – a kind of loss of the infant – yet I cannot help feeling very thankful that it please God to order it as it was.

“But although we are not doing better in this country we have better health; and I think the children are better for being away from the others’ and children out her are generally brought up badly. Times are very bad indeed.  Almost the whole dependence of this district is on wool growing and tallow, and on account of the disturbed state of Europe the wool at home has fallen in value more than half.  Tallow is very, also, and it has caused such a depression of business here that it is almost impossible to dispose of anything.”

Our fences were all burnt, but we have a garden fenced and a half-acre paddock.  We have also a comfortable three-roomed cottage and a kitchen and dairy, besides fowl house and yard,…We have both fat cattle and milking cows for sale, but nobody is inclined to purchase.  Butchers will not give more than eight shillings a hundred weight for fat beef and a fine cow with calf at side will not fetch more than £3.  There were good milking cows with calves sold by action last week at about 30 shillings per head.  Butter is now down to 1 shilling per pound.  If things do not get better I do not know what shall become of us all.  Our prospects are not worse than that of many others.  Indeed, I think we live at less expense than most families here.

The troubles did not end. In 1854, daughter Emily died at the age of seven and in 1863, son Charlton died aged twenty-three.  Richard died in 1894 and Rachel lived on for a further ten years. She was buried at the Cape Bridgewater Cemetery.

Sacred Memorials

You may have sat in a church and admired the stained glass windows, but have you had a close look? You’ll see church windows can tell a story about a town’s history and people.  To give you an example, let’s take a look at windows at two churches I’ve visited over the past year, the Hamilton Uniting Church and the Hamilton Anglican Christ Church.  A disclaimer…I like to think it’s a spiritual force responsible for the large percentage of blurry photos I’ve taken in churches.  In reality, it says something about my photography skill.  Also, there are loads of links in this post so if you see underlined text, click on it and you will find more information about the subject.

Opened on Sunday 5 October 1913 as the Hamilton Wesleyan Methodist Church, the Hamilton Uniting Church in Lonsdale Street has some beautiful windows.

HAMILTON WESLEYAN METHODIST CHURCH c1930. Image courtesy of the Museums Victoria Collections http://collections.museumvictoria.com.au/items/769323

HAMILTON WESLEYAN METHODIST CHURCH c1930. Image courtesy of the Museums Victoria Collections http://collections.museumvictoria.com.au/items/769323

I have some family history here as my ggg grandfather James Harman was a Wesleyan local preacher and often preached at the former Wesleyan Church in McIntyre Street.  The current church opened prior to his death and even though he was eighty-three he still found the energy to attend events important to him so I expect he was there.

Hamilton Uniting Church

HAMILTON UNITING CHURCH

There isn’t a memorial window for James, but there is a window for a man he knew well, Peter Learmonth of Prestonholme Hamilton, a local businessman, flour mill operator and stalwart of the Wesleyan Methodist Church. Unveiled on 14 January 1900 at the then Methodist Church in McIntyre street, this beautiful window was later installed at the new church in Lonsdale Street.

Peter Learmonth Window

PETER LEARMONTH MEMORIAL WINDOW

The Reverend W.C. Thomas spoke of the Learmonth’s dedication to the Methodist Church during a memorial service for Mary Jarvey Pearson, herself deserving of a memorial window.

"LATE MRS. PETER LEARMONTH." Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 - 1918) 8 December 1913: .

“LATE MRS. PETER LEARMONTH.” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 8 December 1913: <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article225162684&gt;.

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James Allan Learmonth was a son of Peter Learmonth and Mary Jarvey Pearson.  He was born at Merino Downs on 8 April 1856 and went to school at the Hamilton and Western District College and Wesley College. Locally, James was well-known for his sporting prowess.  After some work experience in Melbourne, James returned to the Western District to manage his father’s Penshurst Flour Mill.

After his father co-purchased Maraposa Estate in Mexico, James and his brother left for that country to manage the estate for ten years, returning home briefly in 1886 to marry Annie Thomson of Monivae Estate.  In 1892, James and Annie returned from Mexico to live at Prestonholme.  James died on 29 October 1928 and Annie on 14 June 1930.  They were buried at the Old Hamilton Cemetery.

learmonth6

Annie’s family were Presbyterian and the St Andrew’s Church in Hamilton features a large memorial window for her father James Thomson.  James and Annie Learmonth’s window at the Hamilton Uniting Church is below.

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JAMES AND ANNIE LEARMONTH MEMORIAL WINDOW, UNITING CHURCH, HAMILTON

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Hamilton’s Christ Church in Gray Street was built in 1878.

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CHRIST CHURCH ANGLICAN CHURCH, HAMILTON

Walking up to the door, I always imagine handsome Lieutenant Edward Ellis Henty and his beautiful bride Florence Grace Pearson emerging through the doors after their marriage on 18 November 1914.  They’re bittersweet thoughts because nine months later, Florence and Edward’s family and friends entered the same doors for a memorial service for Edward. He was killed at the Charge at the Nek at Gallipoli on 7 August 1915 while serving with the 8th Australian Lighthorse Regiment.  Florence was around seven months pregnant.

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I’ve visited the Christ Church three times in the past year. Each time I visit, I can’t help but touch the 137-year-old walls made from local bluestone just as I enter the doors below.

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Just inside the main door of the church in the vestibule is the first stained glass window, a memorial for the Tatlock family,  Alfred James Rolland Tatlock, his wife Marie McGowan and sons Norval and Alfred Jr. Depicted is St. Francis of Assisi possibly indicating the Tatlock’s love for animals.  Alfred Sr.’s father Thomas Henry Tatlock was a leading breeder and judge of poultry and horses.

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TATLOCK MEMORIAL WINDOW

Alfred Tatlock Sr. was a grand master of the Grange Masonic Lodge and a Hamilton councillor.  Marie died in 1937 and Alfred Jr. met a tragic end, killed in a plane crash in Queensland on 27 March 1943 while serving with the RAAF.  Twenty-two other crew and passengers were also killed. Norval died in 1951 and Alfred Tatlock Sr. in 1956.   

Another window in a different part of the church remembers another son of Alfred Tatlock and Marie McGowan, Rolland Tatlock who died in 1981.  This window depicts St. Vincent de Paul and is one of two windows in the church created by Jean Orval.  I went to school with three of Jean’s grandsons, all cousins. Each day on my way to primary school, I passed Jean’s house with his workshop at the end of the driveway.  You can read more about Jean Orval and see photos of his beautiful windows in churches across Victoria and South Australia on the link http://www.orvalstainedglass.com/index.html

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ROLLAND TATLOCK MEMORIAL WINDOW BY JEAN ORVAL

Once inside the Christ Church, stained glass windows line either side of the nave. To the left is the window for Abraham Greed and his wife Hannah Oaff.

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ABRAHAM AND HANNAH GREED MEMORIAL WINDOW, CHRIST CHURCH ANGLICAN CHURCH, HAMILTON

Abraham was a leading coachbuilder in the town and a Mayor of Hamilton.  He was born in Taunton, Somerset, England and arrived in Victoria around 1857. Abraham married Hannah Oaff in 1866.  He died on 27 July 1926 aged eighty while on holiday in Geelong with Hannah and their daughter.  Only the year before, Abraham had donated an oak altar and reredos to the church. 

"HAMILTON." The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957) 22 May 1925: 6. .

“HAMILTON.” The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957) 22 May 1925: 6. .

In his will, Abraham left the Christ Church money for a peal of bells.  Hannah died at Hamilton in 1937 aged eighty-eight.

"ABOUT PEOPLE." The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 - 1954) 1 November 1926 .

“ABOUT PEOPLE.” The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 – 1954) 1 November 1926 .

Also to the left of the nave is the window for Robert Edwin Windsor Sandys Stapylton Bree and his wife Anna Maria Henty.

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MEMORIAL WINDOW OF ROBERT BREE AND ANNIE HENTY

Robert Bree was born in Cornwall on 11 November 1839, his father an Anglican minister.  He worked for Dalgety & Co. in London before arriving in Victoria and working for Stephen Henty as a manager of Henty’s properties. It was during that time Robert met Stephen Henty’s daughter Annie four years younger than himself.  They married in Hamilton’s first Anglican Church on 30 July 1874.  Robert operated a stock and station business at Hamilton from 1872.  At one time he was in business with Alfred Tennyson Dickens, son of Charles Dickens.

Robert sat on the Hamilton Borough Council for thirty-five years, twice serving as Mayor. He was President of the Hamilton Hospital board and operating theatre was named in his honour along with a park opposite the hospital. On 26 May 1900, Robert and Anna’s son Reginald Robert Stephen Stapylton Bree serving as a Lieutenant was killed in Bloemfontein, South Africa during the Boer War.

Robert Bree died on 16 September 1907.  After Robert’s death, Anna continued living at the Bree family home Bewsall in Hamilton and in 1914 hosted the wedding breakfast of her nephew and his new wife, the aforementioned Edward Henty and Florence Pearson.  Anna died on 2 July 1921 at Bewsall in Hamilton leaving two daughters and a son.

HAMILTON. (1903, May 2). The Australasian (Melbourne, Vic. : 1864 - 1946), p. 27. Retrieved February 18, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article138684187

BEWSALL, HAMILTON. (1903, May 2). The Australasian (Melbourne, Vic. : 1864 – 1946), p. 27. Retrieved February 18, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article138684187

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Next is the window for the Rountrees, James Hughes Rountree and his wife Margaret Strang Kitchen.

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MEMORIAL WINDOW OF JAMES ROUNTREE AND MARGARET KITCHEN

James Hughes Rountree died on 1 August 1902 after an operation for an ulcer.  He arrived in Victoria aboard the Great Britain in 1864 and worked as a dispenser at the Geelong hospital.  In 1874, he became superintendent at the Hamilton Hospital.  Fourteen years later, James opened a chemist shop in Hamilton. He was a member of the Masonic and Orange Lodges.  At the time of his death, James left his widow, Margaret and eight children.

Most of James and Margaret’s children followed James’ profession.  Daughters Mary, Margaret, Jean and Ella were chemists as was son James.  Mary Rountree married the well-known jockey Bobby Lewis in 1920.  Lewis rode four Melbourne Cup winners during his career and controversially rode Phar Lap to third in the cup in 1929. The wedding took place at the Hamilton Christ Church. 

"PERSONAL." The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924) 19 June 1920: .

“PERSONAL.” The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 – 1924) 19 June 1920: <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article211909666&gt;.

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James and Margaret Rountree were buried at the Old Hamilton Cemetery.

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GRAVE OF JAMES ROUNTREE AND MARGARET KITCHEN

The following photo is a perfect example of most of my church photos and I wasn’t going to post it.  Instead, I asked Mum to try her luck photographing the window.  When I compared the two photos, I had to share both because of the different colours in each photo.

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This is Mum’s photo.  Each was taken in the early afternoon, the first in April and the second in November. The angle was the main difference.  The window is dedicated to the memory of Percy Beaumont Osborne.

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MEMORIAL WINDOW OF PERCY BEAUMONT OSBORNE

Percy Beaumont Osborne was the stepson of Hamilton’s Anglican Vicar from 1907 until 1917, Charles Harris. He enlisted for WW1 on 11 February 1916 and left Australia for England on 28 July 1916.  Percy died of Meningitis at Tidworth Military Hospital, England on 2 February 1917 aged twenty-two.  His memorial window was unveiled on Sunday 17 June 1917.

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Memorial windows for WW1 soldiers are not unusual.  The former Baptist Church in Hamilton (now a private home), had five memorial windows installed for WW1 soldiers Alexander and Edgar  Stevenson, James Sack, Joseph Brokenshire, Walter Filmer and Albert Herbert Lewis.  The Victorian War Heritage Inventory site allows for searches by a soldier’s name or site of a memorial.

I intend to add to my stained glass window photo collection and hopefully, with more practice, they’ll improve. I’m keen to get back to St. Stephen’s Church in Portland where there are beautiful windows and a memorial tablet for Edward Ellis Henty was unveiled there on 1 July 1917.

700 Obituaries

Each month as I add more pioneer obituaries to the WDF Pioneer Obituary Index, I think to myself I should do a proper tally of the number of obituaries now in the index.  I’ve finally done it and there are more than I thought. The total is now 696 obituaries and with another fifteen almost ready to go for the January Passing of the Pioneers post, the number will reach over 700 by the end of the month.

THE PASSING OF THE PIONEERS. (1900, April 21). Camperdown Chronicle (Vic. : 1877 - 1954), p. 3.

THE PASSING OF THE PIONEERS. (1900, April 21). Camperdown Chronicle (Vic. : 1877 – 1954), p. 3.

For those new to Western District Families, since 2012 I have written a monthly post known as Passing of the Pioneers.  Each post lists Western District pioneers in the month they died and with each, there is a link to their respective newspaper obituary sourced from digitised newspapers at the National Library of Australia’s Trove. Each entry has a summary of the pioneer’s life and some have photos and links to further information.  I’ve read 711 great pioneering stories over the past five years giving me a better understanding of the Western District’s local, social and family history.   

 

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When I started searching for obituaries there was only the Portland Guardian and Horsham Times available but in time the number of Western District newspapers available has grown. With more obituaries, to make it easier for you (and me), I started the Pioneer Obituary Index.  Now, pioneers named in the Passing of the Pioneers posts are listed alphabetically with a link to their relevant Passing of the Pioneers post.  It’s a work in progress so if you haven’t found your Western District pioneer in the index, if they had an obituary in the paper there’s a good chance you will eventually.

To check the index follow the link – Pioneer Obituary Index.  If you would like to read the Passing of the Pioneers posts, you will find them all on the following link, starting with the most recent post – Passing of the Pioneers.

Historical Tours of the Western District

At the Western District Families Facebook page, I’m soon to depart on a “historical tour” of the Hamilton Highway. After successful “tours” of the Glenelg Highway and Great Ocean Road, it’s time to set off again with photos such as the one below a feature.

http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/38782

CRESSY c1914 Photographer Gabriel Knight. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/38782

With the use of “Out of Copyright” photos from the State Libraries of Victoria and South Australia and the Museum Victoria collection, visitors to the page can “travel” the highways and see the sights of the towns and landmarks as they looked fifty to one hundred years ago or more.  The most recent tour of the Great Ocean Road began at Wye River and continued west to Allansford, east of Warrnambool.  It was a trip of contrasts from spectacular coastlines to towering forests and the odd shipwreck.  Lasting almost five weeks, I posted almost 250 “Out of Copyright” photos mostly postcards.  Here are a few of my favourites.

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REMAINS OF THE WRECK “MARIE GABRIELLE” ON WRECK BEACH, GREAT OCEAN ROAD c1909. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/336353

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APOLLO BAY. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/64433

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THE WRECK OF THE FALLS OF HALLADALE. Image courtesy of the State Library of South Australia Image no. PRG 1373/18/17 http://collections.slsa.sa.gov.au/resource/PRG+1373/18/17

So now for the Hamilton Highway, beginning west of Geelong at Hesse and “travelling” 180 kilometres to Tarrington around ten kilometres east of Hamilton.  Once again there is a wealth of “Out of Copyright” photos available, a lot more than I expected. I thought this would be a shorter tour than the Great Ocean Road but thanks to the man below, Gabriel Knight of Cressy and his passion for photography, we might be lucky to get to Lismore by Christmas!  I will also post about Gabriel and his family at Cressy along the way.

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GABRIEL KNIGHT. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/38823

Drop by the Western District Families Facebook page from 7:00 pm tomorrow night, Friday 25 November and see how the Hamilton Highway used to look.  If you scroll through the feed, you can take the return trip along the Great Ocean Road and Glenelg Highway. If you’re not a Facebook member you can still view the page, just ignore the prompts to join.

While visiting Facebook, the Hamilton’s WW1 page offers something extra too.  From each day of publication of the Hamilton Spectator, I post a daily article from 100 years before depicting life in Hamilton and district. The following are examples of articles posted during November

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“WITH THE COLOURS.” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 21 November 1916: http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article129390336

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“ORIGINAL CORRESPONDENCE.” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 9 November 1916: http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article129389514

http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article129390016

“A ZEPPELIN SOUVENIR.” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 16 November 1916 http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article129390016

The page also links to the stories of Hamilton’s enlisted men on the anniversaries of their enlistment, embarkation, and their death or return home.  Here on the blog, I’m continually adding new stories to Hamilton’s WW1 and have now posted stories for around 80% of the men named on the Hamilton War Memorial and similar for Anzac Avenue.

 

Major Mitchell Homeward Bound

We left Major Mitchell on 13 September 1836 as he and his party left camp near the Grange Burn, east of what is now Hamilton.  They made their way to the southern tip of the Grampians but Sydney was in their sights.  They were heading home.  By the end of the day, Mitchell’s party had reached the base of Mount Sturgeon where they camped for the night.

http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/53338

MOUNT STURGEON – c 1870-1888 – PHOTOGRAPHER: THOMAS WASHBOURNE. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/53338

From the camp, Mitchell could see Mount Abrupt just to the north-east and on the morning of 14 September, he set off to climb to its summit.

1870-1888 http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/53112

MOUNT ABRUPT – c1870-1888. PHOTOGRAPHER THOMAS WASHBOURNE. http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/53112

Of the experience, he wrote,

…from the summit of Mount Abrupt I beheld a truly sublime scene; the whole of the mountains, quite clear of clouds, the grand outline of the more distant masses blended with the sky, and forming a blue and purple background for the numerous peaks of the range on which I stood, which consisted of sharp cones and perpendicular cliffs foreshortened so as to form one grand feature only of the extensive landscape, though composing a crescent nearly 30 miles in extent: this range being but a branch from the still more lofty masses of Mount William which crowned the whole. Towards the coast there was less haze than usual, for I could distinguish Lady Julia Percy’s Isle which I had looked for in vain from Mount Napier, a point twenty-four miles nearer to it. Here I could also trace the course of the stream we had crossed that morning from its sources under the eastern base of the mountains to a group of lower hills twenty-seven miles distant to the westward; which hills, named by me Dundas group…

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VIEW FROM MOUNT ABRUPT TO THE SOUTH-WEST INCL. MOUNT STURGEON, LAKE LINLITHGOW AND MOUNT NAPIER. Image courtesy of Graeme Tressider

He continued,

From this hill two other ranges branch off to the south; the western being marked Victoria range on the map, the eastern, the Serra, from its serrated appearance, the broken outlines they present being highly ornamental to the fine country around. On the northern slopes of the range are some forests of fine timber but in general the higher summits are bare and rocky.

Upon his descent, the party travelled east.  They had only gone a few miles when one of the bullocks collapsed from exhaustion near what is now Dunkeld.  It was a long journey for the bullocks made worse by the soft winter ground of south-west Victoria, so Mitchell decided to set up camp. There was also a broken axle to repair. Mitchell sent his second in charge, Granville Stapylton ahead to see how much further before the ground improved. On his return at nightfall on 15 September, he advised Mitchell that it was only another three or four miles.

Before setting out the next day, it was decided to leave some of the party behind to work on the broken axle. Also, half of the equipment would stay but all the bullocks would go ahead with the remaining equipment then make a return trip to collect the rest.  The reduced party set out again on the morning of 16 September and found the soft ground was also littered with sharp stones. They travelled eleven miles before they “encamped near a small lagoon on a spot where there was excellent grass”.  The site was around six kilometres south-west of what is today Glenthompson.

The bullocks returned to the previous camp and arrived back to the leading party the next day, exhausted and unable to go on until Mitchell conceded,”…they had enjoyed at least some weeks of repose”.  Low provisions did not allow such a break and it was time for what Mitchell described as “mature deliberation”.  The resolution was he and most of the party would go ahead to Sydney, while Mr Stapylton and a smaller party would stay behind with the bullocks and equipment.

…the camp in which Mr. Stapylton’s party was to remain two weeks was in as favourable a place for refreshing the cattle as could be found. The ground undulated and was thickly clothed with fresh verdure; a grassy swamp also, such as cattle delight in, extended northward into a lake of fresh water which I named Lake Repose. The peaks of the Serra Range and especially Mount Abrupt were landmarks which secured the men from even the possibility of losing their way in looking after the cattle.  

(Mitchell, T. L. (Thomas Livingstone), 1792-1855 and University of California Libraries Three expeditions into the interior of eastern Australia; with descriptions of the recently explored region of Australia Felix, and of the present colony of New South Wales. T. & W. Boone, London, 1839. Chapter 3.11)

http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/236368

Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria. http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/236368

On 19 September 1836, Mitchell bid farewell to Stapylton and turned his horse’s head for home.  At points along the way, he buried letters for Stapylton, of which he later found four.  Mitchell arrived back in Sydney on 3 November 1836 much to the surprise and relief of his family who thought him dead.

There is a last chapter in the story of Major Mitchell’s party at Lake Repose coming soon.

SOURCES

Mitchell, T. L. (Thomas Livingstone), 1792-1855 and University of California Libraries Three expeditions into the interior of eastern Australia; with descriptions of the recently explored region of Australia Felix, and of the present colony of New South Wales. T. & W. Boone, London, 1839.

Monument Australia – Thomas Mitchell Memorial Cairn – Glenthompson

 

Major Mitchell Crosses the Grange

We left Major Mitchell on his return to camp north of Mount Eckersley after an excursion to Portland Bay. Mitchell’s next target was Mount Napier to the north-east.  The party headed in that direction on 2 September but the heavy going slowed the wagons.  They set up camp on 3 September and the following day, Mitchell set off with a smaller party for Mount Napier.  Swamps and later volcanic rocks, a feature of the countryside hampered the journey, but soon the mountain was before them.

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MOUNT NAPIER. Image courtesy of Tony Esh.

Mitchell climbed to the summit and discovered the crater.  The idea of an extinct volcano was of great interest to him.  Looking around, he could see the Grampians and Mount William to the north.  Meanwhile, the sun was setting and before Mitchell knew, it was too late to return to camp.  He ascended and camped the night at the base of Mount Napier in unfavourable weather.  In the morning, fog hung over the mountain until 10:30 am and he returned to camp twenty-six miles away.

The party had to move on, so Mitchell headed them north toward Mount Napier. He thought the knowledge he gained on his earlier trip would see them bypass the swamps but soon swamps were again in their path, slowing the wagons.  Mitchell decided to set up camp about eight miles away from Mount Napier, possibly on the Lyne Creek or Camp Creek west of Byaduk North.

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MOUNT NAPIER FROM THE BYADUK/PENSHURST ROAD. Image courtesy of Kiri’s Images

From the camp, Mitchell set off again for Mount Napier.  At the summit the view was hazy, but occasionally it cleared enabling  Mitchell to sight and name Lake Linlithgow and Mount Rouse to the north-east.  Mitchell and the party spent the following day around Mount Napier before packing up the base camp on September 11 and setting off in a northerly direction.  His journal entry for 11 September read,

AGAIN REACH THE GOOD COUNTRY.

About that time a yellow flower in the grass caught my eye and, remembering that we had seen none of these golden flowers since we left the beautiful valley of the Wannon, I ventured to hope that we were at length approaching the good country at the head of that stream. Such was my anxious wish when I perceived through the trees a glimpse of an open grassy country, and immediately entered a fine clear valley with a lively little stream flowing westward through it and which I named the Grange. This was indeed one of the heads of the Wannon and we had at length reached the good country.

So Mitchell thought he had crossed the Grange.  Most  likely it was Violet Creek.  They followed the creek north until it veered to the west and the party continued on to the north.  The following day, 12 September 1836, they came to what is likely to have been Muddy Creek. They then met a “smaller stream” we know today as the Grange Burn,

We proceeded next along a continuous ridge of fine firm ground covered with excellent grass, and soon after we saw before us a smaller stream flowing under a broad grassy vale and, having crossed it also without difficulty, we encamped in one of the valleys beyond, where this tributary appeared to originate. A finer country could scarcely be imagined: enormous trees of the mimosa or wattle of which the bark is so valuable grew almost everywhere; and several new varieties of Caladenia were found today. The blue, yellow, pink, and brown-coloured were all observed on these flowery plains.  (Three Expeditions into the Interior of Eastern Australia : with descriptions of the recently explored region of Australia Felix, and of the present colony of New South Wales by Major T. L. Mitchell, Volume 2, Chapter 3.9)

The point at which Mitchell crossed Hamilton’s Grange Burn is not entirely obvious but it is generally considered it was close to the Digby Road bridge where the Grange settlement would begin a few years later (below).

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SITE OF THE GRANGE SETTLEMENT, DIGBY ROAD HAMILTON

In 1884, the Hamilton Spectator published an article entitled “Early Settlement of Australia Felix” charting the path of Major Mitchell.  Along with Mitchell’s description, landmarks from the 1880s were included.

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“EARLY SETTLEMENT OF AUSTRALIA FELIX.” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 20 November 1884: 3. Web. 8 Sep 2016 .

After crossing the Grange Burn, it’s thought Mitchell’s party moved roughly north-east along what is now Lonsdale Street.

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LOOKING SOUTH-WEST ALONG LONSDALE STREET

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LOOKING NORTH-EAST ALONG LONSDALE STREET

Don Garden in his book “Hamilton, A Western District History” also suggests Collins Street as a possible route. With Mitchell’s limited description, there is nothing to say they didn’t follow the course of the Grange Burn because, by the end of 12 September, they had set up camp on the Grange near Strathkellar, east of Hamilton.

"EARLY SETTLEMENT OF AUSTRALIA FELIX." Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 - 1918) 20 November 1884: 3. Web. 8 Sep 2016 .

“EARLY SETTLEMENT OF AUSTRALIA FELIX.” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 20 November 1884: 3. Web. 8 Sep 2016 .

Along the way, Mitchell saw and named Mount Bainbrigge (now commonly known as Mount Baimbridge), to the north and Mount Pierrepoint to the south.  On September 13, the expedition moved off from the Strathkellar camp.  Mitchell’s journal entry for the day read,

We broke up our camp early this morning and on reaching the highest ground we discovered a large lake on our left: it was nearly circular, about half a mile in circumference and surrounded by high firm banks from which there was no visible outlet; I named it Lake Nivelle.  

(Three Expeditions into the Interior of Eastern Australia : with descriptions of the recently explored region of Australia Felix, and of the present colony of New South Wales by Major T. L. Mitchell, Volume 2, Chapter 3.9)

Lake Nivelle is known today as Lake Doling Doling, on the Doling Road at Strathkellar.  From there Mitchell’s party headed toward the southern point of the Grampians.  We’ll meet up with Major Mitchell again on 18 September when it will be 180 years ago since he passed near Glenthompson.

SETTLEMENT OF HAMILTON

News of the “good country” soon spread on Major Mitchell’s return to Sydney. Within two years, interested parties were on their way to see for themselves.  Charles, Richard, and Edward Wedge were the first to arrive in 1838 taking up the Grange run.  

Early arrivals at The Grange as Hamilton was known, were James and Jane Blastock in 1843. James purchased the Grange Inn in 1844, very close to where Major Mitchell passed less than ten years earlier.  The map below shows the Grange Inn or Blastock’s Inn, near the crossing of the Grange on Digby Road.

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PHOTO OF MAP ON INTERPRETIVE BOARD AT THE SITE OF THE GRANGE SETTLEMENT, DIGBY ROAD HAMILTON.

James Blastock died in 1857 and his widow Jane married James Wiggins.  In 1893, journalist The Vagabond made a return visit to Hamilton, having previously visited in 1884.  For accurate information on the early settlement of Hamilton, locals suggested he visit Hamilton’s oldest resident Jane Wiggins at her home Sandal on the Grange Burn, not far from where she had lived with her late husband at the Grange Inn.

wiggins

From her cottage’s verandah on the hill on Digby Road,  Jane Wiggins pointed out the track Major Mitchell travelled along and the site of the former Grange Inn.

"HAMILTON" Leader (Melbourne, Vic. : 1862 - 1918) 25 November 1893: .

“HAMILTON” Leader (Melbourne, Vic. : 1862 – 1918) 25 November 1893: <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article196644733&gt;.

HAMILTON’S CENTENARY

In 1937, Hamilton celebrated the 100th anniversary of Major Mitchell’s passing through the area with a week of activities including a “Back to Hamilton”. You may wonder why it was not held in 1936. The organising committee did consider September 1936, but thought since the first settlement was in 1838, early 1937 mid-way between the two events was a better option.  Early on in the planning stages, the committee had problems with funding and raising public interest.  That may have also contributed to the later date.  Despite the early problems, the celebration was a roaring success. A highlight was a lecture by historian Alfred S. Kenyon on the summit of Mount Napier where a memorial cairn was unveiled in 1915.

"CENTENARY AT HAMILTON" The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957) 13 March 1937: 24. .

“CENTENARY AT HAMILTON” The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957) 13 March 1937: 24. <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article11049077&gt;.

Another highlight was the unveiling of a Major Mitchell memorial cairn at Hamilton on 15 March 1937.  Just off Lonsdale Street, the acting premier Francis Old unveiled the cairn before several hundred people.  Also, Thomas Mitchell’s grandson presented the town with a photo of his explorer grandfather.

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MAJOR MITCHELL MEMORIAL CAIRN, HAMILTON

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SOURCES

Garden, Donald S. (Donald Stuart) and Hamilton (Vic.). Council Hamilton, a Western District history. City of Hamilton in conjunction with Hargreen, North Melbourne, 1984.

Hamilton Spectator at Trove Australia

Mitchell, T. L. (Thomas Livingstone), 1792-1855 and University of California Libraries Three expeditions into the interior of eastern Australia; with descriptions of the recently explored region of Australia Felix, and of the present colony of New South Wales. T. & W. Boone, London, 1839.