Strong in Faith…A Story of Monivae Estate

For over 175 years, the name of “Monivae” has been familiar to the people of Hamilton and district. What it represents has changed with the generations from a parish and schools to an old bluestone homestead Hamiltonians pass on their annual migration south to Port Fairy. For the returned WW1 soldier and poet Thomas SkeyhillMonivae was the place the fairies played as he walked the paddocks, “with a copy of Keats…and dog at my heels.” 

Local history wasn’t something taught at school but I  did learn the origins of the name “Monivae”. Not during a history class, rather religious education. I attended Hamilton’s Monivae College, a Catholic secondary school. The college opened in the 1950s, on the Hamilton/Port Fairy Road, just south of Hamilton on a property with a two-storey bluestone homestead.  After the school relocated to Ballarat Road, Hamilton, the original property became known as “Old Monivae”.  Those of similar age to myself, who didn’t sit through a Form 1 RE class at Monivae, could be excused for thinking the name started with the school.  Instead, it goes back to an Irish Protestant by the name of Acheson Ffrench.

Appointed as Police Magistrate in 1841 at Hamilton, then known as The Grange, Acheson Ffrench aged twenty-nine was from Monivea Castle, County Galway, Ireland, the Ffrench ancestral home dating back to the 16oos when the Ffrenchs took over from the O’Kellys.  Born at the castle in 1812, the son of Robert Ffrench and Nicola O’Brien was educated in Dublin, destined to join the clergy, but Acheson had questions. He left Ireland and went on a pilgrimage of sorts through Europe and the Holy Land before landing in Australia.  Don Garden in Hamilton, A Western District History, cites C. J. Griffith who met Ffrench in Melbourne soon after his arrival.  Griffith recalled Ffrench’s tattoos, Jerusalem Arms inked by a monk in the ancient city along with various Arabic characters.

“Government Gazette.” Australasian Chronicle (Sydney, NSW : 1839 – 1843) 8 July 1841: 4. Web. 14 Oct 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article31732227&gt;.

It was also 1841 when Ffrench took up land, a large run of 17,000 acres to the south of The Grange. He named it Monivae after his Galway home. It seems he never took on the original spelling of Monivea but Ffrench seemed fairly flexible in that respect.  He dropped a letter from his surname, signing letters to the newspapers, of which he wrote many, as A.French. The Ffrench surname had already evolved back in Ireland from ffrench.

“Advertising” The Melbourne Daily News (Vic. : 1848 – 1851) 1 February 1849: 4. Web. 14 Oct 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article226472923&gt;.

On 8 February 1842, Ffrench married his fiancé Anna Watton, a daughter of Dr John Watton who in that year became Medical Officer at the Mt Rouse Aboriginal Protectorate.  Acheson and Anna lived at the Police Magistrate’s residence on a site selected by Acheson on the corner of Thompson and Martin streets. The Hamilton Police Station and Courthouse still stand there today.

“Family Notices” Geelong Advertiser (Vic. : 1840 – 1845) 14 February 1842: 3. Web. 14 Oct 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article92679898&gt;.

By the end of 1843, the role of Police Magistrate was abolished and Ffrench was without a job.  However, by February 1844, the government announced a new commission intended to keep the peace and Ffrench was named as a commissioner.  He was able to stay on in at his residence but with reduced employment, Ffrench turned to improving Monivae and running sheep. The Ffrench offspring were arriving at a steady rate and in 1847, a homestead was built at Monivae on what is now the eastern side of the Hamilton/Port Fairy Road.  Anna would bear twelve children in all, six boys and six girls, with one dying as a baby.

Acheson Ffrench wasn’t the best of farmers and money problems arose.  In 1864, he put Monivae up for lease for a term of three years and moved the family to Melbourne.

“Advertising” The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957) 29 January 1864: 8. Web. 18 Oct 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article5743286&gt;.

The family spent two years in Melbourne, returning to Monivae in 1866. Ffrench’s trips to Melbourne continued and he was there on 29 January 1870.  He fancied a dip at Kenny’s Gentleman’s Bathing Ship (below) at St Kilda. With his arms reportedly by his side, Ffrench described as, “somewhat heavy with a stout build”, dived into the water from one of the diving boards. Normally at a depth of six feet, the tide was out leaving the water depth at just over four feet. Ffrench hit his head on the bottom and unconscious when dragged out.  He could not be revived, dying within minutes.  An inquest found Acheson had broken his neck. Arising from the inquest was a conversation, of which Ffrench was a part in the days before his death.  At lunch with friends, the topic of discussion turned to death from diving accidents.

KENNY’S BATHING SHIP, ST. KILDA. Artist – Thomas Clark. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/84320

When news of Acheson Ffrench’s death reached Hamilton, shops closed as a mark of respect.  He was remembered in the Hamilton Spectator, “…as generally very highly respected throughout the district for his strict integrity and manliness of character, whilst there was a certain rugged independence about him which led him to adhere strictly to his own convictions, without, however, attempting to force his views upon others”.  Monivae was placed on the market and Anna Ffrench and the children moved to Melbourne.

“Advertising” The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957) 9 August 1870: 3. Web. 14 Oct 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article5828208&gt;.

Ownership of Monivae transferred from an Irishman the Spectator described as having “peculiar” religious views, to a staunch Presbyterian from the Scottish Highlands.  James Thomson and his wife Christian Armstrong arrived in Victoria in 1852 aboard the Europa.  They spent around five years at the Clyde Company’s Golf Hill, near Shelford. Their first child John was born in 1853 at neighbouring Warrambeen, home of Christian’s brother Alexander Armstrong.  James Thomson then purchased an interest the Ullswater and Maryvale Stations near Edenhope and settled at the later property.

By the time the Thomsons arrived at Monivae in 1870, they had seven children aged two to seventeen and they moved into Ffrench’s homestead. Over the next six years, the Thomson family continued to grow.  In 1871, twins James and George were born followed by Wilhelmina Jessie in 1873. Sadly, Wilhelmina died on 5 April 1875.  The last child born to the family was William Armstrong Thomson in September 1876.  It was around the time of William’s birth, James Thomson decided they needed a bigger home or more correctly, a “mansion”. He wasn’t the only one and the “bloated aristocrats” were duly roasted by the Ballarat Star calling for a mansion tax.

“NEW SOURCE OF TAXATION.” The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 – 1924) 18 December 1876: 4. Web. 14 Oct 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article199833143&gt;.

Some may believe, especially if they did Form 1 RE with me in the 1980s, the existing Monivae homestead was built by Acheson Ffrench.  James Thomson was never mentioned in our classes.  Likewise, Thomson was not mentioned in historian Margaret Kiddle’s book Men of Yesterday and she credited Ffrench for building Monivae “probably in the late sixties” (p.316). However, James Thomson was responsible for the Monivae Homestead we know today.

The site for the new homestead was about 800 metres from the former homestead and on the other side of the Hamilton/Port Fairy Road.  William Smith, the Borough Surveyor drew up plans, tenders opened and using bluestone sourced from the quarry on the property, construction began.  Thomson’s total expenditure was £5400 something he likely regretted because the government did introduce a “class” tax and if the timing was slightly different, the homestead may never have been built. The land tax, introduced in the colony in 1877, intended to break up large holdings such as Monivae and it was thought Thomson would never have gone ahead had it come earlier.

MONIVAE HOMESTEAD 1966. Image courtesy of the J.T. Collins Collection, La Trobe Picture Collection, State Library of Victoria. http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/230077

Hamilton Spectator correspondent toured the new sixteen roomed homestead in May 1878. Critical of the external appearance he suggested “one of those elegant lookout towers” to improve the looks. He remarked it might be an addition “when times – politically speaking – improve”.  A tower was never added and reforms to the land tax didn’t come until 1884. The lacework and coloured tiles of the verandah did meet approval. As the correspondent entered the front door, a hallway measuring twenty-four feet by ten feet wide was before him with, “white walls, shining like so much marble would perhaps give it too cold a look; but for the coloured light thrown into it, from the staircase and front door windows, and its mosaic pavement formed of Minton’s tiles.” The drawing room was around twenty-six feet by sixteen feet but for special occasions, folding doors into the breakfast room could open.  The floor space then increased to forty-six feet, allowing for dancing.

The homestead boasted an eighteen-foot tiled staircase with a cedar railing leading to the upper storey with a balcony verandah around ten feet wide and 130 feet long.  Paved in coloured tiles, it was perfect for the Thomson children to roller skate. That was until 1887 when sixteen-year-old James Thomas Thomson skated straight over the railing onto the gravel about nine metres below. He fractured his skull and although it was touch and go for a few days, he made a full recovery.  His twin George, known as “Joe” was not so lucky.  Having suffered congenital heart problems, he died suddenly two years late on 4 June 1889, at Monivae aged eighteen.

MONIVAE HOMESTEAD 1966. Image courtesy of the J.T. Collins Collection, La Trobe Picture Collection, State Library of Victoria. http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/230077

The Thomson children were not the marrying kind. Of the five Thomson girls, three married, as did three of the surviving four boys. None married before the age of twenty-seven and John was fifty-six. The first Thomson wedding was that of thirty-year-old Annie Thomson to James Allan Learmonth, son of Hamilton businessman and grazier Peter Learmonth and Mary Jarvey Pearson of Prestonholme. Learmonth was also a devout Methodist, a pillar of the Hamilton Wesleyan Church in McIntyre Street.

It was the grandest of the three weddings James Thompson would pay for.  Celebrated on 1 September 1886, at St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church Hamilton, the marriage was not followed by the usual wedding breakfast. Instead, two weeks later James threw a private ball for two hundred guests in the Hamilton Town Hall for the newlyweds in lieu of a wedding breakfast.  Such a grand affair may have been due to Annie’s imminent departure for Mexico with her new husband who’d been managing the family property there.  It could also have been the thinking of a canny Scot.  Why pay for both a wedding breakfast and a send-off when one event will suffice.

HAMILTON TOWN HALL 1910. Image courtesy of the Museum Victoria Collections http://collections.museumvictoria.com.au/items/765800

On 3 October 1888, it was Margaret “Maggie” Thomson’s turn to marry. She too had reached the age of thirty and opted for a small quiet gathering at Monivae. The groom was Thomas Haliburton Laidlaw, son of Thomas Laidlaw and Grace McLeod and those in attendance were mostly family. Elizabeth “Lizzie” Thomson married on 27 July 1893 in the drawing room at Monivae, again a quiet celebration.  Her groom was bank manager Forrester Goldsmith Armstrong, a son of Oliver Armstrong of Kyneton. By this time Lizzie’s older sister Annie and her family were home from Mexico to witness the occasion.

Fire has threatened the Monviae homestead many times since its construction including 1891, 1944 and more recently Ash Wednesday of 1983. The fires of February 1901 were particularly fierce and practically wiped out Byaduk North a little further south. At Monivae, fire swept through the property from one end to the other killing around 2000 sheep.

“ALONG MACARTHUR ROAD.” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 9 February 1901

In 1906, the Victorian Government received an offer to buy 17,000 acres of the Monivae Estate from James Thomson for Closer Settlement.  He would keep 3,000 acres and the homestead. Negotiations with the government broke down, so James subdivided the land himself. An initial sale on 24 November 1906 saw 322 acres auctioned.  Of the lots sold they averaged around £16 per acre. A second sale was held on 20 December 1906 and 1022 acres were sold at an average of £9 13/ per acre. James also sold off Crawford Estate and subdivided 500 acres of Lake Condah Estate. With a downsized Monivae, youngest son William left the property and moved to Portland. Oldest son John stayed on at Monivae as did unmarried daughters Mary and Christina.

The land sales came in the wake of a great loss for the Thomson family.  On 8.20am on 24 October 1906 at Monivae, the matriarch of the family, Christian Thomson drew her last breath at the age of seventy-five.  A deeply religious and charitable woman, she was one of the fundraising champions of the town and attended St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church like clockwork “morning and night”. Everyone knew her pew. A full member of the church for thirty-six years, her name was added to the church roll on 4 October 1870.  Christian was also a member of the Ladies Benevolent Society and the British and Foreign Bible Society.  She managed to attend church until just a couple of weeks before her death.  Christian was buried at the Hamilton (Old) Cemetery.

GRAVE OF CHRISTIAN THOMSON, HAMILTON (OLD) CEMETERY

It was fourteen years between the weddings of Thomson children and it was James Thomas Thomson, the roller skater, who was next to take the plunge.  He was living at Inverary, Branxholme by the time he married Henrietta Moynan on 26 November 1907 at the Anglican Christ Church Hamilton, the church sharing Church Hill with St. Andrew’s. The couple made their home at Inverary.  By that time, some may have thought James’ older brother John who had hit his mid-fifties, would remain a bachelor but on 31 March 1909 at Lilydale, he married Christiana Robertson.  Younger brother Alexander was close behind, marrying Ethel Manning on 6 May 1909.  He was forty-six.

Possibly the last public duty undertaken by James Thomson of Monivae was the laying of a foundation stone for a new St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church.  A devout parishioner, James donated bluestone from the Monivae quarry for the new church.  The ceremony took place on 18 December 1907 with James just four months from his eighty-seventh birthday.

FOUNDATION STONE, ST ANDREW’S PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, HAMILTON

 

ST ANDREW’S PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, HAMILTON

After completion of the new Presbyterian church, James donated a memorial window to remember his wife, Christian.  Also, portraits of James and Christian and their children John and Margaret Thomson were unveiled at the church in 1918 along with those of seven other prominent Hamilton Presbyterians.

“BEAUTIFUL MEMORIAL WINDOW.” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 26 May 1909: 4. Web. 14 Oct 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article225037595&gt;.

James Thomson died at Monivae on 25 April 1910 after an illness of two weeks.  His obituary described him as, “…a man of sterling qualities and simple tastes. Never courting publicity, he was never so happy as when surrounded by children or occupying himself in his garden”.  James left Monivae for the last time at 2.30pm on Wednesday 27 April 1910 for the Hamilton (Old) Cemetery.

GRAVE OF JAMES THOMSON, HAMILTON (OLD) CEMETERY

James Thomson’s probate file reveals his liabilities were £814. His debts included rates, wages to a number of Monivae staff and accounts with businesses in Hamilton.  The total of the estate was £36,209. Of that, over £2600 was stock including several thousand sheep. Another £300 was the furniture filling the rooms of the homestead.  The Monivae property including the homestead was valued at £25000. By that time, the homestead Ffrench built was accommodation for Monivae workers.  James bequeathed two-thirds of his estate to his four living sons, divided equally.  To his five daughters, James bequeathed one-third of his estate in equal shares. Eldest son John Thomson was given the first option to buy the property at a value of £8 per acre.  He could also buy the farm implements and furniture in the homestead for £400. The last of the Lake Condah Estate was sold as too a large amount of stock.  Extra funds were no doubt wanted to pay the duty on the estate totalling more than £2500, seven percent of the total.

John Thomson did take up the option to buy Monivae.  He was around fifty-seven and newly married to Christina “Keenie” Robertson, a daughter of Scot James Robertson and Jane Ritchie of Keilor.  Christina herself was forty-three and children were not in the equation. Like his parents, John was a stalwart of the Presbyterian Church and on the board of management of St Andrew’s for thirty years.  As well as running Monivae, John was a politician and by 1910, had held the seat of Dundas in Victoria’s Legislative Assembly for eighteen years across two terms and was a Honourary Minster in the Cabinet.

“THE OPENING OF THE THIRD FEDERAL PARLIAMENT.” Weekly Times (Melbourne, Vic. : 1869 – 1954) 2 March 1907: 9. Web. 13 Oct 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article221256443&gt;.

In May 1914, John Thomson announced after twenty-two years in the seat of Dundas, he would not stand for re-election at the forthcoming State Election. The reasons given were the need to spend more time at home with his wife and to tend to other family matters. He said the last five years were extremely busy ones and he was looking forward to leading a quieter life.

John’s unmarried sisters Christina and Mary had stayed on at Monivae after their father’s death.  In 1914 and feeling under the weather, Christina then aged forty-six attended the doctor on Friday 6 November but managed to take up her usual place at St Andrew’s the following Sunday.  She died suddenly about midday at Monivae on Monday 9 November with Mary at her side. Well-liked in the community, Christina like her mother was devout and charitable.

It was around the time of Christina’s death, the Monivae State School opened on the Portland Road.  With Closer Settlement in the district and James’ subdivision of Monivae, the area was becoming increasingly populated. The school eventually closed and in 1946, the school building was moved to the North Hamilton State School.

John Thomson spent the years after his political retirement maintaining Monivae and was involved with various committees and activities in the Hamilton district.  He made a trip to Melbourne on 3 August 1917 and attended a school football match with Archibald Simpson of Clifton, Hamilton.  The funeral for John Thomson was large with condolences and floral tributes sent from dignitaries across Victoria.  His coffin bearers were Monivae employees and members of the Hamilton Angling Club. John was buried in the Thomson family plot at the Hamilton (Old) Cemetery as the Hamilton Brass Band played “Nearer My God to Thee”.   

GRAVE OF JOHN THOMSON AND HIS WIFE CHRISTINA ROBERTSON

John left his estate valued at over £46,000 to his wife Christina and brother-in-law Thomas Laidlaw. Upon Christina’s death, the estate would be divided between John’s brothers and sisters.  One of John’s more interesting investments was 500 shares in the Melbourne Ice Skating Company. The estate was held in trust and Christina moved to Sandringham in 1921. She died at Toorak in December 1949 at the age of seventy-nine.

Alexander, the second eldest son of James and Christian Thomson took over the running of Monivae.  Alexander and his wife Ethel Manning and their two children Kathleen Mary and  James Yelverton Monivae Thomson moved into the homestead.  Kathleen (below) married Hugh Lloyd Cameron of Geelong at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Hamilton on 18 February 1937.

KATHLEEN MARY THOMSON 1937 ‘Family Notices’, Table Talk (Melbourne, Vic. : 1885 – 1939), 11 March, p. 50. , http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article149614310

The 1930s saw the death of five of the Thomson siblings.  Annie died on 14 June 1930 at Prestonholme aged sixty-four leaving six children, Edgar, Russell, Keith, Christina (Mrs James Young), Maggie (Mrs Alex Armstrong), and Mona Learmonth. Having married the son of Hamilton’s leading Methodist, Annie changed her allegiances and was active in within her new church.  A memorial window (below) was installed in the Hamilton Wesleyan Methodist Church remembering Annie and her husband James Learmonth.

LEARMONTH MEMORIAL WINDOW, HAMILTON UNITING CHURCH

Annie was buried at the Hamilton (Old) Cemetery

Margaret died on 30 December 1932 at her home Kilora (below) in Kennedy Street, Hamilton. She left six children, Hal, John, Alexander, Thomas, Gretta (Mrs Lance Lewis) and Bea (Mrs John McKellar) Laidlaw.  On 23 March 1933, Elizabeth died at Corra, Willaura, the home of her son-in-law Donald Moffatt leaving two children Vera and Pat.  James Thompson Jr. died in 1934.  He and Henrietta did not have children.  Youngest son William, who never married, died on 2 May 1943 aged sixty-six at Portland.  His body was taken to Monivae before leaving for the Hamilton Cemetery.  After the death of her sister Christina, unmarried Mary Thomson spent time in Malvern living with her sister Elizabeth. After Elizabeth died, Mary moved into Kilora (below), sharing the home with her widower brother-in-law Thomas Laidlaw, husband of Margaret Thomson, until her death on 13 May 1939. Thomas Laidlaw died in 1941.

KILORA, HAMILTON

Alexander Thomson’s death in June 1946 aged eighty-three, brought to a close the lives of the children of James and Christian Thomson. Sixteen of their grandchildren and their children remained. Like his siblings, Alexander was buried in the Thomson plot at the Hamilton (Old) Cemetery (below).  

THOMSON FAMILY PLOT, PRESBYTERIAN SECTION, HAMILTON (OLD) CEMETERY

After seventy-seven years, with the estate of John Thomson requiring closure, Monivae in the Parish of Monivae in the County of Normanby went up for sale.  

“Advertising” The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957) 28 December 1946: 18. Web. 16 Oct 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article22384820&gt;.

The Catholic order of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart (MSC) was looking for a new site for a boys’ boarding college after establishing a school in Toowoomba, Queensland sixteen years earlier.  The Monivae homestead was purchased in 1947 with grand plans of developing the property into a school.

“M.S C. BOYS’ COLLEGE FOR HAMILTON” Advocate (Melbourne, Vic. : 1868 – 1954) 13 August 1947: 7. Web. 16 Oct 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article172490068&gt;.

It soon became clear, the site was not suitable and the MSC went in search of a new site. Bob Strachan owned land on Ballarat Road, Hamilton and the MSC were able to negotiate a trade with him.  The MSC obtained the land in Ballarat Road for the new school and retained 100 acres at Monivae including the homestead.  Bob Strachan’s side of the bargain was the balance of the Monivae property.  A day school in temporary buildings on the Monivae property started in February 1954 while the new school was under construction.  On 17 October 1954, the foundation stone for the Ballarat Road school was blessed. The contract for the building which started in mid-1953 was the largest seen in Hamilton, estimated at £250,000. Classes started at the new school in 1956 despite it being far from complete.  Monivae College not only adopted the name of the Ffrench named property, the school’s badge includes a reminder of Ffrench’s heritage, two Dolphins  also part of the Ffrench family crest.

MONIVAE COLLEGE, BALLARAT ROAD, HAMILTON c1956.
Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/64414

From 1841, religion was at the forefront at Monivae.  From Acheson Ffrench questioning and challenging his faith to the Thomson’s unwavering devotion, to the arrival of the priests of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart. The Monivae College motto Fortes in Fide meaning Strong in Faith could easily have been the Thomson’s motto too.  

The Monivae homestead became rundown and was later taken over by Glenelg Region Water, now known as Wannon Water.

MONIVAE HOMESTEAD 1981. Image courtesy of the J.T. Collins Collection, La Trobe Picture Collection, State Library of Victoria. http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/230082

The homestead and what remains of the surrounding Monivae property has since returned to private ownership and has undergone extensive restoration.  Monivae will be open on Sunday 22 October from 10am to 4pm.  All proceeds go to another of Hamilton’s historic jewels the Hamilton Botanic Gardens and its ongoing redevelopment. Appropriate as a feature of the gardens is the beautiful John Thomson Memorial Fountain. Such was the high regard for John Thomson of Monivae around the Hamilton district, the fountain was built in his memory and unveiled in April 1919 by the then Premier of Victoria.  In its position, the fountain is visible from the front gates of Kilora in Kennedy Street, acting as a constant reminder of their dear brother John for sisters Margaret and Mary Thomson during their time at the home.     

©2017 Merron Riddiford

Trove Tuesday – A Highway of Treasures

Recently at the Western District Families Facebook page, the page followers and I completed a virtual tour of the Hamilton Highway “stopping” at historic sites along the way. After 185 kilometres and eight weeks, the virtual tour rolled into Hamilton.  I could not have done it without Trove.  Using Trove as my search engine, I was able to locate relevant out of copyright photos held by the State Library of Victoria and the Museums Victoria Collection.  Also newspaper articles from Trove’s digitised newspapers along the way.

The Hamilton Highway was once the main route to the south-west of Victoria from Geelong and Melbourne and some of the earliest buildings, such as the Elephant Hotel at Darlington, date back to the 1840s.  There was such diversity in the history along the highway.  From Cressy, where local schoolmaster Gabriel Knight documented the growth of the township in the 1910s through to the German settlements between Penshurst and Hamilton dating back to the 1850s.  In between, we visited the beautiful homesteads, learnt about 19th century murders and visited former RAAF bases.  There were volcanoes, bank robberies and many faces from the past.

It was at Hexham that I almost stalled and could have quiet easily got sidetracked.  It had everything I enjoy, homesteads, historic gardens, horses and 1920s/30s glamour.  The Hexham Polo Club began in 1884 and polo really took off in the 1890s.  Families such as the Hoods, Manifolds and Urquharts were there in the beginning and some of their descendants are still members.  The polo drew visitors from Melbourne and the districts around Hexham and was a highlight of the social calendar as were the associated parties and dances.  The following photos are from a tournament in 1936.

"POLO CARNIVAL AT HEXHAM (V.)" The Australasian (Melbourne, Vic. : 1864 - 1946) 29 February 1936: 27 (METROPOLITAN EDITION). Web. 27 Feb 2017 .

“POLO CARNIVAL AT HEXHAM (V.)” The Australasian (Melbourne, Vic. : 1864 – 1946) 29 February 1936: 27 (METROPOLITAN EDITION). Web. 27 Feb 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article141769891&gt;.

 

"POLO CARNIVAL AT HEXHAM (V.)" The Australasian (Melbourne, Vic. : 1864 - 1946) 29 February 1936: 27 (METROPOLITAN EDITION). Web. 27 Feb 2017 .

“POLO CARNIVAL AT HEXHAM (V.)” The Australasian (Melbourne, Vic. : 1864 – 1946) 29 February 1936: 27 (METROPOLITAN EDITION). Web. 27 Feb 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article141769891&gt;.

It wasn’t easy to drag myself away from the polo but I had to keep motoring along but I then came across Boortkoi.  Now Boortkoi was not grandest or the oldest of the homesteads we saw along the Hamilton Highway, but the images of glamour, style and aristocracy it conjured up in my mind made it hard to continue past it.

The State Library of Victoria holds photos of Boortkoi as part of the J.T Collins Collection.  This is one of just many collections the State Library hold and I am constantly grateful to John Collins and his photography for the National Trust he left to the library.  

 J.T. Collins Collection, La Trobe Picture Collection, State Library of Victoria. http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/231806

BOORTKOI, HEXHAM J.T. Collins Collection, La Trobe Picture Collection, State Library of Victoria. http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/231806

Boortkoi was owned by the Manifold family and when I did some newspaper searching at Trove, I found this beautiful wedding photo.  On 7 March 1933, Andrew Manifold, son of Edward Manifold of Boortkoi married Jess Robertson of Melton South at Frankston.

"Table Talk of The Week" Table Talk (Melbourne, Vic. : 1885 - 1939) 16 March 1933: 4. Web. 27 Feb 2017 .

“Table Talk of The Week” Table Talk (Melbourne, Vic. : 1885 – 1939) 16 March 1933: 4. Web. 27 Feb 2017 .

Jess Manifold was beautiful and stylish and I wanted to find out more about her and the life she and Andrew had at Boortkoi. Searching for Jess took me to Table Talk one of my favourite publications digitised at Trove.  I found Jess played tennis in a Camperdown tournament in 1935, a popular social event for the Melbourne socialites.  Table Talk reported on 3 January 1935, Jess had two tennis outfits a pink chukka skirt and a white linen skirt.  Also, at a wedding in January 1937, Jess looked stylish in a cinnamon brown chiffon cocktail dress with a straw toque (brimless) hat adorned with the latest trend, opalescent flowers.  And, at a cocktail party at the Menzies Hotel in 1937, she wore dusty pink with a blue hat, scarf and sash.  I also found Jess was at least twice voted one of Melbourne’s best best-dressed, the only country woman named.

""Grannies" among best-dressed" The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957) 12 January 1950: 3. Web. 28 Feb 2017 .

“”Grannies” among best-dressed” The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957) 12 January 1950: 3. Web. 28 Feb 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article22804008&gt;.

In early 1935, the couple moved into the rebuilt homestead at Boortkoi.  During my Trove searches, I discovered Andrew and Jess had commissioned Edna Walling to design a new garden. The following image is Edna’s plan for the garden.

http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/236209

Edna Walling Collection, State Library of Victoria. http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/236209

I love Edna Walling.  I’ve read her books, tried to emulate her style in my garden (and failed) and looked through her photos held by the State Library of Victoria, another of the wonderful collections they hold.  With Edna Walling now part of the Boortkoi story, I again started losing my way looking through Edna’s photos again, one of which is among my favourite photos I’ve found at the State Library of Victoria (below).

 Edna Walling Collection, State Library of Victoria. http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/280983

Edna Walling Collection, State Library of Victoria. http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/280983

The touring has now turned to the Henty Highway from Cherrypool to Portland and has just “arrived” at Branxholme.  There is so much history along the twenty-five kilometre stretch from Hamilton to Branxholme, it’s taken ten days to make the trip.  So why not join us.  You’ll find the Western District Families Facebook page here.

You can find the State Library of Victoria’s collection of photos on the link here and the Museums Victoria Collections on the link here.  Always check the copyright status of the photos and if there are any particular citing instructions.  The SLV has special instructions on their collections such as the J.T.Collins collection and the Museums Victoria also has guidelines for using their photos under the Creative Commons licence.  While I could look for my photos directly on those sites, I find using Trove is much easier for searching, filtering and working with the results and I can easily tag for future reference and keep my newspaper and photo discoveries together.

 

 

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 Nicol

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.

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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.