Introducing…The Vagabond

There was James Bonwick with his tour through the Western District in 1857, colonial artists such as Eugene von Guerard and Samuel Gill and there was poet  Adam Lindsay Gordon.  From each of these sources we can learn about Western District life during the 19th century, its natural features, who the people where and how they lived.

Bonwick’s book Western Victoria, Its’ Geography, Geology, and Social Condition: the narrative of an educational tour in 1857 gives a wonderful insight into the small towns of the Western District, the people he met along the way and the flora, fauna and topography of the land.  A town that received a positive report often had residents with church habits that met Bonwick’s approval.

The colonial artists captured the natural landscape,  homesteads of squatters and life on the diggings.  Von Guerard’s “Old Ballarat as it was in the summer of 1853-4”  is recognised as an accurate depiction of the Ballarat diggings.  If you visit the Art Gallery of Ballarat, allow time to be mesmerised by the original and it’s detail.

Adam Lindsay Gordon in lyrical verse described the rugged limestone coast of the south-east of South Australia, the sea, the bush and colonial horse racing.

Then there was The Vagabond, a newspaper journalist who trekked throughout Victoria in 1884 and brought readers of “The Argus“, and beyond, a picture of country Victoria through his eyes in the series “Picturesque Victoria“.

Over the next few months, I hope to share the  “Picturesque Victoria” articles that relate to Western Victoria as they give us a glimpse of the social history of the district.  Looking at The Vagabond’s life I thought it right to tell you something about him ahead of those articles as I believe that knowing something of the man enhances the reading experience.

Some you may know of The Vagabond and his tour through Western Victoria, but do you really know the him?

[John Stanley James, alias] Julian Thomas [pen name "The Vagabond"] Stewart & Co., e photographer.

[John Stanley James, alias] Julian Thomas [pen name “The Vagabond”] Stewart & Co.,
e photographer. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/172507

The Vagabond was the pen name of John Stanley James, alias Julian Thomas.  John Stanley James was born in Staffordshire , England in 1844.  In 1872, he left  England for America, changing  his name to Julian Thomas.  After a failed marriage in Virginia he travelled to Sydney in 1875, then began work at Melbourne’s Argus newspaper as a journalist, a profession he had tried to break into in London during the late 1860s.

James immersed himself into his subjects, taking investigative journalism to the extreme.  In 1876, he began a series of articles for The Argus, later compiled and published as the The Vagabond Papers.   By August 1877, there were three series of “The Vagabond Papers” in publication, with 15,000 copies sold in the colony and also republished in Germany.  The premise behind his articles was to take readers into some of Victoria’s institutions and give an often “behind the scenes” insight.

The first article written was “A Night in a Model Lodging-House” on April 15, 1876 and James, then known as Julian Thomas introduced The Vagabond.

A NIGHT IN THE MODEL LODGING-HOUSE. (1876, April 15). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), p. 5. Retrieved August 7, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article7436975

A NIGHT IN THE MODEL LODGING-HOUSE. (1876, April 15). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957), p. 5. Retrieved August 7, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article7436975

The article continues with a vivid description of The Vagabond’s first night in a lodging house.  Two weeks later he published “A Day in the Immigrant’s Home”, followed by titles such as “In a Fashionable Church”.

Three Days in the Benevolent Asylum No 1.” showed the lengths James would go to for a story.  He managed to have himself admitted to the Melbourne Benevolent Asylum and spent three days living the life of an inmate.  Three days in the Benevolent Asylum was nothing when James spent a month in Kew Lunatic Asylum writing the series “A month in Kew Asylum and Yarra Bend”, although as a staff member and not an inmate.

Melbourne Benevolent Asylum (1871) photographer :Charles Nettleton (1826-1902). Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria Victorian Patents Office Copyright Collection Image no. H96.160/2724 http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/54841

Melbourne Benevolent Asylum (1871) photographer :Charles Nettleton (1826-1902). Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria Victorian Patents Office Copyright Collection
Image no. H96.160/2724 http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/54841

KEW LUNATIC ASYLUM (c 1878-1894) Photographer John William Lindt. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria. Image no: H2008.59/25 http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/41805

KEW LUNATIC ASYLUM (c 1878-1894) Photographer John William Lindt. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria. Image no: H2008.59/25 http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/41805

My own favourite is “Morning at Flemington“.  The Vagabond arose early and made his way to the Flemington racetrack to watch trackwork and observe the characters that abounded there.  It was his beautiful  description of the city at an early hour that really had me feeling as though I was there walking through the Fitzroy Gardens.

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MORNING AT FLEMINGTON. (1876, October 30). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), p. 6. Retrieved August 7, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article5907653

MORNING AT FLEMINGTON. (1876, October 30). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957), p. 6. Retrieved August 7, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article5907653

Some of the The Vagabond’s other adventures included “Three Weeks in the Alfred Hospital“, “A Month in Pentridge” and “At a Bazaar”.

The following article from the Warwick Examiner and Times, August 18, 1877 describes a meeting between a notorious bookmaker and The Vagabond with the adage”The pen is mightier than the sword” put to the test.  An interesting point of this article is the line “...he replied, with that exasperating Yankee drawl of his…”.  Yes,  after two years in America, John  James had picked up an accent, presumably with a hint of the south given his time in Virginia.  I do think it may have been more by design than an accident.

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INTERVIEWING THE "VAGABOND.". (1878, September 14). Warwick Examiner and Times (Qld. : 1867 - 1919), p. 3. Retrieved August 9, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article82121617

INTERVIEWING THE “VAGABOND.”. (1878, September 14). Warwick Examiner and Times (Qld. : 1867 – 1919), p. 3. Retrieved August 9, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article82121617

In 1877, James went to Sydney to write for the Sydney Morning Herald and then on to New Zealand, New Caledonia, New Guinea and Fiji writing on his experiences.  Some of those were compiled into a book called Cannibals and Convicts.  Say no more.  He then went further afield writing travel articles for The Argus from China, Japan, Canada and the United States.

By 1884, The Vagabond was back in Melbourne ready to set off on a tour of Victoria to produce a series of articles entitled “Picturesque Victoria“.  The first article was “Picturesque Victoria No.1 – Kilmore”.  Giving the reasons behind his journey, he bid adieu to his responsibilities, including the Shakespeare Society, and with his Australian Handbook in his pocket, he departed Spencer Street Station passing then through the suburbs, by the docks, the factories and the Melbourne Benevolent Society, bound for Kilmore .

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PICTURESQUE VICTORIA. (1884, July 19). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), p. 4. Retrieved August 9, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article6053606

PICTURESQUE VICTORIA. (1884, July 19). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957), p. 4. Retrieved August 9, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article6053606

As The Vagabond’s tour around Victoria gained momentum, residents of small towns anticipated a possible visit so he could write a glowing report.  Those towns that he did visit turned out to greet his arrival, celebrating with dinners and gatherings, an extra sweetener .

After the tour of Victoria, James went to the Pacific again, visiting Samoa and Tonga.  From 1890-1892 he was the Victorian Royal Commission on Charities.  In 1896, he died in what his biographer John Barnes describes as “squalor” in his Fitzroy flat.

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DEATH OF A WELL-KNOWN JOURNALIST. (1896, September 5). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), p. 4. Retrieved August 9, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article9183574

DEATH OF A WELL-KNOWN JOURNALIST. (1896, September 5). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957), p. 4. Retrieved August 9, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article9183574

The only person that truly knew the Vagabond was John Stanley James himself.   Everyone knew him but no-one really knew him.  Even his own employer, The Argus, possibly fooled by his “Yankee drawl”,  fell into the trap of believing his tales of the past.  This is no more obvious than his obituary.  They reported James was born in Virginia, United States, while The Age, closer to the truth, reported him as a native of Wales.

James was born in Staffordshire and maybe if those at The Argus had access to the marvels of today’s technology, they may have found the Warwickshire birth record of John Stanley James.  Also his 1851 Census record. as a six-year-old  living in Warwickshire with his attorney father Joseph, mother Elizabeth and two siblings.  Or the 1861 England Census when he was living with relatives in Liverpool and working in the family foundry,  Or even the 1871 England Census when John James was back in Warwickshire living with his mother and spinster sisters,himself then 26 with no known occupation.

John Barnes wrote that the true identity of The Vagabond aka Julian Thomas was not known until 1912.  The true identity being his name “John Stanley James” although his birth place is still confused.  He created an enigmatic persona with such skill that he was able to keep up the facade to the grave and beyond.  Long after his death may his literary skill be also celebrated.

“Claremont” Portland

It’s been 18 months since our Portland visit and I’m still trying to find a moment to share some photos.  Recently I got around to writing the Portland Botanical Gardens post that had sat in my drafts for months with just photos waiting to be fleshed out.  It’s the fleshing out that is my downfall as you will see soon see.

While in Portland, I stole myself away and took the Portland Historic Buildings walking tour.   Incredibly for a town of its size, there are more than 200 buildings in the Portland CBD that date back to the 1800s.  It was on that self-guided tour that I found “Claremont” at 65 Julia Street, just along from the St Stephen’s Church.

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I had only intended to share the photos of “Claremont” and give a small amount of information about the former residents, but as usual, once I got searching at Trove I couldn’t leave it at that.  There was very little information about “Claremont” elsewhere online, save for an entry on the Victorian Heritage Database that only gave the person who had the house built and an early resident, information I had from the walking tour guide.  But it was Trove that took the story of “Claremont” an extra step.  Or two.

Stephen George Henty  had “Claremont”  built in 1852.  He rented the property to his brother Francis, but Francis only used “Claremont” as his seaside residence while his country residence was Merino Downs Station” and his city residence was “Field Place”  at Kew in Melbourne.

BUILDING an Aristocracy for AUSTRALIA. (1934, December 15). The Australian Women's Weekly (1933 - 1982), p. 19. Retrieved August 2, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article58435596

FRANCIS AND MARY-ANN HENTY – BUILDING an Aristocracy for AUSTRALIA. (1934, December 15). The Australian Women’s Weekly (1933 – 1982), p. 19. Retrieved August 2, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article58435596

As “Claremont” was not a permanent home there was not much to be found about it in the papers until 1889 when Francis Henty passed away at “Field Place“.  He left “Claremont” and the furniture to his daughter Caroline Henty (1849-1914).  As he was able to bequeath “Claremont“, formally owned by his brother , it is likely that Stephen Henty left the house to Francis at the time of his own death in 1872.  I have not been able to find information about Stephen Henty’s estate at either PROV or Trove.

The Will of the late Mr. Franis Henty. (1889, March 8). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 - 1953), p. 2 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved July 18, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article63592299

The Will of the late Mr. Franis Henty. (1889, March 8). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 2 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved July 18, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article63592299

The three daughters of Francis Henty also inherited “Merino Downs”.

The Late Mr. Francis Henty. (1889, March 16). The Queenslander (Brisbane, Qld. : 1866 - 1939), p. 513. Retrieved August 2, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article19812393

The Late Mr. Francis Henty. (1889, March 16). The Queenslander (Brisbane, Qld. : 1866 – 1939), p. 513. Retrieved August 2, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article19812393

In 1900, the sisters registered a Deed of Partition and “Merino Downs” was split into three separate properties, “Merino Downs”, “Talisker” and “Wurt Wurt Koort”  with each sisters retaining a property each.  Caroline took charge of “Talisker Estate .

Caroline was quite a catch and a year after her father’s passing she married  Alexander Magnus McLeod (1846-1910), not a bad catch himself.  With Caroline and Alexander living at the “Talisker Estate”, Alexander’s spinster sisters Catherine (1845-1919) and Constance (1859-1934) and, at times, his bachelor brother Wallace (1855-1919) took up residence at “Claremont“.

The McLeods were the children of John Norman Mcleod and Agnes Patterson.  John owned “Castlemaddie” at Tyrendarra and “Maretimo” at Portland.  Incidentally, John purchased “Castlemaddie” and while he was waiting for the sale to go through, he had “Maretimo” built.  Constance was born at “Maretimo” in 1859.

"MARETIMO", PORTLAND, VICTORIA. ca.1874-ca.1895.  Photographer: O.Dolphin.  Image Courtesy of the State Library of Victoria Image no.  H31761 http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/172772

“MARETIMO”, PORTLAND, VICTORIA. ca.1874-ca.1895. Photographer: O.Dolphin. Image Courtesy of the State Library of Victoria Image no. H31761 http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/172772

While I can’t find when Alexander McLeod’s siblings went to live at “Claremont“, at least one Miss McLeod was in residence  in 1902, although she was heading off for a summer holiday.

[No heading]. (1902, December 18). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), p. 10. Retrieved July 21, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-page332030

[No heading]. (1902, December 18). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957), p. 10. Retrieved July 21, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-page332030

Another possible guide was the death of the McLeod sister’s mother Agnes Patterson in 1901.  Her obituary stated  she had moved into town from “Castlemaddie” and passed away in Julia Street.

There was also a death of a baby at “Claremont” in 1904.  I did try to find a link between Phyllis Mary Crawford and the McLeods or the Hentys, but after a quick look without success, I gave up.  The story was getting deep enough.

Family Notices. (1904, April 20). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), p. 1. Retrieved August 2, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article10315347

Family Notices. (1904, April 20). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957), p. 1. Retrieved August 2, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article10315347

Claremont” hosted the St. Stephen’s girls confirmation class in April 1909 as they gave thanks to Catherine and Constance for making their confirmation veils.

First Issue, August 20, 1842. (1909, April 19). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 - 1953), p. 2 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved July 20, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article63987683

First Issue, August 20, 1842. (1909, April 19). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 2 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved July 20, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article63987683

The Portland branch of the Australian Women’s National League was established during a meeting at “”Claremont” in January 1911.

First Issue, August 20, 1842. (1911, January 11). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 - 1953), p. 2 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved July 20, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article63979327

First Issue, August 20, 1842. (1911, January 11). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 2 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved July 20, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article63979327

Through the years, the  McLeod sisters occasionally ran advertisements looking for staff.  In 1912, a general servant was required.

Advertising. (1912, December 6). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 - 1953), p. 2 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved July 19, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64003591

Advertising. (1912, December 6). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 2 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved July 19, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64003591

In 1914, Caroline McLeod (Henty) passed away.  Her probate documents listed “Claremont” and the two acres of land it stood on to the value of £160,000.  Her estate was placed in trust for her two daughters Caroline Agnes Henty McLeod ( 1892-1943) and Alexandra Frances Henty McLeod (1894-1943) aged 22 and 20 respectively at the time of their mother’s death.  In the meantime the girls’ aunts and uncle continued to live at “Claremont“.

In July 1919, Wallace McLeod passed away aged 64 at “Claremont“.

Portland Guardian. (1919, July 28). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 - 1953), p. 2 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved July 18, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article63959256

Portland Guardian. (1919, July 28). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 2 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved July 18, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article63959256

Two months later his older sister, Catherine was dead.

Portland Guardian First Issue August 20, 1842. (1919, September 22). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 - 1953), p. 2 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved July 19, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article63959741

Portland Guardian First Issue August 20, 1842. (1919, September 22). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 2 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved July 19, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article63959741

The death of her brother and sister in such close succession, led Constance to reconsider her future at “Claremont“.  On June 9, 1920 she held a auction of furniture.

Advertising. (1920, June 3). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 - 1953), p. 2 Edition: EVENING.. Retrieved July 18, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64021540

Advertising. (1920, June 3). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 2 Edition: EVENING.. Retrieved July 18, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64021540

A week later, her friends gave her a send off in the St Stephen’s Parish Hall.

ST STEPHEN'S CHURCH HALL, PORTLAND

ST STEPHEN’S CHURCH HALL, PORTLAND

Constance was going on an extended holiday.  She was most likely heading to New Zealand to stay with her sister Jessie, married to Frederick Loisel.  Jessie  was present at the send off and lived in New Zealand by that time.

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Presentation to Miss McLeod. (1920, June 21). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 - 1953), p. 3 Edition: EVENING.. Retrieved July 18, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64021677

Presentation to Miss McLeod. (1920, June 21). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 3 Edition: EVENING.. Retrieved July 18, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64021677

In 1934,  Constance passed away in New Zealand.  She and her sister Jessie had just departed Hamilton, New Zealand bound for Portland for the Portland Century Celebrations, when Constance fell ill and died.

Obituary. (1934, October 8). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 - 1953), p. 2 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved July 18, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64286992

Obituary. (1934, October 8). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 2 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved July 18, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64286992

After the deaths of Wallace and Catherine and the departure of Constance, “Claremont” was vacant.  In June 1920, the Estate of Caroline Henty, advertised “Claremont” for lease by tender with a term of three years.

Advertising. (1920, June 17). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 - 1953), p. 2 Edition: EVENING.. Retrieved July 19, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64021641

Advertising. (1920, June 17). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 2 Edition: EVENING.. Retrieved July 19, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64021641

There is something about the  staircase in the foyer of “Claremont”.  I think it is because I can imagine the likes of Mrs Mary-Ann Henty, wife of Francis, or her daughter Caroline, sweeping done the stairs in their crinolines while in summer residence.  The State Library of Victoria holds a photograph of Caroline Henty in her crinoline, if you care to imagine further.

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Taking up the lease of “Claremont” in 1920 was Caroline Florence McLean , daughter of Hector McLean and Mary Ann Humphries of Casterton.  Only a year after her arrival another death occurred at “Claremont“, that of returned WW1 soldier Benjamin Byard.   Reading Benjamin’s War  Service Record I found that he only made it as far as England when he fell ill with tuberculous.  He spent time in hospital in England before returning to Melbourne and was again confined.  Once released he travelled to his hometown of Casterton to meet up with friends.  It was suggested to him that he visit Portland and he ended  up at the home of Caroline McLean.

When I initially found this story, I couldn’t understand how Ben just seem to pitch his tent in “Claremont’s” front yard. It was after finding out more about Caroline that I found her Casterton link and that went a long way to explaining how Ben chose her front yard to pitch his tent.

A Pathetic Ending. (1921, August 22). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 - 1953), p. 3 Edition: EVENING.. Retrieved July 19, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64024369

A Pathetic Ending. (1921, August 22). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 3 Edition: EVENING.. Retrieved July 19, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64024369

It was a happier time at “Claremont” in June 1922, when Maud McLean of Casterton, Caroline’s sister, married James Anderson of East Malvern, at St Stephens Church.  The wedding breakfast was held at “Claremont

Family Notices. (1922, June 22). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 - 1953), p. 3 Edition: EVENING.. Retrieved July 20, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64026127

Family Notices. (1922, June 22). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 3 Edition: EVENING.. Retrieved July 20, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64026127

After seven years at “Claremont” it was time for Caroline to move on.  An afternoon tea was held as a send off.  One of the attendees was Sarah Wadmore, author of Portland’s Pioneer Women’s Book of Remembrance.

Valedictory Tea. (1927, May 5). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 - 1953), p. 3 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved July 18, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64256993

Valedictory Tea. (1927, May 5). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 3 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved July 18, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64256993

After the departure of Caroline McLean, “Claremont” was put up for sale as a guest house.

Advertising. (1927, May 5). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 - 1953), p. 3 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved July 18, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64257015

Advertising. (1927, May 5). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 3 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved July 18, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64257015

By November 1927, “Claremont‘ was a guest house accommodating professionals such as Nurse Frances the Chiropodist.

The Portland Guardian. (1927, November 17). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 - 1953), p. 2 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved July 18, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64259180

The Portland Guardian. (1927, November 17). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 2 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved July 18, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64259180

There were vacancies at “Claremont in June 1929.

Advertising. (1929, June 6). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 - 1953), p. 2 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved July 18, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64269647

Advertising. (1929, June 6). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 2 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved July 18, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64269647

While I can’t find who owned “Claremont” at this point, I do know that Janet Kosch took over the registration of the boarding house in 1930.  Prior to that there was a Mrs McIntosh and then Norman McIntyre holding the registration.

Borough Council. (1930, November 20). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 - 1953), p. 3 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved July 18, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64293741

Borough Council. (1930, November 20). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 3 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved July 18, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64293741

In 1934, the two acres of land that made up the “Claremont” property were subdivided.  Again it is not clear who the vendor was, the Henty estate or a new owner from a possible sale back in 1927.

"Claremont" Sud-division. (1934, October 15). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 - 1953), p. 2 Edition: EVENING.. Retrieved July 19, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64287062

“Claremont” Sud-division. (1934, October 15). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 2 Edition: EVENING.. Retrieved July 19, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64287062

Mrs Kosch was still running the “Claremont” guest house in 1943 when her son visited her and her husband while on leave from service.

NEWS OF THE FORCES. (1943, October 21). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 - 1953), p. 3 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved July 20, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64387036

NEWS OF THE FORCES. (1943, October 21). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 3 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved July 20, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64387036

In 1948, after 18 years running the “Claremont” guest house, Mrs Kosch retired.  She held a furniture sale on April 22, 1948.  In 1952 she passed away at Heywood.

    Advertising. (1948, April 19). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 - 1953), p. 2 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved July 18, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64414613

Advertising. (1948, April 19). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 2 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved July 18, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64414613

“Claremont” continued on as a guest house to at least 1954.   In recent years it has been a bed and breakfast and an art gallery, as it was when I visited.  It has also been for sale.  The listing is seen on this link:  http://www.homehound.com.au/65+julia+street+portland+vic+3305/       The verandah has changed and a photo of the original verandah can be seen on this link http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/72863

In at least the first 100 years of existence “Claremont” was many things but never a family home.  There were  never children raised under its roof or playing in the yard, memories were never kept of a treasured family home.  It was always a temporary house, even when the Misses McLeods and Miss McLean where in residence, they were more out than in.  Now. at the end of my search, I think the reason I kept digging for information is that I wanted to find “Claremont’ as a home, not a just summer residence or a guest house, but I never did.

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It’s Official

Door locked.  Check.  Phone off.  Check.  Coffee. Check.  Chocolate. Check.  It’s time to hit Trove. The Hamilton Spectator has arrived!

 

[No heading]. (1918, May 16). Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1914 - 1918), p. 1. Retrieved July 25, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-page13332555

[No heading]. (1918, May 16). Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1914 – 1918), p. 1. Retrieved July 25, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-page13332555

Margaret Kiddle wrote in Men of Yesterday: a social history of the Western District of Victoria 1834-1890 (1961)

“The Hamilton Spectator…was known as ‘the Argus of the west’.  In a district chiefly pastoral it remained conservative in tone but its reporting both of local and larger events was excellent.  Moreover it ran special articles of high literary merit such as Peter Campbell’s ‘Rough Sketches of Colonial Life’ which were published during the sixties.  In the eighties, it gave sound information through weekly agricultural letters”. (p. 457)

Margaret Kiddle’s description of a 19th century Hamilton Spectator could be from today.  The district is still a farming area, there is still excellent reporting on all events, special articles and agriculture news.  The conservatism, from the time of editors such as George Mott or his successor George Rippon, however,  is no longer a part of the paper’s make up.  Rather, the Spectator claims it is neutral.  This stance and the history of the Hamilton Spectator is available to read in an  historic  timeline of the paper on their website.

I grew up with The Spec.  Each Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoon we would get our Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday editions.  Go figure.  Mum had a shop and a paper boy would drop her copy off.  Small change would sit on the counter awaiting his arrival.  Alternatively, Nana would go to the newsagent in the main street and wait, with others, for the Spec to arrive.  If all that failed, we could always stop at the milk bar on our way home.

To our family and most others in Hamilton, the Spec was, and still is, an important part of daily life.  Each edition meant something different for everyone.   For me, the Thursday edition would have the netball draw for the weekly match at Pedrina Park. The Tuesday paper would have the results of the netball, more times than not a losing result for my team.  Saturday was the big edition with more classifieds, maybe a farming supplement, and weekend “Amusements”.

“Amusements”?   Having grown up in Hamilton during in the 1970s and 1980s, I now delve into my childhood memories and the file “Hamilton Amusements” is practically empty.  The grand picture theatre became an army disposals store in the mid 1970s, there was an occasional roller skating rink, Blue Light discos and drives to Lake Hamilton to delight at water going over the spillway after heavy rain… but no matter how trivial the “amusement”, we could find it in the  Spec.

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After I left Hamilton in 1986, I kept reading the Spectator.  Mum remained in Hamilton for the following nine years and she saved them for me.  When she left Hamilton there was a dilemma, how would we get the Specs?  Thankfully a generous family member saved us copies.  They would deliver a box full of Specs when they passed through town.  Mum and Nana would read them first and then pass them on to me.   We have another family member living in Hamilton now and she passes them on to my Dad to read, then on to me and then Mum.

I particularly like the regular history features and the Tuesday regular “Where Are They Now”.  I’m often tear out articles, about Western District history or items about family members.  I don’t do this with my current local paper that I don’t buy.  It is run by a large multimedia company and that is the difference.  That is why I prefer to read the Spectator.  It is a run by a small company with only two other papers, the Portland Observer and the Casterton News under its control and it is for that reason the Spec, I believe, is in touch with the community and gives readers what they want, local content and an outlet for opinion and debate.

The Spectator is not the only paper that as come online during the past few days useful to Western District researchers.  There is also the Cobden Times and Heytesbury Advertiser (1914-1918), the Cobden Times (1918), the Clunes Guardian and Gazette (1914-1918) and the Creswick Advertiser (1914-1918).  I have found a wonderful article about my great-uncle Bill Riddiford in the Creswick Advertiser and an article about my great-grandfather in the also recently released Lang Lang Guardian (1914-1918) from Gippsland.  I will share both in future Trove Tuesday posts.

Now it’s time to get back to Trove.  Although there are only four years of Specs online there are 267 matches for Harman, 418 matches for Hadden and 112 for Diwell  just some of the names I am searching.  I will have to stay patient however, many of the articles I want to read are still in  the “coming soon” status so I will have to wait for my Electronic Friend to tell me when they are available but there are exciting times ahead.

 

Portland Botanical Gardens

The Western District has many historic botanic gardens, most established from the 1850s to the 1870s when it was the thing for a town to do, if nothing else, to keep up with the neighbouring town.  For some it was scientific purposes, to acclimatise plants and sometimes animals, as with the Hamilton Botanic Gardens.  There is a sense of history walking through each garden and the tall specimen trees such as oaks, redwoods and pines whisper the tales of times past.

The Portland Botanical Gardens, like the rest of the town, ooze history.  Each botanic garden is unique in some way and Portland is no different and is unlike other gardens I have visited including  Hamilton and Geelong.

PORTLAND BOTANICAL GARDENS

PORTLAND BOTANICAL GARDENS

Land for the gardens was first marked out in 1851, but it took a few years of public meetings for the gardens to be established.  In 1853, the Honourary Secretary  remarked on the “advantages of  a botanical garden, and the study of botanical science”.

PORTLAND. (1853, August 5). Geelong Advertiser and Intelligencer (Vic. : 1851 - 1856), p. 1 Edition: DAILY., Supplement: SUPPLEMENT TO THE GEELONG ADVERTISER AND INTELLIGENCER. Retrieved July 7, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article86412916

PORTLAND. (1853, August 5). Geelong Advertiser and Intelligencer (Vic. : 1851 – 1856), p. 1 Edition: DAILY., Supplement: SUPPLEMENT TO THE GEELONG ADVERTISER AND INTELLIGENCER. Retrieved July 7, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article86412916

At a public meeting six months later, on February 4, 1854 chaired by James Blair, Stephen Henty proposed that a committee be formed to get the gardens up and running.

    BOTANICAL GARDEN. (1854, February 9). Portland Guardian and Normanby General Advertiser (Vic. : 1842 - 1876), p. 2 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved June 30, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article71569639

BOTANICAL GARDEN. (1854, February 9). Portland Guardian and Normanby General Advertiser (Vic. : 1842 – 1876), p. 2 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved June 30, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article71569639

PORTLAND BOTANICAL GARDENS c1891.  Image Courtesy of the State Library of Victoria.  Image No.  H42199/21 http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/183906

PORTLAND BOTANICAL GARDENS c1891. Image Courtesy of the State Library of Victoria. Image No. H42199/21 http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/183906

Works began in 1858, assisted by Alexander Elliot from the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne, however a lack of funds was slowing progress.

MUNICIPAL DISTRICT OF PORTLAND. (1858, March 5). Portland Guardian and Normanby General Advertiser (Vic. : 1842 - 1876), p. 3 Edition: EVENINGS.. Retrieved July 3, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64570632

MUNICIPAL DISTRICT OF PORTLAND. (1858, March 5). Portland Guardian and Normanby General Advertiser (Vic. : 1842 – 1876), p. 3 Edition: EVENINGS.. Retrieved July 3, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64570632

By November however, the gardens were beginning to take shape and the curator’s cottage was under construction.

CURATOR'S COTTAGE

CURATOR’S COTTAGE

DOMESTIC INTELIGENCE. (1858, November 3). Portland Guardian and Normanby General Advertiser (Vic. : 1842 - 1876), p. 2 Edition: EVENINGS.. Retrieved July 3, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64509473

DOMESTIC INTELIGENCE. (1858, November 3). Portland Guardian and Normanby General Advertiser (Vic. : 1842 – 1876), p. 2 Edition: EVENINGS.. Retrieved July 3, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64509473

In 1859, a letter to the Portland Guardian questioned the practice of allowing horses to graze in the gardens overnight.  “Delta” wondered why the committee could keep their horses at the gardens while “the great unwashed are warned at the gate, Dogs not Admitted”

ORIGINAL CORRESPONDENCE. (1859, May 2). Portland Guardian and Normanby General Advertiser (Vic. : 1842 - 1876), p. 2 Edition: EVENINGS.. Retrieved July 4, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64510907

ORIGINAL CORRESPONDENCE. (1859, May 2). Portland Guardian and Normanby General Advertiser (Vic. : 1842 – 1876), p. 2 Edition: EVENINGS.. Retrieved July 4, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64510907

BOTANICAL GARDENS. (1859, May 2). Portland Guardian and Normanby General Advertiser (Vic. : 1842 - 1876), p. 2 Edition: EVENINGS.. Retrieved July 4, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64510906

BOTANICAL GARDENS. (1859, May 2). Portland Guardian and Normanby General Advertiser (Vic. : 1842 – 1876), p. 2 Edition: EVENINGS.. Retrieved July 4, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64510906

If you visit the Portland Botanical Gardens, look up at the tall trees and think of those that planted them or as you walk the paths consider the hands that carved them.  The story behind these features is my favourite story about the gardens.

Table Talk. (1863, April 23). Portland Guardian and Normanby General Advertiser (Vic. : 1842 - 1876), p. 2 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved July 7, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64628622

Table Talk. (1863, April 23). Portland Guardian and Normanby General Advertiser (Vic. : 1842 – 1876), p. 2 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved July 7, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64628622

At a meeting of the Portland Historical Committee in 1932, the secretary told the story of the Chinese prisoners and their work at the Portland Botanical Gardens.

Historical Committee. (1932, March 17). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 - 1953), p. 3 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved July 7, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64297702

Historical Committee. (1932, March 17). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 3 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved July 7, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64297702

On the wall of the curator’s cottage is a plaque recognising previous curators of the gardens from the kindly William Allitt in 1861 through to Colin Ellingworth, curator from 1982-1987.

373Andrew Callander was curator from 1922-1949.  Upon his appointment, Mr Callander set about tidying up the gardens and building a ti-tree green house for seedling propagation.

    THE PORTLAND LIFEBOAT. (1926, January 7). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 - 1953), p. 3 Edition: EVENING.. Retrieved July 4, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64252901

THE PORTLAND LIFEBOAT. (1926, January 7). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 3 Edition: EVENING.. Retrieved July 4, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64252901

PORTLAND BOTANICAL GARDENS.  Image Courtesy of the State Library of Victoria.  Image no.  H32492/1655 http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/64772

PORTLAND BOTANICAL GARDENS. Image Courtesy of the State Library of Victoria. Image no. H32492/1655 http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/64772

PORTLAND BOTANICAL GARDENS.  Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/66929

PORTLAND BOTANICAL GARDENS. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/66929

At one time both croquet and tennis were played at the gardens and there were often tensions between the two groups and any other group that hoped to share the space.

TABLE TALK. (1876, November 3). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 - 1953), p. 2 Edition: EVENINGS.. Retrieved July 4, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article63336790

TABLE TALK. (1876, November 3). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 2 Edition: EVENINGS.. Retrieved July 4, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article63336790

THE LAWN TENNIS GROUND AGAIN. (1887, September 2). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 - 1953), p. 2 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved July 4, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article65410048

THE LAWN TENNIS GROUND AGAIN. (1887, September 2). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 2 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved July 4, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article65410048

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CROQUET LAWN

Croquet won out and is still played today.  The tennis courts were converted to rose gardens.  The rosary was first proposed in 1930 but it was 1931 before there was further action.

pbg10

Borough Council. (1931, April 13). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 - 1953), p. 3 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved July 5, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64294863

Borough Council. (1931, April 13). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 3 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved July 5, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64294863

378

376

“Wandering Willie’s Wife” visited the Portland Botanical Gardens in 1926 and felt compelled to write a letter to the editor of the Portland Guardian on the subject of a nameless lifeboat on display in the gardens.  Could it have been the lifeboat, captained by James Fawthrop, used to rescue  survivors from the wreck of the  S.S. Admella ?  Why wasn’t there a name plaque?

pbg8

THE PORTLAND LIFEBOAT. (1926, January 7). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 3 Edition: EVENING.. Retrieved July 10, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64252901

Three years later, “Wandering Willie’s Wife” wrote to the editor again, prompted by the announcement that a “tablet” with the story of the  lifeboat Portland would be placed beside the boat.

OUR LETTER BOX. (1929, May 16). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 - 1953), p. 2 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved July 4, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64269425

OUR LETTER BOX. (1929, May 16). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 2 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved July 4, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64269425

The lifeboat is now removed from the elements and is housed in the Portland Maritime Discovery Centre.

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LIFEBOAT PORTLAND

ABC Southwest broadcast a story about the Portland Botanic Gardens in March 2009.  The story, including audio and better photos than my own (excluding the wonderful historic photos I found at Trove) can be found by following the link http://www.abc.net.au/local/photos/2009/03/26/2525642.htm

A BILLS HORSE TROUGH (Portland Gardens)

A BILLS HORSE TROUGH (Portland Gardens)

Trove Tuesday – When the Sea Covered Hamilton

Since I have just written about the Reeds of Muddy Creek, I will continue the Muddy Creek theme for Trove Tuesday.

Around 1931, Walter Greed of Hamilton discovered a cowry shell on the banks of Muddy Creek, near Hamilton and passed it on to the National Museum.  Walter was the husband of Jessie Harman, daughter of Reuben Harman of Byaduk, and was a member of the Greed family, funeral directors of Hamilton.

Maybe that doesn’t seem that unusual, but a cowry shell is a seashell and the nearest sea to Muddy Creek is around eighty kilometres away.  The shell Walter found was a fossil from a time when the area surrounding Muddy Creek, including Hamilton, was one hundred fathoms under the sea.  That is around 182 metres.

Muddy Creek and the river it flows into, the Grange Burn, are well-known fossil sites, recorded in Australia’s Fossil Heritage: A Catalogue of Important Australian Fossil Sites.

WHEN THE SEA COVERED HAMILTON. (1931, June 26). The Horsham Times (Vic. : 1882 - 1954), p. 2. Retrieved June 16, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article72635176

WHEN THE SEA COVERED HAMILTON. (1931, June 26). The Horsham Times (Vic. : 1882 – 1954), p. 2. Retrieved June 16, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article72635176

The Victorian Heritage Database

On May 5, I attended Day 2 of the Victorian Association of Family History Organisation (VAFHO) conference in Ballarat.  It was a great day with some wonderful speakers and I regret I couldn’t make the first day.

The first keynote speaker was Lisa Gervasoni, a town planner dedicated to Heritage conservation and a member of the Daylesford & District  Historical Society, among other things.  She gave a great talk about using Google Maps to help with family history research and then showed us the usefulness of the Victorian Heritage Database (VHD).  Timely, as I had considered a post about the VHD as I think it is a valuable resource for those researching families from Victoria.

The Victorian Heritage Database is a collection of Heritage places and precincts in Victoria including Heritage studies completed by local councils around the state.

While writing Passing of the Pioneer posts, if I see a property name in an obituary, I head straight to the VHD.  If the property is on the database, most times I can find more about the obit’s subject.  There is always a history of the building, property etc offering a wealth of information

In May Passing of the Pioneers, one obituary belonged to Mary Laidlaw (nee Learmonth).  She and her husband David lived at “Eildon” in Hamilton.  A search found information about the house, the architects Ussher and Kemp and the Napier Club that purchased the building in 1939, the year of Mary’s death.  Not only was I able to expand on the obituary, I learnt something of a house that it is a Hamilton landmark and has intrigued me since childhood.

"EILDON", HAMILTON

“EILDON”, HAMILTON

The VHD was useful when I researched The Parisian, the 1911 Melbourne Cup winner, because his owner John Kirby lived at “Mt Koroite Station” opposite Coleraine Racecourse .  On the VHD entry for “Mt Koroite” I found out more about John and even what he did with his winnings from the Melbourne Cup.

The VHD  is useful when researching a cemetery and I have used it for cemetery related posts.  There are photos of headstones and the Byaduk Cemetery entry even has a photo of Jonathon Harman’s headstone.  A short history of the town is given and a history of the cemetery, early burials and notable “residents” and more.

I have searched property names and  town names, but not surnames and Lisa’s talk made me realise I should.  Individuals may be listed as builders of a property or a labourer on a station.  My search of towns had found some references to my family members but I thought for the purpose of this post I would search specific family names.

None of my family were owners of large holdings or houses but the Diwell family were bricklayers and George Jelly was a builder, so maybe there was a chance.

When searching the VHD, use the “Advanced Search” form (below). It  will give you more results than the “Simple” search.

There are plenty of options to narrow down a search, but I only used the field “with all of the words“.

An entry on the database will include the location, statement of significance, history and description of the building or otherwise.  There is a Google Maps link with both the aerial view and Street View and most times there is a photo or photos.

Now for my results.  I did find entries I had seen before when searching towns,  but there were some new things.  What all the results show is the different ways your family members can be found at the Victorian Heritage Database.

HADDEN

My search started with the Haddens on my mother’s maternal line.  I had two relevant matches.  The first was about a Bills Horse Trough, in the Lions Park on the Glenelg Highway at Glenthompson installed in the 1920s.

A BILLS HORSE TROUGH (Portland Gardens)

A BILLS HORSE TROUGH (Portland Gardens)

While the horse trough had nothing to do with a Hadden, the entry has a history of the site, previously a blacksmith shop run by Donald Ross.  The other blacksmiths that operated in the town are named including the shop of  Harold James Hadden, my 2nd cousin 1 x removed.

Buggies outside blacksmith's shop.  Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria -  Elliot collection.  http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/42869

Buggies outside blacksmith’s shop. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria – Elliot collection. http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/42869

I knew Harold was a blacksmith and that he lived in Glenthompson during that time period, but I didn’t know he ran his own blacksmith shop.

Another entry under “Hadden” was found on a previous search of “Cavendish” and is about gg uncle William Hadden, son of William Hadden and Mary Mortimer.  In 1913, he purchased the Cavendish Cobb & Co Depot and Stables (below) and the adjacent property on the corner of the Hamilton Road and Scott Street, Cavendish.  The 1914 Electoral Roll lists William’s occupation as blacksmith, useful with a Cobb & Co depot.  However, in 1915, the train came to Cavendish taking passengers away from Cobb & Co.

By 1919, William was living at Kiata near Nhill in the Mallee, running the Kiata Hotel.  I am not sure if he had sold the Cobb & Co depot by that time but he never returned to Cavendish and died in Geelong in 1927.

HARMAN

A “Harman” search brought up not a building but a roadside Memorial plantation at Byaduk, sadly in poor condition.  The trees, planted in memory of the Byaduk soldiers that served during WW2, have not been maintained over the years.  My 1st cousin 3 x removed and grandson of James and Susan Harman, Leonard Roy Harman, was killed during the war as was another Byaduk man A.R.McNair.   The Southern Grampians Shire Heritage study on this site reported that much of the significance and integrity of the site had been lost.

The Memorial planting was the only “Harman” reference found until I did a “Byaduk” search.  Then I discovered that a search of “Harman” did not bring up any references to “Harman’s”.  This was after I read the report about the Byaduk General Store ruins.  The general store is thought to have opened around 1863 when another early shop opened,  Joseph Harman’s, bootmaking shop.

DIWELL

I then turned to Mum’s paternal side and searched the Diwells.

Surprisingly the result took me back to Cavendish, a town I never thought they had links to.  However, I found my gg uncle William Diwell, a bricklayer, was the contractor that built the Cavendish Memorial Hall in 1920.

It was no surprise William Diwell was a bricklayer.  The following entries are about his father and grandfathers, all bricklayers or builders.

Firstly, St. Andrews Presbyterian Church in Merino.  Builders Northcott and Diwell built the church in 1868.  That would be ggg grandfather William Diwell and I am assuming Northcott is George Northcott of Merino.  George owned Merino’s Commercial Hotel (below) and the Cobb & Co Station.  From the VHD I  discovered they received  £126/15/- for the job and that they had also built the Merino Free Library and the Mechanics Institute.

COMMERCIAL HOTEL, MERINO 1880 Image Courtesy of the State Library of South Australia http://images.slsa.sa.gov.au/mpcimg/22000/B21766_112.htm

COMMERCIAL HOTEL, MERINO 1880 Image Courtesy of the State Library of South Australia http://images.slsa.sa.gov.au/mpcimg/22000/B21766_112.htm

The next Diwell match was for the Sandford Mechanics Hall (below).  I knew from a transcript of the booklet, Back to Sandford Centenary: 1957  on the Glenelg and Wannon Pioneers site, William Diwell senior had a link to the building of the Mechanics Hall but only that he suggested that it be made of brick and not wood.  The VHD shed a little more light on a conversation that took place between William and the committee secretary J.S. Anderson in 1864, but in doing so, it leaves me questioning the entry

From the Back to Sandford booklet ,I knew that William ran into Mr Anderson on the Casterton Road.  Anderson told William of the plans to call for a tender for the building of a wooden hall.  William suggested a brick building and that Mr Anderson should take the idea to the committee before advertising.  The committee thought it was a great idea and they called for tenders for a brick hall.

Turning to the VHD, the report continues on from the above story but cites rate book entries from 1863 that Richard Diwell of Casterton was a brickmaker or bricklayer.  Richard was my gg grandfather and he was nine in 1863 . It continued with the story that William suggested Anderson go back to the committee, but added that William had a proposal , maybe an offer of funding.  The committee agreed to the unknown proposal and the tender process began.   The tender was won by James McCormack.

The thing is, the hall was not built until 1885, 19 years after William Diwell met Mr Anderson on the Casterton Road.  William had been dead 14 years.  So he could hardly be credited for a brick hall,  surely.  Also, why is Richard Diwell mentioned?  Did they mean William or was Richard involved later when the hall was built when, as a 30-year-old bricklayer, it was more realistic?

JELLY

I found entries for George Jelly, my ggg grandfather, and father-in-law of Richard Diwell.  George built the Anglican Rectory in Henty Street Casterton in 1887.

What particularly interested me came from a spontaneous search I did for “George Jellie”.  It brought up the Coleraine Anglican Church.  The history of the church referred to the original structure built in 1853 by Casterton contractor, George Jellie.  My George Jelly did not arrive in Victoria until 1855 aboard the Athelate with his wife Jane and daughter, Mary.  According to his obituary, they first went to Murndal at Tahara, run by Samuel Pratt Winter and then on to Casterton.  George and Jane’s first born child in Australia was my gg grandmother, Elizabeth Ann Jelly at Casterton in 1856.

That beggars the questions, was there a George Jellie, contractor of Casterton in 1853 or did the first building at the Coleraine Anglican Church not get constructed until around 1856 by which time George Jelly had arrived in the town?  More research is needed on that one.

George’s obituary credits him for building the Casterton Mechanics Institute also, however that building is not on the VHD.

——————————————————–

While the Victorian Heritage Database is full of useful information, I do wrestle with it on occasions as it takes on a mind of its own.  I use a Firefox browser and I think it doesn’t agree with the database. I have tested Chrome and it seems a lot happier.  Another problem I occasionally have is when clicking on a link to VHD from Google or Western District Families.  I get a message that my session has ended.  If that happens, page back and click again and it will come up.

More on Lisa Gervasoni.  Lisa  has over 300,000 photos on Flickr and they are also found with a Trove search.  Lisa’s photos of landmarks and war memorials, often come up in my searches of Western Victorian towns.  When I have wanted to see what something in the Western District looks like, Lisa’s great photos have been there.  Thank you Lisa.

More on the VAFHO conference.  It was great to finally meet in person, Liz Pidgeon from the Yarra Plenty Regional Library and Infolass blog, who I have known on social media for some time.   I also met Craige from the Mortlake Historical Society.  You should check out the great Facebook page he is running for the society.

Misadventures, Deaths and Near Misses

Sometimes the Misadventure, Deaths and Near Misses (MDNM) posts are like a newspaper version of Funniest Home Videos (I’m thinking of the horse in the sidecar last edition), but there is, of course, a serious side.  The accidents of Western District pioneers remind us of the dangers they faced in their everyday lives. Even mundane clothes washing could turn disastrous.

Fire was ever-present in early homes for light, cooking, warmth and washing.  That led to many injuries and women were the most likely victims simply because they worked with fire often and their long dresses were prone to catch.   My own family did not go unaffected by fire.  My ggg grandmother, Ellen Gamble, lost her life in a house fire from a knocked candle and my ggg aunt, Jane Diwell passed away after catching fire while boiling turpentine and beeswax.  Newspapers articles on the danger of fire were often published.

fire

What to do in [?]ase of Catching Fire. (1900, May 12). Australian Town and Country Journal (NSW : 1870 - 1907), p. 43. Retrieved May 4, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article71380496

What to do in [?]ase of Catching Fire. (1900, May 12). Australian Town and Country Journal (NSW : 1870 – 1907), p. 43. Retrieved May 4, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article71380496

The following ladies all had accidents with fire and for each it was their impractical dresses that contributed to their injuries.

In 1889, Jane Brennan was travelling home from mass with her husband and son, when the boy smelt smoke.  They blamed a hot axle until they found  Jane’s dress on fire.  Despite her husband’s desperate attempts to douse the flames, Jane received severe burns.  Mr Brennan also had bad burns including his fingernails burnt off.  Despite being transported to the Ararat Hospital, a later edition of The Portland Guardian reported Jane had sadly died.  The cause of the fire was unknown.

For Constance Sarah O’Connell of Heywood and Eva Dyson of Bessiebelle, it was domestic duties that resulted in their burns.  Mrs O’Connell was tending a copper in the backyard of the Commercial Hotel, Heywood where she worked, when her dress caught fire.  A doctor was called from Portland to tend Mrs O’Connell’s burns but the poor woman was sent by afternoon train to Hamilton Hospital where she later died.  I am curious why she did not go to Portland, closer than Hamilton.

Eva Dyson was carrying out her household chores in front of a fireplace when her dress caught fire.  Her screams brought her mother and sister who were able to extinguish the flames but not before they all also suffered burns.

A past edition of MDNMs discussed the frequency of headlines such as “Peculiar Accident” or “Extraordinary Death” in the papers.  The death of  Matthew Kelly of Eurambeen was definitely “extraordinary” or maybe just what can happen when a joke gets out of hand.

The Portland Guardian,. (1888, July 23). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 - 1953), p. 2 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved May 7, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article63589310

The Portland Guardian,. (1888, July 23). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 2 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved May 7, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article63589310

On July 25, 1888, The Portland Guardian reported that Mrs Kelly would stand trial over the manslaughter of her husband.  I did not find an article about her trial and the result.

A peculiar accident occurred at the Ararat Railway Station in 1922 and the cause was the railway bell.  A Minyip lady received stitches above her eye as a result.

A RAILWAY BELL MISHAP. (1922, November 21). The Horsham Times (Vic. : 1882 - 1954), p. 5. Retrieved May 8, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article72741866

A RAILWAY BELL MISHAP. (1922, November 21). The Horsham Times (Vic. : 1882 – 1954), p. 5. Retrieved May 8, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article72741866

NEAR MISSES

It was a near miss for James Hadden, my gg uncle,  working at a saw bench at Mt Sturgeon Station, near Dunkeld.  The saw went between his fingers and while he suffered some nasty cuts, his fingers remained intact.

On September 12, 1884, two “cowboys” rode up beside the mail coach between Nhill and Dimboola causing the horses to bolt.  Both the driver and the only passenger Mrs Dungey of Kaniva, were thrown from the box seat of the coach.  Fortunately they both survived but Mrs Dungey was badly injured.  The driver managed to get the coach back in order, surprisingly with the help of the two culprits.  They loaded Mrs Dungey and the driver took her to a doctor in Dimboola.  The police investigated the incident, the second of its kind in a short period.

Mr Shrive did something that still occurs regularly today.   He fell from a ladder.   Notice Mr Shrive’s accident was the third of its kind around the time of  June 1888.

HARROW. (1888, June 29). The Horsham Times (Vic. : 1882 - 1954), p. 3. Retrieved May 8, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article72883804

HARROW. (1888, June 29). The Horsham Times (Vic. : 1882 – 1954), p. 3. Retrieved May 8, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article72883804

A bull had the last word when  Mr D. Williams, a butcher, was attempting to slaughter it.  The beast kicked its leg out,  pushing the butcher’s knife into the lower arm of Mr Williams, inflicting a nasty wound that cut the artery.

Albert Reed of Muddy Creek was my 1st cousin, 4 x removed, a nephew of my ggg grandmother Sarah Harman (nee Reed).  He owned a cantankerous young Jersey bull that happily roamed the paddock but would not enter the cow yard.  Until one day in August 1913 when it chose to jump the fence into the cow yard where Albert was standing.  It immediately charged Albert and for sixty metres, it pushed Albert along the ground trying to lift him up onto its horns.  Finally William broke free and called for help but the only person home was his mother Sarah Burgin, then 67.  Between them they were able to secure the bull.  It was later shot.

F.Lovell of Portland had a very near miss!

ACCIDENT. (1906, September 28). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 - 1953), p. 3 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved May 9, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article63963309

ACCIDENT. (1906, September 28). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 3 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved May 9, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article63963309

in 1889, Reverend Father Foley was on his way home from conducting mass at Goroke when he came across John Breen .  John had fallen from a horse and had broken his leg.  Rev. Father Foley constructed splints from the bark of a tree, lifted John into his buggy and transported him to Nhill hospital.  Dr Ryan of the hospital was most impressed with the surgical skills shown by the man of the cloth.