Passing of the Pioneers

In the post A Box of Chocolates, I explained writing stories of Western District pioneers and Hamilton’s WW1 servicemen is like lifting the lid on a box of chocolates…I never know what I’m going to get.  Writing this month’s Passing of the Pioneers was like dipping into a double layer box of chocolates. I’ve read many editions of the Hamilton Spectator and histories of Hamilton, so I knew of Angelo Palmer, a prominent solicitor in the town, but I’d never delved into Angelo’s life.  When I read his obituary for this post, I got two surprises.  Firstly he was a passenger on a clipper shipwrecked off Victoria’s south-west coast of interest to me because the clipper’s colourful captain also steered my ggg grandparents Charles and Agnes Hadden to Australia aboard the Marco Polo.  Secondly, there was something “magical” about Angelo but you’ll have to read on.

Other pioneers in this edition, combining August and September obituaries, include a Hamilton chemist described as the “poor man’s friend” and from the Darlington district, a man, his son and his son’s wife.  Click on any underlined text throughout the post for further information.

McARTHUR, Peter – Died 3 July 1897 at Camperdown.  Peter McArthur was born to well-off farmers on the island of Islay, off Scotland’s west coast, around 1817.  As a lad, he joined a ship’s crew and left home for a couple of years before returning to his father’s farm.  But in 1836 at the age of nineteen, he was off again with Sydney, Australia was his destination.  By 1839, he had moved south to Melbourne, meeting up with a man who would also become one of the Western District’s notable pioneer, Nicholas Cole.  They met Frenchman Jean Duvarney and the three men made their way to Geelong, buying a flock of sheep from the Manifold brothers. With their sheep, the three men headed further west and took up land near Darlington.

Duvarney left the partnership going on to build the Duverney Inn, later known as the Frenchman’s Inn, at the junction of the busy roads from Melbourne and Geelong to Port Fairy and Portland. In 1852 at that place, the township of Cressy was gazetted, named after Duverney’s hometown Crecy in France.

Around 1850, Peter and Nicolas Cole split their station and Peter named his share  Meningoort and Cole, West Cloven Hills.  In 1855, Peter married Margaret McLean about eighteen years his junior and they went on to have ten children. Margaret is pictured below with two of the couple’s sons.

MARGARET McARTHUR AND TWO OF HER SONS c1865-1870 Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/235430

Peter was one of the first Magistrates in the area, a member of the district’s first Roads Board and a Hampden Shire Councillor. He was also a member of the Leura Lodge of Freemasons. Peter’s wife Margaret died on 23 March 1883 at the age of forty-eight after a long illness.  Peter survived Margaret by fourteen years, dying in 1897 at the age of eighty. He was buried at Camperdown Cemetery.

In 1941, The Australasian included Meningoort in their Famous Pastoral Properties series and you can read the article including more on Peter McArthur on the following link – The  Australasian.   The McArthur and Cole families remained on the properties Meningoort and West Cloven Hills and in 2013, the Warrnambool Standard published an article about the two families still there over 170 years after their forebears arrived.  That article is on the following link – Warrnambool Standard.

ROUNTREE, James Hughes – Died August 1902 at Hamilton.  James Rountree was born around 1847 in Ireland, a son of an Irish Protestant father and a Welsh mother.  He arrived in Victoria aboard the Great Britain in 1864 and worked as a dispenser at the Geelong hospital.  In 1874, he became superintendent of the Hamilton Hospital.  Fifteen years later, James opened a chemist  in Hamilton’s Gray Street.

“Advertising” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 3 September 1889: <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article225760959&gt;.

James was a man who “abhorred idleness”, never taking a holiday and going about everything he did with great energy.  His commitment to his work meant he had little or no family life. Described as an unselfish and generous man, James often gave free advice to the less wealthy in the town, saving them a visit to a doctor.  James became known as the “poor man’s friend”.  

In 1875, James married Margaret Strang Kitchen and they went on to have 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.  Another daughter Evangeline served as a nurse during WW1.

James’ strict work ethic appears to have claimed his life.  He died at the Hamilton Hospital aged fifty-five.  James was a member of the Masonic and Orange Lodges and thirty members of the Masonic Lodge led his funeral procession and the hearse was followed by twenty-one members of the Orange Lodge.  James did not approve of flowers at funerals so predictably, flowers were not present at his own funeral by request of the family.

GRAVE OF JAMES HUGH ROUNTREE AND FAMILY, HAMILTON OLD CEMETERY

You can see the memorial window dedicated to James Rountree and his wife Margaret at the Hamilton Christ Church on the following link – Sacred Memorials

PALMER, Angelo Crotch – Died August 1912 at Hamilton. Angelo Palmer was born in Faversham, Kent in 1832 and grew up in Canterbury where his father was a professor of music.  Angelo and his brother William Henry attended boarding school from a young age.  William inherited his father’s musical talent while Angelo was expected to join the legal profession.  After his schooling, Angelo was articled to solicitors in London but with the discovery of gold in Victoria, he decided to leave England and seek his fortune. In 1852 at the age of twenty, he sailed aboard the South Sea, arriving in Victoria in February 1853.  Angelo set off to Castlemaine but within months was back in Melbourne in search of work, finding a labouring job with a builder.

Just as Angelo left England in 1852 so too his brother. William Palmer had gone on to study at the Royal Academy of Music in London but left his studies behind around 1851 after he saw a performance by French magician Jean-Eugène Robert-Houdin.  Taking up magic, William changed his name to Robert Heller and travelled to the United States in 1852 where his career took off.   

ROBERT HELLER . Image courtesy of the W. G. Alma conjuring collection. Photographs. State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/342043

With the death of his father in mid-1854, Angelo returned to England. Within a year, he booked his return passage to Australia aboard a clipper on her maiden voyage. On 6 October 1855, the Schomberg (below) left Liverpool captained by James Nicol ‘Bully’ Forbes and with cargo and 430 passengers, including Angelo. The Schomberg was one of the largest and finest clippers built and Forbes was out to break a record of the fastest trip to Victoria, something he had done with the Marco Polo in 1852. His target was sixty days his target. On Boxing Day 1855, the clipper ran aground on a sandbar near Curdies Inlet at Peterborough, Victoria. Fortunately, a passing steamer the SS Queen rescued all passengers and transported them through to Melbourne. There was an investigation into the wreck and while Captain Forbes was acquitted but his reputation was ruined. The Schomberg eventually sunk off the coast.

THE CLIPPER, SCHOMBERG. Image courtesy of the State Library of South Australia. Image no, PRG 1373/19/38 http://collections.slsa.sa.gov.au/resource/PRG+1373/19/38

Back in Melbourne, Angelo decided to return to law, qualifying as a solicitor in 1859.  In 1860, he married Katherine Walker and a child, Fanny Dolby was born in 1861 at South Yarra. Another daughter was born in 1862 in Melbourne. In the same year, Angelo and family arrived in Hamilton and Angelo went into partnership with Henry Cox. Angelo and Kate’s first son, Saxon Harold, was born in 1864, but in 1866, their eldest daughter Fanny died.  In 1873, the couple lost another daughter, one-year-old Hilda Victoria. By 1869, Angelo was working alone and his services highly sought after. He acted as solicitor for the Shires of Mount Rouse and Dundas and the Borough of Hamilton. He was also one of the original directors of Alexandra College and the Hamilton and Western District College.

From 1869 to 1871, William Palmer as Robert Heller toured Australia and has been credited as the first person to perform a Punch and Judy show in Australia. Music wasn’t totally lost from his life as Robert played piano during his performances and his talent duly noted.  Robert performed in Melbourne, Geelong, Ballarat, and even Smythesdale. It appears that’s as close as he went to Hamilton.

“NEWS AND NOTES.” The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 – 1924) 2 April 1870: 2. Web. 17 Sep 2017 .

The Hamilton Spectator reported on Robert Heller from time to time but never mentioned his connection to Angelo Palmer. It was not until after the death of Robert Heller in Philadelphia in 1878, various papers made the connection, but not the Hamilton Spectator.  William left a large estate and after various beneficiaries received a share, Angelo received the balance. 

“ITEMS OF GENERAL NEWS.” The Telegraph, St Kilda, Prahran and South Yarra Guardian (Vic. : 1866 – 1888) 1 February 1879: 3. Web. 15 Sep 2017 .

The Hamilton Spectator came close to mentioning Angelo’s magician brother in the early 1890s. A magician was touring the colonies claiming he was a nephew of Robert Heller. The Spec reported on the magician’s prophecy for the upcoming for the Melbourne Cup and stated “At any rate, the brother of the late Robert Heller knows of no such nephew”

“SPORTING ECHOES.” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 9 August 1892: 4. Web. 15 Sep 2017 .

Melbourne Punch responded and didn’t worry about naming names, even referring to Angelo as “Mr. Hamilton”.

“THEATRICAL GOSSIP.” Melbourne Punch (Vic. : 1855 – 1900) 18 August 1892: 7. Web. 17 Sep 2017 .

In 1907, Kate died at the age of sixty-six. Angelo continued living at the family home in Skene Street and was eighty when he died in 1912. He was buried at the Hamilton Old Cemetery (below) with Kate and beside his young daughters. 

GRAVE OF ANGELO PALMER AND FAMILY, HAMILTON OLD CEMETERY.

It wasn’t until after Angelo’s death, the Hamilton Spectator spoke of the unspoken.

“DEATH OF MR. A.C. PALMER” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 12 August 1912: 3. Web. 15 Sep 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article225284343&gt;.

I have only given a broad description of William Palmer/Robert Heller’s life,  but if you would like to find out more, the following sites will give you an idea of how big Robert Heller was in the world of magic and the influence he had on future magicians including Harry Houdini.

The Cemetery Traveller includes photos of Robert Heller’s grave including a photo of Harry Houdini paying his respect.  

The Magic Detective has written twenty-seven posts about Robert Heller and for a trip back into the world of 19th-century theatre, they are well worth reading. You can find the posts on the following link – Robert Heller

Punch and Judy in 19th Century America: A History and Biographical Dictionary by Ryan Howard discusses Heller and his Punch and Judy connection.  You’ll find that on the following link to Google books – Punch and Judy   

Strong on Music: The New York Music Scene in the Days of George Templeton by Vera Brodsky Lawrence has a reference to Robert’s early days in the United States.  You can read more on the following link to Google books – Heller on Broadway

McARTHUR,  Robert Ernest – Died 29 August 1929 at Terang.  Robert McArthur was born in 1867, a son of Peter McArthur (see obituary above) and Margaret McLean. He attended school at Geelong College before studying law at Melbourne University. Qualified as a solicitor, Robert returned to Menengoort to help his father with the property.  Robert had a great love of horses and was an amateur rider in cross-country events across the Western District, mostly for the Manifold brothers.  In 1897 and 1898, Robert won three races in each year at Warrnambool’s Amateur races. He also had success at the Oaklands and Melbourne Hunt Clubs and participated in polo matches.  In later years, Robert joined the committee of the Camperdown Turf Club and was an honourary starter for the Terang Racing Club and sat on the first board of the Western District Racing Association.

ROBERT McARTHUR (on right) -“CUP MEETING OF TERANG RACING CLUB, NEW YEAR’S DAY, 1921.” The Australasian (Melbourne, Vic. : 1864 – 1946) 8 January 1921: 41. Web. 15 Sep 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article140252424&gt;.

Robert was also a Hampden Shire councilor from 1897 to 1907.  In December 1898, Robert married Alice Edith Kirkpatrick. In his later years, Robert went to live at Koort-Koort-Nong Station.

KOORT KOORT NONG STATION 1984 Image courtesy of the J.T. Collins Collection, La Trobe Picture Collection, State Library of Victoria. http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/217275

Robert McArthur was buried at the Camperdown Cemetery.

GRANT, John Scott – Died 13 September 1879 at Sandford.  John Scott Grant was born in Scotland around 1822. He married Ann Kilpatrick and they left for Victoria arriving in 1841 aboard the Grindlay. With a man named William Murray, John and Ann made their way west.  They first found work at the property of the Whyte brothers near Coleraine before John and Ann moved to Henty’s Merino Downs. John then took up a run near Penola, South Australia but by the early 1850s the lure of gold was too great and he headed to the diggings.  It’s not known how his luck went, but after leaving the diggings, John sold his Penola property and bought the Woodford Inn at Dartmoor.  He stayed there for around three years before purchasing land at Sandford in 1856 where he remained.  John built and operated the Caledonian Hotel at Sandford from 1857.

“Advertising” Portland Guardian and Normanby General Advertiser (Vic. : 1842 – 1843; 1854 – 1876) 19 June 1857: 3 (EVENING). Web. 15 Sep 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64568717&gt;.

John’s obituary states he also built a two-story house at Sandford, described as a”…rather pretentious building for those times”.  It apparently later burnt down and another house was built.  John was a member of the Ancient Order of Foresters.  After John’s death, Ann continued on at the Caledonian Hotel until her death in March 1903.

ANDREWS, Catherine Forbes – Died September 1901 at Hamilton. Catherine Andrews was born around 1834 and arrived in Australia in 1854 with her husband John Stewart. They settled at Naracoorte, remaining there for around ten years before John bought Bochara around 1865 and in 1868, the properties Inverary and Louth. The Stewarts lived at Inverary (below) near Branxholme, but when John died in 1882, Catherine moved to Hamilton where she remained until her death.

INVERARY, BRANXHOLME 1978. Image courtesy of the J.T. Collins Collection, La Trobe Picture Collection, State Library of Victoria. http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/215500

STANSMORE, Harry George – Died 2 September 1916 at Camperdown.  Harry Stansmore was born at Terang in 1857 and went to live in Camperdown as a child. He operated a livery business in Camperdown and acted as manager of the Manifold families’ thoroughbreds.  His involvement with the Manifolds saw Harry connected to wins in the Grand National Steeplechase and Australian Hurdle, among others.  About 1911, Harry went into the stock and station agent business.  Harry was involved with the Heytesbury P&A Society and was a well-known judge at shows including the Royal Melbourne Show.  He was a member of the Camperdown Turf Club and Camperdown Polo Club.  Harry married Elizabeth Cohen in 1888 and they had two sons and a daughter

DAVEY, Edith – Died September 1939 at Cobden.  Edith Davey was born at Port Fairy in 1861.  Her parents moved to the Port Campbell district and that’s where Edith remained for the duration of her life.  The Davey property was Edgecombe on the Great Ocean Road, just east of the Loch Ard Gorge. During August 1910, Edith’s sister Annie drowned in the property’s dam at the age of forty-seven and the following year her father died at the age of ninety and in 1915, her mother died aged eighty.  Edith remained alone at the property for the next twenty-four years.  Her obituary in the Camperdown Chronicle described Edith as one of the “grand pioneer women of Australia”.

“MISS EDITH DAVEY” Camperdown Chronicle (Vic. : 1877 – 1954) 26 September 1939: 5. Web. 14 Sep 2017 .

KIRKPATRICK, Alice Edith – Died 22 September 1952 at Melbourne.  Alice Kirkpatrick was born at the Beemery Station near Bourke, N.S.W. in 1870.  In 1898, Alice married Robert McArthur (see obituary above) and she moved to Victoria to live at Koort-Koort-Nong Station near Camperdown.  Like her husband, Alice took an interest in racing and was a life member of the Terang Racing Club and Camperdown Turf Club.  During WW1 she was secretary of the Camperdown Red Cross.  Alice was also secretary of the Camperdown Golf Club Associates. In 1928, Alice and Robert went to live near Princetown but he died the following year.  Alice remained at Princetown until around 1945 when she moved to Melbourne remaining there until her death.

© 2017 Merron Riddiford

 

Port Fairy Cemetery – Part One

If you find yourself travelling along Victoria’s south-west coast, don’t miss the Port Fairy Cemetery.

232 (800x600)

Last summer, I revisited the cemetery with the aim of photographing as many headstones as possible.  During our four days in Port Fairy, the weather was hot and our days were spent at the beach.  My only chance was to head off early to beat the heat.   I took the dogs, and after a stop at the beach for a run, them not me, we arrived at the cemetery around 7.30am.

171

Taking photos and holding two dogs on leads, is not an easy task.  I’m glad they didn’t see the rabbits sitting among the graves but I didn’t count on the burrs.  Soon the dogs were stopping periodically to pick burrs from their paws.  I didn’t get as many photos as I would have liked but I have captured some of the older and more interesting headstones.  I will post the photos in two parts.

On one of my past visits to the Port Fairy Cemetery, I joined a tour run by the Port Fairy Genealogical Society.  It was fantastic and I wished I had our knowledgeable guide Maria Cameron on this visit as I tried to remember the stories behind the graves.

227 (800x600)

As sealers and whalers, Charles Mills and his older brother John, first saw Port Fairy in 1826, eight years before the Henty brothers arrived at Portland.  However, their whaling camps were not considered permanent in comparison to the Henty settlement, thus the Hentys take the title of first European settlers in Victoria in most discussions on the topic.  Launceston born Charles Mills passed away in 1855 aged 43 and John in 1877 aged 66.   The biography of the brothers is on this link – John and Charles Mills 

183 (600x800)

HEADSTONE OF BROTHERS CHARLES AND JOHN MILLS

“BELFAST.” The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 – 1954) 21 Nov 1855: 6. .

This was the home of John Mills in Gipps Street, Port Fairy just across the road from the port where he was harbour master.

108

FORMER HOUSE OF JOHN B. MILLS, GIPPS STREET, PORT FAIRY.

106

Port Fairy Harbour

PORT FAIRY HARBOUR

An obituary for John Mills, published September 28, 1877 in the Portland Guardian:

“BELFAST.” Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953) 28 Sep 1877:.

The Portland Guardian published an interesting article about the Mills Brothers on September 21, 1933.  It included their life stories and that of their father Peter Mills who served as secretary to Governor Bligh  – Early Settlers

180 (800x600)

GRAVE OF BROTHERS CHARLES AND JOHN MILLS (Foreground)

William and Agnes Laidlaw were early pioneers of the Port Fairy district, arriving from Scotland with their family around 1841.  William was born on January 20, 1785 and died on April 6, 1870 and Agnes was born on September 20, 1790 and died  on February 12, 1867.

186 (600x800)

HEADSTONE OF WILLIAM AND AGNES LAIDLAW

“Family Notices.” Illustrated Australian News for Home Readers (Melbourne, Vic. : 1867 – 1875) 23 Apr 1870 .

At least two of their children had great success.  David Laidlaw went on to serve five times as Mayor of Hamilton and was also a leading businessman in that town.   Robert became well-known in the Heidleberg area as a land owner and sheep breeder.  The following is a family photograph taken at Robert’s 90th birthday.  Robert is at the front with the white beard and brother David to his right.

“A Nonagenarian Birthday Party.” Table Talk (Melbourne, Vic. : 1885 – 1939) 23 May 1907: .

James Andrews (1780-1855) and Elizabeth Andrews (1811-1870) nee O’Brien and their two sons, Michael and Patrick lie in the following grave.

188 (600x800)

HEADSTONE OF JAMES AND ELIZABETH ANDREWS AND THEIR SONS MICHAEL AND PATRICK.

The headstone is difficult to read from the photo, so I have transcribed it:

Sacred to the Memory of 

James Andrews

Formally of Ratoath County Meath

Ireland

Died January 1855 aged 55 years

Elizabeth Andrews

His Beloved Wife

Died 26 August 1870, aged 59

Also their two sons

Michael

Died 3rd May 1854 aged 15 years

Patrick

Died 15 March 1863, Aged 23 years

There was little information around about the Andrews family but I thought I would check shipping records.  An Andrews family arrived at Portland during October 1853 aboard the Oithona.  They were from Meath, Ireland, matching the headstone.  The family consisted of James, aged 56, Elizabeth aged 45, Patrick aged 12, Fanny aged 10, James aged nine and Therese aged 2.  On arrival James snr and the family went on to Port Fairy of their own account.  If this is the same Andrews family, James was in Victoria only two years before he died.

After sorting my photos I’m really disappointed with myself.  The following Goldie family grave is one I remember well from the cemetery tour.  Maria pointed out the top of the grave purposely broken off to signify a life cut short. Firstly, I didn’t get a photo of the top of the grave and secondly I didn’t get a photo of the reverse side of the grave

Instead I got the following photo showing John and Elizabeth Goldie epitaphs.

189 (600x800)

GOLDIE FAMILY GRAVE

If I had a photo of the reserve side, you would also see three babies. It was their the lives cut short:

Catherine Goldie
Died in Scotland Feb 1859
Aged 21 Months

Margaret
Died Sep 1862 Aged 19 Months

John
Died May 1864 Aged 17 Months

John Goldie and Elizabeth Clarke arrived in Melbourne aboard the Greyhound in 1862.  With them were their children, Elizabeth aged 11, James aged 2 and Margaret aged 1.  John was born in 1862 at Port Fairy and Margaret barely survived the voyage, dying in 1862.

John Goldie snr was a pioneer of the agricultural industry, working with the Agricultural Department planting experimental crops.  Photos of one of his experimental sugar beet crops is below.

JOHN GOLDIE'S SUGAR BEET CROP TRIALS.   Image Courtesy of the State Library of Victoria.  Image no. IAN01/10/95/20  http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/40232

JOHN GOLDIE’S SUGAR BEET CROP TRIALS. Image Courtesy of the State Library of Victoria. Image no. IAN01/10/95/20 http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/40232

John died in 1901 after a cow knocked him down.  Elizabeth had passed away 29 years earlier aged 45.

Son of John and Elizabeth, James Goldie. who was two when he arrived at Port Fairy. was a previous Passing Pioneer – James Goldie obituary

The grave of William Kerby goes back to the earliest years of the cemetery.  William was buried in 1847 in a grave with headstone and footstone arranged by his wife Mary.

192 (600x800)

GRAVE OF WILLIAM KERBY

190 (600x800)

HEADSTONE OF WILLIAM KERBY

Look a little closer at the next headstone and a sad story begins to emerge.  A check of the marriage record of Robert and Annie Grosert sees the story turn sadder still.  Robert Grosert, the son of  a Port Fairy butcher and himself in the trade was born in 1852.  He married Irish immigrant Annie Greer in 1877.  By November 14 of that year Robert was dead and by December 4, so was Annie.

195 (600x800)

GROSERT FAMILY GRAVE

George Best was born in Port Fairy in 1853, a son of  George Best and Lucy Weston.  He married Emilie Melina Jenkins in 1877 at Wagga Wagga, NSW and they settled at Port Fairy.  George enjoyed sailing and it was while competing in a regatta on the Moyne River at Port Fairy in March, 1891, he was knocked overboard and drowned.

202 (600x800)

BEST FAMILY GRAVE

A diver recovered George’s body from the river floor.  A team of townspeople worked on George for two hours trying to revive him.  An  account of the drowning appeared in the Portland Guardian on March 13, 1891 and described the incident and the preparations of the diver which makes interesting reading.

An inquest was held into the accident.

“THE BOATING FATALITY AT PORT FAIRY.” The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957) 10 Mar 1891: 5. Web.<http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article8482214&gt;.

Coincidentally, George’s father, George Best snr a Port Fairy saddler, drowned in almost the same place 30 years before.  His body was never located.

“THE EDUCATION DIFFICULTY SOLVED.” The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 – 1954) 23 Apr 1861: <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article154888852&gt;.

George and Emilie’s daughter, Elsie May Best was buried with her parents.  She died on October 10 1897 at Port Fairy aged 20 years and 10 months.

“Family Notices.” The Australasian (Melbourne, Vic. : 1864 – 1946) 23 Oct 1897: 55. <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article138629574&gt;.

George’s wife  Emilie Melina Jenkins died in a private hospital “Somerset House” in East Melbourne on April 10, 1924.

“Family Notices.” The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957) 12 Apr 1924: <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article1903476&gt;.

When you walk through a country cemetery and see dozens of unfamiliar names, then later research those names, it’s amazing what you can dig up, so to speak.  Francis Alexander Corbett is one such name. Francis born in 1818, was buried in the Port Fairy cemetery with his wife Ellen Louisa Lane.

205 (600x800)

GRAVE OF FRANCIS ALEXANDER CORBETT AND HIS WIFE ELLEN LOUISA LANE

After searching Trove newspapers, I discovered that Francis arrived in Australia in search of gold and after some time on the diggings went to Melbourne and worked as a reporter for the Argus. Not fond of the work, he moved to the Census Commission conducting the 1854, 1857 and 1861 census as Census Secretary.  He was also a life member of the Royal Society of Victoria.

corbett1

In 1857 he wrote a book Railway Economy in Victoria and in the same year married Ellen Louise Lane born c1829.  During the 1860s, Francis and Ellen moved to Port Fairy and Francis managed the estate of James Atkinson.  They later moved to Kirkstall near Warrnambool.  In 1889, the following article appeared about Francis Corbett in the Australian Town and Country Journal:

“Western Seaports of Victoria.” Australian Town and Country Journal (Sydney, NSW : 1870 – 1907) 5 Jan 1889 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article71113608&gt;.

Francis was visiting Port Fairy when he died suddenly at the Commercial Hotel (now Royal Oak Hotel) on June 10, 1893.

ROYAL OAK HOTEL, PORT FAIRY (FORMALLY THE COMMERCIAL HOTEL)

ROYAL OAK HOTEL, PORT FAIRY (FORMALLY THE COMMERCIAL HOTEL)

“Family Notices.” The Australasian (Melbourne, Vic. : 1864 – 1946) 17 Jun 1893: 42. <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article138656519&gt;.

An obituary appeared in the Argus:

“COUNTRY NEWS.” The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957) 12 Jun 1893: <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article8563251&gt;.

The information contained in Francis’ will was even more enlightening especially that about his brother John Corbett.

“Wills and Bequests.” Table Talk (Melbourne, Vic. : 1885 – 1939) 28 Jul 1893: <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article145711319&gt;.

I tracked down John Corbett or rather,  Admiral Sir John Corbett born 1822 and died 1893, five months after Francis.

“[No heading].” South Australian Chronicle (Adelaide, SA : 1889 – 1895) 16 Dec 1893: 4. <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-page8442835&gt;.

On December 4, 1904, 11 years after Francis, Ellen passed away at St Kilda.

“Family Notices.” The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957) 5 Dec 1908: <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article10188785&gt;.

Five members of the Finn family lie in the following grave.  The first to pass was John Finn in 1879.  John was the owner of the Belfast Brewery and the Belfast Inn with his licence issued in 1841. He was also one of the trustees of the old cemetery which possibly refers to the Sandhills Cemetery although the Port Fairy cemetery website says. at times both cemeteries were referred to as the “old cemetery.”

219 (600x800)

FINN FAMILY GRAVE

The next death in the Finn, family was John’s daughter-in-law Ellen, wife of Laurence Finn.  In 1896, Laurence and Ellen’s youngest son, George passed away aged 25.

“Family Notices.” The Australasian (Melbourne, Vic. : 1864 – 1946) 21 Mar 1896: 45. <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article139723181&gt;.

Another son, William Henry passed away in 1902.  That left just Laurence who died on May 24, 1914 aged 81 years.  His obituary appeared in the May 2013 Passing of the Pioneers.  Laurence died a wealthy man having inherited land from his father, however his will was contested.  A hearing in 1916 saw many witnesses called to assess the soundness of Laurence’s mind when his will was drawn up.  The article is available on the following link – http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article73880024

Just a handful of graves, yet so many interesting characters and stories.

222 (800x600)

For more information about the Port Fairy Cemetery, check out the website –  Port Fairy Public Cemetery.   Also ABC Local Radio did a great story on the cemetery including an interview with Maria Cameron and you too can listen to Maria talk passionately about the cemetery.  There are also photos with the story which are so much better than mine.  It is available on the following link  – Radio Interview.  The Find A Grave entry for Port Fairy has had some great work done on it with hundreds of headstones photographed.

PORT FAIRY CEMETERY PART 2

Passing of the Pioneers

April Passing of the Pioneers includes members of some of Western Victoria’s well-known pioneering families including Bell, Learmonth, Trigger, Kittson and Coulson. There is also the great character of Thomas Tattersall of Ararat, a train driving pioneer.

Edwin CUMMINGS:  Died 2 April 1892 at Portland. Edwin Cummings, originally from Tasmania, had only been in Portland around sixteen years but in that time he worked hard to improve his lot. On his arrival in Portland, he ran a successful saw-milling/cabinet making business. Edwin then moved to farming pursuits. Using modern farming methods, he was able to improve his holding. Edwin also lost several adult children to consumption.

Thomas TATTERSALL: Died 24 April 1894 at Ararat. Lancashire born Thomas Tattersall died from fish poisoning on his birthday. He was a pioneering engine driver and his death was recognised by the  Governor of Victoria who sent a telegram of condolence to the Ararat railway station. Thomas drove the first train from Melbourne to Bendigo and was one of the first drivers to Portland. He had also driven the train for many dignitaries including the Governor and the Premier of Victoria.

Thomas BROWN: Died April 1903 at Hamilton. Thomas Brown went to Hamilton with his parents, after their arrival in Victoria from Scotland in 1852.  Thomas was an elder of the Hamilton Presbyterian Church and a long time member of the Sons of Temperance and was also involved with other temperance movements. Active in many charities, his obituary noted that the poor of Hamilton had lost a friend in Thomas Brown.

Alfred COWLAND:  Died 27 April 1908 at Casterton. Alfred Cowland was born in Kent, England and arrived in Victoria around 1858 aged twenty-two  He travelled with his parents, and Alfred and his father began farming at Greenwalde.  Alfred married the widow of Fred Spencer, but they did not have any children.

Sophia Styche COLBY: Died 8 April 1915 at Port Fairy. Sophia Colby’s husband Harry Osmond was a partner in Osmond Bros., hotel keepers and butchers. Sophia was the hostess at the Market Hotel, Port Fairy and considered a most popular landlady in the Western District and if the races were on, she was there.

Thomas Ferry PEARSON:  Died 24 April 1915 at Port Fairy. Thomas Pearson was born at Newcastle-on-Tyne, England and arrived in Portland in 1852. He married Jane Strachan there before moving to Port Fairy in 1855.  He went to work on the pilot boats under Captain Mills and then for 13 years was keeper of the Griffiths Island lighthouse.

GRIFFITHS ISLAND, PORT FAIRY.

GRIFFITHS ISLAND LIGHTHOUSE, PORT FAIRY.

Francis Stubbs COULSON: Died 10 April 1916 at Hamilton. Francis Coulson was the husband of my gg aunt Harriet Martha Diwell. He was the son of Christopher Coulson and Mary Frances Stubbs and was born in Yorkshire, England in 1842.  He married Harriet in 1873 and they had thirteen children. Francis ran a carrying business between Portland and the inland towns. He also farmed at Rosebank Dwyers Creek and hard work saw him turn it into a “nice property”.

Mary Ann ANDREWS: Died 23 April 1918 at Port Fairy. Mary Ann Andrews was born in Somersetshire, England and arrived in Victoria in 1852. Soon after she married Joseph Digby.  They had a large family of nine sons and daughters.  She was eighty-eight at the time of her death.

Kate CUE: Died 23 April 1917 at Port Fairy. Kate Cue was from the Casterton district. Her brother  Tom Cue, a miner, had the town Cue, Western Australia named after him. Kate married William Sutherland McPherson of Nangeela station, Casterton. They took up residence in Port Fairy and had seven children.

James MAHONEY: Died 27 April 1918 at Port Fairy. James Mahoney of Killarney was a member of one of the oldest families in the district. He was the son of Mrs Quirk and had three brothers and a sister living at the time of his death aged sixty-nine. James had travelled extensively throughout Australia and never married.

James BELL: Died April 1923 at Mt. Eckersley. James Bell was a member of the well known Bell family of Mt Eckersley near Heywood. James, his parents and siblings arrived in Victoria in 1841 and they settled at Mt Eckersley. He was the last surviving member of the original family known for their longevity. James was ninety-seven at the time of his death and his father John Bell lived to 101.

Jonathan HARMAN:  Died April 1930 at Heywood. Jonathan Harman, my ggg uncle was also from a family known for longevity. He died at the home of his daughter, Amelia, wife of the nephew of James Bell (above). Jonathan was ninety-two years old and a colonist of seventy-six years.

Kate Isabella HILL: Died April 1934 at Wodonga. Kate Hill was the daughter of John and Isabella Hill of West Portland.  She was better known as “Kitty Hill” and her and sister Lizzie were household names in their early days. John Hill was a local school teacher. Kitty married William Smith of Wodonga and was seventy-five years old when she died.

Alexander MOTT:  Died 12 April 1934 at Casterton. Alexander was born in Millicent, South Australia and went to the Casterton district in the early 1900s. He farmed at Carapook and Bahgallah before settling in the Casterton township. His wife predeceased him and he left seven sons and daughters.

Mary Simpson LEARMONTH: Died 2 April 1939 at Hamilton. Mary Learmonth was from one well-known Hamilton family and married into another when she wed David Fraser Laidlaw in 1899. Mary was the daughter of Peter Learmonth of Prestonholme Hamilton. David’s father was David Laidlaw, a saddler who arrived in Hamilton with no money and become one of the town’s most prominent citizens.

Mary was quite the sportswoman and was seventeen times female champion of the Hamilton Golf Club. This was according to her obituary in the Portland Guardian, however, her obituary in The Argus of April 4, 1939 states she was club champion thirty-nine times.  She was also a talented tennis and croquet player. Other than sport, Mary was president of the Australian Women’s National League prior to her death and was a member of the Hamilton Horticulture Society.

Mary died at her home Eildon on the corner of Thompson and French Street Hamilton. Everyone who has lived in Hamilton will know the Laidlaw’s former home, just on the edge of the CBD and overlooking the Hamilton Botanic Gardens.  The house, designed by Ussher and Kemp, was sold after Mary’s death to the Napier Club, a club formed by the female counterparts of the Hamilton Club.  The club, formed around 1931, still occupies Eildon today.

“Eildon”, Hamilton

Alice Maria WYATT:  Died 23 April 1940 at Hamilton. Alice Wyatt, the daughter of Mr and Mrs Thomas Lewis Wyatt, spent her childhood in Portland before moving to Hamilton around 1878 when she was twenty. She did spend some time in Melbourne working for Sir Edward Miller and his wife Lady Mary Miller. Sir Edward was a politician who made his money in finance and pastoral pursuits.  Alice spent the last twenty-five years of her life in Hamilton.

Irwin BELL: Died April 1940 at Hamilton. Irwin Bell of Dartmoor was a son of James Bell (above). Irwin was born in Portland around 1874 and lived at Mt Eckersley until the Bell family property was sold. He married Ann Letts of Heywood and together they led a life dedicated to the Church of England. They established the first Sunday School at Dartmoor and prepared parishioners for their first communion. Irwin also worked for the Department of Forestry and in later years was a Justice of the Peace. He died at KiaOra Hospital in Hamilton and was buried at Heywood cemetery.

James TRIGGER:  Died 25 April 1945 at Macarthur. James Trigger was the son of Samuel and Eliza Trigger of Warrabkook near Macarthur. Born in 1859, James selected land at Mt Eccles at a young age and he farmed there for the duration of his life.

OBITUARY. (1945, May 24). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 - 1953), p. 3 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved April 27, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64404393

OBITUARY. (1945, May 24). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 3 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved April 27, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64404393

James was interested in horse racing and was an owner of a number of horses. He left a widow and a son and daughter.

Robert Steven KITTSON: Died 8 April 1948 at Lower Cape Bridgewater. Robert Stephen Kittson was the son of James Kittson and Catherine Trotter and the last surviving member of the first family of Kittsons to arrive at Cape Bridgewater. A deeply religious man, he was involved in many church activities. Having had two sons serve in WW1, Robert showed an interest in returned servicemen and with his passing “ex-servicemen have lost a loyal friend”

Mary Ann ALLSOP:  Died 10 April 1953 at Port Campbell. Mary Ann was the daughter of Mr and Mrs Samuel Allsop, pioneers of the Port Campbell district. She married Thomas Wiggens at Purrumbete. After the death of Thomas, Mary Ann moved to Camperdown.  She left one son and three daughters and was buried at the Camperdown cemetery.