Passing of the Pioneers

This month, Passing of the Pioneers enters its sixth year and the great pioneering stories keep coming. While not intentional, the theme for the month is construction with several of the pioneers having worked as carpenters and masons. Two of those were born a year apart at Taunton, Somerset, England and both started family businesses still in operation today.  As you read through, you can click on the names of the pioneer to read their newspaper obituary or other underlined words for further information.

George NORTHCOTT:  Died 23 July 1894 at Merino.  Born in Devon around 1825, George Northcott, his wife and children, arrived in Portland around 1854. They spent time in Portland before George, a joiner by trade, was engaged by T.H.Clarke to construct some buildings in Merino. He built the Farmers Arms Hotel at Merino around 1855. In 1868, George Northcott and my ggg grandfather William Diwell built the Merino Presbyterian Church (below).

MERINO UNITING CHURCH (former St Andrews Presbyterian Church J.T. Collins Collection, La Trobe Picture Collection, State Library of Victoria.

MERINO UNITING CHURCH (former St Andrews Presbyterian ChruchJ.T. Collins Collection, La Trobe Picture Collection, State Library of Victoria.

In 1865, Northcott and Diwell built the first Casterton Presbyterian Church (below)

Image courtesy of the Museum Victoria Collections

FORMER PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, CASTERTON Image courtesy of the Museum Victoria Collections

George built the Commercial Hotel at Merino in 1871, the towns third hotel.  The first tenant of the hotel died, so George took over the running of the hotel and attached Cobb & Co station which he did further fifteen years and become quite wealthy in the meantime.

COMMERCIAL HOTEL, MERINO. Image courtesy of the State Library of South Australia

A few years before his death, George’s wife died and he gave up the running of the Commercial, passing control to his eldest son Henry.  George did not get over the death of his wife and by the beginning of 1894, he health began to fail before he died on 23 July.

James MALLETT:  Died 3 July 1901 at Merino.  Born around 1834, at the age of eleven James Mallett arrived in Portland from Tasmania.  He went straight on to the Henty’s Muntham Station near Merino where he remained for several years before returning to Portland to start a bootmaking apprenticeship.  He married and by 1864 returned to Merino and remained there until his death. He left three sons and four daughters, with a fourth son having died several years before.

Stephen NORMAN: Died July 1901 at Hamilton.  Stephen Norman was born around 1794.  On arrival in Australia, he found himself working for the Henty brothers and was one of their first employees after their arrival to Portland Bay in 1834.  Stephen was, according to his obituary, the first man to plough land for the Hentys at Portland.  Reaching the age of 107 without a sick day in his life and still with all his faculties, Stephen suddenly fell ill at his home in Casterton and admitted to the Hamilton Hospital where he died a few weeks later.

George MAHONEY:  Died 13 July 1902 at Dunkeld. Arriving in Victorian in 1841 aboard the Duchess of Northumberland, George Mahoney began his time in Victoria as manager of Glenmore Estate near Bacchus Marsh. He was there several years before moving to Geelong for a short time before settling at Dunkeld.  A farmer, George led a quiet life away from public affairs although he did keep up an interest in politics and current affairs.  George was eighty-two at the time of his death and left a widow and nine children.

Richard William COLLINS:  Died 13 July 1902 at Hamilton.  Richard Collins was born in Brixton, London around 1840 and arrived in Victoria in 1857.  He settled at Hamilton, working as a carpenter.  He later worked at Mr Allen’s timber yard until setting up his own yard, the “Victoria Timber Yard” in 1879.  After selling the timber yard, Richard and his wife returned to England for a visit and on their return purchased a farm at Mountajup. After only a few years, Richard returned to nearby Hamilton setting up a timber yard on the corner of French and Cox Streets and he operated it until his death in 1902.  A member of the Church of England, Richard left a widow but their marriage was childless.  The Hamilton Brass Band played the “Death March” at Richard’s funeral at the Hamilton Cemetery.

John Weaver GREED: Died 8 July 1903 at Hamilton.  Born in Taunton, Somerset, England in 1834, John Greed married Emma Grinter in 1856.  They continued to live in Taunton with John working as a mason and two daughters were born.  In 1857, John’s parent Charles and Sarah Greed and his younger siblings, left England for Victoria aboard the Balnaguith.  In 1862,  John and Emma and their daughters left England aboard the Lighting for Victoria and on arrival in June 1862 the family headed straight for Hamilton to join John’s parents who had settled there, with Charles Greed running a glazier’s business from Lonsdale Street.  Hamilton was still in its infancy and John was the first to build on the town’s northern hill, land “dotted” with the mia mias of local aboriginals.

John began a carpentry and contracting business and an early job was to build the fence for the then new shire offices as reported in the Hamilton Spectator and Grand District Advertiser on 20 May 1864.  Earlier in the month, the same paper published a business directory and by that time there were two undertakers in the town, George Brownless and John Lobban. From searches of the Spectator from that year, it also seems it was the year when John took up a contract with the Hamilton Hospital and Benevolent Asylum to conduct funerals for them. But it was not until April 1871 before I found the following advertisement for John as both a carpenter and undertaker.

"Advertising" Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 - 1873; 1914 - 1918) 5 April 1871 .

“Advertising” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1873; 1914 – 1918) 5 April 1871 <;.

Interestingly, from around 1880, John Greed’s advertisements included the words “Established in 1861”, however both the 1861 England Census and the Victorian Shipping Records prove John was still in England.



"Advertising" Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 - 1873; 1914 - 1918) 17 April 1880:.

“Advertising” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1873; 1914 – 1918) 17 April 1880:<;.

Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 - 1918) 17 April 1888: 2 (SUPPLEMENT TO THE HAMILTON SPECTATOR). .

Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 17 April 1888: 2 (SUPPLEMENT TO THE HAMILTON SPECTATOR). <;.

The undertaking business tied in well with John’s brother Abraham’s coachbuilding business and one of John’s sons Walter eventually worked for Abraham, a Mayor of Hamilton.  John was a Methodist but converted to the Baptist Church, located close to his home in Collins Street. He was also a member of the Forester’s Lodge and the Oddfellows.  With the latter, he was twice a member of the board of directors. He was also made a Life Governor of the Hamilton Hospital.  Around 1887, John suffered a paralytic seizure reducing his activities and in time leaving him an invalid.  That saw John’s youngest son Frank take over as manager of the business around 1892 when he was twenty.

On 23 June 1903, John Greed was in his room at home with his wife Emma.  She left the room, leaving John standing in front of a fireplace containing a colonial oven.  John fell backwards into the fireplace falling beside the oven but landing on hot iron bars in the fireplace.  He called out to Emma who rushed in to find him in the precarious position.  She managed to get him out and into his bed.  The doctor was called and he treated burns to John’s back, legs and hands but the shock of the fall saw him fall into a coma like state.  Two weeks after his fall, John Weaver Greed died.  On 12 September 1903, the Hamilton Spectator announced Frank was taking over the business.  F.Greed & Sons was born and still operates under that name today with the Greed family still at the helm.



Euphemia McDONALD:  Died 13 July 1907 at Condah.  Euphemia McDonald was born around 1832 at Mull, Argylshire, Scotland.  She arrived in Victoria in 1852, disembarking at Portland. It’s unclear when Euphemia married Alexander Urquhart, but they did have a son Thomas born in 1858.  In the late 1880s, Alexander took on management of Samuel Winter Cooke’s property Condah Hills . In 1901, disastrous bushfires swept through a large area south of Hamilton, including Condah.  Euphemia received severe burns to her hands and feet and was only saved by her son John’s actions of lowering her into a well.  She never fully regained her health and Euphemia died at the age of seventy-five.

Samuel VANCE:  Died July 1908 at Bridgewater.  Samuel Vance arrived at Portland in 1855 from Northern Irelard aboard the Cairngorm.  Prior to his departure, he had served in the British Army.  Samuel worked as a farmer and a contractor for the Portland Shire Council.  During the 1880s, he built the Sea View Hotel at Bridgewater and ran it until the time of his death.

Sarah CAMERON:  Died 8 July 1908 at Geelong.  Sarah Cameron was born in Scotland in 1819 and married Archibald MacDonald and they had three daughters.  Archibald fate is not mentioned but Sarah went on to marry Donald Cameron of Southland, New Zealand who himself had five daughters and two sons.  From NSW they travelled overland to the Colony of Victoria, settling first at Cambellfield near Melbourne before moving on to Morgiana near Hamilton, then called the Grange.  Donald’s uncle had taken up the run only a few years earlier and Donald took over the running of the property.  The Camerons of Morgiana were well known in the Hamilton district  Sarah’s is an interesting obituary as it lists early settlers in the Hamilton district.

Anne BELL:  Died 4 July 1909 at Hamilton.  Anne Bell was born in Ireland and travelled with her parents John Bell and Elizabeth Morrow to Victoria in 1841, arriving at Portland.  With them were Anne’s seven siblings.  The family travelled from Portland to Mt Eckersley near Heywood where they settled.  In 1848, Anne married Henry Barr and with the dicovery of gold, the couple left for the diggings remaining two years with little success.  After their return to Heywood, Henry bought the Heywood Hotel and together Ann and Henry ran a successful business. On 19 February 1865, the stables adjoining the Barr’s hotel caught fire.  As a result of his exertion, Henry fell ill and never recovered, dying in July 1866.  Anne and her family moved to Lake Condah were they remained for the next fourteen years.  After the sudden death of her son, Anne returned to Heywood but eventually sold her interests there and went to live with her children, first John at Lyons between Heywood and Dartmoor and then George at Strathkellar near Hamilton.  Anne fell ill in June 1909 and was admitted to the Hamilton Hospital where she died on 4 July.

John PERRY:  Died 8 July 1913 at Coleraine.  Born in Bristol, England in 1818, John Perry looked set for a career as an artist, but decided to choose an outdoor pursuit working in agriculture.  He married Elizabeth Holbrook at Bath, England on 3 December 1839 and thirteen years later, the Perrys with four sons left England for Australia.  Sailing on the Priam, the Perrys arrived at Portland in 1852.  John’s stock experience in England held him good stead for employment and his services were desperately sort after by Edward Henty at Muntham Station.  However, staying loyal to a commitment he made to Mr A. Munro, John went to work for Munro, managing several stations including Dundas and Bassett.  By 1859, John had entered in to a partnership and purchased land near Ararat.  However, the death of one of his sons at the property saw him sell and return to Branxholme and later Merino Downs working for Francis Henty.

"Merino Downs" Image courtesy of the Museum Victoria Collections

MERINO DOWNS. Image courtesy of the Museum Victoria Collections

Over the next twenty years, John managed various large properties throughout the district.  He eventually retired to Digby and in 1886, Elizabeth died.  John continued painting as a hobby throughout his life.

William DUNN: Died 12 July 1914 at Box Hill.  Born at Taunton, Somerset, England around 1833, William Dunn arrived in Victoria in 1855 aboard the Raven’s Craig.  He spent time in Geelong before riding on horseback to Hamilton where he remained for the next forty-four years.  William was a builder and in 1866 entered a partnership with another builder William Holden and together they set about “building” Hamilton.

Holden and Dunn built some of Hamilton’s grandest buildings, most still standing today.  They included the Bank of Australasia, the Bank of Victoria and the Colonial Bank and the residences of doctors including Hewlett House and  Roxburgh House.  They also built the first brick house in Gray Street owned by Mr S. Radley, the Hamilton goal and many shops in the CBD of Hamilton including a strip of shops running from the corner of Gray and Thompson streets.  Looking at the histories of some of the buildings Holden and Dunn constructed, it seems William Dunn has become the forgotten man of the partnership, with Holden given credit alone. However, newspaper articles from the time and William Holden’s obituary confirm their partnership.

In his personal life, William married twice and left a widow and four children at the time of his death.

You can see more about Holden and Dunn and their work in the slideshow below.

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Richard Thomas CARTY:  Died 24 July 1917 at Hamilton.  Richard Carty was born in Wexford, London in 1842 and at age seventeen arrived in Australia. With little to his name, he tried various jobs before going to the New Zealand gold diggings. After mixed fortunes on the diggings, Richard returned to Australia and took up cattle droving.  He became manager of the Bredelbane Estate near Castlemaine and with that experience, leased Mt Clay Estate near Heywood during the 1860s.  Success from that venture enabled him to lease Bark Hill Estate in 1873.  In was also in that year, Richard married Lucy Hawkins.  In the early 1880s, Wando Vale was subdivided for Closer Settlement and Richard and Lucy moved there, remaining for three years.  On 1 January 1885, Richard took possession of Brisbane Hill at Byaduk.  Richard and Lucy remained at Brisbane Hill until around 1916 when they moved into Hamilton, residing at Montacue in Kennedy Street until Richard’s death.



James LODGE:  Died 31 July 1918 at Casterton.  A son of James Clapham Lodge and Hannah Hudson, James Lodge was born at Richmond, Victoria around 1859.  He became an apprentice stonemason and stone cutter and following his apprenticeship, moved to Stawell working in a stonemason partnership Lodge and Timmins.  In 1884, James married Ellen Murphy and they had six sons and two daughters. Around 1892, James moved to Hamilton, taking up residence in Clarke Street and one of his first jobs was as clerk of works on extensions of Hamilton’s Catholic church St Mary’s. Later he would add a spire to the church.

ST. MARY’S CATHOLIC CHURCH, HAMILTON. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria.

Churches were James’ specialty, building extensions to Catholic churches in Penshurst, Casterton and Koroit.  He also built the Tabor Lutheran Church and Tarrington school building.  James’ sons followed him into the business, however in 1906, eldest son Harry fell ill and died of inflammation of the kidneys on 17 June.

The years of WW1 were difficult for James.  With five sons, James saw his oldest four boys Gus, Frank, James and Richard enlist. During those years, James won a street channeling contract with the Borough of Hamilton and during June 1918, James and his youngest son Frederick were building the Catholic presbytery at Casterton.  Frederick was eighteen and keen to join his brothers overseas.  However, Frederick caught a cold while working on the presbytery and it developed into double pneumonia and he died on 20 June 1918,  While James was worried about his four sons overseas, it was the son under his own watchful eye who would die.  Despite his grief, James continued  working on the presbytery but around July 21, he too fell ill with a cold. Within days, James was diagnosed with pneumonia and pleurisy and he died during the afternoon of Wednesday 31 July and buried at the Hamilton Old Cemetery.



Just weeks after James’ death, on 24 August 1918, trees for Hamilton’s Clarke Street Memorial Avenue were planted, with the first tree planted in front of the Lodge home in memory of James followed by another four for each of his enlisted sons.  The Lodge boys all arrived home safely from war having served with distinction.  Gus was awarded a Distinguished Service Order for conspicuous bravery at Pozieres. Frank was awarded a Military Medal for his efforts at Pozieres and later a Military Cross for his service at Mont St. Quentin in 1918.  Settling into civilian life, the boys returned to stone masonry operating as Lodge Bros. and in 1928 were awarded the contract to build Melbourne’s Shrine of Remembrance, employing returned serviceman as labourers.  The business still operates today.


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.



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

OBITUARY. (1945, May 24). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 3 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved April 27, 2013, from

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.

In The News – November 24, 1941

The Portland Guardian of November 24, 1941 heralded the 100th birthday of Heywood, a small town about 25 kms north of Portland.  The article remembered The Bell family and their contribution to Heywood’s settlement.  I recently  introduced to you my family link to the Bells in a Trove Tuesday post – A Matter of Relativity about Amelia Harman.  Amelia married Christopher Bell, a grandson of John and Elizabeth Bell.

John Bell and his wife Elizabeth Morrow, left Ireland in 1841 with eight children in tow, some were adults, and sailed to Australia aboard the “Catherine Jamison“.  Five months after their departure, the Bells had settled at Mount Eckersley, a few kilometres north of Heywood.




Great contributors to Western Victorian racing, the family were good friends with poet Adam Lindsay Gordon.  William Bell was with Gordon when he made his mighty leap at Blue Lake, Mt. Gambier.

The Department of Primary Industries cites the height of Mt Eckersley as 450 feet (137 metres) but that didn’t stop John Bell, at the age of 101, from climbing the volcano, only months before his death.

As a family known for longevity, twin sons Henry and James lived to 92 and 97 respectively.  At one time they were Australia’s oldest living twins.

HEYWOOD IS ONE HUNDRED. (1941, November 24). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 1 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved November 16, 2012, from

All of this is well and good but is it all true?  John’s year of death is recorded as 1885, with his birth about 1787.  That would have made him around 97/98, short of the 101 reported.  Still, if he did climb Mt.Eckersley, to do it aged 97/98  was still a mean feat, but John may not have been a centenarian.  The family notice in the Hamilton Spectator at the time of his death gives his age as 98.

There could also be a discrepancy with the year the Bells settled at Mt Eckersley.  The Bells did arrive on the Catherine Jamieson on October 22, 1841 to Port Phillip.  The newspaper article says they were in Heywood by November 1841.  The Glenelg and Wannon Settlers site states John Bell settled at Mt Eckersly in 1843.

A further reminder to not always believe what you read in the papers.

Trove Tuesday – Matter of Relativity

Try and get your head around this article I found at Trove.  It appeared in The West Australian and the Adelaide Advertiser in December 1951.

I am almost certain this is my first cousin 4 x removed, Amelia Harman, daughter of Jonathan Harman.  Amelia married Christopher (Chris) Bell of Heywood in 1901.  They had three children,  Millicent Irene (born 1901), Clarence Jonathan (1902) and Christopher George (born 1903) all born at Heywood.  Clarence died in 1905.

If it is Amelia, the three children in the photo would be descendants of Christopher George Bell.  I believe that he may have married twice. Cheryl would be his daughter, Helen his granddaughter and Lynette his great-granddaughter.  At the time of the photo, Christopher was working as a senior constable of police at Casterton.  He would have been around 48 at that time. I’m still trying to do the maths!

Amelia would have been around 87 at the time of this photo.  She passed away in 1957 aged 91.


MATTER OF RELATIVITY. (1951, December 14). The West Australian (Perth, WA : 1879 – 1954), p. 8. Retrieved October 9, 2012, from


Another amazing thing is the three girls are all nine months old! Cheryl, Helen and Lynette would be 61 now.  If they or any other Bell family members see this, I would love to confirm if this is Amelia Harman.

Jonathan Harman

Jonathan Harman and his older brother James were like two peas in a pod.  While Jonathan did not show the devotion to the Wesleyan Methodist Church as is lay preacher brother, they shared a keen in interest in farming practices and community involvement.

Jonathan and James Harman

Jonathan was born in Melbourn, Cambridgeshire in 1837.  By the 1851 England Census he was the eldest child still living at the home of Joseph and Sarah Harman in Drury Lane, Melbourn.  His farming career had begun with his occupation, like so many others, agriculture labourer.

In 1854, Jonathan and his brothers George and Reuben, boarded the “Queen of England” for Sydney.  The first record I find for Jonathan in Victoria is 1862 when he married Mary Oliver, daughter of fellow pioneers, Jonathan Oliver and Ann Richards.

In 1863, the first of the couple’s ten children, Arthur, was born at Yambuk, near Port Fairy.  Peter Fraser in Early Byaduk Settlers, mentions Mary’s father  Jonathan Oliver living there in 1863.   Peter Fraser also tells of James and Jonathan Harman each having a team of bullocks which they used for a carting business along the Port Fairy road, at least has far as Byaduk or even Hamilton.

Also from Early Byaduk Settlers, I have discovered Jonathan was one of the first buggy owners in Byaduk, purchasing a heavy red buggy in 1875.  Up until that time, most people owned spring carts which were not suitable for a trip into Hamilton.  Until the arrival of buggies, the only comfortable way to travel to Hamilton was horseback or dray.  That trip would have taken 4-5 hours according to Fraser.  Today, the trip to Byaduk from Hamilton is only about 15 minutes.

The family of Jonathan and Mary Harman were:

Arthur John – Birth: 1863 at Yambuk;  Marriage:  Ellen Mathilda Rogers 1891;  Death:  1933 at Hamilton.

Amelia – Birth: 1864 at Byaduk;  Marriage: Chris Bell, 1901;  Death: 1956 at Portland.

Edith – Birth: 1865 at Byaduk;  Marriage:  Robert Bishop, 1901.  Death: 1948 at Port Fairy.

Emily – Birth: 1866 at Byaduk, Marriage:  Malcolm Cameron, 1900;  Death: 1948 at Heywood.

John – Birth: 1868 at  Byaduk; Death: 1886 at Byaduk.

Mary Ann – Birth: 1869 at Byaduk.

Sarah – Birth: 1870 at Byaduk;  Death: 1877  at Byaduk.

Joseph – Birth: 1871 at Byaduk;  Death: 1871 at Byaduk.

Minnie – Birth: 1872 at Byaduk;  Marriage:  Walt Hurrell, 1901;  Death: 1953 at Warrnambool.

Jonathan – Birth: 1876 at  Byaduk;  Marriage:  Hannah Waddup Keyte,1904;  Death:  1941 at  Ararat.

Jonathan and Mary lost one child, Joseph as a baby.  Sarah was only six at the time of her death and son John was 18.  Daughter Mary Ann was born in 1869 but I have never found a record for her death or  marriage.

Joseph, Sarah and John are buried at the Byaduk cemetery and a headstone marks their the grave, but where is Mary Ann?

Headstone of John, Sarah and Joseph Harman, children of Jonathan and Mary Harman,, Byaduk Cemetery

Wife Mary died in 1884 at Byaduk at only 41 years of age.  Youngest child Jonathan was only eight years old at the time.

At the time of Jonathan’s death on April 2, 1930 he was living with his daughter Amelia Bell at Heywood.  He was 94 years old.

Obituary. (1930, April 7). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 3 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved December 7, 2011, from

Jonathan’s obituary contains some interesting information.

  •   Jonathan’s arrival in Australia. It is true that Jonathan would have been around 16 when he arrived in Sydney from England with his brothers.  Parents Joseph and Sarah arrived a short time after and stayed in N.S.W for several years before heading to Victoria  toward the end of the 1850s. Did Jonathan leave N.S.W. before them, possible shortly after his arrival, taking a ship from Sydney to Port Fairy to join brother James?  Or is this all just unreliable second-hand information as is the nature of obituaries.  Even so, it is worth investigating further in my quest to pin down when all the Harmans arrived in Victoria and by what means.
  • Amelia Harman, who married Chris Bell is listed as Millicent.  Her birth name was registered as Amelia.  Could Millicent been a nick name that stuck?
  • Youngest son Jonathan is not mentioned in the obituary despite not passing away until 1941.  I have always thought of him as the black sheep of the family.  He married a girl from outside of the district, Hannah Keyte of Natimuk and he spent time in Queensland with Hannah, before disappearing prior to his death in Ararat, Victoria in 1941.  Hannah was still living in Queensland at the time of his death.  Is it possible that not only did he fall out with his wife Hannah, but also his family back in Byaduk?  Or was it simply because the author of the obituary did not have time for him?

Jonathan was buried with Mary next to their three children at the  Byaduk Cemetery.

Passing of the Pioneers

The September “Passing of the Pioneers” in the Portland Guardian saw several prominent Western Victorian residents pass away and two of my own relatives.

Richard LEWIS: Died September 1890 at Digby.  Richard owned some well-known stations in the Western District including Rifle Downs and Hilgay.  An excellent biography of Richard Lewis is on the Ballarat Genealogical Society website. Richard died as a result of Bright’s disease.

Samuel CROSSDied  4 September 1901 at Hamilton. Samuel was seventy-nine at the time of his death and had been in Australia since 1849 after travelling from Sussex, England. He worked in and owned, department stores including the Beehive Store in Hamilton.  In his later years, he was a librarian at the Hamilton Mechanics Institute.

Jacob THEISINGER: Died  13 September 1901 at Portland. Jacob, also a sufferer of Bright’s Disease, had been in the colony since around 1854.  He was a popular person around town and was a member of the Portland German Band.

Robert Edwin Windsor Sandys STAPYLTON-BREE: Died 17 September 1907 at Hamilton. Robert Edwin Windsor Sandys Stapylton-Bree was a Hamilton stock and station agent and well know identity not only in Hamilton, but also Portland.  He married the daughter of Stephen HENTY, Annie Maria.  His funeral was well attended with Dean Parkyn presiding over the service.  He and Archdeacon Hayman had motored the 119 mile trip from Ballarat in five hours.

Christina STEWART: Died September 1921 at Hamilton. Christina STEWART was born in Kingussie, Scotland in around 1825 and travelled with her husband, Duncan McPherson, to Australia in 1851 on board the Hooghlly.  While Duncan went off to the goldfields, Christina waited in Melbourne until they journeyed to Portland.  For a time, she and her husband ran the Dartmoor Hotel.  She was a mother of eight children.

Elizabeth GLADSTONE: Died 18 September 1925 at Millicent, South Australia.  Elizabeth Gladstone grew up near Portland and the Guardian noted she rode eighty miles each day to school.  I am assuming this was a round trip, or it was a short school day.  Elizabeth married George Plunkett in 1862 at Penola, South Australia.

May ROBERTSON: Died September 1925 at Gringalgona.  May Robertson arrived in Sydney with her family in 1847 from Scotland.  They travelled to the Coleraine district by bullock wagon.

Margaret Emily McDONALD:  Died  5 September 1928 at Nokomai, New Zealand.  Margaret McDonald’s parents were early pioneers and she spent time around Portland and Hamilton as a child with one of her early memories being that of Adam Lindsay Gordon and his riding feats.  In 1863, Margaret married Donald Cameron in Melbourne and they moved to New Zealand and raised twelve children.

Margaret BEST: Died 7 September 1933,  Hamilton. Margaret was born in County Caven, Ireland in 1853 to Mr and Mrs William Best.  They arrived at Portland on board the General Hewitt in 1856.  After time in Portland, the Bests moved to Heywood when Margaret was nine. She married James Henry BELL and remained in the Heywood area.

Ada Catherine HAYMAN: Died September 1934 at Portland.  Ada was born in Axminster, Devon, England in about 1858.  She arrived at Portland with her parents and siblings in the 1860s.  This is an interesting family.  Ada’s father was a doctor and practiced in Harrow, Edenhope and Ararat.  One of her brothers was a doctor, another Archdeacon Hayman presided over R. Stapylton-Bree’s funeral (above).  Another brother W.R. Hayman was one of those who organised the  Aboriginal cricketers’ tour of England in 1868.  The biography of one of the players, Johnny Mullagh, describes the part Hayman played.

Finlay McPherson PATON: Died September 1936 at Tarrayoukyan. Finlay Paton was born at Sterlingshire, Scotland and after landing at Portland, took on the job of ringing the church bell and did so for 15 years. This could have been just one of the reasons for his “magnificent physique”.  Maybe it was because he claimed that he was one of those that carted stones to build Mac’s Hotel in Portland.  Or was it lifting four bushel bags of wheat from the ground to a wagon, with little trouble.  He really must have been a fine specimen. As were his team of horses used for his carrying business. Bred by Finlay they were the “admiration of the district”

William DIWELL: – Died September 1939 at Jeparit. William was my ggg uncle.  His obituary mentioned his work as a builder and the several buildings in Portland remaining, at the time of his death, as memorials to his work.  It does mention he was a native of Portland, however, he was born at Merino.  It correctly states his wife Frances was a native of Portland.

Thomas Haliburton LAIDLAWDied September 1941 at Hamilton. Over 500 people were reportedly at the funeral of Thomas Laidlaw, a Hamilton stock and station agent.  Thomas was the son of pioneers, Thomas and Grace Laidlaw.   The obituary offers a great description of the early days of Thomas Laidlaw senior in the colony with his four brothers.  Thomas junior, along with building his successful stock and station business was at one time a Shire of Dundas Councillor, president of the Hamilton Racing Club and chairman of directors of the Hamilton and Western District College, today Hamilton and Alexandra College.  Laidlaw is one of the names that if I hear it, I think of Hamilton.

Henry MORTIMER: Died  6 September 1948 at Portland.  Another ggg uncle of mine, Henry was the son of James Mortimer and Rosanna Buckland.  He was born in Cavendish and was eighty at the time of his death at Portland.  He is best known at this blog as Mr Mortimer of Mr Mortimer’s Daughters.  This was an informative notice as it listed Henry’s children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.