From Stone Country to High Country

If I wasn’t the ggg granddaughter of James Harman, I would be just as happy to be the ggg granddaughter of his brother, Walter.  He broke away from Byaduk farm life to pioneer in the High Country of Victoria at Ensay.

There are many things to like about  researching Walt.  He and wife Lydia Poynton chose beautiful names for their children. They also liked to be photographed and I have been lucky enough to view some of those wonderful snaps. Also, Walt’s obituary was rich with history and is the kind I wish I could find from James Harman’s death.

Walter was born in December 1845 at Melbourn, Cambridgeshire, England to Joseph and Sarah Harman.  It would be unlikely he remembered a time when older brother James, 15 years his senior, lived in the family home.  While in England he would not have had much to do with any of his older brothers as by the time he was 8, four of them had left for Australia.

In 1854,  Walter sailed with his parents, Joseph and Sarah, sister Sarah and younger brother Alfred for Sydney aboard the “Queen of England“.  We now know the family went to Western Victoria and were in Byaduk by 1863.

In 1872, aged 27, Walter married Lydia Poynton, daughter of John Poynton and Lydia Walton. Immigrants from Lincolnshire, England, the Poyntons lived in the Macarthur area. The following year Walter applied to the Lands Board for a license on 300 acres near Macarthur.

LOCAL LAND BOARD. (1873, February 24). Portland Guardian and Normanby General Advertiser (Vic. : 1842 - 1876), p. 5 Edition: EVENINGS. Retrieved February 20, 2012, from

In 1879, he applied for the land next door to the earlier allotment, a further 44 acres.

LOCAL LAND BOARD. (1879, June 7). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 - 1953), p. 2 Edition: MORNINGS.. Retrieved February 20, 2012, from

Walter and Lydia started their family without haste, with Eunice Walton Harman born the year after their marriage.  Another nine children followed over the next 15 years.

Eunice Walton:  Birth:  1873 at Byaduk; Marriage: 1893 to  Benjamin Miller Lucas;  Death: 1954 at Heathcote Junction, Victoria.

Susannah Nash:  Birth:  1875 at Byaduk; Marriage:  1898 to William Condon;  Death:  1957 at Bairnsdale, Victoria.

Nathan:  Birth: 1878 at  Byaduk; Death:  1892 at Omeo.

Henry: Birth:  1880 at  Byaduk; Marriage:  1922 to  Eva Gertrude Jamison; Death: 1954 at  Bairnsdale, Victoria.

Louisa Mulberry:  Birth:  1881 at Byaduk; Marriage: 1900 to John Phiddian; Death: 1946 at Kyneton, Victoria.

Julia Georgina:  Birth:  1882 at Byaduk;  Marriage:  1915  to  Arthur Frances Lousada;  Death:  1929 at  Malvern, Victoria.

Selina Victoria:   Birth: 1884 at  Byaduk;  Death:  1977 at  Kew, Victoria.

Seth Livingstone:  Birth:  1884 at  Byaduk;  Death: 1892 at Omeo.

Golder Alberta Arlettie:  Birth:  1886 at Byaduk;  Marriage:  1923 to Solomon Kerrison; Death:  1963 at Melbourne.

John Joseph Stanley:  Birth: 1888 at Omeo;  Marriage:  1916 to Daisy Edith Masters;  Death: 1959 at Bairnsdale, Victoria.

This brings us to the wonderful names of the children of Walter and Lydia.  Eunice Walton takes her second name from her maternal grandmother Lydia Walton.  Susannah Nash was named after her maternal aunt Susannah Poynton.  Susannah married John Nash in 1869 but she died in 1875 aged just 34.  That was the same year Susannah Nash Harman was born. Lydia’s other sister Mary, also named her daughter Susannah Adeline Skipworth in the same year as her sister’s death.

My favourite name is Julia Georgina.  Julia is such a beautiful name and it may have come from her older cousin Julia Harman, daughter of James.  Selina Victoria is another of my favourite names.  Louisa Mulberry takes her second name from her paternal grandmother, Sarah Mulberry and John Joseph Stanley was named after his grandfathers, Joseph Harman and John Poynton.  I have absolutely no idea where the name Golder Alberta Arlettie may have come from!

The art of child naming carried on to the next generation, with grandchildren of Walter and Lydia having given names such as Stella Camilla Ina May, Edison Winslow, Harold Ornamen Tennnesyn, Cyril Montrose, Aldith Lorraine, Alban Harcourt, Beryl Maitland, Rodney Raeburn, Wilbur Henry, Athol Elwyn, Winton Harman, Jewel Victoria, Molly Lousada and Gloria Felicity Cambridge.

Just when it seemed Walter was settling into a life in the Western District, around 1888  Walter Harman packed up the family and made the long trip to Ensay in East Gippsland, Victoria’s High Country.  It is the move which  interests me, both the reason for travelling to the other side of the state and how they made the trip of over 600 kilometres, including the route they travelled.  The Ensay district did sound enticing as this article from 1888 suggests:

In Gippsland. (1888, April 7). Australian Town and Country Journal (NSW : 1870 - 1907), p. 44. Retrieved February 20, 2012, from

In 1843, Ensay Station consisted of 38,400 acres.  An article from the Bairnsdale Advertiser and Tambo and Omeo Chronicle in 1917 cites the total acreage at Ensay Station at that time as 11,000 acres.  Over time land was sold off to the likes of Walter Harman.

When I started researching the Harmans and I found the first references to Omeo, about 40kms north-west of Ensay, I imagined that Walt and his family went alone.  As my research continued I discovered the Condon family from the marriage record of Susannah Nash Harman and William Condon in 1898.  William was born in Portland in 1870, the son of William Charles Condon and Susan Baker.

(1888, April 28). Australian Town and Country Journal (NSW : 1870 - 1907), p. 33. Retrieved February 19, 2012, from

Later, thanks to newspaper reports of  Henry HARMAN’s court appearances in the trial of Ronald Griggs, I found John Henry CONDON, father of Lottie Condon.  While John was born in Omeo, he was the cousin of William Condon, Susannah Harman’s husband.  Not only that,  John Condon’s wife, Frances Ethel HUGGINS was born at Mount Eccles, near Macarthur in the Western District.  Frances’ mother was a SKIPWORTH, from Macarthur and her grandmother was a POYNTON, sister of Lydia Poynton, Walter Harman’s wife.  That sister, Mary, was also in the area with her husband, Thomas Skipworth. Phew!

Confusing maybe, but it shows five families living in the Omeo/Ensay area all with links to Byaduk/Macarthur and all connected through marriages over three generations.  Oh yes, Mary Poynton’s daughter Lydia Skipworth took along her new husband Andrew BAULCH from Tower Hill, near Warrnambool.  By 1890, his parent James Baulch and Ann Hulm were living at Bairnsdale.

So, the next question was who was the trailblazer that made the first big move to the High Country, or was there a convoy of families making the move at the same time?

Using the years the children were born as a guide, the first family to make the move appears to be Henry Condon, older brother of William Condon with his wife Agnes Huggins, aunt of Frances Ethel Huggins.  Married in 1885, their first child was born at Omeo in 1886.  Agnes’ brother James Huggins and wife Elizabeth Skipworth had a child in Macarthur in 1886 with the next child, Thomas Leslie born in 1888 at Omeo.  This is also the same year John Joseph Stanley Harman was born at Omeo.

The obituary of John Tomlin Poynton, nephew of Lydia, talks of his move to the High Country in 1888 with his brother Edward with yet another family tie in, this time to the Skipworths.

PASSED AWAY. (1943, July 19). Gippsland Times (Vic. : 1861 - 1954), p. 1. Retrieved February 14, 2012, from

From 1886 to 1888 a  stream of Condons, Poyntons, Huggins, Skipworths and Harmans left the stone country for the high country.

Walter, with help from Lydia, worked quickly to establish a Sunday school at Ensay and they were a major force behind a State school being opened in the town.  In1890, Walter was one of the first trustees of the Ensay Public Cemetery.  The name of the Harman property at Ensay was “Systonholme”.  This name paid  tribute to Lydia’s birth place, Syston, Lincolnshire, England.

Like his brother James, Walter was a lay preacher for the Methodist Church and would travel by horseback spreading the word of John Wesley.

In 1892, tragedy struck the Harmans in quick succession.  Seth died in July aged 7 and Nathan passed away in August aged 13.  The boys were buried at the Omeo cemetery.  Their death certificates are just another two on my long list of “must get” certificates, to see how the boys died so close together, although one would assume it was illness.

I love this photo of  Walt and Lydia.  Despite the stiffness and lack of emotion of early photographs, there is a warmth here with the two seeming very comfortable in each others company.  They were a team and this is clear from the photo.  I would like to thank Linda Thatcher for allowing me to use this wonderful photograph.

Walt and Lydia Harman (photo courtesy of Linda Thatcher)

In Walter and Lydia’s later years, they moved into “town”, taking up residence in the Melbourne suburb of Malvern.  In 1923, they were living at 11 Jordan Street with their house named “Systonholme” , a reminder of Ensay. Daughter Selina was living with them and Julia and her husband Arthur Lousada moved from their home in Toorak to 113 Tooronga Road Malvern, only two streets from her parents.

In 1926, Lydia passed away at the age of 79.  Walter had lost his beloved wife, the woman with whom he had  pioneered and raised 10 children.  A  family notice was placed in “The Argus” at the time of her death:

Family Notices. (1926, September 11). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1956), p. 17. Retrieved February 20, 2012, from

In 1928, two years after Lydia’s death, Walter and daughter Selina placed an “In Memoriam” notice in “The Argus” and the pain was still clear.

Family Notices. (1928, September 15). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1956), p. 13. Retrieved February 20, 2012, from

Faced with life without Lydia, Walter  returned to live at Ensay, his other great love.  On October 22, 1936 Walter passed away at “Systonholme” Ensay.

Family Notices. (1936, October 23). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1956), p. 1. Retrieved February 20, 2012, from

His obituary from the “Gippsland Times” is a fitting tribute to such a wonderful pioneer who gave so much to his local community, while ensuring a comfortable life for his family.

PASSING OF AN EARLY PIONEER. (1936, November 5). Gippsland Times (Vic. : 1861 - 1954), p. 3. Retrieved February 14, 2012, from

As yet I have not found an obituary for James Harman but the words written of Walter may give a clue to James himself…”his sterling Christian character, his genial personality, and his extreme kindness to all whom he met”.  There are many similarities between James and Walter, despite their age difference and the fact the lived on opposite sides of Victoria including their devotion to the Methodist Church and their community involvement.  Both brothers played a role in establishing schools in their respective towns.  The obituary also reconfirmed the Harman’s journey from N.S.W. on arrival in Australia to Port Fairy and then Byaduk.

While Walter Harman is  remembered as an Ensay pioneer, he also lived in Byaduk and district for 25 years from the age of 18 to 43, which one could describe as his “formative years”. There was plenty of time for the characteristics, passions and wisdom of his brothers to rub off.

In The News – February 8 – February 13, 1901

I have an interest in the weather, not just today or the forthcoming weekend,  but also historically.  I  participated in Melbourne University’s Climate History newspaper tagging project that involved tagging newspaper articles at Trove about weather events.  This was an interesting exercise and what did became obvious was the cyclical nature of the weather.  If it has happened before it will happen again, droughts, floods and storms.

Taking it further, I also have an interest in how such weather events effected my ancestors. That is why the Victorian bushfires of 1901 are of interest.  The weather was very similar to two days in my lifetime,  Ash Wednesday February 16, 1983 and  Black Saturday February 7, 2010 and in each case, fires spread across Victoria.  When I look at the  Department of Sustainability Bushfire history of Victoria, I am surprised the fires of 1901 are not mentioned.

The first reports came through on February 8, 1901 of the destruction.  The following article from The Argus describes the weather of February 7, 1901.  The descriptive language used takes the reader to that day.  The heat was oppressive, the wind was strong and dust storms crossed the state, causing an unnatural darkness.

HEAT AND GALES. (1901, February 8). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1956), p. 5. Retrieved January 29, 2012, from

Fires had sprung up in the Western District.  Early reports from Branxholme were tragic with one death, stock killed and houses lost.  I have family links with three of the families who lost their homes, the Millers, Storers and Addinsalls.  George Miller, a racehorse trainer, lost his house and stables and no doubt his horses.

HEAT AND GALES. (1901, February 8). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1956), p. 5. Retrieved January 29, 2012, from

The two-day race meeting at Ararat was held under stifling conditions.   A fire started at the course on the second day and horses were burnt.  Later the wind picked up and ripped iron off the grandstand roof, sending the ladies within running for shelter.

HEAT AND GALES. (1901, February 8). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1956), p. 5. Retrieved January 29, 2012, from

Fires spread across Victoria including Warrnambool, Alexandra, Wangaratta, Buninyong, Yea and Castlemaine.

DESTRUCTIVE BUSH FIRES IN VICTORIA. (1901, February 8). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954), p. 6. Retrieved January 30, 2012, from

Reading the following article about the fires at Byaduk , it really hit home how my Harman and Bishop families may have been impacted.  Even if they were lucky enough not to lose their homes, the scenes would have been unforgettable.

TERRIBLE BUSH FIRES. (1901, February 9). The Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1889 – 1931), p. 7. Retrieved February 7, 2012, from

In 1901, my great-grandmother Sarah Elizabeth Harman, gg grandfather Reuben James Harman and his parents James Harman and Susan Read were all living at Byaduk.  Not to mention various gg uncles and aunts and cousins, both Bishops and Harmans.  I wonder how they coped.  Did 18 year old Sarah take refuge in a dam or creek with her Grandmother Susan?  Was 70 year James Harman still fit enough to help fight the fires?  These are questions that I will never know the answer to. All I know is they were lucky enough to escape with their lives.

DESTRUCTIVE BUSH FIRES. (1901, February 9). Bathurst Free Press and Mining Journal (NSW : 1851 – 1904), p. 2. Retrieved February 7, 2012, from

The Australian Town and Country Journal accounts for 10 homes lost at Byaduk.  The Free Presbyterian Church was lost and the hotel caught alight but it seems it was saved.  The homestead of Richard Thomas Carty at “Brisbane Hill”, a large property at Byaduk, was destroyed.  The Cartys rebuilt and the replacement homestead “Dunroe” still stands.

THE VICTORIAN BUSH FIRES. (1901, February 23). Australian Town and Country Journal (NSW : 1870 – 1907), p. 38. Retrieved February 7, 2012, from

Fire also burnt within a mile of Hamilton.

"MANY FAMILIES HOMELESS." Leader (Melbourne, Vic. : 1862 - 1918) 9 Feb 1901: 18. .

“MANY FAMILIES HOMELESS.” Leader (Melbourne, Vic. : 1862 – 1918) 9 Feb 1901: 18. <;.

This photograph from Birregurra gives some idea of the devastation.

THE VICTORIAN BUSH FIRES. (1901, February 23). Australian Town and Country Journal (NSW : 1870 – 1907), p. 38. Retrieved February 7, 2012, from

Portland was also under threat with fire circling the town.  The fire did not stop until it met the sea.

VICTORIAN BUSH FIRES. (1901, February 11). The Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1889 – 1931), p. 5. Retrieved February 7, 2012, from

Buninyong near Ballarat was one of the worst areas hit as was Euroa and district.

BUSH FIRES IN VICTORIA. (1901, February 9). The West Australian (Perth, WA : 1879 – 1954), p. 3. Retrieved February 7, 2012, from

THE VICTORIAN BUSH FIRES. (1901, February 23). Australian Town and Country Journal (NSW : 1870 – 1907), p. 38. Retrieved February 7, 2012, from

By January 11, aid for the homeless was on the agenda and at  Branxholme a public meeting was held to discuss such matters.  Authorities discovered the fire near Branxholme, which was possibly the same fire that hit Byaduk, was started by a travelling tinsmith fixing a trough at Ardachy Estate.

THE BUSH FIRES. (1901, February 11). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1956), p. 5. Retrieved February 7, 2012, from

Nearby Macarthur also had losses as did Princetown on the south coast.  At Timboon, bullock teams from the local sawmill were lost.

FIRES IN VICTORIA. (1901, February 12). South Australian Register (Adelaide, SA : 1839 – 1900), p. 6. Retrieved February 7, 2012, from

The fire was so strong and relentless that old residents were drawing comparisons to Black Thursday of 1851.

TELEGRAPHIC. (1901, February 12). Kalgoorlie Western Argus (WA : 1896 – 1916), p. 32. Retrieved February 7, 2012, from

Today and for the past few days, the temperature has struggled to reach 20 degrees. Three years ago the temperature was more than twice that.  The weather will be like today during future summers, but I also know there will be days again like February 7, 1901, February 16, 1983 and February 7, 2009.  It is the nature of the weather.  Let us hope the devastation of each of these past events are never repeated.

Sarah Harman – From Country to City

I knew all about the brothers of Sarah Harman before I knew anything of her other than she travelled to Sydney with her parents Joseph and Sarah Harman aboard the “Queen of England” in 1855.  Finally I decided the time had come to find out more about Sarah.

I quickly discovered she had married George Adams in 1885 and they had one daughter in 1886.  For some time I thought that was Sarah’s story.  It was while searching the Victorian Pioneer Index 1836-1888 using only “Harman” in the “Mother’s name” field,  that I realised there was more to Sarah than I first thought. I have found this method of searching to be very successful over the years and has unearthed many unknown children and marriages of  the females on my tree.

In the index I found children born at Byaduk to Sarah Harman and a Walter Oakley.  I then found the marriage of Sarah to Walter Oakley in 1864.  Suddenly, Sarah had five children and not one and another spouse.  Sarah’s story had become very different.

Sarah Harman was the only daughter of Joseph and Sarah Harman to come to Australia and she was eldest of the children to travel with them.  Sarah was born in Melbourn, Cambridgeshire in 1843 and was 12 when she immigrated on the “Queen of England“.

The Harman family arrived in Byaduk around 1863 and by then Sarah would have been 20.  The following year she married Walter Oakley, son of  Henry Oakley and Susan Bullock.  Walter had family links to Port Fairy and Sarah may well have met him during the time the Harmans spent in the town.

The children of Sarah and Walter were:

SUSAN – Born 1865, Byaduk; Marriage Robert Warwick Cruikshank, Birchip 1892; Death 1949, Wangaratta, Victoria

JOSEPH HARMAN – Born 1867, Byaduk;  Marriage Annie Margaret Simpson, 1891; Death 1957,  Blackburn.

HENRY – Born  1868, Yambuk

ALFRED JAMES – Born 1870; Marriage Kathleen Maud Hodgson, 1910; Death 1951,  Stawell.

To this point it would seem that Sarah was going to live life similar to her older brothers, living in Byaduk and raising a family.  However for Sarah there was a turning point.  Sometime between the birth of Alfred in 1870 and 1884, something happened to Walter Oakley.  What, I am not sure.  I have never found a death record.  He just seemed to disappear.

One of the great things about writing a blog, is you get to meet people with similar research interests.  After my post A Small find at the Vic Expo, I heard from Brad who is a Oakley descendant.  He told me of the family story that Walter had disappeared while on a trip delivering live horses to India.  While this a family story, it is not outside the realm of possibility.

Thousands of horses left Australian shores for India during the mid half of the 19th century and naturally there were perils.  This is an incredibly interesting part of our history which led to Australia’s own breed of  horse, the Waler.  The story of live horse export in Victoria is worthy of  its own post at another time.  I like the idea that this is how Walter met is demise, a tragic but romantic end.  Whatever happened, he was gone and Sarah was alone.

Have you found the marriage record of a family member and wondered how on earth did he/she meet that girl/guy?  Sarah’s marriage to George Adams, is one such occasion.  How did Sarah from Byaduk, meet George from Melbourne, 12 years her senior, in the 1880s.  Certainly not online dating!

In the last day or so since I started writing this post, I have added Kerryn Taylor to my circles at Google+.  She is a descendant of  George Adams and Catherine Barry and  told me George’s father Edward was living in Cambridgeshire when the Harmans were still in Melbourn.  The 1851 England Census lists him living at Bassingbourn, just down the road.  Maybe this link to the old country is the reason why George was in Byaduk and in the life of Sarah Harman.

Who was George Adams?  He was born in Essex, England in 1831 and immigrated to Western Australia  around 1852.  He married Irish girl, Catherine Barry in 1853 in Western Australia.  After the birth of one child, they headed east for Melbourne, where a further six children were born.  Two more children were born in Western Australia in 1868 and 1870.

I pick them up next in 1884.  Catherine passed away in Parkville on May 4.  George is listed as a builder and contractor.

Family Notices. (1884, May 14). Illustrated Australian News (Melbourne, Vic. : 1876 - 1889), p. 78. Retrieved January 19, 2012, from

The next record of George is the following year, 1885, with his marriage to Sarah Harman.   Not a lot of time elapsed between the death of Catherine and his remarriage, but that was not that unusual.

One child was born from the marriage of George and Sarah.  Sarah was around 42 at the time of the birth.

SARAH SELINA (“Sadie”) – Born 1886 at Kensington;  Marriage Harold Charles STONE, 1915; Death 1977 at Kew.

While it seems that George and Sarah returned to the city, in 1888, George had a listing at Byaduk in that year’s Victorian Post Office Directory, his occupation listed as builder.   He may have kept his work options open. It may also be why George was in the Byaduk area to start with, to build something.

In 1921, George passed away.  He was  91.  The first family notice to appear was from Sarah and “Sadie”.

Family Notices. (1921, January 18). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1956), p. 1. Retrieved January 31, 2012, from

The following day a notice appeared from the children of George’s first marriage to Catherine Barry.

Family Notices. (1921, January 19). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1956), p. 1. Retrieved January 31, 2012, from

Then three days later another, more detailed family notice  presumably again from George and Catherine’s children, but unlike the first it gives the instructions to copy to the Hamilton papers as in the first notice from Sarah and “Sadie”

Family Notices. (1921, January 22). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1956), p. 11. Retrieved January 31, 2012, from

Are we beginning to see some tension between Sarah and her step children?

George’s Will gives some sign that his children from his first marriage may not have played a big part in his life during his second marriage.  Firstly, Sarah’s son Joseph Harman Oakley and son-in-law, Harold Stone, husband of “Sadie” were executors of the Will.  Sarah was to receive all the household furniture, ornaments and the like as well as all George’s property in his estate.  Upon Sarah’s death, everything was to be sold and distributed as George had nominated.  Aside from his oldest son Edward who was to receive £75, all of his living children from his first marriage were to receive only £20 each.   On the other hand, “Sadie” was to receive the balance of the estate, which sounded as though it would be quiet a considerable sum.

Sarah passed away 10 years later in 1931.  She was 87.  Or was she?  According to her death notice she was in her 90th year.  Her cemetery record lists her as 89.  Her birth record on the England and Wales, Free BMD Birth Index lists her birth in 1843.  The 1851 census has her at seven and as her birth was registered in the last quarter of 1843, this would mean she was turning eight in the year of her census.  The Assisted Immigrants Index lists her age as 12 in 1855, which again fits.  In A Life Cut Short, I posted an article from September 1929 which has Sarah’s age at 85.  Again, if Sarah’s birthday was in the last quarter, this also fits.  I would assume the information for the article came from her brothers.  With 1843 looking like the correct birth year, Sarah should have been 87 at the time of her death, her 88th year, almost 89th but certainly not 90th.  Poor Sarah, what woman would want two years added to her age!

Family Notices. (1931, July 4). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1956), p. 15. Retrieved January 31, 2012, from

Both Sarah and George are buried at the Fawkner cemetery.

There is something about Sarah’s story that attracted my attention.  Her address at 5 Brixton Street, Flemington. My first thoughts of Flemington are, of course, of the famous racecourse but having driven through the area several times, it also the historic feel of the suburb that comes to mind.  Also, not far away were the Newmarket Saleyards, the City Abbatoir and the Melbourne Showgrounds.  Racing stables were in back lanes and cattle would be herded through the streets en route to the saleyards.  Sarah would only have to step out onto Brixton street for a reminder of country life, horses being led to the track, cattle mooing, drovers’ dogs barking and the smell, well it was bad.

DUST, FLIES, SMELLS, AND NOISES. (1935, August 9). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1956), p. 3. Retrieved February 2, 2012, from

The Australian Electoral Roll (1903-1980) shows George and Sarah living at 5 Brixton Street in Flemington in 1903.  George died in the house and Sarah lived there after his death.  I like that when Sadie married Harold Stone, they moved into 7 Brixton Street next door and some stage Sarah, in her later years, moved in with “Sadie”.  In the same year as Sarah’s death, her son Joseph Oakley is listed at 5 Brixton Street in the Australian Electoral Rolls (1903-1980).

Google Street View, points to the painted terrace with the fence as 5 Brixton street.  I’m always a bit wary of where the place the marker lands. If only I could see the street numbers.  I have not been to the house myself but it is on my “to do” list.  Only a couple of months ago I was only about one kilometre away, but with a grumpy driver and child from a day out in the city, I didn’t think they would have appreciated being dragged off course to look at yet another house.  Also the grumpy driver thinks one day we will be arrested  photographing strangers’ houses.  Back to Street View, if you pan around the street, you will see what I mean about the ambiance of the suburb.

Having read George’s Will, it reveals he did own a number of properties, so he may have owned 7 Brixton street, Sadie’s house, also.  In fact he may have owned the entire terrace.  Being a builder, he may have even built the terrace.  As this extract shows, in 1885 land was being offered for sale in Brixton Street.

UNDER THE HAMMER. (1885, February 20). North Melbourne Advertiser (Vic. : 1873 - 1894), p. 3. Retrieved February 1, 2012, from

The Will states that Sarah was to receive “the rents and income which may arise and be derived from my lands and tenements and from all property in my estate…”.  Also if  “she shall so desire to permit her to reside in any of my messauges or tenements”.  Electoral rolls also listed George has having lived by “Independent means”, so he must have lived off the rent of his properties.  Secretly I used to hope that it meant he was an SP bookie, living so close to the track and all!

So ends Sarah Harman’s story.  A woman who looked set for a life like that of her sister in-laws, a farming wife in a small country town, surrounded by her family including her brothers, nieces and nephews.  A twist of fate would see her live 50 years of her life in the growing city of Melbourne, away from her brothers, but I’m sure never far from their hearts and minds.

If anyone is interested in more information on George Adams, I have found a website with a very good story of him at Adams Generations.

In the News – January 13, 1905

Western District pioneers were confronted with all the elements Australia has to offer including flood, drought and fire.  Each had its own devastating effect on their lives and livelihood, particularly those on the land.

By January 11, 1905, the Harmans had already experienced the effect of bushfires.  Fires in 1888 and 1901 had seen the loss of stock, grazing land and life.  Bushfires today are just as devastating but the pioneers of the 19th century and early 20th century did not have the weather forecasting, firefighting equipment and communications now available.  When fire went thought Byaduk in 1905, one can only imagine how they managed with the equipment, or lack of, available to them at the time.

The fire began near the Byaduk Caves.  The first Harman to be effected was Gershom, son of Reuban Harman.  The fire then travelled through part of  J. Harman’s property.  I can’t be sure if this was the property of  James or Jonathan as both owned land around the Byaduk caves area.  Poor Mr Harper, lost all the timber for a new house, while others lost hay stacks. Forty men were fighting the fire but wind changes made it almost impossible for them.

HEAVY LOSSES AT BYADUK. (1905, January 13). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 - 1953), p. 2 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved January 11, 2012, from

A Life Cut Short

In September 1929, the Advocate from Burnie, Tasmania, reported on the Harman family and their longevity.

Family’s Longevity. (1929, September 10). Advocate (Burnie, Tas. : 1890 – 1954), p. 5. Retrieved December 19, 2011, from

Jonathan died the next year, George made it to 96, Walter 90, Alfred 81 and Sarah (Mrs Adams), 86.   Add brother James who died in 1916 at the age of 86 and the average age of six of the seven children of Joseph and Sarah Harman that came to Australia was 88.

Reuben Harman did not achieve the longevity of his siblings. He died in 1883 aged 44 but if he had of lived on, he would have been the third pea in a pod, with brothers James and Jonathan.

Reuben was born in Melbourn, Cambridgeshire in 1839 and by the age of 12, he was already working as an agriculture labourer as the 1851 UK Census shows.  He was the youngest of the trio of brothers who sailed to Sydney aboard the “Kate” in 1854, aged 15.

The earliest record I have found of Reuben in Australia, was in 1864 when he married Elizabeth Oliver.  Elizabeth was the sister of Mary Oliver who had married Jonathan Harman two years earlier.  They resided in Byaduk where Reuben farmed with his brothers.  He acquired land and his  home property was “Berry Bank” at Byaduk.  Reuben and Elizabeth raised six children:

Bertha:  Birth: 1866 at Byaduk;  Marriage:  1892 to Felix Alexander James FULLBROOK ;  Death: 1932 at Nambowla, Tasmania

Absalom:  Birth: 1868 at Byaduk’;  Marriage:  1904 to Hazel Maud FILMER;  Death 1954 at Bannockburn, Victoria.

Gershom:  Birth: 1869 at Byaduk;  Marriage: 1905 to  Elizabeth HILLIARD;  Death: 1940 at Hamilton.

Jessie:  Birth: 1871 at Byaduk;  Marriage:  1898 to Walter GREED;  Death: 1949 at Hamilton.

Beatrice:  Birth:  1878 at Byaduk;  Death:  1929 at Hamilton.

Sarah Mulbery:  Birth: 1880 at Byaduk; Death:  1931 at Hamilton.

I have found two references to Reuben at Trove, both from the 12 months before his death.

The first  article about Reuben was for a transfer of a lease from himself to brother Jonathan,  found in the Portland Guardian of May 23, 1882.

The Guardian. (1882, May 23). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 2 Edition: MORNING.. Retrieved January 2, 2012, from

The second, in The Argus of August 19, 1882, reports on  the Hamilton ploughing match at Strathkellar, east of Hamilton.  Reuben won Class A, a division down from Champion Class, in heavy conditions.  His plough of choice was the Lennon, also favoured by brother James. He rounded out the day with a second place in the Best Harness class.

HAMILTON PLOUGHING MATCH. (1882, August 19). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1956), p. 11. Retrieved January 2, 2012, from

On April 28, 1883, Reuben Harman passed away aged just 44 from hydatids.  Reuben was buried at the Byaduk Cemetery.

Headstone of Reuben, Elizabeth, Beatrice and Sarah Harman, Byaduk Cemetery

James Harman was the executor of Reuben’s Will and was very exacting in his application for probate.  Reuben’s estate was to the value of  £1226, quite a tidy some in 1883.  His assets included 128 acres of land, divided into two parts, one with a two roomed slab hut with an iron roof and slab partitions.  There was also a further 26 acres of land, 3 horses, 17 head of cattle, 150 sheep, a buggy and a almost new plough.  There is  a record of an interest he had in selected land of 70 acres.

After Reuben’s death,  Elizabeth was left to care for the children, then aged 17 down to three.  The first to marry was Bertha in 1892, when she was 26.  Gershom and Jessie also married, however the two youngest daughters, remained unmarried.  Elizabeth, Beatrice and Sarah eventually moved into Hamilton, with the two girls working as knitting manufacturers.

In 1907, Elizabeth returned to Byaduk to represent her family in a photo at the Byaduk and District Pioneers day.  She appears in the group photo from the day.

Elizabeth died in 1919 at Hamilton.  Beatrice and Sarah only lived for another 10 and 12 years respectively, both dying at 52.

This is the last story of the four Harman boys who travelled independently to Australia.  The last three Harman siblings, Sarah, Walter and Alfred, travelled with their parents, Joseph and Sarah to Australia.  Sarah was 11, Walter 10 and Alfred only three.  The stories of those three Harmans are very different from their four older brothers.

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.

Not Such an Odd Fellow

George Hall Harman, born in Melbourn, Cambridgeshire in 1835, was the fifth child of Joseph Harman and Sarah Mulbury.  His middle name “Hall”  came from the maiden name of his paternal grandmother, Keiza Hall.  The 1851 English Census shows 16 year old George working as an errand boy and living at the home of  local publican and farmer, William Dearman.  The following year he saw his older brother James leave for Australia and two years later in 1854, he had his own opportunity to travel to Australia.  With his two younger brothers, Jonathan and Reuben, they boarded the “Kate” at Southampton on August 3, 1854 bound for Sydney, arriving on November 7.

I lose track of George for several years until 1859 when he and  brother James advertised land for sale, Boodcarra Farm at Port Fairy, then known as Belfast. The advertisement is listed in the Port Fairy/Belfast News Index 1859 .  In 1860, George married Rebecca Graham, the daughter of  Thomas Graham and Margaret Paterson.

Compared to his brothers, George & Rebecca had a relatively small family of five children:

Walter Graham – Birth: 1862 in Port Fairy; Marriage:  1887 to Ann GRAY; Death: 1930 in Kyneton, Victoria.

Edith – Birth: 1865 in Byaduk;  Death: 1866 in Byaduk

Thomas Charles – Birth: 1867 in Port Fairy; Marriage:  1900 to Elizabeth Margaret BUDGE; Death: 1954 in Victoria

Mary Helena – Birth: 1870 in Port Fairy; Marriage:  1911 to Samuel ROGERS;  Death: 1920 in Sale, Victoria

Herbert George – Birth: 1878 in Port Fairy; Marriage: 1905 to Aimee Elizabeth HEAD; Death: 1955 in Wangaratta, Victoria

George and Rebecca began their married life in Port Fairy but moved to Byaduk with the other members of the Harman family around 1863.  It appears that George preferred the seaside town and they returned to Port Fairy by 1867.

On a visit to Port Fairy, I called in at the Port Fairy Historical Society in the town’s former Court House.   I noticed old portraits on a wall.  Amongst the faces were George and Rebecca Harman.  The Society have a copying service and I was able to arrange for copies to be sent.

George Hall HARMAN, Original held by Port Fairy Historical Society

Rebecca GRAHAM, Original held by Port Fairy Historical Society
















From the photo of George it is obvious he was a Mason.  Turning to Trove, I was able to establish George was a member of the Manchester Unity Independent Order of Odd Fellows(M.U.I.O.O.F.).  I also found a lead to the possible origin of George’s photograph:

(1907, June 24). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 - 1953), p. 3 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved November 9, 2011, from

After Rebecca’s death in 1902, George remained in Port Fairy living in James, Gipps and Sackville Streets.   His occupation varied from “gardener” to “independent means”.  He also spent time with his family as the 1914 Australian Electoral Roll shows, with him residing at the home of his daughter Mary and her husband Samuel Rogers in Wodonga.  He also spent time with his son, Herbert in Wangaratta as this article about the Wangaratta Odd Fellows Lodge in The Argus suggests:

COUNTRY NEWS. (1923, August 29). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1956), p. 23. Retrieved November 9, 2011, from

George passed away on September 14, 1931 at the ripe old age of 96.  Only two of his children, Thomas and Herbert,  were living at the time of his death.

Family Notices. (1931, September 16). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1956), p. 1. Retrieved November 9, 2011, from

George was buried at the Port Fairy Cemetery with Rebecca and baby Edith.

Grave of George, Rebecca and Edith Harman, Port Fairy Cemetery

Headstone of George, Rebecca and Edith Harman, Port Fairy Cemetery















I often think of George and the 29 years after Rebecca’s death until his own.  He saw the passing of his daughter and son and two granddaughters.  Was it a lonely time or did his activities with the Odd Fellows and the visits to the homes of family members fill the void?  I hope so, because George was just a normal fellow who happened to be an Odd Fellow.