The Big Flood

Dressed in a gown of steel grey cloth, trimmed with glacé silk and a “borrowed” tulle veil, Lily Buckland married George Sparrow on 9 April 1916 at Mount Eccles. The wedding was at the home of Lily’s sister and George’s brother, Alice and Charles Sparrow.

Lillian Letitia Buckland was born at Briagolong in 1888, the eldest daughter of William Buckland and Hannah Oakley.  The family lived at Toora in Gippsland. George Henry Sparrow was born at Macarthur in 1891, a son of local residents, Abijah Sparrow and Emma Peters.  The first instance of a union between the two families was the marriage of Alice Buckland and Charles Sparrow in 1913.  How one family from Gippsland and another from the Western District came together is unknown.

George and Lily settled at Lake Gorrie near Macarthur and started their family. Letitia Mavis Sparrow was their first child, born at Hamilton in 1917.  Then Charles Robert born in 1918.  In 1920, tragedy struck the family when young Charles, just two years old, fell on a piece of wire in the backyard. The wire went up his nostril and pierced his brain and although taken to Hamilton Hospital, Charles never regained consciousness.  In the same year, Lillian saw another sister, Olive, marry a Macarthur lad, returned serviceman William Louden Harman.  Seven more children were born to Lily and George over the next ten years, six boys and one girl

A year after the beginning of World War 2, two of George and Lily’s boys enlisted.  Allan joined up on 29 June 1940 and served with the 2/23 Australian Infantry Battalion while Roy enlisted on 14 October 1940, serving with the 63rd Australian Infantry Battalion.  Allan was discharged on 15 November 1945, however, Roy a Corporal continued on after the end of the war.

On Friday evening 15 March 1946, rain began to fall on the roof of the Sparrow’s home, the likes they had never heard before. At home with George and Lily were three of their children, Mavis, Bruce and Ronald. The rain continued through the night and into Saturday night. On the morning of Sunday 17 March 1946, the Sparrow family woke to the sound of water lapping at their beds. Outside, water was rising rapidly around the property and they decided to evacuate.  Leaving their domestic animals and poultry to find high ground themselves, Lily and the children climbed into their jinker with George leading the horse, guiding it along the already flooded roads.

It was increasingly difficult for George to distinguish the dangers ahead in the floodwaters, and not far from the house, a wheel of the jinker fell into a concealed hole and upturned, tipping the passengers into the water.  George tried desperately to save his family but the water was deep and fast flowing. In his attempt to get help, he became exhausted, collapsed and died.

"SEARCH FOR FLOOD VICTIMS" Advocate (Burnie, Tas. : 1890 - 1954) 23 March 1946: .

“SEARCH FOR FLOOD VICTIMS” Advocate (Burnie, Tas. : 1890 – 1954) 23 March 1946: <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article68968037&gt;.

A search party was soon looking for Lily and her children. Mavis, Bruce and Ronald’s bodies were found in a hole close to the jinker, the water in the hole was over two metres deep. Lily’s body was found caught in a fence over three kilometres away, such was the force of the water.  Mavis was twenty-five, Bruce twenty-two, and Ronald, fifteen.  Five family members lost in a terrible tragedy. Rumours were flying that were was no need for them to leave, but servicemen who went to the house during the search supported their actions after seeing the high watermark on the walls.  Sadly for the Sparrow family, when one of their surviving sons arrived at the farm the following day, he found the chooks and the household dogs and cats had survived the flood.

The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957) 20 March 1946 .

The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957) 20 March 1946 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-page1668019&gt;.

On the afternoon of Thursday 21 March 1946, the sun broke through the clouds as hundreds made their way to Macarthur’s Church of England for the funeral of the Sparrow family. Among the many floral tributes was a sheaf of flowers sent by the Governor of Victoria and his wife Sir Winston and Lady Dugan, including a personal message for the remaining members of the family.  Just days before they had passed through the Macarthur district, including the Sparrow property, to witness the devastation.

The Sparrow family were victims of one of Western Victoria’s worst natural disasters.  More used to the ravages of fire, residents were to witness rising rivers and creeks over the weekend of 16 and 17 March that soon turned their part of Victoria into an inland sea.

"FLOODS DEVASTATE WESTERN DISTRICT" The Horsham Times (Vic. : 1882 - 1954) 19 March 1946: 3. Web. 7 Mar 2016 .

“FLOODS DEVASTATE WESTERN DISTRICT” The Horsham Times (Vic. : 1882 – 1954) 19 March 1946: 3. Web. 7 Mar 2016 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article73076468&gt;.

The Western District was ravaged by drought from 1939 to 1945 with disastrous bushfires sweeping through the Western District in January 1944.

"TUESDAY, MARCH 19, 1946 AND NOW A FLOOD" The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957) 19 March 1946 .

“TUESDAY, MARCH 19, 1946 AND NOW A FLOOD” The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957) 19 March 1946 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article22235082&gt;.

Early in March 1946, parts of Queensland and New South Wales were under floodwaters due to a tropical cyclone. On March 10, cold, wet and windy weather hit Victoria.  At 9:00 am on Monday 11 March, the previous forty-eight hours had produced 52 mm of rain in Port Fairy, one of the highest rainfall totals in the Western District for the period while 36 mm fell at Hamilton.  A cyclonic depression moved across South Australia in the following days before reaching the Western District on Friday 15 March where it stopped.

The forecast for Victoria published in The Argus of Friday 15 March  was for some rain developing from the west and then showers.  At 9:00 pm on Friday night, the forecast was “cold and unsettled with some showers. Some heavy rain, with hail, on and south of the ranges”.  That heavy rain was of tropical proportions falling from Friday night and through the weekend. By Monday 18 March, The Argus reported the floods covered the Western District from Natimuk in the southern Wimmera to the sea, and to the east to Mortlake. Police headquarters at Russell Street Melbourne said that a stretch of water up to four metres lay from Hamilton to the coast.  The map below shows the extent of the rainfall.

"FAMILY TAKEN OFF ROOF" The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954) 19 March 1946 .

“FAMILY TAKEN OFF ROOF” The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954) 19 March 1946 .

There were evacuations from many towns including  Hamilton, Portland, Port Fairy, Warrnambool and Casterton.  Rescuers took to boats trying to save families, many clinging to the roofs of their houses.  Thousands of head of stock were lost, bridges and roads washed away, telephone lines were down and railway lines damaged. There were mass cancellations of trains and buses.  Towns were cut off with little means of communication.

On Tuesday 19 March 1946, The Argus published the rainfall totals from 9:00 am on Saturday 17 March until 3:00 pm on Monday 18 March.

flood24

“TEMPORARILY FINE TODAY New Depression Approaching” The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957) 19 March 1946 http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article22235127 .

While many communities were flooded, the following were those most severely affected by the big flood of 1946.

MACARTHUR

Parts of the countryside around Macarthur were under three metres of water stranding families on their roofs hoping for rescue.  Around nine kilometres south of Macarthur, on the Port Fairy Road, a bridge washed away. Stock losses in the district were estimated at 5000 sheep and 500 head of cattle.  There was concern among authorities about the possible outbreak of disease, with livestock hanging on fences in the flood waters. Posing a threat to rescuers were hundreds of snakes swimming in the water.

BYADUK/WALLACEDALE/CONDAH/BRANXHOLME

In the Wallacedale/Condah area, ten houses were evacuated and dairy herds were lost.  Some parts were under three metres of water.  Mr & Mrs Edgar Lacey and Miss Grace Tullett took refuge on the roof of the Lacey home. To shelter from the heavy rain and strong winds, they were able to remove a sheet of tin and climb into the ceiling. With them on the roof, also seeking refuge, were several snakes.  A RAAF Catalina Flying boat was flown in to rescue the trio.  On arrival, the pilot could not find them so he returned to Williamstown, NSW.  Next, a flat-bottomed boat tried but failed to retrieve them. An amphibious car from the Army or Army “duck” was the next plan. Finally, after twenty-five hours, they were rescued but it was several days until the water subsided around their house.

"TOWNSHIP ISOLATED" Examiner (Launceston, Tas. : 1900 - 1954) 21 March 1946: .

“TOWNSHIP ISOLATED” Examiner (Launceston, Tas. : 1900 – 1954) 21 March 1946: <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article92700639&gt;.

Miles of fencing and roads washed away and there were heavy losses to livestock including horses and pigs.  A beekeeper’s hives bobbed in the water with the stranded bees atop of the boxes. Rescuers saw thousands of snakes while delirious rabbits, marooned on high ground, were caught and their skins sold.

Branxholme had 394 mm of rain from the Friday until the Monday edition of The Argus went to print and the town was cut off by road, rail and telephone. At Byaduk, Mr Tyres rescued seven people from a raft. More were evacuated but were able to return home on Tuesday including Mr and Mrs McCready.  Mr J. Scott and Miss Suttie had their homes flooded.  David Kinghorn was rescued from a haystack.

HAMILTON

Hamilton saw the heaviest rainfall since records were first kept.  Up until 3:00 pm on Monday 18 March 219mm had fallen in fifty-fours, the town’s largest recorded total over the same period. The highest previous monthly rainfall total was 311 mm set in December 1930.  The Grange Burn, usually quietly meandering through parts of the town, quickly rose and became a raging river. Around twenty homes near the railway station were evacuated on Saturday 16 March.

Fuel depots near the creek were underwater and hundreds of oil drums from the Shell and the Commonwealth Oil Refinery depots washed down the Grange Burn, accumulating against bridges and fences.  Two other fuel depots were badly damaged. One underground petrol tank pushed its way to the surface. Iron from the fuel depots wrapped around trees and plaster from a nearby factory was spread up to almost 100 metres.  In those days, the Hamilton swimming pool was on the Grange Burn, at the Braeside Weir, close to the fuel depots.

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GRANGE BURN AT FORMER SWIMMING POOL

Sheds beside the swimming pool were swept away and the diving tower was on a lean.  At the Ballarat Road and Portland Road bridges, the Grange Burn was between 180 metres to 400 metres wide. The photo below shows the Grange near the Ballarat Road bridge as it is today

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GRANGE BURN LOOKING TOWARD THE BALLARAT ROAD BRIDGE.

A view of the Grange Burn near the Portland Road bridge is below.

'NO LONGER A CREEK', The Daily News (Perth, WA : 1882 - 1950), 20 March, p. 1. (CITY FINAL), http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article78249109

‘NO LONGER A CREEK’, The Daily News (Perth, WA : 1882 – 1950), 20 March, p. 1. (CITY FINAL), http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article78249

Many bridges and roads around the town were impassable and the drains in Lonsdale Street overflowed. The Hamilton Town Hall became “home” to around seventy evacuees and Mayor Rasmussen called on residents to take those evacuated into their homes.  Water went through twenty-five to thirty homes, reaching a depth of almost a metre in some.  Mr Brimacombe of Martin Street lost all but one of his 250 chooks.

By Monday 18 March, travellers marooned in Hamilton were taken to Portland. Road connections between Warrnambool and Mt Gambier reopened and by Tuesday morning, Ansetts ran a bus from Horsham to Hamilton.  An Army “duck” arrived, using the town as its base.

The photos below, used with permission from Jacinta Hanelt, depict the 1983 floods in Hamilton.  They show the same areas flooded in 1946 and although not has deep as those floods, they give an idea as to the extent of the 1946 floods.  Despite the damage to the fuel depots in 1946, they remained located close to the Grange Burn.

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WARRNAMBOOL

In forty-eight hours at Warrnambool, 228 mm of rain fell accompanied by gale force winds.  There was flooding along the Russell’s Creek, Merri Creek and Hopkins River.

WARRNAMBOOL CEMETERY

HOPKINS RIVER, WARRNAMBOOL

The 3YB radio transmitter was surrounded by three metres of water and sandbags and pumps were called for. At least seven bridges in the shire were damaged. Nearby Dennington was under water but in South Warrnambool, only four homes required evacuation.  Old residents said they hadn’t seen anything like it.

"Flood Pictures From Inundated Western District" The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957) 19 March 1946: .

“Flood Pictures From Inundated Western District” The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957) 19 March 1946:

During Monday 18 March, the Hopkins River was rising at a rate of thirty centimetres an hour and later that night, the river burst its banks leaving the highway up to 1.2m under water. Meanwhile, Allansford residents were preparing to leave their homes.

WARRNAMBOOL 1946. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria. http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/107853

WARRNAMBOOL 1946. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria. http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/107853

The water at Mr Cox’s house at Spring Gardens, Warrnambool reached over the window sills (below)

M.COX'S HOUSE SPRING GARDENS WARRNAMBOOL ca 1946. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria. http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/107848

M.COX’S HOUSE SPRING GARDENS WARRNAMBOOL ca 1946. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria. http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/10784

The following video from Warrnambool Historical Pictures – Alex Wilkins Collection, gives an amazing insight into how the floods impacted Warrnambool and district and includes some dramatic footage.

 

The road from Warrnambool to Mortlake was cut after the flooding of the Ellerslie Bridge (below)

The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957) 20 March 1946: .

The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957) 20 March 1946: <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-page1668019&gt;.

And the road to Port Fairy was also cut, with the following photo showing the situation about five kilometres west of Warrnambool on the Princes Highway.

"DISASTROUS FLOODS IN VICTORIA." Townsville Daily Bulletin (Qld. : 1907 - 1954) 21 March 1946:.

“DISASTROUS FLOODS IN VICTORIA.” Townsville Daily Bulletin (Qld. : 1907 – 1954) 21 March 1946:.

WOODFORD

At Woodford, the local school teacher and his family were stranded in the Woodford Police Station and the post office was underwater (below). A herd of thirty dairy cows drowned.

WOODFORD POST OFFICE "DISASTROUS FLOODS IN VICTORIA." Townsville Daily Bulletin (Qld. : 1907 - 1954) 21 March 1946: .

WOODFORD POST OFFICE “DISASTROUS FLOODS IN VICTORIA.” Townsville Daily Bulletin (Qld. : 1907 – 1954) 21 March 1946: <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article62889490&gt;.

KILLARNEY

At Killarney, stranded cows on patches of high ground, helplessly slipped into the floodwaters as exhaustion overcame them.  There were huge losses to potato and onion crops and Killarney resembled a lake.

"WESTERN DISTRICTS OF VICTORIA FLOODED." Daily Advertiser (Wagga Wagga, NSW : 1911 - 1954) 21 March 1946: 1. .

“WESTERN DISTRICTS OF VICTORIA FLOODED.” Daily Advertiser (Wagga Wagga, NSW : 1911 – 1954) 21 March 1946: 1. .

The six-week-old baby of Mr and Mrs Patrick Lenehan was floated out a window of their house, the baby’s pram a substitute boat.

"FLOODS LEAVE TRAIL OF DESTRUCTION" The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 - 1954) 19 March 1946:.

“FLOODS LEAVE TRAIL OF DESTRUCTION” The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 – 1954) 19 March 1946:<http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article206797296&gt;.

Stories began to emerge of the heroics in the district. Widow, Mrs Madden and her eight children were saved by Jim Gleeson in his tractor.  Another farmer saved an elderly woman from her cottage and Mr J. Ryan was taken to Warrnambool Hospital after being lifted through the window of his flooded home.

"FLOODS LEAVE TRAIL OF DESTRUCTION" The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 - 1954) 19 March 1946: .

“FLOODS LEAVE TRAIL OF DESTRUCTION” The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 – 1954) 19 March 1946: <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article206797296&gt;.

Onion crops were wiped out leaving the vegetables bobbing in water or collecting in silt.  Farmers tried to salvage what they could.

"Green pastures and hard work after floods" The Australian Women's Weekly (1933 - 1982) 6 April 1946: .

“Green pastures and hard work after floods” The Australian Women’s Weekly (1933 – 1982) 6 April 1946: <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article47490094

Mrs Madden, rescued with her eight children by Jim Gleeson, returned to her home to begin the clean up.  She is pictured below with her daughter Dorothy cleaning silt from their carpets.

"Green pastures and hard work after floods" The Australian Women's Weekly (1933 - 1982) 6 April 1946: .

“Green pastures and hard work after floods” The Australian Women’s Weekly (1933 – 1982) 6 April 1946: <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article47490094&gt;.

ROSEBROOK

At Rosebrook, the Post Office was surrounded by flood waters (below)

"FLOODS IN VICTORIA" Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners' Advocate (NSW : 1876 - 1954) 21 March 1946: 3. .

“FLOODS IN VICTORIA” Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate (NSW : 1876 – 1954) 21 March 1946 http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article140624307

The bridge over the Moyne River at Rosebrook was also flooded and signals were sent across the bridge as a means of communication (below).

"WESTERN DISTRICTS OF VICTORIA FLOODED." Daily Advertiser (Wagga Wagga, NSW : 1911 - 1954) 21 March 1946: 1. .

“WESTERN DISTRICTS OF VICTORIA FLOODED.” Daily Advertiser (Wagga Wagga, NSW : 1911 – 1954) 21 March 1946 http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article145004487

PORT FAIRY

The Moyne River rose rapidly at Port Fairy leading to the evacuation of homes in the east of the town.

269

MOYNE RIVER , PORT FAIRY LOOKING EAST.

Residents in Regent, William and Bank Streets were also evacuated with the water reaching almost a metre in Bank Street and running through houses.  To the west of the town, water was up to 1.5 metres deep.  Thousands of tonnes of potatos and onions were lost and in Port Fairy North, Steel’s bridge gave way.  Every hour, reports were arriving of stranded families.  Power in the town was interrupted for sixteen hours.

"Flood Waters Receding Around Port Fairy" The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957) 20 March 1946: 15. Web. 1 Mar 2016 .

“Flood Waters Receding Around Port Fairy” The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957) 20 March 1946: 15. Web. 1 Mar 2016 .

The concrete wharf where fishing boats were moored broke up, threatening to wash boats out to sea. In the end, five boats were lost. Large slabs of concreted from the wharf were swept away and smashed.

087

PORT FAIRY WHARF ON THE MOYNE RIVER LOOKING TOWARD THE MOUTH OF THE RIVER.

Although it’s not clear, the following photo gives some indication of the torrents of water to rush Port Fairy.

FLOOD WATERS FROM THE MOYNE RIVER, PORT FAIRY. "FLOOD WAVES LASH HOUSES" Sunday Times (Perth, WA : 1902 - 1954) 24 March 1946: 15 (Sport Section). .

FLOOD WATERS FROM THE MOYNE RIVER, PORT FAIRY. “FLOOD WAVES LASH HOUSES” Sunday Times (Perth, WA : 1902 – 1954) 24 March 1946: 15 (Sport Section). .

By Monday 18 March, the threat has subsided slightly but more water was expected to come down the Moyne River and high tide was a concern.  As a result, the fire brigade put all men in the town on standby. The main bridge over the Moyne was still standing but had taken a “pounding”.  The river reached its peak on Sunday and fisherman stood in waist deep water desperately trying to secure their boats, their livelihoods, with some almost drowning.

172

LOOKING EAST TOWARD THE PORT FAIRY WHARF, MOYNE RIVER.

By Tuesday, houses on the outskirts of  Port Fairy East were still half-submerged. Other families were forced to leave their homes, as weakened walls threatened to collapse while the road to Portland was expected to stay closed for some time.  In the north-east of the town, built up flood waters tore through sand dunes. In doing so, the water escaped to the sea preventing more damage to the town.

The Town Clerk of Port Fairy spoke with John Cain Sr, then Premier of Victoria “Send us some tobacco; there is a famine in smokes here”  Bacon, eggs, potatos and other food supplies were also in short supply.  Two Army “ducks” arrived on Tuesday 19 March with butter, eggs, bacon, tinned meat, yeast and tobacco. Another “duck” was soon dispatched.  After rescuing stranded families (below) the “ducks” distributed food to isolated families and fodder for stock.  They also collected stranded stock, taking them to safety.

"FLOODS IN VICTORIA" Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners' Advocate (NSW : 1876 - 1954) 21 March 1946: 3.

“FLOODS IN VICTORIA” Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate (NSW : 1876 – 1954) 21 March 1946: 3. <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article140624307&gt;

There was almost one metre of water in two of Port Fairy’s hotels, including the Caledonian Inn (below).  The publican of the inn waded into his backyard to rescue his poultry, then placed them in the inn’s attic.  The nearby picture theatre was also flooded.

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CALEDONIAN INN, PORT FAIRY

Jack and Teddy Talbot (below) had a lucky escape as a bridge collapsed just as they were approaching.

The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 - 1954) 20 March 1946: 3. Web. 1 Mar 2016 .

The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 – 1954) 20 March 1946: 3. Web. 1 Mar 2016 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article206795566&gt;.

"Aftermath Of Floods In Western Victoria" The Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1931 - 1954) 22 March 1946: .

“Aftermath Of Floods In Western Victoria” The Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1931 – 1954) 22 March 1946: <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article48697059&gt;.

The photo below shows Mrs Woodrup on a flying fox where Steel’s bridge once stood on the Princes Highway at Port Fairy North.

The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957) 21 March 1946:.

The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957) 21 March 1946:<http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-page1668077&gt;.

Cars replaced boats in the streets.  Frank and Chris Newman, are pictured below taking Mrs B.Bourke home from the shops.

The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957) 21 March 1946 .

The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957) 21 March 1946 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-page1668077&gt;.

Residents in William Street (below) dried clothes and furniture after the water in their street reached a depth of over a metre.  By Wednesday 20 March, wet mattresses and pillows hung over fences, furniture was in front yards and clothes lines hung between houses.  Dairy farmers unable to get their milk out left cans of milk at each corner and all townspeople were allowed a jug each while the local hotels had a good supply of cream.  The damage bill in Port fairy totalled thousands of pounds.

The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957) 21 March 1946 .

The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957) 21 March 1946 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-page1668077&gt;.

The Port Fairy Cemetery was underwater and even by the end of March, the water was still one metre deep. Eventually, pumps were used to drain it.

227 (800x600)

PORT FAIRY CEMETERY

Today, there is a reminder of the 1946 flood at the Port Fairy Wharf.

266

HEYWOOD/PORTLAND

Between Friday night 15 March and Saturday morning 16 March, Portland received 144 mm of rain and low-lying land in the town was flooded.  There was a call to divert the water into the sea to save the electricity and gas supplies, but all electricity and gas were cut.  The sewage works were deluged and the local fire brigade was busy pumping water. The Portland Showgrounds were under 1.5 metres of water.  The town was cut off from Saturday including telegraph and radio communications.

By the morning of Sunday 17 March, the rainfall totalled 203 mm.  Fawthrop Swamp was inundated and parts of Bridgewater Roadwere covered in water. Much of the state’s tomatos were grown in the district with crop losses eventually leading to a shortage.  Local halls and hotels accommodated evacuees.  A “howling southerly breeze” with huge waves hit the breakwater (below).

PORTLAND BREAKWATER c1945. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria.http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/97040

PORTLAND BREAKWATER c1945. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria.http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/97040

 

At Heywood, until 3:00 pm on 18 March the previous fifty-four hours had produced 335 mm rain leaving many people homeless. Travellers were also stranded as the Portland/Hamilton road was cut including at the Fitzroy River bridge.  The local hotel was crowded with evacuees and emergency accommodation was set up in the Heywood Hall.

DARTMOOR

The Glenelg River rose dramatically at Dartmoor as water flowed into the river from tributaries upstream.  Five hundred yards of a twenty metre high railway bridge (below) was submerged as was the highway after the river’s level rose fifteen metres. Snakes sort refuge on top of the bridge and iron washed into the pylons, acting as a safe haven for insects, spiders and lizards.

DARTMOOR RAILWAY BRIDGE UNDER CONTRUCTION c1915. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria. http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/239718

DARTMOOR RAILWAY BRIDGE UNDER CONTRUCTION c1915. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria. http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/239718

Old residents agreed it was the worst flood in memory.  The Glenelg River was over 1.5 kilometres wide and only the tops of telegraph poles were visible. While rowing in the floodwaters, Mr Malseed gathered ten rabbits, twenty-four pumpkins and a number of tomatos stuck in trees. Seventy drums that had spilt into the river at Casterton were expected to reach Dartmoor.

NELSON 

Although Nelson only received 30 mm of rain over the weekend, the Glenelg River was rising rapidly as it neared the sea. A boat shed floated down the Glenelg River with two boats still attached. All sheds on the river bank were submerged as was the kiosk. The monument to Major Mitchell on the Isle of Bags was almost submerged.

087

ISLE OF BAGS, GLENELG RIVER, NELSON

Rubbish began to collect at the mouth of the river until the water’s force washed the sand bar out to sea. Meanwhile, residents worked hard to save their bridge (below)

NELSON BRIDGE c1907. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria. http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/211026

NELSON BRIDGE c1907. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria. http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/211026

 

"HOW NELSON SAVED ITS BRIDGE" The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 - 1954) 22 March 1946: 3. .

“HOW NELSON SAVED ITS BRIDGE” The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 – 1954) 22 March 1946: 3. <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article206798952&gt;.

 

148

TODAY AT NELSON A HIGH CONCRETE BRIDGE SPANS THE GLENELG RIVER

COLERAINE

Coleraine’s rainfall to Saturday 16 March at 6:00 pm was 122 mm.  A flood warning was issued at 2:00 am Sunday morning in the lower part of the town. Bryant’s Creek rose rapidly flooding shops and houses. Stranded Mrs J. Torney and her baby were rescued from the golf course clubhouse.  Over a metre of water sat in the yard of the Post Office (below) by noon Sunday and reached the eaves of some houses.

COLERAINE POST OFFICE. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria. http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/304435

COLERAINE POST OFFICE. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria. http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/304435

By Monday 18 March, 186 mm or rain had fallen on the town and residents were cleaning silt from their homes. One house, under 1.8m of water in the days before, was left with 50cm of silt. Damage to bridges had blocked the road from Coleraine to Merino and the suspension bridge washed away.  There were also large stock losses and miles of fencing demolished.

CASTERTON/SANDFORD

At Casterton, the Glenelg River swelled quickly reaching a height of 6.45m on the river gauge.  Seventy drums from the local tip rolled into the river and travelled downstream.  By Monday, there were still fears for the safety of three men. Six streets in the town were flooded and Mr Frank Daley and his eighty-three-year-old mother were rescued by police in a boat.

CASTERTON, 18 MARCH 1946. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria. http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/151401

CASTERTON, 18 MARCH 1946. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria. http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/151401

Thirty metres of pipe serving the town’s water supply was washed away while the Major Mitchell monument, south of the town, was almost submerged.  At nearby Sandford, the McCormack family were stranded.  On Monday 18 March, police and an Army “duck” tried to reach them. They were later reported safe.

CASTERTON, 18 MARCH 1946. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria.http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/151401

CASTERTON, 18 MARCH 1946. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria.http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/151401

AFTERMATH

Just as the water in rivers and creeks was beginning to ease, the following weekend the rain began to fall again. The totals for the period are below, with towns further east of the original floods affected.

"YEAR'S RAINFALL IN THREE MONTHS" The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957) 27 March 1946:.

“YEAR’S RAINFALL IN THREE MONTHS” The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957) 27 March 1946:<http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article22237029&gt;.

On Monday 25 March, Port Fairy was once again isolated and evacuations were considered. Macarthur was expecting flooding worse than experienced a week earlier and the Eumerella River burst its banks after reaching a depth of over three metres. Families were evacuated at Bessibelle. The towns of Koroit, Hawkesdale and Branxholme were all at risk of flood. At Allansford. the Hopkins River reached the height of the week before but continued to rise before dropping 1.2 metres on Wednesday 27 March.

At Casterton, the police were warning residents the Glenelg and Wannon Rivers could burst their banks. Homes at Byaduk evacuated in the week earlier were again vacated.  At Wallacedale and Condah flood waters still remained from the week before.  An Army “duck” was called to Tyrendarra to save a family isolated by the Fitzroy River and Darlot’s Creek.  Portland was also cut off via the Princes Highway due to water over the road.

Flooding was reported at Beech Forest and residents living along the Gellibrand River prepared themselves to evacuate. By 29 March, there was over half a metre of water on the Ocean Road at Lower Gellibrand.  Meanwhile at Cobden, 63 mm fell on Saturday 24 March flooding paddocks and stranding cattle.  At nearby Cowley’s Creek, stud sheep were rescued from the creek. At Camperdown, a total of 104 mm was recorded over the weekend. Port Campbell, reported its heaviest falls in its history and the township was isolated with over a metre of water over the road. Stranded campers were billeted at the Port Campbell Hotel (below).

PORT CAMPBELL HOTEL. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria. http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/62326

PORT CAMPBELL HOTEL. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria. http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/62326

By 27 March, the sun was shining in Warrnambool for the first time in two weeks, but the damage bill and impending recovery left a gloomy forecast for the Western District. Before the flood waters subsided on 20 March 1946, The Age reported the total damage bill could exceed £2,000,000.  On 30 March 1946, the Border Watch reported 150 houses were destroyed and 150 sheds damaged.  There were losses to rye grass seed and potato, tomato, onion and apple crops.  One hundred bridges were destroyed.  The damage bill for bridges and roads alone, published in The Age of 5 April 1946, was estimated at £76,500. Of that, £25, 300 was in the Warrnambool Shire.  By the end of March, the Army “ducks”, vital during the disaster, returned to Melbourne.

On 1 July 1946, twenty-seven men from the flood affected areas received silver and bronze medals from the Royal Humane Society for their rescue work.  They included fisherman and policeman. The men presented with silver medals were:

"AWARDS FOR HEROISM" The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 - 1954) 2 July 1946: 2. .

“AWARDS FOR HEROISM” The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 – 1954) 2 July 1946: 2. <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article206375340&gt;.

The bronze medal recipients were:

"AWARDS FOR HEROISM" The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 - 1954) 2 July 1946: 2. .

“AWARDS FOR HEROISM” The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 – 1954) 2 July 1946: 2. <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article206375340&gt;.

There was a positive to came out of the 1946 floods.  Buckley’s Swamp, a peat swamp burning since the fires of January 1944, was finally extinguished.

"FLOOD'S GOOD DEED." Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 - 1953) 1 April 1946: 2 (EVENING). Web. .

“FLOOD’S GOOD DEED.” Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953) 1 April 1946: 2 (EVENING). Web. <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64407334&gt;.

SOURCES

Flood Victoria

Glenelg Libraries – Historic Treasures – The Floods of Casterton

Trove Digitised Newspapers

The Age

 18 March 1946

 19 March 1946

 20 March 1946

21 March 1946

26 March 1946

 2 July 1946

The Argus

12 March 1946

18 March 1946 

19 March 1946

26 March 1946

27 March 1946

28 March 1946

2 April 1946

Border Watch

19 March 1946

21 March 1946

23 March 1946

28 March 1946

30 March 1946

Camperdown Chronicle

19 March 1946

Horsham Times

15 June 1920

Port Fairy Gazette

20 April 1916

Portland Guardian

 18 March 1946

 21 March 1946

 25 March 1946

28 March 1946

Williamstown Chronicle

22 March 1946

State Emergency Service – Casterton Local Flood Guide

State Emergency Service – Port Fairy Local Flood Guide

State Emergency Service – Southern Grampians Shire

State Emergency Service- Warrnambool Flood Guide

Trove Tuesday – Christmas Eve

What could I share for a Christmas Eve Trove Tuesday?  Something Christmassy of course.  With many new Western District newspapers now at Trove, I thought I would see what was happening on Christmas Eve in the towns that missed out on a mention in the Christmas posts from the previous two years.  The year was 1915 and country was suffering with WW1 and drought .

Coleraine put on the usual Christmas Eve of last minute shopping and the Coleraine Brass Band.

Coleraine Albion. (1915, December 30). Coleraine Albion and Western Advertiser (Vic. : 1914 - 1918), p. 2. Retrieved December 17, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article119606385

Coleraine Albion. (1915, December 30). Coleraine Albion and Western Advertiser (Vic. : 1914 – 1918), p. 2. Retrieved December 17, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article119606385

COLERAINE.  Image Courtesy of the State Library of Victoria.  Image no. H32492/2813 http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/63071

COLERAINE. Image Courtesy of the State Library of Victoria. Image no. H32492/2813 http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/63071

Business was brisk at Casterton and the Casterton Times took the opportunity to rib the pessimists of the district, who I can only imagine had predicted doom for Christmas trading given the events of the time.

Casterton News. (1915, December 23). The Casterton News and the Merino and Sandford Record (Vic. : 1914 - 1918), p. 2 Edition: Bi-Weekly. Retrieved December 17, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article74767421

Casterton News. (1915, December 23). The Casterton News and the Merino and Sandford Record (Vic. : 1914 – 1918), p. 2 Edition: Bi-Weekly. Retrieved December 17, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article74767421

HENTY STREET, CASTERTON.  Image Courtesy of the State Library of Victoria.  Image no. H32492/2770  http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/63173

HENTY STREET, CASTERTON. Image Courtesy of the State Library of Victoria. Image no. H32492/2770
http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/63173

Because of electricity restrictions due to the war, some of the shop displays could not be highlighted as well as earlier years.

Castern News Printed Monday and Tuesday Evenings. (1915, December 30). The Casterton News and the Merino and Sandford Record (Vic. : 1914 - 1918), p. 2 Edition: Bi-Weekly. Retrieved December 17, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article74767457

Castern News Printed Monday and Tuesday Evenings. (1915, December 30). The Casterton News and the Merino and Sandford Record (Vic. : 1914 – 1918), p. 2 Edition: Bi-Weekly. Retrieved December 17, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article74767457

You would be hard pressed to find most of these goods in a shop in Penshurst these days, but in 1915, Chesswas’ had it all.

Advertising. (1915, December 18). Penshurst Free Press (Vic. : 1914 - 1918), p. 2. Retrieved December 17, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article119562126

Advertising. (1915, December 18). Penshurst Free Press (Vic. : 1914 – 1918), p. 2. Retrieved December 17, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article119562126

For those in Hamilton, if a buggy shaft broke or a horse lost a shoe over Christmas, shanks’ pony would have had to suffice until January 3rd when the coachbuilders, farriers and blacksmiths of the town resumed after their well earned Christmas break.

Advertising. (1915, December 15). Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1914 - 1918), p. 4. Retrieved December 17, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article120407611

Advertising. (1915, December 15). Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1914 – 1918), p. 4. Retrieved December 17, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article120407611

To finish this Christmas Eve Trove Tuesday post, may I say Merry Christmas to all of you, I greatly appreciated your continued support.

Image Courtesy of the State Library of Victoria. Image no.  H82.96/168 http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/110126

Image Courtesy of the State Library of Victoria. Image no. H82.96/168 http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/110126

The Victorian Heritage Database

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

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

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

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

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

"EILDON", HAMILTON

“EILDON”, HAMILTON

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

HADDEN

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

A BILLS HORSE TROUGH (Portland Gardens)

A BILLS HORSE TROUGH (Portland Gardens)

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

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

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

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

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

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

HARMAN

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

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

DIWELL

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JELLY

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

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

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

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

——————————————————–

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

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

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

Trove Tuesday – One Stop Shop

Trove really is a one stop shop for researching those that served during WW1.  Aside from a visit to the National Archives of Australia (NAA) website for service records, Trove is the place to go to find photos, books and newspaper articles.  This is even more so the case thanks to a project to digitise newspapers of the 1914-1918 period  for the lead up the 100th anniversary of WW1.

For Western Victorian researchers, newspapers that have appeared over the last 12 months, all from 1914-1918, include:

Kerang New Times

Ouyen Mail

Port Fairy Gazette

Portland Observer and Normanby Advertiser

Swan Hill Guardian and Lake Boga Advocate

St Arnaud Mercury

The Ararat Advertiser

The Ballarat Courier

The Casterton News and the Merino and Sandford Record

Warrnambool Standard

During WW1, these papers were full of war news, locals enlisting, send offs, letters homes, the work of locals to do their bit for the war effort and of course, the casualties.

Trove is a great for finding WW1 books and photos.  You can search for an individual, a battalion or a battlefield and you are bound to find something to give you a little more information about your family member’s wartime experience .  Photos held by repositories such as the Australian War Memorial are all cataloged at Trove.  One search can find so much from many places.

As it’s Trove Tuesday, I have some WW1 treasures from one of my favourite papers The Casterton News and the Merino and Sandford Record.

The first article, reported on the first Anzac Day on April 25, 1917 and how Casterton marked the occasion.

adad1

"Anzac Day.". (1917, April 26). The Casterton News and the Merino and Sandford Record (Vic. : 1914 - 1918), p. 3 Edition: Bi-Weekly. Retrieved April 23, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article74489110

“Anzac Day.”. (1917, April 26). The Casterton News and the Merino and Sandford Record (Vic. : 1914 – 1918), p. 3 Edition: Bi-Weekly. Retrieved April 23, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article74489110

 

Following is a letter home by Norman Seymour to his mother in Casterton.  He wrote of his brother James, and the pride he felt that James was at “the great landing at Gallipoli”.  This is a great example of how useful these letters are.  Norman wrote of many men from the local district including Hector Patterson and his wounds.

It is a lovely letter, as many of them were, and it makes you wonder if a 21-year-old man today could write home to his mother in the same way.  I also love his closing sentence.  If you know Casterton, you will know exactly what he means.

ad3 ad4 ad5

Our Soldiers. (1915, September 16). The Casterton News and the Merino and Sandford Record (Vic. : 1914 - 1918), p. 4 Edition: Bi-Weekly. Retrieved April 23, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article74766366

Our Soldiers. (1915, September 16). The Casterton News and the Merino and Sandford Record (Vic. : 1914 – 1918), p. 4 Edition: Bi-Weekly. Retrieved April 23, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article74766366

I checked the NAA and brother James Seymour did come home, but only two months after the publishing of Norman’s letter.   He developed enteritis in September 1915, was hospitalised and sent home in November.

Norman Edward Seymour served with the 3rd Light Horse and did make it to Gallipoli on October 8, 1915.  In October 1917 he developed septic sores and that  led to his return home in December that year.

When I finally get my post finished for the ANZAC Day Blog Challenge,(Anzac Day 2014 the way I’m going) you will see more examples of how Trove can enhance the story of your WW1 hero.

Ship Mates

The Casterton Historical Society newsletters, as featured in Nifty Newsletters, ran a series of extracts from the book Tales of Casterton: the Waines murder and other stories by Jack Gorman.  In the September 2005 issue, Part 1 of the story stated that convicted murderer George Waines arrived in Victoria aboard the Duke of Richmond.

This is a particularly interesting find as my ggg grandmother, Margaret Diwell, who appeared as a witness at George’s murder trial, also arrived on the Duke of Richmond, along with her husband William.  This answers the question has to how she came to know the Waines, other than the fact they lived reasonably close together.

I have a database of Duke of Richmond arrivals and  I did a search but no George Waines.  I then went to an online passenger list of the Duke of Richmond that I often refer back to.  No George Waines.

So a-Troving I went.  An article from the Bendigo Advertiser, reporting on the hanging of Waines, supported his arrival on the Duke of Richmond.  But there seems to have been a case of mistaken identity Waines was keen to amend before his death.

EXECUTION OF THE CONVICT WAINES. (1860, July 18). Bendigo Advertiser (Vic. : 1855 - 1918), p. 3. Retrieved February 3, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article87945170

EXECUTION OF THE CONVICT WAINES. (1860, July 18). Bendigo Advertiser (Vic. : 1855 – 1918), p. 3. Retrieved February 3, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article87945170

I did find a George Waines in the Australian Convict Transportation Registers(1791-1868) .  Convicted in Warwickshire,  he left England for Tasmania in 1843.

Back to the Duke of Richmond passenger list.  George’s wife was Jane so I thought I would look at  first names instead of surnames.  Sure enough, there was a George and Jane Whainer both aged 29 from Yorkshire.  George’s age matches his birth date of 1823, but Yorkshire?  Both the  Casterton Historical Society Newsletter and the article above, state George was born in Dorset, England, with the Bendigo Advertiser narrowing it down to Sherborne.

Back to Trove and look what I found:

POPULATION OF THE GOLDFIELDS. (1860, October 22). Bendigo Advertiser (Vic. : 1855 - 1918), p. 3. Retrieved February 3, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article87947401

POPULATION OF THE GOLDFIELDS. (1860, October 22). Bendigo Advertiser (Vic. : 1855 – 1918), p. 3. Retrieved February 3, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article87947401

George was from Yorkshire, Sherburn as opposed to Sherborne, Dorset.  This and the claim George “was one of the most notorious poachers in the district” helps support something I found on the England and Wales, Criminal Registers (1791-1892).  In 1849, George Waines of Yorkshire was sentenced to  three months imprisonment on a charge of larceny.  Maybe he wasn’t as squeaky clean as he wanted people to believe.  No matter the impression he tried to project, nothing could save him from the gallows.

Using FreeBDM I found a marriage of  George Waines in 1847, registered in the Scarborough district of Yorkshire.  From the same Volume there are two Janes, Jane Winter and Jane Jewett

That settled, back to the original aim of my post, the friendship between Margaret Diwell and the Waines, particularly Jane.  So it seems they met on the Duke of Richmond, the same ship another set of ggg grandparents sailed on, James and Susan Harman.  The Diwells spent around five years in Portland after arrival, then they went to Casterton in 1858.    The CHS newsletter says  that once in Casterton, the Diwells lived close to both the Waines and the Hunts.  As the Hunts purchased land off George Waines in 1856 at Casterton, the Waines must have arrived in town before the Diwells.

It sounds like Jane Waines would have been a good friend.  The CHS newsletter describes her as “a comely woman, a vivacious personality full of joy and fun…” . George was not described  in such a favourable way, although he did hold Jane in high regard.

EXECUTION OF THE CONVICT WAINES. (1860, July 18). Bendigo Advertiser (Vic. : 1855 - 1918), p. 3. Retrieved February 4, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article87945170

EXECUTION OF THE CONVICT WAINES. (1860, July 18). Bendigo Advertiser (Vic. : 1855 – 1918), p. 3. Retrieved February 4, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article87945170

Of course I did wonder what happened to Jane after George’s death.  George had thoughts about what she should do.

THE CASTERTON MURDER. (1860, April 30). The South Australian Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1858 - 1889), p. 3. Retrieved February 6, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article1204764

THE CASTERTON MURDER. (1860, April 30). The South Australian Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1858 – 1889), p. 3. Retrieved February 6, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article1204764

On the Victorian Marriage Index, a Jane Waines married Thomas James Brooks in 1861.  From there I lose her.  I can not find a death record for either Jane or a Thomas James Brooks that I can definitely say is them.  I can’t get a lead on the town Jane lived in so that is making it hard to search for her at Trove.  I wonder if she stayed on in Casterton?  Did Margaret Diwell see her again?  Did Margaret and Jane’s relationship falter during the trial period, given Margaret also knew Mrs Hunt well.  So many questions.

As the Harmans were also on the Duke of Richmond, I have a picture in my mind of James Harman, back in 1860 in Port Fairy, looking up from his paper of choice, maybe the Belfast Gazette and remarking “Do you remember the Waines and the Diwells from the ship Susan?”

Nifty Newsletters

When I visit my local library and see masses of newsletters from the region’s family history and historical societies jammed into cardboard magazine holders, I think that while such a resource would be useful, where would I start?  Being a working mum with limited time, they are just not an option.  Also, membership of those societies would be great as I would receive a newsletter in the mail, but again my current status means I have to give consideration to each membership/subscription I take out.

Luckily some societies have newsletters available on their websites and I can read them easily from home when I choose.  Newsletters online that are the most helpful to my research are from the Casterton and District Historical Society (2005-2012) and the Warrnambool Family History Group (1990-1999 & 2004).  Both include a list of the main topics in each newsletter allowing me to easily select an issue.

The Casterton newsletter, “Historical Happenings” has items relevant to different areas of my research such as the History of the Casterton Racing Club Inc, a series of articles about the Hunt murders and Dance Halls and Orchestras of Casterton.  There is also information about surrounding towns such as Merino, Sandford and Wando Vale.  The March 2011 newsletter even recommends a new magazine called “Inside History.”  I’m sure many of us would endorse that recommendation!  The newsletter opens as a Word document.

The Warrnambool newsletter, “The South-West Genealogist“, includes indexes of Pioneer women of Victoria, school records and a lot of information on Irish settlers.  There are also many birth, deaths and marriages in the regular column “Historicals” and there are 19th-century BDMs notices from the “Hamilton Spectator” which have been most useful.  The newsletter opens as a PDF document.

Thank you to both for providing such a wonderful online resource.

Witness for the Prosecution – New Findings

I love it when my ancestors find their voice and through their own words give something of their personalities.  Obviously their voice is not audible, but through Letters to the Editors, wills or even as witnesses for an inquest, it is then easier to imagine them speaking.

In my post Witness for the Prosecution, I told of ggg grandmother Margaret Ann Turner, married to William Diwell, and her experience as a witness in a murder trial in 1860 at Casterton. Previous newspaper reports had only mentioned her role, but an extensive report of the trial in the Portland Guardian and Normanby General Advertiser of April 20, 1860 brings Margaret to life as she describes her conversations to the defendant, George Waines, prior to his arrest.  Of course give consideration to the abilities of the person recording the events.

This article tells me a lot about my ggg grandparents.  It reconfirmed they were in Casterton in 1859 and Margaret said they were residing in a hut owned by Mr Hunt.  Also, Margaret must have been good friends with Mrs Waines spending a lot of time at their house, including dining there on occasions.  She makes no mention of William or the six children.

CIRCUIT COURT. (1860, April 20). Portland Guardian and Normanby General Advertiser (Vic. : 1842 – 1876), p. 2 Edition: EVENINGS.. Retrieved November 10, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article65443361

More revelations.  George Waines dropped his wife off at Margaret’s hut one night.  Mrs Waines then stayed a further two nights, with George returning each night to take Mrs Waines away.  Margaret stated she left on June 15th, 1859 because she couldn’t bear to see Mrs Waines put through such torment.  So did Margaret leave her own hut and if so, where did she go?  Once again where were William and the six children?   One would think if William was around during these events, he too would have been called as a witness. William was a bricklayer and worked in surrounding towns, so this may explain his apparent absence.

Notice too that Margaret describes the Waines’ abode as a “house”, but the Diwells and Hunts lived in huts.  They were most likely slab huts like the one below.

Sutherland, Alexander, [Slab hut with bark roof ca. 1870-ca. 1880] Image Courtesy of the State Library of Victoria http://digital.slv.vic.gov.au/view/action/nmets.do?DOCCHOICE=353791.xml&dvs=1352638571965~542&locale=en_US&search_terms=&adjacency=&usePid1=true&usePid2=true

The Waines lived in a “house’ so it may have been  more substantial like the one below, or perhaps larger if George Waines’ aspirations were any indication.

“Family in front of their house on cleared land somewhere in Victoria”
F. J. Stubbs & Co. Photographer [ca. 1858-ca. 1908] Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/73293

Another thing that caught my attention was Margaret’s mention of a sister from Portland.  That sent me scurrying to the records as I have never found any of Margaret’s siblings and I would have thought they were back in Surrey.  A quick search of 1841 UK Census records (again) and the Australian Death Index gave me nothing, but I will keep searching.  Or was it just a ruse by Margaret to throw Waines off his interest in her mail.

It is sometimes difficult not to think of ggg grandparents as anything but old.  Reading this latest find has reminded me that Margaret was only 36 during the events leading up to the trial which has also reminded me that Margaret lived for only another nine years after the trial.  She was 45 when she died, only a little older than myself.  Margaret never became the old woman I must stop myself imagining her as.

There has also been another development in my family’s association with the Hunt murders.   Another descendant of my ggg grandfather George Jelly contacted me recently.  George’s daughter Elizabeth married Margaret Diwell’s son Richard in 1877.

Judy was kind enough to send me a copy of George’s obituary.  It tells of George’s swimming prowess and how he dived for the bones of the Hunt’s  in the Glenelg River.  Unfortunately I cannot find anything in the various reports about George’s efforts, despite it being mentioned that there was a river search and bones found.  I will bring you more on George in time.