Port Fairy Cemetery – Part One

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

232 (800x600)

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

171

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

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

227 (800x600)

MILLS

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

183 (600x800)

HEADSTONE OF BROTHERS CHARLES AND JOHN MILLS

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

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

108

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

106

Port Fairy Harbour

PORT FAIRY HARBOUR

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

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

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

180 (800x600)

GRAVE OF BROTHERS CHARLES AND JOHN MILLS (Foreground)

LAIDLAW

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

186 (600x800)

HEADSTONE OF WILLIAM AND AGNES LAIDLAW

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

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

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

ANDREWS

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

188 (600x800)

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

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

Sacred to the Memory of 

James Andrews

Formally of Ratoath County Meath

Ireland

Died January 1855 aged 55 years

Elizabeth Andrews

His Beloved Wife

Died 26 August 1870, aged 59

Also their two sons

Michael

Died 3rd May 1854 aged 15 years

Patrick

Died 15 March 1863, Aged 23 years

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

GOLDIE

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

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

189 (600x800)

GOLDIE FAMILY GRAVE

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

Catherine Goldie

Died in Scotland Feb 1859

Aged 21 Months

Margaret

Died Sep 1862 Aged 19 Months

John

Died May 1864 Aged 17 Months

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

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

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

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

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

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

KERBY

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

192 (600x800)

GRAVE OF WILLIAM KERBY

190 (600x800)

HEADSTONE OF WILLIAM KERBY

GROSERT

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

195 (600x800)

GROSERT FAMILY GRAVE

BEST

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

202 (600x800)

BEST FAMILY GRAVE

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

An inquest was held into the accident.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CORBETT

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

205 (600x800)

GRAVE OF FRANCIS ALEXANDER CORBETT AND HIS WIFE ELLEN LOUISA LANE

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

corbett1

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

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

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

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

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

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

An obituary appeared in the Argus:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FINN

Five members of the Finn family lie in the following grave.  The first to pass was John Finn in 1879.  John was the owner of the Belfast Brewery and from 1852, the Belfast Inn in Regent Street, Port Fairy. He was also one of the trustees of the old cemetery which possibly refers to the Sandhills Cemetery although the Port Fairy cemetery website says. at times both cemeteries were referred to as the “old cemetery.”

219 (600x800)

FINN FAMILY GRAVE

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

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

Another son, William Henry passed away in 1902.  That left just Laurence who died on 24 May 1914, aged 81 years.  His obituary appeared in the May 2013 Passing of the Pioneers.  Laurence died a wealthy man having inherited land from his father, however his will was contested.  A hearing in 1916 saw many witnesses called to assess the soundness of Laurence’s mind when his will was drawn up.  The article is available on the following link – http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article88008165 

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

222 (800x600)

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

PORT FAIRY CEMETERY PART 2

Passing of the Pioneers

Welcome to the last Passing of the Pioneers for 2013. The obituaries include one belonging to a favourite Halls Gap pioneer of mine, Sophia D’Alton. There is also a former convict and a man who saw Melbourne shortly after settlement.

For some holiday reading why not check out the earlier Passing of the Pioneers posts.  There are now thirty in total with hundreds of family names and some great stories.

William RENWICK: Died 11 December 1874 at Portland. Born in Scotland around 1897, William Renwick left his native country around 1827 and sailed to Tasmania as an overseer of animals on a ship. He continued his employment with the company after the voyage. Around the early years of Melbourne’s settlement, when there were only three houses, William Renwick moved to the new colony. He then moved on to Portland where he remained until his death.

Samuel HUTCHINSON: Died 21 December 1874 at Portland. While his obituary doesn’t mention it, an article about the construction of the Steam Packet Inn, built by Samuel Hutchinson around 1841, reveals Samuel was a convict.

FORMER STEAMPACKET INN, PORTLAND

FORMER STEAMPACKET INN, PORTLAND

At the time of his departure for Portland from Tasmania, he had obtained his ticket of leave and was working as an overseer in a woodyard. Samuel was listed as one of the purchasers of land in Portland in 1840. His first wife, also a convict, passed away and he remarried. At the time of his death, he left a widow and six children.

Ellen J. CORBETT: Died December 1915 at Hamilton. Born in Waterford, Ireland around 1831, Ellen Corbett arrived at Portland in 1849 and went to Violet Creek Estate near Yulecart to take up work. She met her future husband William Lloyd there and they married in Hamilton in 1850. They settled at Muddy Creek and raised a large family, with eleven children living at the time of her death. Ellen moved to Strathkellar around 1906 to live with her daughter, Grace Munroe, and she resided there until her death.

Henry POTTER: Died 4 December 1916 at Hamilton. Henry Potter was born in Norfolk, England around 1841 and travelled to Adelaide with his parents around 1854. The family moved to Portland where Henry took up a plastering apprenticeship before entering into a building partnership with Mr T. Wyatt that lasted 40 years. They first operated from Mt. Gambier then Portland, Melbourne and finally in 1874, Hamilton. In his later years, Henry Potter worked as Clerk of Works on several buildings around Hamilton.  At the time of his death, he was the oldest affiliated member of the Grange Lodge.

Sophia D’ALTON: Died 13 December 1916 at Stawell.  I have a soft spot for Sophia and her twin sister, Henrietta. Actually they intrigue me. The D’Altons were Halls Gap pioneers and lived at Glenbower just out of Halls Gap, near Lake Bellfield.  I had read about the site of their former home, now overgrown with bush and wanted to find it. I asked an old local and was directed to the site. At the time the D’Altons lived there, there were several residences, but bush fires over the years destroyed them. It is amazing to stand in such an isolated spot and imagine the goings on at Glenbower when the sisters lived there.  Henrietta was an acclaimed wildflower artist, and many of her artistic friends from Australia and abroad visited their Grampians home.  So bohemian.

FIRES IN THE GRAMPIANS. (1914, February 21). Leader (Melbourne, Vic. : 1914 - 1918), p. 26. Retrieved December 28, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article89311608

FIRES IN THE GRAMPIANS. (1914, February 21). Leader (Melbourne, Vic. : 1914 – 1918), p. 26. Retrieved December 28, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article89311608

Sophia and her sister were born in Kilkenny, Ireland around 1836. In 1856, their widowed mother, the girls and other members of the D’Alton family came to Australia, settling first at Stawell before moving to Glenbower. Sophia and her sister remained there until a few years before Sophia’s death when they moved back to Stawell. The pioneers of the Halls Gap district were tough and they were faced with many perils from fire to flood. Glenbower, while eventually burnt out, out a close call in 1914 when fires licked its walls.  This fire most likely the reason for the sister’s last move to Stawell.

OBITUARY. (1916, December 16). Stawell News and Pleasant Creek Chronicle (Vic. : 1914 - 1918), p. 3. Retrieved December 28, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article12949152

OBITUARY. (1916, December 16). Stawell News and Pleasant Creek Chronicle (Vic. : 1914 – 1918), p. 3. Retrieved December 28, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article12949152

 

Isabella GORRIE: Died 18 December 1918 at Ararat.  Isabella Gorrie was an old resident of the Ararat district, having moved there with her parents when she was a girl. She taught at the local school and in 1878, she married Andrew Murray.

pp4

Family Notices. (1878, January 12). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957), p. 1. Retrieved December 29, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article5916993

Isabella was a member of the Australian Women’s National League, a President of the local Red Cross branch and with the outbreak of WW1, she became the local representative of the Neglected Children’s Department.  Her brother Robert was the Town Clerk of Ararat for many years.

Richard Benson McGARVIE: Died 19 December 1938 at Camperdown. Richard McGarvie arrived in the Pomberneit district, with his father William in 1865. Richard was a farmer until the 1920s when he moved into Camperdown. Prior to that Richard he was an active community member of Pomberneit, as a member of the Victorian Mounted Rifles, the Pomberneit Rifle Club and the Camperdown Pastoral and Agricultural society. He was a Councillor on the Heytesbury Shire and served as a committee member of the St James Church of England, Pomberneit. He left a widow, Emma, and three sons and three daughters.

Mary SWAIN: Died 19 December 1941 at Camperdown. Mary Swain was born in Port Fairy around 1860 but moved to Camperdown as a girl. She married Joshua Beard and they had one son and a daughter. Joshua helped build the railway between Camperdown and Timboon in the late 19th century and one of Mary’s dearest possessions was a photo of Joshua and a wagon laden with posts from that time.

James WILSON: Died 25 December 1944 at Portland. James was born at The Lagoons, Lower Bridgewater in 1863 to John and Agnes Wilson, pioneers of the Bridgewater district. In 1886, he married Priscilla Hollard. James was a hairdresser and tobacconist in Portland and worked for Learmonth’s auctioning firm. He ran a business in Melbourne for some time before returning to Portland in the late 1940s. During his time in Portland, he attended the Methodist church and was a member of the Sons of Temperance benefit society. He and Priscilla did not have a family.

Ruth GALE: Died 5 December 1949 at Portland. Ruth Gale was born in Portland around 1863 and attend Hill’s School at West Portland.  Ruth was a dressmaker and learnt her trade from Mrs Trickey of Portland. Around 1889, she married Angus Martin and they moved around the state, residing at several different towns, before moving back to Portland around 1942.