Trove is great for finding photos and it was the Trove picture search I headed to recently looking for the home of George Hall Harman and his wife Rebecca Graham formally of James Street, Port Fairy. I knew the house no longer existed and with the help of a family history written by George and Rebecca’s granddaughter Edna Harman, I thought I had roughly found the location of the house while visiting Port Fairy in January 2014.
During the past year, more information was forthcoming when Mike Harman contacted me. Mike is my Nana Linda Hadden’s first cousin, both grandchildren of Reuben James Harman, a nephew of George Hall Harman. Mike passed on some of the work his sister Joan had done on the history of the Harmans and the information about George Hall Harman, caught my eye. Apparently, when Rebecca passed away in 1902, grieving George planted four Norfolk Pines in front of their home in James Street.
Armed with that knowledge while visiting Port Fairy in January, I headed to James Street. Port Fairy has many Norfolk Pines lining its streets but in the Harman’s block of James Street there are just four, all in a row and only a few doors up from where I previously visited. I thought if George did plant the trees those standing before me had to be “Rebecca’s trees.”
Once home, I went in search of an old photo of James Street. The State Library of Victoria’s (SLV) collection was the likely place to find one but instead of searching directly at the SLV site, I chose Trove, my preferred ‘search engine’. I seem to get better results when I search Trove, I like the filters that aid the search and I can tag my results or had them to one of my many lists. I searched for “James Street Port Fairy” and toward the top of the search results was a photo from the Lilian Isobel Powling collection at the SLV. It was of James Street from 1958 and it gave me more than I expected.
The photo was looking right at the house that once stood behind the pines, presumably that of George and Rebecca Harman. The top of St. John’s Anglican Church is visible in the background.
I did take a photo from a similar angle to the 1958 version but a little further back.
Although it is hard to see, the top of the church is now obscured by pines and an electricity pole stands in the same spot as 1958.
Recently on the Victoria Genealogy Facebook group’s feed, there was a discussion about family stories becoming family “fact” so I would like to make sure Rebecca’s trees are more than a family story. I have a lot of Harman information from the Port Fairy Historical Society, but there is no information about the trees. The Port Fairy Gazette is a possibility, but my first step will be to confirm exactly where the Harman’s lived in James Street. However, I’m a little “Harmaned out” at the moment and would like to focus on some of my tree’s other branches, so in-depth research will have to wait for now.
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