Passing of the Pioneers

Eleven new pioneers join the Pioneer Obituary Index this month.  They include a couple of politicians, a female publican, and a published writer.  Once again, they all bring great stories from the Western District’s past.  Remember to click on any underlined text to find further information about a subject.

BROMELL, Thomas – Died 9 October 1887 at Melbourne. Thomas Bromell was born in Devonshire, England around 1832.  He married Emma Walter in 1851 and they arrived in Victoria in 1853 aboard the Marchioness of Londonderry.  After a brief stint on the Ballarat goldfields, Thomas and Emma headed to Barrabool Hills near Geelong where they spent about seven years.  The Bromells arrived in the Hamilton district around 1860 and by that time they had five children.  Thomas set about acquiring land, buying sections of properties such as Mokanger, Skene and Kanawalla as they became available, eventually reaching 14,000 acres he called Hensley Park.  He also bought Refuge Station near Casterton

Thomas was a grain grower initially before turning to mixed farming.  Along with sheep, he bred Neapolitan and Berkshire pigs.  He was also widely known as a breeder of Timor ponies.  Thomas began his civic life on the roads board, later becoming the Dundas Shire.  In 1874, Thomas offered himself as a candidate for the seat of Western Province in the Upper House of the Victorian Parliament and was successful.  Thomas was a committee member of the Hamilton Racing Club.  The Bromells went on to have seven daughters and just one son who took over the running of Hensley Park in Thomas’s later years.   Thomas died suddenly at the Union Club Hotel, Melbourne aged fifty-four. His body was returned to Hamilton and buried at the Hamilton (Old) Cemetery (below).

HEADSTONE OF THOMAS BROMELL, HAMILTON (OLD) CEMETERY

ARMSTRONG, Christian  – Died 24 October 1906 at Hamilton.  Christian Armstrong was born at Kildonan, Scotland in 1831.  She married James Thomson in 1852 and arrived in Victoria on the Europa with James and her brother Alexander Armstrong.  Alexander purchased Warrambeen at Shelford while James worked at Golf Hill Station next door for the Clyde Company.  Christian and James’ first child John was born there in 1853.  By about 1857, James purchased an interest in the Ullswater and Maryvale Stations near Edenhope and they moved to the later property.  In 1870, James purchased Monivae from the estate of Acheson Ffrench.  By then there were seven Thomson children.  Twins were born in the year after their arrival at Monivae and a girl Jessie in 1873.  Sadly Jessie died in 1875, In 1877, a new homestead was built (below), to accommodate the large family.  On  4 June 1889, one of Christian’s twins, George died suddenly at Monivae, from heart trouble he’d suffered from birth.

MONIVAE HOMESTEAD, NEAR HAMILTON. 1966. Image Courtesy of the J.T. Collins Collection, La Trobe Picture Collection, State Library of Victoria. http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/230077

A deeply religious and charitable woman, Christian was one of the fundraising champions of the town and attended St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church like clockwork “morning and night”. Everyone knew her pew. A full member of the church for thirty-six years, her name was added to the church roll on 4 October 1870.  Christian was also a member of the Ladies Benevolent Society and the British and Foreign Bible Society.  She managed to attend church until just a couple of weeks before her death.

ST. ANDREW’S PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH c1890. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/69513

Christian died at Monivae at 8.20am on 24 October 1906 and was buried at the Hamilton (Old) Cemetery (below).

HEADSTONE OF CHRISTIAN ARMSTRONG, HAMILTON (OLD) CEMETERY

The year after Christian’s death, James Thomson lay the foundation stone for a new Presbyterian Church at Hamilton.  He later donated a memorial window for the new church in remembrance of Christian.  You can read more about the Thomson family of Monivae on the link – Strong in Faith…A Story of Monivae Estate.

McKINNON,  Anne – Died 7 October 1914 at Noorat. Anne McKinnon was born around 1825 at Inverness, Scotland. She arrived in Victoria with her parents and siblings in 1852 aboard the Chance to Port Fairy.  In 1854, Anne married Charles Podger.  Anne and Charles spent the early years of their marriage at Mount Fyans near Darlington before Charles selected at Kolora, naming the property Werrook. Anne and Charles had six children, three sons and three daughters.  Anne was buried at Terang Cemetery.

BEGG, William – Died 9 October 1915 at Branxholme. William Begg was born in Scotland around 1840 and arrived in Australia in 1855 aboard the Nashwauk.  His arrival was exciting and dangerous as the Nashwauk wrecked off the South Australian coast at Moana. Surviving the wreck, the family settled in South Australia and William worked as a baker.  Around 1865, William’s parents selected land next to Morven Estate near Branxholme and he moved with them.  The property was called Fontus and William took over the property after his father’s death.  William was involved in the Branxholme Rifle Club and was captain for around twenty years.  He always thought he was lucky to be alive after his perilous arrival on Australian soil.

“”YATHONG” PATRIOTIC FETE.” Punch (Melbourne, Vic. : 1900 – 1918; 1925) 11 November 1915: 18. Web. 24 Oct 2017 .

William never married and lived with his mother who died only three years before him.  He spent his last year living with his sister Mrs Agnes Gough at Royston, Branxholme (below).

ROYSTON, BRANXHOLME, 1976. Image courtesy of the J.T. Collins Collection, La Trobe Picture Collection, State Library of Victoria. http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/215598

LAYH, Carl – Died 2 October 1917 at Brighton.  Carl Layh was born in Germany around 1837 and arrived in Australia from Liverpool, England in 1859 aboard the Florence Nightingale and headed to the Ballarat diggings. There only briefly, he moved on to Geelong to work for Sander’s tobacconist in Malop Street. Around 1862, Carl moved to Hamilton and opened a tobacconist shop in partnership with Sanders. Located in Gray Street opposite the Victoria Hotel, it went under the name Sanders, Layh and Co.

On 10 June 1863, twenty-seven-year-old Carl married seventeen-year-old Jane Emma Remfrey.  The wedding took place at the Remfrey family home conducted by a Wesleyan minister. Making a career change about 1870, Carl and Jane moved to Burnt Creek near Horsham and opened a school. Carl and his family returned to Hamilton in 1878 and Carl opened an accountancy and commission agents firm and the Western District Labour Mart also known as Layh’s Labour Mart.  Jane also worked in the business.

“Advertising” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 13 March 1879: 1. Web. 28 Oct 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article226053797&gt;.

For twenty-seven years Carl was on the staff of the Hamilton Spectator as a reporter and he also contributed to the Daily Telegraph, The Age, The Argus and Herald. He retired from his work at the Spectator in 1909.   He also taught German at the Western District Academy, Hamilton (below) and privately.  Carl was also a member of the Grange Lodge from 1864.

THE WESTERN DISTRICT ACADEMY, POPE STREET, HAMILTON. Image courtesy of the State Library of South Australia. Image no. B 21766/58 https://collections.slsa.sa.gov.au/resource/B+21766/58

Carl and his wife had five sons and one daughter and lived in Gray Street, Hamilton.  On 10 June 1913, Carl and Jane celebrated their Golden Wedding Anniversary.  With a son serving overseas, in 1915, Jane Layh unveiled a memorial tablet at the Hamilton State School for past students who had enlisted for WW1. Their son,  Herbert Thomas Christoph Layh who began the war as a Lieutenant in “Pompey” Elliot’s 7th Battalion, was awarded a Distinguished Service Order in 1916 and appointed a Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George in 1919.

Ill health forced Carl to retire from his labour mart and he and Jane moved Melbourne to live with their sons.  Carl died in 1917 aged eighty.  At the timeof his death, He and Jane had twenty-five grandchildren.  Jane died in Brighton in 1931 aged eighty-four.

HOWELL, William – Died 7 October 1917 at Hamilton. William Howell lived at Coleford in Milton Street, Hamilton, his home named after the town where he was born in Gloucestershire in 1844.  William arrived in Victoria aboard the Great Victoria,  his twentieth birthday passing during the voyage.  He first went to Murghebolac near Geelong, staying for twelve years before moving to Hamilton. There he worked in partnership with Robert Coulter at Coulter and Howell Monumental Masons, from around 1878 first in Brown and then in Pope Street.

“Advertising” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 15 April 1882: 4. Web. 28 Oct 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article226064020&gt;.

William later set up his own business in Brown Street with branches in Portland and Casterton.

“Advertising” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 3 August 1909: 1. Web. 28 Oct 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article225047867&gt;.

In 1880, William selected land at Marney’s Swamp, north-west of Dunkeld. In 1889 at the age of fifty-four, William married thirty-one-year-old Mary Ann Taylor. They had no children. William was a member of the Rechabite Lodge, the YMCA, was a trustee of the Temperance Hall, and a playing member of the Hamilton Bowling Club.  Mary Ann lived another thirty-three years after William and died at Hamilton in 1950 aged ninety-two.

HICKMER, Sarah Ann – Died 16 October 1918 at Muddy Creek.  Sarah Hickmer was born at Brighton, Sussex, England and arrived in Adelaide, South Australia with her family in 1851.  Sarah then went to Melbourne briefly before going to Mt Gambier. She married Peter Williamson in Victoria in 1853 and around 1866, they took up land at Murphy’s Creek near Yulecart.  Peter died in 1871 but Sarah stayed on at the property with the help of her sons. She did have time away in the 1880s when she went with her sons who bought land at Tellangatuk East. She returned to the district and lived with a son at Muddy Creek.  Sarah was eighty-nine at the time of her death and still the owner of the property she and Peter bought fifty years before.  She left two sons, three daughters, twenty-five grandchildren and twelve great-grandchildren.

CAMPBELL, Hugh John Munro – Died 24 October 1921 at St Kilda. Hugh Campbell was born in 1854 at Melbourne.  The Campbells went to Portland in the early 1860s where Hugh’s father was a merchant.  Hugh entered the family business at a young age.  On 21 January 1880, Hugh married Harriet Jarrett and they went on to have three children. In 1894, Hugh purchased Maretimo at Portland (below).  In 1896, Hugh had telegraph lines installed from his business in Julia Street to Maretimo.

MARETIMO“, PORTLAND c1895. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/266298

As well as operating the family business, Hugh also had a bark mill in Percy Street and wool washing works near the town. He was considered a pioneer among shipping merchants in Portland.  He was also one of the chief supporters of Scots Church, Portland.  In 1906, Hugh entered politics winning the seat of Glenelg in Victoria’s Legislative Assembly.  In August 1912, Harried died aged sixty-three after an illness. Hugh himself was also very ill that year and was in a hospital in Melbourne when Harriet died. He recovered to continue on with his political duties. In 1914, Hugh’s son Sydney James Campbell, a doctor enlisted with the Army Medical Corps at the outbreak of WW1.  He died of wounds at Gallipoli on 14 July 1915.  Two days later, another son Albert Campbell enlisted.  Fortunately, Albert returned home on 16 July 1917 after serving as a Lieutenant with the 29th Battalion.

“Portland Mourns” Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953) 24 October 1921: 2 (EVENING.). Web. 24 Oct 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64024740&gt;.

Hugh retained the seat of Glenelg until 1920 when defeated. It was also in 1920 when Hugh married on 9 June to Ethel May Waddell aged forty-one.  The following year he tried to win his seat back and was unsuccessful. It was a difficult period for Hugh who fell sick during the campaign of 1921.  He improved slightly before the election but his second defeat saw his health fail again leading to his death on 24 October 1921 at the age of sixty-seven. His body was returned to Portland by train for burial. After sixteen months of marriage, Ethel was a widow.  Twenty-five years younger than Hugh, she died at Camberwell in 1965 aged eighty-six.

HAMILTON, James Charles. – Died 25 October 1927  at Apsley. James Hamilton was born at Haddington, Scotland in 1836. In November 1841, James arrived at Port Melbourne with his parents and three siblings. The Hamiltons headed to Kilmore where they remained until 1846.  James’ father travelled alone to the west of the colony applying for land to form two stations Bringalbert and Ozenkadnook Stations near Apsley.  The family set out from Kilmore to join him in late February and arrived at Lake Wallace on 8 May 1846. James’ father lived only another four years.

James started driving bullocks at a young age and made trips with his brother to Portland with wool then returning with supplies. At some point, James was sent to St John’s Church of England Grammar School in Launceston to study surveying  On his return, he went to New Zealand with his brothers, with one having bought land there. Back in Australia by 1860, James married Eleanor Bax at Robe, South Australia. They returned to settle at Ozenkadnook Station.

James acquired other properties, owning up to five at one stage  It wasn’t a profitable venture and a tough existence, with drought and poor seasons. By the time he left his last station, James was penniless.  Adding to the hardship, during April 1883, James accidentally shot himself in the leg, leading to its amputation. In February 1888, a fire swept through Ozenkadnook.  Station hands had to run for their lives and James had to try to escape the fire on his crutches.  In 1910, Eleanor died having lived the past fifty years at Ozenkadnook Station.

“Crossed the Bar.” Weekly Times (Melbourne, Vic. : 1869 – 1954) 2 July 1910: 24. Web. 24 Oct 2017.

It was after Eleanor’s death, James began writing his memoirs, “Pioneering Days in Western Victoria”.  He said in the year after publication it cost him a lot of money but he had sold 2500 copies in the first ten months. The book mentions many Western District names such as Henty, Cooke, Affleck, Edgar, Learmonth, Moffat, Armytage, and Laidlaw and includes James’ memories of stations including Muntham, Merino Downs, Nangeela, Rifle Downs, Gringegolgura, Dunrobin, and Pine Hills. The topics it covers include carting wool to Portland, Black Thursday bushfires, the bushrangers Morgan, Gardiner and Captain Melville, and Cobb and Co. in the 1850s including noted drivers.  You can read James booking on the link – Pioneering Days in Western Victoria.

“PIONEERS OF VICTORIA” Weekly Times (Melbourne, Vic. : 1869 – 1954) 12 July 1924: 10. Web. 24 Oct 2017 .

In his later years, James moved to Apsley and in 1924, it was reported he was compiling another book “The Civilisation and Occupation of Western Victoria” although it seems it was never finished.  James’ also published another edition of his earlier book in 1923.  In 1925, the Weekly Times published the book in a series.  James died at his son’s home at Apsley, aged ninety-two.  He also had one daughter still surviving.

SATCHWELL, Adeline Eliza – Died 7 October 1943 at Darlington. No one has known the Elephant Bridge Hotel like Adeline Satchwell.  Adeline, known as Ada, was born at the hotel on 9 February 1861 to  John Satchwell and Mary Ann Hudson.  Her father, a hot-tempered man, had only recently taken up the license on the hotel.  When Adeline was just two months old, her father went in a fit of “temporary insanity” and locked his wife Mary-Ann in her room and tried to set her alight.  She managed to climb out a window to safety. Where Adeline was during that time is unknown. Eventually, a trooper arrived and in his presence, John Satchwell killed himself.  He was thirty-four. A full report of the incident was published in The Argus on 2 May 1861.  Only weeks earlier, a letter of complaint was sent to the Geelong Advertiser complaining of John Satchwell’s rudeness and insulting manner.  Mary-Ann continued running the hotel and remarried in 1876 to John Eales.

In 1882, Adeline married Murdoch McLeod.  Her mother continued to hold the hotel licence until July 1889 when it was transferred to Murdoch and Mary Ann moved to Melbourne. However, Murdoch died suddenly on 20 September 1889, leaving Adeline with a hotel and four young children.  Then three months later, news came her mother had died on 12 October 1889 at St Kilda. Mary Ann was buried at the Darlington Cemetery

THE ELEPHANT BRIDGE HOTEL, DARLINGTON 1934. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/245872

Adeline continued on at the hotel.  In 1895, she married widower Joseph Gellie who had ten children from eighteen to seven. He and Adeline would have a further three, two sons and a daughter. When interviewed in 1937, Adeline said the road wasn’t as busy at it was when she was a girl. Then the hotel was the coach changing station and “meeting place of waggons and travellers up from Warrnambool to the great stations of the Camperdown-Terang area”. One of her bachelor sons,  Claude McLeod helped his mother at the hotel. Adeline is pictured below with Claude and another son Garnett.

“The children indicated by circles will each be presented with a Weekly Times pencil.” Weekly Times (Melbourne, Vic. : 1869 – 1954) 2 January 1937: 31 (FIRST EDITION). Web. 26 Oct 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article223897391&gt;.

On 9 February 1939, Adeline celebrated her fiftieth year as a publican and it was also her seventy-eighth birthday.  She was the only publican in Australia to hold a license in one hotel for the longest consecutive time. Adeline died in October 1943 at the place she was born. She was buried at the nearby Darlington Cemetery. Adeline left four sons and three daughters.  Her son Claude McLeod died only two years after Adeline on 25 March 1945.  The Elephant Bridge Hotel was put up for sale in 1946.

Apparently Adeline still “frequents” the hotel along with a couple of other ghosts, including a man in his thirties…the age of Adeline’s father at the time of his death. The Elephant Bridge Hotel is often named among Australia’s haunted pubs.

CAMERON, John – Died 17 October 1947 at Natimuk.  John Cameron was born at Byaduk around 1871 and became a dairy farmer.  He was involved with founding the Condah Butter Factory and was the factory’s first secretary.  In 1907, John put his Condah property up for lease and went to Queensland with his brother, selecting land at Darling Downs. It was a time many from the district were moving to that state, at the time described by the Hamilton Spectator as a “Queensland exodus”. John eventually returned to Condah and married Mary Amelia “Milly” Cameron of Condah on 9 June 1910 and a very fancy wedding it was.  The wedding report in the Hamilton Spectator mentioned within John Cameron’s family, for five or six generations, the Cameron men had all married women with the same surname.

Around 1916, John bought the farm of Louis Oliver, a Byaduk born man who moved to the Wimmera.  Located at Duchembegarra, north of Natimuk, the property was named Caringal.  John was soon well-known in the district and became President of the Presbyterian Church.  John and Millie Cameron had one son and four daughters.  John Cameron died on 17 October 1947 at the age of seventy-six and was buried at the Natimuk Cemetery.  Milly died three years later aged sixty-three.

Strong in Faith…A Story of Monivae Estate

For over 175 years, the name of “Monivae” has been familiar to the people of Hamilton and district. What it represents has changed with the generations from a parish and schools to an old bluestone homestead Hamiltonians pass on their annual migration south to Port Fairy. For the returned WW1 soldier and poet Thomas SkeyhillMonivae was the place the fairies played as he walked the paddocks, “with a copy of Keats…and dog at my heels.” 

Local history wasn’t something taught at school but I  did learn the origins of the name “Monivae”. Not during a history class, rather religious education. I attended Hamilton’s Monivae College, a Catholic secondary school. The college opened in the 1950s, on the Hamilton/Port Fairy Road, just south of Hamilton on a property with a two-storey bluestone homestead.  After the school relocated to Ballarat Road, Hamilton, the original property became known as “Old Monivae”.  Those of similar age to myself, who didn’t sit through a Form 1 RE class at Monivae, could be excused for thinking the name started with the school.  Instead, it goes back to an Irish Protestant by the name of Acheson Ffrench.

Appointed as Police Magistrate in 1841 at Hamilton, then known as The Grange, Acheson Ffrench aged twenty-nine was from Monivea Castle, County Galway, Ireland, the Ffrench ancestral home dating back to the 16oos when the Ffrenchs took over from the O’Kellys.  Born at the castle in 1812, the son of Robert Ffrench and Nicola O’Brien was educated in Dublin, destined to join the clergy, but Acheson had questions. He left Ireland and went on a pilgrimage of sorts through Europe and the Holy Land before landing in Australia.  Don Garden in Hamilton, A Western District History, cites C. J. Griffith who met Ffrench in Melbourne soon after his arrival.  Griffith recalled Ffrench’s tattoos, Jerusalem Arms inked by a monk in the ancient city along with various Arabic characters.

“Government Gazette.” Australasian Chronicle (Sydney, NSW : 1839 – 1843) 8 July 1841: 4. Web. 14 Oct 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article31732227&gt;.

It was also 1841 when Ffrench took up land, a large run of 17,000 acres to the south of The Grange. He named it Monivae after his Galway home. It seems he never took on the original spelling of Monivea but Ffrench seemed fairly flexible in that respect.  He dropped a letter from his surname, signing letters to the newspapers, of which he wrote many, as A.French. The Ffrench surname had already evolved back in Ireland from ffrench.

“Advertising” The Melbourne Daily News (Vic. : 1848 – 1851) 1 February 1849: 4. Web. 14 Oct 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article226472923&gt;.

On 8 February 1842, Ffrench married his fiancé Anna Watton, a daughter of Dr John Watton who in that year became Medical Officer at the Mt Rouse Aboriginal Protectorate.  Acheson and Anna lived at the Police Magistrate’s residence on a site selected by Acheson on the corner of Thompson and Martin streets. The Hamilton Police Station and Courthouse still stand there today.

“Family Notices” Geelong Advertiser (Vic. : 1840 – 1845) 14 February 1842: 3. Web. 14 Oct 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article92679898&gt;.

By the end of 1843, the role of Police Magistrate was abolished and Ffrench was without a job.  However, by February 1844, the government announced a new commission intended to keep the peace and Ffrench was named as a commissioner.  He was able to stay on in at his residence but with reduced employment, Ffrench turned to improving Monivae and running sheep. The Ffrench offspring were arriving at a steady rate and in 1847, a homestead was built at Monivae on what is now the eastern side of the Hamilton/Port Fairy Road.  Anna would bear twelve children in all, six boys and six girls, with one dying as a baby.

Acheson Ffrench wasn’t the best of farmers and money problems arose.  In 1864, he put Monivae up for lease for a term of three years and moved the family to Melbourne.

“Advertising” The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957) 29 January 1864: 8. Web. 18 Oct 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article5743286&gt;.

The family spent two years in Melbourne, returning to Monivae in 1866. Ffrench’s trips to Melbourne continued and he was there on 29 January 1870.  He fancied a dip at Kenny’s Gentleman’s Bathing Ship (below) at St Kilda. With his arms reportedly by his side, Ffrench described as, “somewhat heavy with a stout build”, dived into the water from one of the diving boards. Normally at a depth of six feet, the tide was out leaving the water depth at just over four feet. Ffrench hit his head on the bottom and unconscious when dragged out.  He could not be revived, dying within minutes.  An inquest found Acheson had broken his neck. Arising from the inquest was a conversation, of which Ffrench was a part in the days before his death.  At lunch with friends, the topic of discussion turned to death from diving accidents.

KENNY’S BATHING SHIP, ST. KILDA. Artist – Thomas Clark. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/84320

When news of Acheson Ffrench’s death reached Hamilton, shops closed as a mark of respect.  He was remembered in the Hamilton Spectator, “…as generally very highly respected throughout the district for his strict integrity and manliness of character, whilst there was a certain rugged independence about him which led him to adhere strictly to his own convictions, without, however, attempting to force his views upon others”.  Monivae was placed on the market and Anna Ffrench and the children moved to Melbourne.

“Advertising” The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957) 9 August 1870: 3. Web. 14 Oct 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article5828208&gt;.

Ownership of Monivae transferred from an Irishman the Spectator described as having “peculiar” religious views, to a staunch Presbyterian from the Scottish Highlands.  James Thomson and his wife Christian Armstrong arrived in Victoria in 1852 aboard the Europa.  They spent around five years at the Clyde Company’s Golf Hill, near Shelford. Their first child John was born in 1853 at neighbouring Warrambeen, home of Christian’s brother Alexander Armstrong.  James Thomson then purchased an interest the Ullswater and Maryvale Stations near Edenhope and settled at the later property.

By the time the Thomsons arrived at Monivae in 1870, they had seven children aged two to seventeen and they moved into Ffrench’s homestead. Over the next six years, the Thomson family continued to grow.  In 1871, twins James and George were born followed by Wilhelmina Jessie in 1873. Sadly, Wilhelmina died on 5 April 1875.  The last child born to the family was William Armstrong Thomson in September 1876.  It was around the time of William’s birth, James Thomson decided they needed a bigger home or more correctly, a “mansion”. He wasn’t the only one and the “bloated aristocrats” were duly roasted by the Ballarat Star calling for a mansion tax.

“NEW SOURCE OF TAXATION.” The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 – 1924) 18 December 1876: 4. Web. 14 Oct 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article199833143&gt;.

Some may believe, especially if they did Form 1 RE with me in the 1980s, the existing Monivae homestead was built by Acheson Ffrench.  James Thomson was never mentioned in our classes.  Likewise, Thomson was not mentioned in historian Margaret Kiddle’s book Men of Yesterday and she credited Ffrench for building Monivae “probably in the late sixties” (p.316). However, James Thomson was responsible for the Monivae Homestead we know today.

The site for the new homestead was about 800 metres from the former homestead and on the other side of the Hamilton/Port Fairy Road.  William Smith, the Borough Surveyor drew up plans, tenders opened and using bluestone sourced from the quarry on the property, construction began.  Thomson’s total expenditure was £5400 something he likely regretted because the government did introduce a “class” tax and if the timing was slightly different, the homestead may never have been built. The land tax, introduced in the colony in 1877, intended to break up large holdings such as Monivae and it was thought Thomson would never have gone ahead had it come earlier.

MONIVAE HOMESTEAD 1966. Image courtesy of the J.T. Collins Collection, La Trobe Picture Collection, State Library of Victoria. http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/230077

Hamilton Spectator correspondent toured the new sixteen roomed homestead in May 1878. Critical of the external appearance he suggested “one of those elegant lookout towers” to improve the looks. He remarked it might be an addition “when times – politically speaking – improve”.  A tower was never added and reforms to the land tax didn’t come until 1884. The lacework and coloured tiles of the verandah did meet approval. As the correspondent entered the front door, a hallway measuring twenty-four feet by ten feet wide was before him with, “white walls, shining like so much marble would perhaps give it too cold a look; but for the coloured light thrown into it, from the staircase and front door windows, and its mosaic pavement formed of Minton’s tiles.” The drawing room was around twenty-six feet by sixteen feet but for special occasions, folding doors into the breakfast room could open.  The floor space then increased to forty-six feet, allowing for dancing.

The homestead boasted an eighteen-foot tiled staircase with a cedar railing leading to the upper storey with a balcony verandah around ten feet wide and 130 feet long.  Paved in coloured tiles, it was perfect for the Thomson children to roller skate. That was until 1887 when sixteen-year-old James Thomas Thomson skated straight over the railing onto the gravel about nine metres below. He fractured his skull and although it was touch and go for a few days, he made a full recovery.  His twin George, known as “Joe” was not so lucky.  Having suffered congenital heart problems, he died suddenly two years late on 4 June 1889, at Monivae aged eighteen.

MONIVAE HOMESTEAD 1966. Image courtesy of the J.T. Collins Collection, La Trobe Picture Collection, State Library of Victoria. http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/230077

The Thomson children were not the marrying kind. Of the five Thomson girls, three married, as did three of the surviving four boys. None married before the age of twenty-seven and John was fifty-six. The first Thomson wedding was that of thirty-year-old Annie Thomson to James Allan Learmonth, son of Hamilton businessman and grazier Peter Learmonth and Mary Jarvey Pearson of Prestonholme. Learmonth was also a devout Methodist, a pillar of the Hamilton Wesleyan Church in McIntyre Street.

It was the grandest of the three weddings James Thompson would pay for.  Celebrated on 1 September 1886, at St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church Hamilton, the marriage was not followed by the usual wedding breakfast. Instead, two weeks later James threw a private ball for two hundred guests in the Hamilton Town Hall for the newlyweds in lieu of a wedding breakfast.  Such a grand affair may have been due to Annie’s imminent departure for Mexico with her new husband who’d been managing the family property there.  It could also have been the thinking of a canny Scot.  Why pay for both a wedding breakfast and a send-off when one event will suffice.

HAMILTON TOWN HALL 1910. Image courtesy of the Museum Victoria Collections http://collections.museumvictoria.com.au/items/765800

On 3 October 1888, it was Margaret “Maggie” Thomson’s turn to marry. She too had reached the age of thirty and opted for a small quiet gathering at Monivae. The groom was Thomas Haliburton Laidlaw, son of Thomas Laidlaw and Grace McLeod and those in attendance were mostly family. Elizabeth “Lizzie” Thomson married on 27 July 1893 in the drawing room at Monivae, again a quiet celebration.  Her groom was bank manager Forrester Goldsmith Armstrong, a son of Oliver Armstrong of Kyneton. By this time Lizzie’s older sister Annie and her family were home from Mexico to witness the occasion.

Fire has threatened the Monviae homestead many times since its construction including 1891, 1944 and more recently Ash Wednesday of 1983. The fires of February 1901 were particularly fierce and practically wiped out Byaduk North a little further south. At Monivae, fire swept through the property from one end to the other killing around 2000 sheep.

“ALONG MACARTHUR ROAD.” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 9 February 1901

In 1906, the Victorian Government received an offer to buy 17,000 acres of the Monivae Estate from James Thomson for Closer Settlement.  He would keep 3,000 acres and the homestead. Negotiations with the government broke down, so James subdivided the land himself. An initial sale on 24 November 1906 saw 322 acres auctioned.  Of the lots sold they averaged around £16 per acre. A second sale was held on 20 December 1906 and 1022 acres were sold at an average of £9 13/ per acre. James also sold off Crawford Estate and subdivided 500 acres of Lake Condah Estate. With a downsized Monivae, youngest son William left the property and moved to Portland. Oldest son John stayed on at Monivae as did unmarried daughters Mary and Christina.

The land sales came in the wake of a great loss for the Thomson family.  On 8.20am on 24 October 1906 at Monivae, the matriarch of the family, Christian Thomson drew her last breath at the age of seventy-five.  A deeply religious and charitable woman, she was one of the fundraising champions of the town and attended St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church like clockwork “morning and night”. Everyone knew her pew. A full member of the church for thirty-six years, her name was added to the church roll on 4 October 1870.  Christian was also a member of the Ladies Benevolent Society and the British and Foreign Bible Society.  She managed to attend church until just a couple of weeks before her death.  Christian was buried at the Hamilton (Old) Cemetery.

GRAVE OF CHRISTIAN THOMSON, HAMILTON (OLD) CEMETERY

It was fourteen years between the weddings of Thomson children and it was James Thomas Thomson, the roller skater, who was next to take the plunge.  He was living at Inverary, Branxholme by the time he married Henrietta Moynan on 26 November 1907 at the Anglican Christ Church Hamilton, the church sharing Church Hill with St. Andrew’s. The couple made their home at Inverary.  By that time, some may have thought James’ older brother John who had hit his mid-fifties, would remain a bachelor but on 31 March 1909 at Lilydale, he married Christiana Robertson.  Younger brother Alexander was close behind, marrying Ethel Manning on 6 May 1909.  He was forty-six.

Possibly the last public duty undertaken by James Thomson of Monivae was the laying of a foundation stone for a new St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church.  A devout parishioner, James donated bluestone from the Monivae quarry for the new church.  The ceremony took place on 18 December 1907 with James just four months from his eighty-seventh birthday.

FOUNDATION STONE, ST ANDREW’S PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, HAMILTON

 

ST ANDREW’S PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, HAMILTON

After completion of the new Presbyterian church, James donated a memorial window to remember his wife, Christian.  Also, portraits of James and Christian and their children John and Margaret Thomson were unveiled at the church in 1918 along with those of seven other prominent Hamilton Presbyterians.

“BEAUTIFUL MEMORIAL WINDOW.” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 26 May 1909: 4. Web. 14 Oct 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article225037595&gt;.

James Thomson died at Monivae on 25 April 1910 after an illness of two weeks.  His obituary described him as, “…a man of sterling qualities and simple tastes. Never courting publicity, he was never so happy as when surrounded by children or occupying himself in his garden”.  James left Monivae for the last time at 2.30pm on Wednesday 27 April 1910 for the Hamilton (Old) Cemetery.

GRAVE OF JAMES THOMSON, HAMILTON (OLD) CEMETERY

James Thomson’s probate file reveals his liabilities were £814. His debts included rates, wages to a number of Monivae staff and accounts with businesses in Hamilton.  The total of the estate was £36,209. Of that, over £2600 was stock including several thousand sheep. Another £300 was the furniture filling the rooms of the homestead.  The Monivae property including the homestead was valued at £25000. By that time, the homestead Ffrench built was accommodation for Monivae workers.  James bequeathed two-thirds of his estate to his four living sons, divided equally.  To his five daughters, James bequeathed one-third of his estate in equal shares. Eldest son John Thomson was given the first option to buy the property at a value of £8 per acre.  He could also buy the farm implements and furniture in the homestead for £400. The last of the Lake Condah Estate was sold as too a large amount of stock.  Extra funds were no doubt wanted to pay the duty on the estate totalling more than £2500, seven percent of the total.

John Thomson did take up the option to buy Monivae.  He was around fifty-seven and newly married to Christina “Keenie” Robertson, a daughter of Scot James Robertson and Jane Ritchie of Keilor.  Christina herself was forty-three and children were not in the equation. Like his parents, John was a stalwart of the Presbyterian Church and on the board of management of St Andrew’s for thirty years.  As well as running Monivae, John was a politician and by 1910, had held the seat of Dundas in Victoria’s Legislative Assembly for eighteen years across two terms and was a Honourary Minster in the Cabinet.

“THE OPENING OF THE THIRD FEDERAL PARLIAMENT.” Weekly Times (Melbourne, Vic. : 1869 – 1954) 2 March 1907: 9. Web. 13 Oct 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article221256443&gt;.

In May 1914, John Thomson announced after twenty-two years in the seat of Dundas, he would not stand for re-election at the forthcoming State Election. The reasons given were the need to spend more time at home with his wife and to tend to other family matters. He said the last five years were extremely busy ones and he was looking forward to leading a quieter life.

John’s unmarried sisters Christina and Mary had stayed on at Monivae after their father’s death.  In 1914 and feeling under the weather, Christina then aged forty-six attended the doctor on Friday 6 November but managed to take up her usual place at St Andrew’s the following Sunday.  She died suddenly about midday at Monivae on Monday 9 November with Mary at her side. Well-liked in the community, Christina like her mother was devout and charitable.

It was around the time of Christina’s death, the Monivae State School opened on the Portland Road.  With Closer Settlement in the district and James’ subdivision of Monivae, the area was becoming increasingly populated. The school eventually closed and in 1946, the school building was moved to the North Hamilton State School.

John Thomson spent the years after his political retirement maintaining Monivae and was involved with various committees and activities in the Hamilton district.  He made a trip to Melbourne on 3 August 1917 and attended a school football match with Archibald Simpson of Clifton, Hamilton.  The funeral for John Thomson was large with condolences and floral tributes sent from dignitaries across Victoria.  His coffin bearers were Monivae employees and members of the Hamilton Angling Club. John was buried in the Thomson family plot at the Hamilton (Old) Cemetery as the Hamilton Brass Band played “Nearer My God to Thee”.   

GRAVE OF JOHN THOMSON AND HIS WIFE CHRISTINA ROBERTSON

John left his estate valued at over £46,000 to his wife Christina and brother-in-law Thomas Laidlaw. Upon Christina’s death, the estate would be divided between John’s brothers and sisters.  One of John’s more interesting investments was 500 shares in the Melbourne Ice Skating Company. The estate was held in trust and Christina moved to Sandringham in 1921. She died at Toorak in December 1949 at the age of seventy-nine.

Alexander, the second eldest son of James and Christian Thomson took over the running of Monivae.  Alexander and his wife Ethel Manning and their two children Kathleen Mary and  James Yelverton Monivae Thomson moved into the homestead.  Kathleen (below) married Hugh Lloyd Cameron of Geelong at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Hamilton on 18 February 1937.

KATHLEEN MARY THOMSON 1937 ‘Family Notices’, Table Talk (Melbourne, Vic. : 1885 – 1939), 11 March, p. 50. , http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article149614310

The 1930s saw the death of five of the Thomson siblings.  Annie died on 14 June 1930 at Prestonholme aged sixty-four leaving six children, Edgar, Russell, Keith, Christina (Mrs James Young), Maggie (Mrs Alex Armstrong), and Mona Learmonth. Having married the son of Hamilton’s leading Methodist, Annie changed her allegiances and was active in within her new church.  A memorial window (below) was installed in the Hamilton Wesleyan Methodist Church remembering Annie and her husband James Learmonth.

LEARMONTH MEMORIAL WINDOW, HAMILTON UNITING CHURCH

Annie was buried at the Hamilton (Old) Cemetery

Margaret died on 30 December 1932 at her home Kilora (below) in Kennedy Street, Hamilton. She left six children, Hal, John, Alexander, Thomas, Gretta (Mrs Lance Lewis) and Bea (Mrs John McKellar) Laidlaw.  On 23 March 1933, Elizabeth died at Corra, Willaura, the home of her son-in-law Donald Moffatt leaving two children Vera and Pat.  James Thompson Jr. died in 1934.  He and Henrietta did not have children.  Youngest son William, who never married, died on 2 May 1943 aged sixty-six at Portland.  His body was taken to Monivae before leaving for the Hamilton Cemetery.  After the death of her sister Christina, unmarried Mary Thomson spent time in Malvern living with her sister Elizabeth. After Elizabeth died, Mary moved into Kilora (below), sharing the home with her widower brother-in-law Thomas Laidlaw, husband of Margaret Thomson, until her death on 13 May 1939. Thomas Laidlaw died in 1941.

KILORA, HAMILTON

Alexander Thomson’s death in June 1946 aged eighty-three, brought to a close the lives of the children of James and Christian Thomson. Sixteen of their grandchildren and their children remained. Like his siblings, Alexander was buried in the Thomson plot at the Hamilton (Old) Cemetery (below).  

THOMSON FAMILY PLOT, PRESBYTERIAN SECTION, HAMILTON (OLD) CEMETERY

After seventy-seven years, with the estate of John Thomson requiring closure, Monivae in the Parish of Monivae in the County of Normanby went up for sale.  

“Advertising” The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957) 28 December 1946: 18. Web. 16 Oct 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article22384820&gt;.

The Catholic order of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart (MSC) was looking for a new site for a boys’ boarding college after establishing a school in Toowoomba, Queensland sixteen years earlier.  The Monivae homestead was purchased in 1947 with grand plans of developing the property into a school.

“M.S C. BOYS’ COLLEGE FOR HAMILTON” Advocate (Melbourne, Vic. : 1868 – 1954) 13 August 1947: 7. Web. 16 Oct 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article172490068&gt;.

It soon became clear, the site was not suitable and the MSC went in search of a new site. Bob Strachan owned land on Ballarat Road, Hamilton and the MSC were able to negotiate a trade with him.  The MSC obtained the land in Ballarat Road for the new school and retained 100 acres at Monivae including the homestead.  Bob Strachan’s side of the bargain was the balance of the Monivae property.  A day school in temporary buildings on the Monivae property started in February 1954 while the new school was under construction.  On 17 October 1954, the foundation stone for the Ballarat Road school was blessed. The contract for the building which started in mid-1953 was the largest seen in Hamilton, estimated at £250,000. Classes started at the new school in 1956 despite it being far from complete.  Monivae College not only adopted the name of the Ffrench named property, the school’s badge includes a reminder of Ffrench’s heritage, two Dolphins  also part of the Ffrench family crest.

MONIVAE COLLEGE, BALLARAT ROAD, HAMILTON c1956.
Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/64414

From 1841, religion was at the forefront at Monivae.  From Acheson Ffrench questioning and challenging his faith to the Thomson’s unwavering devotion, to the arrival of the priests of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart. The Monivae College motto Fortes in Fide meaning Strong in Faith could easily have been the Thomson’s motto too.  

The Monivae homestead became rundown and was later taken over by Glenelg Region Water, now known as Wannon Water.

MONIVAE HOMESTEAD 1981. Image courtesy of the J.T. Collins Collection, La Trobe Picture Collection, State Library of Victoria. http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/230082

The homestead and what remains of the surrounding Monivae property has since returned to private ownership and has undergone extensive restoration.  Monivae will be open on Sunday 22 October from 10am to 4pm.  All proceeds go to another of Hamilton’s historic jewels the Hamilton Botanic Gardens and its ongoing redevelopment. Appropriate as a feature of the gardens is the beautiful John Thomson Memorial Fountain. Such was the high regard for John Thomson of Monivae around the Hamilton district, the fountain was built in his memory and unveiled in April 1919 by the then Premier of Victoria.  In its position, the fountain is visible from the front gates of Kilora in Kennedy Street, acting as a constant reminder of their dear brother John for sisters Margaret and Mary Thomson during their time at the home.     

©2017 Merron Riddiford

Hamilton Old Cemetery – Beyond the Headstones

Enter the gates of the Hamilton Old Cemetery and rising up before you are hundreds of diverse and fascinating headstones and monuments.  Some always catch my eye when I visit whether it’s for their design, the effects of time or the inscription.  Taking six headstones I find interesting, I’ve looked further into the history of each and those who lie beneath.

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GEORGE AND JANE BOWLER

GRAVE OF GEORGE AND JANE BOWLER

A broken column, a life cut short.  In 1856, Jane Scott married London-born George Bowler presumably at Portland where their first child Thomas Joseph Bowler was born the following year.  In 1858, a second son, George Richard Bowler was born at Hamilton.  In 1860, the Bowlers suffered the loss of baby George and welcomed a daughter Mary Jane. The following, year on 16 July 1861, George Bowler Sr. also died at the age of twenty-seven and was buried in the Anglican section of the cemetery.  Jane was left with two small children aged four and one.  In 1864, she lodged a request for the Hamilton Borough Council to relieve her from paying her rates due to poverty.

In later years, Jane’s daughter Mary Jane married Robert McFarlane in 1887 and son Thomas Bowler took up the trade of blacksmith in Hamilton.  He for a time was in partnership with David Arnott in the Hamilton Carriage Factory, blacksmith, wheelwrights and coachbuilders.  Jane lived in Griffin Street and took in boarders to make ends meet.

“Advertising” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 25 January 1894: 3. Web. 19 May 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article225784055&gt;.

Jane died on December 1896 at Hamilton. She was buried with George.  George’s parents Joseph and Mary Bowler occupy the adjacent plots.

“Family Notices” The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 – 1954) 23 December 1899: 3. Web. 25 May 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article188661034&gt;.

ISAAC FOSTER

HEADSTONE OF ISAAC FOSTER

 On 9 March 1901, Isaac Foster had his Station Street property up for auction as he was leaving town.

“Advertising” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 9 March 1901: 2. Web. 19 May 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article226091868&gt;.

But Isaac didn’t leave town. By 23 March, he was dead at the age of sixty-eight and still in Hamilton.

Isaac Foster arrived at Williamstown in 1870 before heading to Portland where he started a building and contracting business.  A new hospital was planned in Hamilton and Isaac was appointed   Clerk of Works on the project and moved to Hamilton.

HAMILTON HOSPITAL. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/399127

He also worked on the Hamilton Anglican and Presbyterian Sunday Schools and William Melville’s residence at Weerangourt. Two years before his death, Isaac began suffering from consumption which would claim his life. Isaac also owned property at Branxholme which was auctioned in the week after his death.

“Advertising” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 26 March 1901: 2. Web. 19 May 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article226090807&gt;.

NAOMI HICKMER

HEADSTONE OF NAOMI HICKMER

Inscribed with the words “There remaineth a rest for the people of God” from the Book of Hebrews, stands the headstone at the final resting place of Naomi Hickmer.  Naomi, a spinster lived in Stephens Street, Hamilton and died on 6 April 1883 aged fifty-two.

Naomi’s brother Henry also lived in Hamilton and fortunately, he was a storyteller occasionally sharing his recollections with Mount Gambier’s Border Watch. Henry’s obituary included his life story from his own pen and from that I was able to find out more about Naomi and her family. The Hickmers were from Brighton, Sussex, England. Naomi was born around 1831. The family arrived at Adelaide, South Australia in 1851 when Naomi was twenty. Most of the members of the family then moved to the Lake Leake Station, east of Millicent, South Australia.

“OBITUARY.” Border Watch (Mount Gambier, SA : 1861 – 1954) 26 April 1918: 1. Web. 19 May 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article77655550&gt;.

Henry Jr arrived in Hamilton around 1874, living at various rural properties around the district before settling in Milton Street in 1892.  It is possible his parents and Naomi were in the district from around 1856.  The 1856 Australian Electoral Roll lists a Henry Hickmer, a farmer of South Hamilton.  Henry Hickmer Sr. died at Milton Street, Hamilton on 8 September 1881 aged eighty-three and Ann Hickmer died on 17 September 1884 also at Milton Street. They are buried beside Naomi.

HICKMER FAMILY GRAVE

Naomi’s estate consisted of property to the value of £20 being her home in Stephens Street and £543 of personal property.   During the month after her death, Naomi’s assets were auctioned off.

“Advertising” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 15 May 1883: 2. Web. 18 May 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article225492898&gt;.

Naomi’s probate file held by the Public Record Office made interesting reading and the outstanding accounts she had when she died, give some clue about her life at the time.  She owed £4 15′ shillings to the grocer Henry Horwitz, £2 6′ to W. & W. Thomson, drapers and £2 7′ for buggy hire from Richard Elijah.  Her other debts show she had a period of illness with amounts due to two surgeons Thomas Scott and George Annaud.  There was also a fee owing to Mrs Young for nursing services and an account of £1 from Carl Klug the chemist.  Naomi also paid Elizabeth Kennett servant’s wages and there was a charge of 13″ 6′ to Mott and Rippon publishers, being the Hamilton Spectator.  It’s likely the bill was for Naomi’s funeral notice pictured further up.

ANTONIO & ROSINA RIZZO

GRAVE OF ANTONIO AND ROSE RIZZO

The Rizzo headstone not only displays Hamilton jeweller Antonio Rizzo’s devotion to his wife Rose but also a love of cameos, his specialty.

Rose Genevieve McCrystal was born around 1855, the daughter of Patrick McCrystal and Bridget Crinnion of Portland.  The McCrystals married in 1845 at Launceston.  In 1878, Rose married William Pearson.  Their first child a son was born at Branxholme around the time William purchased Hamilton’s Temperance Hotel and Confectionery Establishment.  Two more children, a son and daughter were born in Hamilton in 1883 and 1884.

“Advertising” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 16 March 1880: 3. Web. 19 May 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article226055844&gt;.

Four years later, a buggy accident near Branxholme claimed William’s life.

“FATAL BUGGY ACCIDENT.” The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 – 1954) 30 September 1884: 5. Web. 18 May 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article191469587&gt;.

Rose kept the Temperance Hotel operating after William’s death.

“Advertising” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 27 January 1885: 1 (SUPPLEMENT TO THE HAMILTON SPECTATOR). Web. 19 May 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article225659244&gt;.

In 1886, Rose put the Temperance Hotel up for lease and she and the children moved to Portland. Rose ran a boarding house in Percy Street.

“The Portland Guardian, (ESTABLISHED 1842.) With which is incorporated The Portland Mirror.” Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953) 14 November 1887: 2 (EVENING). Web. 19 May 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article65411182&gt;.

Meanwhile, Italian Antonio Rizzo had arrived in Australia sometime in 1884. He was born around 1845 and came from Naples. In 1887, he travelled to the Adelaide International Exhibition for which he received first prizes.

“EXHIBITIONS.” South Australian Register (Adelaide, SA : 1839 – 1900) 17 October 1887: 1 (Supplement to the South Australian Register.). Web. 20 May 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article46830011&gt;.

Antonio moved on to Melbourne for the 1889 Melbourne International Exhibition exhibiting his speciality of shell cameos.

“Italy.” The Week (Brisbane, Qld. : 1876 – 1934) 2 February 1889: 30. Web. 25 May 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article186193649&gt;.

It was in 1889, Antonio first ventured to Portland when he entered the Industrial and Art Loan Exhibition there in March 1889 and won first prize in his section for his artistic and cameo jewellery. Some of Antonio’s chosen materials were coral and lava from Mount Vesuvius.

“Portland Industrial and Art Loan Exhibition.” Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953) 8 March 1889: 3 (EVENING). Web. 19 May 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article63592279&gt;.

Having previously worked for Gaunt and Drummond Jewellers in Melbourne, later in 1889, Antonio opened his own jewellery shop at 37 Sturt Street, Ballarat.  In that year, the Ballarat Star, described Antonio as “our Italian sculptor” after he created a marble statue for an All Nations Fancy Fair in October 1889.

“Advertising” The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 – 1924) 25 December 1889: 3. Web. 19 May 2017 .

Although he was in Ballarat, Antonio’s thoughts were in Portland and in 1891, he married the widow Rose Pearson at St Patrick’s Cathedral, Ballarat.

“Family Notices” Leader (Melbourne, Vic. : 1862 – 1918) 2 May 1891: 44. Web. 25 May 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article198045151&gt;.

A daughter, Italia Florence was born the following year in Melbourne.  Next, Antonio applied for a wine license in Portland in December 1893 but failed in his application as he was not born in the colony or naturalised.  Instead. he started a jewellery store in Percy Street, Portland in March 1894.  In the same year, Antonio and Rose’s eldest son Hubert was born at Brunswick.  On 30 September 1895,a fire swept through the Percy Street shop and residence.  Rugerio Patrick was born in the same year at Portland. Not perturbed by the fire, Antonio opened a jewellery store in Gray Street, Hamilton in December 1895.  Antonio’s talents were soon noticed in Hamilton and in 1897 he was commissioned to produce an engraved silver-handled trowel for Jane Henty to lay the foundation stone of the Hamilton Hospital Fever Ward.

“Established August 1842. The Portland Guardian, With which is incorporated The Portland Mirror.” Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953) 28 June 1897: 2 (EVENING). Web. 18 May 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article63661275&gt;.

In 1904, Antonio became one of the many unwitting victims of fraudster Louis Horwitz. Horwitz was Antonio’s landlord and legal advisor.  He swindled Antonio into signing documents with regard to his overdraft with the Union Bank.  Before he knew it, Antonio was taken to court by the bank and other creditors all demanding money. It was enough to ruin Antonio.  He had debts of around £1600 and only £830 of assets, leaving a shortfall of £700 forcing him into insolvency in September 1904.  He could no longer trade and a clearance sale was held in early 1905.

“Advertising” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 19 January 1905: 3. Web. 25 May 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article225883597&gt;.

In  August 1905, Antonio made a successful application to have his insolvency dissolved and was able to reopen his business.

“Advertising” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 29 December 1908: 3. Web. 18 May 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article225891265&gt;.

Antonio was a generous donor of trophies for various events around Hamilton.  One trophy known as the Rizzo Trophy, was for the Hamilton Gun Club becoming highly sort after prize among shooters. While in Hamilton, Antonio and Rose resided at Roma in Milton Street. When WW1 broke, their son Hubert enlisted in 1915 and safely returned to Australia in 1919.

Rose died on 8 November 1920 at a Kyneston Private Hospital in Caulfield aged sixty-five.  Her body was returned to Hamilton and buried in the Roman Catholic section of the cemetery. In time, an exquisite and unique headstone was added to Rose’s grave.  The feature, a cameo made in Italy in the image of Rose. Antonio died on 27 October 1924 at his daughter Italia’s home in Kew at the age of seventy-nine. He was reunited with Rose and today their grave is part of the cemetery’s Notable Graves Walk.  While the entry recognises Antonio, Rose shouldn’t be forgotten. She earned a living and raised her two children alone for seven years, later losing everything in the Portland fire and was there for Antonio through his enforced insolvency.

SIGN ON THE RIZZO GRAVE

Rugerio Rizzo followed his father into the trade and continued operating Rizzo Jewellers for several decades after Antonio’s death.

TIMOTHY TWOMEY & THE TWOMEY FAMILY PLOT

HEADSTONE OF TIMOTHY TWOMEY

The beautiful Celtic cross in the Roman Catholic section of the cemetery belongs to a man they called the Squire of Banemore, Timothy Twomey.  Timothy was a member of the Twomey family of Penshurst.  He was born in Ireland around 1829, the son of John Twomey and Margaret O’Conner. When the family arrived in Victoria, John Twomey acquired a large amount of land near Penshurst.  He later divided the property into three for his son Timothy’s property was Banemore from 1866  In 1867, Timothy married Annie Hayes. The Twomeys enjoyed overseas travel and by 1887, Timothy and Annie had visited Asia, Europe and America.

“Items of News.” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 13 January 1887: 2. Web. 3 Jun 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article226154135&gt;.

In early 1894, Timothy and Annie were off to England again.  The trip did not go to plan with Timothy dying suddenly in London on 10 July 1894 aged sixty-five.

“Items of News.” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 12 July 1894: 2. Web. 19 May 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article225779799&gt;.

Timothy’s body was returned to Hamilton but on the way there was a stopover at St Patrick’s Cathedral, Melbourne for a memorial service on 7 September 1894.  The cortege left for Spencer Street Station in time for the 6.50pm train to Hamilton. The following day, Timothy’s funeral was held at St Mary’s Catholic Church, Hamilton before burial.

“Family Notices” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 8 September 1894: 3. Web. 19 May 2017 .

In 1896, Annie commissioned Messrs. P. Finn & Co, stonemasons of Mitchell Street, Bendigo to make an appropriate headstone. What they created was considered one of the finest headstones in the colonies.  It was a huge undertaking with the granite quarried at Cape Woolamai on Victoria’s east coast, then shipped to Melbourne for transport to Bendigo.  The four metre high Celtic cross was available for viewing at Finn’s yard prior to its transportation to Hamilton.

“Items of News.” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 6 October 1896: 3. Web. 19 May 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article225554924&gt;.

Timothy’s Celtic cross is just one of a number of graves in the Twomey family plot and is by no means the tallest. There were eighteen Twomey burials at the cemetery, including Timothy’s parents and brothers Edward and Daniel.  The two brothers were at one time on the Hamilton Cemetery Trust.

TWOMEY FAMILY PLOT, ROMAN CATHOLIC SECTION

THOMAS & MARGARET WALKER

HEADSTONE OF THOMAS AND MARGARET WALKER

A scroll such as that on the column of the Walker monument can symbolise a life unfolding for an uncertain time. It’s doubtful Margaret Walker ever expected her life to unfold across 104 years. Thomas Walker arrived at Portland around 1840 and married Margaret Brown in 1843.  They lived in Portland until 1866 when they moved to Hamilton.   Thomas acquired various properties around the Hamilton township and for a time worked as a land agent.  He died on 15 April 1909 aged eighty-six, leaving his widow Margaret, then aged seventy-four, one son and two daughers.

Margaret, born on 11 August 1835 at Launceston, went on to live for a further thirty years. On 10 August 1939, Margaret celebrated her 104th birthday at her home in Shakespeare Street, Hamilton. At the time, it was thought she was the oldest woman in Victoria living through the reign of six monarchs.

MARGARET WALKER The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 – 1954) 11 August 1939: 14. Web. 19 May 2017 http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article204924449

Margaret long life ended two months after her birthday on 19 October 1939.  Her obituary in the Hamilton Spectator of 23 October 1939 said Margaret was, “…a lover of all things beautiful, and in quiet contentment, surrounded by her own people and home where she could indulge her liking, which amounted to almost a passion, for her garden she enjoyed to the full of her heart’s desire.”

Also buried with Thomas and Margaret is their daughter Maria, who Margaret outlived by seven years.  Maria Watson died at Hamilton aged seventy-six.

 

HEADSTONE OF MARIA WATSON (nee WALKER)

This is the second in a series of posts about the Old Hamilton Cemetery.  You can read the first on the link –  Hamilton Old Cemetery – Finding Family

© 2017 Merron Riddiford

Hamilton Cemetery Trust News

Some great things are happening at the two cemeteries overseen by the Hamilton Cemetery Trust. There was the Notable Graves Walk at the General Cemetery (Old) including signage with a short biography on those graves, new denominational signage, upgrades to pathways and a new website. The trust’s latest news is all burials from both the General and the Lawn cemeteries are now available online.

There have been 15,000 burials at the two cemeteries so many graves to walk around aimlessly when looking for a family member. Until now I’ve used Ian Marr’s wonderful Cemeteries of SW Victoria USB so I know who I’m looking for but where they are is another question.  I’ve done many laps looking for the graves of relatives, fortunately, I also like to take photos of other headstones along the way.  A friend returning to Hamilton spent thirty minutes with six other family members searching for her grandfather’s grave.  

Those days are over.  Now I’ve checked the new “Deceased Search” and map facility, I’ve found I’ve walked straight past several of the graves I’ve been looking for.  Next time I visit I’ll be able to plot my course in advance and finally find the graves I’ve been looking for.  If I get lost while there, I can check the site on my phone to get back on track.  Access like that is great for those passing through Hamilton and spot the cemetery on the highway.  If you like to frequent cemeteries, you’ll know about those impromptu visits. 

Given Hamilton’s size, it’s a credit to the Hamilton Cemetery Trust for continuing to make their cemeteries visitor friendly. They are certainly leading the way among the peers in the Western District.  And why shouldn’t they want to share this wonderful piece of history when burials include the father of a saint, one of Victoria’s first European Settlers, a daughter-in-law of one of the greatest writers the world as seen, and at the Lawn Cemetery, a Victoria Cross recipient.  You’ll find the Deceased Search via the Hamilton Cemetery Trust Home Page on the link here and more about some of the notable graves.  I have a new post on the way about some of the graves I’m drawn to each time I visit the General Cemetery (or old cemetery as it’s commonly known). 

Sacred Memorials

You may have sat in a church and admired the stained glass windows, but have you had a close look? You’ll see church windows can tell a story about a town’s history and people.  To give you an example, let’s take a look at windows at two churches I’ve visited over the past year, the Hamilton Uniting Church and the Hamilton Anglican Christ Church.  A disclaimer…I like to think it’s a spiritual force responsible for the large percentage of blurry photos I’ve taken in churches.  In reality, it says something about my photography skill.  Also, there are loads of links in this post so if you see underlined text, click on it and you will find more information about the subject.

Opened on Sunday 5 October 1913 as the Hamilton Wesleyan Methodist Church, the Hamilton Uniting Church in Lonsdale Street has some beautiful windows.

HAMILTON WESLEYAN METHODIST CHURCH c1930. Image courtesy of the Museums Victoria Collections http://collections.museumvictoria.com.au/items/769323

HAMILTON WESLEYAN METHODIST CHURCH c1930. Image courtesy of the Museums Victoria Collections http://collections.museumvictoria.com.au/items/769323

I have some family history here as my ggg grandfather James Harman was a Wesleyan local preacher and often preached at the former Wesleyan Church in McIntyre Street.  The current church opened prior to his death and even though he was eighty-three he still found the energy to attend events important to him so I expect he was there.

Hamilton Uniting Church

HAMILTON UNITING CHURCH

There isn’t a memorial window for James, but there is a window for a man he knew well, Peter Learmonth of Prestonholme Hamilton, a local businessman, flour mill operator and stalwart of the Wesleyan Methodist Church. Unveiled on 14 January 1900 at the then Methodist Church in McIntyre street, this beautiful window was later installed at the new church in Lonsdale Street.

Peter Learmonth Window

PETER LEARMONTH MEMORIAL WINDOW

The Reverend W.C. Thomas spoke of the Learmonth’s dedication to the Methodist Church during a memorial service for Mary Jarvey Pearson, herself deserving of a memorial window.

"LATE MRS. PETER LEARMONTH." Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 - 1918) 8 December 1913: .

“LATE MRS. PETER LEARMONTH.” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 8 December 1913: <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article225162684&gt;.

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James Allan Learmonth was a son of Peter Learmonth and Mary Jarvey Pearson.  He was born at Merino Downs on 8 April 1856 and went to school at the Hamilton and Western District College and Wesley College. Locally, James was well-known for his sporting prowess.  After some work experience in Melbourne, James returned to the Western District to manage his father’s Penshurst Flour Mill.

After his father co-purchased Maraposa Estate in Mexico, James and his brother left for that country to manage the estate for ten years, returning home briefly in 1886 to marry Annie Thomson of Monivae Estate.  In 1892, James and Annie returned from Mexico to live at Prestonholme.  James died on 29 October 1928 and Annie on 14 June 1930.  They were buried at the Old Hamilton Cemetery.

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Annie’s family were Presbyterian and the St Andrew’s Church in Hamilton features a large memorial window for her father James Thomson.  James and Annie Learmonth’s window at the Hamilton Uniting Church is below.

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JAMES AND ANNIE LEARMONTH MEMORIAL WINDOW, UNITING CHURCH, HAMILTON

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Hamilton’s Christ Church in Gray Street was built in 1878.

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CHRIST CHURCH ANGLICAN CHURCH, HAMILTON

Walking up to the door, I always imagine handsome Lieutenant Edward Ellis Henty and his beautiful bride Florence Grace Pearson emerging through the doors after their marriage on 18 November 1914.  They’re bittersweet thoughts because nine months later, Florence and Edward’s family and friends entered the same doors for a memorial service for Edward. He was killed at the Charge at the Nek at Gallipoli on 7 August 1915 while serving with the 8th Australian Lighthorse Regiment.  Florence was around seven months pregnant.

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I’ve visited the Christ Church three times in the past year. Each time I visit, I can’t help but touch the 137-year-old walls made from local bluestone just as I enter the doors below.

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Just inside the main door of the church in the vestibule is the first stained glass window, a memorial for the Tatlock family,  Alfred James Rolland Tatlock, his wife Marie McGowan and sons Norval and Alfred Jr. Depicted is St. Francis of Assisi possibly indicating the Tatlock’s love for animals.  Alfred Sr.’s father Thomas Henry Tatlock was a leading breeder and judge of poultry and horses.

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TATLOCK MEMORIAL WINDOW

Alfred Tatlock Sr. was a grand master of the Grange Masonic Lodge and a Hamilton councillor.  Marie died in 1937 and Alfred Jr. met a tragic end, killed in a plane crash in Queensland on 27 March 1943 while serving with the RAAF.  Twenty-two other crew and passengers were also killed. Norval died in 1951 and Alfred Tatlock Sr. in 1956.   

Another window in a different part of the church remembers another son of Alfred Tatlock and Marie McGowan, Rolland Tatlock who died in 1981.  This window depicts St. Vincent de Paul and is one of two windows in the church created by Jean Orval.  I went to school with three of Jean’s grandsons, all cousins. Each day on my way to primary school, I passed Jean’s house with his workshop at the end of the driveway.  You can read more about Jean Orval and see photos of his beautiful windows in churches across Victoria and South Australia on the link http://www.orvalstainedglass.com/index.html

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ROLLAND TATLOCK MEMORIAL WINDOW BY JEAN ORVAL

Once inside the Christ Church, stained glass windows line either side of the nave. To the left is the window for Abraham Greed and his wife Hannah Oaff.

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ABRAHAM AND HANNAH GREED MEMORIAL WINDOW, CHRIST CHURCH ANGLICAN CHURCH, HAMILTON

Abraham was a leading coachbuilder in the town and a Mayor of Hamilton.  He was born in Taunton, Somerset, England and arrived in Victoria around 1857. Abraham married Hannah Oaff in 1866.  He died on 27 July 1926 aged eighty while on holiday in Geelong with Hannah and their daughter.  Only the year before, Abraham had donated an oak altar and reredos to the church. 

"HAMILTON." The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957) 22 May 1925: 6. .

“HAMILTON.” The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957) 22 May 1925: 6. .

In his will, Abraham left the Christ Church money for a peal of bells.  Hannah died at Hamilton in 1937 aged eighty-eight.

"ABOUT PEOPLE." The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 - 1954) 1 November 1926 .

“ABOUT PEOPLE.” The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 – 1954) 1 November 1926 .

Also to the left of the nave is the window for Robert Edwin Windsor Sandys Stapylton Bree and his wife Anna Maria Henty.

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MEMORIAL WINDOW OF ROBERT BREE AND ANNIE HENTY

Robert Bree was born in Cornwall on 11 November 1839, his father an Anglican minister.  He worked for Dalgety & Co. in London before arriving in Victoria and working for Stephen Henty as a manager of Henty’s properties. It was during that time Robert met Stephen Henty’s daughter Annie four years younger than himself.  They married in Hamilton’s first Anglican Church on 30 July 1874.  Robert operated a stock and station business at Hamilton from 1872.  At one time he was in business with Alfred Tennyson Dickens, son of Charles Dickens.

Robert sat on the Hamilton Borough Council for thirty-five years, twice serving as Mayor. He was President of the Hamilton Hospital board and operating theatre was named in his honour along with a park opposite the hospital. On 26 May 1900, Robert and Anna’s son Reginald Robert Stephen Stapylton Bree serving as a Lieutenant was killed in Bloemfontein, South Africa during the Boer War.

Robert Bree died on 16 September 1907.  After Robert’s death, Anna continued living at the Bree family home Bewsall in Hamilton and in 1914 hosted the wedding breakfast of her nephew and his new wife, the aforementioned Edward Henty and Florence Pearson.  Anna died on 2 July 1921 at Bewsall in Hamilton leaving two daughters and a son.

HAMILTON. (1903, May 2). The Australasian (Melbourne, Vic. : 1864 - 1946), p. 27. Retrieved February 18, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article138684187

BEWSALL, HAMILTON. (1903, May 2). The Australasian (Melbourne, Vic. : 1864 – 1946), p. 27. Retrieved February 18, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article138684187

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Next is the window for the Rountrees, James Hughes Rountree and his wife Margaret Strang Kitchen.

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MEMORIAL WINDOW OF JAMES ROUNTREE AND MARGARET KITCHEN

James Hughes Rountree died on 1 August 1902 after an operation for an ulcer.  He arrived in Victoria aboard the Great Britain in 1864 and worked as a dispenser at the Geelong hospital.  In 1874, he became superintendent at the Hamilton Hospital.  Fourteen years later, James opened a chemist shop in Hamilton. He was a member of the Masonic and Orange Lodges.  At the time of his death, James left his widow, Margaret and eight children.

Most of James and Margaret’s children followed James’ profession.  Daughters Mary, Margaret, Jean and Ella were chemists as was son James.  Mary Rountree married the well-known jockey Bobby Lewis in 1920.  Lewis rode four Melbourne Cup winners during his career and controversially rode Phar Lap to third in the cup in 1929. The wedding took place at the Hamilton Christ Church. 

"PERSONAL." The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924) 19 June 1920: .

“PERSONAL.” The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 – 1924) 19 June 1920: <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article211909666&gt;.

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James and Margaret Rountree were buried at the Old Hamilton Cemetery.

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GRAVE OF JAMES ROUNTREE AND MARGARET KITCHEN

The following photo is a perfect example of most of my church photos and I wasn’t going to post it.  Instead, I asked Mum to try her luck photographing the window.  When I compared the two photos, I had to share both because of the different colours in each photo.

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This is Mum’s photo.  Each was taken in the early afternoon, the first in April and the second in November. The angle was the main difference.  The window is dedicated to the memory of Percy Beaumont Osborne.

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MEMORIAL WINDOW OF PERCY BEAUMONT OSBORNE

Percy Beaumont Osborne was the stepson of Hamilton’s Anglican Vicar from 1907 until 1917, Charles Harris. He enlisted for WW1 on 11 February 1916 and left Australia for England on 28 July 1916.  Percy died of Meningitis at Tidworth Military Hospital, England on 2 February 1917 aged twenty-two.  His memorial window was unveiled on Sunday 17 June 1917.

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Memorial windows for WW1 soldiers are not unusual.  The former Baptist Church in Hamilton (now a private home), had five memorial windows installed for WW1 soldiers Alexander and Edgar  Stevenson, James Sack, Joseph Brokenshire, Walter Filmer and Albert Herbert Lewis.  The Victorian War Heritage Inventory site allows for searches by a soldier’s name or site of a memorial.

I intend to add to my stained glass window photo collection and hopefully, with more practice, they’ll improve. I’m keen to get back to St. Stephen’s Church in Portland where there are beautiful windows and a memorial tablet for Edward Ellis Henty was unveiled there on 1 July 1917.

Major Mitchell Crosses the Grange

We left Major Mitchell on his return to camp north of Mount Eckersley after an excursion to Portland Bay. Mitchell’s next target was Mount Napier to the north-east.  The party headed in that direction on 2 September but the heavy going slowed the wagons.  They set up camp on 3 September and the following day, Mitchell set off with a smaller party for Mount Napier.  Swamps and later volcanic rocks, a feature of the countryside hampered the journey, but soon the mountain was before them.

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MOUNT NAPIER. Image courtesy of Tony Esh.

Mitchell climbed to the summit and discovered the crater.  The idea of an extinct volcano was of great interest to him.  Looking around, he could see the Grampians and Mount William to the north.  Meanwhile, the sun was setting and before Mitchell knew, it was too late to return to camp.  He ascended and camped the night at the base of Mount Napier in unfavourable weather.  In the morning, fog hung over the mountain until 10:30 am and he returned to camp twenty-six miles away.

The party had to move on, so Mitchell headed them north toward Mount Napier. He thought the knowledge he gained on his earlier trip would see them bypass the swamps but soon swamps were again in their path, slowing the wagons.  Mitchell decided to set up camp about eight miles away from Mount Napier, possibly on the Lyne Creek or Camp Creek west of Byaduk North.

12191374_1648125858805103_1326163571158670049_o

MOUNT NAPIER FROM THE BYADUK/PENSHURST ROAD. Image courtesy of Kiri’s Images

From the camp, Mitchell set off again for Mount Napier.  At the summit the view was hazy, but occasionally it cleared enabling  Mitchell to sight and name Lake Linlithgow and Mount Rouse to the north-east.  Mitchell and the party spent the following day around Mount Napier before packing up the base camp on September 11 and setting off in a northerly direction.  His journal entry for 11 September read,

AGAIN REACH THE GOOD COUNTRY.

About that time a yellow flower in the grass caught my eye and, remembering that we had seen none of these golden flowers since we left the beautiful valley of the Wannon, I ventured to hope that we were at length approaching the good country at the head of that stream. Such was my anxious wish when I perceived through the trees a glimpse of an open grassy country, and immediately entered a fine clear valley with a lively little stream flowing westward through it and which I named the Grange. This was indeed one of the heads of the Wannon and we had at length reached the good country.

So Mitchell thought he had crossed the Grange.  Most  likely it was Violet Creek.  They followed the creek north until it veered to the west and the party continued on to the north.  The following day, 12 September 1836, they came to what is likely to have been Muddy Creek. They then met a “smaller stream” we know today as the Grange Burn,

We proceeded next along a continuous ridge of fine firm ground covered with excellent grass, and soon after we saw before us a smaller stream flowing under a broad grassy vale and, having crossed it also without difficulty, we encamped in one of the valleys beyond, where this tributary appeared to originate. A finer country could scarcely be imagined: enormous trees of the mimosa or wattle of which the bark is so valuable grew almost everywhere; and several new varieties of Caladenia were found today. The blue, yellow, pink, and brown-coloured were all observed on these flowery plains.  (Three Expeditions into the Interior of Eastern Australia : with descriptions of the recently explored region of Australia Felix, and of the present colony of New South Wales by Major T. L. Mitchell, Volume 2, Chapter 3.9)

The point at which Mitchell crossed Hamilton’s Grange Burn is not entirely obvious but it is generally considered it was close to the Digby Road bridge where the Grange settlement would begin a few years later (below).

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SITE OF THE GRANGE SETTLEMENT, DIGBY ROAD HAMILTON

In 1884, the Hamilton Spectator published an article entitled “Early Settlement of Australia Felix” charting the path of Major Mitchell.  Along with Mitchell’s description, landmarks from the 1880s were included.

majormitchell1

“EARLY SETTLEMENT OF AUSTRALIA FELIX.” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 20 November 1884: 3. Web. 8 Sep 2016 .

After crossing the Grange Burn, it’s thought Mitchell’s party moved roughly north-east along what is now Lonsdale Street.

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LOOKING SOUTH-WEST ALONG LONSDALE STREET

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LOOKING NORTH-EAST ALONG LONSDALE STREET

Don Garden in his book “Hamilton, A Western District History” also suggests Collins Street as a possible route. With Mitchell’s limited description, there is nothing to say they didn’t follow the course of the Grange Burn because, by the end of 12 September, they had set up camp on the Grange near Strathkellar, east of Hamilton.

"EARLY SETTLEMENT OF AUSTRALIA FELIX." Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 - 1918) 20 November 1884: 3. Web. 8 Sep 2016 .

“EARLY SETTLEMENT OF AUSTRALIA FELIX.” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 20 November 1884: 3. Web. 8 Sep 2016 .

Along the way, Mitchell saw and named Mount Bainbrigge (now commonly known as Mount Baimbridge), to the north and Mount Pierrepoint to the south.  On September 13, the expedition moved off from the Strathkellar camp.  Mitchell’s journal entry for the day read,

We broke up our camp early this morning and on reaching the highest ground we discovered a large lake on our left: it was nearly circular, about half a mile in circumference and surrounded by high firm banks from which there was no visible outlet; I named it Lake Nivelle.  

(Three Expeditions into the Interior of Eastern Australia : with descriptions of the recently explored region of Australia Felix, and of the present colony of New South Wales by Major T. L. Mitchell, Volume 2, Chapter 3.9)

Lake Nivelle is known today as Lake Doling Doling, on the Doling Road at Strathkellar.  From there Mitchell’s party headed toward the southern point of the Grampians.  We’ll meet up with Major Mitchell again on 18 September when it will be 180 years ago since he passed near Glenthompson.

SETTLEMENT OF HAMILTON

News of the “good country” soon spread on Major Mitchell’s return to Sydney. Within two years, interested parties were on their way to see for themselves.  Charles, Richard, and Edward Wedge were the first to arrive in 1838 taking up the Grange run.  

Early arrivals at The Grange as Hamilton was known, were James and Jane Blastock in 1843. James purchased the Grange Inn in 1844, very close to where Major Mitchell passed less than ten years earlier.  The map below shows the Grange Inn or Blastock’s Inn, near the crossing of the Grange on Digby Road.

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PHOTO OF MAP ON INTERPRETIVE BOARD AT THE SITE OF THE GRANGE SETTLEMENT, DIGBY ROAD HAMILTON.

James Blastock died in 1857 and his widow Jane married James Wiggins.  In 1893, journalist The Vagabond made a return visit to Hamilton, having previously visited in 1884.  For accurate information on the early settlement of Hamilton, locals suggested he visit Hamilton’s oldest resident Jane Wiggins at her home Sandal on the Grange Burn, not far from where she had lived with her late husband at the Grange Inn.

wiggins

From her cottage’s verandah on the hill on Digby Road,  Jane Wiggins pointed out the track Major Mitchell travelled along and the site of the former Grange Inn.

"HAMILTON" Leader (Melbourne, Vic. : 1862 - 1918) 25 November 1893: .

“HAMILTON” Leader (Melbourne, Vic. : 1862 – 1918) 25 November 1893: <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article196644733&gt;.

HAMILTON’S CENTENARY

In 1937, Hamilton celebrated the 100th anniversary of Major Mitchell’s passing through the area with a week of activities including a “Back to Hamilton”. You may wonder why it was not held in 1936. The organising committee did consider September 1936, but thought since the first settlement was in 1838, early 1937 mid-way between the two events was a better option.  Early on in the planning stages, the committee had problems with funding and raising public interest.  That may have also contributed to the later date.  Despite the early problems, the celebration was a roaring success. A highlight was a lecture by historian Alfred S. Kenyon on the summit of Mount Napier where a memorial cairn was unveiled in 1915.

"CENTENARY AT HAMILTON" The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957) 13 March 1937: 24. .

“CENTENARY AT HAMILTON” The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957) 13 March 1937: 24. <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article11049077&gt;.

Another highlight was the unveiling of a Major Mitchell memorial cairn at Hamilton on 15 March 1937.  Just off Lonsdale Street, the acting premier Francis Old unveiled the cairn before several hundred people.  Also, Thomas Mitchell’s grandson presented the town with a photo of his explorer grandfather.

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MAJOR MITCHELL MEMORIAL CAIRN, HAMILTON

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SOURCES

Garden, Donald S. (Donald Stuart) and Hamilton (Vic.). Council Hamilton, a Western District history. City of Hamilton in conjunction with Hargreen, North Melbourne, 1984.

Hamilton Spectator at Trove Australia

Mitchell, T. L. (Thomas Livingstone), 1792-1855 and University of California Libraries Three expeditions into the interior of eastern Australia; with descriptions of the recently explored region of Australia Felix, and of the present colony of New South Wales. T. & W. Boone, London, 1839.

 

 

 

Trove Tuesday – Hometown News

It was a chance discovery while searching the fifteen or so years of the Hamilton Spectator available at Trove. There in the search results was an article from 1910. That wasn’t expected when only the WW1 years and the decade 1870-9 were available.  Curious, I tried a search of “Harman” and the result was dozens of articles from the 1880s to 1910. Trove had surprised me adding a further three decades of Specs and I couldn’t have been happier.  Since that day a couple of months ago, I have searched, tagged and found out an incredible amount of new detail about my Hamilton district families.  Also, surnames, street names and locations bring such a sense of familiarity when reading my hometown newspaper, even issues from 100 hundred years before I was a resident.

One of the first items of interest I found was an obituary for my gggg grandfather Joseph Harman from 1893. His son James converted to Methodism around 1851 while still in England.  Joseph, entrenched in the Church of England, didn’t share his son’s enthusiasm for Methodism. However, when the Harmans moved to Byaduk in 1863,  the first church built was Wesleyan Methodist and James Harman, by then a Local Preacher, was one of the forces behind the church.  Joseph had little choice but go along to Methodist services, but as soon as a Presbyterian Church was built at Byaduk eighteen years later, he made that church his Sunday morning destination. There were no family loyalties when it came to Joseph’s faith. It would seem that although the new church wasn’t Church of England, it was more to his liking than the teachings of John Wesley. Granted the Presbyterian Church was less than a mile down the road from his home but the Methodist church was only that distance again further on.

"Items of news." Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 - 1918) 30 March 1893: .

“Items of news.” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 30 March 1893: <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article225177127&gt;.

Also found was a rare obituary for a female family member.  Although it doesn’t tell me much about my ggg grandmother Sarah Hughes‘ life, the 400 mourners at her funeral tells me something of the sort of person she was.

"Items of News." Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 - 1918) 23 May 1885: .

“Items of News.” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 23 May 1885: <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article225661135&gt;.

 

There are also some great articles about Sarah’s husband James Bishop but I’ll save those for a post just about him because he was a character.

Something I enjoy reading in old newspapers is the seemingly mundane day-to-day goings on in a town. Of course, it’s even better when a story includes a family member.  Like the time in 1899 when my gg grandfather Richard Diwell of Hamilton complained about the night soil man.

"HAMILTON BOROUGH COUNCIL." Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 - 1918) 14 October 1899: 2 (SUPPLEMENT TO THE HAMILTON SPECTATOR). .

“HAMILTON BOROUGH COUNCIL.” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 14 October 1899: 2 (SUPPLEMENT TO THE HAMILTON SPECTATOR). .

The night soil man Frederick Malster was given the right of reply after the investigation into Richard’s complaint.

"HAMILTON BOROUGH COUNCIL." Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 - 1918) 28 October 1899: 2 (SUPPLEMENT TO THE HAMILTON SPECTATOR). .

“HAMILTON BOROUGH COUNCIL.” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 28 October 1899: 2 (SUPPLEMENT TO THE HAMILTON SPECTATOR). .

One of the best finds so far were a number of sketches included in a Hamilton Spectator supplement in 1888. The Spec had the sketches of businesses and scenes of Hamilton made by a Ballarat company. Sketches such as these give us a chance to see how things have changed…

 

 

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

CORNER OF GRAY & THOMPSON STREETS IN 1888. Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 17 April 1888: 2 (SUPPLEMENT TO THE HAMILTON SPECTATOR).

 

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THE PRESENT VIEW OF THE CORNER OF GRAY & THOMPSON STREETS.

And how other things have barely changed at all…

 

"VIEW OF HAMILTON VICTORIA." Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 - 1918) 17 April 1888: 1 (SUPPLEMENT TO THE HAMILTON SPECTATOR)..

HAMILTON SPECTATOR IN 1888. “VIEW OF HAMILTON VICTORIA.” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 17 April 1888: 1 (SUPPLEMENT TO THE HAMILTON SPECTATOR).

 

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THE HAMILTON SPECTATOR AS IS IT TODAY.