Wonderful Western District Women Part 6

March is Women’s History Month.  I started Wonderful Western District Women in March 2017 to take the stories of women I have found in my Passing of the Pioneers posts, delve a little deeper and then showcase their stories by way of the Wonderful Western District Women.  This year I have added a dedicated page as an index. You will see the tab at the top of the page or you can follow the link to read nineteen stories of wonderful women. – Wonderful Western District Women Index

The index includes the next two women, May Robertson and Eliza Cooke. May was an active member of the Hamilton community who championed women’s rights. Eliza, a widow with a young family from Cobden, was a pioneer of the transport industry in the Western District. Remember to click on any underlined text to go to further information on a subject.

ROBERTSON, Marslie May  (c1844-1930) also known as May LEWIS

Marlise May Robertson was born in Inverness-shire, Scotland around 1844 and was seven when she arrived in Melbourne with her parents Angus Robertson and Janet McPherson. It was December 1851 and the family would have been glad to reach dry land.  During the voyage, they faced a shortage of drinking water and a run-in with pirates.  The Robertson family stayed in Melbourne only a few days before journeying to Portland on the schooner Mary Agnes.

PORTLAND BAY c1857. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/75143

It was then on to Straun station on the Wannon River near Coleraine where May’s uncles John and William Robertson had already settled.  Life at Straun was not without its dangers. In 1859, May’s brother drowned in the Wannon River after riding his horse into the river in pursuit of a bullock.  The current swept from his saddle and into the water.  He was fourteen. The following year, Angus Robertson purchased Preston Farm about two miles from Hamilton and the family was on the move again.

In March 1868, May married William Sudgen Price Lewis, the stepson of Richard Lewis, a former owner of Rifle Downs at Digby. William was leasing Hilgay near Coleraine at the time and the couple remained there until around 1871 when they moved to Hamilton.  The Lewis family lived at Pine Lodge in Mill Road, Hamilton. May and William had eight children and some time after 1890, they took a young boy Arthur into their care, raising him as their own.

May was an excellent horsewoman. Her older brother John Straun Robertson rode in the Great Western Steeplechase, and if it was thought proper, I think May would have too.  She showed horses including Gold Dust for Samuel Winter Cooke in September 1890 at the Hamilton Show. Lord Hopetoun, Governor of Victoria and a house guest of Cooke at Murndal, was in attendance. It was day two and the ground was slippery.  While competing in the Best Lady Rider Over Hurdles class, Gold Dust fell at the first jump. May quickly remounted and wanted to continue but wasn’t allowed.   

THE HAMILTON PASTORAL AND AGRICULTURAL SOCIETY. (1890, September 19). Portland Guardian, p. 3 (EVENING).  http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article63629652

Just months after the Hamilton Show, May and William lost their son Alive in February1891 aged six.  In May 1903, another son James died aged twenty-one.

May was very active in the Hamilton community with charitable works with the Salvation Army. She also joined the Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU), set up not only to promote temperance but also social and political reform.  The WCTU was very active in collecting signatures for the Women’s Suffrage Petition in 1891.  I was not at all surprised to find May signed the petition. 

Another of May’s interests was the  Australian Women’s National League formed in 1904.  A function of the conservative group was to educate women about politics.  The group was very active leading into the 1913 Federal Election and it seems May was in the thick of it.  In order to dismiss rumours of bribery, she wrote to the Hamilton Spectator saying she did what she did in “the cause of Liberalism”.

BRIBERY CHARGE DENIED. (1913, June 21). Hamilton Spectator p. 6.  http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article225032224

May’s son Arthur Lewis was one of the first Hamilton enlistments for WW1, signing up on 1 October 1914 and leaving two months later.  He dutifully wrote home to May and William describing the sights of Egypt, particularly those with a biblical connection.  In a letter, they received in June 1915 written in April, before Arthur left Egypt for Gallipoli.  He wrote to not worry if there was a delay in receiving letters, as he may be going somewhere it would be hard to get letters out.  He closed  “I will say good-bye for just now, and wishing you all the best of luck – case of accidents: give my best love and wishes to everybody.”

On 12 August 1915, Arthur Lewis was shot in the abdomen at Gallipoli.  He was transferred to the hospital ship Guildford Castle, however, he died the following day and was buried at sea. On 25 September 1915, the Hamilton Spectator reported that the Lewis family had received the first news that not only was Arthur wounded over a month before, but he had died from the wounds.  The news came as a great shock to the Lewis family.   On 5 October, within two weeks of hearing of Arthur’s fate, William Lewis passed away. 

May kept busy. She had joined the  Red Cross, making shirts and knitting socks for the boys at the front.  She also entered her fuchsia and dahlia blooms in a Red Cross flower show.  But then May’s oldest son Angus died in Western Australia in March 1916 at the age of forty-four.  The Hamilton Spectator reported the loss was the third for seventy-two-year-old May in eight months. Not surprising she was not her usual “buoyant and energetic” self and was suffering bad health.

But May rallied finding strength from her charitable works and she joined the Friendly Union of Soldier’s Wives and Mothers.  Also, every Sunday she went to the Hamilton Hospital and handed out flowers to the patients.  Her last visit was Sunday 9 June 1930.

HAMILTON HOSPITAL. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/63599

May wasn’t there to hand out flowers the following Sunday.  She had died the day before on Saturday 15 June 1930 at the age of eighty-six.  She was remembered as Hamilton’s best known and much-loved resident and large attendance at her funeral was testimony to that.

COOKE, Elizabeth Jane (c1842-1932) Also known as Eliza MOREHOUSE

Elizabeth Cooke was born in 1842 and arrived in Victoria when she was eight.   After some time, the Cooke family made their way to Ballarat where, in 1866, Eliza married Charles Morehouse.  Children were born to Eliza and Charles in Ballarat before the family moved to Cobden in 1880 where Charles operated a store.  A son was born on 2 August 1881 but just under five months later on 27 December 1881, Charles was dead. Needing to provide for her family, Eliza continued running the store and from around 1882 was operating coach services.

“Classified Advertising” Camperdown Chronicle (Vic. : 1877 – 1954) 12 August 1882: p.3.  <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article23343841&gt;.

In doing so, she pioneered coach services between Cobden, Princetown, and Peterborough.  She moved on to mail services as well.  In 1885, she covered the Cobden to Camperdown run

THE CONVEYANCE OF MAILS. (1885, July 14). The Colac Herald, p. 4. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article90352779

She also set to work improving the store.

“Hampden Shire Council.” Camperdown Chronicle  9 November 1883: p. 2. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article23348063

By 1895, Eliza’s delivery area had expanded.

THE GOVERNMENT GAZETTE. (1895, May 6). Geelong Advertiser p. 4.  http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article149936139

At one stage, Eliza had around forty horses working on her various coach services and each was selected by her.

ROYAL MAIL COACH, VICTORIA c1890s Museums Victoria Collections https://collections.museumvictoria.com.au/items/1696441

You could even take a Morehouse coach from Melbourne to Port Campbell for the summer holidays.

“Camperdown Chronicle.”  SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 3, 1888.  p. 2. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article18585307

Eliza also held the lucrative contract to provide bran and oats to the police of Cobden and Camperdown for their mounts. And not only that, she owned the goods shed at the Timboon railway station.  In July 1900, she told the secretary of the Timboon Progress Association (PA) she intended to pull down the shed and remove it to Cobden. Because Timboon couldn’t afford to lose their shed, the Timboon PA organised petitions to send to the Railway Department requesting they buy the shed.  They heard back in August, with the department having offered Eliz £22 for the shed but she refused. She then wrote a letter to the Timboon PA and told them the lowest she would go on the shed was £30.  If she couldn’t get that price, she would remove the building.  I didn’t find an outcome to the situation but I did note that in December 1905 a report in the Camperdown Chronicle mentioned it had been twelve months since the agitation began for a new goods shed at Timboon. 

 Also In 1900, it was reported Eliza’s business was sold to Mr Smith of Colac and John Bryant of Camperdown. However, two weeks later it was reported she was building a new letting stable, corn store and cottage in Curdie Street, Cobden.

COBDEN NEWS (1900, August 30). Camperdown Chronicle p. 3. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article26109212

Eliza’s daughter Ethel then went on to marry John Byrant in 1902.

Moving with the times, in 1910, Eliza replaced the horse-drawn coach services between Camperdown and Cobden with a motorbus.

A HORSE-DRAWN COACH AND A MOTOR BUS AT AN UNIDENTIFIED LOCATION. Photographer: John Henry Harvey Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/50441

Away from the transport business, Eliza was busy in the community. She was an active member of the Cobden Presbyterian Church (below) and was and the Presbyterian Women’s Missionary Union (PWMU).  During WW1, she was the treasurer of the Cobden branch of the Australian Women’s National League (AWNL).

COBDEN PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH. Image courtesy of the Museums Victoria Collection https://collections.museumvictoria.com.au/items/772413

On 5 August 1931, Eliza celebrated her ninetieth birthday at her home Kooringa, Curdie Street Cobden. The celebration including a birthday cake with ninety candles.  At the time Eliza was President of the Cobden Ladies’ Benevolent Society and still chairing meetings.

Eliza died the following year and was buried at the Cobden Cemetery.  A memorial tablet was unveiled in her memory in 1935 at the Cobden Presbyterian Church.

CAMPERDOWN CHRONICLE. PUBLISHED EVERY TUESDAY, THURSDAY, SATURDAY THURSDAY, APRIL 11, 1935. (1935, April 11). Camperdown Chronicle, p. 2. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article28750285

Eliza left three sons and two daughters. One of those daughters was Minnie Jane also very community-minded and involved with many of the same organizations as her mother.  Minnie never married and lived with her mother until her death.  Minnie died in 1945 aged seventy-six.

 

Broken Memories – Hamilton (Old) Cemetery Part 2

Broken Memories takes a look at broken headstones and memorials in Western District cemeteries and the stories behind them beginning with the Hamilton (Old) Cemetery.  Links to previous parts to the series are at the bottom of this post.  Any underlined text throughout the post will take you to further information about a subject.
LISSIMAN

Joseph Mitton Lissiman was born in  Droitwich, Worcestershire in the West Midlands of England around 1853 and went to school at the Old Swinford Hospital to the north at Stourbridge. The family eventually made their way further north to Birmingham.  Joseph left school at fifteen and by the time of the 1871 England Census, he was living further north again in Staffordshire and working in an apprenticeship role.  Joseph was also deeply religious, a parishioner of the Church of England. Joseph became a Sunday School teacher and volunteered around the church where possible.

In 1876 and still in England, Joseph read an article written by the Ballarat Archbishop Samuel Thornton Joseph about the needs of the Ballarat Anglican Diocese. That year the Archbishop wrote a series of articles for the English journal Mission Life with excerpts published in Victorian papers.  An example is the following extract from the Bacchus Marsh Express with Archbishop Thornton describing the Ballarat diocese and putting out a call to young Englishmen to help. He continued, “the bush clergyman should be ready for plenty of open-air and saddle-work”.

BISHOP THORNTON ON AUSTRALIA. (1876, May 27). The Bacchus Marsh Express (Vic. : 1866 – 1945), p. 3. Retrieved December 11, 2019, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article88347775

Joseph longed to go. By that time his parents were dead and nothing was keeping him in England.  He approached his local clergymen who knew Archbishop Thornton.  He was happy to put in a good word for him. Joseph saved his money and in 1877 he applied to work with the Anglican church in Australia at his own expense.  There was some hesitation from the church to approve his application because Joseph had no theological training. His devotion, however, was unquestionable.

By June 1879, the dreams of twenty-six-year-old Joseph had come true. He had become a Lay Reader for the Anglican Church in the Ballarat Diocese, assigned to Hamilton Archdeacon Gustaves Innes.  Joseph was based at the small township of Dunkeld, east of Hamilton, and spread the word throughout the wider district. The majestic mountains, Sturgeon and Abrupt (below) overlook Dunkeld.

Some days, Joseph would ride north between the two to the sparsely settled Victoria Valley beyond.

THE VICTORIA VALLEY by NICHOLAS CHEVALIER. Engraver Frederick Grosse. 1864
Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/236368

On other days, he would turn his horse to the west and follow the Wannon River around the foot of Mount Sturgeon and make his way to Cavendish. Or he would head to the south to Penshurst or even further beyond to Macarthur, a round trip of around 130 kilometres. But still, his circuit was not complete.  There was also the parishioners of Glenthompson to the east of Dunkeld.  Joseph’s pay was subsidised by subscribers to the church in each of the areas he preached. However, congregation numbers were low, meaning low subscriptions meant little to pay Joseph for his hard work.

Items of News. (1880, January 22). Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918), p. 2.  http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article226058043

Its doubtful monetary reward was top of Joseph’s mind. In fact, when not travelling miles on horseback, Joseph was involved with the Dunkeld community. He and Miss Elliot of the town trained the local school children in singing, something met with hearty applause when they sang at the Dunkeld Wesleyan Anniversary Tea.  Later in the month, the Dunkeld school held a “breaking-up jubilee”. Games were played and Joseph acted as a judge.

DUNKELD. (1879, December 25). Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918), p. 3.  http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article226053158

Joseph must have been exhausted yet still his passion for his work was evident to all who met him.  But just six months of living his dream, things took a tragic turn.

On 22 January 1880, news came Joseph was ill, attributed to overwork. A good rest was what was needed to return him to good health.  He was taken to the Hamilton Anglican parsonage to stay with Archdeacon Gustves Innes and his wife.

Items of News. (1880, January 22). Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918), p. 2.  http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article226058043

However, on 31 January 1880, the Hamilton Spectator announced Joseph was dangerously ill with “colonial fever” (typhoid) and the doctors gave “faint hope of his recovery”.

The Church of England Messenger and Eccliseiastical Gazzette reported on his illness,

Parochial Intelligence. (1880, February 4). The Church of England Messenger and Ecclesiastical Gazette for the Diocese of Melbourne and Ballarat p. 6. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article197135188

Joseph succumbed to typhoid on 7 February 1880.

JOSEPH MITTON LISSIMAN. (1880, March 2). The Church of England Messenger and Ecclesiastical Gazette for the Diocese of Melbourne and Ballarat p. 8 http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article197135250

Joseph was buried in the Church of England section of the Hamilton Cemetery.  Archdeacon Innes officiated at the grave while local Sunday School teachers gathered to farewell their friend.  The Hamilton Spectator reported, “he had no relatives in the colony”. But he did have kind friends and as written on his headstone, the cost of the monument was paid for by “a few of his friends”.  Sadly, his surname was incorrectly spelled.

HEADSTONE OF JOSEPH LISSIMAN, HAMILTON (OLD) CEMETERY

Joseph’s obituary in the Hamilton Spectator mentioned,

…his numerous friends at Dunkeld and Cavendish will not easily forget his love for little children, his simple piety and homely ways…it is somewhat pathetic to reflect on so ardent a young spirit quenched in the very commencement of his career. Perhaps, however, his death may teach the lesson of his life, and his cordial relations with other denominations his purity of life and gentle unselfishness may be copied by some of the young members of his flock, who, in a few months, had already begun to look upon him as an old friend, and not as a new arrival in the colony.

In the Diocese publication,  Archdeacon Innes relayed the story of Joseph helping a young girl kicked in the face by a horse.how in the months before

JOSEPH MITTON LISSIMAN. (1880, March 2). The Church of England Messenger and Ecclesiastical Gazette for the Diocese of Melbourne and Ballarat p. 8 http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article197135250

An interesting point about Joseph’s death was the timing, right in the midst of a Diphtheria epidemic in the Hamilton district.  As seen below, Joseph’s death was not the only one reported on 10 February 1880 but also that of young Esther Smith who died of Diphtheria. It may be possible Joseph was misdiagnosed as there are some similarities in the symptoms of both diseases such as a sore throat, fever, malaise but beyond that, each develops differently.

Family Notices (1880, February 10). Hamilton Spectator p. 2. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article226055370

Now for a twist in the story…

Life for Hamilton’s Archdeacon Gustaves Innes returned to normal after Joseph’s death, or so it would seem.  On Easter Monday 29 March 1880, he had a great day at the Anglican Sunday School picnic at Nigretta Falls, just west of Hamilton.

NIGRETTA FALLS c1879. Photographer: Thomas Washbourne. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/53200

There was food, games, the Hamilton Brass Band provided entertainment and Gustaves arranged a greasy pig competition.  The Spectator reported, “If the Ven. Archdeacon was loved and respected before Monday, his bonhomie on that all eventful day greatly increased his popularity, the children being practically shown that there is a time for all things.”

On Saturday 3 April 1880, it was reported Gustaves was suffering a sore throat and a replacement was called for the Sunday service. It was thought he’d caught a cold at the Sunday School picnic. His condition worsened and on 6 April it was reported four patients were receiving treatment for Diphtheria at the Hamilton Hospital with another seven receiving treatment at home.  All were at the Sunday School picnic. It was confirmed Gustaves was among the cases.

Two days later Gustaves” condition was critical and his daughter Lily had also contacted Diphtheria.  The next morning, 9 April, Gustaves died aged forty-two leaving his widow and his daughter Lily who recovered from her illness.

The funeral took place the following day at the Hamilton Christ Church with a large crowd in attendance.  Given the growing fear of the contagious disease, it was thought a good idea to leave the coffin outside in the hearse while mourners went inside the church for the service.

CHRIST CHURCH ANGLICAN CHURCH, HAMILTON

A large crowd then followed the hearse to the Hamilton (Old) Cemetery.  Of course, Gustaves was buried in the Church of England section of the cemetery.

I went to the cemetery in search of his grave. After a lot of examining the maps on the cemetery’s deceased search and the various photos I have of photos close by, I have come to the conclusion, the grave below belongs to Gustaves. There is no inscription and like Joseph Lissiman’s headstone, it too appears broken.  He is buried in the next row across and seven graves down from Joseph Lissiman.

GRAVE OF ARCHDEACON GUSTAVES INNES, HAMILTON (OLD) CEMETERY

Gustaves would remain close to Joseph Lissiman after death and given the events after Joseph’s death, that may have been too close for comfort for Gustaves as the story takes another twist,

On 30 April 1880, the Geelong Advertiser broke a story.  Apparently, the ghost of Joseph Lissiman appeared before Archdeacon Gustaves Innes in his study one night in the weeks after Joseph’s death. Not only that, the apparition predicted Gustav’s death.

A REAL GHOST STORY. (1880, April 30). Geelong Advertiser p. 3.  http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article150416314

That revelation led the Hamilton Spectator to break a promised silence. After Gustaves’ death, they were shown a note written by him the morning before his death while he was still apparently lucid. “It was shown to us with a request that we would not publish it, as it could do no good, and might hurt the feelings of his relatives.” Instead, a family friend “with questionable taste, thought proper to furnish a very distorted version of the affair to the public”. The contents of the note sighted by the Hamilton Spectator were different from the account published in the Advertiser.

“Items of News.” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 4 May 1880: http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article225487099

Rather, shortly after Joseph died claimed the Spectator, Gustvaves was home alone when he heard rattling coming from the room which served as Joseph’s sick room. Gustaves rushed to the room, peered into the darkness and when he thought the coast was clear, said to himself with a chuckle, “It must be old Lissiman. What do you want?” Gustaves’ note continued…”Then I had an answer, not audible, but such as possibly a spirit can convey, ‘ Never, mind, you’ll follow me soon.’ It was singular, I never told anyone.”

Items of News. (1880, May 4). Hamilton Spectator p. 2.  http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article225487099

Whatever happened on that night must have weighed on Gustaves’ mind for him to pen a note as he lay on his death bed.  All the same, the matter of a ghost, it would appear, was soon forgotten. Gustaves and Joseph, however, were not forgotten. They were remembered together in April 1881 a year after their deaths at the laying of the foundation stone of a new Anglican church at Dunkeld.

THE LAYING OF THE FOUNDATION STONE OF ST. MARY’S, AT DUNKELD. (1881, April 7). Hamilton Spectator p. 2.  http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article225487149

But the matter of a ghost was not forgotten.  On 23 July 1881, the Leader newspaper published in a supplement an excerpt from the Wesleyan Spectator, under the headline “The Living and the Dead”, a paper written by Reverend Joseph Waterhouse a year earlier when the first word of a ghost hit the papers.  At least, the Hamilton Spectator‘s version of the story was given, but the Reverend Waterhouse added, “I believe all the above; I will give three instances in which the dead have appeared to me, the living.”

I will leave the topic of ghosts here for now but the next edition will continue on from where the story of Joseph Lissiman and Archdeacon Innes left off including a revisit to the Anglican Sunday School picnic at the Nigretta Falls on Easter Monday 1880. Coming Soon.

If you missed the early editions of the series Broken Memories, you will find them on the links below:

Broken Memories: An Introduction

Broken Memories –  Hamilton (Old) Cemetery Part 1 

 

 

Broken Memories – Hamilton (Old) Cemetery Part 1

Broken Memories is a series of stories about those buried in Western District cemeteries with broken headstones or monuments. Beginning with Hamilton (Old) Cemetery, the posts will be published regularly over the coming months. For more about the series Broken Memories follow the link – Broken Memories – An Introduction.  If you click on any underlined text throughout the post you’ll find more information about a subject.  

HING

The headstone of Sam and Frances Hing is the only one I’ve seen at the Hamilton (Old) Cemetery to date with a Chinese inscription. It also comes with a tragic story.

Frances Mary Ann Lever was born in London in 1856, a daughter of Edwin and Julia Lever. Edwin and Julia and their nine children arrived in Melbourne in March 1866 aboard the Queen of Australia (1) and took up residence in Richmond. Edwin Lever died in February 1871 at Richmond when Frances was around fifteen.

Three years later on 23 November 1874, Frances was eighteen, in Warrnambool and a bride-to-be at the local Christ Church. The groom was thirty-seven-year-old storekeeper Samuel Hing. Samuel Hing who was also known as Sam Hing and Ah Hing arrived in Australia in the late 1850s when in his early twenties.

Family Notices (1875, February 25). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957), p. 1.  http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article11512744

The wedding created much interest in the town. The bridesmaids were local girls, the groomsmen were commercial travellers and the wedding breakfast was held at the Criterion Hotel. According to the Warrnambool correspondent for the Hamilton Spectator, on the morning following the wedding, Samuel with Frances in her wedding dress, “paraded the streets” of Warrnambool. A son Edwin Francis was born to Sam and Frances in 1876 at Warrnambool (2).

It’s possible the Hings resided in Melbourne after their marriage. A Samuel Hing of Little Bourke Street, Melbourne was among a number of Chinese traders charged with selling sly grog in June 1875.  The charges against Samuel Hing were dropped.  There were also several trips between Melbourne and Warrnambool on the steamer by a Mr and Mrs Sam Hing. One example was in March 1876.

SHIPPING INTELLIGENCE. (1876, March 6). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957), p. 4.   http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article7433847

In late 1876, the following notice appeared in the Hamilton Spectator announcing Sam was trading at Coleraine.

COLERAINE (1876, November 4). Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918), p. 4. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article226039730

However, by early 1877, things weren’t looking good for Sam. He had been trading in Warrnambool as Sam Hing & Co.  The “& co.” was a man called Ah Charn. What happened to Sam’s Coleraine shop is unclear but his Warrnambool shop was in financial trouble. The assets of Sam Hing and Ah Charn were to be sold to repay creditors.

Advertising (1877, February 16). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957), p. 3.  http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article5914671

But it didn’t end there.  Sam was charged with concealing assets after it was found he left a parcel of cutlery with Alice Unkles of Oakvale between Port Fairy and Yambuk.

The Argus. (1877, May 23). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957), p. 5.  http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article5923042

Sam was sentenced to six months imprisonment with hard labour.  You can find Sam’s prison record on the link –  Central Prisoner Register

By April 1878 there was a Samuel Hing trading in Percy Street, Portland. In time, Sam and Frances moved to Burns Street, Hamilton and Sam won first prize for his celery at the Hamilton Agriculture Show in March 1880.  Around the end of October 1881, Samuel was out of town, already absent for about ten days. During that time, Frances took sick and doctors were called. They did all they could, but she died a painful death.

Family Notices (1881, November 10). Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918), p. 2.  http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article226061270

An inquest was held at Hamilton’s Caledonian Hotel on the afternoon of 9 November. It was found Frances’ “Mysterious Death” as it was headlined was due to a substance she had taken with the intention of terminating a pregnancy resulting in a fatal hemorrhage. Samuel strongly denied Frances was pregnant and told of how she had similar abdominal pain once on a trip to Hong Kong. He added the only medicine Frances was known to take was dispensed by Hamilton chemist Carl Klug and she never used Chineses medicines.

Other witnesses said no medicine entered the house other than that prescribed by Doctors Annand and Scott and dispensed by Carl Klug.  Frances’ brother Ernest also gave evidence. Mr Giles the jury foreman suggested maybe a closer examination of the evidence be made, considering the death only took place the evening before, However, the jury was called to give their verdict and after some deliberation announced their decision.

Sam was so upset about the verdict, he wrote to the Hamilton Spectator.

ORIGINAL CORRESPONDENCE (1881, November 15). Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918), p. 2.  http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article226061968

Frances was buried at the Hamilton Cemetery the day after the inquest.

By April 1887, Sam was managing a drapery shop in Thompson Street, Hamilton. Judging by advertising in the Hamilton Spectator at the time, the Chinese traders of the town were involved in takeovers and changes of management. Among them was Erng Long.

Advertising (1887, April 16). Hamilton Spectator p. 3.http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article226157050

On Easter Monday 1887 (11 April) around 6.30pm, Robert Gallagher entered Sam’s shop. A previous customer, on this occasion Gallagher tried on clothes. He then attempted to leave without paying, rushing from the shop. Sam tried to stop him but Gallagher pushed him aside leaving Sam bloodied. Gallagher was charged with unlawful assault and theft but given a very light sentence a matter commented on in the Hamilton Spectator.  It was reported Sam was still feeling the effects of the altercation the following day.

Two months later on 18 June 1887, Sam was dead.  When I first looked up Sam’s death in the Victorian Death Index, I found his place of death was Ararat, a place he had no known connection (3). When I’ve seen that scenario in the past, more times than not it has played out the location of death was the Ararat Asylum. Sadly, that was the case for Sam.

ARARAT ASYLUM c1880. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria. Image no. H1887 http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/151015

From Sam’s case file from the asylum (4), on 30 May, about a month after the incident with Gallagher, Sam was taken to the Ararat Asylum by Erng Long who nominated himself as Sam’s nearest relative being his brother.  With them was another man described as a cousin. Sam was suffering from acute mania and at the time of his admission, he was “at times very excited waving his arms about. Subject to fits of immoderate crying. At times laughs heartily”. He was also considered dangerous. 

Sam wasn’t eating well on admission but two weeks later on 16 June, an update in his file showed his eating had improved and he was getting up and dressed each day.  He died two days after that update. It appears an inquest was not held into nor did the Hamilton Spectator report on his death. 

Sam’s body was returned to Hamilton and buried at the cemetery with Frances on 20 June.  Canton now known as Guangdong was inscribed on the headstone as his birthplace, however, his prison record gave his birthplace as further south at Macau.

The Hamilton cemetery records show another burial in the grave of Frances and Samuel Hing, an unnamed baby buried on 24 December 1886, five years after the death of Frances and months before Samuel’s death.  The Victorian Birth Index shows the birth of a son to Samuel Hing at Hamilton in 1886. (5). The mother of the child is listed as Terne Ah Hing. The Victorian Death Index shows the boy lived for a day (6). Again, the mother’s name is Terne Ah Hing.  In 1887, another son of Samuel Hing was born at Hamilton (7). The mother’s name listed on the Victorian Birth Index is Journ Ah Hing.

The closest I can find to Sam having re-married is a listing in the Victorian Marriage Index of the marriage of Ah Hing to Margaret Gavin in 1886 (8). Interestingly, a Margaret Ah Hing was admitted to the Ararat Asylum in 1898 (8). She died there in 1924 aged sixty-five. Her parents were unknown. (9)  

At the time of Sam’s death, Edwin Hing, son of Sam and Francis, was twelve. Sadly, Edwin died six years after his father in 1893, drowning after a fall from a boat off Macau. 

Family Notices (1893, June 7). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 2 (EVENING).  http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article65402621

The Hamilton Spectator reported on a letter received by Frederick Edward Mitchell of Portland notifying him of Edwin’s death. Edwin, who was educated at the Hamilton State School, appears to have gone to China not too long after his father’s death. Around the age of seventeen, he was employed by the Chinese Imperial Maritime Customs Service as an interpreter and was working at the time of his death. Edwin had given Frederick’s name as someone to contact in case of an emergency.

Items at News. (1893, June 8). Hamilton Spectator p. 2. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article225180725

Frederick was two years older than Edwin and was born in Hamilton and likely attended the Hamilton State School like Edwin.  His father James Mitchell was a bootmaker with a shop in Thompson Street, the same location as Sam Hing’s last shop.  Seemingly a friendship formed between Frederick and Edwin sometime during their time in Hamilton and continued beyond.  Frederick went on to become a postmaster at different locations across Victoria and died at Queenscliff in 1940.

SOURCES

(1) PROV, Unassisted Passenger Lists, (1852-1923) Series Number VPRS: 947

(2)  Victorian Birth Index, Edwin Francis HING, 1876, Reg. No. 6024/1876

(3) Victorian Death Index, Sam HING, 1887, Reg. No. 4925/ 1887

(4) PROV, Ararat Asylum: Case Books of Male Patients, Agency No: VA 2841; Series No.: VPRS 7403, Vol E (1887-1890); P0001

(5) Victorian Birth Index, Unnamed Male HING, 1886, Reg. No. 26609/1886

(6) Victorian Death Index, Unnamed HING, 1886, Reg. No. 12912/1886

(7) Victorian Birth Index, Unnamed Male HING, 1887, Reg. No, 28845/1887

(8) Victorian Marriage Index, Ah HING, 1886, Reg. No. 3900/1886

(9) PROV, Ararat Asylum: Case Books of Female Patients; Agency Number: VA 2841; Series No.: VPRS 7401. Volume E (1892-1900); P0001

(10) Victorian Death Index, Margaret AH HING, 1924, Reg. No. 19/1924

Broken Memories…An Introduction

There’s something about a historic cemetery and there are many throughout the Western District from the small Old Cavendish Cemetery to the large Hamilton (Old) Cemetery. It’s the character of the rusty wrought-iron fences, the weathered headstones, the symbolism, and the display of craftsmanship…even the broken headstones.

No matter how often I visit a cemetery it looks different depending on the time of day or the season. Like the grave of the Thomsons of Monivae at Hamilton, one I’ve walked past many times. Different times of day see the shadows fall on different sides of the monument or on a winter’s day last year I was welcomed with this cheery surprise

In fact, you never know what you might see…

When I visit a cemetery I take photos of as many headstones as I can, the different views across the cemetery and the cemetery sign. Usually, my time is limited so I find myself racing around the cemeteries trying to get as many photos as I can.

I was pleased to get in five visits to the Hamilton Cemetery this year and last week I took my 1000th photo there. I generally don’t visit with a plan and always walk in the front gate and turn right.  It’s habit.  I’ve been doing it that way since my first visits to the cemetery as a little girl with Nana and her sister.  Their parents are buried to the right of the front gate.  Hamilton also has a confusing layout and no matter how many times I visit, I can quickly lose my bearings.  Sometimes I go in search of a particular grave but even with the maps now available to print at the cemetery website, it usually ends in frustration, so I prefer to wander.

Looking back at my photos not just from Hamilton but other cemeteries, there is a trend. At least until this year. I was photographing the most impressive and easiest to read headstones, usually with familiar surnames. Also, each time I visited I was taking photos of the same graves from similar angles. Since that realisation, at each of the cemeteries I’ve visited this year, I’ve turned my attention to some of the others graves, the broken…

Those difficult to read…

And those I gave a wide berth as a child…the sunken graves.  The grave of my great, great grandparents Richard and Elizabeth Diwell at Hamilton has suffered that fate.

Some headstones are in a fragile state and photographing them now will ensure there is a record in case they deteriorate further.

The addition of the searchable records on the Hamilton Cemetery Trust website in recent years has made it easier to identify those buried in graves with illegible headstones. Of course, once identified I can’t help myself and must have a bit of a search for them at Trove.  What I often find is the most remarkable stories and that’s how the new WDF series Broken Memories has come about.  It began as two parts about broken headstones at the Hamilton Old Cemetery with the idea of adding other cemeteries in the future. 

As the stories of the selected headstones have taken unexpected twists and turns, the series has grown to five parts just about the Hamilton cemetery plus an introduction, the purpose of this post. I am really looking forward to sharing this series with you.  Each headstone offers such an interesting but often tragic story and I didn’t expect several parts of the series would intertwine in the way they have.  I also didn’t expect to be doing further research on topics such as Ned Kelly and the Carlton Football Club (that was easy as a Blues supporter) or delving in the afterlife and one of the darkest periods of Hamilton’s history.

And the cat you saw earlier in this post. He’s a bit of teaser for what is to come, because Joseph as I like to refer to him as, has become part of the series. Maybe that’s come about by pure coincidence or perhaps some greater force.  I’ll let you decide when the time comes to properly introduce him.

I intended to launch straight into the stories but I thought some prior explanation was needed. I’ve found misshapen headstones are cause for conjecture.  Photos I’ve posted to social media have prompted comments such as, “Why don’t they fix it?” and “How could they leave it like that?” Therefore, I’ve decided to used this introduction to try and overcome some of the misunderstandings about the operations, responsibilities, and conversation of our cemeteries.  

WILLAURA CEMETERY

Following, you will find a very broad overview of how Victorian cemeteries operate and some of the reasons a grave may deteriorate.  At the end of the post, there are links to further reading about the finer points of cemetery operations including the exceptions to the rule, along with cemetery conservation from the experts.

YAMBUK CEMETERY

To begin, the land on which a cemetery is located is Crown Land. A Cemetery Trust provides burial services within the cemetery, keeps the records and maintains the cemetery grounds.

In Victoria, a cemetery trust is answerable to the Cemeteries and Crematoria Regulation Unit – Department of Health and Human Services overseen by the Victorian State Minister of Health. The minister oversees the appointment of a cemetery trust. A cemetery trust is also governed by the Cemeteries and Crematoria Act 2003 and Cemeteries and Crematoria Regulations 2015.

When you or someone else decides for you the cemetery you will be buried in, the plot of land in which you are buried is not purchased by you or your benefactors. It remains Crown Land. However, a Right of Interment is purchased for a plot, giving the holder the right to decide who is buried there and if a monument should be placed on the plot. The holder of the Right of Interment is also responsible for the maintenance of the monument.

HAMILTON (OLD) CEMETERY

When the holder of the Right of Interment dies, the beneficiary or beneficiaries of their estate then become the holder/s of the Right of Interment and the obligations that go with it. That process continues as each holder of the Right of Internment dies.

You can imagine at an old cemetery such as Hamilton, tracing the holder of the Right of Internment on many graves would be near impossible, something you will come to see in the stories which follow.  In those cases, if a monument becomes unsafe, the trust with the consent of the Secretary to the Department of Health can deal with it in an appropriate way.

If you hold a Right of Interment and the relevant monument is damaged, you can’t just have it repaired. There is a process to follow and an application needs to be lodged with the relevant cemetery trust. The trust will then accept or refuse the application and in the process, will consider such things as Occupational Health and Safety and the fit of the proposed new monument in accord with the ascetics of the cemetery.

The deterioration of and damage to headstones and monuments can occur for various reasons, from the type of stone used, movement from the ground below, heavy rain or flooding, human hands either intentionally or unintentionally, or simply just time. 

In 1903, two earthquakes at Warrnambool within months played havoc with the cemetery.  A report after the second quake suggested almost every headstone was damaged in some way and those repaired after the first quake were unlikely to be repaired again.

WARRNAMBOOL CEMETERY

I encourage you to visit some of the historic Western Cemeteries cemeteries not only to find family but to learn about the past and in some cases, enjoy the view.

DUNKELD (OLD) CEMETERY

In making that suggestion, the phrase “Take Only Photos, Leave Only Footprints” comes to mind.  But watch where you leave those footprints. Keep to the paths or defined rows where possible because beneath your feet could be someone who was once like you and me, as you will see in a series I have planned about unmarked graves.

Before I get too far ahead of myself,  I hope you enjoy Broken Memories coming to you regularly over the next couple of months.  Part 1 is up next and you will learn of the tragic story of the Hing family of Warrnambool and Hamilton.

Further Reading

Cemeteries and crematoria in Victoria, State Government of Victoria. Includes links to the Cemeteries and Crematoria Act 2003 and Cemeteries and Crematoria Regulations 2015 and more information about Rights of Interment.

In Memoriam, A Guide to the History and Heritage of Victoria’s Cemeteries by Garrie Hutchinson (2014)  includes the location of all cemeteries in the Western District with further information and significant graves at selected cemeteries including Camperdown, Branxholme, Casterton and Glenthompson

Conservation Planning Guidelines for The Greater Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust in Melbourne,  Dr Jan Penney (2016). An informative guide but remember these are guidelines only for the use of the Greater Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust.

National Trust Guidelines of Cemetery Conservation 2nd Ed. 2009 (NSW Branch) While it is based on NSW legislation, there is some great information about historic cemeteries, monuments and symbolism. Also an interesting section with photos dedicated to broken graves and how damage can occur

 

VAFHO Family History Expo Guest Speakers

The VAFHO has announced the guest speakers for the Hamilton Family History Expo on 1 June.  The first talk is at 10.15am with AFL statistician and Geelong Football Club historian Col Hutchinson speaking on researching the footballers in your family. He will also look at some of those from the Hamilton district who have gone on to play VFL/AFL football. You can read more about Col on the link – Col Hutchinson.

THE CASTERTON FOOTBALL CLUB, PREMIERS IN 1927. Image courtesy of the Museums Victoria Collections https://collections.museumvictoria.com.au/items/766108

Next, Ancestry’s Jason Reeve will speak about using Ancestry.com for family history with an introduction to Ancestry DNA. You can read more about Jason on the following link – Jason Reeve.

THE ELIJAH FAMILY OF HAMILTON c1919. Image courtesy of the Museums Victoria Collections https://collections.museumvictoria.com.au/items/766117

Then after a break for lunch and time to check out the exhibits, Rob Hamilton will talk about Genealogy and Freemasons.  You can read more about Rob on the link – Rob Hamilton.

HAMILTON MASONIC CENTRE, LONSDALE STREET

The day will conclude with the Hamilton History Centre taking us for a “visual stroll” through Hamilton’s history.

GRAY STREET, HAMILTON c1920. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/399049

You can find out more including the times of each talk on the link to the VAHFO website – Hamilton Family History Expo.

I’m counting the days now.  Maybe I’ll see you there.

VAFHO Family History Expo Exhibitors

VIEW TO CHURCH HILL, HAMILTON

The Victorian Association of Family History Organisations (VAFHO) has released a list of thirty exhibitors for the Hamilton Family History Expo on Saturday 1 June.  The expo is not just for those interested in Hamilton family history and the list of exhibitors is indicative of that.  For example, the Terang & District Family History GroupWest Gippsland Genealogical Society and Bendigo Family History Group will be there among others  There will also be Ancestry Australia, Port Phillip Pioneers and Gould Genealogy and more. You can see a full list at the VAFHO website on the link – Hamilton Family History Expo Exhibitors.

I’m really looking forward to the Expo because it’s in my beautiful historic hometown of Hamilton and the venue is the Chevalier Centre at Monivae College, my old school.  It’s always good to see events on in Hamilton which will bring people to the town to experience what we Hamiltonians past and present love.

HAMILTON BOTANIC GARDENS

 

“NUCLEUS”, A KINETIC SCULPTURE AT THE INTERSECTION OF GRAY & BROWN STREETS.

 

THE HAMILTON HISTORY CENTRE IN THE FORMER MECHANICS INSTITUTE

Hopefully we will finally get some rain in the next month giving visitors to the expo the chance to experience some waterfall action too.

 

Current & Upcoming Events in the Western District

UPDATED 23 March –

We are really spoilt for choice over the coming months because some more history related events have come to light since I published this post on Monday. You’ll find the three new events added below…


Some great history related events are either happening or coming up in the Western District over the next few months.

Running now until 28 April at the Port Fairy Museum and Archives is a travelling exhibition “Submerged” about shipwrecks along the south-west coast and Australia wide.  Port Fairy is a good place to host an exhibition about wrecks with fourteen wrecks recorded within Port Fairy bay alone.  You can find out more at the museum’s Facebook page Port Fairy Museum and Archives or website.

PORT FAIRY MUSEUM & ARCHIVES, GIPPS STREET.

The Glenelg Shire Council Cultural Collection exhibition “Gone But Not Forgotten…The Lost Buildings of Portland” is now on at the Portland Arts Centre until 26 April. The exhibition includes a display of photos and other items on the long-gone buildings of Portland.

An exhibition curated by the Casterton RSL will look at the Centenary of the RSL will begin on 2 April at the Casterton Town Hall foyer.  You can find out more at the shire’s Facebook page Glenelg Shire Council Cultural Collection.

Near Lake Bolac on 28 April will be an unveiling of a plaque at the former Mellier State School. The plaque will remember the 100th anniversary since the school was moved to Norbank Road, Lake Bolac.  You can find out more on the Historic Lake Bolac Facebook page.

On the weekend of 18 & 19 May is the Hamilton Pastoral Museum May rally.  You can see some of the sights…and sounds of the museum in this video from my visit to the October 2018 rally.  Look for further rally information on the museum’s Facebook page Hamilton Pastoral Museum Inc or the museum website.

Also on 18 May, the Warrnambool Family History Group are holding a seminar with four guest speakers each with great topics including Ken Flack, a genealogist and historian from Horsham speaking on taking a different approach to research; Janet McDonald, the President of the Warrnambool and District Historical Society talking about using local records to research land and houses around Warrnambool; Kate Moneypenny from the State Library of Victoria talking about researching family history at the SLV. You can find out more on the groups Facebook page Warrnambool Family History Group or their website.

For those interested in DNA and Family History, the Colac & District Family History Group is hosting a workshop on Friday 31 May from 1pm to 3pm with a representative from Ancestry. This must be a Western District first on such a topic so take the chance to attend. The Colac & District Family History Group are doing some great things. For further updates, check out the group’s Facebook page Colac & District Family History Group and website.  It’s a new website too so definitely take a look.  

The following day, Saturday 1 June is the 2019 VAFHO (Victorian Association of Family History Organisation) Expo at the Chevalier Centre, Monivae College in Hamilton from 10.00am to 4.00pm.  Take the opportunity to hear some of the best family history speakers right here in the Western District. I’ll keep you updated with details including guest speakers as they come to hand or you can check out the VAFHO Facebook page VAFHO – Victorian Association of Family History Organisations or website.

THE VIEW TOWARDS CHURCH HILL, HAMILTON