Passing of the Pioneers

A further ten pioneers join the Pioneer Obituary Index this month.  They include a woman who was a pioneer in the transport industry from Cobden through to Port Campbell and a man who travelled the same routes carting goods.  There is also a Coleraine storekeeper, a Colac politician and a man still training racehorses into his eighties.  Remember to click on the underlined text to read further information on a subject.

ROBERTSON, William – Died 24 June 1892 at Colac.  William Robertson was the second son of William Robertson of Colac Estate. He was born in 1839 at Hobart and by 1842, the Robertsons arrived in Victoria.  William returned to Hobart for his high school education before studying law at Oxford University. In 1861, he was a member of the winning crew of the annual Oxford vs Cambridge boat race and throughout his life, kept the trophy from the event, a cut-down oar. William returned to Victoria in 1863, marrying Martha Mary Murphy. He worked as a barrister in Melbourne until 1871 when he was successful in winning the seat of Polworth and South Grenville which he held until the next election in 1873 when he didn’t seek reelection.  William’s father died the following year and Colac Estate was divided in four for each of William Robertson Sr’s sons.  William Jr became the owner of The Hill (below).

“THE GOVERNORS DRIVING TOUR.” The Australasian (Melbourne, Vic. : 1864 – 1946) 24 March 1894: 30. Web. 15 Jun 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article138115318&gt;.

William returned to politics in 1881, holding the seat of Polworth and South Grenville for the next five years, then in Victoria’s Legislative Council in the seat of South-West Province until 1888.   The Robertsons were known Australia wide as breeders of fine Shorthorn cattle and their stock sold for large sums.  Williams’ funeral on 28 June 1892  was one of the biggest seen in the district.  Various noted men from Colac attended as well as those from the world of politics.  Numerous wreaths were sent including one from the Governor. The Colac Brass Band led the cortege to the cemetery and shops closed.  Martha died at Armadale in 1909.

PART OF “THE HILL” HOMESTEAD, COLAC IN 1970. Image courtesy of the J.T. Collins Collection, La Trobe Picture Collection, State Library of Victoria. http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/216917

WIGGINS, Charles Aug. – Died 23 June 1901 at Hamilton.  Charles Wiggins was born in Tasmania in 1836 and arrived in Portland with his parents when a boy, attending school at Portland.  In his early twenties, Charles went to Hamilton to live with his uncle James Wiggins. Charles was appointed secretary of the Hamilton Common and was a sheriff’s officer and bailiff until 1883.  In the same year, he married Emma Lawn.  Charles joined the Grange Lodge of Freemasons and was a member of the Australian Natives Association.  He was also secretary of the Hamilton Hospital and the Hamilton P & A Society.  Charles and Emma lived in Clarke Street, Hamilton and attended the Christ Church Cathedral.

SMITH, Sidney – Died June 1916 at Warrnambool.  Sidney Smith was born in Cambridgeshire, England in 1848. Arriving in Victoria as a child, he attended Geelong Grammar School.  Sidney started his working life at fifteen at the offices of R.Busche, Solicitors of Timor Street, Warrnambool.  He then worked as an accountant for a mercantile and shipping firm at Port Fairy, Messrs Bateman & Co.  Later he went into partnership with Messrs Bateman with the firm becoming Bateman, Smith & Co.  Operations moved to Warrnambool and Sidney’s brother Spencer went into partnership with him.  They operated the company until 1898. Sidney then worked as an insurance agent until his retirement due to ill health.  Outside of business, Sidney was a vestryman at the Warrnambool Christ Church. (below)

CHRIST CHURCH WARRNAMBOOL c1907., Photographer Joseph Jordan. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/54344

CLARKE, Edward Henry – Died 21 June 1918 at Digby.  Edward Clarke was born in Tipperary, Ireland in 1847 and arrived at Portland with his parents on the Helen to Portland in 1852.  The family first went to the Mount Gambier district before settling around Digby.  In 1873, Edward settled on his own property Lovely Banks at Digby.  Edward enjoyed football and cricket and was always a spectator at local games.  During the war, he donated to the various patriotic and relief appeals.  Edward’s wife Elizabeth Taylor died in 1909. Eight of Edward and Elizabeth’s ten children were still living at the time of Edward’s death. His youngest son John Clarke was serving overseas and returned to Australia in 1919.

LESSER, Louis – Died 19 June 1921 at Coleraine.  Louis Lesser was born around 1832 in Swarzędz, Poland, then under Prussian rule. When Louis Lesser arrived in Australia about the 1850s, his first job at Sandridge (Port Melbourne) moving sand from the nearby sand dunes.  He then went to the diggings at Bendigo and Pleasant Creek (Stawell).  Louis’ brother Abraham arrived in Australia and the two moved to Coleraine, opening a store in Whyte Street. The partnership in the store was mutually dissolved in May 1865 when Louis left for London and in 1867, Louis married his sister-in-law’s sister Londoner Evelyn May and they left for Australia.  They arrived in Melbourne and made their way to Coleraine to join Abraham and his wife Elizabeth, Evelyn’s sister.  The partnership in the Coleraine store appears to have resumed with Louis operating the store with other family members after Abraham’s death in 1886.

A.LESSER & CO, COLERAINE. Image courtesy of the Museums Victoria Collections https://collections.museumvictoria.com.au/items/769410

Louis was a member of the Coleraine Racing Club for sixty years, retiring in 1918 as an honourary life member. He also served on the Wannon Shire Council and was a Justice of the Peace.  He was also a generous man, donating to many causes and was one of Hamilton Hospital’s leading donors.  In his will,  Louis’ requested a fund be established after his death called the “Louis Lesser Charity Endowment Fund” with an annual sum going to various organisations annually.

“Obituaries.” Observer (Adelaide, SA : 1905 – 1931) 9 July 1921: 34. Web. 28 Jun 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article165649115&gt;.

The Ballarat Synagogue was one of the recipients of the fund, receiving  £1000 pounds annually.  On 11 June 1922, a memorial was unveiled at the Ballarat Synagogue (below) by Louis’ nephew.

BALLARAT SYNAGOGUE. Image courtesy of the J.T. Collins collection, La Trobe Picture Collection, State Library of Victoria. http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/214178

HARVEY, Martin – Died June 1929 at Cudgee.  Martin Harvey was born at Penzance, Cornwall in 1836.  Around 1851, the Harvey family arrived at Geelong where Martin held his first jobs. Soon he was working a bullock team, taking food to outlying settlements, then returning to the Geelong port with a load of wool.  He spent time around the Minyip district moving from property to property working as a shearer.  He also took a bullock team on three trips from Ballarat to Dimboola.  He married Elizabeth Swan in 1867 and they spent time farming around Ballarat before moving to Cudgee near Warrnambool.  Martin finally settled down and lived there until his death at ninety-three. Martin and Elizabeth had seven sons and four daughters.

ROBERTSON, Marslie May – Died 15 June 1930 at Hamilton.  May Robertson was born in Inverness-shire, Scotland in 1844 and was eight when she arrived in Melbourne with her parents. The Robertson family stayed in Melbourne only a few days before journeying to Portland, then on to Straun Station near Coleraine where May’s uncles had already settled.  In 1868, she married William Sudgen Price Lewis, the stepson of Richard Lewis, a former owner of Rifle Downs at Digby. William leased Hilgay near Coleraine until around 1871.  They then moved to Hamilton.  Marslie was an excellent horsewoman and showed horses including Gold Dust for Samuel Winter Cooke in September 1890 at the Hamilton Show in the Ladies’ Hack Class.

Marslie and William had eight children and some time after 1890, the Lewis’ took a young boy Arthur into their care, raising him as their son. They resided at Pine Lodge in Mill Road, Hamilton. In 1914, Arthur Lewis was one of the first Hamilton enlistments for WW1.  He died as a result of his wounds at sea on his way from Gallipoli to an a hospital in Alexandria, Egypt on 13 August 1915. The shock of Arthur’s death was a great loss to William and he died In October 1915 at Hamilton.  Marslie was involved with the Hamilton Red Cross during the war and the Women’s Christian Temperance Union.  Each Sunday, she gave out flowers at the Hamilton Hospital.

COOKE, Eliza Jane – Died 29 June 1932 at Cobden.  Eliza Cooke arrived in Australia when she was eight and the family made their way to Ballarat. In 1866, she married Charles Morehead They arrived in Cobden in 1880 and Charles died in 1881 aged forty.  A son was born in August of the same year.  Eliza ran a store in Cobden and from around 1882 was operating coach services departing from the store.  She pioneered coach services between Cobden, Princetown and Peterborough.

“Classified Advertising” Camperdown Chronicle (Vic. : 1877 – 1954) 20 August 1889: 1. Web. 29 Jun 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article22474287&gt;.

For forty-seven years, Eliza held the mail contract between Cobden and Camperdown.  Eliza’s business grew and as her sons eventually joined her.

“Advertising” Heytesbury Reformer and Cobden and Camperdown Advertiser (Vic. : 1914 – 1918) 26 February 1915: 3. Web. 29 Jun 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article152613189&gt;.

On 5 August 1931, Eliza celebrated her ninetieth birthday at her home Kooringa, Curdie Street Cobden.  At the time she was President of the Cobden Ladies’ Benevolent Society and  still chairing meetings.

JEFFERS, Jonas – Died June 1933 at Cobden.  Jonas Jeffers was born at Connewarre around 1848.  Around the age of twelve, Jonas walked to Cobrico north-west of Cobden.  When he was older he bought land in the district and married Selina Westerland of Terang in 1869.  Jonas worked as a carter throughout the district, passing through the Heytesbury Forest when there was only the roughest of tracks.  He carted wool from Glenample near Princetown to Geelong and timber for the first bridge over the Sherbrooke River, east of Port Campbell.  He also carted wood for the first hotel in Cobden in the 1860s and items from the wreck of the Loch Ard to Colac in 1878.  At the time of Jonas’ death, Selina was still living along with ten of their children.

HANLON, James – Died 26 June 1940 at Casterton.  James Hanlon was born in Dublin, Ireland around 1854 and his family set sail for Australia soon after his birth. He lived in various towns including Narrawong and Hamilton and operated a hotel at Heywood. By they time he was twenty-one, it was thought he must have held the record for the number of successful racehorses he owned or leased. James was always interested in horses and twice travelled to India with horses exported to that country.  The first horses he raced were Paddy the Larrikan and My Lord. In 1878, James married Morgey Gooding Smith and they had four sons and two daughters.

In 1931, at the age of seventy-seven, Jim walked eighteen miles between Casterton and Coleraine scaling hills like a “mountain goat”.  He was in training for a veterans race over a mile at Mount Gambier on September 1931 in which James ran third riding Dutch Dull, beaten by a rider sixteen years his junior.  His training feats made the Weekly Times on 3 June 1939. A race meeting about three years earlier was referred to.  The jockey didn’t arrive for the ride, so James, then around eighty-four, put on the silks and rode the horse himself.  In the year before his death, James prepared a horse called Furnival.

“CASTERTON VETERAN’S TRAINING TRIUMPH AT EIGHTY-FIVE” Weekly Times (Melbourne, Vic. : 1869 – 1954) 3 June 1939: 58 (FIRST EDITION). Web. 29 Jun 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article224436779&gt;.

Aside from racing, James was a Mason for over fifty years including past Master of the Portland Lodge No. 6. James’ obituary in the Naracoorte Herald of 2 July 1940,  named fifty horses he was connected with during his life.

 

Passing of the Pioneers

Once again an interesting band of Western Victorian pioneers were found in newspaper obituaries from February.  There is a tightrope walker, philanthropist, a motor car pioneer and several hardy pioneer women.  It continues to amaze me the lives the pioneers lived.  I mean, who could imagine a tightrope walker living in Portland in the 19th century, in fact at anytime!

Thomas STODDART: Died 20 February 1905 at Ballarat. When next in Ballarat admiring the many statues in Sturt Street and the Botanical Gardens, thank Thomas Stoddart. He was responsible for getting the ball rolling for leading Ballarat identities to give statues or money towards statues, to the city. From digger to stockbroker, Stoddart donated twelve statues to the city of Ballarat in 1884 after a trip to Europe. This act of philanthropy saw some of Ballarat’s other wealthy citizens bequeath money to fund more statues.  In fact, John Permewan who featured in December Passing of the Pioneers donated the well know “Hebe” which stands in Sturt Street.  As well as the obituary from the Horsham Times a lengthier obituary appeared in The Argus on February 21.

“FLORA”

“POMONA”

John COFFEY:  Died 9 February 1908 at Melbourne. John Coffey was born in Limerick, Ireland and came to Australia with his brother in the 1860s. He first went to the Wimmera while carting between Melbourne and the Wimmera. Making a permanent home there, he worked as a farmer and a hotel keeper.  He left a wife, Catherine Almond, five daughters and three sons.

Thomas HENNESSY: Died 19 February 1908 at Horsham. Thomas Hennessy arrived in Victoria in 1859 aboard the Royal Charter from Limerick, Ireland. He began farming around Koroit, lost a leg, and moved to the Pimpinio district where he farmed for many years.  An accident prior to his death contributed to his demise.

James DAVIDSON: Died 12 February 1913 at Narrawong. James Davidson, born at Narrawong, was described as a “good all-round citizen” in his obituary. He was involved in the mounted rifles and athletics.

Matilda GILCHRIST: Died 14 February 1914 at Hawthorn.  Born in Paisley, Scotland, in 1920 she arrived on the Star of the East in 1855.  Her husband Thomas Lang was a well-known horticulturist in the late 19th century.  Matilda was a principal of a girls’ school in Ballarat for a time.

Mary Ann DREW: Died 15 February 1915 at Willaura.  Born in Buckinghamshire, England,  Mary Ann Drew came to Victoria in her twenties during the 1850s. She worked at Golf Hill Station at Shelford for George Russell, before moving to Sandford where she married William Lindon. Mary Ann lived at Willaura with her daughter for the last ten years of her life.

Edward Harewood  LASCELLES: Died 12 February 1917 at Geelong. Lascelles is a well-known name in WesternVictoria.  Not only does his name form part of the Geelong wool broking firm Denneys Lascelles & Co, the town of Lascelles in the Mallee was named after him.  Edward Lascelles was born in Tasmania in 1847, married Ethel Denney and they had six children.  He was a leader in vermin extermination on his property in the Mallee and was the first to introduce share farming in Victoria.

Isabella McDONALD: Died February 1918 at Dandenong. Isabella McDonald arrived in Victoria with her widowed mother in 1863. The following year she married journalist, Mr Dudeney, who had gone to Ballarat to report on the Eureka Stockade riots. Only after a few years of marriage, Mr Dudeney passed away and she married John Whitehead a worker at the Ballarat Post Office and later the GPO in Melbourne

Martha MATHEWS: Died 14 February 1918 at Buninyong. Martha Mathews was a colonist of 64 years, arriving in Victoria to join her husband, Richard Phillips on the goldfields of Ballarat. Martha enjoyed telling stories of the goldrush days.

OBITUARY. (1918, February 18). The Ballarat Courier (Vic. : 1914 – 1918), p. 6 Edition: DAILY.. Retrieved February 26, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article75176846

Janet SIMPSON: Died 19 February 1920 at  Bondi, New South Wales.  Janet Simpson, her husband Robert Clark and four children sailed for Australia in 1857. One child, Agnes died during the journey. At the time of their arrival, the train line to Horsham was under construction, so the family took a coach to Stawell, then bullock wagon to Horsham.  She was one of the many pioneer women who coped under tough conditions.

Obituary. (1920, February 27). The Horsham Times (Vic. : 1882 – 1954), p. 5. Retrieved February 26, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article73190179

William HANLON: Died 19 February 1923 at Portland. William Hanlon was the mayor of Portland 11 times.  His interests within the municipality included President of the Portland Free Library.

William ROBERTSON: Died 2 February 1924 at Portland.  A colonist of seventy-seven years, William Robertson arrived in Portland as a five-year old with his parents.  He had travelled to New Guinea and Western Australia as well one time riding in the Great Western Steeplechase at Coleraine.

Charles Francis PATTERSON: Died 17 February 1933 at Portland. Charles was born in Portland in 1857 and spent some time in Western Australia on the railways.  It was there he met his future wife and after marriage, they returned to Portland to raise ten children.  Charles was a popular figure around the town and he worked in the fish distribution business.

Alfred Irvine HOGAN: Died 8 February 1934 at Portland. From tightrope walker to sawmiller, Alfred Hogan was an interesting chap.  Arriving in Portland as a young man, he gained notoriety as a tightrope walker performing daredevil tricks in the mould of “Blondin” the French tightrope walker.  Age must have caught up with his tightrope walking feats and he turned to sawmilling, with his obituary crediting him as a pioneer of sawmilling in the Portland district, an industry which became one of the biggest in the area.  Alfred also had a keen interest in Australian Rules football and was one of the people behind the development of Hanlon Park, which is still home to the Portland Football Club today.

Mary Jane SPIKEN:  Died February 1934 at Warrnambool. Mary Jane Spiken’s mother Anna Harland arrived in Victoria with members of the Henty family.  Anna married John George Spiken with Mary Jane born around 1861 at the Henty homestead.  Mary Jane married William Jenkins and they had seven children.  She was a wealth of knowledge on the early days of Portland.

Fanny Ann MALSEED: Died 13 February 1936 at Myamyn. Fanny Ann was the daughter of James and Eliza Malseed of Mount Richmond.  She married Thomas Edmund Adamson around 1886 and they raised eight children.

Richard YOUNG: Died 16 February 1939 at Horsham. Richard was born at Clunes and moved to Horsham with his parents as a ten-year-old. He married Isabella Anderson and they raised a large family. Richard was a keen footballer and  played for United Traders football club.  He was a founding member of the Horsham Football Club and was an active member of the local fire brigade.

Walter Birmingham EDGAR: Died 22 February 1939 at Portland. Walter Edgar was born at Pine Hills Station at Harrow in 1856.  Educated at Hamilton College, he achieved the double honor of dux of the college and athletic champion.  Despite studying civil engineering  at Melbourne University, he returned to Pine Hills to take up agriculture pursuits.  In 1882, he married Jessie Swan of Konongwootong.  In the years before his death, Walter toured England, Scotland, Norway and Sweden with his daughter.  In his younger days, Walter was something of a cricketer and golfer.  He and his father played some part in the Aboriginal cricket team touring England in 1867.  The team included Johnny Mullagh who Walter often played cricket with.

Obituary. (1939, February 27). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 3 Edition: EVENING.. Retrieved February 28, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64391911

Ann NIVEN: Died 24 February 1942 at Coleraine. Ann Niven’s came to Australia at five, but without her parents.  They arrived at a later date, but until then Ann was under the guardianship of Mr and Mrs Christorphen.  They lived where Balmoral now stands, but then it was only bush.  She married William Bird, living at Wombelano and then for the last thirty-two years of her life, at Coleraine.  Mrs Bird was the mother of eleven children.

Patrick HENRY: Died February 1942 at Terang. Patrick Henry, with his parents, settled in the Woodford area upon their arrival in Australia in 1866.  He began driving bullock wagons as a teenager and worked in that occupation until he was eighty-six.  When he finally retired, it was thought he was the oldest bullock wagon driver in the Western District.

Thomas Turner SHAW:  Died 1 February 1949 at Beaumaris. Thomas Shaw was the son of Thomas and Catherine Shaw. He was born in Victoria in 1864.

THOMAS TURNER SHAW c1866.  Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria.  Image no. H2013.172/23 http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/235471

THOMAS TURNER SHAW c1866. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria. Image no. H2013.172/23 http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/235471

Thomas Shaw was a not only a pioneer of fine merino wool production but also motoring in Victoria.  He drove one of the first steam cars and was also a founding member of the Royal Auto Club (RACV).