Welcome to the last Passing of the Pioneers for 2013. The obituaries include one belonging to a favourite Halls Gap pioneer of mine, Sophia D’Alton. There is also a former convict and a man who saw Melbourne shortly after settlement.
For some holiday reading why not check out the earlier Passing of the Pioneers posts. There are now thirty in total with hundreds of family names and some great stories.
William RENWICK: Died 11 December 1874 at Portland. Born in Scotland around 1897, William Renwick left his native country around 1827 and sailed to Tasmania as an overseer of animals on a ship. He continued his employment with the company after the voyage. Around the early years of Melbourne’s settlement, when there were only three houses, William Renwick moved to the new colony. He then moved on to Portland where he remained until his death.
Samuel HUTCHINSON: Died 21 December 1874 at Portland. While his obituary doesn’t mention it, an article about the construction of the Steam Packet Inn, built by Samuel Hutchinson around 1841, reveals Samuel was a convict.
At the time of his departure for Portland from Tasmania, he had obtained his ticket of leave and was working as an overseer in a woodyard. Samuel was listed as one of the purchasers of land in Portland in 1840. His first wife, also a convict, passed away and he remarried. At the time of his death, he left a widow and six children.
Ellen J. CORBETT: Died December 1915 at Hamilton. Born in Waterford, Ireland around 1831, Ellen Corbett arrived at Portland in 1849 and went to Violet Creek Estate near Yulecart to take up work. She met her future husband William Lloyd there and they married in Hamilton in 1850. They settled at Muddy Creek and raised a large family, with eleven children living at the time of her death. Ellen moved to Strathkellar around 1906 to live with her daughter, Grace Munroe, and she resided there until her death.
Henry POTTER: Died 4 December 1916 at Hamilton. Henry Potter was born in Norfolk, England around 1841 and travelled to Adelaide with his parents around 1854. The family moved to Portland where Henry took up a plastering apprenticeship before entering into a building partnership with Mr T. Wyatt that lasted 40 years. They first operated from Mt. Gambier then Portland, Melbourne and finally in 1874, Hamilton. In his later years, Henry Potter worked as Clerk of Works on several buildings around Hamilton. At the time of his death, he was the oldest affiliated member of the Grange Lodge.
Sophia D’ALTON: Died 13 December 1916 at Stawell. I have a soft spot for Sophia and her twin sister, Henrietta. Actually they intrigue me. The D’Altons were Halls Gap pioneers and lived at Glenbower just out of Halls Gap, near Lake Bellfield. I had read about the site of their former home, now overgrown with bush and wanted to find it. I asked an old local and was directed to the site. At the time the D’Altons lived there, there were several residences, but bush fires over the years destroyed them. It is amazing to stand in such an isolated spot and imagine the goings on at Glenbower when the sisters lived there. Henrietta was an acclaimed wildflower artist, and many of her artistic friends from Australia and abroad visited their Grampians home. So bohemian.
Sophia and her sister were born in Kilkenny, Ireland around 1836. In 1856, their widowed mother, the girls and other members of the D’Alton family came to Australia, settling first at Stawell before moving to Glenbower. Sophia and her sister remained there until a few years before Sophia’s death when they moved back to Stawell. The pioneers of the Halls Gap district were tough and they were faced with many perils from fire to flood. Glenbower, while eventually burnt out, out a close call in 1914 when fires licked its walls. This fire most likely the reason for the sister’s last move to Stawell.
Isabella GORRIE: Died 18 December 1918 at Ararat. Isabella Gorrie was an old resident of the Ararat district, having moved there with her parents when she was a girl. She taught at the local school and in 1878, she married Andrew Murray.
Isabella was a member of the Australian Women’s National League, a President of the local Red Cross branch and with the outbreak of WW1, she became the local representative of the Neglected Children’s Department. Her brother Robert was the Town Clerk of Ararat for many years.
Richard Benson McGARVIE: Died 19 December 1938 at Camperdown. Richard McGarvie arrived in the Pomberneit district, with his father William in 1865. Richard was a farmer until the 1920s when he moved into Camperdown. Prior to that Richard he was an active community member of Pomberneit, as a member of the Victorian Mounted Rifles, the Pomberneit Rifle Club and the Camperdown Pastoral and Agricultural society. He was a Councillor on the Heytesbury Shire and served as a committee member of the St James Church of England, Pomberneit. He left a widow, Emma, and three sons and three daughters.
Mary SWAIN: Died 19 December 1941 at Camperdown. Mary Swain was born in Port Fairy around 1860 but moved to Camperdown as a girl. She married Joshua Beard and they had one son and a daughter. Joshua helped build the railway between Camperdown and Timboon in the late 19th century and one of Mary’s dearest possessions was a photo of Joshua and a wagon laden with posts from that time.
James WILSON: Died 25 December 1944 at Portland. James was born at The Lagoons, Lower Bridgewater in 1863 to John and Agnes Wilson, pioneers of the Bridgewater district. In 1886, he married Priscilla Hollard. James was a hairdresser and tobacconist in Portland and worked for Learmonth’s auctioning firm. He ran a business in Melbourne for some time before returning to Portland in the late 1940s. During his time in Portland, he attended the Methodist church and was a member of the Sons of Temperance benefit society. He and Priscilla did not have a family.
Ruth GALE: Died 5 December 1949 at Portland. Ruth Gale was born in Portland around 1863 and attend Hill’s School at West Portland. Ruth was a dressmaker and learnt her trade from Mrs Trickey of Portland. Around 1889, she married Angus Martin and they moved around the state, residing at several different towns, before moving back to Portland around 1942.
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