Wonderful Western District Women Part 2

It’s Women’s History Month and this is my second instalment of Wonderful Western District Women.  As in Part 1, I share the stories of five women I’ve been taken with while writing Passing of the Pioneers over the past five years.  In this post, all five women were in business in some capacity. One was also a teacher.  All are very similar in the level of perseverance and determination they displayed, but each led very different lives.  For example, two never married with one shunning the company of others and the other drawing people to her. As noted in one of their obituaries, they are “those splendid women, whose unselfish, unwearying zeal helped to make the Victoria of today”.  Click on the underlined text for more information about a subject.

DONNELLY, Jane (c1834-1914)  Also known as Jane Walsh and Jane Jenkins.

Jane Donnelly was born in Ireland around 1834 and arrived in Victoria in the early 1860s.  She married William Walsh in 1865 and together they operated the Forester’s Hotel at Myamyn.  Jane and William had three children before William died in 1877 aged forty-nine. It was the same year a fourth child was born. Jane continued to run the hotel although she did try to sell it. In 1881, the hotel was badly damaged by fire leading to Jane’s insolvency in 1881 with debts of £145.

“Advertising” Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953) 24 April 1880: 3 (MORNINGS.). 

 

“Items of News” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 19 May 1881

In 1883, Jane married William Gordon Jenkins and they went to Portland to run the Victoria Hotel.  The building was dilapidated and they were soon closed down.  That appears to have been the end of Jane’s days in the hotel trade.  In their later years, Jane and William moved to Hawkesdale to live with Jane’s daughter.  Jane died at Hawkesdale in 1916 aged eighty.  William died the following year.

STEWART, Christina (1825-1921) Also known as Christina McPherson.

Christina Stewart was born at Kingussie, Scotland around 1825 and travelled with her husband, Duncan McPherson, to Australia in November 1851 on board the Hooghly.  While Duncan went off to the goldfields, Christina waited in Melbourne until they journeyed to Portland and then on to Strathdownie. In March 1857, Duncan purchased the Woodford Inn located just north of Dartmoor on the Glenelg River and a son Alexander was born in the same year. The inn was a busy place as it was at a crossing point on the river with a punt moored at the inn for that purpose. Christina had eight children and during her child-bearing years, rarely saw another white woman. She made friends with the local Aboriginal women, teaching them to cook and make damper. If she had guests staying at the inn, the Aboriginals caught crayfish in the river for her.  The McPhersons eventually moved to Hamilton, residing in Coleraine Road.  Christina died there in 1921 aged ninety-six.

RYAN, Mary  (c1834-1914) 

When I wrote about Mary Ryan for Passing of the Pioneers, there was little known about her other than she ran a servants’ registry office in Hamilton and she died ten months after fire burnt her home down. I also gathered from her short obituary, she was very independent. Mary never married and living a seemingly solitary life, save for the interactions through her business. When Mary died there was no-one to give the names of her parents, so her death record shows her parents as “unknown”.  Since her Passing of the Pioneers appearance, more Hamilton Spectators have become available at Trove and I’ve been able to find out a little more about Mary.

The earliest newspaper reference I could find of Mary Ryan in Hamilton was in 1864 when she advertised her dressmaking services in the Hamilton Spectator and Grange District Advertiser.  Her advertisement said she was “late of South Yarra” and she was operating from Thompson Street. Other women in Hamilton including a Mrs Owens were combining dressmaking with servant registry businesses so it was a natural progression for Mary to do the same.  She began advertising both services in 1867 from a shop in Gray Street.

“Advertising” Hamilton Spectator and Grange District Advertiser (South Melbourne, Vic. : 1860 – 1870) 29 June 1867 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article194474076

In September 1870, fire swept through several shops in Gray Street, destroying Mary’s shop.  The report in the Hamilton Spectator said the occupants were able to get their valuables out. Mary appears to have rebuilt and on 8 March 1877 the land where her shop stood was sold, the Hamilton Spectator published the results of the sale.

“Items of News.” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 8 March 1877: http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article226045698 .

Mary responded in the next edition.

“VALUE OF HAMILTON LAND.” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 10 March 1877: <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article226042386&gt;.

Mary expanded into millinery and drapery.  Only days after Mary placed this advertisement, she sold her shop on  13 July 1878, by auction but I wasn’t able to find a report of the sale in the paper.

“Advertising” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 2 July 1878:  <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article226069431&gt;.

Two years later, an incident highlighted the potential dangers for a woman living alone.

“HAMILTON POLICE COURT.” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 5 August 1880: <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article225488525&gt;.

That wasn’t the only such incident.  In October 1888, some local “larrikins” were in court charged with “rocking” Mary’s roof in Gray Street.  They also verbally abused her, calling her by name, well aware of who she was.  In her evidence, Mary stated her residence was opposite the Hamilton Mechanics Institute.  In 1895, Mary moved her business to Cox Street and by 1905, she had moved to Brown Street near the Hamilton Railway Station.  On 2 November 1910, Mary suffered another blow when fire swept through her shop and residence.  Built of pine, the shop burnt quickly and only a small box of valuables was saved.  Fortunately, Mary was away from home at the time.

Mary remained stubbornly independent in old age despite becoming very frail.  She stayed in her home, but besides the hospital, it seems she really had nowhere else to go.  In February 1914, a fire broke out in her home, accidentally started when Mary dropped a lit match on some papers on the floor.

“FIRE IN BROWN STREET.” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 20 February 1914: <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article119823533&gt;.

While she wasn’t injured in the fire, it may have taken a toll as she passed away eight months later.  Her age was given as eighty.

“Hamilton Spectator” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 15 December 1914: <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article119874336&gt;.

SLOAN, Susan  (c1844-1918)

Susan Sloan was born in Glasgow, Scotland and after arriving in Portland in 1855, she went to Ararat where she married Thomas Sloan the following year.  Thomas ran a soda water manufacturing factory. In 1867, Susan returned to Portland with Thomas and they built the White Horse Brewery and a bakery in Gawler Street. Trade was tough and they moved inland in 1873 to Hamilton where they saw greater opportunities. Thomas purchased the North Hamilton Brewery from his brothers James and Robert.  In 1882, Thomas had a timber building constructed in Cox Street for a cordial factory.

Grace Sloan, a daughter of Susan and Thomas suffered consumption since 1893, and on doctor’s advice, she left Hamilton for a drier climate with friends in N.S.W. She departed on her journey but only reached Melbourne before her conditioned worsened and she telegraphed Susan to go to Melbourne. Grace improved so Susan returned home. A week or so later, Susan heard Grace had died in a Melbourne Hospital on 20 July 1895 aged twenty-one.  A memorial service was held at Hamilton’s Christ Church, where Grace had sung with the choir. The following year Susan had a close call herself.

“Items of News.” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 12 March 1896: 2. Web. 10 Mar 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article225868558&gt;.

In 1903, the Hamilton Spectator reported Susan had sold the North Hamilton Brewery to Mr J.B.Webb.  He didn’t do much with it and in 1904, the Sloans revitalised it with new equipment. They did the same at the cordial factory where they could produce up to sixty dozen bottles per hour.  Susan advertised prior to Christmas 1908, citing her fifty-two years in the business.

 

“CHRISTMAS DRINKS.” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 17 December 1908: 4. Web. 10 Mar 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article225895607&gt;.

Thomas died in May 1910 and Susan continued to run the business until her death, after which time family members continued operations. The Sloan’s cottage Whinhill in Pope Street, Hamilton still stands today.

“WHINHILL” – THE FORMER COTTAGE OF THE SLOAN FAMILY, POPE STREET, HAMILTON.

 

WADMORE, Sarah Jane (1859-1941)

Sarah Wadmore was the youngest daughter of Cape Bridgewater pioneers James Wadmore and Mary Driscoll. She was born in 1859 and only a month after her birth, James Wadmore drowned after he was washed off rocks while fishing on the west coast of  Cape Bridgewater.

By the age of fifteen, Sarah was helping her brothers on their mother’s farm. Mr and Mrs Joseph Voysey from the local state school saw something special in her and offered to train Sarah as a teacher.  In 1880, Sarah became head teacher at the new Kentbruck school.  Prior to that she was living at Bacchus Marsh and teaching at the school of Mr and Mrs Voysey.  From Kentbruck, Sarah was head teacher at the Tahara State School twelve years, her last teaching appointment.   In 1905, Sarah and her sister Anne moved to Annesley in Julia Street, Portland to operate a private boarding house.

“ANNESLEY’, JULIA STREET, PORTLAND. Image courtesy of the J.T. Collins Collection, La Trobe Picture Collection, State Library of Victoria. http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/233404

One of their first “guests” at Annesley was Rosalie Brewer, the only child of the previous owner, Dr Brewer. Rosalie was confined to bed at Annesley for over twenty years until her death on 2 March 1926 at the age of fifty-seven.  Sarah, then sixty-seven, along with her sister, gave Rosalie the love and care a mother would, nursing her through those years.  Sarah’s mother Mary also moved into Annesley from her home at Cape Bridgewater and she died there in 1908.

Inspired by the pioneering life of her mother and others at Cape Bridgewater, Sarah had a great interest in the history of Portland and its pioneers.  It was always her ambition to publish the history of Portland’s women and in 1934, with the approaching centenary of the arrival of the Henty Bros, Sarah and two other local’s, Mrs Marion Hedditch and Mr E. Davis of the Portland Observer produced a booklet entitled Portland Pioneer Women’s Book of Remembrance for the event.  As Secretary of the Portland Pioneer Women’s Association, she was also the main force behind the Pioneer Women’s statue near the Shire Offices at Portland.  Also in 1934,  Sarah contributed to a supplement for the Portland Guardian for the centenary of the arrival of the Hentys at Portland Bay called Lone furrows on sea and land, or, Historical Portland .  For the publication, Sarah wrote of the Reminiscences of a Pioneer State School Teacher

“OBITUARY” Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953) 6 January 1941: 1 (EVENING). Web. 15 Mar 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64398666&gt;.

Sarah had a busy life. Many fundraisers, Pioneer Women’s Association meetings and even art exhibitions were held at Annesley.  At one stage, she travelled to England visiting Sussex the birthplace of the Henty brothers. She was interested in the Scout movement and donated a flag to the Portland Scouts. Sarah was also active in the St Stephens Anglican Church community and the church was conveniently across the road from her home.

ST. STEPHEN’S ANGLICAN CHURCH, PORTLAND

A wonderful life closed on New Year’s Day 1941 when Sarah died at Annesley at the age of aged eighty-one. Sarah’s obituary closed with, “It may be truly said of Miss Wadmore that she shares largely in the honour of those splendid women, whose unselfish, unwearying zeal helped to make the Victoria of today”.

 

You can read Part One on the link – Wonderful Western District Women Part 1

 

Passing of the Pioneers

The last Passing of the Pioneers for 2014 includes some characters from the early days of Portland, a wealthy grazier and a Swiss born gold-seeker who settled at Heywood.

William CHARTER: Died December 1888 at Portland. “The relentless reaper death has sought another addition to his uninterrupted harvest from amongst the ranks of our oldest residents.” And so began the obituary of William Charter, a Portland resident from the 1850s and one time Portland police sergeant.  He did have some time away from Portland when he operated the Rising Sun Hotel at Hotspur.

pp

“[No heading].” Portland Guardian and Normanby General Advertiser (Vic. : 1842 – 1876) 20 Jun 1864: 3 Edition: EVENING. Web. 26 Dec 2014 .

William returned to Portland and operated a cordial and soda water factory.

“Advertising.” Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953) 8 Jun 1880: 3 Edition: MORNINGS.. Web. 26 Dec 2014 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article63401172&gt;.

Walter LAIDLAW: Died December 1906 at Apsley. Walter Laidlaw was born in Scotland around 1825. He arrived in Victoria in 1850 and with the discovery of gold, he tried his luck on the Bendigo diggings. He then farmed at Broadmeadows before moving to the Western District, farming on the land that became known as Skene at Strathkellar.  He was then appointed overseer of Newland Station at Apsley for James Gordon and in time, married his employer’s sister.  At the time of his death, he owned Ardachy Estate and Melville Forest Estate.

“OBITUARY.” The Horsham Times (Vic. : 1882 – 1954) 29 Dec 1905: 3. Web. 30 Dec 2014 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article72819119&gt;.

Around the time of his marriage, Walter purchased Mundarra (below) near Edenhope.

MUNDARRA Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria.  Image no. H95.200/1068    http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/230342

MUNDARRA Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria. Image no. H95.200/1068 http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/230342

He was buried at the Newland Station Cemetery with other members of his family.

Theobald FETHERSTONHAUGH: Died 24 December 1909 at Hamilton. Theobald Fetherstonhaugh was the son of Cuthbert Fetherstonhaugh snr an early police magistrate at Hamilton and brother of Cuthbert jnr, the author of “After Many Days” which I have previously posted about.  Cuthbert snr resided at Corragh at Strathkellar and Theobald continued to live there after his father’s death.  Unlike his brother Cuthbert, Theobald seems to have lived a quiet life at Corragh.  While Cuthbert mentions “my brother” many times throughout “After Many Days”, he does not name Theobald as he does his other brother Robert.  Theobald was buried at the Old Hamilton Cemetery with a headstone (below) that gives nothing away about his life.

fetherstonhaugh1

Mary RYAN: Died 11 December 1914 at Hamilton. When Mary Ryan passed away in 1914, the names of her parents were not recorded and it’s unlikely she left anyone behind to pass that information on or even to remember her, so let us remember Mary Ryan of Hamilton.

Mary Ryan ran a registry office for servants in Hamilton for many years, first in Gray Street and later in Brown Street.

“Advertising.” Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953) 17 Apr 1883: 3 Edition: MORNING. Web. 17 Dec 2014 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article71585092&gt;.

Determined to stay independent in old age despite becoming very decrepit, she remained in her home.  Early in the year of her passing, Mary had a fire in her house, the third time she had endured a house fire, herself suffering burns on one occasion.  She wasn’t injured in the 1914 fire, but it may have taken some toll as she passed away eight months later.

pp

“FIRE IN BROWN STREET.” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1914 – 1918) 20 Feb 1914: 4. Web. 30 Dec 2014 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article119823533&gt;.

After checking the headstones of the Old Hamilton Cemetery recorded by Cemeteries of the South-West, there was no record of Mary, so if she was buried there, her grave is without a headstone.

William Gordon JENKINS: Died 28 December 1916 at Hawkesdale. William Jenkins was born in Scotland, a son of a Church of England clergyman. On arrival in Victoria, he worked at flour mills around Hamilton, then went to New Zealand with a survey party. He returned to Victoria and worked in the sawmilling industry. In 1883, he married widow, Jane Walshe (nee Donnelly).  At the time, Jane was operating the Forester Hotel at Myamyn.   After their marriage, William and Jane moved to Portland and operated the Victoria Hotel from 1884 until 1886. William had no family of his own but was living with his step-daughter at the time of his death.

Charles FARR: Died 15 December 1917 at Portland. Born in Wiltshire, England around 1833, Charles Farr, an interesting character, was the proprietor of livery stables in Portland having arrived in the mid-1850s.

“Advertising.” Portland Guardian and Normanby General Advertiser (Vic. : 1842 – 1876) 1 Jan 1875: 1 Edition: EVENING., Supplement: Supplement to the “Portland Guardian”. Web. 24 Dec 2014 .

Charles also ran cabs in Portland, taking parties from Mac’s Hotel to the railway station.

TABLE TALK. (1877, December 19). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 - 1953), p. 2 Edition: EVENINGS.. Retrieved December 27, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article63340211

TABLE TALK. (1877, December 19). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 2 Edition: EVENINGS.. Retrieved December 27, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article63340211

MAC'S HOTEL, PORTLAND

MAC’S HOTEL, PORTLAND

Although his obituary stated Charles Farr did not involve himself in public affairs, he was often in the public eye especially in the papers, whether advertising his stables or involved in some type of dispute. His following “Letter to the Editor” was either damage control or cashing-in on another stable’s misfortune. Charles’ letter was in response to an article in the Portland Guardian of 10 June 1880.

“Over – charging by a Portland Livery Stable Keeper.” Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953) 12 Jun 1880: 3 Edition: MORNINGS.. Web. 27 Dec 2014 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article63401212&gt;.

Serafino RIGHETTI:  Died 21 December 1917 at Heywood. I first “met” the Righettis of Heywood when I wrote the Trove Tuesday post “Accidental Tourist”. I didn’t realise then that the family was one of the Swiss/Italian families that settled at Hepburn near Daylesford after arriving in Victoria during the 1850s. Serafino was born in Switzerland and arrived in Melbourne in 1854. His brother Battista arrived the following year. A photo of Serafino and Battista appears on the following link – http://tinyurl.com/l4o5k5n

After time operating the American Hotel at Hepburn, Serafino moved to the Heywood district in the late 1870s establishing the merchant business Righetti & Co. He was a shire councillor for twenty years and served as Shire President several times.

“Groups at Swinburne College, Glenferrie.” Punch (Melbourne, Vic. : 1900 – 1918) 10 Jan 1918: 17. Web. 24 Dec 2014 .

An interview with Serafino’s grandson Alan Righetti, with details of the family’s early days, is on the following link –  http://www.3squadron.org.au/subpages/AAWRighetti.htm

Eliza Sarah SEABORNE: Died 9 December 1932 at Portland. Eliza Seaborne was born in Adelaide in 1838 and arrived in Portland with her parent three years later. In 1856 aged eighteen, Eliza married bootmaker James Mallett in the first wedding conducted at St. Stephen’s Church at Portland.  They settled at Merino around 1866 and James ran a bootmaking business in the town.  He died in 1901 and Eliza continued to live at Merino until around 1928 when she moved back to Portland to live with her daughter Mrs Martha Sutchbery.

In May 1931, Eliza celebrated her 93rd birthday and she spent the day with family and friends.

“Birthday Celebration.” Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953) 25 May 1931: 2 Edition: EVENING. Web. 30 Dec 2014 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64295183&gt;.

Eliza was ninety-four years and seven months old when she passed away in 1932. She left three daughters and three sons with four children having predeceased her. Eliza was buried at the Merino Cemetery. More information about the Mallett family is available on the South-West Pioneers site – http://www.swvic.org/merino/mallett.htm