The Great Flood of 1870

The year 1870 was wet across Australia. In January, summer storms brought flooding to Ballarat and Bendigo. Then for several months floods plagued NSW and Queensland.  Winter came and the Western District received more than its share of rain.  

PENSHURST. (1870, August 27). Hamilton Spectator p. 3. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article196303848

The rain continued into spring and the Hamilton Spectator reported on 10 September 1870, “The present extraordinary season, according to many of the oldest inhabitants has not been equalled in the Western District of Victoria for the last eighteen years.” That came after 1½ inches fell across 4 and 5 September causing the Grange Burn at Hamilton to swell. Mail to the town was blocked for two days with creeks along the route on the rise. 

The Hopkins River was up and water lapped the back door of the Hexham Hotel.  Mail couldn’t get through to Warrnambool from Melbourne and at Allansford, not only the old bridge washed away but also new bridge under construction. 

LATEST INTELLIGENCE. (1870, September 13). The Ballarat Star, p. 3. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article218798397

The Wannon River (below) was raging and there were reports of trees going over the Wannon Falls. Further downstream, the road from Sandford to Casterton was cut and a bridge at Sandford was washed away.

WANNON RIVER, OCTOBER 2020

Streatham saw the largest flood the inhabitants could remember with families evacuated and the telegraph office flooded. At Skipton, the rise of Mount Emu Creek soon saw the streets flooded.

THE SKIPTON SHOW. (1870, September 14). Hamilton Spectator, p. 3. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article196301671

At Coleraine, settled on the banks of Bryan Creek,* the water rose rapidly.  

TOWNSHIP OF COLERAINE, Victorian Office of Lands & Survey, Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/93052

The Hamilton Spectator‘s Coleraine correspondent summed up the town’s experience during the rains of September 1870, pointing to the rapid rise of the water and the plight of the McCaskill family.  He offered a grim assessment…”if the stream had not suddenly fallen, that a coroner’s inquest in the locality would have taken place.”

COLERAINE. (1870, September 10). Hamilton Spectator p. 3.  http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article196305637

Bryan Creek, a tributary of the Wannon River, rises up near Vasey about thirty-five kilometres north-east of Coleraine, not far from the Dundas Ranges. Several small creeks run into it as it flows through the valleys of rolling hills.  Those open hills enhance the beauty of the district but as Adam Lindsay Gordon wrote in his famous poem “The Fields of Coleraine”, “…the gullies are deep, and the uplands are steep” expediting water runoff into the creek. 

VIEW TOWARD THE COLERAINE TOWNSHIP, Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/63291

By the end of September 1870, farmers were lamenting the wet weather as potatoes rotted in the ground and shearing was delayed.

COLERAINE. (1870, October 1). Hamilton Spectator p. 3. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article196307121

Unsettled weather continued throughout October. On Friday 28 October 1870 in Coleraine, it was humid with a squally wind.  
 

COLERAINE c1880 Image No. [B 21766/52 State Libary of South Australia https://collections.slsa.sa.gov.au/resource/B+21766/52

As the day moved into night, clouds appeared and lightning illuminated the sky like nothing the residents had seen before. Thunder rumbled for two hours. Rain began to fall “gentle and warm” and then, when it seemed to have past, the people of Coleraine “went to repose, fearing nothing from the weather”.
 

COLERAINE. (1870, November 2). Hamilton Spectator p. 2.  http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article196303181

Among them was Emma Laird who lay down with her sleeping infants James and Isabella.  She lived in a cottage behind the Albion newspaper office (below). The Drummond family, David, Margaret and their children were her neighbours.  David’s niece Janet was staying over for the night.

THE ALBION PRINTING OFFICE, WHYTE STREET COLERAINE, Image courtesy of the Museums Victoria Collections https://collections.museumsvictoria.com.au/items/772470

Closer to the creek, carrier William Lewis, William Weaven, and another man were camped on what they thought was high ground near the bridge.  There was no sleeping under the stars for them that night, instead they made their beds under the dray of William Lewis to shelter from the storm.
 
As the town went to sleep, little did they know what they thought was the sound of gale force winds roaring through the trees was actually water raging along Bryan Creek.  Heavy rain in the catchment area was rapidly entering the waterway.  At Gringegalong close to the creek’s headwater, water was knee-deep within an hour. By midnight Bryan Creek was “a roaring torrent and inundated the sleeping town” having risen five feet in two hours. There was chaos. People ran between houses trying to wake the occupants and soon a crowd was gathering near the lowest part of the town where the cottages were submerged in water. 
 

THE FLOODS. (1870, November 3). Portland Guardian and Normanby General Advertiser p. 2 (EVENINGS). , from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article65423451

The Coleraine correspondent for the Hamilton Spectator opened his front door only to be almost swept off his feet by the rush of incoming water. He managed to close the door again but only with the help of another person.  He said outside it was “a sea, roaring and boiling, and crushing all in its course.”
 
Such was the commotion, the order to which the events of that night occurred differ slightly between eye-witness accounts from the likes of the Hamilton Spectator‘s correspondent and the Coleraine Albion reporter.  Piecing the various reports together, I believe this is how it all unfolded.
 
Around 12.30 am, an attempt was made to rescue residents on the low ground including those at the residence of Robert Wright the brickmaker on the banks of the creek, and dressmaker Betsy Gillies.  In the nick of time, the Wright family got themselves across the deluge to safe ground. Miss Gillies was woken from her slumber and also escaped.  In both cases, another few minutes, and the outcome would have been disastrous. 
 
Attention then turned to the two cottages behind the Albion office, that of the Drummonds and Lairds.  By now, the water was knee-deep and the current was too fast to safely cross. Constable James Mahon made a dash for it but was carried away. Fortunately, he managed to land on top of a pigsty and was able to get back to safety.  He tried again and was able to save one of the children.  Storekeeper Louis Lesser also headed across the water and rescued another child.  He was also able to lift Mrs Margaret Drummond out of the water and on to the roof of a cowshed.  Her husband, David Drummond got three children to safety and went back for three more, James and Margeret Jr and his niece Janet. He had one on his back and one in each arm as he made his way across.  Suddenly, the current caught him, and all four were swept away.  
 
Charles Loxton, the young accountant from the National Bank of Australasia (below). attempted to cross on his horse.  They were both swept away and it was then the rescue was abandoned.
 

FORMER NATIONAL BANK OF AUSTRALASIA, WHYTE STREET, COLERAINE.

Around 1.00 am the water had fallen enough for another attempt to cross to the cottages.  Margaret Drummond was found sitting on the cowshed but the rescuers worst fears were soon realised.  During all the commotion, Emma Laird and two of her children had washed away on their beds as they slept.  William Lewis and William Weaven camped by the creek were swept away from beneath the dray. Their friend managed to get himself to safety.
 
By 8.00 am on Saturday morning, the creek had “assumed its natural proportions” and the horse of Charles Loxton grazed nonchalantly by the creek. It was as though nothing had happened, 

WHYTE STREET, COLERAINE. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/385977

But looking around the town it was anything but normal. It was devastating. “The scene when morning dawned was heartrending. Men, women, and children were found on chimneys and housetops; and all sorts of property was floating about”. The water was three feet deep in McLean’s timber yard and the store of Edmond Dacomb (below) was also flooded.

Also flooded was the store of Abraham Lesser and his brother Louis, a hero only hours earlier.

COLERAINE IGA FORMERLY THE STORE OF A. LESSER & CO., WHYTE STREET, COLERAINE.

The bridge over Bryan Creek on the Penola road, was destroyed, and the streets were a mess.  Almost ominously, headstones at Alfred Priest’s monumental yard were scattered.  There was slime everywhere the water had been.  Logs, bales of wool and a haystack had washed down the creek.  Further downstream, Murdoch McCaskill’s farm once again suffered damage.  

The harrowing task of searching for bodies began at first light with the whole town turning out even though very few had slept. Holes were checked and logs turned over. By 6.00 pm on Saturday evening, five bodies had been recovered, all of them children.  Five adults were still missing.  On Sunday, the bodies of Emma Laird and William Lewis were found.  Later, the searchers noticed a piece of clothing pocking out from under a huge log.  It took around fifty men to remove the log and expose the body of Charles Loxton 

As they were found, the bodies were laid out in McKnight’s “old courtroom” and family gathered around their lost loved ones. George Trangmar the coroner issued the certificates of burial. The funeral for eight of the victims took place on Monday 31 October at 6.00 pm. The coffins left McKnights for the cemetery with the Oddfellows in the lead, two abreast, then a hearse with some of the coffins, followed by a wagon with the remainder. There was a very large cortege and to emphasise the tragedy, reports mentioned there were thirty to forty women in attendance. It was not customary for women to attend funerals in those times.

COLERAINE CEMETERY

The body of William Lewis was taken to Sandford for burial.

The Portland correspondent for the Hamilton Spectator told of how the news of the lives lost at Coleraine came in by telegram subsequently casting a gloom over his town.  He hoped a suitable monument would be erected to remember the bravery of Charles Loxton and David Drummond.

A week on and William Weaven’s body had not been found but his family kept searching along the creek for him but to no avail.  During September 1872, human remains were found in Bryan Creek about five kilometres downstream from the bridge at Coleraine.  The local police decided an inquest was not necessary as it seemed almost certain the remains were those of William Weaven.

THE VICTIMS 

DAVID DRUMMOND and his children James and Margaret DRUMMOND.

David Drummond married Margaret Watson in Tillicoultry, Scotland on 12 June 1852 (1) and they boarded the Chance at Liverpool, England on 23 July 1852 (2). It was a difficult journey with forty-six deaths and on arrival in Melbourne on 28 October 1852, the ship was quarantined and remained so for almost three weeks.  Once on dry land, the couple made their way to the Geelong district.  A son James was born in 1853 but sadly he died the next year (3). Another son Richard was born in 1854 (4) and a daughter Margaret in 1857 (5).  James was born in 1862 at Duck Ponds near Geelong (6).

The family moved west to join other members of the Drummond family sometime after 1862 with John born at Casterton in 1867 (7). It was there in the same year, Margaret Jr aged ten, faced the Casterton Court of Petty Sessions. Her charges of stealing a pocketbook were eventually dismissed.  It was also the year David Jr died at Sandford aged seven (8). The following year baby John died, also at Sandford. (9) In 1869, another son was born and named David (10).  He was born at Dundas suggesting the family had moved to Coleraine, within the Shire of Dundas.  

After the tragic death of her husband and children in 1870, Margaret Drummond continued to live in Coleraine. In her old age, she lived with her son Richard. She died on 1 March 1914 her life punctuated with tragedy. She was buried at the Coleraine Cemetery with David, James, and Margaret (11). Richard died on 17 July 1932 at Coleraine (12).  Margaret’s other surviving son David Jr. settled at Streatham. He died in 1941 at Sebastopol (13).
    

GRAVE OF THE DRUMMOND FAMILY, COLERAINE CEMETERY

Janet DRUMMOND
 
Janet, the niece of David and Margaret Drummond was born at Branxholme in 1861, the daughter of George Drummond and Margaret Scott (14).  Her father owned the Shamrock Inn at Coleraine from the early 1870s and then the Koroite Inn from February 1876.
 

GRAVE OF JANET DRUMMOND AND HER PARENTS GEORGE AND MARGARET, COLERAINE CEMETERY.

Emma Jane LAIRD and her children James and Isabella –

Emma Jane Laird was born around 1842 as Emma Jane Till.  Emma arrived from Middlesex, England in 1861 aboard the Oithona and went to work as a housemaid at Dundas station for Samuel Proudfoot Hawkins (15). She married James Laird in 1864 (16).  The following year, a daughter Louisa Matilda was born at Coleraine (17).  Isabella Jane was born in 1867 (18) followed by a son James Alexander in 1869 (19).  James Snr and Louisa were not mentioned in newspaper reports of the flood.  James appears to have worked for a contractor and may have been away working, maybe the same reason Louisa went into the care of her grandparents at Casterton in the years after the flood.  That however soured when in 1876 Alexander Laird took his son James to court for costs incurred for board and lodging of Louisa. At the age of eighteen, Louisa married John McCreddan in 1883 (20). She died at Noradjua in 1887 aged just twenty-one (21).

Charles Arthur LOXTON 

Charles Loxton was born in Liverpool, Lancashire in 1847, a son of George Loxton and Catherine Holland (22).  The Loxton family including eight children arrived on the Catharine Mitchell when Charles was three in 1853 (23).  It’s not clear when twenty-two-year-old Charles went to Coleraine for work but it may not have bee long before the flood. The National Bank of Australasia where he was an accountant was opened in 1870. Charles’ brother Holland Loxton was the town clerk at Kew. In 1948, Charles’ grave at the Coleraine Cemetery was restored using money donated by then-current and past residents. More about the grave can be seen on the link to Monument Australia – Grave of Charles Arthur Loxton

William LEWIS

William Lewis was a son of Thomas Lewis and Rebecca Braham and was born in Tasmania in1843 (24). At some point, the family travelled to Victoria and settled at Sandford and William worked as a carrier. On Saturday 22 October 1870, he departed the stores of Stephen Henty in Portland with goods for Coleraine.  It would be his last job. William was twenty-seven at the time of his death.

William Eric WEAVEN

William Weaven was a son of Thomas Weaven and Christiana Butcher and was born at Portland in 1844 (25). 

 

FLOODING IN OTHER AREAS OF THE WESTERN DISTRICT

At Brung Brungle Station at Redruth (Wannon) close to Coleraine, and owned by John B, Hughes, employee William DUNTON was drowned while trying to save the station’s stud rams.  He fell from his horse into the water and despite being a strong swimmer and struggling for some, exhaustion saw him and succumb to the waters.  William was a local boy born around 1853, a son of William Dunton and Elizabeth Edwards.  He was buried at the Coleraine Cemetery on 4 November 1870.

Also at Redruth, trees were washing down the Wannon River and hitting the bridge on the main road to Coleraine. On Saturday afternoon 29 October at about 2.30 pm the bridge, only six years old was washed away.  Trees were going over the Nigretta and Wannon Falls.  The local correspondent for the Hamilton Spectator ventured to the Wannon Falls and found a “huge boiling cauldron” beneath.  Trees from further up the river lay below.  He then went to see the bridge on the main road. It was on its last legs and soon it washed down the river towards the Wannon Falls.

REDRUTH. (1870, November 2). Hamilton Spectator, p. 2.  http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article196303182

WANNON RIVER FROM THE WANNON BRIDGE, WANNON, OCTOBER 2020.

With the bridge out, the only way to get the mail through was a rope over the river or behind the path of the falls (below).  

WANNON FALLS, OCTOBER 2020

At Hilgay not far from Coleraine, John MOFFAT was drowned.  A number of horses on the property were in hobbles and stranded in deep water.  The owners of two of the horses offered £1 each to anyone who would go underwater and cut the hobbles.  Shortly after, John Moffat asked one of the owners for a knife and a pipe of tobacco.  He didn’t say he was going to free the horses but instead just “strolled away.  Later it was noticed he was missing and a search was made.  His clothes were found on the river bank by his friends but his body couldn’t be found.
 
At Roseneath on the Glenelg River north of Casterton, eleven-year-old Lewis Frank Russel RALSTON, a son of Robert Ralston and Jane Ross was drowned in the river. 
There was an electrical storm at Casterton and subsequent floods were considered the “greatest floods ever” or at least since 1851.  Stores and homes were flooded while at nearby Sandford, the bridge over the Wannon River washed away. At Balmoral, the “old” bridge was gone and around Harrow, the water offered “an almost uninterrupted swim”.
 
At Hamilton, communications were down and the Hamilton Spectator said it “rained in torrents for hours”.

THE WEATHER AND THE TELEGRAPH.— (1870, October 29). Hamilton Spectator p. 2. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article196304024

One report suggested around 34 mm of rain fell in a short time. The bridge over the Grange Burn on the Dunkeld Road (now Ballarat Road) was partially washed away. Further downstream, the Grange Inn on the banks of the creek was in more than a metre of water resulting in the kitchen breaking away and washing down the creek. One of the abutments on the nearby Portland Road bridge had washed away and the roadway had fallen in. 

LOOKING TOWARDS THE SITE OF THE FORMER GRANGE INN AND THE DIGBY ROAD BRIDGE OVER THE GRANGE BURN FROM THE PORTLAND ROAD BRIDGE.

To the east, sheep washes were swept away at Strathkellar and around 600 sheep were drowned at Warrayure. At Portland, the storm was spectacular and around 17mm of rain fell.

OUR LETTER HOME. (1870, November 5). Hamilton Spectator, p. 4.  http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article196303362

 A horse was struck by lightning at Streatham and at Colac, the heaviest ran in years fell. Murray Street was like a river and Lake Colac was rising. 

DISASTROUS FLOODS. (1870, October 31). The Age, p. 3.  http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article189331161

At Ballarat,  the rain brought the worst flood in memory. 

BALLARAT. (1870, October 29). The Herald, p. 3. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article244717929

There were cries of “Not October storms again” as people recalled the floods in the town the year prior. Then Bridge Street was a river (below) but in 1870, the water level exceeded that high mark.

DISASTERS AT BALLARAT. (1869, December 1). Illustrated Adelaide Post (SA), p. 4.  http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article245004026

COLERAINE’S FLOOD HISTORY

The people of Coleraine have been no strangers to flooding over the years.  For example, there was 1893, 1906, 1983, and more recently 2016, the worst flooding since 1946 the year of ‘The Big Flood‘ across the Western District.  Even earlier this month while writing this account, two days of almost constant rain saw the Bryan Creek once again rise resulting in some minor flooding. 

The flood of October 1870 was disastrous and possibly the worst in the town’s history but as there weren’t official records kept for rainfall and the creek levels, it is difficult to compare. The only comparison can be made with the number of fatalities and fortunately, there has never been a repeat of the loss of life seen in 1870. 

You can find more about the history of flooding at Coleraine from the following video prepared for the Southern Grampians Shire Council investigation into the 2016 Coleraine floods.  You can read the full report on the link – Coleraine Flood Investigation

Bryan Creek – While researching the 1870 floods, I came across several variations of the name of the creek which passes by Coleraine, Bryan Creek, Bryan’s Creek, Bryants Creek, Koroite Creek, and Koroite Rivulet.  The use of Koroite comes from the Koroite run.  The homestead stood on the northern bank of the creek just west of the township once known as Bryan’s Creek from the name of the run taken up by John Bryan in 1837 and later his brother Samuel.  In 1937, the Portland Guardian claimed Samuel Pratt Winter said in the Hamilton Spectator in 1878, also the year of his death, that somewhere along the line someone had added a”t”. 

Pioneers of Wannon Country. (1937, December 20). Portland Guardian, p. 2 (EVENING.).  http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64277877

However, going back to 1849 and a description of the boundaries of the Koroite run, both Bryan’s Creek (possibly the aforementioned pastoral run) and Bryant’s Creek are referred to. 

Advertising (1849, March 5). Port Phillip Gazette and Settler’s Journal p. 4. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article223156343

I chose to use Bryan Creek, the name used by local and state government agencies.  


SOURCES

1.  Scotland, Marriages, 1561-1910, FamilySearch, David Drummond, 1852, FHL Film No. 1040210 

2.  PROV, Assisted British Immigration Index, VPRS 14, Book 7, Page 54, Chance, 1852

3.   Victorian BDM’s Death Index, James DRUMMOND, 1854, Reg. No. 3277/1854

4.   Victorian BDMs  Birth Index, Richard DRUMMOND, 1854, Reg. No. 6918/1854

5.   Victorian BDMS Birth Index, Margaret DRUMMOND, 1857, Reg. No. 15416/1857

6.   Victorian BDMs Birth Index, James DRUMMOND, 1862, Reg. No.  1963/1862

7.   Victorian BDMs  Birth Index, John DRUMMOND, 1867, Reg. No. 7017/1867

8.   Victorian BDM’s Death Index, David DRUMMOND, 1867, Reg. No. 9949/1867

9.   Victorian BDM’s Death Index, John DRUMMOND, 1868, Reg. No. 545/1868

10. Victorian BDMs  Birth Index, David DRUMMOND, 1869, Reg. No. 7703/1869

11. Victorian BDM’s Death Index, Margaret DRUMMOND, 1914, Reg. No. 1220/1914

12.  Victorian BDM’s Death Index, Richard DRUMMOND, 1932, Reg. No. 8881/1932

13.  Victorian BDM’s Death Index, David DRUMMOND, 1941, Reg. No. 2076/1914

14.  Victorian BDMs  Birth Index, Jennet DRUMMOND, 1861, Reg. No.3467/1861

15.   PROV, Assisted British Immigration Index, VPRS 14, Book 13A, Page 141, Oithona, 1861

16.  Victorian BDMs, Marriage Index, Emma Jane Till, 1864, Reg. No. 3529/1864

17.  Victorian BDMs  Birth Index, Louisa Matilda LEARD, 1865, Reg. No.4907/1865

18.  Victorian BDMs  Birth Index, Isabella Jane LAIRD, 1867, Reg. No. 20916/1867

19.  Victorian BDMs  Birth Index, James Alexander LAIRD, 1869, Reg. No. 21412/1869

20.  Victorian BDMs, Marriage Index, Louisa Matilda LAIRD, 1883, Reg. No. 3794/1883

21.  Victorian BDM’s Death Index, Louisa Matilda McCREDDEN, 1887, Reg. No. 3417/1887

22. Liverpool Record Office; Liverpool, England; Liverpool Church of England Parish Registers; Reference Number: 283 PET/2/37

23.  PROV, Unassisted Passenger List, Catharine Mitchell, Fiche 27, p. 7, Charles LOXTON

24. Libraries Tasmania, Name Index: 1089108, Births, William Lewis, 1843, Resource: RGD32/1/3/ no 2271

25.  Victorian BDMs  Birth Index, William WEAVEN, 1844, Reg. No. 30623/1844

Newspapers

 

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.

 

Not Just Hamilton’s Soldiers

One of the features of Western District Families is Hamilton’s WW1 now with sixty-six profiles of enlisted men with Hamilton links.

'HAMILTON BOYS' c 30 April 1915. Photo Courtesy of the Australian War Memorial. Image no.DAOD1060 https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/DAOD1060/

‘HAMILTON BOYS’ c 30 April 1915. Photo Courtesy of the Australian War Memorial. Image no. DAOD1060 https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/DAOD1060/

I’ve set a target, possibly an over ambitious one, of 100 profiles by Anzac Day but I’ll give it a go. There are some good stories about Hamilton nurses that I would like to share before 25 April 2016 too. But first something I’ve noticed…well it’s one of many things I’ve observed during the course of my research, but let’s start with memorials…well, one of the things I’ve noticed about memorials…

If you visit the Hamilton War Memorial and look at the names, you could be excused for thinking those men listed lived in Hamilton for a significant part of their lives or, at the very least, were born there. But that’s not the case, they were from all over with a few men having only a fleeting connection with Hamilton.  

Some of the men had fathers who moved often with work.  Clifford Williams, who was unlikely to have even visited Hamilton, was a son of a teacher while William Thompson was the son of a railway worker who often moved his family.  Both are on the Hamilton War Memorial (below).  Others went to Hamilton as adults for work and were only there a short time before enlisting, such as Edwin Smith who arrived in Hamilton around 1913 to work at the Union Bank.  Reginald Briant was born in Hampshire, England and spent a few years in Melbourne before working for the Hamilton Electric Supply Company before his enlistment.

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When searching for a family member on memorials and honour boards, clues from Electoral Rolls, Trove newspapers and the solider’s Attestation papers can help you find them.  Even if your soldier’s family just “passed through” a particular town, it’s worth following up. Soldiers were often memorialised in several towns.  As well as the Hamilton War Memorial, Clifford Williams and Percy Osborne had trees planted along Bacchus Marsh’s Avenue Honour.  And don’t overlook workplaces and churches.  Percy Osborne has a memorial window at Hamilton’s Christ Church Cathedral (below) and is on the Union Bank Honour Roll in Melbourne.

MEMORIAL WINDOW FOR PERCY OSBORNE BEAUMONT, HAMILTON CHRIST CHURCH CATHEDRAL.

MEMORIAL WINDOW FOR PERCY BEAUMONT OSBORNE, HAMILTON CHRIST CHURCH CATHEDRAL.

If you are wondering if Hamilton commemorated your WW1 soldier’s service, all Hamilton’s outdoor WW1 War Memorials including names are at Hamilton’s WW1.  Eventually, I will add Hamilton’s honour boards. The Victorian War Heritage Inventory is a useful resource for locating memorials across Victoria. You can search by the name or a place.

A quick reminder…to delve into the daily events of Hamilton 100 years ago, “like” the Hamilton WW1 Facebook page.  Along with new profiles, six days a week I post an article from the Hamilton Spectator from 100 years before.  It’s been interesting to read how Hamilton, just like other towns, continued on while so many were away fighting and how the subject of war managed to creep into most aspects of daily life.

The names of the sixty-six soldiers profiled at Hamilton’s WW1 are below. I’ve included their place of birth and other towns they had connections to. Most never returned to Australia. For some of those who did, life was never the same.  Lest We Forget.

AUSTIN, Glenister Burton  Hamilton

AUSTIN, William John  Hamilton, Adelaide

BARR, Gordon  Hotspur, Strathkellar, Warrnambool

BRAKE, William  Horsham, Hamilton, Mont Albert

BRIANT, Reginald Stuart  Hampshire (ENG), East Melbourne, Hamilton.

BURGESS, Ebenezer  Benalla, Mildura, Numurkah, Wonthaggi, Stratford

CAMERON, Archibald Douglas  Branxholme, Hamilton

CAMERON, Sidney Joseph  Hamilton

CAMERON, Thomas Waddell  Port Fairy, Hamilton, Kyabram

COULTER, Robert James  Hamilton

DAVIES, Albert  Hamilton

DAVIES, Stanley Walton  Hamilton, Lubeck

DOUGLAS, Claude Campbell Telford  Euroa, Hamilton

DUNN, Daniel Joseph  Heidelberg, Carlton

ELDER, Frank Reginald  Charlton, Jurek, Hamilton

FENTON, John Wilfred  Hamilton

FOLEY, Cornelius Thomas  Coleraine, Hamilton

GIBSON. Sydney Walter  Moe, Casterton, Hamilton, Bendigo

HARRIS, Leslie Duncan  Fremantle (WA), Hamilton, Coleraine

HENTY, Edward Ellis  Portland, Hamilton

HERILHY, George Joseph David  Balmoral, Hamilton

HERRMANN, Bernard  Hamilton, Hochkirch (Tarrington)

HIND, William Arthur  Mooroopna, Hamilton, Heyfield

ILES, Cyril Thomas Brackley  Hamilton, Windsor

JAFFRAY, Alfred John  Hamilton

KINGHORN, Walter Rodney  Byaduk

KIRKWOOD, Willliam John Clyde  Hamilton, Colac, Port Fairy

KNIGHT, James Alfred  Hamilton, Malvern

LANCE, George Basil  Casterton, Hamilton

LEWIS, Arthur Harold  Hamilton, St. Arnaud, Heywood

LIEBE, Sydney August  Hamilton

LINDSAY, Charles Henry  Heywood, Ballarat, Wallacedale, Hamilton

McPHEE, Norman Edward  Hamilton

MORISON, John Archibald McFarlane  Hamilton, Maroona

MULLANE, Leslie Alexander  Branxholme, Wallacedale, Hamilton

NIDDRIE, Stanley Roy  Hamilton

NIVEN, William David  Harrow, Merino Downs, Hamilton

NORMAN, William Leslie  Hamilton, Warracknabeal

OSBORNE, Percy Beaumont  Bacchus Marsh, Maryborough, Hamilton, Ballarat

PORTER, George Richard  Hamilton

PORTER, Norman Leslie James  Hamilton, Wallacedale, Broken Hill, Tasmania

RHOOK, Archibald Alfred  Tyrendarra, Hamilton

RHOOK, Henry Joseph William  Hamilton, Beaufort

RICHIE, George  Katunga, Willaura, Hamilton

RIGBY, Frederick Roland Angus  Coleraine, Hamilton

SALTER, Herbert Ernest  Naracoorte, Dunkeld, Hamilton

SCOTT, Alexander William  Portland, Hamilton, Donald

SHARROCK, Charles  Terang, Mt. Napier, Penshurst

SHAW, Ivan Thomas  Coleraine, Hamilton

SHEEHAN, Albert Edward  Macarthur, Hamilton

SMITH, Edwin Richardson  Mooroopna, Shepparton, Morwell, Kyabram, Hamilton

STAGOLL, Robert Leslie  Hamilton

STEVENSON, Alexander John  Hamilton, Portland

STEVENSON, Edgar Richmond  Hamilton, Portland

STEWART, Charles Herbert  Byaduk, Hamilton, Western Australia

THOMPSON, William Norton  Horsham, Ararat, Hamilton, Hopetoun

TREDREA, Francis Stanley  Hamilton, Stawell

TRIGGER, Samuel Wilfred  Macarthur, Hamilton, Murray Bridge (SA)

UNDERWOOD, Arthur Bell Percy  Dunkeld, Bendigo, Hamilton

WATERS, William Henry  Edenhope, Hamilton

WESTGARTH, Horace Leonard  Hamilton

WHITE, John Francis Raymond  Hamilton, Cosgrave

WILLIAMS, Clifford Davis  Tarnagulla, Bacchus Marsh, Melbourne

WILLIAMS, Lancelot Hamilton  Hamilton

WOMERSLEY. Edgar  Dunkeld

YOUNG, Clarence Everard  Hamilton

**Postscript – Since writing this post, I have added a further forty stories of Hamilton’s enlisted men.  You can read them at Hamilton’s WW1

 

 

More Soldiers, More Sorrow

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HAMILTON WAR MEMORIAL

 

Writing the profiles of the Hamilton WW1 soldiers has highlighted the month of August of 1915, 1916 and 1918 as particularly sad times for the town’s residents.  There was heaving fighting at Gallipoli during August 1915 with the battle of Lone Pine, the Charge at the Nek and the attack on Hill 971 and Hill 60.  During July and August 1916 there was heavy fighting at the Somme, France with the battles at Fromelles, Pozieres, and Mouquet Farm.  During August 1918, there was the Battle of Amiens.  Many Hamilton men lost their lives during those months.

You can now read forty profiles of Hamilton’s WW1 soldiers from the tab at the top of the page “Hamilton’s WW1“.

 

 

menu

 

Currently, I’m working to finish the profiles of the men who died during August, particularly those for whom it is now 100 years since they made the ultimate sacrifice.

The stories of Albert Sheehan, Arthur Lewis and Claude “Dot” Douglas are particularly sad considering they watched the occupancy in their tent diminish. Thirteen men occupied their tent at the start of their Gallipoli campaign.  By the beginning of August, only the three Hamilton mates were alive.  As the month passed, one by one, Albert, Arthur, and Claude did not return.  By the end of August 2015, their tent was empty.

 

Image Courtesy of the Australian War Memorial. Image no. P00649.004 https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/P00649.004/

Image Courtesy of the Australian War Memorial. Image no. P00649.004 https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/P00649.004/

 

There is also the story of Lieutenant Edward “Ted” Henty of the 8th Light Horse Regiment (8th LHR), grandson of Stephen George Henty.  Before departing overseas, he married his sweetheart at Hamilton’s Christ Church. Ted was killed during the charge at the Nek.  A son he would never know was born in the months after his death.  Also killed at the Nek and with the 8th LHR was William Hind, who at the time of his enlistment was beginning his career in the printing industry with the Hamilton Spectator.  One man, an officer from an esteemed Victorian family, the other a private of working class blood, but each with so much more to offer.  They bravely gave their lives in what was one of the most futile battles of WW1.

 

"DISTRICT HONOUR ROLL." Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 - 1918) 23 Sep 1915: 6. Web. .

“DISTRICT HONOUR ROLL.” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 23 Sep 1915: 6. Web. .

 

With each profile, I attempt to uncover how the enlistment affected the family and the town’s residents and how each lost man was remembered.  In some cases, the shock of the loss of a son saw the death of a parent soon after, as was the case with the father of Arthur Lewis.  Other men had wives and children. I’m writing the profile of William John Clyde Kirkwood, a man who sits on the edge of my family tree with a Kirkwood link through marriage. The effect of his death on his children reverberated for well over a decade.  Parents and wives had exhausting ongoing correspondence with the Defence Department, often for years, sorting out pensions, medals and personal effects.  Some had to get around administrative challenges of incorrect names given at enlistment or the death of the listed next of kin.  There were also the men who returned home, like William Brake and Albert Davies (below) who never fully recovered from their war experiences.

 

alb

STANLEY & ALBERT DAVIES. Image courtesy of the Australian War Memorial. Image no. DA15721 https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/DA15721/

 

It is a privilege to research the stories of the Hamilton’s soldiers.  It’s easy to feel an attachment to them and in a small way feel the sorrow of their families, in the reading of their service records, letters published in the Hamilton Spectator, and looking at photographs of young, fresh faced men with innocence in their eyes.  One such soldier was Stan Niddrie (below) a quiet country lad, at home on his horse with his dogs bringing up a flock of sheep. He also shared his thoughts in letters home to his sister.  Nineteen at the time of his enlistment in September 1915 and just 5’4″, Stan would stand six feet tall during his service, working his way through the ranks, reaching Sergeant just before he was killed near Villers-Bretonneux in August 1918, only months from going home.  Stan’s eyes would have seen much during his three years of service, their innocence taken away.

 

STANLEY ROY NIDDRIE. Image courtesy of the Australian War Memorial. Image no. DASEY1899 https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/DASEY1899/

STANLEY ROY NIDDRIE. Image courtesy of the Australian War Memorial. Image no. DASEY1899 https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/DASEY1899/

 

The stories of the men, each from different backgrounds, with different war experiences, and different fates, all end the same.  There were no winners from The Great War and we really don’t understand what those that lived it endured.  Albert Lewis, writing home after the Gallipoli landing so rightly said, “I am certain there is not a single person in Australia who can near realise what their boys went through”.

 

LEST WE FORGET

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Passing of the Pioneers

A small band of Pioneers come together for August Passing of the Pioneers. They include the first Mayor of the Borough of Portland and a crew member of William Dutton’s whale boat.

William McLEAN: Died 28 August 1888 at Port Fairy. At the time of his death, William McLean had resided at the Port Fairy Benevolent Asylum for ten years and was known to all as “Old Billy”. In 1887, he spoke about his life from his time in his birthplace of Scotland. William was born around 1790 and when around twenty, he joined the navy and was a crewman on the HMS Warspite which brought him to Sydney while escorting convicts in 1822.  After meeting some whalers, he decided to jump ship and join them. The whaling ship belonged to William Dutton, one of the first whalers to Portland Bay and William was with him.

Image Coutesy of the State Library of Victoria.  Image no.  PN05/05/77/00  http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/78495

Image Coutesy of the State Library of Victoria. Image no. PN05/05/77/00 http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/78495

When asked who was the first to Portland Bay, William Dutton or the Hentys, William replied that Dutton and his crew were there long before the Hentys. Later, William spent time whaling at Port Fairy where he settled.

Mary GRIERSON: Died August 1914 at Port Fairy. Mary Grierson was born in Scotland in 1827 and arrived in Victoria with her parents in 1839. They had sailed aboard the David Clark with Port Fairy’s Captain Mills at the helm.  Mary married David Thomas in 1846 and they settled at Rosebrook, near Port Fairy. They had a family of twelve, six girls and six boys. Mary was a member of the Presbyterian church and her goodwill was known throughout the district.

Thomas BEVAN: Died August 1915 at Colac. Born in Devonshire, England in 1829, Thomas Bevan arrived in Geelong in 1851. He moved to Beeac and became a local preacher for the Methodist Church. Thomas worked hard to build the community and had a strong involvement in all aspects of public affairs. He was also a musician, with violin and flute his instruments both learnt while still in England.

George HAYNES: Died 18 August 1916 at Port Fairy. The Port Fairy Town Hall flag flew at half mast the day George Haynes passed away. George was one of Port Fairy’s earliest residents and the first Mayor of the Borough. George was born in Staffordshire in 1826 and at the local grammar school. In 1854, he and his wife travelled to Australia, landing at Melbourne where they remained for around a year. George then moved on to Port Fairy where he settled and established a merchant business, Haynes and Young. Married twice, George had seven children from his first marriage.

Advertising. (1915, February 1). Port Fairy Gazette (Vic. : 1914 - 1918), p. 4 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved August 30, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article94722841

Advertising. (1915, February 1). Port Fairy Gazette (Vic. : 1914 – 1918), p. 4 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved August 30, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article94722841

Joseph LEWIS: Died 27 August 1916 at Port Fairy. Joseph Lewis was born in Staffordshire around 1824 and travelled to Australia aboard the Royal Saxon, landing at Williamstown in 1841Also on board was a relative of Charles Dickens.  After some time working at Little River Joseph travelled to the Grampians with a Mr Dwyer and they attempted to run cattle.  Unsuccessful, Joseph moved on to Port Fairy and purchased the property Glenview, residing there until old age when he moved into the Port Fairy town. Joseph left a widow, four sons, four daughters, thirty-two grandchildren and eighteen great-grandchildren.

Denis BERMINGHAM: Died 17 August 1917 at Port Fairy. Denis Bermingham was from Ireland and arrived in Port Fairy aboard the Chance during the 1850s. Spending time at Koroit and then Woodlands, Denis worked on the land. After moving to Port Fairy the 1880s, he worked for a few years on the harbour. Denis and his wife had thirteen children, nine of whom were still living at the time of Denis’ death.

Robert LEISHMAN: Died 28 August 1917 at Port Fairy. Robert Leishman was born in Scotland around 1830 and arrived in Victoria as a boy in the 1850s. After some time spent at Woodford, he settled at Crossley and for many years ran the farm Cockpen. He had also spent some time working on Korongah Station, then owned by Messrs. Knight and Lydiard.  It was there, during the 1870s that Robert’s wife passed away. During their time together they had a family of five. In the last years of Robert’s life, he moved to Rosebrook and then Bank Street, Port Fairy.

Passing of the Pioneers

This is the fourth “Passing of the Pioneers” and includes a chess champion who lived in Merino and plenty of Irish influence.  They highlight some of the pioneers of Victoria’s Western District by way of their obituaries as published in the Portland Guardian.  If you would like to read the full obituary, just click on the pioneer’s name.

Emma WITHERIDGE: Died  4 October 1888 at Portland. This obituary demonstrates the tone of many at the time.

OBITUARY. (1888, October 5). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 2 Edition: EVENING.. Retrieved October 26, 2011, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article63590480

George BEVAN: Died  17 October 1888 at Portland. George owned and died at the London Hotel in Portland.  His family notice shows he was born in Somerset, England and was fifty-nine at the time of death.  George had been in Portland since the early 1860s and was a keen sportsman and former Town Councillor.

Mary ROGERS: Died October 1912 at Greenwald.  Mary Rogers was eighty-six at the time of her death and had lived in Victoria for sixty years.  She originally went to Tasmania from Ireland with her parents as a small child.  Mary married Francis Egan who had passed away thirty years earlier.

William Sudgen Price LEWIS: Died 4 October 1915 at Hamilton. William Sudgen Price Lewis was the stepson of Richard Lewis, a former owner of Rifle Downs at Digby.  Born in Tasmania in 1835, William and his brother came to live with Richard Lewis when Richard and their mother married in 1841. In adult life, William leased Hilgay station for a time, bred fine livestock and was a member of several racing clubs. He later retired to Hamilton.

John Hawkins ROW: Died 27 October 1926 at Portland. John Row was a Portland jeweller.

 

 

Advertising. (1879, March 27). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 2 Edition: MORNINGS.. Retrieved October 27, 2011, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article63341984

At the time of his death he was the oldest member of the Portland Free Library and the bowling club.  He was also a member of the St Stephen’s Church congregation.

St Stephens Church Portland

John McDONNELL: Died 17 October 1930 at Moree. Mr McDonnell was originally from Ireland and arrived in Australia in 1863 via Liverpool. He was considered one of the oldest people in the district. He married Catherine FAHEY and they selected land at Moree in 1865.

Catherine Bridget SAMPEY: Died October 1933 at Melbourne. Catherine Sampey arrived in Melbourne from Ireland aboard the Red Jacket in 1852. She travelled on to Chetwynd with her brother James Sampey and she later married Patrick WHITE of Casterton.

Elizabeth MONOHAN: Died 12 October 1933 at Casterton. Elizabeth Monohan was 100 when she died. Arriving from Ireland aboard the Frances Henty at age twenty-one, seventy-nine years before, she was still able to converse in Welsh and Gaelic in her later years. In 1859, she married John Glover at Sandford House.

Julia Teresa DOYLE: Died October 1934 at Portland. Born in Tipperary, Ireland but remembered as “a true type of a fine old English lady”, Julia Doyle arrived in Australia as a six-year-old in the mid-1850s. She married Frances SUTTON in 1874 and together they had six daughters and two sons.

Ernest John SEALEY: Died 25 October 1935 at Casterton. In his younger years, Ernest Sealey worked as a bullock driver transporting wool. In later worked on Portland’s deep-water pier, hauling logs from the forests to the pier.

Charles PRATT: Died 26 October 1935 at Birchip.

Obituary. (1935, November 4). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 2 Edition: EVENING.. Retrieved October 27, 2011, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64290777

And so begins the obituary of Charles Pratt.  Charles or Charley as he was widely known, was born at Mumbannar in 1870.  In 1891, he went to Beulah in the Mallee and worked with his step-brother and later selected his own land near Watchupga.  He married Annie LAVERY in 1914 and they had three sons.

Thomas Denton CLARKE: Died 5 October 1937 at Hamilton. Thomas, born around 1847 at Liverpool, was the son of Captain Thomas H. Clarke who was a trader in Portland.  Thomas jnr was a champion chess player and a composer of chess problems.  He won many competitions for both pursuits.  Composing problems up until his death, it was considered probable, according to the obituary, that he was the world’s oldest composer.

James McCLUSKEY: Died October 1942 at Koroit. James McCluskey was born at Portland in 1857, not long after the arrival of his parents on the ship, British Empire. Soon after, the family travelled by bullock wagon to Kirkstall near Warrnambool.  In his early working life, James drove pigs to Port Fairy in order to load them on the steamer Casino to go to market in Melbourne.

Mary PRATT: Died 7 October 1942 at Greenwald. Mary, the widow of George COWLAND, was eighty-seven at the time of her death.  There were twelve children in their family.  Her obituary recalled her pioneering traits.

OBITUARY. (1942, October 26). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 2 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved October 27, 2011, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64382483

Passing of the Pioneers

The September “Passing of the Pioneers” in the Portland Guardian saw several prominent Western Victorian residents pass away and two of my own relatives.

Richard LEWIS: Died September 1890 at Digby.  Richard owned some well-known stations in the Western District including Rifle Downs and Hilgay.  An excellent biography of Richard Lewis is on the Ballarat Genealogical Society website. Richard died as a result of Bright’s disease.

Samuel CROSSDied 4 September 1901 at Hamilton. Samuel was seventy-nine at the time of his death and had been in Australia since 1849 after travelling from Sussex, England. He worked in and owned, department stores including the Beehive Store in Hamilton.  In his later years, he was a librarian at the Hamilton Mechanics Institute.

Jacob THEISINGER: Died 13 September 1901 at Portland. Jacob, also a sufferer of Bright’s Disease, had been in the colony since around 1854.  He was a popular person around town and was a member of the Portland German Band.

Robert Edwin Windsor Sandys STAPYLTON-BREE: Died 17 September 1907 at Hamilton. Robert Edwin Windsor Sandys Stapylton-Bree was a Hamilton stock and station agent and well know identity not only in Hamilton but also in Portland.  He married the daughter of Stephen HENTY, Annie Maria.  His funeral was well attended with Dean Parkyn presiding over the service.  He and Archdeacon Hayman had motored the 119 mile trip from Ballarat in five hours.

Christina STEWART: Died September 1921 at Hamilton. Christina STEWART was born in Kingussie, Scotland in around 1825 and travelled with her husband, Duncan McPherson, to Australia in 1851 onboard the Hooghlly.  While Duncan went off to the goldfields, Christina waited in Melbourne until they journeyed to Portland.  For a time, she and her husband ran the Dartmoor Hotel.  She was a mother of eight children.

Elizabeth GLADSTONE: Died 18 September 1925 at Millicent, South Australia.  Elizabeth Gladstone grew up near Portland and the Guardian noted she rode eighty miles each day to school.  I am assuming this was a round trip, or it was a short school day.  Elizabeth married George Plunkett in 1862 at Penola, South Australia.

May ROBERTSON: Died September 1925 at Gringalgona.  May Robertson arrived in Sydney with her family in 1847 from Scotland.  They travelled to the Coleraine district by bullock wagon.

Margaret Emily McDONALD:  Died  5 September 1928 at Nokomai, New Zealand.  Margaret McDonald’s parents were early pioneers and she spent time around Portland and Hamilton as a child with one of her early memories being that of Adam Lindsay Gordon and his riding feats.  In 1863, Margaret married Donald Cameron in Melbourne and they moved to New Zealand and raised twelve children.

Margaret BEST: Died 7 September 1933 at Hamilton. Margaret was born in County Caven, Ireland in 1853 to Mr and Mrs William Best.  They arrived at Portland on board the General Hewitt in 1856.  After time in Portland, the Bests moved to Heywood when Margaret was nine. She married James Henry BELL and remained in the Heywood area.

Ada Catherine HAYMAN: Died September 1934 at Portland.  Ada was born in Axminster, Devon, England in about 1858.  She arrived at Portland with her parents and siblings in the 1860s.  This is an interesting family.  Ada’s father was a doctor and practiced in Harrow, Edenhope, and Ararat.  One of her brothers was a doctor, another Archdeacon Hayman presided over R. Stapylton-Bree’s funeral (above).  Another brother W.R. Hayman was one of those who organised the  Aboriginal cricketers’ tour of England in 1868.  The biography of one of the players, Johnny Mullagh, describes the part Hayman played.

Finlay McPherson PATON: Died September 1936 at Tarrayoukyan. Finlay Paton was born at Stirlingshire, Scotland and after landing at Portland, took on the job of ringing the church bell and did so for 15 years. This could have been just one of the reasons for his “magnificent physique”.  Maybe it was because he claimed that he was one of those that carted stones to build Mac’s Hotel in Portland.  Or was it lifting four bushel bags of wheat from the ground to a wagon, with little trouble.  He really must have been a fine specimen. As were his team of horses used for his carrying business. Bred by Finlay they were the “admiration of the district”

William DIWELL: – Died September 1939 at Jeparit. William was my ggg uncle.  His obituary mentioned his work as a builder and the several buildings in Portland remaining, at the time of his death, as memorials to his work.  It does mention he was a native of Portland, however, he was born at Merino.  It correctly states his wife Frances was a native of Portland.

Thomas Haliburton LAIDLAWDied September 1941 at Hamilton. Over 500 people were reportedly at the funeral of Thomas Laidlaw, a Hamilton stock and station agent.  Thomas was the son of pioneers, Thomas and Grace Laidlaw.   The obituary offers a great description of the early days of Thomas Laidlaw senior in the colony with his four brothers.  Thomas junior, along with building his successful stock and station business was at one time a Shire of Dundas Councillor, president of the Hamilton Racing Club, and chairman of directors of the Hamilton and Western District College, today Hamilton and Alexandra College.  Laidlaw is one of the names that if I hear it, I think of Hamilton.

Henry MORTIMER: Died  6 September 1948 at Portland.  Another ggg uncle of mine, Henry was the son of James Mortimer and Rosanna Buckland.  He was born in Cavendish and was eighty at the time of his death at Portland.  He is best known at this blog as Mr Mortimer of Mr Mortimer’s Daughters.  This was an informative notice as it listed Henry’s children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.