A welcome addition to Trove has been the Weekly Times, Victoria’s favourite newspaper for country readers and still in publication. The editions at Trove cover the years 1869 to 1954 and with a rural focus, I anticipated its arrival. Familiar with the newspaper, I was sure the Western District would be well represented and I wasn’t disappointed. The photos alone are fantastic. I’ve found some great Hamilton photos and have shared those to the Facebook group I’ve Lived in Hamilton, Victoria. Some from the 1950s have included faces familiar to many in the group.
There are also family photos and for Trove Tuesday I thought I’d share this lovely photo of Macarthur Pioneers Frederick Button Huggins and Frances Mary Trowell. Both born in Kent, England in the mid-1830s, they married prior to their arrival at Portland in 1856, settling at Macarthur two years later. Frances died in 1920 at Macarthur aged eighty-five and Frederick died in 1927 at Macarthur aged ninety-three.
During the 1880s, there was a mass exodus of families from the Mount Eccles district near Macarthur. They included the eldest children of Frederick and Frances Huggins, James, Agnes, and Frances Susan. With them was Henry Condon, husband of Agnes Huggins and my relatives Walter and Lydia Harman and their children. Tired of the volcanic stones from nearby Mount Eccles covering their selections making the land unfit for cultivation, they were in search of a fertile place with good rainfall, unlike the often drought prone southwest of the state. That place was Omeo in Victoria’s High Country and they settled there from the mid-1880s. Henry’s uncle John Condon had lived there since at least 1880 and when his first wife Mary Jane died in 1886, he married Frances Susan Huggins in 1888.
One of the fifty great-grandchildren of pioneers Frederick and Frances Huggins was the subject of a past Western District Families post. Witness for the Prosecution from 2011, includes the story of the suspicious death of the wife of the Omeo Methodist Rev. Ronald Griggs. Lottie Condon, a great-granddaughter of Macarthur’s Frederick and Frances Huggins was unwittingly involved. Lottie’s grandparents James Huggins and Elizabeth Skipworth, both from Macarthur, married in 1881 prior to their move to Omeo. Their daughter Frances Ethel was born in Macarthur and was only a small child when they moved. At the age of twenty-one, Frances Ethel Huggins married John Henry Condon, a son of John Condon and his first wife Mary Jane. In 1907, Lottie Elizabeth Condon was born at Omeo to John Henry Condon and Frances Ethel Huggins and twenty-one years later became mixed up in the murder trial of Rev. Ronald Griggs.
The Harman connection with the families continued with the marriage of Walter and Lydia’s daughter Susannah Harman to William Condon in 1898. Also, Susannah’s brother Henry was a good friend of Lottie Condon’s parents strengthened by their connection with the Methodist Church at Omeo and in 1928, he too became involved in the murder trial of Rev. Griggs.
To search the Weekly Times, you can follow this link – Weekly Times. If you would like to read more about Frederick and Frances Huggins’ great-granddaughter Lottie Condon and the murder trial of Ronald Griggs, follow this link – Witness for the Prosecution.
While researching Hamilton soldier Samuel Winifred Trigger recently, I stumbled across this wonderful photo at Trove of Samuel and Eliza Trigger, grandparents of Private Trigger, published in the Weekly Times on 14 April 1917. At Winifred’s side is a dog and Samuel is holding a pup.
Further searching at Trove uncovered the obituaries of Eliza and Samuel, published in the Port Fairy Gazette on 18 March 1918 and 15 April 1918 respectively, and with the help of various records, I was able to find out a little more about Eliza and Samuel.
Eliza was the daughter of Charles Whittaker and Catherine Totterdale and was born in Naae, Ireland around 1823. After the death of Charles Whittaker, a Battle of Waterloo veteran, Eliza’s family moved to Somersetshire, England. That is where she met Samuel Trigger, formerly of Devonshire. They married in 1847 at Bridgeport, Somersetshire and their first child Emily was born around 1848 in Somersetshire. They then moved to Avening, Gloucestershire and another daughter, Christina was born in 1850. Samuel was working as a miller and the family lived in Ball Street, Avening. Another child, a son Henry, was born before they departed Plymouth in 1852 for Australia aboard the Eliza. The family arrived at Portland on 9 April 1853.
Firstly, Samuel and Eliza settled at Mt Taurus north of Warrnambool, and Samuel worked as a sawyer. They eventually moved to the Macarthur/Warabkook area where they remained for the duration of their lives. Eliza passed away on 6 March 1918 and Samuel, only three weeks later, on 1 April. They were buried at Macarthur Cemetery. Samuel and Eliza left four sons, two daughters, thirty-one grandchildren and thirty-eight great-grandchildren. The last piece of significant news they most likely received was that of the death of their grandson Samuel Winifred Trigger, one of four grandsons to enlist. Samuel was killed at Mouquet Farm on 16 August 1916 but was reported missing. The family received official notification of his death almost a year later, on 11 July 1917.
The media is often accused of fear mongering and it seems it was no different 100 years ago. The onset of WW1 saw reporting that heightened fear with people leaping at shadows believing the Germans were invading Australia.
When I first came across the following article, I thought it was an isolated case. A Victorian drover, Mr Sutton spotted a plane in the night sky after the noise of his agitated cattle woke him while camped somewhere between Byaduk and Macarthur. While half asleep, he saw two rockets fired. According to the article, from the HamiltonSpectator his was not the only sighting in the district.
The copy of the article was not good so I thought I would see if any other papers reported on the sighting. Did they what. A search of “Mysterious Aeroplane” at Trove brought up dozens of reports of various people across Victoria claiming to have seen or heard planes. The Defence Department investigated, however some witnesses were doubting what they previously thought they heard or saw. The Minster for Defence clarified the markings of the planes of the allies and the enemy which surely wouldn’t have allayed the fear of the public.
Dr. Brett Holman from the University of New England has written several posts about the mystery planes of the WW1 period on his site, Airminded. You can read one of those on the following link, with his explanation on the large number of reports of mysterious aeroplanes during that time – http://airminded.org/2012/05/22/fear-uncertainty-doubt-i/
It reminded me of something similar from a previous Trove Tuesday post, UFO Alert about four flying saucers seen over Hamilton in January 1954. Sci-Fi films were moving in to the realm of UFOs and aliens and in the same month as the sighting, The Argus was publishing installments of “War of the Worlds.”
Mysterious aeroplanes aside, what was really mysterious for me was the surname of witnesses from the 1915 and 1918 sightings. The drover who saw the rockets in 1918 was Mr Sutton. Three years earlier, Eric Sutton of Redbank, NSW saw the lights of a plane. I did check. There were Suttons living at Macarthur in 1914 and Mr Sutton the drover was possibly Issac Sutton from that town so it’s unlikely there was any connection. Just a strange coincidence.
“GARRA SENSATION.” Western Champion (Parkes, NSW : 1898 – 1934) 9 Dec 1915: 28. .
I have previously written about paranormal activities in Hamilton for Trove Tuesday when residents thought War of the Worlds had come to town. Now I bring you the story of the Hamilton ghost. Well, actually four stories but not all of the same ghost, and on one occasion the Hamilton apparition drifted out of town to Macarthur.
What I like about these stories is that the ghosts were not the transparent style of apparition, but rather the classic white sheet type made popular by 19th-century theatre. There is a varying amount of tongue in cheek used in the reporting, but on each occasion, there were a number of people scared out of their wits.
This post was written for the 2013 Australia Day Blog Challenge organised by genealogist Helen V. Smith. The brief for the challenge was “Tell the story of your first Australian ancestor”.
Easy – Ellen Barry arrived in 1840 on the Orient. But you have heard enough about Ellen and her husband Thomas Gamble, another early arrival (and possible convict). Most of my other ancestors were 1850s Assisted Immigrants. Maybe I could go with a hunch.
My ggg grandparents James Bishop and Sarah Hughes have been difficult to research. I eventually discovered they married in Adelaide in 1852. A few years ago, on the passenger list of the Lysander an 1840 arrival to Adelaide, I found Robert Hughes, his wife and four daughters.
As Sarah’s father was Robert, I’ve kept the Lysander filed away in my mind (yes, there are probably better places), occasionally having a search around the records hoping for something new.
For this post, I decided to try to find, the arrival date of either Sarah or James, but I had to choose. Firstly, I would need to pay for a digital image of a Death Certificate simply because I was short of clues. This was still cheaper and faster than ordering a hard copy of their South Australian Marriage Certificate.
I’ve posted about James before and I know something of him but nothing of Sarah except she gave birth to eleven children, but I did want to know more. Also, as Sarah passed away before her husband, the informant would most likely have been James and, if he was still of sane mind, information would be more accurate than that on his own certificate. He died ten years later in 1895 and his informant may not have known the detail I was after.
Based on that reasoning, Sarah it would be. So I ordered the certificate and waited, with fingers crossed for the digital image to appear. More often than not when I order a certificate, I end up disappointed. I was, on this occasion, pleasantly surprised. The column I was most interested in was “How long in the Australian colony”. It read, “fourteen years in South Australia”, in Victoria…almost illegible but it looks like thirty-four years. What do you think?
It does not prove that Sarah came on the Lysander but it does qualify her as an early arrival, so let the story begin.
I have told much of the Bishop family story in the post “Jim’s Gone A-droving” but what of Sarah’s story? I know so little about her but with help from Henry Lawson’s “The Drover’s Wife” one can wonder and imagine what life was like for her. While I don’t believe that she felt the isolation experienced by Lawson’s “wife” she must have felt the same loneliness.
Sarah Hughes was born in Brighton, East Sussex, England in 1834 to Robert Hughes and Mary Godfer. Robert was a sailor according to Sarah’s Death Certificate. As a child, Sarah arrived in Adelaide. By 1852, aged eighteen, she had met and married James Bishop from Dorset, nine years her senior. They lived at Thebarton, just north-west of the Adelaide city centre. Eight days short of their nine month anniversary, Sarah and Jim welcomed a daughter, Mary Elizabeth, named after her two grandmothers.
For most of his working life, Jim was a drover. The following article describes a James Bishop, working as a shepherd near Gawler, South Australia in 1853.
This could well be my Jim, off working early in the marriage. I have often wondered why only one child was born during the Adelaide days from 1852-1855/6, considering the speed of conception of the first child and frequency of the later children. Maybe Jim was away working? Could the gaps between the eleven children be a measure of Jim’s absences?
Baby Mary passed away in 1855 and this may have been a catalyst for a move.
Would life as a miner’s wife be any different to a shepherd’s wife? The goldfields were harsh for women, in the minority and left alone while their husband’s sought to change their fortunes. There was the cold (and Ararat can get very cold), the mud, the heat and dust. Their home was either a tent or hut. Settled in Ararat, Sarah gave birth to three children in four years, including my gg grandmother Elizabeth, if lucky a midwife at best assisted or another miner’s wife. Disease lurked on the goldfields, a constant worry for a mother with young children.
Seemingly luckless, the Bishops moved to Mount Gambier. Jim would have turned to droving by this time. While they were in Mount Gambier, Harriet was born in 1860 and Ellen in 1862.
By 1865, the family had moved to the Macarthur/Byaduk area and in the same year, after a break of three years, Sarah gave birth to a daughter. She called her Mary after the child she lost 10 years before.
During Jim’s absences, he often took cattle to the Adelaide markets, Sarah would have faced the harshness of the land on her own. By 1870, she had eight children from a newborn to fourteen. That year, Jim selected sixteen acres at Warrabkook, out of Macarthur. At least the older boys could have helped her with daily farm tasks and Elizabeth, thirteen and Harriett, ten, with the babies.
Sarah’s relationship with James is something I wonder about. Nine years younger than him and only a girl when they married. Drovers were stereotypically hard-drinking men adapted to long periods alone. Margaret Kiddle in her book, Men of Yesterday, A Social History of the Western District of Victoria described drovers as “…hardbitten, sunburnt and blasphemous.”(page 411) How did Jim adjust back at home? The peace of life on the road with a mob of cattle would be very different to a home full of children. Did Sarah do as Lawsons’ drover’s wife and not make a fuss?
As Lawson’s “Drover’s Wife” killed a snake that terrorised the family in their home, her eldest son, with some sense of her emptiness, declared “Mother, I won’t go drovin’, blast me if I do”.
For Sarah, this was not the case. Eldest son Charles worked as a drover.
The droving blood ran deep. The 1913 Electoral Roll lists Sarah’s grandson Hubert Nathaniel Gurney Bishop, with the unmistakable name and son of Charles, as living in Longreach, Queensland. I believe this his him.
Sarah died on 15 May 1885 at Byaduk from pulmonary tuberculosis. Buried at only fifty-one at the Macarthur cemetery. The Wesleyan minister presided. On Sarah’s death certificate her profession was not home duties, or wife or even mother. It was a role that was all of those and more…drover’s wife.
After I wrote this post I watched Australian country singer Luke O’Shea ‘s take on The Drover’s Wife. Pass the tissues, please.
Excerpts of Henry Lawson’s short story “The Drover’s Wife” from Queensland Country Life – EPICS OF THE BUSH. (1936, June 11). Queensland Country Life (Qld. : 1900 – 1954), p. 7. Retrieved January 26, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article97158517 and Henry Lawson’s Stories of the Bush. (1936, June 18). Queensland Country Life (Qld. : 1900 – 1954), p. 7. Retrieved January 26, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article97158597
In the 1970s, I visited a Western District drovers’ camp with my father. I remember the weathered stockmen, their battered caravan, and wiry dogs. It was not uncommon in those days to drive up behind a mob of sheep being slowly moved along the grassy roadsides.
Then, drovers moved stock to find feed when grass was scarce, but in the early years of settlement, the only way to get stock to and from market or from the ports was to use a drover. Known for their hard-drinking and foul mouths they were often away for months at a time.
My ggg grandfather James Bishop was of those hardy breeds. He herded cattle from Adelaide to the Western District and moved sheep for the local stations for around 30 years.
Jim was born in Dorset in about 1825. I am still to find how he came to Australia, but I first catch up with him in this country when he married Sarah Hughes on October 26, 1852, at Adelaide. They had one child in Adelaide, Mary Elizabeth, but she died aged two.
James and Sarah then moved to Ararat, where James tried his luck on the goldfields. Charles was born in 1856 in Ararat, followed by my gg-grandmother Elizabeth on September 12, 1857. Her birth certificate shows James’ occupation as a miner. James and Sarah had one more child at Ararat, George in 1859.
Not long after, the Bishops moved back to South Australia with two children born in Mt Gambier. Peter Fraser mentions in Early Byaduk Settlers that James Bishop went to Byaduk around 1865. This is backed by the birth of Mary Bishop at nearby Macarthur in 1865. In 1870, Jim selected 16 acres of land at Warrabkook between Byaduk and Macarthur. Robert, Louisa, and Alice were born at Macarthur, and William was born at Byaduk.
CHILDREN OF JAMES BISHOP & SARAH HUGHES
Mary Elizabeth – Born: 1853 Adelaide, SA. Died: 1855 Thebarton, SA
Charles – Born: 1856 Ararat, Victoria. Died: 1916 Macarthur, Victoria; Married: Sarah DANCER
Louisa – Born: 1870 Macarthur, Victoria. Died: 1915 Strathmerton, Victoria; Married: Jonathan Thomas REEVES 1892
Alice – Born: 1872 Macarthur, Victoria. Died: 1894 Byaduk, Victoria
William James – Born 1874 Byaduk, Victoria. Died: ?
Peter Fraser tells of Jim droving cattle overland to the Adelaide market and I have found several references to Jim’s droving in The Argus. “Pastoral Intelligence” notes in The Argus updated readers on the weather, crops, and stock movements, among other things. Jim is mentioned on August 4, 1890, droving fat cattle from Muntham, between Coleraine and Casterton to Warrnambool. The same article mentions the weather as being very cold with constant heavy rain over the previous 24 hours. Tough conditions for a drover of any age, but at 65 Jim must have found it incredibly tough.
A month after the Argus article, Jim’s eldest daughter Lizzie (Elizabeth) died of consumption (TB) aged just 33. Only a year before, daughter Mary also died at age 24. Of 11 children born, Jim had lost three of his daughters. Also, his wife of 33 years, Sarah, died in 1885 at only 51 years. Another daughter, Alice, died before Jim’s own death.
Jim just kept droving. In October 1892, he was moving cattle from the property of the Powers at Byaduk to Framlingham near Warrnambool this time in humid conditions. Two months later he was moving heifers during a cold December.
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