Passing of the Pioneers

If you caught my last post, the March edition of Passing of the Pioneers, you will know the PP posts are running behind.  This is a very late April edition  There are just four pioneers but two led very full and interesting lives, one of those being among the earliest Australian Rules footballers in the state.  One of the other men was among the Wendish settlers who trekked from Adelaide to the Western Victoria in 1852.  I did try to find a woman to add to the mix but unfortunately, my April list of obituaries is currently men only.  Click on the links on the underlined text for further information about a subject.  They include a link to the very interesting Wendish  Heritage website,

CHIRNSIDE, Andrew Spencer – Died 30 April 1890 at Colac

ANDREW CHIRNSIDE. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/153089

Andrew Chirnside was born at Berwickshire, Scotland around 1817. He arrived in Melbourne in 1839 and met up with his older brother Thomas who had was already in the colony. The brothers went on to Sydney to buy stock to take overland to Adelaide to sell.  They then took up a run on the Loddon River in 1840, passed and named by Major Thomas Mitchell only four years before. From the Lodden, Thomas and Andrew followed the path of Mitchell again towards the Western District and in 1842 they found before them the highest peak in the Grampians named Mount William by Major Mitchell. The land appealed to the brothers and they established a station named after the nearby peak.

LOOKING TOWARDS MOUNT WILLIAM

The brothers ran Merino sheep and cattle at Mount William and a large woolshed (below) with twenty stands was built in 1865. Thomas and Andrew went on to buy Mokanger station on the Wannon River near Cavendish in 1843 and in the years after, acquired properties such as Mount Emu Creek and Carranballac near Skipton (below) and Kenilworth South and Victoria Lagoon near Cavendish. From 1849, Thomas began acquiring land at Wyndham, west of Melbourne and he soon built up an estate of 80,000 acres known as Werribee Park   By 1870 between them, they had acquired around 250,000 acres of land in Victoria.

The Chirnside name was soon connected with horse racing in the colony.  The Chirnsides were racing horses they’d bred and it was Mount William station bred Alice Hawthorn in the late 1850s who brought them their first notable success.  Andrew was interested in the racing side while Thomas prefered the breeding side of the business. Many of the horses raced in Andrew’s name including 1874  Melbourne Cup winner Haricot (below).

MR. A. CHIRNSIDE’S HARICOT, THE WINNER OF THE MELBOURNE CUP. (1874, December 2). Illustrated Australian News for Home Readers (Melbourne, Vic. : 1867 – 1875), p. 193. Retrieved May 22, 2019, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article60447659

In 1850, Andrew returned to Scotland and married Mary Begbie. Children were born at Carranballac and the Chirnside’s Point Cook station. Andrew and Mary lived at Carranballac (below) for a number of years.

CARRANBALLAC HOMESTEAD. Image courtesy of the J.T.Collins Collection, State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/233699

They then moved to Werribee where Thomas had built a large mansion (below).  In 1887, Thomas Chirnside died at Werribee.

WERRIBEE MANSION AT WERRIBEE PARK. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/155659

In 1889, Andrew funded the establishment of a half battery of horse artillery at Werribee,  He paid for the horses, their feed, uniforms and instruction. Forty men turned up for the first meeting at the Werribee Club Hotel.  The battery was commanded by Andrew’s son John.  Andrew was also the founder of the Wyndham Racing Club and a president of the Wyndham Shire Council. In his last years, Andrew went on trips to Queensland and Tasmania but he was in poor health.  He died at Irrewarra, Colac the home of his daughter Maggie Calvert.  Aged seventy-three, he left his widow Mary, four sons and two daughters.  Mary died in 1909.

You can find more information about Andrew Chirnside on the following links:

Biography of Andrew Chirnside from the Australian Dictionary of Biography

Alice Hawthorn – The Western Mare

RIPPON, George Reynolds – Died 26 April 1899 at Hamilton.  George Rippon was born in Berkshire, England on 17 September 1838. His father John James Rippon was a successful manufacturer with several large factories.  George completed his school in France, giving him competency in the French language.  He arrived in Australian in 1857 aboard James Baines and worked for a surveyor at Geelong, thought to be surveying the railway routes through the Western District.  He then worked as an accountant.

By the 1859/1860 cricket season, George was playing for the Corio Cricket Club and was among the team’s better players with bat and ball. In February 1860 he topped scored in a shortened match against Emerald Hill.

CORIO INNINGS. (1860, February 27). Geelong Advertiser (Vic. : 1859 – 1929), p. 2. Retrieved May 22, 2019, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article148789089

In 1862, George was selected in a squad of twenty-two from Geelong and the Western District to play an All England team but unfortunately, he went out for a duck in the first innings of the match on 20 January 1862 and for eleven in the second innings. By 1863 he was captain of the Corio side.  George went to Sydney in 1866, as a member of a Victorian team for an intercolonial match, however, poor form in lead up games saw he dropped from the side. 

In October 1867, the Corio Cricket Club played two matches against an Aboriginal XI months before their departure for an English tour. On the Corio team was Tom Wills, considered the father of Australian Rules football and original coach of the Aboriginal team before Charles Lawrence took over.  Wills captained the Corio team in the first match and the Aboriginal XI was led by Lawrence. George Rippon captained the Corio side in the second match. He was clean bowled by Johnny Mullagh for seven runs, one of five wickets for Mullagh.  In the second innings, Johnny Mullagh was caught out off George’s bowling for four runs. 

CRICKET At GEELONG. (1867, October 19). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957), p. 6. Retrieved May 30, 2019, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article5781100

In his last season playing cricket in Geelong, George took eight wickets for twenty runs in a match against the Kardinia Cricket Club during January 1876,  

Australian Rules Football was emerging as a sport during George’s first years in Geelong. The Geelong Football Club was formed in 1859 and not only was George one of the first players for the club, he served as club president in 1859 and 1860.  In 1861, George was the leading goalkicker for Geelong. Another highlight was when he kicked a goal to seal the game for Geelong against Melbourne in a challenge match on 12 September 1863 at the Richmond Paddock (below).

FOOTBALL AT RICHMOND PADDOCK IN 1866. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/111640

In June 1865, the Geelong Racing Club was established and George was unanimously elected as secretary of the club.  By that time he was one of the best sportsmen in Geelong playing cricket, football, rope quoits, billiards and rowing.  Just one of his achievements was topping the bowling averages for Geelong Cricket Club in 1870/71. He was also involved in coursing including serving as secretary of the Geelong Coursing Club.  In 1872 he was Vice president of the Geelong Football Club.  

On 24 November 1864, George married at Geelong to Maria Smith and a son John James Rippon was born the following year. George and Maria lived in Moorabool Street with further children born at their home, sons George in 1867 and Herbert in 1869, followed by daughters Martha in 1870, Emma in 1872 and Alice in 1874.

Aside from sport, George’s literary and writing skills caught the attention of the Geelong Advertiser and he was employed by the newspaper around 1864 and remained there until July 1876 when he moved to Hamilton.  He was thirty-eight at that time.  There were several testimonials for George in Geelong. his home of more than fifteen years including one conducted by the Geelong Football Club,

GEELONG FOOTBALL CLUB. (1876, July 8). Geelong Advertiser (Vic. : 1859 – 1929), p. 3. Retrieved May 6, 2019, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article150633093

George and family were off to Hamilton because George had purchased a share of the local newspaper the Hamilton Spectator. In July 1876, George entered a partnership with George Mott and George Robinson. Robinson took up a retiring role in the paper and left the proprietorship in 1879.

Advertising (1876, July 12). Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918), p. 2. Retrieved May 26, 2019, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article226037595

George wasted no time getting involved with town activities.  As soon as the 1876/1877 season came around, he was playing with the Hamilton Cricket Club.   And when the 1877 football season started he was involved with the Hamilton team but in a non-playing role as a judge. By the 1878 football season, George was vice-president of the Hamilton Football Club. His wide-ranging sporting prowess continued in Hamilton where he left off in Geelong.  He was part of a team to play in the Murray Challenge Cup in cricket. George was still playing cricket in 1890 at the age of fifty-one, playing a match at Portland with his sons Herbert and George.  His obituary mentioned his last cricket match when he played with his sons and the three of them had a combined score of 179.  George was president of the Hamilton Cricket Club for many years.  He was one of the best rope quoits and billiards player in the Western District.  He continued his interest in coursing in Hamilton and was a president of the Hamilton Bowls Club. He was a member of the Hamilton Racing Club and acted as a judge and did the same at Penshurst. 

Away from sport, on 7 May 1879, George’s father John James Rippon died at Altham Hall, Accrington, Lancashire, England aged seventy-nine. George’s home Altham Lodge in Hamilton on the corner of Collins and Dryden Street was similarly named to the home of his father.  George and Mott built up the Hamilton Spectator and by 1876 it was published three times a week and was a leading voice in Western Victoria. In 1885, George Mott sold his share of the Spectator to George Rippon who became sole proprietor of the newspaper.

VIEW OF HAMILTON VICTORIA. (1888, April 17). Hamilton Spectator p. 1 (SUPPLEMENT TO THE HAMILTON SPECTATOR). http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article225809074

George was a member of the Hamilton Hospital committee, president of the Hamilton Fire Brigade for eighteen years and vice president of the Hamilton Pastoral and Agriculture Society.  He was a member of the Freemasons Lodge and was a Past Grand Registrar. He was also a Justice of the Peace and a member of Melbourne’s Yorick Club founded by Marcus Clarke in 1868 for men with literary interests. Among other members was Adam Lindsay Gordon.

On 12 March 1888, George and Maria’s eldest son John died aged twenty-two. In August 1891, Johnny Mullagh who was part of the Aboriginal Cricket XI tour of England died.  George Rippon called for a monument for his grave at Harrow and opened subscriptions to fund it. It was twenty-three years since George and Johnny were on opposing teams in Geelong. 

THE LATE JOHN MULLAGH. (1891, August 18). Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918), p. 3. Retrieved May 29, 2019, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article226082134

There was plenty of support for George’s proposal and in late 1892, a memorial stone was erected at the Harrow cricket ground and a smaller monument on Johnny Mullagh’s grave.

HARROW. (1892, December 13). Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918), p. 1 (SUPPLEMENT TO THE HAMILTON SPECTATOR.). Retrieved May 29, 2019, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article225182122

George’s wife Maria died on 18 September 1897 aged fifty-four.  George died at  Altham Lodge on 26 April 1899 aged sixty-one.  He was buried with his son John and wife Maria at the Hamilton (Old) Cemetery. 

RIPPON FAMILY GRAVE, HAMILTON (OLD) CEMETERY

George’s son Herbert took over the Hamilton Spectator, owning it for fifty-five years.  Another son George wrote sports reports for the paper.  After Herbert died, his son George Reynolds Rippon formed the Hamilton Spectator Partnership and was managing partner until the 1970s. Herbert’s daughter Clarice was the office manager of the paper for three decades. The paper is still in publication today.

HAMILTON SPECTATOR

Additional Sources:

Hay, Roy and EBSCOhost Aboriginal people and Australian football in the nineteenth century: they did not come from nowhere. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK, 2019.

Kirkpatrick, Rod and Victorian Country Press Association, (issuing body.) The bold type: a history of Victoria’s country newspapers, 1840-2010. The Victorian Country Press Association, Ascot Vale, Vic, 2010 p233.

RENTSCH, Johann – Died 14 April 1909 at Byaduk. Johann Rentsch was born in Germany around 1834.  When he was seventeen, he arrived in Adelaide aboard Helena in 1851 with several other Wendish families. The following year, the families set off for Victoria.  Their journey took four weeks and they arrived in Portland on 26 May 1852.  In May 1854, Johann purchased land in South Hamilton, on what is now the north-eastern side of Ballarat Road and Hillers Lane in an area with several other German settlers. The area was known as Hochkirch on the Grange.  In 1856 Johann married Magdalena Burger. The Burgers were another of the Wendish families who travelled from South Australia. The couple went on to have seven children.  Johann selected land at Byaduk around 1860 and he and Magdalena settled there for the rest of their lives. They were members of the Byaduk Lutheran Church. Johann was buried at the Byaduk Lutheran Cemetery.  

You can read more about the Wendish settlers in the Western District on the following link – Wendish Heritage 

MORRISSEY, Michael – Died 12 April 1913 at Branxholme. Michael Morrissey was born in Limerick, Ireland around 1853 and arrived at Portland with his parents the following year about New Zealander.  The family settled at Port Fairy.  When Michael was a young man, he took up land at Broadwater, naming his property Cloverdale.  In 1881, Michael married Anne Purcell. During his time at Broadwater, Michael was one of the selectors behind the Eumerella Drainage Scheme involving the drainage of the Eumerella Swamp with work beginning in 1906.  In 1912, Michael purchased a property at Mount Eccles and built a home.  The intention by Michael and Anne to live out their lives there was shortlived when in April 1913, Michael fell ill and went to Branxholme for medical treatment.  He died there at the age of sixty.  Michael was buried in the Macarthur cemetery.

 

Four Long Years

It’s hard to believe it’s almost four years since commemorations marking the centenary of the beginning of WW1.  In November this year, it will be the centenary of the Armistice.  Time has flown but going back a century, four years of war seemed an eternity and with no end in sight.  One hundred years ago this month, the enlisted men and women in France and Belgium were just weeks away from the end of the European winter.  And while the battlefields were quieter in the winter months, the trade-off was snow, mud, water-filled trenches and the all too common trench feet.

LIFE IN THE TRENCHES DURING A EUROPEAN WINTER. Image courtesy of the Australian War Memorial https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/E00146/

Those who had endured the previous two European winters knew too well, as the snow thawed and spring arrived, the fighting would again escalate.  In February 1918, little did they know it was the beginning of the end.  There was much in store for the Australian troops, the German Spring Offensive, fighting alongside U.S. troops for the first time, the Battle of Amiens and finally, victory to the allies and Armistice on 11 November 1918.

It’s also four years since I started writing the biographies of Hamilton’s enlisted men. A work in progress, there are now 125 published biographies at Hamilton’s WW1.  For fifteen of those men, the year 1918 would be their last.  Most of those fifteen first landed in Europe in 1916, but James Smyth was in the Middle East from 1915 including time at Gallipoli. Enlisting at just eighteen years and one month, James spent more than three in years in the desert as a signaller with the 9th Light Horse Regiment. In a matter of three weeks in October 1918, his life turned from a day when his bravery saw him awarded a Distinguished Conduct Medal, to his death from malaria in Damascus.

CAMP OF THE 9th LIGHT HORSE REGIMENT IN PALESTINE DURING MAY 1918. Image courtesy of the Australian War Memorial https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/B00021/

Spare a thought for William Austin, also part of the Gallipoli campaign. There he received a gunshot wound to his shoulder region with damage to his lungs. He returned to the front in 1916 in France but struggled with bronchitis and other related illnesses until influenza claimed is life on 11 October 1918 in England, so close to the end.

With the 10th Infantry Brigade Headquarters, Frank Morrissey was part of the final push to break through the Hindenburg Line in the Battle of St Quentin Canal.  He was killed on 29 September 1918 aged twenty-two. Also Frank’s age was young boundary rider Stan Niddrie who enlisted in 1915 but was not overseas until 1916. Reaching the rank of Sergeant, he was killed at Villers-Bretonnuex on 6 August 1918.

GRAVE OF STAN NIDDRIE AT VILLERS-BRETONNEUX CEMETERY. Image courtesy of Melinda Hestehauge.

Former V.F.L. (Victorian Football League) footballer and Hamilton teacher, Leslie Primrose (below) an airman with the Australian Flying Corps, crashed his plane during a training exercise near Amiens and killed as a result on 4 June 1918. He’d only been in France three months.

LESLIE JOHN PRIMROSE. Image courtesy of the Australian War Memorial https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/DACS0594/

Leslie Sangster (below), a Hamilton High School science teacher and sports master enlisted in January 1917.  On 18 August 1918, he was killed at Harbonnieres, France a month short of his twenty-second birthday and three months short of war’s end.

LESLIE FAIRBURN SANGSTER. Image courtesy of the Australian War Memorial https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/P05248.117/

During James Black’s two years overseas, he was disciplined many times and served six months incarceration in a military prison. He struggled with army life, the horrors of war and alcohol. James was killed on 24 April 1918 near Villers-Bretonneux. His body was never found. Also killed in April 1918 was George Herlihy (below). Mentioned in dispatches in 1916, he was killed by a shell on 11 April 1918 at Amiens, France.

GEORGE HERLIHY. Image courtesy of the Australian War Memorial https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/C1237087

Just three months after his discharge from a military prison for desertion, John Whitehead was awarded a Military Medal (M.M.) for his “marked gallantry and devotion to duty” during the Battle of Amiens on 9 August 1918.  Three weeks later he was dead, hit by a shell at St Martins Wood, France.  Also a M.M. recipient, John Fenton (below) was at Ribemont, France on 31 May 1918 when a mustard gas shell burst at his feet.  He died in hospital three weeks later.

JOHN WILFRED FENTON (M.M). Image courtesy of the Australian War Memorial

Brave Charles Stewart (below) lost his life to sniper fire while bandaging the wounds of a fellow soldier during the Battle of Amiens on 9 August 1918.  Correspondence from the battalion to Charles’ mother revealed he “…never knew what fear was, and every man in the company says the same”.

CHARLES HERBERT STEWART. Image courtesy of the Australian War Memorial https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/P06958.001/

For some, the war was over but the fight wasn’t. From April to September 1918, Walter Boxer displayed extreme bravery many times as a stretcher bearer. As a result, he was awarded a M.M., a bar for his M.M. and a Distinguished Conduct Medal (D.C.M) and four other nominations for a D.C.M. He was on his way home at the end of 1918 with severe injuries but recovered to secure a job, marry and see the birth of a son. In 1927, tuberculosis cut his life short at the age of thirty-four.

Fred Waring was overseas from the end of 1915, fighting in many major campaigns with the 4th Field Artillery Brigade. By war’s end, he was in London with the Postal Corps but never returned home. Suffering lung-related illnesses during 1919, septicemia claimed his life in a London hospital.

Albert Davies (below right) returned to Australia in 1919, suffering symptoms similar to anxiety. Illness in England saw that Albert did not reach the battlefields but his brother Stanley (below left) was killed at Ypres in 1917. On his return to Hamilton Albert found his mother bedridden, her death imminent. By 1935, Albert was unemployed with little to his name.  While riding his bike in Richmond that year, he was hit by a car and killed at the age of thirty-seven.

STANLEY and ALBERT DAVIES. Image courtesy of the Australian War Memorial https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/DA15721/

William Brake (below) served in the Middle East and Europe and returned to Australia in 1919.  By 1922, he was dead from tuberculosis aged twenty-nine.

WILLIAM BRAKE. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/C1286963

William was buried at the Hamilton Old Cemetery.

GRAVE OF WILLIAM BRAKE AT HAMILTON (OLD) CEMETERY

For those at home, by 1918 it seemed like an age since the first news of Australia at war.  Those of you who have followed the regular “100 years ago in the Hamilton Spectator” posts at Hamilton’s WW1 Facebook page have seen how the district adjusted to war.  New and distant place names such as the Dardanelles, Syria, and the Somme became part of regular conversation. The four years saw thousands of socks, scarves, and pyjamas made just in the Hamilton district alone, thousands of pounds raised for various war funds,  and many tears shed. By February 1918, men were returning at a steady rate but they had changed from the men the Hamilton people had bid farewell to at the railway station in the years earlier.

The war barely left a home in Hamilton untouched. It even knocked on the door of the Hamilton Mayor. In the role since August 1917, Robert McLuckie comforted numerous grieving families, presided over many send-offs and welcome home celebrations. On 17 July 1918, his son John McLuckie sailed for England.  John fell sick on the voyage and died from pneumonia on 17 October 1918 in England, leaving a widow and four sons. When Armistice came in November 1918, one could only imagine the McLuckie’s sadness knowing if only John’s departure was delayed by a few months, he’d still be safe at home. Robert McLuckie died suddenly in 1922 while still in office with grief and stress from organising Hamilton’s war effort taking a toll.

Hamilton cab proprietor William Sloan also succumbed to the weight of his grief.  William and his wife Sarah endured eight months not knowing if son Joseph Sloan was alive or dead.  After official confirmation in December 1917 of Joseph’s death, along with the death of William’s mother in January 1918, William sank into deep depression.  Sarah didn’t like leaving him alone but one day in August 1918, with errands to run and William seeming happier, she stole herself away. William was dead when she returned.

There were others at home who thought their sons still alive come 11 November 1918 only to find out in the following days, weeks or months their sons were never coming home. Like Richard Hicks‘ mum Janet.  Richard embarked in 1915 and was killed on 17 October 1918 less than four weeks from the end of the war.  Six weeks after the Armistice, Janet Hicks found out Richard (below) was missing and it was the middle of 1919 before it was officially confirmed he would not return.

RICHARD ERNEST HICKS. Image courtesy of the Australian War Memorial https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/DA11301/

My WW1 research will continue up to and beyond 11 November 2018.  In time, more of the biographies will be of returned men and their adjustment to post-war life. Unfortunately, the Hamilton Spectators are only digitised until December 1918 at Trove. Therefore the “100 years ago in the Hamilton Spectator” posts on the Hamilton’s WW1 Facebook page will come to an end this year. Last year, the posts went from six times per week to three coinciding with a paper shortage 100 years ago and the Spectator halving the number of publication days.  Hopefully, it won’t be too long before we see Hamilton Spectator‘s at Trove for 1919 and beyond to help better understand how the people of Hamilton and district re-adjusted to life after WW1.

You can find more about Hamilton’s WW1 on the link – Hamilton’s WW1.   To read the biographies published to date, click on the links to the following Hamilton WW1 Memorials – Hamilton War MemorialAnzac AvenueClarke Street Memorial Avenue – or from the pages of enlistments on the link – Hamilton’s WW1 Enlistments.  In each case, clicking on underlined names will take you to the enlisted man’s biography.  The same applies to the names in this post.