I enjoy finding stories of pioneer women, as they give me some idea of the lives lived by my own pioneering female ancestors. March Passing of the Pioneers introduces a plucky pioneer, Elizabeth Cole. Elizabeth and another pioneer, Annie Alexander both made their mark in roles not traditionally considered the domain of women. Among the passing gentleman, I enjoyed the story of John McClounan, a well-travelled pioneer.
Mr John Lang CURRIE: Died 12 March 1898 at St Kilda. John Currie was born in Selkirkshire, Scotland in 1818. He arrived in Victoria in 1841 to join his cousins who had taken up land near Melbourne and then later at Buninyong.
In 1844, John purchased Larra Estate (below) near Derrinallum with Thomas Anderson. In 1850, he brought out Anderson’s share in the property and purchased the Mount Elephant run and two years later married Louisa Johnston.
In 1886, John bought Tintanga and Gala estates near Lismore along with having interests in properties in New South Wales and Queensland. He bred merino sheep known for the high quality of their wool. John died at his town residence Eildon in Grey Street, St Kilda.
Not surprisingly, John Currie left a large estate and news of its value made news across Australia. John’s son Henry Alan Currie inherited Mount Elephant station.
For more information, John Lang Currie’s biography is on the Australian Directory of Biography site.
John McCLOUNAN: Died 2 March 1902 at Green Lake. John McClounan was born in Scotland in 1832 but left when he was twenty-one. But not straight to Australia. He first travelled to America where he spent seven years and then on to New Zealand for around six years. He and his brother, his travelling companion, then moved to the goldfields of N.S.W. and then to Victoria and Deep Lead near Stawell. They gave up on mining and moved to Green Lake to farm. It was on this property John died, forty years later. He was unmarried.
Isabella SPALDING: Died March 1907 at Warrnambool. Isabella Spalding was “another pioneer “Mother of Israel”” lost to the Western District. Aged ninety-one, her husband, James Davidson had died forty-six years before and according to the obituary, she “trained up five sons and four daughters to man and womanhood”
John Henry OLIVER: Died 23 March 1909 at Horsham. John Oliver was the brother-in-law of Jonathon and Reuben Harman. The obituary states John arrived in Melbourne with his family in 1848. It was in fact 1849 aboard the Courier. John had spent time around Byaduk where his family settled, however, he bought land at Sailors Home near Dimboola in the early 1870s. After a stroke, John did return to Byaduk trying to regain his health, but he eventually returned to the Wimmera to live out his last months.
William Snaith WARD: Died 14 March 1913 at Ballarat. On arrival at Geelong in 1857, William Ward headed straight for the goldfields of Ballarat. He mined the “Hit and Miss” shaft at Creswick before taking time off mining to run the coach on the Ballarat-Buninyong Road. The lure of gold was too great and he headed to the goldfields of N.S.W. and one time drilled for coal in Gippsland.
Margaret CAMPBELL: Died 10 March 1914 at Casterton. Margaret arrived at Portland with her parents in 1855 after sailing aboard the Athletae. She married Donald Ross in 1857 when she was around twenty-six. They moved to Hamilton, then Sandford before settling in Casterton on the corner of Jackson and Clarkes Street in the house both Margaret and Donald died about fifty years later.
James FERGUSON: Died March 1914 at Beulah. Scottish born James was one of the early settlers at Beulah and was known around the town as “The Laird”. He was one of the first representatives of the newly formed Karkarooc Shire in 1896. In 1908, he travelled to England and visited the place of his birth in Scotland.
Dugald MAIN: Died 9 March 1916 at Ballarat. Dugald arrived in Geelong aboard the Star of the East in 1854 and then settled in Ballarat. He was a builder by trade and sat on the committee of the Ballarat Orphan Asylum.
Alexander McKAY: March 1919 at Carlton. Alexander, formerly of Mortlake, was a Scot through and through and was a keen participant in Highland games throughout the district. He was an excellent player of the pipes and excelled at the heavy lifting events of the games, such as the caber toss.
Edmond DWYER: Died 14 March 1930 at Condah. Edmond at ninety-two was the last of the pioneers to arrive on the General Hewitt in 1856. He initially went in search of gold near Beaufort at the Fiery Creek diggings, before turning to road contracting at Portland. He worked the road from Portland to Hamilton for many years.
Mary McDONALD: Died 4 March 1932 at Hotspur. Mary McDonald was a very old pioneer when she passed away in 1932. She was born in the Isle of Skye in 1838 and was a teenager when she arrived at Portland with her parents in 1853 aboard the New Zealand. She married Archibald McLean in 1862 and they settled at Hotspur and raised eight children.
Mary Jane JONES: Died March 1932 at Portland. Mary Jane Jones was born in Portland in 1859. She first married a Mr Jennings and they had two sons before she married Alfred Fredericks. They had a further six children.
Martha RIGBY: Died 11 March 1934 at Hamilton. Born in Lancashire, Mrs Jackson arrived at Portland with her parents, John and Sarah Rigby, in 1859. They settled at Heywood where she married John Jackson. They later moved to Hamilton. Mrs Jackson left a large family of ten children, thirty-two grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren (this was reported as seven great-great-grandchildren, so they either forgot the great-grandchildren or it was meant to read great-grandchildren).
Emma HOLMES: Died March 1935 at Drik Drik. Emma was a knitter. She knitted during the Great War for the troops and later for the Methodist Babies Home at South Yarra. Emma arrived at Portland as a seven-year-old in 1852. She married William Mullins and they settled at Drik Drik, with Emma considered to be the first white woman to settle there. Surely a tough time for a new bride.
Annie Gray ALEXANDER: Died 14 March 1937 at Toorak. Annie Alexander was born near Beechworth around 1861. She married Henry William Witton in the early 1880s. They took up residence at Dimboola in the 1890s. After Henry’s death, Annie did something a little different to some of the pioneer women I have written of before. She published the Dimboola Banner newspaper until 1918.
Maria Jane TAYLOR: Died 20 March 1939 at Portland. Maria Taylor was an active member of the Myamyn community even up until months before her death at aged ninety. She was born at South Portland and later married John Treloar at Myamyn where they lived out their lives. Mrs Treloar had a large family of thirteen, eight of whom were still living at the time of her death.
Elizabeth COLE: Died March 1942 at Bostocks Creek. What a great pioneer Elizabeth Cole was. Born at Poplar, London in 1845, she came to Australia with her parents in the early 1850s. She married Alexander Dalziel at Lethbridge in 1862. At the time of her death, Elizabeth and Alexander had 120 descendants including sixty-five great-grandchildren. What got me about Elizabeth was was that she had been a bullock driver and one with great skill. She also had memories of Eureka, could recall Lethbridge as a canvas town and the slab huts of Port Fairy and considered kangaroo a delicacy. In her later years, she enjoyed listening to that modern contraption, the wireless.
Mary MURRAY: Died 17 March 1944 at Hamilton. Mary’s father was an overseer for Edward Henty at Muntham where she was born. At the time, she was the first white child born at Muntham. At some time, she married Mr Hallam and had many great pioneering stories.
Jean EDGAR: Died March 1947 at Harrow. Jean was another wonderful pioneer who had been in Victoria for ninety years. She arrived aboard the Severn which carried another great pioneer, the thoroughbred King Alfred, one of Australia’s early champion sires.
In 1874 she married into the pioneering Minogue family at Harrow where she lived for the rest of her life.