Passing of the Pioneers

A further ten Western District pioneers move onto the Pioneer Obituary Index this month with some joining their family members. That is the case with the families of Lesser, Cole, Kirkwood and Learmonth.  As I add entries to the index, I try to match them up with related entries and link them up.  You’ll now find a number of family connections when you scroll through the index. As usual, if you click on any of the underlined text throughout this post, you will go to further information about that subject.

HULL, Thomas Wood – Died 20 November 1868 at Hamilton.  Thomas Hull was born in Rochester, Kent, England around 1839, a son of John Hull and Elizabeth Wood. He was also a nephew of the Honorable William Hull, a member of Victoria’s Legislative Assembly from 1860 to 1866.  By 1865, Thomas was in Victoria and a policeman stationed in Gippsland.  In that year he received a promotion from Senior Constable to Sergeant 2nd Class. By 1867, Thomas had transferred to Hamilton.  In October 1867, Hamilton’s Inspector of Police, Leopold Kabut left the town, so Thomas Hull, a promising young policeman, was put in charge of the Hamilton station. Things were also going well in his personal life and Thomas married Kate Wright of Hamilton at the Church of England on 15 July 1868.

On the morning of Friday 20 November 1868, Thomas found it necessary to dismiss one of the mounted policemen Michael Flanagan. Flanagan had one too many times been reported for drunkenness. Thomas asked Flanagan to hand in his kit but advised him he could stay in his house for a couple more days due to him having a wife and six children.  Thomas then went about his duties, including a patrol around the business area of Hamilton.  At 2.00pm, Thomas returned to his quarters and around thirty minutes later Flanagan approached him.  There was some discussion between the two about the Flanagan’s  living arrangements.  Flanagan then produced a pistol, asking Thomas to check if it was clean. He then approached Thomas and shot him twice in the left side. Constable Conway who had been present rushed Flanagan and grabbed hold of the pistol. Flanagan would not release his grip so Conway cried, “Murder” and the watch-house keeper ran to his aid, securing the pistol. They then put Flanagan in the lockup.

Meanwhile, Thomas Hull lay on the ground with internal bleeding, slowly fading over the course of thirty minutes.  Kate had heard the disturbance rushed to Thomas’ side and he recognised her presence.  Thomas spent his last minutes praying, uttering, “It is hard to die”. He forgave Flanagan and his enemies before the effects of his wounds took his life at just twenty-nine. He was buried at the Hamilton (Old) Cemetery.  Michael Flanagan was found guilty of murder and sent to the gallows, insisting on wearing his mounted policeman’s uniform to meet his fate.  Thomas’ wife Kate remarried in 1870 to another policeman, Alfred Clark.  She died at the Bendoc Police Station in Gippsland in 1886 aged just thirty-six.

GRAVE OF THOMAS HULL, HAMILTON (OLD) CEMETERY

GRAVE OF THOMAS HULL AT HAMILTON (OLD) CEMETERY

LESSER, Abraham – Died 13 November 1886 at Coleraine.  Abraham Lesser was born in Swarzędz, Poland, then under Prussian rule, around 1826.  In the 1850s, his brother Louis left for Australia and Abraham followed.  Together they went to Coleraine, opening a store in Whyte Street.  In 1861, Abraham married Londoner Elizabeth “Bessie” May at the Mikveh Israel Melbourne Synagogue. In 1865, Abraham and Louis mutually dissolved the partnership in the store and Louis left for London where he married Bessie’s sister Evelyn May.

Abraham’s wife Bessie would have several pregnancies, however, she lost her first two babies and by 1870, the Lessers had lost five babies.  As well as the store, Abraham was active in the community.  He was a member of the Wannon Shire Council for almost ten years and a Justice of the Peace. A generous benefactor, he donated money to churches of all denominations.

On 12 November 1886, Abraham attended a concert in Coleraine.  While having a chat with John Kirby who would later buy Mt Koroite at Coleraine, Abraham suddenly collapsed.  He died early the following morning at the age of sixty.  He left his widow Bessie and four children.  The funeral cortege was one of the largest seen in Coleraine.  Reverend Goldrich, rabbi of the Jewish congregation in Ballarat conducted the service. The store of A.Lesser & Co (below) continued operating in Coleraine first by Louis and then members of Abraham’s family until it went into liquidation in 1939.

A.LESSER & CO., COLERAINE 1922. Image courtesy of the Museums Victoria Collections https://collections.museumvictoria.com.au/items/769410

HORAN, Keeran   – Died 17 November 1892 at Croxton East.  Keeran Horan was born in King’s County, Ireland around 1824 and arrived in Victoria in the late 1850s with his wife Catherine Guinan.  After spending fifteen years farming at Mount Moriac near Geelong, Keeran took up land at Croxton East in 1872, calling the property Pine Hill Farm.  Keeran was an expert ploughmen and a noted breeder of draught horses. He once paid a record price for a draught stallion from Daniel Twomey of Kolor at Penshurst.

“Advertising” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 27 September 1884: 4 (SUPPLEMENT TO THE HAMILTON SPECTATOR). <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article225660511&gt;.

In 1887, Keeran entered a competition conducted by the government to find the colony’s prize farm. An article about the visit of the judges to Pine Hill Farm gives a great description of not only Keeran’s farm but farming practices from the time.  You can find it on the link here.  At the time of Keeran’s death, he left a large family.  Catherine predeceased him in  1902.

KIRKWOOD, William – Died 10 November 1898 at Buckley’s Swamp.  William Kirkwood was born in Quebec, Canada on 9 February 1822. When still a child, his parents returned to Paisley, Scotland and William grew up there.  In 1842, William married Jane O’May and they had one child before heading to Australia in 1852 arriving at Portland aboard the John Davis.  They took a bullock dray to Warrock, north of Casterton where William worked. They later went to Park Hill at the Wannon.  William then selected land south of Hamilton at Buckley’s Swamp in 1861.  William and Jane went on to have another son and three daughters. William was a devout member of the Hamilton Presbyterian Church and church precentor, leading the singing until an organ was purchased.  In 1883, William returned to Scotland for a visit.  William’s funeral cortege left his home at Buckley’s Swamp at 1.30pm and when it reached Hamilton two hours later, the mourners following behind the hearse stretched for 800 metres.

GRAVE OF WILLIAM KIRKWOOD AND FAMILY, HAMILTON (OLD) CEMETERY

HOLLARD, George Gilbert “Giles” – Died 26 November 1912 at Wallacedale North.  George Hollard was born in Devonshire, England in 1817.  He married Mary Richards and they had three children.  In 1849, George and his family sailed to Portland aboard the Bristol Empire. George was employed by Edward Henty at Muntham where he remained for many years.  In time, he and Mary returned to Portland.  Mary died in 1894 and George stayed in Portland until around 1908 when he went to live with his son at Wallacedale.  One of the highlights of George’s life was seeing the Governor of Victoria, Sir George Bowen turn the first sod on the Portland-Hamilton rail line.  George left three sons and four daughters at the time of his death.

DUNBAR, John – Died 9 November 1913 at Hamilton. John Dunbar was born at Tyrone, Ireland around 1833 and arrived in Victoria in 1855 and made his way to Hamilton.  In 1863, John married Frances Hawke and they had seven sons and four daughters.  John and Frances would stay in their marital home until their deaths.   In his later years, John remained fit and worked in his garden each day, only going into town on Saturday for shopping.  John left his widow Frances, three sons and three daughters.  Frances died at Hamilton in 1921.

PEARSON, Mary Jarvey – Died 24 November 1913 at Hamilton.  Mary Pearson was born in 1832 at Bathgate, Scotland, the eldest daughter of John Pearson and Mary Simpson.  Mary’s grandfather Sir James Simpson who discovered the use of chloroform as an anaesthetic. When Mary was six,  she left Leigh Scotland in January 1840 with her parents and siblings, to travel to Hobart, Tasmania on board the North Briton. During the voyage, the ship ran aground on the Goodwin Sands off the English coast near Kent, delaying the journey a month. Back on course, as the ship rounded the Cape of Good Hope on 30 April 1840, Mary’s mother gave birth to a son, Joseph.  Once in Hobart, the family lived in Mary’s late uncle’s large house at Douglass Park, Campbell Town John had inherited. In 1846, John Pearson bought the run of Mr Robertson on the Glenelg River in Victoria.

On 30 May 1846, John and Mary Pearson and their five children sailed for Portland Bay from Launceston on the Minerva with Captain Fawthrop at the helm.  From there they travelled to the 10, 750 acre Retreat Run near Casterton.  During their time at the station, they saw the impact of the Black Thursday bushfires on 6 February 1851 when Mary was nineteen.  Such was fires intensity,  birds and wildlife sought refuge at the homestead. The time of the fires would remain fixed in Mary’s memory for another reason.  Her mother died two days later on 8 February 1851. Her body was transported to the Portland North Cemetery for burial.

Mary’s father sold Retreat soon after, taking up Yambuk Station in July 1851. The trip to Yambuk took two days and there was a stopover at Castlemaddie at Tyrendarra, owned by Mr Suter.  In March 1853, Mary was visiting Castlemaddie when three armed bushrangers entered the house during afternoon tea and demanded money from those present.  Mary had a long gold chain, a gift from her father, and she tried to hide it but Wilson the bushranger caught her.  “You ladies needn’t put your jewellery out of sight. I don’t want any of it. All we want is coin.”, he said.  In 1854, John Pearson sold Yambuk to Mr Suter formerly of Castlemaddie and he moved to Portland.

While in the Portland district, Mary met and married Peter Learmonth on 18 December 1854 at Portland.  Peter had come from the Castlemaine diggings where he had some success.  He took up a job at Merino Downs for the Hentys and Mary moved there with him. They then went to Hamilton where Peter set up a flour mill at Prestonholme, just east of the town. He ran other mills in the district including Byaduk.  He also established P.Learmonth & Co, Stock and Station agents in Gray Street Hamilton.  Mary and Peter went on to have ten children, seven sons and three daughters.  Peter died in 1893 and Mary remained at Prestonholme for a further ten years before moving to Oakdene, Hamiton.  Her son James and his family, fresh from a stint at the family property in Mexico, took up residence at Prestonholme.  

Peter and Mary attended the Hamilton Wesleyan Methodist Church in McIntyre Street and together were a driving force behind the church’s construction in 1862.   Mary was involved with the Benevolent Ladies Society, auxiliaries, sewing groups, basically any church activity.  Not only did Mary witness the construction of the first Wesleyan Methodist church in Hamilton, she was able to see the new church in Lonsdale Street (below).  She was most enthusiastic about the new church and was given the honour of laying the foundation stone on 5 April 1913.  Sadly she was in poor health at the time of the opening of the church on 5 October 1913 and was unable to attend.

HAMILTON WESLEYAN METHODIST CHURCH, LONSDALE STREET c1930. Image courtesy of the Museums Victoria Collections http://collections.museumvictoria.com.au/items/769323

At the time of her death, Mary left six sons and one daughter and her younger brother Joseph Bell Pearson born near the Cape of Good Hope, was also alive.  A remembrance service was held at the Hamilton Wesleyan Methodist Church on Sunday 7 December.  The congregation were reminded the history of the Wesleyan Methodism in Hamilton was also the history of the religious life of Peter and Mary Learmonth. Mary’s obituary in the Hamilton Spectator on 25 November 1913 gave an extensive description of her life including her early years in the colony,

As a young girl, she lived in the unprepared period before extensive settlement, when the tracks had yet to be blazed and passage through the virgin bush had to be made by roadless routes and in vehicles for human transport of most primitive origin. Her life was contemporaneous with that of the pioneer Henty family. The areas of ownership of land were comparatively vast, and like her earlier friends she had the unique experience of viewing the gradual process of expansion of population in this large and fertile district.

Mary was buried at Hamilton (Old) Cemetery with Peter.

GRAVE OF MARY JARVEY LEARMONTH AND FAMILY AT HAMILTON (OLD) CEMETERY

COLE, Nicholas – Died 22 November 1932 at Camperdown.  Nicholas Cole was born in 1852 at West Cloven Hills Station near Darlington to Nicholas Cole and Martha Hodgson. His family had been on the property  1839.  Nicholas went to school at Geelong Grammar. After the death of his father in 1879, Nicholas inherited the property and turned his attending to breeding Merinos, become one of the leading growers in the country.  In 1885, Nicholas married Victoria Anderson of Gerangamete station.  They went on to have a son and three daughters.   In 1920, Victoria died suddenly from heart disease at the age of fifty-four.

WEST CLOVEN HILLS HOMESTEAD. Image courtesy of the J.T. Collins Collection, La Trobe Picture Collection, State Library of Victoria.

HEDDITCH, William Forward – Died 13 November 1939 at Bridgewater. William Hedditch was born at Lower Cape Bridgwater in 1857, the son of Richard Charlton Hedditch and Rachel Forward Read. He attended the Bridgewater School followed by Portland College. After school, William turned to dairy farming and was later director of the Portland and Bridgewater butter factories for forty years. In 1890, William married Marion Nunn Jones and they had two sons.  William had an interest in local history and was a wealth of knowledge on the subject, writing many articles for the Portland Guardian on local history.  He was buried at the Bridgewater Cemetery.

WATT, Annie – Died 10 November 1952 at Coleraine.  Annie Watt was born at Springvale in 1862.  She married Robert Brown at the Hamilton Catholic Church in 1886, the wedding performed by Father Shanahan.  Annie and Robert settled at Balmoral and in 1910 moved to Konongwootong  South.  In 1936, Robert retired from the farm and the Watts moved to Church Street, Coleraine  At the time of her death, Annie was ninety and Robert was still alive along with six children, thirty grandchildren and twenty great-grandchildren.  Robert died in 1957 aged ninety-six.

Hamilton Old Cemetery – Beyond the Headstones

Enter the gates of the Hamilton Old Cemetery and rising up before you are hundreds of diverse and fascinating headstones and monuments.  Some always catch my eye when I visit whether it’s for their design, the effects of time or the inscription.  Taking six headstones I find interesting, I’ve looked further into the history of each and those who lie beneath.

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GEORGE AND JANE BOWLER

GRAVE OF GEORGE AND JANE BOWLER

A broken column, a life cut short.  In 1856, Jane Scott married London-born George Bowler presumably at Portland where their first child Thomas Joseph Bowler was born the following year.  In 1858, a second son, George Richard Bowler was born at Hamilton.  In 1860, the Bowlers suffered the loss of baby George and welcomed a daughter Mary Jane. The following, year on 16 July 1861, George Bowler Sr. also died at the age of twenty-seven and was buried in the Anglican section of the cemetery.  Jane was left with two small children aged four and one.  In 1864, she lodged a request for the Hamilton Borough Council to relieve her from paying her rates due to poverty.

In later years, Jane’s daughter Mary Jane married Robert McFarlane in 1887 and son Thomas Bowler took up the trade of blacksmith in Hamilton.  He for a time was in partnership with David Arnott in the Hamilton Carriage Factory, blacksmith, wheelwrights and coachbuilders.  Jane lived in Griffin Street and took in boarders to make ends meet.

“Advertising” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 25 January 1894: 3. Web. 19 May 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article225784055&gt;.

Jane died on December 1896 at Hamilton. She was buried with George.  George’s parents Joseph and Mary Bowler occupy the adjacent plots.

“Family Notices” The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 – 1954) 23 December 1899: 3. Web. 25 May 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article188661034&gt;.

ISAAC FOSTER

HEADSTONE OF ISAAC FOSTER

 On 9 March 1901, Isaac Foster had his Station Street property up for auction as he was leaving town.

“Advertising” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 9 March 1901: 2. Web. 19 May 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article226091868&gt;.

But Isaac didn’t leave town. By 23 March, he was dead at the age of sixty-eight and still in Hamilton.

Isaac Foster arrived at Williamstown in 1870 before heading to Portland where he started a building and contracting business.  A new hospital was planned in Hamilton and Isaac was appointed   Clerk of Works on the project and moved to Hamilton.

HAMILTON HOSPITAL. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/399127

He also worked on the Hamilton Anglican and Presbyterian Sunday Schools and William Melville’s residence at Weerangourt. Two years before his death, Isaac began suffering from consumption which would claim his life. Isaac also owned property at Branxholme which was auctioned in the week after his death.

“Advertising” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 26 March 1901: 2. Web. 19 May 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article226090807&gt;.

NAOMI HICKMER

HEADSTONE OF NAOMI HICKMER

Inscribed with the words “There remaineth a rest for the people of God” from the Book of Hebrews, stands the headstone at the final resting place of Naomi Hickmer.  Naomi, a spinster lived in Stephens Street, Hamilton and died on 6 April 1883 aged fifty-two.

Naomi’s brother Henry also lived in Hamilton and fortunately, he was a storyteller occasionally sharing his recollections with Mount Gambier’s Border Watch. Henry’s obituary included his life story from his own pen and from that I was able to find out more about Naomi and her family. The Hickmers were from Brighton, Sussex, England. Naomi was born around 1831. The family arrived at Adelaide, South Australia in 1851 when Naomi was twenty. Most of the members of the family then moved to the Lake Leake Station, east of Millicent, South Australia.

“OBITUARY.” Border Watch (Mount Gambier, SA : 1861 – 1954) 26 April 1918: 1. Web. 19 May 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article77655550&gt;.

Henry Jr arrived in Hamilton around 1874, living at various rural properties around the district before settling in Milton Street in 1892.  It is possible his parents and Naomi were in the district from around 1856.  The 1856 Australian Electoral Roll lists a Henry Hickmer, a farmer of South Hamilton.  Henry Hickmer Sr. died at Milton Street, Hamilton on 8 September 1881 aged eighty-three and Ann Hickmer died on 17 September 1884 also at Milton Street. They are buried beside Naomi.

HICKMER FAMILY GRAVE

Naomi’s estate consisted of property to the value of £20 being her home in Stephens Street and £543 of personal property.   During the month after her death, Naomi’s assets were auctioned off.

“Advertising” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 15 May 1883: 2. Web. 18 May 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article225492898&gt;.

Naomi’s probate file held by the Public Record Office made interesting reading and the outstanding accounts she had when she died, give some clue about her life at the time.  She owed £4 15′ shillings to the grocer Henry Horwitz, £2 6′ to W. & W. Thomson, drapers and £2 7′ for buggy hire from Richard Elijah.  Her other debts show she had a period of illness with amounts due to two surgeons Thomas Scott and George Annaud.  There was also a fee owing to Mrs Young for nursing services and an account of £1 from Carl Klug the chemist.  Naomi also paid Elizabeth Kennett servant’s wages and there was a charge of 13″ 6′ to Mott and Rippon publishers, being the Hamilton Spectator.  It’s likely the bill was for Naomi’s funeral notice pictured further up.

ANTONIO & ROSINA RIZZO

GRAVE OF ANTONIO AND ROSE RIZZO

The Rizzo headstone not only displays Hamilton jeweller Antonio Rizzo’s devotion to his wife Rose but also a love of cameos, his specialty.

Rose Genevieve McCrystal was born around 1855, the daughter of Patrick McCrystal and Bridget Crinnion of Portland.  The McCrystals married in 1845 at Launceston.  In 1878, Rose married William Pearson.  Their first child a son was born at Branxholme around the time William purchased Hamilton’s Temperance Hotel and Confectionery Establishment.  Two more children, a son and daughter were born in Hamilton in 1883 and 1884.

“Advertising” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 16 March 1880: 3. Web. 19 May 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article226055844&gt;.

Four years later, a buggy accident near Branxholme claimed William’s life.

“FATAL BUGGY ACCIDENT.” The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 – 1954) 30 September 1884: 5. Web. 18 May 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article191469587&gt;.

Rose kept the Temperance Hotel operating after William’s death.

“Advertising” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 27 January 1885: 1 (SUPPLEMENT TO THE HAMILTON SPECTATOR). Web. 19 May 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article225659244&gt;.

In 1886, Rose put the Temperance Hotel up for lease and she and the children moved to Portland. Rose ran a boarding house in Percy Street.

“The Portland Guardian, (ESTABLISHED 1842.) With which is incorporated The Portland Mirror.” Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953) 14 November 1887: 2 (EVENING). Web. 19 May 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article65411182&gt;.

Meanwhile, Italian Antonio Rizzo had arrived in Australia sometime in 1884. He was born around 1845 and came from Naples. In 1887, he travelled to the Adelaide International Exhibition for which he received first prizes.

“EXHIBITIONS.” South Australian Register (Adelaide, SA : 1839 – 1900) 17 October 1887: 1 (Supplement to the South Australian Register.). Web. 20 May 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article46830011&gt;.

Antonio moved on to Melbourne for the 1889 Melbourne International Exhibition exhibiting his speciality of shell cameos.

“Italy.” The Week (Brisbane, Qld. : 1876 – 1934) 2 February 1889: 30. Web. 25 May 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article186193649&gt;.

It was in 1889, Antonio first ventured to Portland when he entered the Industrial and Art Loan Exhibition there in March 1889 and won first prize in his section for his artistic and cameo jewellery. Some of Antonio’s chosen materials were coral and lava from Mount Vesuvius.

“Portland Industrial and Art Loan Exhibition.” Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953) 8 March 1889: 3 (EVENING). Web. 19 May 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article63592279&gt;.

Having previously worked for Gaunt and Drummond Jewellers in Melbourne, later in 1889, Antonio opened his own jewellery shop at 37 Sturt Street, Ballarat.  In that year, the Ballarat Star, described Antonio as “our Italian sculptor” after he created a marble statue for an All Nations Fancy Fair in October 1889.

“Advertising” The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 – 1924) 25 December 1889: 3. Web. 19 May 2017 .

Although he was in Ballarat, Antonio’s thoughts were in Portland and in 1891, he married the widow Rose Pearson at St Patrick’s Cathedral, Ballarat.

“Family Notices” Leader (Melbourne, Vic. : 1862 – 1918) 2 May 1891: 44. Web. 25 May 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article198045151&gt;.

A daughter, Italia Florence was born the following year in Melbourne.  Next, Antonio applied for a wine license in Portland in December 1893 but failed in his application as he was not born in the colony or naturalised.  Instead. he started a jewellery store in Percy Street, Portland in March 1894.  In the same year, Antonio and Rose’s eldest son Hubert was born at Brunswick.  On 30 September 1895,a fire swept through the Percy Street shop and residence.  Rugerio Patrick was born in the same year at Portland. Not perturbed by the fire, Antonio opened a jewellery store in Gray Street, Hamilton in December 1895.  Antonio’s talents were soon noticed in Hamilton and in 1897 he was commissioned to produce an engraved silver-handled trowel for Jane Henty to lay the foundation stone of the Hamilton Hospital Fever Ward.

“Established August 1842. The Portland Guardian, With which is incorporated The Portland Mirror.” Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953) 28 June 1897: 2 (EVENING). Web. 18 May 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article63661275&gt;.

In 1904, Antonio became one of the many unwitting victims of fraudster Louis Horwitz. Horwitz was Antonio’s landlord and legal advisor.  He swindled Antonio into signing documents with regard to his overdraft with the Union Bank.  Before he knew it, Antonio was taken to court by the bank and other creditors all demanding money. It was enough to ruin Antonio.  He had debts of around £1600 and only £830 of assets, leaving a shortfall of £700 forcing him into insolvency in September 1904.  He could no longer trade and a clearance sale was held in early 1905.

“Advertising” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 19 January 1905: 3. Web. 25 May 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article225883597&gt;.

In  August 1905, Antonio made a successful application to have his insolvency dissolved and was able to reopen his business.

“Advertising” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 29 December 1908: 3. Web. 18 May 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article225891265&gt;.

Antonio was a generous donor of trophies for various events around Hamilton.  One trophy known as the Rizzo Trophy, was for the Hamilton Gun Club becoming highly sort after prize among shooters. While in Hamilton, Antonio and Rose resided at Roma in Milton Street. When WW1 broke, their son Hubert enlisted in 1915 and safely returned to Australia in 1919.

Rose died on 8 November 1920 at a Kyneston Private Hospital in Caulfield aged sixty-five.  Her body was returned to Hamilton and buried in the Roman Catholic section of the cemetery. In time, an exquisite and unique headstone was added to Rose’s grave.  The feature, a cameo made in Italy in the image of Rose. Antonio died on 27 October 1924 at his daughter Italia’s home in Kew at the age of seventy-nine. He was reunited with Rose and today their grave is part of the cemetery’s Notable Graves Walk.  While the entry recognises Antonio, Rose shouldn’t be forgotten. She earned a living and raised her two children alone for seven years, later losing everything in the Portland fire and was there for Antonio through his enforced insolvency.

SIGN ON THE RIZZO GRAVE

Rugerio Rizzo followed his father into the trade and continued operating Rizzo Jewellers for several decades after Antonio’s death.

TIMOTHY TWOMEY & THE TWOMEY FAMILY PLOT

HEADSTONE OF TIMOTHY TWOMEY

The beautiful Celtic cross in the Roman Catholic section of the cemetery belongs to a man they called the Squire of Banemore, Timothy Twomey.  Timothy was a member of the Twomey family of Penshurst.  He was born in Ireland around 1829, the son of John Twomey and Margaret O’Conner. When the family arrived in Victoria, John Twomey acquired a large amount of land near Penshurst.  He later divided the property into three for his son Timothy’s property was Banemore from 1866  In 1867, Timothy married Annie Hayes. The Twomeys enjoyed overseas travel and by 1887, Timothy and Annie had visited Asia, Europe and America.

“Items of News.” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 13 January 1887: 2. Web. 3 Jun 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article226154135&gt;.

In early 1894, Timothy and Annie were off to England again.  The trip did not go to plan with Timothy dying suddenly in London on 10 July 1894 aged sixty-five.

“Items of News.” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 12 July 1894: 2. Web. 19 May 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article225779799&gt;.

Timothy’s body was returned to Hamilton but on the way there was a stopover at St Patrick’s Cathedral, Melbourne for a memorial service on 7 September 1894.  The cortege left for Spencer Street Station in time for the 6.50pm train to Hamilton. The following day, Timothy’s funeral was held at St Mary’s Catholic Church, Hamilton before burial.

“Family Notices” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 8 September 1894: 3. Web. 19 May 2017 .

In 1896, Annie commissioned Messrs. P. Finn & Co, stonemasons of Mitchell Street, Bendigo to make an appropriate headstone. What they created was considered one of the finest headstones in the colonies.  It was a huge undertaking with the granite quarried at Cape Woolamai on Victoria’s east coast, then shipped to Melbourne for transport to Bendigo.  The four metre high Celtic cross was available for viewing at Finn’s yard prior to its transportation to Hamilton.

“Items of News.” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 6 October 1896: 3. Web. 19 May 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article225554924&gt;.

Timothy’s Celtic cross is just one of a number of graves in the Twomey family plot and is by no means the tallest. There were eighteen Twomey burials at the cemetery, including Timothy’s parents and brothers Edward and Daniel.  The two brothers were at one time on the Hamilton Cemetery Trust.

TWOMEY FAMILY PLOT, ROMAN CATHOLIC SECTION

THOMAS & MARGARET WALKER

HEADSTONE OF THOMAS AND MARGARET WALKER

A scroll such as that on the column of the Walker monument can symbolise a life unfolding for an uncertain time. It’s doubtful Margaret Walker ever expected her life to unfold across 104 years. Thomas Walker arrived at Portland around 1840 and married Margaret Brown in 1843.  They lived in Portland until 1866 when they moved to Hamilton.   Thomas acquired various properties around the Hamilton township and for a time worked as a land agent.  He died on 15 April 1909 aged eighty-six, leaving his widow Margaret, then aged seventy-four, one son and two daughers.

Margaret, born on 11 August 1835 at Launceston, went on to live for a further thirty years. On 10 August 1939, Margaret celebrated her 104th birthday at her home in Shakespeare Street, Hamilton. At the time, it was thought she was the oldest woman in Victoria living through the reign of six monarchs.

MARGARET WALKER The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 – 1954) 11 August 1939: 14. Web. 19 May 2017 http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article204924449

Margaret long life ended two months after her birthday on 19 October 1939.  Her obituary in the Hamilton Spectator of 23 October 1939 said Margaret was, “…a lover of all things beautiful, and in quiet contentment, surrounded by her own people and home where she could indulge her liking, which amounted to almost a passion, for her garden she enjoyed to the full of her heart’s desire.”

Also buried with Thomas and Margaret is their daughter Maria, who Margaret outlived by seven years.  Maria Watson died at Hamilton aged seventy-six.

 

HEADSTONE OF MARIA WATSON (nee WALKER)

This is the second in a series of posts about the Old Hamilton Cemetery.  You can read the first on the link –  Hamilton Old Cemetery – Finding Family

© 2017 Merron Riddiford

Passing of the Pioneers – A Year On

PASSING OF THE PIONEERS. (1927, November 14). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 3 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved July 21, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64259147

On July 22, 2011, I posted the first Passing of the Pioneers and 12 months on I am preparing to post the 13th edition.

There are now over 180 links to Western Victorian pioneer obituaries at Western District Families and the 13th edition will see the total go over 200.

Reading all those obituaries has been a privilege and has taken me on a wonderful journey, not only through the history of the Western District, but to place such as game parks in Africa and the silver mines of South America.  The lives I have glimpsed into range from that of gentry to general hand, but all have shared in making Western Victoria the place it is today.

Some of the pioneers were born during the early days of Victoria,  while others dared their lives aboard immigrant ships in the hope of a better life.  Many travelled from the ports to the Western District by bullock wagon on rough tracks, while enduring unfamiliar conditions.  They built houses on land that would one day see towns such as Penshurst, Hamilton and Balmoral grow around them.

The women from the pioneering era deserve recognition.   Some were alone among men, left to bear and raise children and turn their canvas tents or slab huts into homes.  Many endured loneliness, but as towns grew some became involved with community activities such as the church.   Despite their hardships, many of these women’s obituaries noted that even in old age they would reminisce about those times.

Obituaries came after the pioneer “crossed the Great Divide”, penned by someone who too had heard the stories but may not have had all the facts.  That is my warning to you while you read obituaries and in the July 2012 Passing of the Pioneers I will show this with an obituary from my family.

Having said that,  it is the snippets of information within them that make obituaries a worthwhile family history resource.  Names of children and their married names, places of residence, occupations and immigration details are just some of those snippets which you can then test against the relevant records.

Many of the obituaries I have read have moved me, inspired me and led me to further research.   I have listed just some of those, not so much for the achievements of the subject but the stories they tell.  Click on the pioneer’s name to go to their original newspaper obituary or the date to go to the Passing of the Pioneers post where the obituary appeared:

Frederick William BILSTON (August 2011)

Mrs Agnes CHEQUER (November 2011)

Thomas Denton CLARKE (October 2011)

Elizabeth COLE (March 2012)

James DAWSON (April 2012)

Alfred Irvine HOGAN (February 2012)

KITTSON family – James (May 2012), James Trotter (December 2011),  Rebecca (January 2012),  Susannah (June 2012) and Mrs Margaret Kittson (May 2012)

MALSEED family – Fanny Ann (February 2012),  Robert J. (May 2012) ,  Mrs E.A. MALSEED (August 2011) and Mary HEDDITCH  (Mrs James MALSEED) (July 2011)

Finlay McPherson PATON (September 2011)

Joseph Bell PEARSON (July 2011)

Passing of the Pioneers

The Portland Guardian was mindful of the contribution made by the early pioneers toward developing the south-west.  They offered regular items titled “Passing of the Pioneers” or “Passing Pioneers” and often mentioned in obituaries that “…one by one are old pioneers are passing”.  As early as 1889, they were lamenting the loss of the links to the early settlers and suggesting that the efforts of those who passed be recognised.

The Portland Guardian,. (1889, January 16). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876-1953), p. 2 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved July 18, 2011, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article63591640

Established August 1842. The Portland Guardian,. (1899, July 7). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876-1953), p. 2 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved July 19, 2011, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article63676630 MLA citation

In 1921, the paper spoke of the many unwritten histories that had gone before, but  now we can see The Portland Guardian lived up to its charter of 1889,  successfully recording the histories of many of the local pioneers.  By doing so, they are now helping us learn more of our families and gain a sense of life in the early days of the Western District.  Of course, The Guardian was not alone.  References to the “passing pioneers” are found in most of the papers on the Trove website.

Obituaries are a secondary source as the information comes from the knowledge of those still living and I have noticed errors in obituaries of my family.  But they can offer leads to records you may never have thought of such as Masonic lodge records and local council records. Whatever you do or don’t get out of an obituary, no-one can deny they are often a good read.

July was a month when many “Passing of the Pioneers” columns appeared.  Cold winters in the southwest saw many of the older residents “cross the Great Divide” as the Guardian would put it.

Some of the more notable passing pioneers in the month of July were:

James PARKER:  Died 6 July1889 at Heywood. James PARKER’S obituary is an interesting read.  Born in Tasmania, he came to the mainland as a whaler. Later he had some luck at the Creswick goldfields only to have an encounter with bushranger Captain Moonlight.

William TULLOH: Died 19 July 1889 at Portland.  This is a lengthy obituary of a Portland resident of nearly fifty years, whose death saw half closed shutters on homes around the town.  Born in Scotland in 1812, he left a wife, four sons and a daughter at the time of his passing.  I have  found a site with more detail of William and his wife Eliza Mary KEARTON.

James BARNETT: Died 18 July 1892 at Portland.  James was known as “Old Barney” around Portland and while the Portland Guardian credits him as a pioneer, they make judgement in saying that he did not make the most of his opportunities as other early settlers had done.

Alexander THOMSON: Died July 1897 at Hamilton. Scottish born Alex THOMSON was prominent around the Hamilton area as a Shire of Dundas Councillor for twenty-one years.  At the time of his death, he was the owner of Pierrepoint Estate near Hamilton and was also an active member of the Pastoral and Agricultural society.

Thomas Webb SMITH:  Died 29 July 1914 at Branxholme.  Thomas served on the Borough of Portland council and was mayor from November 1871-November 1873.  He was also a member of the Goodfellows and Freemasons.

Annie Maria HENTY: Died 2 July 1921 at Hamilton.  Annie was from the most famous southwest pioneering family of them all, the Henty’s. The daughter of Stephen HENTY, Annie married Hamilton stock and station agent Robert STAPLYTON BREE in 1874.  The Bree name is preserved in Hamilton with a much used road of the same name in the town.  Their home Bewsall (below) once stood near the end of Bree Road in North Boundry Road.

HAMILTON. (1903, May 2). The Australasian (Melbourne, Vic. : 1864 - 1946), p. 27. Retrieved February 18, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article138684187

HAMILTON. (1903, May 2). The Australasian (Melbourne, Vic. : 1864 – 1946), p. 27. Retrieved February 18, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article138684187

Ann Eliza KEEPING: Died 9 July 1921 at Portland.  Annie Eliza KEEPING arrived in Australia aboard the Eliza and married John FINNIGAN in 1857.  She was eighty-two at the time of her death.

Joseph Bell PEARSON:  Died 7 July 1922 at Portland. Yet another interesting character.  According to his obituary, Joseph was born on the voyage from England to Tasmania.  His family moved to the Retreat Estate near Casterton in 1844.  He was a noted horseman, with several good racehorses which he would ride himself.  One of his jumps racing rivals was Adam Lindsay Gordon.

Sarah MARSHALL:  Died 7 July 1923 at Gorae West. Sarah was the wife of the late Richard BEAUGHLEHOLE and she died at seventy-three. Richard selected land at Gorae West and transformed swampland into flourishing orchards.  Sarah and Richard had twelve children.

Mary Thurza HEDDITCH: Died 1 July 1930 at Drik Drik. Mary HEDDITCH was born in Portland in 1844 and moved with her family to Bridgewater in 1846.  Her elder brother drowned when she was a teenager leaving her to take on some of his duties.  As a result, she became an accomplished horsewoman, helping her father with the cattle.  She married James MALSEED and together they had seven children.

Phillipa JOHNS: July 1931 at Portland.  Phillipa JOHNS, the daughter of a doctor, was herself something of a substitute doctor for those living in the Willenbrina area, near Warracknabeal.  Later she and her husband William DELLAR moved to the Portland district.  They had nine children.