The Passing of the Pioneer posts are getting a little behind. To fix that I intended to do a March/April/May edition but it was too long so I changed to a March/April edition to be followed by a May/June edition, however, March/April got too long. Instead, I’ll post March, closely followed by April and then a May/June combined edition. Hopefully, by July I’ll be back on track with a monthly post again. This edition with seven pioneers includes early residents of Glenthompson and Hamilton and a woman who had thirty-five grandchildren and thirty-five great-grandchildren when she died and a man who had forty-one grandchildren and forty-eight great-grandchildren at the time of his death. Imagine how many descendants those two have today. Click on any underlined text to read further information about a subject.
HUTCHESON, John – Died 27 March 1870 at Hamilton. John Hutcheson was born around 1819 in Abernethy, Perthshire, Scotland descending from a long line of millers. After his father David died, John’s mother Isabella took John and his brothers to Tasmania to be close to relatives. The Hutcheson boys, John, George, and David heard about the rich pastoral area of the Western District of Victoria and decided to see for themselves. After arriving at Port Phillip, they took up Runnymede station near Sandford and in 1849 Mount Straun station near Digby.
John and George bought land on the northern banks of the Grange Burn to the west of the Hamilton township. They planned to farm as well as follow in the footsteps of their ancestors and open a mill. They had the machinery built in Melbourne and by February 1854, it was ready to transport by ship to Portland and then overland to Hamilton. It was a slow process getting the mill components to Hamilton and constructing the building to house them. Finally, in December 1855 the mill was close to completion.
And by February 1856 it was ready to go.
George died in 1857 at Runnymede after he was kicked by a horse but John continued on with the mill. Opposition came in 1859 when Peter Learmonth opened a mill on the Grange Burn on the eastern side of the township. Aside from opening the first mill, John was the first person in the district to own a steam operated thresher. He was also a founding member of the Dundas Roads Board in 1857.
Sometime after his arrival in Victoria, John married Ann Robertson, sister of George Robertson of Warrock near Casterton. Ann died in 1860 at South Hamilton. They had no children. In 1861, John married Mary McDonald.
John was fifty-one at the time of his death. He left his widow Mary, four sons and one daughter. His obituary read,
He was well read and held opinions in advance of his time. This, to some, made him appear somewhat eccentric, but those who knew him intimately were charmed with his conversation, and while admiring the man for his selfwill and robust turn of mind, they knew how soft a heart was covered by anapparently brusque exterior, and that many a family have had their flour ground or a bag of flour sent to them when they most wanted It, and no charge made, When a disastrous bush-fire ruined half the people on the creek a few years ago, Mr Hutcheson was the first to move in getting up subscriptions in their aid, and we are justified in saying that when the committee left the distribution of the funds to him, all were satisfied. Mr Hutcheson was a very retiring man; he loved the hum of his mill more than the bustle of the town,…He was a fine mechanic and could make anything in wood or metal, the old Hamilton Mill remaining a monument of his skill in that direction. (Hamilton Spectator 30 March 1870 p. 2)
John was buried at the Hamilton (Old) Cemetery. After John’s death, Mary continued to run the mill until 1877 when she sold it to Charles Pilven of the Commercial Hotel. In something of a trade, Mary purchased the Commerical Hotel.
The mill became a Rabbit Preserving Factory in 1892. John’s mother Isabella lived at Coleraine and died on 10 June 1876.
PEARSON, John – Died 10 March 1885 at Portland. John Pearson was born near Edinburgh, Scotland around 1801. In 1832, he married Mary Simpson and four children were born. They left their home at Leigh, Scotland for Tasmania in early 1840 after John inherited Douglas Park at Campbell Town from his older brother Dr Temple Pearson who died on 1 October 1839. They set off on 24 January 1840 aboard the North Briton but during the voyage, she ran aground on the Goodwin Sands off the English coast near Kent and was put into Ramsgate Harbour. That delayed the journey a month and they departed again on 17 February. Back on course, as the ship rounded the Cape of Good Hope on 30 April 1840, Mary gave birth to a son, Joseph. They finally arrived in Tasmania on 17 June 1840.
The Pearsons remained in Tasmania until 1846 when John sold Douglas Park and they travelled to Victoria aboard the Minerva captained by Captain Fawthrop on 30 May 1846. With them were servants and all their household furniture. On another ship John chartered, the Lady Mary Pelham were horses, cattle and farming implements. It took two weeks to make the trip to Portland Bay. Four nights were spent anchored at King Island due to rough weather. Since there was no pier at Portland at the time, the horses and cattle swam ashore and John’s family were carried through the surf to shore.
John purchased Retreat station on the Glenelg River near Casterton and built a house and a woolshed. During their time at the station, the Pearsons saw the impact of the Black Thursday bushfires on 6 February 1851. Such was the fire’s intensity, birds and wildlife sought refuge at the homestead. Two days later on 8 February 1851, John’s wife Mary died. Her body was transported to the Portland North Cemetery for burial. John sold Retreat soon after, taking up Yambuk Station in July 1851. After three years he bought Mount Shadwell estate near Mortlake. In 1855, John purchased the Glenorchy station near Merino. John decided to retire to Melbourne but lasted six months returning to the Western District in 1857 to reside in Percy Street, Portland. It was also in 1857, John brought new sheep bloodlines to the Western District.
John continued buying properties and in 1859 purchased the Rifle Range station near Coleraine. He was an avid reader and a keen gardener and was known for his floral displays and introduced new plants to Portland. He formed his own opinions and more than once was encouraged to stand for a seat in the Legislative Assembly but he could not agree with the policies of parties requesting his nomination. He did serve as a chairman of the District Roads Board. John died at his home in Percy Street at the age of eighty-four and was buried at the North Portland Cemetery. In his will, he left £50 for the widows of Portland.
McLENNAN, John – Died 4 March 1907 at Glenthompson. John McLennan was born in Scotland around 1832. He arrived at Yuppeckiar, just west of what is now Glenthompson in 1862 to run the Cobb & Co changing station located at what was known as the “mail tent”. The changing station consisted of two tents, one for John and one for the horses. The “post office” was a hole in a red gum tree with a flap of hide to protect the mail from the weather.
A township was surveyed and when land became available, John purchased acreage and built the first house in the town which would become Glenthompson He also built a hotel on the main road but when the railway came through, he built a second hotel opposite the station. In time, it became Mac’s Hotel (seen below, it was renovated in the 1920s). John also operated a store which was profitable for him.
John married Jessie Roderick in 1872. In 1883, John announced his intention to retire
In 1884, John did retire and turned to wool-growing. He was given a testimonial at Glenthompson led by Charles Gray of Nareeb Nareeb.
Jessie died on 26 November 1895. When John died in 1907, he left a son and a daughter. He was buried at the Glenthompson Cemetery.
NICOL, Gideon – Died 20 March 1908 at Merino. Gideon Nicol was born near Aberdeen, Scotland around 1836. When he was fifteen, Gideon began working on ships, sailing first to Calcutta, India in 1851. He then went on several voyages including to South America and then to Sevastopol to deliver horses for use in the Crimean War. Despite all his time at sea, Gideon managed to be in England in 1852 to witness the funeral of the Duke of Wellington.
Gideon arrived in Victoria in 1858 at the age of twenty-two aboard the Greyhound and set off for Warrnambool. He secured work on stations as a bullock driver until heading for the New Zealand gold diggings in 1861. When he returned, he selected 300 acres of land at Mount Warrnambool near Panmure in 1865. He also selected 600 acres at Tahara. In 1866, John married Ellen Dunne.
Farming was tough and in 1871, he was losing calves so he wrote a letter to The Australasian newspaper requesting advice.
The correspondent from The Australasian provided a solution to Gideon’s problem and it must have held him in good stead. By the time a correspondent from The Australasian visited the district in 1881, he found Gideon was running a successful farm.
Gideon mentioned to the correspondent the problems he had with his calves ten years before and was still singing the praises of the solution offered by The Australasian
Gideon was one of the first directors of the Farnham Cheese and Butter Factory Company and was a Warrnambool Shire Councillor for twenty-seven years including two terms as President. He represented the Shire at the opening of the Federal Parliament in Melbourne in 1901. At the time of his death, Gideon was a director of the Merino Butter Factory. He was buried at the Tower Hill cemetery leaving his widow Ellen, one son and two daughters. Ellen died in January 1914.
JENNINGS, John – Died 18 March 1910 at Hamilton. John Jennings was born in England around 1819. He arrived in Portland about 1846 and two years later he went to Hamilton then called The Grange. Around 1849, John went to Adelaide where he married Bridget Priscilla Talbot. A daughter Catherine was born in Adelaide in July 1851. Back in Victoria around 1852, John and Bridget took up residence at Violet Creek to the south of Hamilton.
John worked as a shepherd at Violet Creek but wanted a change in career and since there was a demand for timber in the growing town of Hamilton, he took up timber splitting at Victoria Valley in the Grampians. The timber he split was used to build the Hamilton Inn and the Victoria Hotel. He then set up sawmill below Billy Goat Hill which overlooked the area which would more than fifty years later become Melville Oval. To accommodate his growing family, John built a house on Billy Goat Hill from timber he collected nearby. It had slab walls and a clay floor and is pictured below.
Bridget died at Hamilton in 1904. John continued living at his home until his death in 1910. He left forty-eight grandchildren and forty-one great-grandchildren at the time of his death.
John and Bridget’s son Jack and his wife Emma contributed eighteen of the grandchildren. After John’s death, his home of fifty years which had never been altered was dismantled and a new house built.
In 1912, some of his family came together and are seen below.
Vanda Savill in her book Dear friends, now know ye: Hamilton District, wool centre of the world. Part one (p180) stated by 1940, John and Bridget’s son John “Jack” Jennings had 183 living descendants consisting of nine children, 50 grandchildren, 49 great-grandchildren and six great-great grandchildren. Further, it says Jack was born in a tent on the site of the current Gray Street Primary School in 1853, however, his birth was registered in 1855.
SCULLION, John – Died 8 March 1919 at Garvoc. John Scullion was born at County Antrim, Ireland around 1827. When he was around seventeen, he went to England and worked for around five years in a foundry. He left England at the age of twenty-two and sailed for Portland. He worked as a bullock teamster travelling to and from the diggings. In 1861 he married Janet MacKellar.
John took up land at Wangoom near Warrnambool before going to Garvoc around 1864 and became a dairy farmer. In 1909, he lost his home in a fire. It had nine rooms, three of stone and six of timber. At the time John estimated his monetary loss was £800. At the age of ninety-two, John died at his home Mount View, Garvoc, leaving his widow Janet and five daughters and three sons. He was buried at the Terang Cemetery.
ANDREWS, Mary Ann – Died 31 March 1940 at Colac. Mary Ann was born at Muntham station near Casterton around 1855. She married Thomas Rhodes at Coleraine in 1873 and they moved to Lower Gellibrand between Lavers Hill and Princetown around 1885. Thomas died four years after their arrival there on 8 December 1889 aged thirty-nine. Mary continued on at their dairy farm. At the time of her death, Mary Ann had four daughters and two sons, thirty-five grandchildren and thirty-seven great-grandchildren.
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