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.

 

Passing of the Pioneers

Welcome to a bumper May Passing of the Pioneers. So many interesting pioneers passed in the month of May, I had to leave some for next year. Those that remain had such great stories that it was necessary to share some extra bits and pieces found about them. Some just passed through the Western District from time to time, others lived there only for a short period while others were residents for over fifty years, but they all left their mark in some way. They include army captains, ship captains, a dentist and a naturalist.

Captain Foster FYANS:  Died 23 May 1870 at Newtown. Western Victorian historian, Margaret Kiddle, wrote in her book Men of Yesterday: a social history of the Western District of Victoria (1834-1890) “the story of  Foster Fyans’ commissionership is a joy to historians” (p.50) . Born in Dublin, Ireland, Foster Fyans was an army captain. He enlisted in 1816 and served with different regiments of the British army including a stint in India. On arrival in Australia in 1833, he became the captain of the guard on Norfolk Island and remained there for two years. In 1837, he left the army and headed to Port Phillip to become the first police magistrate at Geelong.

From 1840, Foster Fyans held the important position of  Crown Lands Commissioner for the Portland Bay area.  A squatter taking up land had to seek permission from the Commissioner and pay an annual fee. The Commissioner’s word was law and there was no arguing with Foster Fyans, a man with a temper.  He tangled with many squatters including the Hentys.  Governor  La Trobe had his moments with Fyans and Kiddle cites La Trobe declaring Fyans “secured to him the chance of a duel once at least in the week as long as he may live” (p.50).

As commissioner, Fyans would ride great distances from Geelong through to Portland and into the Wimmera, a formidable task but his skills marking out selections  may not have been as great  according to Richard Bennett’s Early Days in Port Fairy (edited by Jan Critchett).  Fyans’ marking of runs “amounted to almost a farce” as Bennett  described the technique used by Fyans:

They were usually laid off in ten mile blocks, measured with a compass in his hand, and timing his horse.  A blackfellow followed, and notched a tree line.  When the Commissioner had travelled what he considered the distance, he notched a corner tree with a broad arrow, and then rode off again at right angles to the next corner, and so on round the block.  Captain Fyans was a bluff old gentleman…” (p.26).

Despite his ways, Fyans was kept on as Commissioner because there was no one else qualified to do the job.

THE LATE CAPTAIN FYANS. (1870, June 18). Illustrated Australian News for Home Readers (Melbourne, Vic. : 1867 - 1875), p. 114. Retrieved May 19, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article60449034

THE LATE CAPTAIN FYANS. (1870, June 18). Illustrated Australian News for Home Readers (Melbourne, Vic. : 1867 – 1875), p. 114. Retrieved May 19, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article60449034

Foster Fyans died at Balyang (below) in the Geelong suburb of Newtown and while the house was demolished in 1896, the site is now a part of the Balyang sanctuary. Around the Geelong area the Fyans name is still present with Fyans Street and the suburb, Fyansford. Around the Grampians there is Lake Fyans and Fyans Creek.

BALYANG, RESIDENCE OF FOSTER FYANS c1851. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria Image no. H88.21/107 http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/71805

William CARMICHAEL:  Died May 1890 at Macarthur. William lived at Harton Hills, near Macarthur. According to his obituary, William purchased the property in 1843 from squatter James Hunter.  However, the Macarthur Historical Society website states William bought the property from the Bolden brothers in 1842.  Any wonder William’s  obituary notes there were “many and varied stories” about how he acquired Harton Hills.

Captain Alexander CAMPBELL:  Died May 25, 1890 at South Yarra.  Alexander Campbell was born in 1803 in Argyleshire, Scotland and followed his brothers to Tasmania in 1825. After farming for a few years, Alexander left for Sydney in 1831. The following year a position in charge of the whaling station at Portland was offered to him but he didn’t take up the role until 1836.  In the meantime he went whaling, sailing as far as Japan. After Portland, he went on to Port Fairy where he stayed for about fifteen years.  In that time he built at least two cottages, one occupied by his sisters. In 1851, he became a harbour master and later moved to Gippsland where he returned to farming.  In his last years, Alexander and his wife moved to Caroline Street, South Yarra where  he died aged 87.

Captain David FERMANER:  Died May 1893 at Newport. Earlier this year I wrote a Trove Tuesday post entitled Gilding the Lily.  Captain David Fermaner may have been guilty of just that.  At the time of his death, Fermaner, a whaler, was credited as being Victoria’s earliest colonist and that he was standing on the beach at Lady Bay when the ship carrying the first Henty’s reached the Victorian coastline. However, after reading Jenny Williams Fawcett’s account of David Fermaner and his link to the legend of the Mahogany Ship, it became obvious telling the truth was not one of his strong points.

CAPTAIN DAVID FERMANER. Image courtesty of the State Library of Victoria Image no. H2889/85 http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/68327

After his time in the south-west, Fermaner later became pilot and harbourmaster at Port Albert in Gippsland.

William Thomas PILE:  Died 25 May 1901 at Portland. William Pile was born in Devonshire, England and as a boy served an apprenticeship in the fishing industry at Hull.  With an urge to see the world, he became a sailor and in 1852, his ship Cossepore arrived at Portland, but he travelled on to Geelong and like many other ships’ crew he left and headed to the diggings.  The thrill of the high seas and travel was a greater lure and he returned to England. It was not until 1854 on a return visit to Portland, he decided to settle.

William’s working life in Portland started as a fisherman and in 1869 after a trip home to England, he returned with a new type of gun to harpoon whales.  He bought into a wattle bark business with Stephen Jarrett that proved lucrative. In 1876 William became a Portland Councillor and then Portland Mayor in 1880 and 1886.

Stephen DUDDEN:  Died 2 May 1903 at Hamilton. Stephen Dudden was born in Somersetshire around 1819 and arrived in Victoria in the 1860s. Stephen showed some entrepreneurial skills setting up a refreshment tent opposite the Hamilton Lands office, in Brown Street, during the rush to buy land after the passing of the Land Act in 1860. He later went  to Portland working as a stonemason and then retired to Myamyn. In the month prior to his death, a dehydrated and disheveled Stephen was found by a Hamilton policeman and taken to the Hamilton Hospital where he remained until he passed away from senile decay.

Janet MILLAR:  Died 3 May 1910 at Portland. Janet’s obituary named her only as Mrs Browning, so I turned to the Australian Death Index to find her birth name, Janet Millar. Janet and her husband John Browning arrived in Victoria in 1849 and headed to Portland to set up a school. With the discovery of gold, the school was abandoned and the Brownings headed for the diggings. They returned to Portland and eventually John set up another school, John Browning’s Boarding School for Boys.

Janet was eighty-eight at the time of her death and had kept relatively good health and was still tending her home.  However, it was a once in a lifetime chance to see Halley’s Comet in 1910 that led to her demise. She had been out early on cold mornings trying to catch a glimpse of the comet and developed a chill, too much for her weak heart.

Laurence FINN:  Died 24 May 1914 at Port Fairy. Laurence Finn from Tipperary, Ireland arrived in Melbourne with his parents in 1841 and in 1843 they settled in Port Fairy. In 1858, Laurence married Ellen Crowe and they took up residence at Comely Banks, Port Fairy. Laurence’s father ran the Belfast Inn for a time until he let the lease lapse. As a the only child from his father’s second marriage, Laurence and his children inherited a large amount of land. Laurence was a Justice of the Peace and was a member of the Port Fairy Agriculture Society.

John McCOMBE: Died 7 May 1916 at Casterton. Fourteen-year-old, John McCombe arrived in Melbourne aboard the Champion of the Seas in 1854. His family headed directly to Portland but John soon moved on to the Casterton district taking up work at Dunrobin and Nangeela. He purchased a bullock team and began a carrying business and moved to Sandford around 1861 after he married. Four years later he bought land at Deep Creek, Corndale and he remained there until his death.

Frederick Sunderland Wood MAWSON:  Died 19 May 1916 at Geelong. Frederick Mawson was a dentist and he travelled the Western District and Mt. Gambier inspecting the teeth of the residents.  Born around 1843, Frederick studied dentistry in England and practiced in Yorkshire.  After acquiring the necessary qualifications for Australia, Frederick set up practice in Geelong and for a few years had a practice in Mt Gambier.

DENTISTRY. (1914, April 2). The Casterton News and the Merino and Sandford Record (Vic. : 1914 - 1918), p. 1 Edition: Bi-Weekly. Retrieved May 23, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article74760513

DENTISTRY. (1914, April 2). The Casterton News and the Merino and Sandford Record (Vic. : 1914 – 1918), p. 1 Edition: Bi-Weekly. Retrieved May 23, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article74760513

This “advertorial” from the Border Watch gives a good description of Frederick Mawson and his dentistry.

dentist1

F. J. Mawson,. (1899, April 5). Border Watch (Mount Gambier, SA : 1861 - 1954), p. 4 Supplement: Supplement to the BORDER WATCH. Retrieved May 23, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article81713460

F. J. Mawson,. (1899, April 5). Border Watch (Mount Gambier, SA : 1861 – 1954), p. 4 Supplement: Supplement to the BORDER WATCH. Retrieved May 23, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article81713460

 

George Deihl McCORMICK: Died 29 May 1916 at Warrnambool.  Born in Toronto, Canada, George McCormick arrived in Victoria in 1852. He farmed and apparently became a part owner of Cobb & Co. coaches. While I can’t find evidence of this claim, George did know a lot about Cobb & Co. as recorded in his reminisces from 1902 with a writer from the Warrnambool Standard. The article also appeared in the Portland Guardian of January 20, 1902

mccorm mccorm1 mccorm2

This is a perfect opportunity to show a Cobb & Co. coach and the Leviathan coach, introduced in 1862, was the height of madness. Smaller coaches would have been scary enough to ride in as they hurtled along unmade roads. But a coach for 89 passengers. What were they thinking? George’s account above mentions the perils facing the Leviathan coach, but it was not the risk that proved them unsuccessful. Rather, the driver’s whip could not reach the front horses, so a bag of stones were carried to throw at the leaders.

COBB & CO COACH WITH 89 PASSENGERS.  Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria Image No. H4051 http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/72175

COBB & CO COACH WITH 89 PASSENGERS. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria Image No. H4051 http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/72175

George became a police magistrate in 1882 and purchased Bournfield Park Estate at Woodstock near Whittlesea and in 1889 he arrived in Warrnambool.  He remained there until his death.  He left a wife, Barbara Waddell and five sons and four daughters.

John James VILLIERS:  Died May 1917 at Warrnambool. London born John Villiers was a talented man. He arrived in Victoria in 1858 aged around seventeen and headed to the diggings. In the early 1860s he went to Warrnambool and his obituary in the Argus May 12, 1917 said he ran a painting and decorating business in Libeig Street and imported crockery.  John’s  interest in painting went beyond house painting.  He enjoyed painting landscapes in oils and watercolours and once he presented a painting to the Warrnambool Art Gallery.

A man of the arts, John was also an amateur dramatic and vocal performer and organised dramatic events to raise money for the likes of the Warrnambool Hospital and the Mechanics Institute. John was a part of the earliest known sound recording in Australia by Warrnambool shoe shop owner, Thomas Rome on one of the first Edison phonographs. John Villiers sang The Hen Convention and if you click on the link, you can hear the song. More information about Thomas Rome and John Villiers and their recordings can be found in a story by ABC Southwest from 2010.

Sarah BARKER: Died May 1917 at Ararat. Most months I can find a pioneer that I have even just a tenuous family link to.  This month it is Sarah Barker. Sarah was the mother of Stephen Ward. Stephen married Isabella Harman, daughter of James Harman. I didn’t know that Sarah Jerrett, as she was in her obituary, was formally Sarah Ward and Sarah Baker.  When I read the obituary however, it mentioned the Ward connection and her son Stephen.

Sarah, from Norfolk, England and her first husband James Ward, arrived at Portland in 1852.  She was twenty-three.  Sarah remained there until the late 1890s when she moved to Ararat. Prior to that  Sarah and James had seven children. including second youngest Stephen in 1867. James died in 1879 and Sarah married Francis Jerrett in 1883.

John GURRY:  Died 24 May 1917 at Condah. John Gurry and his wife left Ireland for Portland in 1857. They tried Harrow and Branxholme, running the Western Hotel there, then settled in Condah where John ran a farm. In their later years, they moved into the Condah township. John was buried in a family grave at Portland.

OBITUARY. (1917, May 28). Port Fairy Gazette (Vic. : 1914 - 1918), p. 2 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved May 23, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article88021627

OBITUARY. (1917, May 28). Port Fairy Gazette (Vic. : 1914 – 1918), p. 2 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved May 23, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article88021627

Adam EDGAR:  Died 8 May 1941 at Tapanui, New Zealand.  At the age of six, Adam arrived in Portland aboard the Severn in 1857 with his parents, James and Isabella and his eight siblings. The family went straight to Pine Hills  Harrow the property of James Edgar’s brother, David. Like his cousins and siblings, he was educated at the private school David Edgar had established at Pine Hills.  In 1871,  Adam married Margaret Huston and in 1875, they left for New Zealand where they stayed for the rest of their lives. One of Adam and Margaret’s sons was the Reverend James. Huston Edgar, an explorer, missionary and author who spent much of his life in China. His obituary is below. Adam’s sister Jean Edgar was a Passing Pioneer from March 2012.

MR. J. H. EDGAR DEAD. (1936, April 6). The Courier-Mail (Brisbane, Qld. : 1933 - 1954), p. 14. Retrieved May 26, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article36803018

MR. J. H. EDGAR DEAD. (1936, April 6). The Courier-Mail (Brisbane, Qld. : 1933 – 1954), p. 14. Retrieved May 26, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article36803018

Captain Robert Ernest BAKER: Died 4 May 1943 at Larpent. What an interesting character Captain Baker was. Not a ship’s captain, but a captain in the AIF during WW1 he served with the 8th Light Horse. Reading his eighty-eight page service record, I found that Baker was actually a Lieutenant when delisted and was a just temporary Captain at one time during his service. “Captain” does have a better ring to it.

This wonderful photo from the Australian War Memorial has a real Western District flavour but sadly only one, Robert Baker, returned.  Captain Baker is seated on the left.  He was forty-one at the time of enlistment.  The other men are seated right:  Keith Allan Borthwick of Armadale. Standing from left: Major Thomas Harold Redford of Warrnambool, Lt Edward Ellis Henty of Hamilton, Lt Eliot Gratton Wilson of Warrnambool.

Edward Ellis Henty was the grandson of Stephen George Henty. He,  Borthwick, Redford and Wilson joined up on the same day, 21 September 1914 and all died on the same day, 7 August 1915 at the battle of The Nek at Gallipoli.  Robert Baker’s war was plagued with illness, including dysentery and lumbago, but it probably saved his life.  On 7 August 1915, he was in the No 1 Australian Stationary Hospital on Mudros.

Image Courtesy of the Australian War Memorial P00265.001 http://www.awm.gov.au/collection/P00265.001

Image Courtesy of the Australian War Memorial P00265.001 http://www.awm.gov.au/collection/P00265.001

After the war, Captain Baker transformed his property at Larpent into a sanctuary for the native fauna.  He often contributed to the Nature Notes in the Argus.

NOTES FOR BOYS. (1930, September 9). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), p. 9. Retrieved May 26, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article4189243

NOTES FOR BOYS. (1930, September 9). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957), p. 9. Retrieved May 26, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article4189243

In 1936, he offered kangaroos from his own sanctuary to the Healesville sanctuary.  Healesville Sanctuary was in its first years as it was officially opened in 1934.

Healesville Shire Council. (1936, May 2). Healesville and Yarra Glen Guardian (Vic. : 1900 - 1942), p. 3. Retrieved May 26, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article60453763

Healesville Shire Council. (1936, May 2). Healesville and Yarra Glen Guardian (Vic. : 1900 – 1942), p. 3. Retrieved May 26, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article60453763

Herbert Edward RIPPON:  Died 19 May 1954 at Hamilton. Herbert Rippon was the son of George Rippon, part owner of the Hamilton Spectator Herbert lived at Edradour, a house on Ballarat Road, Hamilton I must have passed a thousand times.  Photos of Edradour can be seen on a Hamilton real estate agency listing. Herbert inherited ownership of the Hamilton Spectator in 1899. The Victorian Heritage Database has a short bio on Herbert and he was one of the original backers of Sir Reginald Ansett, then a Hamilton resident. He also was a director of John Thompson & Co department store of Hamilton.

Passing of the Pioneers

The Ararat Advertiser (1914-1918) is now available at Trove and October Passing of the Pioneers highlights some obituaries from that area.  They show the lure of gold drawing people to Victoria with some of them, such as Mr and Mrs George Stock and Elizabeth Williams, being more like “gold rush chasers” moving from town to town as a rush occurred.

If you hoped your ancestor may have been a gold seeker and you haven’t found them at Bendigo or Ballarat, maybe they were at towns like Pleasant Creek (Stawell), Ararat, Landsborough or Ampitheatre. I thought I had no gold miners until I found that James Bishop was a miner at Mount Ararat when my gg grandmother, Elizabeth Bishop, was born.

Other pioneers featured include one of my family members, Edward Gamble, Mrs Hannah Johnstone who would never have starved if she had a gun at hand and two friends of Adam Lindsay Gordon. I have noticed reading obituaries that Adam Lindsay Gordon had a lot of friends, maybe even more than he thought himself!

James STARRIT: Died October 3, 1889 at Portland. It could be easy for those like James Starrit to be forgotten forever.  I have come across similar obituaries of men and women, unmarried and with few living relatives. James Starrit, his two brothers, two sisters and elderly father arrived at Portland from Garry Gort, County Donegal, Ireland on August 18, 1852.  James and his two sisters never married and lived together on a farm, earning enough from the farm to allow them to live their simple life.  Prior to farming, James had been a policeman at Portland.

Edward GAMBLE: Died October 1897 at Colac. Edward was my ggg uncle, and the son of Thomas Gamble and Ellen Barry. He was only forty-seven at the time of his death from cancer. His obituary alludes to its cause being his work canning rabbits, a job he had for twenty-one years.  There was a preserving factory in Colac and surrounding towns.  Born in Geelong in 1847, Edward married Martha Hodgins in 1873. They had 10 known children. Almost 100 Oddfellows attended Edward’s funeral, dressed in their full regalia as a tribute to their fellow lodge member.

John McKAY:  Died October 1907 at Richmond. At the time of his death at age eighty-four, John McKay was living with his son-in-law. Prior to that, he resided in Portland where he made his name as a blacksmith and wheelwright. He arrived in Victoria in 1853 and Portland in 1854.

Martha HILLS: Died October 30, 1908 at Portland. Martha Hills died at the home of her grandson Charles French, just three months short of her 99th birthday. Martha raised Charles and his siblings after the death of their father Henry and as the obituary puts it so well “…the love and care she gave the three little ones was not relaxed as years advanced, and in return she in her declining years reaped the full reward by equally as loving care and devotion”.  Martha arrived in Victoria around 1858, spent a few years in Hamilton before moving to Portland with her husband Charles French. She had two children living at the time of her death.

Mary BURNELL: Died October 1910 at Stawell. Mary Burnell was born in Yorkshire on October 23,1836 and at thirteen she travelled to Adelaide, South Australia. She married John Moulden and around 1875, they moved their family to the Wimmera in Victoria. They later moved close to Stawell where she remained until her death.

Mahala CARBIN:  Died 14 October 1915 at Malvern. Born in Cornwall in 1824, Mahala Carbin arrived in South Australia with her parents in 1840. Mahala and her gold seeking parents moved to Victoria around 1852. She married John Little at St Paul’s Cathedral in Melbourne in 1857 aged thirty-three and they lived in the Ararat district throughout their married lives. Just weeks before her death, Mahala moved to Malvern to live with her daughter.  Mahala lived through the reign of five monarchs and was ninety-one at the time of her death.

Thomas Christopher COATES:  Died 26 October 1915 at Buninyong. Thomas Coates was one of the founding members of the Ballarat Stock Exchange and served as the secretary of the Ballarat Benevolent Society for twenty-six years. He was born in Westmorland, England and arrived in Australia in 1853. He settled at Creswick in 1854. He died at the home of his son.

Agnes GORMAN: Died  11 October 1916 at Rosebrook.

Obituary. (1916, October 19). Port Fairy Gazette (Vic. : 1914 – 1918), p. 2 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved October 22, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article88009495

Elizabeth DAVENPORT: Died 30 October 1916 at Port Fairy. Elizabeth Davenport was born in Parramatta, New South Wales in 1838. When she was eleven, she spent six weeks on a voyage to Port Fairy with her parents. She married William Presnell, a farmer, known for having one of the first threshing machines in the Port Fairy district. Elizabeth and William had thirteen children, six sons and seven daughters.

William ARMSTRONG:  Died 5 October 1917 at Colac. William was born in Belfast, Ireland the son of a Presbyterian Chaplin. He arrived in Victoria in the 1860s, first spending time with his uncle at West Cloven Hills before setting up his own dairy farm at Darlington. His community interests included the Darlington Presbyterian Church, the Mechanics Institute and he was the Darlington correspondent for the Camperdown Chronicle. He left a widow and nine children.

Elizabeth PURNELL: Died October 1917 at Ararat. Born in 1823 in Somersetshire, England. Elizabeth Purnell married George Stock around 1852. Not long after they married they sailed for Geelong arriving in October 1852. In 1853, the moved to Ballarat then Stawell when gold was discovered in 1856 at Forty Foot Hill and then on to Ararat for the “Commissioners Hill” rush.  George was obviously following gold as they then went on to the rushes at Amphitheatre, Barkly and Landsborough. Finally, in 1867, they settled at Ararat. Elizabeth and George had eleven children, with seven still alive at the time of her death.  Like Mahala Carbin (above), Elizabeth’s obituary mentioned that she had lived through the reign of five monarchs.

Elizabeth BREWIS: Died 10 October 1918 at Ararat.  Elizabeth Williams was an early resident of Ararat. She was born in Essex, England around 1824 and sailed for Sydney in 1852 aboard the Earl of Elgin. While in Sydney she married J. Green. After a year and with the lure of gold, she arrived in Bendigo, Victoria and followed the rushes until she ended up in Ararat.  She remarried to Robert Williams and they had three daughters.

Mary BARRETT: Died 19 October 1918 at Ararat. Mary Barrett was born in Ireland and arrived in Ararat in the 1860s. Her uncle, Reverend Father Barrett was a pioneer Roman Catholic priest in the Ararat district and Mary resided with him. Mary never married and when her health was failing, she moved to the Brigidine Convent in Ararat where she passed away aged seventy years.

James R. KEAN:  Died 11 October 1926 at Ararat. Born in Portland in 1858, James Kean started working as a printer at aged twenty. Two years later, he became a journalist and produced the Portland Mirror. The paper started out small, but within a year the subscribers increased and the paper was already thought of as “an influential and up to date journal”  In 1885, James purchased the Portland Guardian a paper established in 1842.  In the same year, he married Jane Robertson, daughter of Angus Robertson of Straun station near Merino. James was  a member of the St Stephens Church choir, a member of the Portland racing club and the Masonic Lodge.

St Stephens Church Portland

John JOHNSTONE: Died October 1930 at Portland. John Johnstone was a very early arrival in Portland, in 1841, as a baby with his parents James and Dorothy Johnstone. James was a blacksmith and wheelwright but he eventually purchased land at Kentbruck and built the Emu Flat Hotel or as known by travellers,” Mrs Johnstone’s”.  After his parent’s deaths, John took over the running of the hotel for a short time before selling it and taking up farming. More commonly known as “Jack”, he was an expert bushman and rider and was a friend of Adam Lindsay Gordon. He married Elizabeth Angus and they had three daughters and two sons.

John Richard MALLINSON:  Died 14 October 1934 at Pomborneit.  Born in Portland, John spent time in Merino and Hamilton as a child and young man. He completed an apprenticeship as a blacksmith and wheelwright and opened a business in Coleraine. After eight years, he moved to Timboon and then Camperdown in 1894 where he again ran a blacksmith’s shop.

Having lived in a number of towns and with his work as a blacksmith he had many friends with horse interests including Cobb and Co drivers of renown and like John Johnstone (above) Adam Lindsay Gordon.

OBITUARY. (1934, October 20). Camperdown Chronicle (Vic. : 1877 – 1954), p. 2. Retrieved October 24, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article27395509

Frederick WRIGHT:  Died 14 October 1934 at Camperdown. Frederick Wright was born in Cambridgeshire, England around 1842 and arrived at Corio Bay, Victoria aboard the Omega aged fourteen.  He worked as a nurseryman in the Geelong district before learning to drive bullocks.  At eighteen years of age, he took a load of flour to the goldfields at Stawell, the first bullock wagon driven into that area and he only had bush tracks to follow. He moved to Camperdown in 1871 and ran a dairy farm and a chaff mill and later a butcher shop. He was an original member of the Camperdown Turf Club.  He had thirty-five grandchildren and thirty-nine great-grandchildren at the time of his death.

Hannah HANNON:  Died October 1937 at Portland. Hannah was born in Adelaide in the late 1840s and moved to Kentbruck, near Portland aged eighteen.  She married Thomas Charles Johnstone, brother of John Johnstone (above).  Hannah was a woman not afraid to open and close gates and was handy with a gun.  She was known around Portland for sharing ducks or other game she had hunted.  Hannah and Thomas had ten children.

John Alfred RIPPON:  Died 13 October 1938 at Camperdown.

VICTORIA’S OLDEST “BULLOCKY”. (1938, October 20). Camperdown Chronicle (Vic. : 1877 – 1954), p. 1. Retrieved October 24, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article22995091

John Rippon carted the first load of timber into Purrumbete Estate  owned by the Manifold brothers  at age eighteen.  He liked it there and stayed for ten years. He then spent another ten years with William Irving Winter-Irving at Tirrengower near Colac.  He then returned to work for William Thomas Chirnside splitting timber.  But John yearned for his bullock driving days and he began his own carrying business.

VICTORIA’S OLDEST “BULLOCKY”. (1938, October 20). Camperdown Chronicle (Vic. : 1877 – 1954), p. 1. Retrieved October 25, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article22995091

Rachel BLACK: Died 27 October 1941 at Kongorgong. Rachel Black was born in the mid-1850s at Bridgewater. Her father was Joshua Black, a pioneer of that area. When Rachel married James Lightbody, the union brought three Bridgewater pioneering families together as James Lightbody was the son of Rebecca Kittson also from a pioneering family of Bridgewater,

Colins CATHELS: Died 26 October 1952 at Hamilton. Although he died at  Hamilton, Colin Cathels was a Portland identity.  Old aged forced him to leave the town he loved and he was not happy in his last days. Born in the 1850s, Colin knew much of  Portland history and enjoyed reminiscing about picnics at the Henty’s home. He was the Portland manager of the Belfast and Koroit Steamship Navigation Company. Colin married a Robertson girl, from the well-known local family.