Wonderful Western District Women Part 4

Wonderful Western District Women is a series looking at some of the great women I’ve come across while compiling Passing of the Pioneer posts.  All posted during Women’s History Month, each part examines the women’s lives a little more than in the Passing of the Pioneers entries.  This is the fourth part and you will find the links to the previous three at the bottom of this post.  The three women featured this time have contrasting lives and for two, there are the twists of fate bringing them to the Western District.  As usual, if you click on any underlined text, you will go to further information about a person or subject.

GRADY, Catherine (c1832-1916) Also known as Catherine Hamilton

Catherine Grady was born in County Wexford, Ireland around 1832.  The Ireland Catholic Parish Registers show the baptism record of a Catherine Grady from the St Mullins Catholic Parish, Wexford, Ireland during June 1832, a daughter of Michael and Catherine Grady.  When Catherine was thirteen, Ireland went into a period of famine, often called the Irish Potato Famine. Around one million people and another one million people left Ireland.  Catherine Grady found herself in the New Ross Workhouse.  The Earl Grey Scheme running between 1848 and 1850 saw 4000 Irish girls sent to Australia. They came from various workhouses across Ireland and New Ross Workhouse was part of the scheme. Seventeen-year-old Catherine was taken to Plymouth, England and with around 200 other girls she left for Melbourne on the New Liverpool.

“THE EXECUTION. OF RUSH.” Port Phillip Gazette and Settler’s Journal (Vic. : 1845 – 1850) 11 August 1849: 4. Web. 13 Mar 2018 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article223156756&gt;.

After more than three months Catherine arrived at Melbourne on 9 August 1849.

“Shipping Intelligence.” The Melbourne Daily News (Vic. : 1848 – 1851) 10 August 1849: 2. Web. 13 Mar 2018 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article226472872&gt;.

The Geelong Advertiser reported on 30 August 1849, “The girls appear to be clean and healthy, and female labour being scarce, their opportune arrival will prove a great acquisition to the district.” Advertisements ran in newspapers with potential employers invited to the Immigration Depot, a collection of tents off what is now King Street, Melbourne.

“Advertising” Port Phillip Gazette and Settler’s Journal (Vic. : 1845 – 1850) 28 August 1849: 3. Web. 13 Mar 2018 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article223155586&gt;.

Catherine could read and write and her calling was a nursemaid. However, a month later she was still waiting at the immigration depot.  In September 1849, it was reported, “Only 57 adult emigrants by the Courier, could be prevailed upon going to Portland per Raven; about sixty-four orphan girls from the depot are to be sent to make up the number for which the vessel was chartered”.  (Geelong Advertiser 22 September 1849).  Catherine was one of the girls selected to sail on the Raven, a voyage which provoked a response from the Portland Guardian, criticising then Superintendent of the Port Phillip district Charles La Trobe.  The Port Phillip Gazette and Settler’s Journal published the Guardian‘s article with a disclaimer from the paper’s own editor.

THE HUMANITY OF MR. LA TROBE EXEMPLIFIED – In the midst of occurring wrecks at Belfast, Mr. Latrobe despatches a vessel with a lot of Irish orphans! Just at the very nick of time when Insurance Companies and Underwriters, as with one consent, refuse to take risks on property proceeding to Port Fairy, Mr. Latrobe chooses that moment, above all others, to send immigrants to such a port! Scarcely have the local newspapers, (detailing the accounts of mountainous seas, the loss of anchors and chains, the drifting of vessels to sea, the total wreck of fine large vessels, and the melancholy loss of life at Port Fairy) been laid down, than the next paper greets the eye with an account of the despatch of a vessel with immigrants to the identical port where these appalling occurrences ere succeeding each other in rapid succession. Has Mr Latrobe lost the feelings of or common humanity, that he wantonly risks a number of innocent lives? Are Irish orphans and immigrants families of less value than bags of wheat and bales of wool, puncheons of rum and the timber and planks of which vessels are composed? Has Mr. Latrobe the inhuman nerve to risk the lives of immigrants, at the very instant when men of wealth dare not risk their property! If the Raven should happen to meet with favourable weather, while lying at Port Fairy and disembarking her immigrants at this time of the year, when the equinoctial gales are prevalent. it will have been a merciful Providence, which had interposed in screening the innocent from the appalling dangers into which they had launched, by the ignorance, wilfulness, or selfishness of beings in the form, but wanting the essential attributes of man – Portland Guardian. (We are very much surprised at such remarks, as nothing is more necessary than the distribution of emigrants amongst the settlers at the out ports — E.P.P.G.)  Port Phillip Gazette and Settler’s Journal 11 October 1849 

Despite the Guardian’s gloomy prediction, the girls arrived safely at Portland on 4 October 1849.  It wasn’t long before Catherine was employed by Port Fairy solicitor George Barber. George had married Charlotte Meare on 2 July 1849 at Port Fairy and Catherine may have been employed Catherine for her nursemaid skills.  Her pay was £12 for a twelve month term.

Around 1852, Catherine married Archibald Hamilton at Port Fairy.  The following year, the couple’s first child was born in that town. Her name was Catherine Grady Hamilton.  Catherine and Archibald raised a family of twelve children born from 1853 to 1877. Archibald got a job as an overseer for Donald McKinnon at Kangaroo Station, Hotspur. By 1857, Archibald was overseer at Mt Napier Station for Mr Phillips.  In 1873, Archibald applied for a ten-acre allotment at Macarthur.  

On 23 June 1884, Archibald died at Macarthur aged sixty-three.  At the time, the youngest of the children was seven and Catherine needed to provide for her family.  She offered her services as a nurse and midwife and it was said she attended over 300 maternity cases over the following years.  Almost seventy-seven years after Cathrine arrived from Ireland, she died at Macarthur on 3 January 1916. Her age at the time was given as eighty but Catherine could have been as old as eighty-four. Her obituary read, “her quiet unassuming manner and readiness to render assistance and advice to anyone in need…had endeared herself to the whole community”.


Catholic Parish Registers, The National Library of Ireland; Dublin, Ireland 

Famine Orphan Girl Database

Irish Famine Memorial (Sydney)

New Ross Workhouse 

MURRAY, Isabella (c1852-1924) Also known as Isabella Helpman

Isabella Murray was born around 1852 at Summer Hill, Allansfordthe property of her parents James Murray and Isabella Gordon.  Her parents had arrived from Scotland around 1839 and arrived at Allansford after time at Glenample at Port Campbell.  Isabella married Walter Stephen Helpman in 1877.  Walter was a son of Captain Benjamin Helpman and Ann Pace, a sister of Jane Henty.

“Family Notices” The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957) 22 August 1877: 1. Web. 9 Mar 2018 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article5934405&gt;.

Walter was a banker, having worked with the National Bank at Warrnambool and Geelong and as manager of the Colonial Bank at Koroit from 1875 and in 1876, started a branch at Port Fairy. In 1877 he became manager of the Warrnambool Colonial Bank. The first of Isabella and Walter’s children was Francis born in Warrnambool in 1878. Then followed twins Isabella Jean and James in 1881 and Gordon was born in 1884.

It was in 1884, Isabella’s brother John Murray entered state politics, becoming Member of the Legislative Assembly in the seat of Warrnambool.  Isabella shared his interest in politics and campaigned at State and Federal level.  A cause John was passionate about, one not popular among politicians, was the welfare of  Aboriginals, in particular, those at the Framlingham Reserve.  John and his sisters Isabella and Mary came to know many of them personally and fought for their rights.  In 1890, when the government attempted to move the Aboriginals on the reserve, John fought to save part of the land for them.  In 1909, John became Premier of Victoria and chair of the Board for the Protection of Aborigines.

Isabella was active in the Warrnambool community helping the less fortunate.  She was a member of the Ladies Benevolent Society for thirty years, including time as President.  She also fundraised for the hospital and served as treasurer of the Red Cross for five years.

Walter left the Colonial Bank in 1902 and the Helpmans left Warrnambool. Walter had a job as a clerk with the Customs Department in Melbourne and the couple moved to 547 Collins Street, Melbourne, the location of the Federal Hotel (below).

THE FEDERAL HOTEL, MELBOURNE. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/247026

Meanwhile, grandchildren were arriving with Theo born in 1904 to Jean Helpman and her husband Boer War veteran Albert Duka In 1907, Isabella and Walter’s son James married May Gardiner at Millicent, South Australia.  A son Robert known as “Bobbie”, was born to James and May at Mt Gambier in 1909.  They are pictured below.

JAMES, MAY AND ROBERT HELPMANc1911 Image courtesy of the State Library of South Australia Image no B 21404 https://collections.slsa.sa.gov.au/resource/B+21404

Walter and Isabella returned to Warrnambool around 1912, but two years later Walter died on 24 June 1914.  More sadness came in 1916 when Isabella’s brother John, the former Premier also died. She had added concern with her son Gordon serving with the King Edward Horse from 1914, and the Royal Flying Corp from 1916.  Daughter Jean was also at the front in a nursing role with her husband Albert Duka, a surgeon.  During that time grandson, Theo Duka came into Isabella’s care and he was enrolled at Hamilton College.

By that time, Isabella was renting The Hutte at 21 Banyan Street, Warrnambool.  She continued her community work and was also active socially. On one occasion in 1919, she was the hostess of a tea given by the President of the Warrnambool Racing Club over the May Carnival.  It was in the same year, Isabella had a lucky escape in December when a rag with flammable liquid was lit at her home during the night. Fortunately, Isabella’s maid woke and found the fire before there was too much damage.  Although the fire was suspicious, there was no motive.  After that incident, Isabella moved to Waikato in Waikato Court, Warrnambool, home of her brother James.  Isabella died at Waikato on 27 January 1924.

The Helpman name became a household name from the 1920s when Isabella’s grandson Bobbie made his stage debut in Adelaide as a ballet dancer.  He went on to become one of the world’s leading dancers and Shakespearean actors, Sir Robert Murray Helpmann.  He is pictured below with the great Kathryn Hepburn in 1955.

“NO SUBTLETIES IN OLD VIC’S SHREW” Tribune (Sydney, NSW : 1939 – 1976) 1 June 1955: 7. Web. 16 Mar 2018 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article236256137&gt;.

McCANN, Kate St George (c1849-1929)  Also known as Kate Trangmar

Kate McCann was born on the ship St George off the coast of San Francisco, California on 15 September 1849, a daughter of Robert James McCann and Matilda Jane Crouch. Robert and Matilda had married in 1834 in London.  The law at the time meant since Kate was born on a British ship, her birth was registered in the Parish of Stepney, London. The same year the McCanns arrived in California, Robert died.  Matilda remarried to Eustace de Arroyave.  Kate grew up playing on the family ranch Lone Pine in the Rocky Mountains, California but Matilda died in 1865 when Kate was sixteen.  Kate,  her brother Arthur and a half-sister Eustasia travelled to London to live with their aunt Emma Crouch. In 1866, Emma with Kate, Arthur then aged twenty and Eustasia aged eight boarded the ship Great Britain for Melbourne arriving on 26 December 1866.  They then caught the steamer S.S. Edina to Portland.

In 1876, Kate married James Trangmar at St.Stephen’s Church, Portland.  She had a connection to the Trangmar family as her uncle George Crouch was in business with James Trangmar and James married George’s sister Mary Ann Trangmar.

“Family Notices” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 22 March 1876: 2. Web. 10 Mar 2018 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article226036873&gt;.


Kate moved from Portland to Coleraine where James had worked from around 1866 in a store owned by his father and managed by his uncle George Trangmar.  On 3 February 1878, Kate had a son. They went on to have eight children. In 1880, Mary Ann was born on 24 June 1880 and died the following day.

In time, George Trangmar moved on and James took over the running of the Coleraine store (below)

J.W.TRANGMAR & CO. COLERAINE. Image courtesy of the Museums Victoria Collections https://collections.museumvictoria.com.au/items/767465

By 1904, Kate was living at Coma Villa, Sturt Street, Ballarat while James was still at Coleraine.  In 1904, her then elderly aunt Emma Crouch took sick and travelled with Kate’s sister Eustasia to be with her in Ballarat.   Emma died on 11 April 1904 at Kate’s home. The following year there was a burglary at Coma Villa while Kate was out at the South Street Competitions.

“No title” The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 – 1924) 2 October 1905: 2. Web. 19 Mar 2018 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article209029432&gt;.

In time, Kate was back in residence at Coleraine and in 1906, James opened a new store on the same site as the original building.

THE OPENING OF TRANGMAR’S STORE, COLERAINE 1906. Image courtesy of the Museums Victoria Collections https://collections.museumvictoria.com.au/items/766933

During WW1, Kate and James’ married son Arthur enlisted on 28 February 1916. He served as a Lieutenant with the 39th Battalion and was killed on 21 February 1918 at Messines, Belgium.  Another son, Herbert enlisted on 1 April 1915 and served with the 17th and 22nd Battalions and was awarded a Military Cross. During 1916, Kate and James celebrated their Golden Wedding Anniversary with celebrations in the Coleraine Hall before travelling to Portland for a service at the place of their marriage, St Stephen’s Church followed by dinner at the Richmond Hotel. When they arrived at the hotel, they were showered with rose petals

Kate died on 27 July 1929 at Coleraine.  James and six of her children were still alive at the time of her death.  James died in 1938 at Coleraine. Trangmar’s store was run by members of the Trangmar family until 1969, first under the charge of Kate and James’ sons Herbert and Edmund.






Passing of the Pioneers

April Passing of the Pioneers includes one of the pioneers of the Presbyterian Church in the Coleraine district, a mother of fourteen children, several Shire Councillors and a successful storekeeper.

Thomas GOODWIN: Died 7 April 1914 at Rosebrook. Thomas Goodwin was born in Tasmania about 1833 and arrived at Port Fairy as a child. He farmed first in the Glenormiston district but when land became available at Farnham, he moved there. In his later years, he farmed at Rosebrook.  He left three sons and four daughters.

Letitia WILLIAMSON: Died 11 April 1914 at Koroit. Letitia Williamson was born in County Armagh, Ireland. She arrived in Victoria in 1857 and married James O’Neill in Melbourne the following year. They spent some time in Melbourne then moved to Koroit where James was a boot maker. James passed away around 1903 and when Letitia passed away she left six children.

William QUILL: Died 13 April 1914 at Portland. William Quill was born at Werrangourt Station, Byaduk around 1845, but his family moved to Yambuk when he was a boy. After his marriage to Miss Doherty, William and his new bride settled at Macarthur. William was on holiday in Portland when he passed away.

Samuel KEEN: Died 21 April 1914 at Hamilton. Samuel Keen was born in Stafford, England around 1846 and came to Australia aboard the ship Helen about six years later with his parents. The family travelled to Hamilton by bullock wagon, where Samuel remained for the rest of his life.

Reverend William John GILLESPIE: Died 24 April 1914 at Hawthorn. Reverend Gillespie was born in Antrim, Ireland in 1826 and trained for the ministry in Belfast. He travelled to Australia in 1867 with his wife of five years, Mary Oliphant Morrison. The following year he took up position in charge of Coleraine, Casterton, Merino and Digby Churches and remained in that role until 1902. During his time at Coleraine, he was president of the Coleraine debating club, and chairman of the Board of Advice, Mechanics Institute and Railway League. With his health failing, the Reverend and his wife moved to Melbourne where he remained until his death. He was buried in the Coleraine cemetery.

Arthur Grainger HILL: Died 7 April 1917 at Edenhope. Arthur Hill was born in Somersetshire, England and when he arrived in Australia he first settled in N.S.W. He came to Victoria to work with the Railway Department of Victoria. Around 1880, he was appointed Engineer of the Wannon Shire Council. Due to  a successful period of employment with the Shire, upon his retirement Arthur was awarded a bonus of a years wages.

Sarah MOFFATT: Died 22 April 1917 at Hamilton. Sarah Moffatt was born in Ireland around 1836 and arrived in Australia in the late 1850s. She married Peter Lewis and they had two sons, however, Peter passed away. She married Benjamin Chamberlain of Port Fairy and they had three daughters and one son. Sarah was buried at the Port Fairy cemetery. Another obituary appeared in the Hamilton Spectator on 27 April 1917.

George TRANGMAR: Died 25 April 1917 at Melbourne. George Trangmar was born in Brighton, England around 1828  and arrived in Victoria in 1849. He started in business with his brother James in Portland before opening a store in Coleraine in 1851. He remained in business there for twenty-five years and during that time was a member of the Wannon Shire, including some years as President. During the 1870s, he purchased the Toolang Estate near Coleraine for sheep farming.  He sold Toolang around the turn of the century and moved to Melbourne. He was buried at Coleraine Cemetery.

Thomas Lewis WYATTDied 15 April 1918 at Hamilton. Thomas Wyatt was born in London, England around 1831 and married at St., Brides Church, London in 1853. In 1855, Thomas and Mrs Wyatt. a young son and Thomas’ brother James, left Plymouth aboard the Anna Maria, arriving at Portland in February 1856.  He took up the trade of plasterer and his work took him to Mt. Gambier and Melbourne before he went into partnership in Hamilton. He was a founding member of the Portland Oddfellows lodge. Thomas left a widow, two sons and three daughters

Johanna STEVEN: Died April 1925 at Heywood. Johanna Steven was born near Glasgow, Scotland and arrived in Victoria with her parents around 1860. Her father owned what was known around Portland as the “Wee Station” in South Portland,  a small acreage as up to date as a large pastoral station which attracted visits by tourists to the town. Johanna married William Reid at Portland and they raised a family of fourteen children. Johanna and William were foundation members of the Heywood Presbyterian Church.

William PHILIP: Died April 1933 at Hamilton. William Philip was born around 1858 and was educated at the Hamilton Academy and Geelong College. After Geelong, he returned to the Western District and owned properties including Violet Creek, Kenilworth and Mt. William. He was a member of the Dundas Shire Council for twenty years and was a member of the racing, golf and swimming clubs as well as the Masonic Lodge. His support assisted the financing the Hamilton War Memorial and  local swimming pool.



Passing of the Pioneers

Welcome to July 2013 Passing of the Pioneers, the second birthday of Western District Families monthly feature. Including this month’s obituaries, there are now 372 pioneer obituaries recorded here. You can view all of them on this link – Pioneer Obituaries – or search family names using the search box on the side bar.

I didn’t expect Passing of the Pioneers would continue this long.  In July 2011, I didn’t even think I would be blogging this long.  Also, I have had a few desperate moments when I thought I would run out of obituaries. I started using only the Portland Guardian and the Camperdown Chronicle  and then the Horsham Times, but thankfully papers like the Port Fairy Gazette (1914-1918) and the Ararat Advertiser (1914-1918) came online.  Now with the likes of the Hamilton Spectator(1914-1918) and the Coleraine Albion (1914-1918) coming online I’m reassured that Passing of the Pioneers should see at least a third birthday.

As it is birthday month it is only appropriate that one of the obituaries belongs to one of the great pioneering women of the Western District  who left a legacy that is still around today and has a link to Trove, a source I’m totally dependent on for the obituaries in Passing of the Pioneers.  .

Janet NICOL: Died July 1903 at Bridgewater. After reading two obituaries and an entry in the Portland Pioneer Women’s Book of Remembrance, I have concluded that Janet Nicol was an intelligent woman and one of the most significant pioneers to appear in two years of Passing of the Pioneers.

No title. (1936, May 5). Border Watch (Mount Gambier, SA : 1861 - 1954), p. 7. Retrieved July 29, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article77987617

No title. (1936, May 5). Border Watch (Mount Gambier, SA : 1861 – 1954), p. 7. Retrieved July 29, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article77987617

Janet Nicol was born in Lankashire, Scotland in 1822, the daughter of Professor Andrew Nicol a linguist, University lecturer and head of a boys college. Janet, one of eight daughters, attended boarding school and like her father could speak several languages. In 1841, she married the Reverend Alexander Laurie and shortly after they sailed to Port Phillip aboard the William Nicol, appropriately, arriving in February 1842. After a short time in Melbourne, they sailed for Portland Bay.

On arrival at Portland, Janet was carried ashore on a chair by the crew through the surf. It is unclear whether it was before or after her disembarkation, but on that same day, she gave birth to her first child,  Alexander. The Lauries couldn’t stay at any hotels when they first arrived because of quarantine restrictions and instead camped under a shelter near the flour mill. The draughts left Janet with a severe cold and a lifetime of deafness.

Alexander had been appointed minster for the Portland Bay Presbyterian ministry and went about setting up a church. He then took an interest in newspapers and became involved with the Portland Herald. After his death in 1854, Janet took over the running of the Herald. By that time, she had four children. Interestingly the first child, Alexander was not one of those children. I can find his birth record from 1842, but in 1854 Janet gave birth to another Alexander. Therefore I would assume the first Alexander passed away some time before 1854, however, I can’t find his death record. He may have been a victim of that cold introduction to the world.

That is the glossy story so far taken from the Pioneer Women’s book and the obituaries, however, I found another side of the story that I can support with articles found at Trove. The Pioneers of Port Phillip Inc website includes articles from the group’s newsletters.  One of those entitled “Portland – The truth, the whole truth and anything but the truth” submitted by Jan Hanslow reveals research by Ann Grant about stories passed down over the years and the facts behind them.  The Reverend Laurie and Janet are mentioned.

The first revelation is the cause of Janet’s deafness. It was not the cold draughts on the first night in Portland, rather a blow allegedly inflicted by Alexander for which Janet had him charged for assault, as recorded in Police records. This and various other incidents saw him removed from the church. A report of his falling out with the church appeared in the Geelong Advertiser of July 11, 1848. That is how he really came to be at the Portland Herald, not a voluntary swing from God to journalism.

THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH IN PORTLAND. (1850, April 16). Geelong Advertiser (Vic. : 1847 - 1851), p. 3 Edition: MORNING. Retrieved July 29, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article93135253

THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH IN PORTLAND. (1850, April 16). Geelong Advertiser (Vic. : 1847 – 1851), p. 3 Edition: MORNING. Retrieved July 29, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article93135253

The next revelation from Ann Grant was that Alexander got himself into trouble with the paper and Janet had to take over.  The following article supports that claim.

LOCAL. (1851, July 12). The Cornwall Chronicle (Launceston, Tas. : 1835 - 1880), p. 436. Retrieved July 29, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article65576481

LOCAL. (1851, July 12). The Cornwall Chronicle (Launceston, Tas. : 1835 – 1880), p. 436. Retrieved July 29, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article65576481

Alexander died in 1854 and after a short break, the Portland Herald resumed publication every Friday with a promise that the paper would be “renewed in strength and efficiency”.

Advertising. (1854, November 9). Portland Guardian and Normanby General Advertiser (Vic. : 1842 - 1876), p. 3 Edition: EVENING.. Retrieved July 29, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article71571179

Advertising. (1854, November 9). Portland Guardian and Normanby General Advertiser (Vic. : 1842 – 1876), p. 3 Edition: EVENING.. Retrieved July 29, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article71571179

ESCORT. (1854, December 1). Geelong Advertiser and Intelligencer (Vic. : 1851 - 1856), p. 4 Edition: DAILY. Retrieved July 29, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article91858365

ESCORT. (1854, December 1). Geelong Advertiser and Intelligencer (Vic. : 1851 – 1856), p. 4 Edition: DAILY. Retrieved July 29, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article91858365

Janet finished up the Portland Herald in 1860 and she and the children went to Mt, Gambier where she assisted two of her sons in setting up the Border Watch, a paper still published today. The first edition was published on April 26, 1861 and is online at Trove. The eldest son was only seventeen then, so Janet must have been the main force behind the paper’s establishment. The name was definitely her idea as there was a Border Watch newspaper on the border of Scotland and England. Given the close proximity of Mt Gambier to the South Australian/Victorian border, she thought the name appropriate.

(1861, April 26). Border Watch (Mount Gambier, SA : 1861 - 1954), p. 1. Retrieved July 28, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-page7596636

(1861, April 26). Border Watch (Mount Gambier, SA : 1861 – 1954), p. 1. Retrieved July 28, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-page7596636

Also in 1861, Janet married widower Joshua Black of Cork Hill, Bridgewater. Joshua was a father to seven children and Janet must have had a busy time running a paper in Mt. Gambier and the duties of matrimony at Bridgewater. Janet and Joshua had three children together, the first in 1862 when Janet was 40.  By 1865 there were fifteen children from the combined marriages, aged from twenty-two to newborn. One would hope by this time Janet was leaving the running of the newspapers to her sons.

Janet was buried in the North Portland Cemetery in the same grave as Alexander Laurie. The Portland Guardian of 29 July 1903 reported that “the funeral procession was one of the largest, if not the largest seen in Portland”.

The Glenelg Shire have completed a Heritage study of Cork Hill and there is a good history of the Black and Laurie families  http://www.glenelg.vic.gov.au/files/52757_CORK_HILL_HO184.pdf

The State Library of South Australia website includes a history of the Border Watch. http://www.samemory.sa.gov.au/site/page.cfm?c=2585

The entry for Janet in the “Book of Remembrance of the pioneer women of the Portland Bay district”  including a photograph is found here  http://www.slv.vic.gov.au/vicpamphlets/1/4/4/doc/vp1442-007-0000.shtml

Janet’s obituary from the Border Watch, 29 July 1903 http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article77160512  and from the Portland Guardian http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/63998138

132 (2)


Henry DOWN:  Died 4 July 1914 at Port Fairy. Henry Down arrived in Victoria around 1856 aged twenty-one and his first employment was at Yambuk. He was then appointed manager of St Helen’s were he displayed successful farming practices. He purchased his own land at Coddrington and continued his success. Henry married twice. His first wife, Susan Dawe was the mother of all of Henry’s six children. She passed away in 1893 and Henry married the widow of Mr William Cain. Henry returned twice to the north of England to visit his two brothers, both coal miners.

James FRY: Died 26 July 1914 at Broadwater. James Fry was born in Gloucestershire, England in 1830. He married Sarah Brown in 1853, in Gloucestershire. They left England in 1857 aboard Chance bound for Port Fairy. He set up a business as a plasterer in the town and was deeply involved in the Oddfellows and the Farmers Rest Lodge. He even built a lodge room at Broadwater for the Farmers Rest masons, at his own expense. James and Sarah had eleven children and Sarah predeceased James in 1907.

Silias SMITH: Died 5 July 1915 at Hamilton. Silias Smith was born in Somerset, England in 1824. He arrived in Hobart in 1855 and then in 1857, sailed for Portland, settling in the Narrawong area. Silias worked in the horticultural field and had great knowledge in both this and general agriculture. In later life, he lived with his married daughter in Heywood and later in Hamilton.

Bridget McCARTHY: Died 16 July 1916 at Crossley. Born in Ireland around 1835, Mrs Bridget O’Brien arrived in Victoria in the mid-1850s. Bridget and her husband Patrick O’Brien lived at Crossley for many years before leasing their land and moving to Port Fairy North. The O’Brien’s had four children but lost three of them at a young age. They had one son John survive them.

Francis McSORLEY: Died 16 July 1916 at Port Fairy. Francis McSorley was born in Ireland around 1826 and arrived in Victoria in the early 1860s aboard the Mindora, along with his wife and two sons. Francis was an expert on the Crimean War and the early history of Victoria. He worked on the railways for many years before retiring to Rosebrook.  He left six sons and one daughter. Another son Patrick, a jockey was killed in a race fall in Adelaide.

Thomas SHANLEY: Died 12 July 1917 at Killarney. Thomas Shanley took up residence at Killarney in 1856. He married Ellen Malone in the same year.  Thomas was the road overseer for the Belfast shire for twenty-two years.

John WILLIAMS: Died 26 July 1917 at Port Fairy. John Williams was born in Hobart in 1834 and arrived in Victoria as a fourteen-year-old in 1848. He worked on stations doing stock work and around the time of the discovery of gold, he was droving stock to Ballarat and Bendigo. He tried his luck while at each of these goldfields with no success and returned to station life and marriage in 1855. He later went to Port Fairy were he remained for forty-nine years. During that time he worked at Guinn’s Brewery and at the harbour. John and his wife raised thirteen children.

Kate St George McCANN: Died 27 July 1929 at Coleraine. Kate McCann was already well travelled by the time she reached Melbourne in 1866 aboard the Great Britain. She was born on a ship just off shore of San Fransisco in 1849.  Her birth certificate would have stated she was born in Stepney, London as all children born at sea under the British flag were allocated to the Parish of Stepney. Kate grew up playing on her mother’s ranch in the Rocky Mountains, California.  After her mother’s death she travelled to England with her sister, living with her aunt, Emma Crouch in London. It was with Emma that Kate and her brother and sister sailed on the Great Britain.  They caught the steamer Edina to Portland.

In 1876, Kate married James Trangmar. They moved from Portland to Coleraine and ran a family store. The store was run by members of the Trangmar family until 1969. Kate and James had eight children, six surviving at the time of Kate’s death.

Lottie McKEAND: Died 11 July 1942 at Casterton. Lottie was the daughter of Mr and Mrs Andrew McKeand of Penola and she was born there in 1875. She married James Carmichael of Argyle Station at Lake Mundi near Casterton and they moved to their own property Argyle after their marriage.  ames passed away and Lottie moved to Melbourne with her three sons to enable them to finish their education. She later married James Mitchell of Moredun Hills, Casterton, however, he predeceased her. Lottie was keen on dogs and horses and will still riding only a few years before her death. At the time of her passing, her three sons were serving with the A.I.F, with Thomas missing in Malaya.

Portland Pioneer Women’s Book of Remembrance

The obituary of Sarah Jane Wadmore in the January Passing of the Pioneers prompted me to find out more about a booklet she co-authored for the Portland Centenary in 1934, the Portland Pioneer Women’s Book of Remembrance.  I had previously read about it in newspaper reports from around the time.

Pioneer Women of Portland. (1934, May 24). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 - 1953), p. 3 Edition: EVENING.. Retrieved January 29, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64285807

Pioneer Women of Portland. (1934, May 24). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 3 Edition: EVENING.. Retrieved January 29, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64285807

A  Google search led me to the State Library of Victoria website and it was pleasing to see it has been digitised and is available online.  I was even more pleased that ggg grandmother Margaret Ann Diwell (nee Turner) was among the pioneering women of Portland as well as some of those I have featured in Passing of the Pioneers.

The booklet begins with a forward from Alice Frances Moss, a pioneer of women’s rights.  She was the first President of the National Council of Women of Australia and Chair of the Victorian Women’s Centenary Council.

After an offering of appreciation to pioneer women, there is the story of  Mrs Stephen George Henty, the first European woman at Portland, to whom the booklet was dedicated.  She is often called Mrs Stephen George Henty, but let us call her Jane (Pace).

There are the recollections of Mrs George Godwin Crouch (Marianne Trangmar) spanning from 1840 to 1917.  Then, a list of “Worthy Pioneers” compiled by Sarah Jane Wadmore.  Included is one of my favourites, Rebecca Kittson (Mrs William Lightbody) and Mrs Fawthrop, Jane Rosevear, wife of Captain James Fawthrop the life boat captain.

Following is the story of  Mrs Richard Charlton Hedditch and further on, a letter she wrote on Christmas Day 1848, to her parents in England.  Another woman often referred to by her husband’s name, she was Rachel Forward Read.

After some local poetry comes “Belles and Beauties of the Early Days”.  Those included are Misses Henty, Learmonth, Trangmar and Herbertson.

Finally is a list of Portland’s Pioneering Women.  Women born or living in Portland prior to 1864 were eligible.  This is where I found Margaret.  The Diwells lived in Portland for about five years from the time of their arrival on the Duke of Richmond in 1852.

Margaret appears as Mrs William Diwell and her daughter-in-law, Frances Webb,  is also listed as Mrs William Diwell.  Frances just scraped in as she was born in Portland in 1863 to John Webb and Margaret Smith, who is also listed.  This is a useful list as some entries have notes and maiden names.

The oldest pioneer women, recognised separately, include Marion Nunn Jones, Emma Holmes and Anne Beglan.

The photographs in the booklet are of Mrs Jane Henty, Mrs Marianne Crouch, Mrs Janet Laurie, Sarah Jane Wadmore and Mrs Rachel Hedditch.

The booklet also comes as an Archive CD book and is available from the Genealogical Society of Victoria.

Online book – Portland Pioneer Women’s Book of Remembrance 

Passing of the Pioneers

What an interesting group of pioneers December brings us. Some were well-known in the Western District while others toiled quietly to build their lives. Obituaries come from a chemist, a cricketer, a former Portland Mayor, a pastoralist, a Monsignor, mothers and two pioneers of the newspaper industry in Western Victoria.

James TRANGMAR: Died 16 December 1888 at Portland. James Trangmar was a resident and a former Mayor of Portland, but he acquired land throughout the Western District.

James Trangmar, photographer Thomas Fostor Chuck -1872. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/17715

James Trangmar, photographer Thomas Foster Chuck -1872. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/17715

After working as a manager of a grocers in Tasmania, he arrived in Portland in 1844.  He worked in that field before turning to sheep farming. He bought  properties including Bochara, Violet Creek and Morgiana. James had connections to the Portland Hospital and the  Portland Free Library and was also a Justice of the Peace.  He was buried in the North Portland Cemetery


Headstone of James Trangmar & family. North Portland Cemetery.

William NICHOLAS: Died 17 December 1890 at Colac. Arriving in the Colac area around 1841, William Nicholas was an early pioneer of the district. He came first to shear for three local squatters, then he worked in the forests before purchasing a bullock wagon.  He carted produce to Geelong and Ballarat, returning with stores.  His obituary, by Mr B.N. Butcher of Colac, was written with emotion.

MEMOIR OF A DEPARTED COLONIST. (1891, January 2). The Colac Herald (Vic. : 1875 - 1918), p. 4. Retrieved December 27, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article87728049

MEMOIR OF A DEPARTED COLONIST. (1891, January 2). The Colac Herald (Vic. : 1875 – 1918), p. 4. Retrieved December 27, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article87728049

John HARRIES: Died 18 December 1914 at Stawell. John Harries was born in Carmarthenshire, Wales in 1843 and arrived in Stawell in 1875.  A true Welshmen, he was a great singer and was a member of the Presbyterian church choir and Prouts Band of Ballarat.  He married and had eight children. His brother, Reverend David Harries had joined him Australia, but he had passed away a few years earlier.

Ann WALTON: Died 31 December 1914 at Mount Arapiles. Ann Walton is one of my favourite pioneers and I am familiar with her as she was the mother-in-law of Jonathan Harman Jnr and mother in-law to the nephews of the Oliver sisters that married Harman brothers.  Also, I know the area around Natimuk and Mount Arapiles in the Wimmera where she and her husband James Keyte pioneered and it can be harsh country.

Ann, born in Scotland, arrived in Portland aboard the Indian Ocean in 1854 as a four-year-old. Her parents, David Walton and Margaret Tennant went to Mount Gambier and that is where she married James Keyte. James and Ann selected land in the Natimuk district in 1872 and remained until 1892 when the bought land in New South Wales. She later returned to Mount Arapiles when her health began to fail.

Oliver YOUNGMAN:  Died 17 December 1915 at Port Fairy. Oliver was born in Norwich, England in 1847 and arrived at Port Fairy with his parents in 1849. His father, Arthur Youngman was an owner of the Port Fairy Gazette and later the Alpine Observer at Bright and Oliver was involved with both newspapers.  He was the ledger keeper for grazier Sir William Clarke for twenty-nine years and later his for his son Sir Rupert Clarke.  Oliver held high office in the Methodist Church and was a member for fifty years. Leaving a daughter to mourn him, he was buried at the Port Fairy Cemetery.

Catherine COWAN:  Died 14 December 1916 at Ararat. Catherine Cowan was born in Scotland and arrived in Australia with her parents around 1853.  She was married Alexander McKenzie at Trawalla Station near Beaufort where Alexander was manager. They spent time at De Cameron Station near St Arnaud before settling at Ararat.  Catherine and Alexander had nine children.

Florence GILLIES:  Died 16 December 1917 at Ararat.  lorence was born in Scotland and arrived  in Victoria aboard the Lady Peel as a sixteen-year-old in 1853. She married John Dow at Skipton before they took up land at Tatyoon under the Duffy Land Act of 1862.  After John died, Florence lived at the Burrumbeep homestead, before moving into Ararat.

Alfred Bussell CLEMES:  Died 26 December 1917 at Stawell. Born in Cornwall, Alfred Clemes trained as a chemist in Bristol before travelling to Victoria in 1852. He opened a business in Melbourne until 1854 when he and his wife opened businesses at the various goldfields. They arrived in Stawell in 1858 where he remained. He became Shire secretary in 1870 and held the role for forty-four years, only retiring four years before his death. He was a co-founder of the Stawell Hospital and the Mechanics Institute.

Bernard CONLAN:  Died12  December 1918 at Dixie. Bernard Conlan, born in County Down, Ireland, should have bought himself a lottery ticket after a twist of fate saved him from death from a cauldron of molten iron at the Clyde shipyards in Scotland and he survived a bout of typhoid fever on the voyage to Australia, despite given little chance of survival. He worked first in South Australia before moving to Victoria, living at Garvoc and Wangoom before buying land at Dixie, near Warrnambool.  Despite being burnt out in bushfires in 1887 and losing much of his stock during drought time, with Bernard’s hard work and perseverance he raised a family that had much respect for him.

John THORNTON:  Died 16 December 1919 at Mount Myrtoon.

Late Mr. John Thornton. (1919, December 18). Camperdown Chronicle (Vic. : 1877 - 1954), p. 4. Retrieved December 27, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article25362137

Late Mr. John Thornton. (1919, December 18). Camperdown Chronicle (Vic. : 1877 – 1954), p. 4. Retrieved December 27, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article25362137

And so begins the obituary of Yorkshire born, John Thornton.  At age eighteen, with his brother, he left England aboard the Great Britain for Melbourne. He spent time in Gippsland before buying land at Mount Myrtoon, where he lived for the next fifty years. He also opened a stock and station agents that he built into a successful business with transactions from Hamilton to Geelong. John was a talented cricketer and represented Victoria in 1859 and 1860 and made a great contribution to the Camperdown Cricket Club.

James Park Dawson LAURIE:  Died 2 December 1928 at Naracoorte, South Australia. James Laurie was a son of Reverend Alexander Laurie and was born at Kongatong station, near Warrnambool, in 1846, After his schooling, mostly at Portland, he pursued his journalistic aspirations and started the Mount Gambier newspaper The Border Watch, along with his brother Andrew Frederick Laurie. In 1868, he travelled to America and Europe and on his return, having sold his share in the newspaper, he moved into pastoral pursuits. In 1870, he was elected to the South Australian House of Assembly. He married Dora Kean, daughter of Thomas Kean, in 1882 at Portland.  James Kean, Dora’s brother, established the Portland Mirror.

Right Reverend Monsignor Michael Joseph SHANAHAN:  Died 6  December 1931 at Hamilton. Monsignor Shanahan was well-known among the Roman Catholic community in the Western District.  Ordained in his home country, Ireland in 1864 he then travelled to Melbourne. He took up the parish at Carisbrook and later the Inglewood parish overseeing churches in towns such as Clunes, Creswick and Talbot. In 1878, he became assistant pastor at Warrnambool, then parish priest at Hamilton in 1886 and was there for the completion of the St Mary’s Church. In 1916, he was appointed Dean of Ballarat.  During his time in Hamilton, Monsignor Shanahan was president of the hospital for twenty-two years.  Money raised and presented to him went towards completing the well-known spire of  Hamilton’s St Marys Church.

Louisa SEALEY:  Died 4 December 1934 at Casterton. Louisa Sealey was born around 1861 and arrived in Casterton with her parents when it consisted of only two houses. She married John Black and they lived in Miller Street, Casterton.  After her husband’s death, she resided with her son on his soldier settlement property at Nangeela.  Another son, Gordon was killed at Passchendaele, France during WW1. Four sons and four daughters survived at the time of Louisa’s death and she still had eight surviving siblings.

Thomas PHILIP: Died December 1937 at Hamilton. Thomas Philip was born in Scotland and came to Victoria as a child after his father, Captain John Philip, gave up the high seas and took over Lagoon Station near Cavendish. John then purchased Miga Lake Station and St Mary’s Lake Station, which his sons, trading as Philip Bros. ran after his death.  Thomas married Margaret Laidlaw in 1883 and they had one son and three daughters.

Thomas died at his home Kenmure in Ballarat Road, Hamilton. Kenmure is one of my favourite homes in Hamilton and one that I went  past almost daily for around fifteen years. It has recently been sold and is now, probably for a short time only, on a Hamilton Real Estate agent’s site, with some great photos too.

Mary Ann JOHNSTONE: Died 22 December 1951 at Portland. Mary Ann was born in Portland around 1856, the daughter of James Johnstone and Dorothy Hall. Her brother was John Johnstone and her sister-in-law, Mrs Hannah Johnstone.  Mary Ann married Mark Kerr in 1876 and they resided at Drik Drik before moving to Swan Lake about twenty-five kilometres away. Mary Ann was considered an excellent horsewoman, equal to any man.

Old Portland Cemetery – Part 2

“The Cemetery is the first object to greet the ascending tourist.  

This is charmingly situated on the top of the cliff overlooking the ocean

This quote is not from one of the tourist guides I collected while in Portland earlier this year.  Rather, it was written 155 years earlier by James Bonwick in his book  “Western Victoria: It’s Geography, Geology and Social Condition”: the Narrative of an Educational Tour in 1857″  (p.98)

One of the older graves in the cemetery is that of William Wheeler who was born in 1776.


The grave of James Fawthrop was of interest to us.  Earlier in the day, we visited Portland’s Maritime Discovery Centre housing the Portland Lifeboat captained by James Fawthrop.  Fawthrop and his crew were part of the rescue of the steamer  Admella in 1859.  His heroics are a legendary part of the maritime history of the stretch of coast from the south-west of Victoria to the south-east of South Australia.

After a search of the Victorian Death Index, I found that James Ward was Fawthrop’s stepson.  Fawthrop’s wife, Jane Rosevear, was previously married to James Ward senior who drowned in Tasmania in 1838.


The following is Captain Fawthrop’s obituary from the Border Watch of 20 November 1878.

TheDEATH OF CAPT. FAWTHROP. (1878, November 20). Border Watch (Mount Gambier, SA : 1861 – 1954), p. 2. Retrieved June 10, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article77564021


William and Sarah Rosevear were the parents of Jane, wife of James Fawthrop and grandparents of James Ward.  William Rosevear was the coxswain aboard the Portland lifeboat with his son-in-law during the Admella rescue.


The largest grave in the cemetery belongs to the Trangmar family.  James Trangmar died in 1888 and was a leading Portland identity.  He had been Mayor, a Lieutenant Colonel in the Western Region Artillery and owned the stations Morgiana, Bochara, and  Violet Creek all near Hamilton.  His home in Portland was  Burswood  bought from Edward Henty