Wonderful Western District Women Part 2

It’s Women’s History Month and this is my second instalment of Wonderful Western District Women.  As in Part 1, I share the stories of five women I’ve been taken with while writing Passing of the Pioneers over the past five years.  In this post, all five women were in business in some capacity. One was also a teacher.  All are very similar in the level of perseverance and determination they displayed, but each led very different lives.  For example, two never married with one shunning the company of others and the other drawing people to her. As noted in one of their obituaries, they are “those splendid women, whose unselfish, unwearying zeal helped to make the Victoria of today”.  Click on the underlined text for more information about a subject.

DONNELLY, Jane (c1834-1914)  Also known as Jane Walsh and Jane Jenkins.

Jane Donnelly was born in Ireland around 1834 and arrived in Victoria in the early 1860s.  She married William Walsh in 1865 and together they operated the Forester’s Hotel at Myamyn.  Jane and William had three children before William died in 1877 aged forty-nine. It was the same year a fourth child was born. Jane continued to run the hotel although she did try to sell it. In 1881, the hotel was badly damaged by fire leading to Jane’s insolvency in 1881 with debts of £145.

“Advertising” Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953) 24 April 1880: 3 (MORNINGS.). 

 

“Items of News” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 19 May 1881

In 1883, Jane married William Gordon Jenkins and they went to Portland to run the Victoria Hotel.  The building was dilapidated and they were soon closed down.  That appears to have been the end of Jane’s days in the hotel trade.  In their later years, Jane and William moved to Hawkesdale to live with Jane’s daughter.  Jane died at Hawkesdale in 1916 aged eighty.  William died the following year.

STEWART, Christina (1825-1921) Also known as Christina McPherson.

Christina Stewart was born at Kingussie, Scotland around 1825 and travelled with her husband, Duncan McPherson, to Australia in November 1851 on board the Hooghly.  While Duncan went off to the goldfields, Christina waited in Melbourne until they journeyed to Portland and then on to Strathdownie. In March 1857, Duncan purchased the Woodford Inn located just north of Dartmoor on the Glenelg River and a son Alexander was born in the same year. The inn was a busy place as it was at a crossing point on the river with a punt moored at the inn for that purpose. Christina had eight children and during her child-bearing years, rarely saw another white woman. She made friends with the local Aboriginal women, teaching them to cook and make damper. If she had guests staying at the inn, the Aboriginals caught crayfish in the river for her.  The McPhersons eventually moved to Hamilton, residing in Coleraine Road.  Christina died there in 1921 aged ninety-six.

RYAN, Mary  (c1834-1914) 

When I wrote about Mary Ryan for Passing of the Pioneers, there was little known about her other than she ran a servants’ registry office in Hamilton and she died ten months after fire burnt her home down. I also gathered from her short obituary, she was very independent. Mary never married and living a seemingly solitary life, save for the interactions through her business. When Mary died there was no-one to give the names of her parents, so her death record shows her parents as “unknown”.  Since her Passing of the Pioneers appearance, more Hamilton Spectators have become available at Trove and I’ve been able to find out a little more about Mary.

The earliest newspaper reference I could find of Mary Ryan in Hamilton was in 1864 when she advertised her dressmaking services in the Hamilton Spectator and Grange District Advertiser.  Her advertisement said she was “late of South Yarra” and she was operating from Thompson Street. Other women in Hamilton including a Mrs Owens were combining dressmaking with servant registry businesses so it was a natural progression for Mary to do the same.  She began advertising both services in 1867 from a shop in Gray Street.

“Advertising” Hamilton Spectator and Grange District Advertiser (South Melbourne, Vic. : 1860 – 1870) 29 June 1867 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article194474076

In September 1870, fire swept through several shops in Gray Street, destroying Mary’s shop.  The report in the Hamilton Spectator said the occupants were able to get their valuables out. Mary appears to have rebuilt and on 8 March 1877 the land where her shop stood was sold, the Hamilton Spectator published the results of the sale.

“Items of News.” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 8 March 1877: http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article226045698 .

Mary responded in the next edition.

“VALUE OF HAMILTON LAND.” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 10 March 1877: <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article226042386&gt;.

Mary expanded into millinery and drapery.  Only days after Mary placed this advertisement, she sold her shop on  13 July 1878, by auction but I wasn’t able to find a report of the sale in the paper.

“Advertising” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 2 July 1878:  <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article226069431&gt;.

Two years later, an incident highlighted the potential dangers for a woman living alone.

“HAMILTON POLICE COURT.” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 5 August 1880: <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article225488525&gt;.

That wasn’t the only such incident.  In October 1888, some local “larrikins” were in court charged with “rocking” Mary’s roof in Gray Street.  They also verbally abused her, calling her by name, well aware of who she was.  In her evidence, Mary stated her residence was opposite the Hamilton Mechanics Institute.  In 1895, Mary moved her business to Cox Street and by 1905, she had moved to Brown Street near the Hamilton Railway Station.  On 2 November 1910, Mary suffered another blow when fire swept through her shop and residence.  Built of pine, the shop burnt quickly and only a small box of valuables was saved.  Fortunately, Mary was away from home at the time.

Mary remained stubbornly independent in old age despite becoming very frail.  She stayed in her home, but besides the hospital, it seems she really had nowhere else to go.  In February 1914, a fire broke out in her home, accidentally started when Mary dropped a lit match on some papers on the floor.

“FIRE IN BROWN STREET.” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 20 February 1914: <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article119823533&gt;.

While she wasn’t injured in the fire, it may have taken a toll as she passed away eight months later.  Her age was given as eighty.

“Hamilton Spectator” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 15 December 1914: <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article119874336&gt;.

SLOAN, Susan  (c1844-1918)

Susan Sloan was born in Glasgow, Scotland and after arriving in Portland in 1855, she went to Ararat where she married Thomas Sloan the following year.  Thomas ran a soda water manufacturing factory. In 1867, Susan returned to Portland with Thomas and they built the White Horse Brewery and a bakery in Gawler Street. Trade was tough and they moved inland in 1873 to Hamilton where they saw greater opportunities. Thomas purchased the North Hamilton Brewery from his brothers James and Robert.  In 1882, Thomas had a timber building constructed in Cox Street for a cordial factory.

Grace Sloan, a daughter of Susan and Thomas suffered consumption since 1893, and on doctor’s advice, she left Hamilton for a drier climate with friends in N.S.W. She departed on her journey but only reached Melbourne before her conditioned worsened and she telegraphed Susan to go to Melbourne. Grace improved so Susan returned home. A week or so later, Susan heard Grace had died in a Melbourne Hospital on 20 July 1895 aged twenty-one.  A memorial service was held at Hamilton’s Christ Church, where Grace had sung with the choir. The following year Susan had a close call herself.

“Items of News.” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 12 March 1896: 2. Web. 10 Mar 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article225868558&gt;.

In 1903, the Hamilton Spectator reported Susan had sold the North Hamilton Brewery to Mr J.B.Webb.  He didn’t do much with it and in 1904, the Sloans revitalised it with new equipment. They did the same at the cordial factory where they could produce up to sixty dozen bottles per hour.  Susan advertised prior to Christmas 1908, citing her fifty-two years in the business.

 

“CHRISTMAS DRINKS.” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 17 December 1908: 4. Web. 10 Mar 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article225895607&gt;.

Thomas died in May 1910 and Susan continued to run the business until her death, after which time family members continued operations. The Sloan’s cottage Whinhill in Pope Street, Hamilton still stands today.

“WHINHILL” – THE FORMER COTTAGE OF THE SLOAN FAMILY, POPE STREET, HAMILTON.

 

WADMORE, Sarah Jane (1859-1941)

Sarah Wadmore was the youngest daughter of Cape Bridgewater pioneers James Wadmore and Mary Driscoll. She was born in 1859 and only a month after her birth, James Wadmore drowned after he was washed off rocks while fishing on the west coast of  Cape Bridgewater.

By the age of fifteen, Sarah was helping her brothers on their mother’s farm. Mr and Mrs Joseph Voysey from the local state school saw something special in her and offered to train Sarah as a teacher.  In 1880, Sarah became head teacher at the new Kentbruck school.  Prior to that she was living at Bacchus Marsh and teaching at the school of Mr and Mrs Voysey.  From Kentbruck, Sarah was head teacher at the Tahara State School twelve years, her last teaching appointment.   In 1905, Sarah and her sister Anne moved to Annesley in Julia Street, Portland to operate a private boarding house.

“ANNESLEY’, JULIA STREET, PORTLAND. Image courtesy of the J.T. Collins Collection, La Trobe Picture Collection, State Library of Victoria. http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/233404

One of their first “guests” at Annesley was Rosalie Brewer, the only child of the previous owner, Dr Brewer. Rosalie was confined to bed at Annesley for over twenty years until her death on 2 March 1926 at the age of fifty-seven.  Sarah, then sixty-seven, along with her sister, gave Rosalie the love and care a mother would, nursing her through those years.  Sarah’s mother Mary also moved into Annesley from her home at Cape Bridgewater and she died there in 1908.

Inspired by the pioneering life of her mother and others at Cape Bridgewater, Sarah had a great interest in the history of Portland and its pioneers.  It was always her ambition to publish the history of Portland’s women and in 1934, with the approaching centenary of the arrival of the Henty Bros, Sarah and two other local’s, Mrs Marion Hedditch and Mr E. Davis of the Portland Observer produced a booklet entitled Portland Pioneer Women’s Book of Remembrance for the event.  As Secretary of the Portland Pioneer Women’s Association, she was also the main force behind the Pioneer Women’s statue near the Shire Offices at Portland.  Also in 1934,  Sarah contributed to a supplement for the Portland Guardian for the centenary of the arrival of the Hentys at Portland Bay called Lone furrows on sea and land, or, Historical Portland .  For the publication, Sarah wrote of the Reminiscences of a Pioneer State School Teacher

“OBITUARY” Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953) 6 January 1941: 1 (EVENING). Web. 15 Mar 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64398666&gt;.

Sarah had a busy life. Many fundraisers, Pioneer Women’s Association meetings and even art exhibitions were held at Annesley.  At one stage, she travelled to England visiting Sussex the birthplace of the Henty brothers. She was interested in the Scout movement and donated a flag to the Portland Scouts. Sarah was also active in the St Stephens Anglican Church community and the church was conveniently across the road from her home.

ST. STEPHEN’S ANGLICAN CHURCH, PORTLAND

A wonderful life closed on New Year’s Day 1941 when Sarah died at Annesley at the age of aged eighty-one. Sarah’s obituary closed with, “It may be truly said of Miss Wadmore that she shares largely in the honour of those splendid women, whose unselfish, unwearying zeal helped to make the Victoria of today”.

 

You can read Part One on the link – Wonderful Western District Women Part 1

 

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, recognized 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

After nearly two years of Passing of the Pioneers, I am beginning to have to dig a little deeper for pioneer obituaries but I have managed to find an interesting group for January. There are members of the Black, Herbertson and Guthridge families.  Also a butcher, a baker and a newspaper maker. Then Sarah Jane Wadmore, an early Portland historian, and Mary Ann Skilbeck, a member of a family that left a legacy of value to historians today.

Don’t despair, there will still be more Passing of the Pioneers and if the Hamilton Spectator ever finds its way to Trove, well, my life will be complete.

Thomas Edwin THOMAS: Died 21 January 1909 at Casterton. Thomas Thomas was the owner of the Casterton Free Press and a former owner of the Port Fairy Gazette and was well-known for his journalism.

Mary FERGUSON:  Died 24 January 1910 at Casterton. Arriving at Portland in 1861, the Dewars headed to Heathfield Station near Strathdownie where they were both employed. Later they moved to Casterton until their deaths. Mary had nine children and lived to eighty-four years.

Archibald BLACK:  Died 20 January 1912 at Camperdown. Son of Western Victorian pastoralist, Niel Black MLC, Archibald was born in South Yarra and educated at Geelong Grammar, Trinity College and Cambridge. He then settled in the Western District and was one of the first landholders in the Hampden area to recognise the potential for dairy-farming, an industry the area is today renowned for. His obituary and photo can also be found at Obituaries Australia

Thomas MORRISSY:  Died January 1914 at Beeac. Tipperary born, Thomas Morrissey arrived in Victoria around 1860 and farmed around Ballarat.  After two years, he moved to Beeac where he farmed for the next fifty-two years.  He was a member of the Colac P & A Society and took a keen interest in the affairs of the Colac Dairying Company.

Mary GREENHAM: Died 5 January 1915 at Casterton. Mary Greenham was born in Middlesex in 1833 and arrived in Victoria in 1854. She was a Casterton resident from 1855 to 1875, then Corndale for the next thirty-five years before returning to Casterton in the years before her death. With her husband George Sealey, they had a family of nine sons.  One son lost his life during the Boer War. She left fifty grandchildren and twelve great-grandchildren.

Patrick  KINNANE: Died 9 January 1915 at Port Fairy. A Koroit resident for many years, Patrick Kinnane was born in Limerick, Ireland around 1827.  He arrived in Portland about 1854 and worked for the Koroit Borough Council.  He had a large family of four sons and five daughters and was buried at the Tower Hill cemetery.

Mary Ann SKILBECK: Died 22 January 1915 at Port Fairy. Back in the 1990s, I read The Diaries of Sarah Midgley and Richard Skilbeck: A Story of Australian settlers 1851-1864, edited by H.A. McCorkell.  It has a lot about Port Fairy and the Wesleyan Methodist Church, both relevant to the Harman family.  Mary Ann was a sister of Richard Skilbeck, and she married William Midgley, the brother of the other diarist, Sarah Midgley. This was a great read, giving an insight into pioneering life in the south-west of Victoria. Finding Mary Ann’s obituary has reminded me I must read it again. It is available online via the Midgley family website, but I think I’ll wait until I get the hard copy from the library.  The website does have a lot about both the Midgley’s and Skilbecks for those interested.

Agnes Jane TODD: Died 5 January 1917 at Casterton. Agnes Todd married Herbert Lewin in 1882.

Obituary. (1917, January 8). The Casterton News and the Merino and Sandford Record (Vic. : 1914 - 1918), p. 3 Edition: Bi-Weekly. Retrieved January 26, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article74488021

Obituary. (1917, January 8). The Casterton News and the Merino and Sandford Record (Vic. : 1914 – 1918), p. 3 Edition: Bi-Weekly. Retrieved January 26, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article74488021

John TOOGOOD: Died 18 January 1917 at Hawkesdale. John Toogood was born at Princess Bridge, Melbourne in 1840.  He married, for the first time, at Richmond in 1862 and he moved to Port Fairy in 1864. He then moved to Winslow near Warrnambool where his wife died. On to Hawkesdale where he ran a carrying and contracting business for some years before he turned to farming pursuits. He married a further two times, but both wives predeceased him.

Phillip ORMSBY:  Died 12 January 1918 at Ellerslie.

PERSONAL. (1918, January 17). Warrnambool Standard (Vic. : 1914 - 1918), p. 3 Edition: DAILY.. Retrieved January 26, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article74043412

PERSONAL. (1918, January 17). Warrnambool Standard (Vic. : 1914 – 1918), p. 3 Edition: DAILY.. Retrieved January 26, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article74043412

Phillip Ormsby was born in Dublin and enrolled in the Dublin University to study medicine. His sense of adventure saw him leave his studies and sail to Melbourne on the large clipper, Champion of the Seas  in 1854. He got his land legs in Geelong, then he went on to the goldfields at Ballarat for three years, farmed at nearby Learmonth and then purchased land on the banks of the Hopkins River near Ellerslie in 1865.

Like, Archibald Black (above), Phillip was remembered as one of the first to see the potential for dairy-farming in the area.  He was one of the co-founders of the Western District Co-Operative Factories Company and served on the Mortlake Shire Council with two years as President. He was also secretary of the Mortlake Cemetery Trust.

Phillip married Jenny McKellar and they had four sons and seven daughters. Phillip died with the knowledge that is son was killed in France only months before.

Jane ARMSTRONG: Died 29 January 1920 at Hamilton. Jane Heaney was one of Condah district’s oldest residents. She arrived from Ireland with her husband, Robert Heaney in 1856 aboard the General Hewitt. After ten years at Heywood, the Heaney’s moved on to Condah Swamp, later known as Wallacedale.

Donald McINNES: Died 9 January 1924 at Warrnambool. Donald arrived on HMS Hercules after a horrendous voyage.  His first job in Victoria was at the Kangaroo station near Hotspur owned by the McKinnon brothers, uncles of Donald. He never married.

Thomas HERBERTSON: Died 17 January 1932 at Portland. The Herbertson family have a long association with Portland.  Thomas was the son of Robert Herbertson an 1840s arrival at Portland. Thomas was eighty-one at the time of his death and during his years in Portland worked as a saddler, then owned a saddlery business, before purchasing Wattle Hill, where he farmed and ran a successful orchard with his sons. He married Jenny Miller of Portland and they had a family of five children.

Frederick GUTHRIDGE: Died 16 January 1933 at Ullswater. Frederick Guthridge was a member of a large family well-known for their longevity. They featured in this week’s Trove Tuesday post for that reason. Frederick was the son of Richard Guthridge and Elizabeth Pitts. He married Alice Byrne and they had four sons and four daughters. Frederick also left eight brothers and sisters and a ninety-five year-old father.

Joseph JACKSON: Died 16 January 1940 at Camperdown. Joseph Jackson was a native of Armagh County and spent most of his years in Victoria at Camperdown.  A butcher by trade, he ran a successful business for nearly forty years.  He was a committee member of the Camperdown Mechanics Institute and the Camperdown Turf Club.  He was the longest-serving member of the Camperdown Bowling Club and had success locally and in Melbourne.

Sarah  Jane  WADMORE: Died 1 January 1941 at Portland. Sarah Wadmore was a woman after my own heart.

OBITUARY. (1941, January 6). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 - 1953), p. 1 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved January 28, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64398666

OBITUARY. (1941, January 6). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 1 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved January 28, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64398666

Sarah had a great interest in the history of Portland and with the approaching centenary of the town in 1934, she and two other local’s, Mrs W.F. Hedditch and Mr E. Davis of the Portland Observer produced a booklet entitled Portland Pioneer Women’s Book of Remembrance for the event.  She was also the main force behind the Pioneer Women’s statue at Portland.  Sarah’s obituary gives a detailed history of her life, including the loss of her father, a Cape Bridgewater pioneer, swept off the rocks when Sarah was only one month old.  Sarah was a school teacher and never married.

John Charles HAUGH:  Died 12 January 1943 at Geelong. John Haugh was born at Bri Bri around 1866.  In his early life, he went to Stoneyford, beginning work as a baker. He later worked for Camperdown baker, Mr G.Robertson. John was an original member of the Camperdown Brass Band and performed in local theatrical productions.  He was a gate-keeper at the Camperdown Football oval for many years.