Author Archives: Merron Riddiford

It’s A Small World

I didn’t think I would ever see the names Harman and Combridge together in a newspaper article.  Harman,  is my maternal great-grandmother’s family name and Combridge, my paternal grandmother’s family name.  One is from the west of the Western District and the other family was predominately from around Geelong, but my paternal grandmother’s own family moved across to South Gippsland.  Also, I thought that not until my parent’s marriage in 1967, would Harman and Combridge descendants have stood together in a church, but in fact 53 years before in Kyneton, Central Victoria they did.

The Harman in question was Nina Harman (who you have met before when she appeared in the Australian Women’s Weekly with her carpet, a royal inspiration).  The Combridge in question was John Robert Combridge (1868-1934), brother of my gg grandfather, Herbert Combridge.

Nina Harman, then 19, was in Kyneton back in 1914 because her father, Walter Graham Harman had moved the family there from Port Fairy in the early 1900s.  John Combridge, a Church of Christ minister, was finishing a stint at the Kyneton Church of Christ, before moving to Horsham, the deepest any Combridge had ventured into Western Victoria. The purpose of the gathering at the Kyneton Church of Christ was to farewell John and his wife, Julia Mill, and wish them luck for their time in Horsham.  Not only was Nina a member of the congregation, she played the piano alongside Julia on the organ.

Nina wasn’t the only Harman in church that Sunday evening.  Mr and Miss Harman sang the hymn “Look up to Christ” accompanied by Nina and Julia.  Mr Harman would have been Nina’s father Walter and the Miss Harman, one of Nina’s sisters, either Elise or Nellie.  John then launched into his final sermon at Kyneton Church of Christ.

While it was a smaller world in 1914, I’m still surprised the families met and I can only wonder how well they knew each other.

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THE CHURCH OF CHRIST. (1914, June 30). Kyneton Guardian (Vic. : 1914 - 1918), p. 2. Retrieved November 21, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article129618902

THE CHURCH OF CHRIST. (1914, June 30). Kyneton Guardian (Vic. : 1914 – 1918), p. 2. Retrieved November 21, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article129618902


Trove Tuesday – Monkey Business

This week for Trove Tuesday we go to  Smythesdale, a small town just west of Ballarat with an article from The Gippsland Times of  October 14, 1865.  And guess what?  It’s another animal story, but I love it because it’s almost 150 years old and it is so descriptive, I can clearly picture the lady “tastefully attired in silks” and Constable Monekton removing himself from the scene at great haste.

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NOVEL HIGHWAY ROBBERY. (1865, October 14). Gippsland Times (Vic. : 1861 - 1954), p. 1 Edition: Morning., Supplement: SUPPLEMENT TO The Gippsland Times.. Retrieved November 19, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article65366052

NOVEL HIGHWAY ROBBERY. (1865, October 14). Gippsland Times (Vic. : 1861 – 1954), p. 1 Edition: Morning., Supplement: SUPPLEMENT TO The Gippsland Times.. Retrieved November 19, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article65366052

As usual, I can count on Trove to help me find the right photo to go with my article.  I am a little concerned about this photo from the State Library of Victoria as the title is “Woman playing with pet monkey” (c1893).  Considering the woman has a stick in her hand and the monkey has its hands on its head, “playing” mightn’t be the right word.  It did however remind me of the scene on the road near Smythesdale.

Image Courtesy of the State Library of Victoria Image No. H83.47/154  http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/23564

Image Courtesy of the State Library of Victoria Image No. H83.47/154 http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/23564

 


Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas

While Christmas is the furthest thing from my mind at the moment, judging by the hits my Christmas posts have had in the past week, others are warming up to it.

Image Courtesy of the State Library of Victoria. John Etkins Collection. Image No. H2005.36/75 http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/73735

Image Courtesy of the State Library of Victoria. John Etkins Collection. Image No. H2005.36/75 http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/73735

During December 2011 and 2012, I compiled five Pioneer Christmas posts for the decades 1850-1890 and six Western District Christmas posts, 1900-1950. If you would like to know how your ancestors celebrated Christmas, check them out.  From the early decades of the Victorian Colony when the first settlers pined for a white Christmas while they sweltered through summer’s heat through to the 1950s when Christmas Day in Victoria was much as it is today.  In between, there were the struggles of two World Wars and a couple of Depressions.  During those times of austerity, the Christmas spirit still managed to shine through, albeit with some adjustments.

Honestly, I’m all Christmased out after the 11 Christmas posts I have written over two years.  This year, I can rest easy as I now know how my ancestors passed their Christmas Days.

Image Courtesy of State Library of Victoria.  Image No. H42790/19 http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/41584

Image Courtesy of State Library of Victoria. Image No. H42790/19 http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/41584


Trove Tuesday – Fido, A Family Favourite

This week, I want to revisit one of my earlier Trove Tuesday posts, “Fido’s Feat”.  To refresh your memory here is Fido’s story again and then, a lovely postscript to his story:

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Amazing Story Of Canine Courage And Endurance. (1954, September 14). Camperdown Chronicle (Vic. : 1877 - 1954), p. 4. Retrieved December 10, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article24008716

Amazing Story Of Canine Courage And Endurance. (1954, September 14). Camperdown Chronicle (Vic. : 1877 – 1954), p. 4. Retrieved December 10, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article24008716

I recently told you about a Facebook group I set up called, I’ve Lived in Hamilton, Victoria, that was, and still is, offering me “A Pleasant Distraction”.  I’ve posted a few Hamilton stories from Western District Families, and one of those was Fido’s story.  So, it was a thrill to hear from Alan Moon’s children, Graeme and Diana, members of the group.

Growing up, the story of Fido’s feat was a family favourite, with Graeme commenting that he didn’t think anyone else knew the story their father often told them as children.  He recalled being “amazed” at the brave dog’s journey from Port Fairy to Hamilton.  Diana told me she would ask her father to tell her the story over and over.  Thank you Graeme and Diana for sharing your childhood memories and for adding to Fido’s wonderful story.

If you are wondering how the Hamilton group is going, it’s going mad.  To give you an idea, one of my favourite quotes comes from Helen – “This site is better than Candy Crush”.  There are now over 1600 members and hundreds of photos.  A “Back to Hamilton” is becoming more of a reality each day which is exciting.


Trove Tuesday – I Had A Dream

It’s Melbourne Cup time again and I love that it falls on Trove Tuesday.  There are many ways to pick a winner and around Melbourne Cup time, you hear them all.  Some go for numbers, the name, the colours or maybe an omen.  Often after the event, punters will claim they dreamt up the winner, and as the “Sound” from the Hamilton Spectator suggested in 1894, they are often not game to declare their selection prior to the race.  But not so John Cameron.  Back in 1894, farrier John Cameron of Lonsdale Street, Hamilton, claimed his Melbourne Cup selection came from a dream and he was happy to share his vision.

The 1893 Melbourne Cup winner was Tarcoola and it was that horse’s name that came to Cameron in his slumber.  He recalled seeing a newspaper listing previous Melbourne Cup winners including Archer for 1861/62 and Tarcoola 1893/94.  So convinced that he had dreamt the winner, he took a Caulfield Cup/Melbourne Cup Double, Paris into Tarcoola.

The “Sound” recounts the most famous prediction emanating from a dream, the winner of the 1870 Melbourne Cup.  The winner Nimblefoot,  the dreamer his owner Walter Craig, owner of Craig’s Hotel, Ballarat.

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Melbourne Cup Dreamers. (1894, October 31). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 - 1953), p. 3 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved November 5, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article65397112

Melbourne Cup Dreamers. (1894, October 31). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 3 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved November 5, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article65397112

Are you wondering if John Cameron was a winner?  The first leg of his double come in, Paris in the Caulfield Cup.  The Melbourne Cup winner was Patron, with Tarcoola  unplaced.

PATRON, 1894 MELBOURNE CUP WINNER, Image Courtesy of the State Library of Victoria. Image no.  IAN08/11/94/20-21e  http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/254730

PATRON, 1894 MELBOURNE CUP WINNER, Image Courtesy of the State Library of Victoria. Image no. IAN08/11/94/20-21e
http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/254730


Skipton – The “Local” Horse

In 1941, a horse with links to the Western District  won the Victorian Derby/Melbourne Cup double.  Named after a small town west of Ballarat and with a female owner from Hamilton, Skipton had the two towns on their feet when he crossed the line to win the 1941 Melbourne Cup.

Mrs Myrtle Kitson purchased the colt, sired by Marabou and out of Cupidity, as a yearling.  After some maturing, he was sent to trainer, Jack Fryer.   Myrtle had wanted to call her colt “Monaco”, but had some reservations, so she selected “Skipton” the name of the little town on the Glenelg Highway were she enjoyed stopping on travels to and from Hamilton. (Skipton is often used as a pit stop for those travelling the Glenelg Hwy and a place that members of my family would stop for a cup of tea on their drive back to Hamilton)

HOW SKIPTON GOT ITS NAME. (1941, November 12). The Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate (Parramatta, NSW : 1888 - 1950), p. 7. Retrieved November 3, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article107293645

HOW SKIPTON GOT ITS NAME. (1941, November 12). The Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate (Parramatta, NSW : 1888 – 1950), p. 7. Retrieved November 3, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article107293645

Myrtle was superstitious, and on the day of the Derby of 1941, she remained back in Hamilton tending the Grand Central Hotel, where her and husband John were licensees.  John and daughter Morva represented her at the races and when Skipton crossed the line as winner of the Derby, they accepted the trophy on Myrtle’s behalf.

OWNER'S DAUGHTER AND WINNING TRAINER. (1941, November 4). The Daily News (Perth, WA : 1882 - 1950), p. 10 Edition: HOME EDITION. Retrieved November 2, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article78571281

OWNER’S DAUGHTER AND WINNING TRAINER. (1941, November 4). The Daily News (Perth, WA : 1882 – 1950), p. 10 Edition: HOME EDITION. Retrieved November 2, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article78571281

After the race, reports came through that Skipton had pulled up sore and was an uncertain starter in the Melbourne Cup the following Tuesday.  The night before the Cup, Skipton was finally declared a starter with William Cooke (Billy) to take the mount.  The late decision, although probably tactics, was the correct one, and Skipton took out the race. Skipton, by winning the 1941 Melbourne Cup, achieved a feat only 12 horses had done before and no horse has done since, winning the Victorian Derby/Melbourne Cup double in the same year.

Like Derby Day, Myrtle not wanting to jinx the horse, remained home at the Grand Central Hotel.  Morva and John stopped at Skipton for a cup of tea on the way to Melbourne, just as they did three days before…just in case it was an omen.

The whole of Hamilton must have listened to the race and many crammed into the Grand Central Hotel that day to listen to the Cup on the wireless.  Much money was bet on the “local” horse .  That and the chance of a beer on the house were reasons enough to take an interest.  The call, by Ken Howard is online on the following link – 1941 Melbourne Cup Call

As Skipton crossed the line, Myrtle declared “Turn it on for the customers”.

skipton

SKIPTON STABLE SECRECY. (1941, November 9). Sunday Times (Perth, WA : 1902 - 1954), p. 8. Retrieved November 2, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article59154373

SKIPTON STABLE SECRECY. (1941, November 9). Sunday Times (Perth, WA : 1902 – 1954), p. 8. Retrieved November 2, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article59154373

SKIPTON'S OWNER MISSED CUP. (1941, November 5). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), p. 1. Retrieved November 2, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article8214714

SKIPTON’S OWNER MISSED CUP. (1941, November 5). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957), p. 1. Retrieved November 2, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article8214714

It was not just the money of Hamiltonians the rode on the back of Skipton that day.  The Portland Guardian reported that there were big wins in Portland from bets placed on the “local” horse.

Shipton Wins Rich Double. (1941, November 6). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 - 1953), p. 2 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved November 2, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64402269

Shipton Wins Rich Double. (1941, November 6). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 2 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved November 2, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64402269

The win gave Billy Cook his first Melbourne Cup, in his eighth attempt, aged 31.   He won the Cup again in 1945, on board Rainbird.  By the end of his career, Cook had won almost every major race in Australia and had received legend status.  He was inducted in to Racing’s Hall of Fame in 2002.

skipton4

Not Easy Horse To Train. (1941, November 5). The Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1931 - 1954), p. 4. Retrieved November 2, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article45736493

Not Easy Horse To Train. (1941, November 5). The Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1931 – 1954), p. 4. Retrieved November 2, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article45736493

The win was not without controversy.  Punters were angry that in the lead up to the Cup, it was suggested that Skipton was unlikely to run.  The price went out and rumours that a big bet of £25,000 was placed were spreading.  John Kitson denied the rumours insisting he only bet £8000, still a handsome wager in those days,  A Sydney owner was quick to criticise  the secrecy surrounding champion racehorses.

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skipton8

SKIPTON STABLE SECRECY. (1941, November 9). Sunday Times (Perth, WA : 1902 - 1954), p. 8. Retrieved November 2, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article59154373

SKIPTON STABLE SECRECY. (1941, November 9). Sunday Times (Perth, WA : 1902 – 1954), p. 8. Retrieved November 2, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article59154373

Back in Hamilton, the town was riding on the back of the Kitson’s success.  A “local” horse had won the cup.  To congratulate the Kitsons, a dinner was held, at the Kitsons’ own hotel.

Hamilton Honours Kitson Family. (1941, November 15). Border Watch (Mount Gambier, SA : 1861 - 1954), p. 6. Retrieved November 2, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article78132418

Hamilton Honours Kitson Family. (1941, November 15). Border Watch (Mount Gambier, SA : 1861 – 1954), p. 6. Retrieved November 2, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article78132418

The following year Skipton did not start his preparation well, with a disappointing  run in the Mentone Cup.  He followed up with a win in the Stand Handicap, pushing him into Caulfield Cup favouritism. However, he could only manage fifth in the race, with Tranquil Star narrowly winning from Heart’s Desire.  Along with the Caulfield Cup, Tranquil Star won the Caulfield Stakes, WS Cox Plate and the McKinnon Stakes in the same season.

Skipton Doesn't Look Spring Winner. (1942, September 20). Sunday Times (Perth, WA : 1902 - 1954), p. 5. Retrieved November 2, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article59171794

Skipton Doesn’t Look Spring Winner. (1942, September 20). Sunday Times (Perth, WA : 1902 – 1954), p. 5. Retrieved November 2, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article59171794

Despite the defeat at Caulfield, come Melbourne Cup time Skipton was pushing for favouritism after John Kitson placed a rather healthy wager on Skipton, thus giving a hint that the horse was on target.

HEAVY PLUNGE. (1942, November 14). Cairns Post (Qld. : 1909 - 1954), p. 6. Retrieved November 3, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article42367898

HEAVY PLUNGE. (1942, November 14). Cairns Post (Qld. : 1909 – 1954), p. 6. Retrieved November 3, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article42367898

The task was ahead of Skipton.  No horse since Archer in 1861/2  had won  consecutive cups and the only horse to have won carrying more than nine stone in the 10 years before was the champion Peter Pan.  Punters were willing to stick with Skipton especially after his excellent lead-up win in the Hotham Handicap carrying 9st 4lb, and as they say, records are made to be broken.

The records remained intact.  In what has become known as the Austerity Melbourne Cup, due to WW2 belt-tightening,  a rank outsider, Colonus got up by seven lengths in heavy conditions. Skipton spent the entire race near the tail of the field.  He was then sent out for a spell before his next tilt at the Cup in 1943.

Skipton returned in the Spring of 1943 with the Caulfield Cup his first goal.  That year, because of an overwhelming number of nominations, there were two divisions of the Caulfield Cup.  The first division was won by a roughie Saint Warden and Skipton, showing some of the class of his three old days, won the second division,  Naturally Melbourne Cup favouritism ensued.

After the win, Myrtle and a generous Hamilton punter donated money to the War Loan effort.

SKIPTON'S WAR LOAN EFFORT. (1943, November 1). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 - 1953), p. 2 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved November 4, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64387175

SKIPTON’S WAR LOAN EFFORT. (1943, November 1). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 2 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved November 4, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64387175

MELBOURNE CUP FAVOURITE. (1943, October 27). The Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 - 1954), p. 15. Retrieved November 3, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article25984915

MELBOURNE CUP FAVOURITE. (1943, October 27). The Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 – 1954), p. 15. Retrieved November 3, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article25984915

Once again, Skipton went into a Melbourne Cup with a chance to make history, as the first horse to win two Melbourne Cups and a Caulfield Cup.  Also, only three other horses had won the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups in the same year.  Coming around the back of the track before the horse entered the straight for the last time, it did look as though Skipton could win, sweeping around the field from a long way back as he made his run.  However, as they entered the straight, he was forced wide and with a large weight, he could only managed a creditable but well beaten fifth, behind another favourite in the race Dark Felt.   Skipton then ran in the Williamstown Cup later in November and ran second to Claudette.

That was the last race for Skipton.  He was brought into the stable in early 1944 for an Autumn preparation, with the Australian Cup in mind.  Unfortunately, in early February, Skipton developed heat in his near side foreleg and trained at the beach for several days to take advantage of the salt water.  However it was soon realised  that the injury was serious and an announcement was made that he would not run in the Australian Cup and later, that he would be retired.

SKIPTON RETIRES. (1944, February 10). News (Adelaide, SA : 1923 - 1954), p. 6. Retrieved November 3, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article128393096

SKIPTON RETIRES. (1944, February 10). News (Adelaide, SA : 1923 – 1954), p. 6. Retrieved November 3, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article128393096

Just over a month later Myrtle Kitson sold Skipton at the Newmarket Sales.  He fetched 1,500 guineas as a stud prospect, the buyer Kooba Stud near Scone, New South Wales.

At some point, around the mid 1940s the Kitsons left Hamilton and moved to Glen Iris, where Myrtle passed away on September 19, 1946.  Myrtle left an estate of over £9,000.

Late in December 1948, news came through the Skipton was dead aged 10, the result of a tragic stable accident.

Turf Notes. (1948, December 31). The Charleville Times (Brisbane, Qld. : 1896 - 1954), p. 8. Retrieved November 3, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article76553267

Melbourne Cup winner dead. (1948, December 23). News (Adelaide, SA : 1923 – 1954), p. 16. Retrieved November 3, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article12988791

Melbourne Cup winner dead. (1948, December 23). News (Adelaide, SA : 1923 - 1954), p. 16. Retrieved November 3, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article12988791

Turf Notes. (1948, December 31). The Charleville Times (Brisbane, Qld. : 1896 – 1954), p. 8. Retrieved November 3, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article76553267

Underrated Skipton was the last horse to win the Melbourne Cup as a three year old and the last horse to win the Derby/Melbourne Cup, a record that is often forgotten.


Passing of the Pioneers

If you have read my last post, A Pleasant Distraction, you will understand why October Passing of the Pioneers just got in by the skin of its teeth.  Thankfully I had the bones of the post done before “Hamilton Fever” took hold.  This month there are the obituaries of a bricklayer, a Gaelic preacher, a disgraced crewman from the General Hewitt and a member of the Henty family.

David HUTTON – Died October 9, 1875 at Mount Rouse.  David Hutton was born in Greenock, Scotland around 1809.  He was an engineer by trade, and left Scotland in 1833 for Hobart to follow his brothers.  One brother, William,  saw opportunities in the new colony of Victoria, and David later followed, arriving at Portland in around 1844.  He took out a lease on land at Mount Rouse and established Cheviot Hills.   David Hutton was a foundation member of the Mt. Rouse Board and served for seven years.  A Presbyterian, he was one of those behind the building of a church at Penshurst.  He was buried at the Port Fairy Cemetery with other members of his family.   Hutton street in Penshurst is named after David Hutton.  Another obituary, published  in The Mercury of Hobart, has more on David’s story

Ewan McDONALD – Died October 13, 1891 at Warrion.  Ewan McDonald was born around 1808 and first went to the Colac district when he settled on land at Dreeite around 1866.  Ewan was a Presbyterian and at one time gave services at the Larpent Presbyterian Church in Gaelic.

John H. DUNN – Died October 29, 1914 at Hamilton. John Dunn was born in Geelong around 1860 and arrived in Hamilton, with his parents, two years later.  Like his father, John was a bricklayer and together they built some of Hamilton’s larger buildings.  A search for Dunn’s bricklayers found a reference on the Victorian Heritage Database.  The home mentioned, in the Church Hill area of Hamilton is well-known to me and was built by William Dunn, when John was still a baby,  In later life, John was a member of the Independent Order of Rechabites and the Methodist Church.  He married Miss H. Luxton of Macarthur and they had nine children.

James DUNCAN – Died October 8, 1916 at Balmoral.  James Duncan was born in Inverness, Scotland in 1837 and he arrived on the Flora McDonald to Portland in 1855.  He went to Rocklands, near Balmoral, working as a shepherd.  He left the district for Serpentine before returning to Glendinning station as overseer.  He later took up the carpentry trade in Balmoral.  He married Emily Rogers in 1876 and they had six children.

Elizabeth LEAHY – Died October 15. 1916 at Cavendish.  Elizabeth Leahy was born in Adelaide around 1849.  Her family came to Victoria to the goldfields of Bendigo and Ballarat, before returning to South Australia, taking up residence at Mt. Gambier.  Elizabeth later moved to Lake Bolac and met her future husband, J.H Wallis.  They married at Ararat.  The couple farmed in the Wimmera, moved back to Ararat before settling at Mooralla around 1910.

Samuel BROWNLAW – Died October 13, 1917 at Tyrendarra.  Samuel Brownlaw and his wife, Mary Ann Speechly, arrived on the Severn to Portland in 1856.  They first went to Yambuk, before settling at Tyrendarra were they remained.  In 1875, Samuel donated land for the Tyrendarra School.  Samuel left three sons and three daughters at the time of his death.

John Stevens ANDREW aka John FORSTER – Died October 5, 1918 at Merino Downs.  I have touched upon the obituary of John Andrew/Forster before, in the post The General Hewitt.  John’s obituary gave me some clues to the names of the crew members that caused unrest during the voyage and those that deserted.  John was one of those crew members, explaining his alias.  Unfortunately his obituary speaks of nothing else but that voyage that hung over his head, even after death,

Christina McGREGOR – Died October 1925 at Hamilton.  Christina McGregor was born in Inverness, Scotland around 1835. and arrived in Melbourne around 1847 on The Indian.  Aboard the schooner The Wave, Christina travelled to Portland.  Her next destination, on horseback, was to “Satimer Estate” near Casterton, owned by her uncle Alexander Davidson.   Station life must not have been proper for a young lady as Christina returned to Portland to attend the ladies school run by the Misses Allison.  It was in Portland she met her future husband Archibald McDonald, from Condah, where they remained for the rest of the lives.

Phillip Henry THEISINGER – Died October 1942 at Portland.  Geelong native, Phillip Theisinger, moved to Portland as a small child and remained there for the rest of his life.  He worked as a storeman and was a secretary of the Portland Waterside Worker’s Union.  Phillip was also a member of the Portland Citizen’s Band for 45 years and was a member of the Portland Masonic Lodge.  He married Sarah Ann Surrey and they had 12 children, but only three still survived at the time of Phillip’s death.

Henry COWLAND - Died October 21, 1942 at Portland.  Henry Cowland was born in Brixton around 1847.  He arrived with his parent to Portland aboard the Severn in 1856.  He attended the Butler’s School in Portland until he was 12 and then he obtained work as a contractor at Sandford.  He also worked as a fencer and a carrier, carting sleepers for the railway line between Hamilton and Portland.

HENRY COWLAND.  OBITUARY. (1942, November 5). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 - 1953), p. 3 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved October 24, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64382636

HENRY COWLAND. OBITUARY. (1942, November 5). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 3 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved October 24, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64382636

Annie DAWKINS – Died October 2, 1942 at.  Annie Dawkins was born at Glencoe, South Australia around 1866 and travelled to Victoria as a girl with her parents and they settled near Condah.  Annie married Henry Dyer Rundell at Condah in 1890.  She was a supporter of the Red Cross and did her bit during the two World Wars.  She left a family of five children,

Agnes Cecil HENTY – Died October 30, 1945 at Nelson, New Zealand.  Agnes Cecil Henty was the 6th daughter of Stephen and Jane Henty and she was born at Portland in 1850.  In 1877, she married Edward Stafford Coster in New Zealand and they resided at Canterbury on the South island. Twenty-five years later Agnes and family moved to Nelson and she remained there until her death aged 95.

Robert Henry HOLLIS – Died October 1946 at Portland.  Robert Hollis was born in Tarragal around 1863.  His parents moved to Gorae when Robert’s father began work as a stockman for the Henty’s.  After some time working as a butcher, Robert turned to farming and at the time of his death he “had a fine dairy farm and orchard property”.


A Pleasant Distraction

I’ve been a bit distracted from my usual research/blogging regime of late.  Instead, I’ve been indulging in a feast of Hamilton history.  But I haven’t been to the usual repositories, looking at physical records and photographs. I’ve been on Facebook.

In 2008, I set up a Facebook group, “I’ve Lived in Hamilton, Victoria”.  There were a couple of reasons behind it.  I wanted to connect with other Hamilton people and the search features offered by Facebook then didn’t fully satisfy that.  What I was looking for was a central hub, where Hamiltonions could go, find old friends and share memories of growing up in the town.

I was also interested in the power of Social Media to network.  In those days, Facebook pages didn’t exist, only groups, and if a person joined, that action would show on their timeline, much the same as a page today.  My hope was friends would see that post and they too would join the group and so on.  Well it worked, and within a few months we had 1600 members.  It was pretty amazing really.  The unfortunate thing at that time was that it was difficult to get a conversation going among members and then sustain it.

Facebook being Facebook changed at some point, and groups looked like they were on the way out.  Those that weren’t active faced the axe and the Hamilton group, despite large numbers, was one of those.  Eventually all the members were “delisted” and while the group remained, people had to join again.  Problem was, groups became less visible on profiles and most assumed they were still a member or they simply forgot.  Also, if someone joined, it was no longer displayed on their timeline, making it hard to get the word out.

Over the past year, Facebook groups have found their place again and are again visible on members’ profiles and there are “group suggestions” beside the timeline.  A perfect time to get the group happening again.  With just 70 or so stalwart members, I started posting more often.  Then I turned to Trove and I added photos of Hamilton in days of old.  Well, 70 members soon became 130, then 200 and in a couple of weeks we have reached 1100 members.  The photos got the conversation going and the memories flowing.  Once again Trove helped save the day!

A. MILLER & CO. PTY LTD, GRAY STREET, HAMILTON. Circa 1950s.  Image Courtesy of the State Library of Victoria.  Image No.  H91.142/9 http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/122523

A. MILLER & CO. PTY LTD, GRAY STREET, HAMILTON. Circa 1950s. Image Courtesy of the State Library of Victoria. Image No. H91.142/9 http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/122523

As I  started to read the hundreds of  new posts and the many associated comments, I realised that what we were creating was an online social history of post-war WW2 Hamilton.  Just about every topic has been covered.  Festivals, businesses, milk bars, schools, football and cricket, marching girls and town characters.  One post with a surprisingly large number of comments and likes was about the underground toilets that were in Thompson Street.  There are photos of buildings, houses, bands, Blue Light Discos and sporting teams.  There are newspaper clippings of advertisements and Hamilton events.

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THE GEORGE HOTEL. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria. Image no.http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/64135 http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/60456

All pure gold.  To have a response from such a large amount of people across such a cross-section of ages would otherwise be almost impossible.  Even if a “Back to Hamilton” was held and each person in attendance recorded two memories, I don’t think you would get such an in-depth view of Hamilton life during the past 60 years.  It would probably just end in hundreds of references to the underground toilets.  I suppose they were a novelty.

So after getting the ball rolling, the group has taken on a life of its own and I can sit back and read the fabulous memories and share in the reunions.  There are people who have not seen each other for 50 years and lost extended family members have also been found.   Some members are relaying stories to older relatives not on Facebook, then coming back with questions or comments.   It’s been amazing.

Another interesting observation has been how our memory works.  It was photos of Hamilton that triggered memories that people thought were long gone and many have commented how they had forgotten so much but it was all flooding back.  As one memory is dug up, it almost always seems to trigger another, unlocked from the deep recesses of our minds.

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GRAY STREET, HAMILTON. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria. Image no. H32492/2033 http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/64135

The group has also given me the opportunity to post about the Harman family of Byaduk, the subject of my thesis.  I have had a wonderful result, with new found cousins and confirmation that those I had suspected were cousins, (Electoral Rolls are my friend) are really my cousins.  Also, I’ve been researching  the Hamilton Botanic Gardens for a project that I can never get around to.  My focus is on the animals housed in the Garden’s zoo but there is very little information available, but I knew the animals at the gardens held a special place for all that grew up in Hamilton before 1980, especially the Rhesus monkeys.  I asked if anyone knew the year the monkeys left the zoo,  and while we still haven’t come up with a definitive year I think it will come.  I can then hit past editions of the Hamilton Spectator for articles about their removal.

So well done to all Hamiltonions past and present who have, like myself, found a pleasant distraction while collaborating to create a wonderful reminder of our past.  I believe people have a genuine interest in local history as seen by the increase in Facebook pages such as “Lost Warrnambool” and “Have You Seen Old Ballaarat Town”.  The content, in a user-friendly format,  is something people can relate to.

It will be interesting to see how our group will evolve. If I had the time, I would like to organise the stories into categories and topics to bring them together in some sort of order.  Also, there are many calls for a “Back to Hamilton” something that hasn’t been held since 1954 when the Queen visited the town.  If the past and present residents of Hamilton could embrace the idea of “Back to…” in the wonderful spirit they have shown with the “I’ve Lived in Hamilton” group, I am sure it would be a great occasion in the history of our hometown.


Trove Tuesday – Early Hamilton Sport

What do you know?  It’s another animal story for Trove Tuesday.  This time we go back to the early days of my hometown, Hamilton and a guide to early sporting activities.  Although the population was sparse, residents from surrounding stations would travel for foot racing and horse racing.  But it was an early kangaroo hunt that captured the Spec’s correspondent’s attention.    The article appeared in the Hamilton Spectator in 1914, but the story comes from long before, when Hamilton was known as The Grange.

I have tried to put an approximate date on the said kangaroo hunt and it must have been after 1852 when the Hamilton Inn, opened.  The Botanic Gardens were first gazetted in 1853 but not planted out until 1870.  The first races in Hamilton were held in 1851 at the sight refered to in the article.  Later the racecourse moved slightly north-east to beside what is now Ballarat Road, before moving to the current location on the other side of town. (The Hamilton History Centre Grange Burn Walk Guide p.8)

Another interesting landmark was Mount Craig, a large stone hill on the gardens site.  It was also known as “Shepherd’s View”.  Information from the Hamilton History Centre refers to Mt. Craig and the spring that ran from it, providing water for the locals.  It was located near the current Thompson Street entrance.

Along with the many landmarks that created a clear picture in my mind of the hunt’s route, the article mentions many of those involved with the hunt, some of whom still have descendants in the Hamilton district today.

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EARLY HAMILTON SPORT. (1914, November 25). Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1914 - 1918), p. 6. Retrieved October 2, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article119872739

EARLY HAMILTON SPORT. (1914, November 25). Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1914 – 1918), p. 6. Retrieved October 2, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article119872739


Trove Tuesday – A Sweet Toothed Fox

Today’s Trove Tuesday article is new to Trove as it is from the Weekly Times (1914-1918), a new and most welcome addition.  I came across the article while researching my last post “Sweet Daisy“.  It was not available at the time, but from the small summary I could read, I knew it would be perfect for Trove Tuesday.  My Electronic Friend came through with the article on Friday, just in time to coincide with the Daisy Diwell/MacRobertson Chocolates post and it is an even better story than I first thought.  However, as with most of these “man vs beast” articles, there is a sad ending, but until that end, enjoy the escapades of fantastic Mr Fox of Fitzroy.

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FOX IN A FACTORY. (1914, February 21). Weekly Times (Vic. : 1914 - 1918), p. 4 Edition: TOWN EDITION. Retrieved October 21, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article129945279

FOX IN A FACTORY. (1914, February 21). Weekly Times (Vic. : 1914 – 1918), p. 4 Edition: TOWN EDITION. Retrieved October 21, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article129945279

 


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