Category Archives: Harman

A Life Cut Short

In September 1929, the Advocate from Burnie, Tasmania, reported on the Harman family and their longevity.

Family's Longevity. (1929, September 10). Advocate (Burnie, Tas. : 1890 - 1954), p. 5. Retrieved December 19, 2011, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article67674788

Jonathan died the next year, George made it to 96, Walter 90, Alfred 81 and Sarah (Mrs Adams), 86.   Add brother James who died in 1916 at the age of 86 and the average age of six of the seven children of Joseph and Sarah Harman that came to Australia was 88.

Reuben Harman did not achieve the longevity of his siblings. He died in 1883 aged 44 but if he had of lived on, he would have been the third pea in a pod, with brothers James and Jonathan.

Reuben was born in Melbourn, Cambridgeshire in 1839 and by the age of 12, he was already working as an agriculture labourer as the 1851 UK Census shows.  He was the youngest of the trio of brothers who sailed to Sydney aboard the “Kate” in 1854, aged 15.

The earliest record I have found of Reuben in Australia, was in 1864 when he married Elizabeth Oliver.  Elizabeth was the sister of Mary Oliver who had married Jonathan Harman two years earlier.  They resided in Byaduk where Reuben farmed with his brothers.  He acquired land and his  home property was “Berry Bank” at Byaduk.  Reuben and Elizabeth raised six children:

Bertha:  Birth: 1866 at Byaduk;  Marriage:  1892 to Felix Alexander James FULLBROOK ;  Death: 1932 at Nambowla, Tasmania

Absalom:  Birth: 1868 at Byaduk';  Marriage:  1904 to Hazel Maud FILMER;  Death 1954 at Bannockburn, Victoria.

Gershom:  Birth: 1869 at Byaduk;  Marriage: 1905 to  Elizabeth HILLIARD;  Death: 1940 at Hamilton.

Jessie:  Birth: 1871 at Byaduk;  Marriage:  1898 to Walter GREED;  Death: 1949 at Hamilton.

Beatrice:  Birth:  1878 at Byaduk;  Death:  1929 at Hamilton.

Sarah Mulbery:  Birth: 1880 at Byaduk; Death:  1931 at Hamilton.

I have found two references to Reuben at Trove , both from the 12 months prior to his death.

The first  article about Reuben was for a transfer of a lease from himself to brother Jonathan,  found in the Portland Guardian of May 23, 1882.

The Guardian. (1882, May 23). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 - 1953), p. 2 Edition: MORNING.. Retrieved January 2, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article71582275

The second, in The Argus of August 19, 1882, reports on  the Hamilton ploughing match at Strathkeller, east of Hamilton.  Reuben won Class A, a division down from Champion Class, in heavy conditions.  His plough of choice was the Lennon, also favoured by brother James. He rounded out the day with a second place in the Best Harness class.

HAMILTON PLOUGHING MATCH. (1882, August 19). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1956), p. 11. Retrieved January 2, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article11550437

On April 28, 1883, Reuben Harman passed away aged just 44.  I must get his death certificate (in a long line of other must get certificates), to find what took Reuben so young, when his siblings lived long lives.  Reuben was buried at the Byaduk Cemetery.

Headstone of Reuben, Elizabeth, Beatrice and Sarah Harman, Byaduk Cemetery

James Harman was the executor of Reuben’s Will and was very exacting in his application for probate.  Reuben’s estate was to the value of  £1226, quite a tidy some in 1883.  His assets included 128 acres of land, divided into two parts, one with a two roomed slab hut with an iron roof and slab partitions.  There was also a further 26 acres of land, 3 horses, 17 head of cattle, 150 sheep, a buggy and a almost new plough.  There is  a record of an interest he had in selected land of 70 acres.

After Reuben’s death,  Elizabeth was left to care for the children, then aged 17 down to three.  The first to marry was Bertha in 1892, when she was 26.  Gershom and Jessie also married, however the two youngest daughters, remained unmarried.  Elizabeth, Beatrice and Sarah eventually moved into Hamilton, with the two girls working as knitting manufacturers.

In 1907, Elizabeth returned to Byaduk to represent her family in a photo at the Byaduk and District Pioneers day.  She appears in the group photo from the day.

Elizabeth died in 1919 at Hamilton.  Beatrice and Sarah only lived for another 10 and 12 years respectively, both dying at 52.

This is last story of the four Harman boys who travelled independently to Australia.  The final three Harman siblings, Sarah, Walter and Alfred, travelled with their parents, Joseph and Sarah to Australia.  Sarah was 11, Walter 10 and Alfred only three.  The stories of those three Harmans are very different from their four older brothers.


Jonathan Harman

Jonathan Harman and his older brother James were like two peas in a pod.  While Jonathan did not show the devotion to the Wesleyan Methodist Church as is lay preacher brother, they shared a keen in interest in farming practices and community involvement.

Jonathan and James Harman

Jonathan was born in Melbourn, Cambridgeshire in 1837.  By the 1851 England Census he was the eldest child still living at the home of Joseph and Sarah Harman in Drury Lane, Melbourn.  His farming career had begun with his occupation, like so many others, agriculture labourer.

In 1854, Jonathan and his brothers George and Reuben, boarded the “Queen of England” for Sydney.  The first record I find for Jonathan in Victoria is 1862 when he married Mary Oliver, daughter of fellow pioneers, Jonathan Oliver and Ann Richards.

In 1863, the first of the couple’s ten children, Arthur, was born at Yambuk, near Port Fairy.  Peter Fraser in Early Byaduk Settlers, mentions Mary’s father  Jonathan Oliver living there in 1863.   Peter Fraser also tells of James and Jonathan Harman each having a team of bullocks which they used for a carting business along the Port Fairy road, at least has far as Byaduk or even Hamilton.

Also from Early Byaduk Settlers, I have discovered Jonathan was one of the first buggy owners in Byaduk, purchasing a heavy red buggy in 1875.  Up until that time, most people owned spring carts which were not suitable for a trip into Hamilton.  Until the arrival of buggies, the only comfortable way to travel to Hamilton was horseback or dray.  That trip would have taken 4-5 hours according to Fraser.  Today, the trip to Byaduk from Hamilton is only about 15 minutes.

The family of Jonathan and Mary Harman were:

Arthur John – Birth: 1863 at Yambuk;  Marriage:  Ellen Mathilda Rogers 1891;  Death:  1933 at Hamilton.

Amelia – Birth: 1864 at Byaduk;  Marriage: Chris Bell, 1901;  Death: 1956 at Portland.

Edith – Birth: 1865 at Byaduk;  Marriage:  Robert Bishop, 1901.  Death: 1948 at Port Fairy.

Emily – Birth: 1866 at Byaduk, Marriage:  Malcolm Cameron, 1900;  Death: 1948 at Heywood.

John – Birth: 1868 at  Byaduk; Death: 1886 at Byaduk.

Mary Ann – Birth: 1869 at Byaduk.

Sarah – Birth: 1870 at Byaduk;  Death: 1877  at Byaduk.

Joseph – Birth: 1871 at Byaduk;  Death: 1871 at Byaduk.

Minnie – Birth: 1872 at Byaduk;  Marriage:  Walt Hurrell, 1901;  Death: 1953 at Warrnambool.

Jonathan – Birth: 1876 at  Byaduk;  Marriage:  Hannah Waddup Keyte,1904;  Death:  1941 at  Ararat.

Jonathan and Mary lost one child, Joseph as a baby.  Sarah was only six at the time of her death and son John was 18.  Daughter Mary Ann was born in 1869 but I have never found a record for her death or  marriage.

Joseph, Sarah and John are buried at the Byaduk cemetery and a headstone marks their the grave, but where is Mary Ann?

Headstone of John, Sarah and Joseph Harman, children of Jonathan and Mary Harman,, Byaduk Cemetery

Wife Mary died in 1884 at Byaduk at only 41 years of age.  Youngest child Jonathan was only eight years old at the time.

At the time of Jonathan’s death on April 2, 1930 he was living with his daughter Amelia Bell at Heywood.  He was 94 years old.

Obituary. (1930, April 7). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 3 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved December 7, 2011, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64291985

Jonathan’s obituary contains some interesting information.

  •   Jonathan’s arrival in Australia. It is true that Jonathan would have been around 16 when he arrived in Sydney from England with his brothers.  Parents Joseph and Sarah arrived a short time after and stayed in N.S.W for several years before heading to Victoria  toward the end of the 1850s. Did Jonathan leave N.S.W. before them, possible shortly after his arrival, taking a ship from Sydney to Port Fairy to join brother James?  Or is this all just unreliable second-hand information as is the nature of obituaries.  Even so, it is worth investigating further in my quest to pin down when all the Harmans arrived in Victoria and by what means.
  • Amelia Harman, who married Chris Bell is listed as Millicent.  Her birth name was registered as Amelia.  Could Millicent been a nick name that stuck?
  • Youngest son Jonathan is not mentioned in the obituary despite not passing away until 1941.  I have always thought of him as the black sheep of the family.  He married a girl from outside of the district, Hannah Keyte of Natimuk and he spent time in Queensland with Hannah, before disappearing prior to his death in Ararat, Victoria in 1941.  Hannah was still living in Queensland at the time of his death.  Is it possible that not only did he fall out with his wife Hannah, but also his family back in Byaduk?  Or was it simply because the author of the obituary did not have time for him?

Jonathan was buried with Mary next to their three children at the  Byaduk Cemetery.


In the News – November 16, 1929

On this day in 1929, The Argus reported that my gg uncle Charles James Harman, then a Flight Lieutenant with the R.A.A.F., working as a Liaison Officer in London, had the once in a lifetime opportunity to ride in an airship, the R101.

I was fairly happy when I found this article at Trove as Charles is one of my favourite and most interesting relatives and I have enjoyed discovering some of the adventures he had during WW1 and also post war.  Life for Charles in London was a long way removed from growing up in Byaduk and his stories far more romantic than those of his relatives back home… new ploughs,  prizes at  agriculture shows, the rain etc.   I also couldn’t wait to tell my Nana about Charles’ airship experience.  He was her uncle, but she said she never met him.  She knew he had gone to war, but that was about all she knew, or as was her way, that was all she was going to tell me.

Australians in R101. (1929, November 16). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1956), p. 21. Retrieved November 14, 2011, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article4050667

The R101 was still in testing when Charles Harman had his ride, with its construction completed only a month earlier.  It was close to 237 metres long and was like a luxurious hotel in the air.

The R101 never made it to the trial flights in India.  In fact, the airship was en route to India when it crashed over France on October 4, 1930.

TERRIBLE AIR TRAGEDY. (1930, October 6). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1956), p. 9. Retrieved November 15, 2011, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article4204227

Coincidentally, one of those killed was also an Air Liaison officer with the R.A.A.F, working in the same office as Charles in London, Squadron Leader William Palstra.

TERRIBLE AIR TRAGEDY. (1930, October 6). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1956), p. 9. Retrieved November 15, 2011, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article4204227

Also a coincidence (or was it), Charles Harman was controversially dismissed from his post later in the month of October 1930, but that is a story for another time.

The following video is fantastic.  It shows both stills and moving images of the R101 including the luxuries facilities inside.


Not Such an Odd Fellow

George Hall Harman, born in Melbourn, Cambridgeshire in 1835, was the fifth child of Joseph Harman and Sarah Mulbury.  His middle name “Hall”  came from the maiden name of his paternal grandmother, Keiza Hall.  The 1851 English Census shows 16 year old George working as an errand boy and living at the home of  local publican and farmer, William Dearman.  The following year he saw his older brother James leave for Australia and two years later in 1854, he had his own opportunity to travel to Australia.  With his two younger brothers, Jonathan and Reuben, they boarded the “Kate” at Southampton on August 3, 1854 bound for Sydney, arriving on November 7.

I lose track of George for several years until 1859 when he and  brother James advertised land for sale, Boodcarra Farm at Port Fairy, then known as Belfast. The advertisement is listed in the Port Fairy/Belfast News Index 1859 .  In 1860, George married Rebecca Graham, the daughter of  Thomas Graham and Margaret Paterson.

Compared to his brothers, George & Rebecca had a relatively small family of five children:

Walter Graham – Birth: 1862 in Port Fairy; Marriage:  1887 to Ann GRAY; Death: 1930 in Kyneton, Victoria.

Edith – Birth: 1865 in Byaduk;  Death: 1866 in Byaduk

Thomas Charles – Birth: 1867 in Port Fairy; Marriage:  1900 to Elizabeth Margaret BUDGE; Death: 1954 in Victoria

Mary Helena – Birth: 1870 in Port Fairy; Marriage:  1911 to Samuel ROGERS;  Death: 1920 in Sale, Victoria

Herbert George – Birth: 1878 in Port Fairy; Marriage: 1905 to Aimee Elizabeth HEAD; Death: 1955 in Wangaratta, Victoria

George and Rebecca began their married life in Port Fairy but moved to Byaduk with the other members of the Harman family around 1863.  It appears that George preferred the seaside town and they returned to Port Fairy by 1867.

On a visit to Port Fairy, I called in at the Port Fairy Historical Society in the town’s former Court House.   I noticed old portraits on a wall.  Amongst the faces were George and Rebecca Harman.  The Society have a copying service and I was able to arrange for copies to be sent.

George Hall HARMAN, Original held by Port Fairy Historical Society

Rebecca GRAHAM, Original held by Port Fairy Historical Society

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From the photo of George it is obvious he was a Mason.  Turning to Trove, I was able to establish George was a member of the Manchester Unity Independent Order of Odd Fellows(M.U.I.O.O.F.).  I also found a lead to the possible origin of George’s photograph:

(1907, June 24). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 - 1953), p. 3 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved November 9, 2011, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-page6026342

After Rebecca’s death in 1902, George remained in Port Fairy living in James, Gipps and Sackville Streets.   His occupation varied from “gardener” to “independent means”.  He also spent time with his family as the 1914 Australian Electoral Roll shows, with him residing at the home of his daughter Mary and her husband Samuel Rogers in Wodonga.  He also spent time with his son, Herbert in Wangaratta as this article about the Wangaratta Odd Fellows Lodge in The Argus suggests:

COUNTRY NEWS. (1923, August 29). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1956), p. 23. Retrieved November 9, 2011, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article2007613

George passed away on September 14, 1931 at the ripe old age of 96.  Only two of his children, Thomas and Herbert,  were living at the time of his death.

Family Notices. (1931, September 16). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1956), p. 1. Retrieved November 9, 2011, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article4411246

George was buried at the Port Fairy Cemetery with Rebecca and baby Edith.

Grave of George, Rebecca and Edith Harman, Port Fairy Cemetery

Headstone of George, Rebecca and Edith Harman, Port Fairy Cemetery

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I often think of George and the 29 years after Rebecca’s death until his own.  He saw the passing of his daughter and son and two granddaughters.  Was it a lonely time or did his activities with the Odd Fellows and the visits to the homes of family members fill the void?  I hope so, because George was just a normal fellow who happened to be an Odd Fellow.


They Were Not Alone

I used to imagine life for my great-grandmother, Caroline Kirkin, arriving in Victoria in 1913, with husband Thomas Riddiford and  five sons and the difficulties she faced as a woman in such circumstances.  Hardly pioneer times, but without siblings and parents, and living in the small country town of Smeaton, north of Ballarat, she must have felt alone.  She may not have had the companionship of other women at a time when she was raising small children with more on the way.  In time, she would have made friends, but  would that have been the same as having family to share memories of growing up in London, a long way removed from country Victoria.

I have also considered life for Susan Reed, my ggg grandmother and wife of James Harman.  She arrived at Portland in 1852, a new bride at 22.  As assisted immigrants, James had to work for a local property owner to repay their passage, and Susan would have been left alone.  Babies began to arrive in 1854 and James would have been busy establishing a life for them.  Images that would come to mind resembled a Frederick McCubbin painting.

Even Rosanna Buckland, who has led me on a merry chase, has evoked similar feelings within me.  I felt for her on her on the treacherous voyage to Australia on the “Bombay” and then living in the “bush” at Mt William station with her husband James Mortimer.

Later in my research, when I began to investigate the siblings of  these three women,  my picture of their lives in Australia changed.  I snapped out of my romantic imaginings to the reality that these women had a greater support system than first thought.  They were definitely not alone.

Susan Read left siblings, including a brother William, at home in Melbourn, Cambridgeshire.  Searching the Victorian BDM’s for Susan’s death record, using just parent names, brought up a William Reed who died at Muddy Creek, in 1889 with the same parents as Susan.  I had found Susan’s brother living just down the road from her.  William married Sarah Burgin in 1866 and they had seven children mostly in the Warrabkook area.

Woman of mystery Rosanna Buckland, was not the only member of her family who could lay claim to the title.  Rosanna had a younger sister Elizabeth, who married Richard Myhill in Berkshire in 1851.  While browsing the passenger list of the “Bombay“, the Mortimer immigrant ship, I found Richard and Elizabeth Myhill also on board.  Elizabeth got off the ship, but where she went after that is unknown.  Richard Myhill shows up time and time again in the records and newspapers, but married to Isabella Ross (1860) not Elizabeth Buckland.  So at least for some part, Rosanna had the support of her sister, who may have been a welcome helping hand on the “Bombay“.

Caroline Kirkin had a younger sister Ada.  Ada married Frederick Sturdy in London in 1911 and  had three children by the time Caroline departed for Australia.  By 1914, Ada, Frederick and children were themselves sailing for Australia.  I first found this after a search of Frederick William Sturdy at Ancestry brought up a match on the Australian Electoral Rolls.  The record listed his wife as Ada Sturdy and they were living in Sturt Street, Ballarat, the same town as Caroline.  How could I have not known about Caroline’s sister and her family?  No-one had ever mentioned them. The Sturdys stayed on in Ballarat before moving to Melbourne sometime around the outbreak of WW2 as Frederick had enlisted.

Caroline Celia Ann Kirkin

But wait that’s not all.  I was researching Caroline’s father Frederick Kirkin, who lived and died in London.  He was from a family of ten children, so I proceeded to find out more about them.  I knew that Frederick’s sister had married a Henry Smith, and it was another search at Ancestry  which brought up a match for Elizabeth Rose Smith on the Australian Electoral Rolls in 1919 at Geelong.  A search of her death record showed she was in fact a Kirkin.  Elizabeth and Henry had three daughters, two I have confirmed came to Australia, but at the time I did not follow them up further.  All along Caroline’s aunt and cousins were living in Geelong.

But wait that’s not all.  Recently Dad told me he had thought of the two families he boarded with in Geelong as a teenager.  He had talked of them in the past, by name, but names I was not familiar with.  He thought maybe they were related to Grandpa, and I immediately thought of Riddiford relatives, although I thought I had them covered.  I completely overlooked a possible Kirkin link.   I worked back from the death and cemetery records of the couples.  To my surprise, the wives of each of these families had the maiden name Smith, none other than Emily Eliza and Elizabeth May, daughters of Henry and Elizabeth Smith.  They had married Fred Baverstock and Fred Harrison in Geelong.  Dad had been boarding with his first cousins twice removed and did not know it.

But wait that’s not all.  Whilst this research was going on, I found a UK Incoming Passenger List  record for Caroline’s parents, Henry and Amy Kirkin.  They had arrived in London in 1926 from Melbourne. Nothing unusual with that. They may  have visited daughters Caroline and Ada and sister Elizabeth, but what was that reference to their last place of permanent residency? New Zealand? A search for people researching the Kirkin name revealed one with a New Zealand email address.  I contacted him, asking if he had any clues. I mentioned a daughter, Ivy, who I had found no trace of in English records.  Could she have been in New Zealand?  He replied that Ivy did go to New Zealand, married and he was her grandson. His father had mentioned that Henry and Amy had gone to New Zealand on holiday to visit their daughter.   He was not aware of them living there for an extended period.   More research is required on Henry and Amy’s New Zealand adventure, as while they returned to England in 1926,  they were on the 1928 New Zealand electoral roll.  They both died in London, Amy in 1929 and Henry in 1935.

Suddenly I had Kirkin relatives in both Victoria and New Zealand.  A long way from thinking that Carolyn was the only Kirkin in the Southern Hemisphere.

So with my romantic illusions shattered, I am reminded that often the lives we perceive for our ancestors is not always as it was.  The more information we can gather goes a long way to creating a realistic picture of their lives.  Researching brothers and sisters of direct ancestors can help fill in some of the gaps and if you are like me, the brothers and sisters sometimes led more interesting lives.

While I cannot forget the many pioneer women who did suffer hardship from isolation, not seeing another woman for months, these three women were not in that category.  Aside from the arrival of a relative, in Susan’s case, she may have formed networks via the families’ strong links with the Wesleyan Methodist Church. Rosanna could have shared the company of the other station hand wives, living and working at Mount William station.  Despite feeling somewhat cheated by my discoveries that Susan, Rosanna and Caroline’s lives may not have been as I first thought, I am now compensated  by having Kirkin and Read/Reed links close to home.  Rosanna still owes me!


A Small Find at the Vic Expo

It has taken me a little longer than expected to report back on the Unlock the Past Victorian Expo.  After two days of great talks with plenty of tips, I’ve been busy applying them to my research, with some success.  Along with two fine days ideal for the garden, I’ve had plenty keeping me occupied.

The Vic Expo was great.  I enjoyed each of the eleven talks I attended over the two days and there was plenty to see amongst the exhibitors.  I did several laps of the exhibiton hall each day and I was still finding new things late on the second day.  A stand that I did not get to until Day two was that of the Birchip Historical Society.

They had several of their own publications available including birth, death and marriage notices from the Birchip “Advertiser”.  I had checked my tree for connections to Birchip and I found that Susan Oakley, granddaughter of Joseph Harman had lived there from the early 1890s to early 1900s.  She married Robert Cruikshank from Birchip in 1892.  As there were several books and I had limited time, I simply chose the top book,  Weddings 1891-1899.  There on page four were the details of the marriage of Susan Oakley to Robert Cruikshank.

It read:

Mr Robert W. Cruikshank to Miss Susan Oakley

The marriage of Mr Robert W. Cruikshank and Miss Susan Oakley was finalized at Bendigo on the 3rd inst., by the Rev. F. Elliott, Presbyterian minister, of Birchip.  The bride looked very pretty in a dress of sea green cashmere and was attended by three bridesmaids, Miss Simpson and Misses Smyth, the former dressed in flowered delaine and the latter (two charming children) dressed in white muslin with pale blue sashes.  Mr Henry Oakley acted as best man on the occasion.  Mr Joseph Oakley, brother of the bride, and Mrs Oakley, had prepared a sumptuous wedding feast at which the usual toasts were honoured and much indulgement enjoyed.  The bride and groom left by the next mornings train amid showers of rice and good wishes from their friends, to enjoy their honeymoon around Hamilton, Port Fairy and the metropolis.  (Weddings 1891-1899, Birchip Historical Society, p4.)

And so began a marriage of over 50 years and 11 children. I would love to see a photo of Susan’s sea green cashmere dress.  The bridesmaids too would have looked lovely in their flowered delaine dresses.  Looking through the other marriage notices in the book shows that cashmere, delaine (a light wool fabric) and muslin were popular fabrics of the time. Nun’s veil, which was not used for Susan’s dresses, was another fabric mentioned in many of the marriage notices

Joseph Oakley, Susan’s brother was in charge of the wedding breakfast along with Mrs Oakley who I would assume was Joseph’s wife Annie Simpson.  By the time of the wedding, Susan’s mother Sarah Harman was known as Mrs Adams, the name of her second husband George.  Her first husband and Susan’s father,  Walter Oakley, had presumably died around 10 years earlier.

While Joseph is acknowledged as the brother of Susan, best man Henry Oakley is not.  Susan had a brother Henry and beyond his birth record of 1869, I have not found another thing.  Could this be brother Henry?  Susan’s grandfather was also Henry Oakley and was alive at the time of the wedding but hardly would have been a 75 year old best man.

The couple’s honeymoon no doubt included visits to Harman and Oakley cousins in Port Fairy, cousins around Hamilton, and Susan’s mother in the metropolis.  Flemington to be precise.

This was a totally unexpected find which demonstrates the value of publications by historical and family history societies.  I have found so much information because dedicated volunteers have indexed the likes of the “Hamilton Spectator” BDMs or have recorded historic buildings in a town for example or in this case the indexing of the Birchip “Advertiser” marriages.

It was fantastic that the Birchip Historical Society made the long trip to Geelong and I am sure many people went away a greater awareness of the town and its history.  If you are interested in the work of the Birchip Historical Society, the ACMI website has a video of the museum and the wonderful people preserving history in the town.


The Leader of the Pack

When I think of my ancestors, the first name that comes to mind is James Harman.  I don’t know why.  Maybe it’s because if I was to a pick a leader of my ancestors, the boss or the chairperson,  I think It would be James.

In the 15 years or so I have got to know my ggg grandfather, I have imagined him as organised, official and proud.  He was a leader in the church and the farming community speaking up for what he believed.  I can just  imagine him standing before my other ancestors, organising and guiding them.  Who would be his deputy?  I would think either of James’ brothers Jonathon or Walt who, in their own activities in the community, were of  the same mould.

James was born in Melbourn, Cambridgeshire in 1830, the son of Joseph and Sarah Harman.  He married Susan Reed of Whaddon on August 15, 1852 just two months later on October 20, 1852 they set sail aboard the “Duke of Richmond” bound for Portland, Victoria, Australia.  They spent time in Port Fairy before settling at Byaduk in the early 1860s.

At Byaduk, James was involved with the church, served on the first committee of the Byaduk State School at the age of 81, and farming activities such as ploughing competitions and the Farmers Union.

James and Susan had 10 children from 1854 to 1875, five boys and five girls.  Even that was orderly.

Reuben James   Birth: 1854 in Port Fairy, Victoria  Marriage: 1877 in Byaduk, Victoria to Elizabeth BISHOP Death: 05 Jan 1937 in Ballarat, Victoria.

Alfred   Birth: 1856 in Portland, Victoria  Marriage: 1883 to Louisa NEWMAN Death: 06 Nov 1922 in Byaduk, Victoria.

Isabella   Birth: 1857 in Port Fairy, Victoria Marriage: 1885 to Stephen WARD Death: 02 Aug 1886 in Port Fairy, Victoria.

George Henry   Birth: 1860 in Port Fairy, Victoria Death: 1861 in Hamilton, Victoria.

Julia   Birth: 1861 in Muddy Creek, Victoria  Marriage: 1882 to George HOLMES Death: 20 Dec 1896 in Casterton, Victoria.

Martha    Birth: 1863 in Byaduk, Victoria Marriage: 08 Nov 1888 in Hamilton, Victoria to Frederick Charles HUGHES Death: 28 Dec 1960 in Hamilton, Victoria.

Henrietta   Birth: 1866 in Byaduk, Victoria. Death: 1952 in Hamilton, Victoria.

Albert    Birth: 1868 in Byaduk, Victoria Marriage: 1907 to Emma CARMICHAEL Death: 26 Nov 1927 in Byaduk, Victoria.

Alice   Birth: 1871 in Byaduk, Victoria Marriage: Dec 1896 in Macarthur, Victoria to William James McLEAN Death: 21 Jun 1927 in Hamilton, Victoria.

George    Birth: 1875 in Byaduk, Victoria Marriage: 1908 to Hilda May HILL Death: 25 Sep 1947 in Hamilton, Victoria.

It was reading James’ Will, written in 1914, that really defined him for me.  In great detail,  he had carefully considered his beneficiaries and ensured that Susan and his spinster daughter Henrietta would be looked after once he was gone.  It also offered information of James’ property and farm related assets.

The first of James’ last wishes was that his watch and chain be passed on to his grandson, Albert Lionel HARMAN, the eldest son of George HARMAN.  Daughter Henrietta was to receive the furniture in the  house and all household effects.   She was also the beneficiary of James’ poultry.  He  made provision for Henrietta to stay in the house with James’ grandson Charles, only son of  Isabella who died when Charles was a baby.

Farming implements, including a chaff cutter and a set of harrows, were left to son Alfred.  He would also receive two horses and their harness, a number of sheep and half of the grain and hay on the farm at the time of James’ death.  James had a contingency if there was  no grain or hay on the property at the time of his death.  If this was to happen, Alfred would receive £30 instead.  There were conditions for Alfred however. He had to undertake to give his mother Susan 15 shillings a week and give £100 to each of his sisters, Martha and Alice within a year of his father’s death.

Reuben and Albert shared in a large amount of James’ land at Byaduk and Lake Gorrie, near Macarthur.  The description of the property at Byaduk known as the “House Paddock” gives some idea of the out-buildings that existed but also James’ methodical approach to such matters.  It read:

“…commencing at the junction of the Hamilton to Byaduk main road with the Louth road running southerly along the said main road to the entrance gate thence Westerly along the wire fence to the corner of the stack yard and including the woolshed and barn thence Northerly along the wire fence to the Louth road thence along the Louth road easterly to the commencing point.”

The  partnership of James and Susan Harman was to come to a rapid close in 1916.  On April 10, Susan passed away aged 86.  Just over four months later on August 14,  James himself died also aged 86.  Together they had left England as newlyweds, settled themselves in Victoria before starting their large family.  They had seen births, deaths and marriages as their family extended and together they witnessed the growth in the country they had arrived in over 60 years before.  It seems right they went so close together after 64 years of marriage.  They were buried side by side at the Byaduk cemetery.


Byaduk’s First Shoemaker

The Harmans arrived in Byaduk around 1863, one of the early families in the area.   Peter Fraser’s Early Byaduk Settlers credits family head, Joseph as the first shoemaker in Byaduk.  He may not have been alone  for long as Bailliere’s Victoria Post Office Directory of 1869 lists both Joseph Harman and John Hurrell as shoemakers in the town. Joseph  had worked as a shoemaker in Melbourn, Cambridgeshire as well as an agriculture labourer.

Joseph Harman was born in Melbourn around 1805 and married Sarah Mulberry in 1827.  There first son James died as a baby, but Sarah had another 12 babies over the next 22 years.  The 1841 and 1851 Census both show the family living in Drury Lane, Melbourn.  In 1852, they said goodbye to their newly married son James and his wife Susan who were sailing for  Australia.  In 1854, they again said their farewells as their next three sons, George, Jonathan and Reuben, followed the path of James and Susan to Australia.  However, by the time the boys arrived in Sydney, Joseph along with Sarah and youngest children Sarah (10), Walt (9) and Alfred (2) were themselves sailing for Sydney.

The Harman family sailed on the “Queen of England” on September 30, 1854.  To that point there are four children I cannot fully account for, Mary Ann (born 1829), Arthur (born 1842), Ann (1848) and Elizabeth (1849).  I have found death records for two other children of Joseph and Sarah, but not these four.  I do feel confident I may find Mary Ann and am now following a lead on her.

The “Queen of England”  arrived in Sydney in early January 1855.  The five Harmans disembarked  and reunited with the three boys who had been in New South Wales for two months.  I lose them for a couple of years, although Joseph’s death certificate states he resided in  New South Wales for two years.  I am looking around the Maitland area for them.  By 1858 they had reached Port Fairy and, after six years, the family reunited.

Joseph died at Byaduk in 1893 at the ripe old age of 89.  Sarah had died 13 years earlier.  Joseph’s obituary in the Hamilton Spectator perhaps gives some insight into Joseph’s character and maybe even relations between him and his sons.  It stated that Joseph was a Methodist, who became a Presbyterian.  Considering James and George’s standing in the Methodist church, I wonder how this decision by Joseph was accepted.

Both Joseph and Sarah were buried at the Byaduk Cemetery. While there is no visible headstone for the pair, there is a large plot enclosed by a rusted wrought iron fence I believe is their resting place.  It is surrounded by graves of other Harman family members in a picturesque corner of the cemetery.

A View of the Byaduk Cemetery


The Harmans of Byaduk

I grew up in Hamilton, with Byaduk only about 20 kilometres from my home.  I passed through it on trips to coastal Port Fairy, visited the nearby dormant volcano Mt Napier with school and heard stories about the Byaduk caves.  Never for a minute did I know that I had any link to the small town with its drystone fences and rocky paddocks.

I  had heard of the Harmans from the conversations of my great uncles and aunties,  but when I asked who they were Nana would just say they are “cousins”, so I figured they were not that closely related.  It was not until I started finding out more about my family tree and Nana told me all the names she knew, I discovered that her mother Sarah was a Harman.

My Great Grandmother Sarah Elizabeth Harman

When first researching, I would look through records for certain family names and would often come up with very little. That was until I started on the Harmans.  There was loads of information and they soon became my favourite family, and not just for the ease of researching them.  I discovered an upstanding, religious family that always dotted the i’s and crossed the t’s.  A family that got involved in the community whether it be building schools, ploughing competitions, the Methodist church or the Farmers Union.  Back in the late 1800s and early 1900s,  they were a well known family in the district.

Coming to Australia in three separate groups, Joseph and Sarah Harman and their mostly grown up children, reunited in Port Fairy during the mid 1850s.  They established themselves in the town, but with the land opening up in 1861 they moved to newly settled Byaduk around 1863.  Joseph was the first boot maker in the town, while  sons James, Jonathon and Reuben began farming the stony land.  George, who was second eldest, seemed to have no wish to farm and by the late 1860s had returned to Port Fairy where he worked for the local council.

The family grew and by the turn of the century another generation of Harmans were raising families with the union of marriage linking them to other well  known families in the district, including the Kinghorns, Bishops and Olivers.  The family was also beginning to branch out to other parts of the state, including Gippsland. In 1907, three members of the Harman family appear in a photograph of Byaduk pioneers, James, Jonathan and Reuben’s wife Elizabeth.

Byaduk Pioneers 1907

I eventually left Hamilton and did not return to Byaduk until the 1990s to visit the cemetery.  By this time I knew something of the Harman’s standing in the community but had not realised that there was so much recognition of it.  While not that surprised to find a road named after them, I was surprised the Byaduk Caves had names Harman’s Cave No 1 and Harman’s Cave No 2 and that the volcanic lava flow that runs from Mt Napier to Byaduk is called “Harman Valley”.  Also the Byaduk area has been recognised as part of the Kanawika Global Geopark

The Harman Valley, Byaduk

The name of Harman is not common in  Byaduk today but I am proud that ongoing recognition of their presence there is ensured.


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