Category Archives: Western District History

Witness for the Prosecution – New Findings

I love it when my ancestors find their voice and through their own words give something of their personalities.  Obviously their voice is not audible, but through Letters to the Editors, wills or even as witnesses for an inquest, it is then easier to imagine them speaking.

In my post Witness for the Prosecution, I told of ggg grandmother Margaret Ann Turner, married to William Diwell, and her experience as a witness in a murder trial in 1860 at Casterton. Previous newspaper reports had only mentioned her role, but an extensive report of the trial in the Portland Guardian and Normanby General Advertiser of April 20, 1860 brings Margaret to life as she describes her conversations to the defendant, George Waines, prior to his arrest.  Of course give consideration to the abilities of the person recording the events.

This article tells me a lot about my ggg grandparents.  It reconfirmed they were in Casterton in 1859 and Margaret said they were residing in a hut owned by Mr Hunt.  Also, Margaret must have been good friends with Mrs Waines spending a lot of time at their house, including dining there on occasions.  She makes no mention of William or the six children.

CIRCUIT COURT. (1860, April 20). Portland Guardian and Normanby General Advertiser (Vic. : 1842 – 1876), p. 2 Edition: EVENINGS.. Retrieved November 10, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article65443361

More revelations.  George Waines dropped his wife off at Margaret’s hut one night.  Mrs Waines then stayed a further two nights, with George returning each night to take Mrs Waines away.  Margaret stated she left on June 15th, 1859 because she couldn’t bear to see Mrs Waines put through such torment.  So did Margaret leave her own hut and if so, where did she go?  Once again where were William and the six children?   One would think if William was around during these events, he too would have been called as a witness. William was a bricklayer and worked in surrounding towns, so this may explain his apparent absence.

Notice too that Margaret describes the Waines’ abode as a “house”, but the Diwells and Hunts lived in huts.  They were most likely slab huts like the one below.

Sutherland, Alexander, [Slab hut with bark roof ca. 1870-ca. 1880] Image Courtesy of the State Library of Victoria http://digital.slv.vic.gov.au/view/action/nmets.do?DOCCHOICE=353791.xml&dvs=1352638571965~542&locale=en_US&search_terms=&adjacency=&usePid1=true&usePid2=true

The Waines lived in a “house’ so it may have been  more substantial like the one below, or perhaps larger if George Waines’ aspirations were any indication.

“Family in front of their house on cleared land somewhere in Victoria”
F. J. Stubbs & Co. Photographer [ca. 1858-ca. 1908] Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/73293

Another thing that caught my attention was Margaret’s mention of a sister from Portland.  That sent me scurrying to the records as I have never found any of Margaret’s siblings and I would have thought they were back in Surrey.  A quick search of 1841 UK Census records (again) and the Australian Death Index gave me nothing, but I will keep searching.  Or was it just a ruse by Margaret to throw Waines off his interest in her mail.

It is sometimes difficult not to think of ggg grandparents as anything but old.  Reading this latest find has reminded me that Margaret was only 36 during the events leading up to the trial which has also reminded me that Margaret lived for only another nine years after the trial.  She was 45 when she died, only a little older than myself.  Margaret never became the old woman I must stop myself imagining her as.

There has also been another development in my family’s association with the Hunt murders.   Another descendant of my ggg grandfather George Jelly contacted me recently.  George’s daughter Elizabeth married Margaret Diwell’s son Richard in 1877.

Judy was kind enough to send me a copy of George’s obituary.  It tells of George’s swimming prowess and how he dived for the bones of the Hunt’s  in the Glenelg River.  Unfortunately I cannot find anything in the various reports about George’s efforts, despite it being mentioned that there was a river search and bones found.  I will bring you more on George in time.


A Western District Melbourne Cup

As John Finn Kirby led his 3yo colt from the Mt Gambier show ring, victor in the 1908 Best 10 stone Hack, most would not have considered the same horse would be led in as the winner of the Melbourne Cup three years later, almost to the day.  But John Kirby had a dream, and his 10 stone hack, The Parisian, was one of several new horses that had the potential to complete the task.

John Finn Kirby was born at his father’s Springbank station, near Casterton in 1858.  His father, Edmund Kirby, was born in Northamptonshire and was one of the early settlers at Casterton as was John’s Irish-born mother Mary Finn.  John and his sister Ellen each received their mother’s surname as their middle name.  As was the way for the sons of  the early pastoralists, John was sent away to school, Ballarat College the choice.  He then spent seven years working for stock and station agents in Ballarat.

At age 24 he went to work for Smallpage’s stock and station agents in Coleraine and after a year he bought the business. By 1883 he was the secretary of the Coleraine Racing Club. In June 1885, John married South Australian girl Elizabeth Crowe, daughter of   the late Edmund Crowe and Johanna Crowe, owners of  Mingbool Station near Mt Gambier. The wedding was a social highlight in the town and created much interest.

The Border Watch. (1885, July 1). Border Watch (Mount Gambier, SA : 1861 – 1954), p. 2. Retrieved October 30, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article77062640

In 1888, John purchased Mt Koroite Estate near the Coleraine racecourse.

COMMERCIAL INTELLIGENCE. (1888, September 21). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1956), p. 9. Retrieved October 30, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article6902423

In August 1889, Johanna Crowe passed away, resulting in an interesting battle over her will which ended in the Adelaide Supreme Court.  The estate, worth £80,000, was settled with embattled son John receiving £10000 and daughter Elizabeth, Mrs Kirby, receiving half of the balance.  Her children received the other half of the estate.

John began to spend time between Mt Koroite and Mingbool.  He’d  been  breeding and racing horses for a couple of years but with the use of  Mingbool,  his interests grew and in 1890 he established the “Mingbool Stud”, primarily breeding sheep but also horses and cattle.  An article from the Border Watch on February 18, 1903, reported that Mingbool ran 19,000 sheep, 500 head of cattle and 100 horses.

From the same article:

THE MINGBOOL ESTATE. (1903, February 18). Border Watch (Mount Gambier, SA : 1861 – 1954), p. 4. Retrieved October 30, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article77157688

By the middle of 1908, John Kirby had acquired three promising young thoroughbreds, Halloween, Benderay and The Parisian.  Benderay was the pick of the trio, brought by Kirby in Dublin, Ireland. Kirby eventually sold the out of form horse in 1912.  Halloween showed a little more promise and picked up a few races for Kirby, but he sold him at auction in 1911.  That left The Parisian, bought by Kirby in 1907 at the Melbourne Yearling Sales.  His sire was Bobadil, winner of the 1899 Australian Cup and Champion Stakes and his dam was The Parisienne.

BOBADILL, SIRE OF THE PARISIAN
(1911, March 18). Western Mail (Perth, WA : 1885 – 1954), p. 23. Retrieved November 3, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article38825171

After his victory in the show ring in 1908, The Parisian had gone into full-time work by January 1909 with Ernie Hartwell.

On and Off the Racecourse. (1923, June 23). The Mail (Adelaide, SA : 1912 – 1954), p. 4. Retrieved November 1, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article63442639

One of his early races, if not his first, was a six furlong Maiden Plate at Sandown Park on April 7, 1909, where he ran fourth, beaten by over 10 lengths.

The Parisian scored his first victory on April 19 at the Mentone Races and backed up an hour later to attempt a double.  An undecided outcome in the second race led to a third race at the end of the meet.

SPORTING INTELLIGENCE. (1909, April 19). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1956), p. 4. Retrieved October 31, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article10691394

Despite his breeding,  he was only raced over shorter distances with little success. The Parisian was put up for auction.  The great Bobby Lewis, in later years, recalled that time.

£76,000 PLUNGE THAT MISSED. (1933, December 13). The Daily News (Perth, WA : 1882 – 1950), p. 6 Edition: LATE CITY. Retrieved November 1, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.ne

Passed in, he was then sent to James Agnew, a Hamilton trainer, joining the stable on January 1, 1910.  Agnew soon realised that The Parisian was a stayer and increased his distances with success. The Parisian won the 1910 Warrnambool and Hamilton Cups under Agnew.

James Agnew’s wins with The Parisian were not enough for him to stay in his stables.  The Parisian, along with Halloween were leased to Charlie  Wheeler of Caulfield in June 1910.

Wheeler took the lead of James Agnew and placed The Parisian over longer journeys and both he and Halloween were nominated for the 1910 Caulfield Cup and Melbourne Cup not long after their arrival in the Wheeler stable.

On October 1, The Argus newspaper’s ongoing summary of the Cup candidates featured The Parisian.  With ordinary lead in form, it looked unlikely The Parisian would line up in the Caulfield Cup, with the Melbourne Cup a more likely option.  It was also noted that in his last race he had struck himself and was given a few days off work.

CUP CANDIDATES. (1910, October 1). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1956), p. 17. Retrieved October 31, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article10465357

The Parisian did not recover fully from his injury, a cracked heel, in time for the 1910 Melbourne Cup and was scratched.

The Parisian’s first win of any note was the 1911 Australian Cup.  The lead up to the race was eventful.  Scheduled to run on March 7, heavy rain leading up to the race saw the meeting postponed and rescheduled for March 9, however the rain had not let up and it was again rescheduled for Saturday March 11.

Considered a weak field, there were only 14 runners and  The Parisian was sent out second favourite.  As the field turned into the Flemington straight The Parisian drew clear and won by six lengths, easing up.

V.R.C. AUTUMN MEETING. (1911, March 13). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1956), p. 8. Retrieved October 31, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article10885768

(1911, March 28). Kalgoorlie Western Argus (WA : 1896 – 1916), p. 20. Retrieved November 3, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article33388818

V.R.C. AUTUMN MEETING. (1911, March 13). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1956), p. 8. Retrieved October 31, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article10885768

The Parisian then went off to the Sydney Cup, but he was not fully sound and struggled into 12th.

SPORTING. (1911, April 15). Barrier Miner (Broken Hill, NSW : 1888 – 1954), p. 4. Retrieved November 3, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article45127765

The next big race for The Parisian would be the 1911 Melbourne Cup.

CUP CANDIDATES. (1911, October 3). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1956), p. 5. Retrieved October 31, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article11621080

In the week leading up to the Cup, The Parisian again had heel problems and could not put his hoof to the ground.  It once again looked like he would be scratched.  Charlie Wheeler, put him out in a small paddock, full of cape weed,  next to the stables.  The move paid off for Wheeler and on the morning of the race, The Parisian was galloping madly around his paddock trying to avoid capture.

A record crowd of 115,000 people headed to Flemington for the 51st running of the Melbourne Cup.

THE 51st MELBOURNE CUP—THE PARISIAN’S EASY WIN FROM FLAVIAN AND DIDUS. (1911, November 18). Western Mail (Perth, WA : 1885 – 1954), p. 23. Retrieved November 1, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article38837876

Trafalgar was favourite and The Parisian ridden by Thomas Ronald Cameron, second favourite, in a strong field.

The 33 horse field jumped and went fast early and as the they passed the judge’s box for the first time, the field was well strung out.  The Parisian began to make his move coming into the straight for the last time, but Cameron waited, not giving the horse his head until the last.  There was no doubt though as The Parisian overtook the leaders and won by two lengths, although many thought it was more.  The win was later described as “hollow” and “soft”

THE 51st MELBOURNE CUP—THE PARISIAN’S EASY WIN FROM FLAVIAN AND DIDUS. (1911, November 18). Western Mail (Perth, WA : 1885 – 1954), p. 23. Retrieved November 1, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article38837876

THE 51st MELBOURNE CUP—THE PARISIAN’S EASY WIN FROM FLAVIAN AND DIDUS. (1911, November 18). Western Mail (Perth, WA : 1885 – 1954), p. 23. Retrieved November 1, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article3883787

After weighing in,  Thomas Cameron was mobbed by stable boys and other jockeys.  Meanwhile, out in the birdcage, John Finn Kirby’s dream had come true, he was the owner of a Melbourne Cup winner and his delight was clear.

THE RECORD CUP. (1911, November 8). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1956), p. 13. Retrieved November 1, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article11630312

Reflecting 20 years later, Charlie Wheeler, revealed the key to training The Parisian for the Cup.

CHARLIE WHEELER’S MEMORIES. (1932, October 29). The Mail (Adelaide, SA : 1912 – 1954), p. 9. Retrieved November 3, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article59832043

CHARLIE WHEELER’S MEMORIES. (1932, October 29). The Mail (Adelaide, SA : 1912 – 1954), p. 9. Retrieved November 3, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article59832043

In the days after the Cup, The Parisian was sent to Bacchus Marsh for a spell, while John Kirby collected his winnings on “Settling Day” at the Victorian Club.  His winnings from the bookmakers thought to be around  £40,000.  The stakes from the Cup another £7000, although Wheeler, as the lessee, would have received the bulk of that.  The Victorian Heritage Database notes that at around that time,  Mt Koroite Homestead received extensive renovations and extensions presumably from Kirby’s winnings.  He had a manager and many staff including a resident Chinese gardener and a chauffeur, Archie Gunning, who drove one of the first cars in the district.

(1911, November 21). Kalgoorlie Western Argus (WA : 1896 – 1916), p. 25. Retrieved November 3, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article33400021

THE NOBLE ART. (1911, November 12). Sunday Times (Perth, WA : 1902 – 1954), p. 15. Retrieved November 3, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article57722192

An Autumn 1912 preparation was on the agenda for The Parisian including a chance to repeat his win in the Australian Cup for which he was favourite.  Unfortunately, his cracked heel again gave him trouble and he was sent to the paddock, missing all engagements.

Brought back for the Spring Carnival, The Parisian ran in the Memsie Handicap first up, but was needing the run.  He returned in the Rupertswood Handicap where he showed more, but was tender after the race.  During the following week, The Parisian pulled up lame after trackwork and the decision was made to end his Spring campaign,

Autumn Carnival 1913, and once again The Australian Cup was set down for The Parisian.  Punters were wary though, given the ongoing query about the horse’s soundness.  That caution paid off, as The Parisian’s cracked heel again saw him turned out.

It would have seemed unlikely that The Parisian would return for the Spring Carnival, 1913, but as a gelding he did not have a stud career to retire to, so he returned again.  There were reports in early October that he had gone amiss, however he still ran in the Caulfield Cup on October 18.  There were rumours that the horse had problems and would be scratched, however Charlie Wheeler insisted the horse was fine and ran him.  The Parisian ran a creditable 4th but  pulled up lame.

Wheeler’s patience were wearing thin and advised Mr Kirby the horse should be scratched for the rest of the Spring.  Eventually in early November , Wheeler returned the horse to Kirby and The Parisian looked set to retire.

Sporting. (1913, October 29). Border Watch (Mount Gambier, SA : 1861 – 1954), p. 4. Retrieved November 1, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article77650783

However, in January it was reported that The Parisian would return to racing in the Western District but not before he raced in the Australian Cup in March.

WORLD OF SPORT. (By “Wakeful.”) THE TURF. (1914, January 17). Barrier Miner (Broken Hill, NSW : 1888 – 1954), p. 3. Retrieved November 1, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article45268231

Plans changed again as Charlie Wheeler began an Autumn 1914 preparation with The Parisian.  After a few starts, Wheeler finally gave up and once and for all returned The Parisian to Coleraine.

The Turf. (1914, May 7). The Daily News (Perth, WA : 1882 – 1950), p. 8 Edition: THIRD EDITION. Retrieved November 1, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article79921650

At last , the retirement  a Melbourne Cup winner deserves, looked likely.  Nothing of  The Parisian racing appears in the newspaper racing pages until March 1917.   On St Patrick’s Day, 1917, The Parisian returned to racing at the Coleraine Racecourse, across from Mt Koroite Homestead.  With a hefty weight of 14 stone 9 lbs, the heaviest ever carried at Coleraine, and ridden by none other the John Kirby’s chauffeur, Archie Gunning, The Parisian broke down again.

COLERAINE RACES. (1917, March 19). Port Fairy Gazette (Vic. : 1914 – 1918), p. 2 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved November 1, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article88021248

There was little doubt that The Parisian had run his last race and around two months later, the sad news came through that The Parisian had been destroyed.  Reports stated it was due to a start at a picnic meeting in the Western District.  With no reports of the horse racing between March 17 and May, it would have to be assumed that his injuries were due to the unreasonable task given to him on St Patrick’s Day at Coleraine, when he is only purpose in racing, it seems, was to attract a crowd.

SPORTING. (1917, May 17). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1956), p. 10. Retrieved November 2, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article1618494

This snippet from the Barrier Miner newspaper from Broken Hill, four years before The Parisian’s death, foresaw what was to come.  Two further unsuccessful preparations and three years presumably in the paddock, he seemingly needed to earn more oats.  One would have thought he had earned more than a life time’s supply.

WORLD OF SPORT. (1913, March 8). Barrier Miner (Broken Hill, NSW : 1888 – 1954), p. 3. Retrieved November 2, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article45222242

A sad end for a brave horse.

And what of  John Finn Kirby?  He passed away at Portland on April 7, 1942 aged 84.   Elizabeth had passed away 21 years earlier at the Kirby home “Koroite” in Kew, Melbourne.  History shows that The Parisian was the best horse Kirby owned, save for Napier, a winner of the Great Eastern Steeplechase at Oakbank and the Grand Annual Steeplechase at Warrnambool.

OBITUARY. (1942, April 13). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 4 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved November 2, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64379650

Wondering what my tip is for the 2012 Melbourne Cup?  Well I can’t go past the French theme which has been profitable for me the past two years.

SOURCES:

Trove Australia – List – The Parisian

Victorian Heritage Database


W is for…What Else Could It Be?

Naturally I had to rejoin the Gould Genealogy Family History Through the Alphabet Challenge at “W”.  W is for Western District and that means a lot to me not only because this blog is called “Western District Families”.  I was born and raised in the Western District and all the families of my maternal lines, going back six generations, chose to settle in the wonderful Western District.

One of the highlights of the Western District is the geography.  Entering from the east, the Western Plains lead to the rise of the Grampians and on to the volcanic plains and green rolling hills beyond.  To the south are the forests of the Otways, the south-west coastline and volcanic Tower Hill .

I will take you on a geographical journey through the Western District, just a glimpse really, beginning with two colonial artists, Nicholas Chevalier and my favourite, Eugene Von Guerard.  These  artists and others, traipsed around Victoria sketching and painting.  Von Guerard also travelled to Tasmania, New South Wales, South Australia and New Zealand.  Looking at their paintings reminds me of the lives they lived for the sake of their art.

Chevalier’s sketch shows the Serra Range including Mt Sturgeon and Mt Abrupt at the southern end of the Grampians.

View of the Grampians, Western District [art original] N. Chevalier.
State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/100967

Moving south-west, dormant volcano Mt Eccles near Macarthur has played a part in my family history.  My gg grandfather Reuben James Harman, son of James Harman, owned property at Mt Eccles.  It was also a favourite fishing spot of my grandfather William Gamble.

Crater of Mt. Eccles, von Guerard, Eugene,1811-1901,artist.
Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/46307

I prefer von Guerard’s depiction of Lake Surprise, the crater lake of Mt Eccles, to my own (below).  I remember as a child asking about the name “Lake Surprise”.  The answer:  When you get to the top of the crater and see the lake, you get a surprise.  Fair enough.

LAKE SURPRISE, MT ECCLES CRATER LAKE

A little north of Mt Eccles is the volcanic lava flow, the Harman Valley at Byaduk, named after my Harman family.  In the distance is the source of the lava, Mount Napier.

THE HARMAN VALLEY, BYADUK

To the south-east is Tower Hill, another dormant volcano.  It lies between Warrnambool and Port Fairy.

TOWER HILL

Further south is the famous Loch Ard Gorge, named for the Loch Ard which wrecked on the treacherous coastline.  The only two survivors, Tom Pearce and Eva Carmichael were washed on to the beach at Loch Ard Gorge.

I find standing on the beach in the Gorge a haunting experience.

LOCH ARD GORGE

East along the coast line is one of the most iconic views, not only of Victoria, but Australia.

THE 12 APOSTLES

North-west, and back where we started, are the Grampians.

HALLS GAP, GRAMPIANS

The Grampians are a perfect place to leave the subject of the Western District and move on to another “W” which has been a part of my family since the 1860s, the Wannon River…

W is for…Wannon River

The Wannon River begins its’ flow at the base of Mt Abrupt in the Southern Grampians.  It flows toward Dunkeld, around the base of Mt Sturgeon and leaves the Grampians heading north-west toward Cavendish. Along the way it passes by Mokanger , workplace of both the Mortimers and Haddens.  Through Cavendish, it passes close to the cemetery, burial place of members of those two families.

From Cavendish, the river begins a southward journey toward two of the Hamilton district’s jewels, the Nigretta and Wannon waterfalls.  As the river progresses west, the Grange Burn joins the Wannon, having flowed from just east of Hamilton, the city founded on the Grange.  This section of the river was another favourite fishing spot of my grandfather William Gamble.

On the river flows to Tahara and then Sandford. I have family links to Sandford with Julia Harman, daughter of James Harman residing there with her husband George Holmes.  Two children were born their including WW1 casualty Arthur Leonard Holmes.  My gg uncle William Diwell also spent some time around Sandford.  In 1914, he completed extensions to the St Marys Church.

The Wannon River then joins the another great river of the Western District, the Glenelg River, having passed through some of Victoria’s most beautiful countryside.  It is not surprising Joseph Hawdon, travelling overland to Adelaide with Lieutenant Alfred Miller Mundy of the 21st Regiment in 1839, endorsed Major Thomas Mitchell’s description five years earlier. Major Mitchell followed the Glenelg River from its’ beginnings in the Grampians through to the sea at Nelson. It is little wonder all of my direct ancestors stayed in the Western District after settlement.

(1839, September 26). Launceston Advertiser (Tas. : 1829 – 1846), p. 1 Supplement: SUPPLEMENT. Retrieved October 11, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-page8723904

After the merge with the Wannon, the Glenelg flows on to Casterton where I have many family links.  My ggg grandfather George Jelly, father of Elizabeth Ann Jelly, was one man who could say he had conquered the river.  His obituary read:

“He was a remarkably good swimmer and by his abilities in this direction was instrumental in saving many persons from drowning and rescuing the bodies of many others who had perished in the river” 

He even dived for the bones of Robert and Mary Hunt, murdered by George Wains in 1860.

By the time the Glenelg River reaches the sea, it, the Wannon and Grange Burn have passed by many of the places my ancestors lived, worked, fished, swam and were laid to rest.

The Wannon River between the Nigretta Falls and the Wannon Falls, about 20 kilometres from Hamilton, would be the section most frequented by myself and my family before me.  My own memories come from family visits, Sunday drives with Nana, school excursions and birthday parties.

The following views near the Wannon Falls are from the State Library of Victoria Collection and were captured around 1878 by  Thomas J. Washbourne , a Geelong photographer.

Wannon River Scene – Washbourne, Thomas J. photographer.Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria Victorian Patents Office Copyright Collection (VPOCC) http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/53092

Wannon River Scene Washbourne, Thomas J.,photographer.
Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria – Victorian Patents Office Copyright Collection (VPOCC) http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/52931

THE WANNON RIVER AT THE WANNON FALLS

Of the two waterfalls, I prefer the Nigretta, especially after rain.  The Wannon Falls could be described as pretty in the way they drop off the edge, but the Nigretta Falls are, at times, spectacular.

Nigretta Falls on the Wannon River
Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria – collection: Cogger album of photographs http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/41740

The Vagabond (John Stanley James) described the Nigretta Falls in his series “Picturesque Victoria” which appeared in The Argus.  In the  April 4, 1885 edition of The Argus , The Vagabond wrote of his visit to the Wannon.  He enjoyed the hospitality at the Wannon Inn and then marveled at the “miniature Niagara”

PICTURESQUE VICTORIA. (1885, April 4). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1956), p. 4. Retrieved October 11, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article6073697

This photo taken in August this year by my friend Catherine, after good rain, sees the Nigretta looking like the minature Niagara Falls as described by The Vagabond.

NIGRETTA FALLS – Image courtesy of Catherine Huisman

It was pleasing to see that the old viewing platforms still remain at the Nigretta Falls.

NIGRETTA FALLS VIEWING PLATFORM

An impressive wooden staircase now leads down to the falls, but the original steps remain.

The Wannon Falls (below) holds memories of walking beyond the viewing platform, down to the rocks and behind the falls, but only when they were flowing lightly as they are in this photo.  A new viewing platform now prevents such precarious escapades, even undertaken while on school excursions!

I have two framed prints of the Wannon Falls by Louis Buveot, painted in 1872.  One hangs on a wall as a constant reminder of Hamilton, the Wannon River and the waterfalls.  The original hangs in the Ballarat Fine Art Gallery. To see  the original click on the link – Wannon Falls

The topic of the Wannon River gives me an opportunity to share my all time favourite family photos.  As a little girl when I first saw Nana’s old photo album, these photos captured my imagination.  When Nana came to live with us she kept her photo albums in her wardrobe. I would take them down, sit on her bed and go straight to this photo.  It was near the beginning of the album which had black, much turned pages.

From right: Nana, (Linda Hadden), my great-grandmother (Sarah Elizabeth Harman) and my great auntie Alma’s (Nana’s sister) mother-in-law Mrs Issac William Short (Catherine Gissane Tilley).

They are standing on the original lower viewing deck.   The four photos from a day at the Wannon where originally very small.  It wasn’t until I enlarged them on a computer, that I noticed Nana’s coat hanging on the railing.

I think the reason I like this photo is because Nana looked exactly liked she did when I knew her, but with long braids and I still can’t believe she was only about 15.  Even the small research assistant thought Nana was the lady in the middle when he first saw it.  He only knew her as an older person and does not think of her as having been a child too.

The second photo was taken from the lower viewing deck, looking toward the upper level.  I didn’t like standing here as a child and as you can see the rail was high at the front  and difficult to see over and to the right of  Nana was a gap between the fence and the rocks.  I much preferred the lower deck.

Recent years have seen a rotunda built at the Wannon Falls reserve with information about the waterfall, the local geography and history.

On our visit, the small research assistant said “Look Mum, they even have family history here for you”  He was right. There is a lot of my family history at the Wannon Falls.


Alice Hawthorne – The Western Mare

On October 3, 1857, a small grey mare known as “Alice” lined up for a match race with her rival Veno, from the colony of New South Wales, a race that would in time be remembered for its significance in setting the foundations for what has become Australia’s greatest horse race and strengthening the thoroughbred racing and breeding industry in Australia.  It was a  time when inter-colonial rivalry was high, but this period of  racing’s history shows that the racing fraternities of each colony, while still highly competitive, where able to work together in a harmonious way to develop the industry we have today. This story is not so much about the match race,  rather the life of the grey mare and the mark she left on Australian racing history.

“Alice”, bred at Mt William Station in the Western District and owned by great racing supporters, the Chirnsides , was born sometime around 1849.    Her sire was Delpare, an imported horse and her dam, Polly McQuinn, a part-Arab mare, bloodlines common in the early days of racing in Australia.   “Alice” was branded with the Chirnside’s  “key” brand.  Horses bearing that brand could never be sold.

DEATH OF ALICE HAWTHORNE. (1860, August 18). Bell’s Life in Sydney and Sporting Reviewer (NSW : 1845 – 1860), p. 2. Retrieved August 8, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article59873244

At age three “Alice” was broken in and she spent time as a stock horse but, unlike her mother, she was not a good riding horse.  The Chinese workers at the station used her to carry rations to workers situated at out stations on the property but she developed a fistula wither, a painful condition, and was turned out.   During this time she became loose on the station roaming the bush for 15 months. She ran with a wild horse and the result was a foal which died.  Time in the bush had not served her well, but back on pasture, she blossomed.

Put to work again, “Alice” was used by Robert Christison, a horse-breaker at Mt William, to act as  “nursemaid” to the young thoroughbreds he was breaking in.  On one occasion, the young horses had missed a muster and Christison chose  “Alice” to bring them back to the main paddock.  What a surprise he received.  This article, “Racing and Romance, Two Western Mares” includes excerpts from the book “After Many Days” by Cuthbert Fetherstonhaugh that recount that day:

RACING AND ROMANCE. (1928, September 15). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1956), p. 2 Supplement: The Argus. Saturday Camera Supplement.. Retrieved August 8, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article3956921

The little mare, who not long before had roamed the bush, impressed and ousted the talented Miss Campbell from her prime stall in the stables.  She was also given her name,  Alice Hawthorne.

Her first race was at Hamilton over a mile and half.  “Alice” won, kicking off a remarkable career which would span the next four years.  As was racing in those times, “Alice” returned to Hamilton the following day and backed up the win.

HAMILTON. (1856, January 21). Portland Guardian and Normanby General Advertiser (Vic. : 1842 – 1876), p. 3 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved August 8, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-It

It was not long before Alice Hawthorne was racing at Ballarat, Geelong and then Flemington.  This sketch shows her storming down the outside to win the Turf Club Autumn Cup of 1857.

Flemington: Past and Present. (1891, October 24). Illustrated Sydney News (NSW : 1853 – 1872), p. 13. Retrieved October 2, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article63613318

It was this race and others that saw Alice Hawthorne considered one of Victoria’s best horses and in turn her name was given as a challenger to a N.S.W. horse in a match race of £1000 aside.  The Victorians wanted to nominate three horses and select the best on the day, however this was rejected by their N.S.W. colleagues who nominated just one horse, the chestnut Veno.  Alice Hawthorne it was.

LOCAL NEWS. (1857, July 1). The Hobart Town Mercury (Tas. : 1857), p. 2. Retrieved August 9, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article3244328

There were some doubt in the minds of the Victorians that “Alice” was up to the task and her odds went out.  Others considered the home track advantage would help her.  Veno’s arrival in Melbourne created much interest with crowds of people gathering to see the Sydney horse.

VICTORIA. (1857, August 1). Bell’s Life in Sydney and Sporting Reviewer (NSW : 1845 – 1860), p. 2. Retrieved August 9, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article59867006

Meanwhile there were security fears for “Alice’ and her trainer Mr Green built a stable at his home to accommodate her safely.

VENO AND ALICE HAWTHORN. (1857, August 29). Bell’s Life in Sydney and Sporting Reviewer (NSW : 1845 – 1860), p. 2. Retrieved August 10, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article59867185

This thorough description of “Alice”, including her physique, action and temperament is unlike anything seen today.  The Melbourne correspondent noted her “fine, even temper which nothing can ruffle is the theme of universal admiration”.  Jokes were often made about her arrival at the starting line for races, looking like she had just had a sleep. This probably helped her settle in her races and run out the three miles.

ALICE HAWTHORN. (1857, September 5). Bell’s Life in Sydney and Sporting Reviewer (NSW : 1845 – 1860), p. 2. Retrieved October 1, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article59867231

Those attending the Great Inter-Colonial Match race from Sydney could take up the offer from the Australian Steam Navigation Company of a return ticket at a reduced rate.

THE WRECK OF THE DUNBAR. (1857, September 5). Empire (Sydney, NSW : 1850 – 1875), p. 5. Retrieved October 1, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64986713

In the preceding days, something akin to the call of the card was held at the Tattersall’s Hotel in Russell Street, where the original challenge was offered.  A healthy amount of money was wagered, all with a sense of good sportsmanship.

Chair, Mr Goldsborough welcomed the sporting men of Sydney, including trainer Mr Rowe, and reassured them that they “would be met upon all occasions in the hearty spirit of true sportsmen”.

At the gathering,  a decision was made to set up a subscription room at the Tattersalls Hotel for those of “good respectability and conduct’ for a season ticket of ten shillings.   The Produce Stakes was also devised, open to horses from all colonies.

VENO AND ALICE HAWTHORN. (1857, October 2). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954), p. 8. Retrieved October 1, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article28633161

On the morning of October 3, 1857, all roads led to Flemington.  For others, a steamer up the Saltwater River (Maribyrnong River) was the preferred transport.

SPORTING INTELLIGENCE. (1857, October 5). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1956), p. 5. Retrieved October 1, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article7139724

As feared by many Victorians, it was not  Alice Hawthorne’s day, with Veno winning the three mile race.  “Alice” was not disgraced but could not match the stamina of Veno.

FIRST RACE. THE MATCH FOR THE CHAMPIONSHIP.—VICTORIA V. NEW SOUTH WALES. (1857, October 8). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954), p. 1 Edition: Second Edition.. Retrieved October 1, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article13001270

Veno’s trainer accepted another challenge with the horse backing up two races later against Victorian Van Tromp.  Veno raced another three miles, finishing in a faster time than his race against “Alice”, beating Van Tromp by two lengths.

The Victorian racing fraternity were left questioning their horses’ bloodlines and those from the colony of N.S.W. left no doubt  where Veno hailed from as this headline from the Empire, a Sydney newspaper shows.

[SECOND EDITION.]. (1857, October 8). Empire (Sydney, NSW : 1850 – 1875), p. 3 Edition: 2nd edition. Retrieved October 1, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article60261613

This article from The Argus, written in the days, stressed how important breeding better Victorian horses was if they were to match it with the other colonies and the need for good horse races such as the match race, to make sure that the standard of horse improved.

The Argus. (1857, October 5). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1956), p. 5. Retrieved October 1, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article7139706

It was not long before “Alice” was back racing and on December 2, she was at Ballarat, once again a winner.

THE RACES. SECOND DAY. (1857, December 3). The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 – 1864), p. 2. Retrieved October 1, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article66045460

On Thursday February 18, 1858, Alice Hawthorne won the Great Metropolitan Handicap at Flemington, redeeming herself with those her dismissed her both before and after her match race with Veno.

VICTORIA JOCKEY CLUB RACE MEETING. (1858, February 26). Empire (Sydney, NSW : 1850 – 1875), p. 3. Retrieved October 1, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article60426399

“Alice” continued to race and win.  Just over twelve months after her match race, she was still considered Victoria’s leading three miler, although some thought this was because she had nothing to beat.

No title. (1858, November 6). Bell’s Life in Sydney and Sporting Reviewer (NSW : 1845 – 1860), p. 2. Retrieved October 2, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article59869552

October 1, 1859 was the first running of the Australian Champion Sweepstakes at Flemington racecourse.  Horses from the colonies of South Australia, New South Wales and Tasmania were among the entries, true inter-colonial racing.

One of the entries, The Barber from South Australia, had an unfortunate and unexpected link to the Western District. The Barber’s transportation to Melbourne was the steamer Admella.  The Admella struck trouble along the South Australian coast near the Victorian border and the Portland lifeboat Ladybird  with Captain James Fawthrop at her helm went to the rescue.  All the horses aboard the steamer drowned, except for The Barber, who amazingly came to shore, two and a half miles away from the wreck.  He was then walked overland to Geelong and travelled by rail to Melbourne.  Not surprisingly he finished close to the tail of the field in the Sweepstakes.

“Alice”, by this time at least 10 years old, acquitted herself well in the three mile race running fourth behind the winner Victorian Flying Buck,  a three year old.

THE CHAMPION RACE DAY. (1859, October 3). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1956), p. 5. Retrieved October 2, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article5689255

Alice Hawthorne ran her last race in November 1859 in  the Turf Club Welter Handicap over three miles.  She won by 10 lengths and retired with £5000 in stakes money, the highest of any horse in the colonies.

VICTORIA. (1859, November 26). Bell’s Life in Sydney and Sporting Reviewer (NSW : 1845 – 1860), p. 4. Retrieved October 2, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article59871699

The Chirnsides sent their mare to stud for a meeting with their imported stallion Peeping Tom. It is not clear if the mating was successful.

On August 12  1860, the mare they called “Alice” passed away at the Chirnside’s Point Cook property at 12 years of age, only nine months out of racing.  Her lungs that gave her the stamina to run long distances had failed her.

MELBOURNE NEWS. (1860, August 16). Bendigo Advertiser (Vic. : 1855 – 1918), p. 2. Retrieved October 3, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article87945829

DEATH OF ALICE HAWTHORNE. (1860, August 18). Bell’s Life in Sydney and Sporting Reviewer (NSW : 1845 – 1860), p. 2. Retrieved October 2, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article59873244

“Alice” went from the foothills of the Grampians to matching it with some of the leading horses in Victoria and the other colonies.  She easily could  have remained at Mount William Station as nurse maid to the future stars of the Chirnside’s stables.  It was only for her demonstration of brilliance rounding up the escaped horses that saw her rise to becoming a household name.   She saw hard racing considering many of her races were over three miles, a mile further than the Melbourne Cup.  Horses from her time could run two three mile races in a day, just as Veno did on October 3, 1857.

In 1861, the first Melbourne Cup was run.  Racing was building up to a race like the Cup from the time of the Great Inter-Colonial match race, the Great Metropolitan Handicap and the Sweepstakes, but unlike those races it has endured and strengthened over 150 years.  Racing was evolving, as it was suggested it should after the 1857 match race, by creating great horse races to improve the stock.  Unfortunately for Victoria, Archer from N.S.W. won the first two cups.  Banker, bred by Woodend hotel keeper Joseph Harper, finally won for the colony in 1863.  The Great Inter-Colonial match race began the stream of horses across the borders to race in Victoria.  Today, Victorian racing is International, with overseas horses not only racing  here in the spring, but taking the main prize.

Alice Hawthorne and her rivals of the time have a place in Australian racing history.  While the leaders of the Australian colonies were struggling to work together on a united front, the connections of these horses were showing their political counterparts how to do it.  The Sporting Notes of The Argus of March 24, 1865 praised those involved in racing.  Between the Great Inter-Colonial match race in 1857 and 1865, the racing clubs of the colonies had agreed on a single birth date for all thoroughbreds, August 1 and Victoria had revised its Weight for Age system to come into line with the other colonies.  The correspondent said “It would be remarkable, if meeting pleasantly on the neutral ground of sport, the Australian colonies were thereby hereafter to meet in an equally friendly spirit to deal with  more important questions”

SPORTING NOTES. (1865, March 24). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1956), p. 5. Retrieved October 2, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article5734367

At the time of the death of Andrew Chirnside,  The Border Watch reported that Alice Hawthorne helped make his name in racing circles.

SPORTING NOTES. (1890, May 3). Border Watch (Mount Gambier, SA : 1861 – 1954), p. 3. Retrieved October 2, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article77489433

I came to know about Alice Hawthorne while searching for articles about Mt. William Station at Trove .  My ggg grandfather James Mortimer and his family arrived at Mt William Station around 1853, about the time “Alice” was broken in.  He was there when she was working as a packhorse and when she rounded up the young horses.  When Cuthbert Fetherstonhaugh was at Munthum Station and heard the stories of the Delpare mare, James Mortimer was at Mt William Station.  Was James Mortimer one of the stockmen who rode Alice her and dismissed her as a riding horse?  He at the very least would have heard the talk of her.

The talk of her continued for years after.  Donald McDonald, in 1928, put Alice Hawthorne’s racing career into perspective.

RACING AND ROMANCE. (1928, September 15). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1956), p. 2 Supplement: The Argus. Saturday Camera Supplement.. Retrieved October 3, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article395692


Spring Fashion

Spring has arrived and a girl’s thoughts turn to a new season’s wardrobe.   This was no different in 1940, 1900 and even 1860 with retailers promoting new season’s trends from as early as July.  Ladies in Western Victoria would have required their woollens for a few more months , but a new Spring outfit was necessary for the milder days and social outings.

Mr David Jones was offering a “Grand Show” of spring wear at his shop on Main Road, Ballarat in 1858.

Advertising. (1858, September 15). The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 – 1864), p. 1. Retrieved August 26, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article66050200

In 1862, the Old Criterion Store on Main Road Ballarat offered 1000 parasols for sale, perfect  to keep the Australian sun’s harsh rays at bay.

Advertising. (1862, October 13). The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 – 1864), p. 1. Retrieved August 26, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article66327869

A sample of spring fashions from 1878.

Spring Fashions. (1878, September 7). Illustrated Sydney News (NSW : 1853 – 1872), p. 7. Retrieved August 26, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article63335118

Spring fashions for the elegant lady of 1885.

[No heading]. (1885, August 24). The Australasian Sketcher with Pen and Pencil (Melbourne, Vic. : 1873 – 1889), p. 133. Retrieved August 26, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-page5739497

The following article appeared in the Portland Guardian on August 1881and offered spring fashion tips for the ladies of the Western District.  White, all shades of red and heliotrope were the colours of the season.  Grey was the new black and black was back.  Cashmere and plaid wool fabrics were popular as were ribbons and beading for embellishment.

THE LADIES’ COLUMN. (1888, August 31). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 3 Edition: EVENING, Supplement: SUPPLEMENT TO THE PORTLAND GUARDIAN. Retrieved August 26, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article63589936

The 20th century arrived but fashion was so last century.

THE LADIES’ COLUMN. (1905, July 25). Camperdown Chronicle (Vic. : 1877 – 1954), p. 6. Retrieved August 31, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article30351894

Fashion began to evolve during World War 1.  One change was dress length, with hems going up to save material.  An interesting website Fashion Era offers further examples of fashion during this period.

SPRING FASHIONS. (1915, August 4). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1956), p. 12. Retrieved August 31, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article1544786

T

These dresses from 1918 show traditional styles were still popular.

Spring Fashions. (1916, September 2). The Prahran Telegraph (Vic. : 1889, 1914 – 1918), p. 7. Retrieved August 28, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article74835347

But things were changing and this dress, also from 1918, is an example of that.

COMING FASHIONS. (1918, July 10). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1956), p. 12. Retrieved August 28, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article1404142

I love this stylish advertisement for Allans The Drapers of Fibrace street Horsham from 1927.

Advertising. (1927, September 2). The Horsham Times (Vic. : 1882 – 1954), p. 5. Retrieved August 29, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article72996175

Fancy the Phryne Fisher look?

FASHION FORECASTS. (1928, August 3). The Horsham Times (Vic. : 1882 – 1954), p. 8. Retrieved August 29, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article72676520

I can’t resist sharing more of the wonderful 1920s fashions, again from the “Horsham Times”.

Advertising. (1929, October 4). The Horsham Times (Vic. : 1882 – 1954), p. 9. Retrieved August 29, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article72672337

Another stylish look,  this time from 1930.

Woman’s Interests. (1930, July 3). Border Watch (Mount Gambier, SA : 1861 – 1954), p. 6. Retrieved August 29, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article78010734

The Great Depression saw a rise in the number of sewing columns in the newspapers.  This article gave advice on how to recycle a frock.  The full article is here

“THE ARGUS” SHOOPING PAGE. (1930, August 8). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1956), p. 12. Retrieved August 26, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article4104490

Patterns were back for Spring 1935.

Gay Patterns for Spring Frocks. (1935, August 14). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1956), p. 15. Retrieved August 29, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article11757450

World War 2 saw a dramatic drop in the number of “spring fashion” articles in the papers, more so than the Great War.  The years 1942, 1943 and 1944 had very few and those I found were mostly for sewing patterns.   Families relied on coupons to buy goods, there was rationing of goods including fabrics and the fashion houses of Paris closed.  If a woman wanted to keep up appearances, there was little alternative but to make a frock or remodel one from last season.  The latter half of the 1940s saw a rapid increase in fashion articles as women turned again to the fashion stages of Europe for inspiration and cast aside their drab wartime clothing.

BE CHIC… but coupon canny. (1942, October 17). The Australian Women’s Weekly (1933 – 1982), p. 7. Retrieved August 31, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article46446873

A few bright notions to cope with a war budget. (1942, January 10). The Australian Women’s Weekly (1933 – 1982), p. 24 Section: Fashion Portfolio. Retrieved August 31, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article54876753

Shock, horror “Hems to go higher” in 1952.  Just wait until the 60s!

Hems to go higher. (1952, May 21). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1956), p. 5. Retrieved August 26, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article23197518

I could have continued to the 1960s but that would have gone on for some time as I do like the fashion particularly from the latter half of the decade. I could have gone on to the 70s too.  While fashion from that decade was much maligned during the 1980s, anyone who saw Paper Giants: The Birth of Cleo was reminded of the great fashions of the 1970s.  I think the 1980s would have pulled it up though. Agreed?

Looking at  fashions of  different eras is beneficial to the family historian especially if you are trying to date photos.  It also gives us some idea of what our female ancestors might have endured for either the sake of fashion or managing with what was available.  The long, impractical dresses of the 19th and early 20th century make me think of my ggg grandmothers on farms, getting in and out of buggies and tending fires for washing and cooking.  Consider how your grandmothers or great grandmothers managed during the Depression when money was tight or  World War 2 with coupons and rationing.  No wonder my Nana was good at sewing, darning and knitting. It was a necessity.

***If you are interested in learning how your female ancestors washed their big dresses during the 1850s, the Sovereign Hill Education blog has great posts on washing, drying and ironing.


Portland’s Immigration Wall

Portland’s Immigration wall  is a great way to remember those ancestors who first set foot in Australia at the harbour town.  Located on the “Ploughed Field” opposite the Portland hospital and overlooking Portland Bay, the wall has plaques unveiled by grateful descendants of early pioneers to the south-west of Victoria.

The “Ploughed Field” is where Edward Henty ploughed the first sod of earth in Victoria in 1834 with the Henty plough, on display at Portland’s History House.

Some of the families remembered:

Both William and Isabella Robb are buried at the Old Portland Cemetery.

I know a little of Richard and Jane Price thanks to their grandson’s marriage to my first cousin 3 x removed.  Allan James Price married Ada Harman, daughter of Alfred Harman, in 1911.  One of the organisers, Lynn Price,  invited me to the unveiling of the plaque and family reunion in 2009.  I met Lynn via the Rootsweb Western District mailing list.  It was disappointing I was unable to attend as a lot of time has gone into remembering the Price family.  This is seen at the Price family website.   It has photos of the reunion as well as a later event, the unveiling of headstone for Richard and Jane at the Heywood cemetery in 2010.

For more information on how you can see your family on the Immigration Wall, go to the Glenelg Shire website.

I hope one day plaques will be on the wall for my ggg grandparents James and Sarah Harman and William and Margaret Diwell and daughters Elizabeth and Sarah Diwell, all of whom first set foot on Australian shores at Portland Bay off the “Duke of Richmond“.


M is for…Methodist

This really should have been a post for the “W” week of the Gould Genealogy Alphabet challenge, but I have another “W” word in mind for that week (guess which word that will be).  To be precise,  “W is for…Wesleyan Methodist” would have been more apt as it is the branch of Methodism that the Harman family followed, but due to an overload of “W”‘s, I’ll turn it upside down and make it “M is for…Methodist”.

What did I know about Methodism before I discovered the Harman’s faith?  Nothing except for a link to temperance.  Therefore, over the years I have tried to find out more about the religion as I think it is definitive in finding out more of what the Harmans were really like, especially James and his brother Walter who were Local Preachers with the church.

It was the role of  local preacher that I discovered was one of the characteristics of Methodism.  This from the “Advocate” of Burnie on August 16, 1952 gives something of the background:

The Methodist Local Preacher. (1952, August 16). Advocate (Burnie, Tas. : 1890 – 1954), p. 12. Retrieved August 6, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article69442373

I have also found that James did preach at Hamilton Methodist Church on occasions, found in the history  Uniting we now stand : a history of the Hamilton Methodist Church  by Joan A. Smith (1999).  The Hamilton church was originally at 41 McIntyre Street before moving to Lonsdale Street in 1913.  In May this year a gathering was held recognising 150 years of Methodism in Hamilton.

The Byaduk Methodist Church built 1864, was the first church in the town and a weatherboard Sunday School was added in 1889.  Located on the Hamilton/Port Fairy Road which runs through the town the Byaduk church, along with the Hamilton church,  are now Uniting Churches.  This cam about after three churches, the Methodist, Presbyterian and Congregational came together in 1977.

FORMER BYADUK METHODIST CHURCH

Prior to the Byaduk church’s construction services were held in the home of John B. Smith, an early leader of the Wesleyan Methodist Church in Victoria.   In 1866, Smith went to Portland  and travelled a circuit which took him throughout the south-west.  His recollections were published in The Portland Guardian of June 25, 1928.  If you have Kittson, Lightbody or Hedditch links, this is worth reading in full.

Early Methodsim. (1928, June 25). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 3 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved August 6, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64266132

Smith was also a co-author of the book The Early Story of the Wesleyan Methodist Church in Victoria  available online.  Of course there is a lot in the book about John Smith himself who “.. had a clear grasp of the plan of salvation, and a touching and pathetic way of speaking of the “wrath to come”.”(p.269).

Also of Smith:

“The well-worn family Bible used morning, noon, and night for family worship, told of his love for the Psalms and the words of the Lord Jesus and few could use them (even the deep vast words of the fourth gospel), or the plaintive phrases of the Psalms, or the less familiar lines of shaded beauty found in our Hymn Book, with greater feeling and effect” (p269)

The influence of this holy man of God and of other kindred spirits make Byaduk a bright spot in the Hamilton Circuit, while the personal worth and , social standing of Mr. Peter Learmonth as a Christian and a citizen, and the active sympathy and generous help of the Wissins’ and Learmonths’ on the one hand, and the uno-rudsins labours of devoted Local Preachers on the other, have served to sustain the cause and comfort the Minister’s heart”(p270)

Peter Fraser in Early Byaduk Settlers, describes an early Methodist service at Byaduk:

“They conducted the services differently from now.  In singing hymns. the preacher read a verse and the congregation sang the verse, then he read another and the congregation sang it and so on to the end of the hymn.  In prayers, most of the congregation knelt; and when the preacher was praying, some in the congregation would sing out AMEN, BE IT SO HALLELUIAH and other words, while others in the congregation would grunt and groan all the time, but it must have been a nuisance to the preacher as the Methodist Ministers stopped it many years ago.” (p. 14)

Peter also names some of the local preachers of which there was an abundance.  They included Mr John Henry Oliver senior, father-in-law of Jonathon and Reuben Harman, and his son John Henry junior.  Also Daniel Love, John Holmes and Samuel Clarke, just to name a few.  George Holmes senior, father in law of Julia Harman, was superintendent of the Sunday School for over 40 years.

James and Walter seemed the most devout of the Harman family, with both spreading the word as local preachers. Also, Walter and his wife Lydia established the Sunday School at Ensay and Walter travelled many miles preaching.  Walter’s son Henry was an elder of the Omeo Methodist Church and I have previously told the story of the Omeo Methodist Minister Ronald Griggs .  The church closed ranks around Griggs and continued to support him at the time of his murder trial in 1928.

The post In Search of the Extraordinary Monster looks at the Port Fairy Methodist church.  Port Fairy was the home of the Harman family before they moved to Byaduk

Reuben James Harman, son of James and my gg grandfather,  was buried in the Methodist section of the Ballarat New Cemetery, with the faith continuing on to the next generation.

GRAVE OF REUBEN JAMES HARMAN & EMMA LORDEN – BALLARAT NEW CEMETERY

I know there is so much more to find about the Harman family link to the Wesleyan Methodist Church.  My ggg grandfather was a great servant of the church and saw some changes during its development in Byaduk and Hamilton.   He was still alive when the Hamilton Methodist Church moved to Lonsdale Street, but  a major change occurred a year after his death.  In 1917, the Methodist Church of Australia at its Melbourne conference ruled that local preachers were to become known as lay preachers.

METHODIST CONFERENCE. (1917, May 26). Examiner (Launceston, Tas. : 1900 – 1954), p. 6 Edition: DAILY. Retrieved August 7, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article50927004

A post on the website Gospel Australia, has a great post “Poor Old Tom Brown”.  I have included the link but now the site is only working intermittently.   It  describes a man who was a Local Preacher in New South Wales and he is very much how I imagine James Harman to have been.

If you have Western District family  who were Methodists, I highly recommend you read the The Early Story of the Wesleyan Methodist Church in Victoria.  Various towns throughout the Western District were represented along with many names.  Other areas of Victoria are also covered.

If any one has any idea how I can get a copy of  Uniting we now stand : a history of the Hamilton Methodist Church  I would love to hear from you.  There is a copy in the reference section of the Hamilton Library but it would be nice to have a copy of my own.

There is one question about the Harmans and their Methodist faith that I may never have answered.  Why did Joseph Harman, father of James and Walter, change his religion from Methodist to Presbyterian by the time of his death in 1893?  Mentioned in his obituary in “The Hamilton Spectator” it has had me wondering ever since I first read it.

 


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