Category Archives: Western District History

Passing of the Pioneers – A Year On

PASSING OF THE PIONEERS. (1927, November 14). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 3 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved July 21, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64259147

On July 22, 2011, I posted the first Passing of the Pioneers and 12 months on I am preparing to post the 13th edition.

There are now over 180 links to Western Victorian pioneer obituaries at Western District Families and the 13th edition will see the total go over 200.

Reading all those obituaries has been a privilege and has taken me on a wonderful journey, not only through the history of the Western District, but to place such as game parks in Africa and the silver mines of South America.  The lives I have glimpsed into range from that of gentry to general hand, but all have shared in making Western Victoria the place it is today.

Some of the pioneers were born during the early days of Victoria,  while others dared their lives aboard immigrant ships in the hope of a better life.  Many travelled from the ports to the Western District by bullock wagon on rough tracks, while enduring unfamiliar conditions.  They built houses on land that would one day see towns such as Penshurst, Hamilton and Balmoral grow around them.

The women from the pioneering era deserve recognition.   Some were alone among men, left to bear and raise children and turn their canvas tents or slab huts into homes.  Many endured loneliness, but as towns grew some became involved with community activities such as the church.   Despite their hardships, many of these women’s obituaries noted that even in old age they would reminisce about those times.

Obituaries came after the pioneer “crossed the Great Divide”, penned by someone who too had heard the stories but may not have had all the facts.  That is my warning to you while you read obituaries and in the July 2012 Passing of the Pioneers I will show this with an obituary from my family.

Having said that,  it is the snippets of information within them that make obituaries a worthwhile family history resource.  Names of children and their married names, places of residence, occupations and immigration details are just some of those snippets which you can then test against the relevant records.

Many of the obituaries I have read have moved me, inspired me and led me to further research.   I have listed just some of those, not so much for the achievements of the subject but the stories they tell.  Click on the pioneer’s name to go to their original newspaper obituary or the date to go to the Passing of the Pioneers post where the obituary appeared:

Frederick William BILSTON (August 2011)

Mrs Agnes CHEQUER (November 2011)

Thomas Denton CLARKE (October 2011)

Elizabeth COLE (March 2012)

James DAWSON (April 2012)

Alfred Irvine HOGAN (February 2012)

KITTSON family – James (May 2012), James Trotter (December 2011),  Rebecca (January 2012),  Susannah (June 2012) and Mrs Margaret Kittson (May 2012)

MALSEED family – Fanny Ann (February 2012),  Robert J. (May 2012) ,  Mrs E.A. MALSEED (August 2011) and Mary HEDDITCH  (Mrs James MALSEED) (July 2011)

Finlay McPherson PATON (September 2011)

Joseph Bell PEARSON (July 2011)


Mystery Photos

Isn’t  it frustrating when you find old family photos but don’t who the subjects are?  Not long ago Mum found some photos of Nana’s we didn’t know she had. We don’t know who the people are and we have no one to ask.

I was recently contacted by Catherine Simmins, who has family links to the Western District.  She is facing the same dilemma with some photos passed on to her family some time ago.  Some were identifiable but others remain a mystery.

Catherine asked me if I could post the photos in the hope someone may recognise the subjects.  Alternatively,  if anyone is better at dating photos than myself, help in that area would also be appreciated.

THE PHOTOS

PHOTO 1

Also from Meek’s

PHOTO 2

 

PHOTO 3

The following three photos go together.

PHOTO 4

 

PHOTO 5

 

PHOTO 6

THE CLUES

The Family

Catherine’s family from the Western District included the family names THOMAS, McPHERSON, JONES and McDONALD.

Alfred Charles THOMAS (Catherines great-grandfather) was the son of  William THOMAS and Hannah JONES.  He was born in 1869 at Hamilton.  Alfred married Sarah Ann McPHERSON, the daughter of Angus McPHERSON and Christina McDONALD.

Alfred and Sarah had a large family of 11  children.

Alfred’s obituary lists the names of their children, their married names and locations.

Obituary. (1937, August 5). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 3 Edition: EVENING.. Retrieved July 17, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64276614

Sarah’s obituary:

OBITUARY. (1940, February 26). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 3 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved July 17, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64395373

Of course, there is a good chance that the photos are not of this branch of the THOMAS family but have some link.   Catherine has offered a suggestion as to who the family in Photos 3, 4 and 5 could be.

Sarah Ann McPHERSON’s sister, Margaret Jessie McPHERSON married Donald McBEAN in 1891.  They had five known children:

Jessie Christina Jane born 1891 at Hamilton married Arch. NAISMITH

Alexander Angus born 1895 at Hamilton

Mary Monivae born 1900 at Hamilton

Margaret Murial born 1903 at Hamilton married Alfred BONE

Dorothy Jean born 1913 at Portland

This is the Family Notice for Donald McBean:

Family Notices. (1930, March 6). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 2 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved July 17, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64291722

I think Catherine’s hunch could prove correct given the number of children, their sex and the age differences in the children.  If that is baby Dorothy McBean, the  family photo could be from around 1914.

**My interest piqued when I saw the name Mary Monivae.  Monivae, my former secondary school in Hamilton, named after the Monivae homestead, the school’s first site during the 1950s, was formally owned by Acheson Ffrench and James Thomson.  I wonder if Donald McBean worked at the property or they simply liked the name. I’ll save that one for later!

The Photographer

James Meek, tobacconist and photographer of Gray Street Hamilton took Photos 1 and 2.  The earliest reference I can find of Meek in Hamilton was 1884 when he played a role in the investigations of a well-known murder case of the time “The Pierrepoint Murders”.  Pierrepoint is just out of Hamilton and Meek took a photograph of the murder victim to help with the identification process.  Interestingly a member of my Bishop family found his way into one of the witness statements.

Meek also spent some time in Portland in the mid 1890s

Established August 1842. (1896, February 28). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 2 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved July 17, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article63634459

James Meek appears to have had a studio at Clunes during the early 1900s,  but I have also found references of him in Hamilton up until 1920.  There are a number of  photographs taken by James Meek at Trove

If you think you can help Catherine name the subjects in these wonderful photos, please leave a comment.  It would be much appreciated.


The Hungry Eagle

I had to share this story with you.

John Kirkwood was the father in law of Sarah Ann Reed, the niece of Susan Reed, wife of James Harman.  While checking his rabbit traps, John found a large eagle caught in a trap.  He took the bird to the Hamilton home of Robert Stapylton Bree on North Boundary road.  Bree chained the raptor in the garden to keep other birds away but he got more than he bargained for with the bird’s voracious appetite.

The Portland Guardian, (50th Year of Publication.) With which is incorporated The Portland Mirror. (1892, May 18). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 2 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved June 14, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article65439001

I wonder what happened to the eagle?

Dozens of articles about eagles and hawks caught in rabbit traps abound found at Trove.  Some eagles still flew with the traps attached and one poor bird was reported with a trap attached  for months.

—————————————————

On sad note, 10 years on, in 1902, John Kirkwood succumbed to influenza.  His obituary appeared in The Horsham Times of October 28, 1902.  John had died in the Hamilton Hospital on Wednesday October 22.  On October 31, 1902, the obituary of John’s daughter, 20-year-old Mary Agnes Kirkwood.  She had passed away on  October 26.

OBITUARY. (1902, October 31). The Horsham Times (Vic. : 1882 – 1954), p. 3. Retrieved July 15, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article72851290

 

KIRKWOOD GRAVE – OLD HAMILTON CEMETERY

A search of Trove found that in 1902 there were reports of an influenza epidemic.  The Horsham Times reported many cases in the Wimmera area.  Such was the outbreak,  it had an effect on The Horsham Times.


Portland’s History House

HISTORY HOUSE, PORTLAND

History House in Portland is the place to go to search for your ancestors who lived or arrived in the harbour town.  Located in the former Portland Town Hall, History House offers research facilities and a small museum.

The museum has many reminders of Portland’s early history, in particular the Henty family.

It is not easy taking a photo of a long plough in a narrow room with a fairly ordinary camera, but  I had to give it a go as this in the one and only Henty plough.  While it is famous for it being the first plough used in Victoria, its journey since those early days is interesting.

HENTYS PLOUGH

Maybe this picture does the plough more justice than my own.

THE FIRST PLOUGH USED IN VICTORIA, BY THE HENTY BROTHERS, OF PORTLAND. (1910, September 10). Western Mail (Perth, WA : 1885 – 1954), p. 10. Retrieved July 3, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article38361343

This article from the Portland Guardian of November 18, 1935 describes what happened to the plough after it left the Henty’s possession

HENTY’S PLOUGH. (1935, November 18). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 3 Edition: EVENING.. Retrieved July 3, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64290884

Hugh Lennon, who had the plough on display at his factory in Spotswood, was the manufacturer of the Lennon plough.  This was the plough of choice of James Harman in  local ploughing matches.  It was also the plough of choice for the Kelly gang when making armour.

The plough eventually returned to Portland in 1970.

The next photo is of a model of the house lived in by Joseph Henry Porter and his wife, Sarah Herbertson, in Gawler Street, Portland.  Joseph constructed the house and Sarah furnished it.  I like the detail, even down to  pickets missing off the fence.

The obituary of Joseph Porter was in the June Passing of the Pioneers.  It mentioned he was known for his fine craftsmanship.

MODEL OF 42 GAWLER STREET, PORTLAND

While this isn’t the best photo, I had to share it.  It depicts the meeting of Major Thomas Mitchell and the Henty brothers, a significant time in the history of the Western District.  My post “Ghosts of Yesteryear” tells the story of this chance meeting.

MAJOR MITCHELL AND THE HENTY BROTHERS

Mary McKillop spent some time in Portland and an exhibit commemorates this, complete with the spires from the original Roman Catholic church in Portland.

MARY MacKILLOP DISPLAY

The Portland Rocket Shed is next to History House.  The shed was built in 1886 by George Sedgewick who was the gg grandfather of Ann, a follower of this blog.  Fully restored, the shed has a display inside which includes a rocket launcher  used to fire ropes to boats in distress.

ROCKET SHED

For more photos, better than my own, check out ABC South West Victoria’s report  on History House’s renovation in 2010 http://www.abc.net.au/local/stories/2010/02/17/2822431.htm.  There was also a report at the time of Mary MacKillop’s canonization http://www.abc.net.au/local/stories/2010/10/12/3035824.htm


In The News – June 22, 1877

Today’s “In the News” is from the The Portland Guardian of June 22, 1877 with the featured article from the Hamilton correspondent, filed on June 16, 1877.

The weather in Hamilton at the time was not dissimilar to the current weather and the streets and footpaths were muddy.  The cheeky correspondent suggested that the residents of Hamilton would not be thinking well of the town engineer after their foot drenching walk to church on Sunday.

HAMILTON. (1877, June 22). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 3 Edition: EVENINGS.. Retrieved June 20, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article63338700

Hare hunting was a popular sport of the time, with the weather not stopping the keen participants.

Australian Rules football was well under way in the Western District by 1877.

The papers reported disease of all types.  Typhoid fever was prevalent in the navvy’s (railway builders)camp by the Grange Burn in June 1877 and conditions were far from comfortable.   Diphtheria had also been reported, however the source was unreliable having given a false report of typhus fever in the past.

HAMILTON. (1877, June 22). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 3 Edition: EVENINGS.. Retrieved June 22, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article63338700


Volcanoes Revisited

I wrote about the volcanoes of Western Victorian and the South-East of South Australia in the post “Western District Volcanoes – Are They Sleeping?”.  It has been a popular topic so I thought I would share this new video found at You Tube about the volcanoes of Mt. Gambier, South Australia by Geoff Oliver.

This is the first in a series Geoff will present on the Volcanic sites in the area including the south-west of Victoria.  I look forward to seeing if Geoff will visit the Harman Valley.


Old Portland Cemetery – Part 2

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

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

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

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

HEADSTONE OF WILLIAM WHEELER (1776-1848)

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

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

GRAVES OF JAMES FAWTHROP AND HIS STEPSON JAMES WARD

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

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

THE PORTLAND LIFEBOAT CAPTAINED BY JAMES FAWTHROP

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

ROSEVEAR FAMILY GRAVE

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

TRANGMAR FAMILY GRAVE


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