Called by God

While writing the history of the Harmans of Byaduk, I immersed myself into the family’s daily lives and at times felt as though I was there with them.  With my ggg grandfather James Harman, I was among the congregation at the Byaduk Methodist Church and traversed the countryside as he conducted his Local Preacher duties. I attended sheep and Pastoral and Agriculture (P&A) shows and learnt the finer points of tilling the soil at ploughing matches.  I  felt James’ pride in 1907 as he stood with his fellow pioneers and friends for a photograph before his beloved Byaduk Methodist  Church and shared his satisfaction when he won a Lincoln ram at the Hamilton P&A show.

BYADUK PIONEER DAY - March 27, 1907.  JAMES HARMAN (Back Row, 6th from right), JONATHAN HARMAN (Back Row, 5th from right), ELIZABETH OLIVER, widow of REUBEN HARMAN (Front row, 2nd from right).  Photo courtesy of the Hamilton History Centre.

BYADUK PIONEER DAY – March 27, 1907. JAMES HARMAN (Back Row, 6th from right), JONATHAN HARMAN (Back Row, 5th from right), ELIZABETH OLIVER, widow of REUBEN HARMAN (Front row, 2nd from right). Photo courtesy of the Hamilton History Centre.

Yesterday I “visited” James again and felt something I had not felt before.

The post False Alarm, revealed my ongoing frustration of not  having an obituary written about  James Harman, my favorite ancestor. One like those written for his brothers  Jonathan and Walt, lengthy, information packed tributes that told me much about the type of men they were.  An obituary for James in the Hamilton Spectator came close but I wanted more.

Just a few weeks before my thesis was due, the newspaper the Spectator and Methodist Chronicle (Melbourne 1914-1918) came online at Trove and there was an obituary for James.  Unfortunately the article was still undergoing quality control checks so the wait was on.  My “Electronic Friend” would send  an email when the article was ready to go but no amount of checking my inbox made the article come.  The submission date for my thesis came and went and still the article was unavailable.  Yesterday it was ready.

The obituary was signed by W.H.G  and knowing something of the Byaduk Methodist Church helped me identify the author as the Reverend William Herbert Guard who presided over the church at the time of James’ death . His tribute answered one of my questions about James.  When did he become involved with the Wesleyan Methodist Church?  Was it when he arrived in Port Fairy in 1852?  Or when the family spent some time at Muddy Creek before going to Byaduk.  Muddy Creek had  a strong Methodist community of Wesleyans, Primitives and Reformers who had arrived via Port Fairy.  But, according to Reverend Guard, James’ commitment to Methodism began before leaving Cambridgeshire.

Reverend Guard visited James in his last days and recounted those visits but it was his recollections of James’ final hours that were the most powerful.  “I’m going home” a weakening James told him and then in his last moments James raised his hand and uttered his last word “Coming” and with that he passed away. James was ready to meet his God.   Many obituaries describe the last moments of a person’s life but often in a clinical fashion. W.H.G.’s description was spiritual.  Such was James’ devotion it could be nothing less.

James was not just “going home” to God, his beliefs gave him faith that  he was also going home to my ggg Grandmother  Susan Reed.  The obituary confirmed for me the bond he shared with Susan, forged over 64 years.  Susan died on April 10, 1916 and James on August 13 in the same year and I have always thought their the few months apart was too long a time for James. He had lost the woman who gave him the strength to go on and after only four months they were reunited at the Byaduk Cemetery.

 

TOGETHER AGAIN

TOGETHER AGAIN

There is little information about Susan’s life besides her birth, death and children in-between.  But she was with James when they left Melbourn, Cambridgeshire as newlyweds and endured a forgettable voyage on the Duke of Richmond.  She travelled with him from the port of Portland to Port Fairy for James’ first employment in Victoria and together they endured the pioneering life at Byaduk.  No doubt she sat up late into the night waiting for James to return from church meetings and sheep shows in neighbouring towns.

Reverend Guard brought to my attention something about Susan I did not know and it was sad to read of her blindness in her last years.  That is now obvious when I look at her in this treasured photo passed on to me by James and Susan’s great-grandson Mike Harman.

JAMES & SUSAN HARMAN.  Photo courtesy of Mike Harman & family.

JAMES & SUSAN HARMAN. Photo courtesy of Mike Harman & family.

On reaching the end of Reverend Guard’s tribute, chills had come over me and  tears filled my eyes.  Since that first reading I have thought often of those last hours of James’ life with sadness.  After the many emotions I have felt while researching James’ life, for the first time I was feeling grief.  It  is the only time I have felt that emotion about my long departed ancestors.  Usually such discoveries evoke feelings of jubilation such as the revelation  my ggg Grandmother Ellen Barry died in a house fire caused by her insobriety or  learning my gg aunt Ellen Harman dropped dead on the floor while cooking breakfast for her son.  While I did feel sad for their unfortunate passing, in the back of my mind was the thought “That will be good for the family history”.  But the tears that came to my eyes when reading about James was not because this useful information missed my thesis, it was because I felt like I was saying goodbye.

As I snap myself back it into reality, I remind myself that with this never-ending journey that is family history, new stories of James will emerge and I can once again join him on his life’s adventures.

james

jh3

"In Memoriam." Spectator and Methodist Chronicle (Melbourne, Vic. : 1914 - 1918) 11 Oct 1916: .

“In Memoriam.” Spectator and Methodist Chronicle (Melbourne, Vic. : 1914 – 1918) 11 Oct 1916: <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article154270437&gt;.


Trove Tuesday – Friends Wanted

It’s Trove Tuesday and this is my first TT post since June.  I’ve been looking forward to sharing this little find from The Australian Worker (Sydney) .  After coming across these two articles I must say I laughed about their contents for days and all because a typesetter used an “m” instead of a “p.”

The first excerpt is a letter written to the “Children’s Letters” column by my 2nd cousin 3 x removed,  Iris Olive Harman of South Ecklin.  Iris was the daughter of Arthur John Harman and Ellen “Nellie” Matilda Rodgers and was born in 1900 at Cobden,  She was 16 or 17 when she wrote her letter.  Her grandfather was Jonathan Harman of Byaduk.  She had three older brothers who she mentioned in her letter, Arthur Ernest, Frederick Reginald and Edward George.  They were around 20, 24 and 26 in 1918 and all unmarried. Iris’ father had moved to Byaduk to live with his father Jonathan four years earlier and I’m still yet to discover what happened to his and Nellie’s marriage.

Iris was a religious girl from a Methodist background but as an adult she was a member of the Seventh-Day Adventist church and taught bible studies in the churches’ Sabbath schools.  Iris was a spinster until at least the 1954 Electoral Roll and although some researchers have her married after that time, I am yet to confirm it myself.

Knowing that information about Iris, you too will be as shocked (and no doubt amused) as I was when I read her letter:

"CHILDREN'S LETTERS." The Australian Worker (Sydney, NSW : 1913 - 1950) 26 Apr 1917: 11. .

“CHILDREN’S LETTERS.” The Australian Worker (Sydney, NSW : 1913 – 1950) 26 Apr 1917: 11. <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article145807620&gt;.

Oh dear, the scandal.  A young christian girl was in search of “men friends.”

It took three months, but finally an explanation was forthcoming:

"TO CORRESPONDENTS." The Australian Worker (Sydney, NSW : 1913 - 1950) 12 Jul 1917: 13.  .

“TO CORRESPONDENTS.” The Australian Worker (Sydney, NSW : 1913 – 1950) 12 Jul 1917: 13. <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article145807931&gt;.

While I amused myself for days after, relaying the story to anyone who pretended to listen, I must consider the shame such a tiny slip caused as implied in the newspaper’s apology.   In the years following, Nellie, Iris and brother Frederick  packed up and left for Warrnambool for no apparent reason.  Now having found these articles, I’m wondering if the shame brought to the family may have prompted the move.


In the Social Pages

A former Melbourne newspaper  Table Talk (1885-1939), a weekly social publication, had its release online at Trove at few months ago.  It  quickly went on my list of favourite newspapers for the photos, the fashion and the insight into the social life of Victorians, particularly the upper classes.   There was no need for Facebook in those days.  Socialites just had to share their status with Table Talk and friends could read with envy of trips to London, extended stays in fine Melbourne hotels or a day at the local fox hunt.

In a Trove Tuesday post in June, I lamented that I had been unable to find any family members in Table Talk.  I dug a little deeper and finally I found a photo of a 2nd cousin 2 x removed, Pauline Florence Marchant.

 

GEELONG NOTES. (1933, November 16). Table Talk (Melbourne, Vic. : 1885 - 1939), p. 48. Retrieved July 19, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article147259192

GEELONG NOTES. (1933, November 16). Table Talk (Melbourne, Vic. : 1885 – 1939), p. 48. Retrieved July 19, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article147259192

Pauline was the daughter of Percival “Percy” John Marchant and Elsie Annie Hughes of Geelong.  On her paternal side, Pauline was a granddaughter of Samuel Thomas Marchant, a well-known optician from Geelong and later Melbourne, and Emily Jane Entwistle.  On her maternal side, she was the granddaughter of Frederick Charles Hughes and my ggg Aunt Martha Harman of Hamilton.  Pauline was photographed at St Claire, her families’ residence near the Geelong Botanical Gardens.  St Claire is a lovely home and still stands today.  Pauline’s father Percy was also an optician as was her maternal uncle Russell Hughes of Hamilton.

Table Talk is full of Western District people so check it out.

 

 


Passing of the Pioneers

Just a small group of pioneers for the September Passing of the Pioneers.  While the number of obituaries now available are beginning to dwindle after three years of Passing of the Pioneers, time was more of a constraint this month.  On the bright side, it ensures there will still be some pioneer obituaries to share next September.

Margaret GORMAN - Died September 9, 1914 at Mortlake.  Born in Tipperary, Ireland around 1821,  Margaret arrived in Victoria around 1851 .  She married Patrick Finn in 1855 and they settled in the Mortlake district.  Her obituary read, ‘…she was able by her lovable  manner to render and dispense happiness and sunshine wherever she went.’  Patrick died 34 years before Margaret and she left four sons and one daughter.  Margaret was buried at the Mortlake Cemetery.

Charles Turner MEDEW - Died September 1914 at Allansford.  Charles Medew was born in Cheltenham, England in 1837 and arrived in Victoria aboard the ship William around 1857.  Charles settled in Warrnambool and working as a builder  he built two bridges across the Hopkins River.  He selected land near the Warrnambool Cheese and Butter Factory, and in 1914 the site was still known as “Medew’s Corner” although Charles had moved to Melbourne.  Around 1910, Charles built a model airplane and it is now held by Museum Victoria.  Charles was visiting his daughter at Allansford when he died.

Mrs Mary Gillies - Died September 7, 1917 at Ararat. Mary and her husband  Thomas Gillies were originally from Penzance, Cornwall and arrived at Warrnambool in 1854 aboard the Panama with their infant son.  They went  to the Ararat diggings in 1856 were they permanently settled.  The Gillies family grew to 10 sons and seven daughters and by the time of her death, Mary had 28 grandchildren and 19 great-grandchildren.  Even into her last years, Mary could recall the early days of Ararat.  Her funeral saw a large turnout as the people of Ararat paid their last respects to one of their oldest residents.

William Howard – Died September 28, 1916 at Ararat.  William Howard was born in Liverpool, England and arrived in Victoria in 1853.  The following year he hit the diggings, first at Maryborough, then Fiery Creek and on to the Ararat region.  He eventually took up the lease of the Terminus Hotel at Ararat and later he built the Ararat Coffee Palace.  At the time of his death he left a widow and three grandchildren.

Thomas SHENFIELD - Died September 2, 1937 at Cobden.  Thomas Shenfield was born at Camperdown in 1861.  The following year his family moved to Cobden where Thomas lived out his life.  He married Nellie Baker of Cobden and they had six children.  Thomas took an interest in the progress of Cobden and was a director of the Tanadrook Cheese Factory (below).  He was also a member of the Cobden Methodist Church.

TANDAROOK  CHEESE FACTORY.  Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria, J.T. Collins collection.  Image no. H98.251/1632 http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/234397

TANDAROOK CHEESE FACTORY. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria, J.T. Collins collection. Image no. H98.251/1632 http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/234397

 

 

 

 


Maniacs and Milestones

It’s been awhile since I let you know what I’ve been up to.  In just under two weeks (or hopefully before) I will submit a thesis, a history of the Harman family, to the Society of Australian Genealogists for assessment.  It’s been a crazy 12 months and if I had known some of the things life was going to throw at me over the year, I would probably would not have started it.  But I did and I’ve almost made it and I know it will be worth it.

Mania has made its presence felt lately and that’s not just me as I  finish my Harman history.  Rather, the two mystery children of my ggg uncle Jonathan Harman have bestowed their mania upon  me.  A few months back I wrote about Looking for Mary Ann.  Well I found her.  She did not die as a baby as many Harman researchers have assumed, including myself.  Instead, in the years after her mother’s death in 1884, Mary Ann sunk into a deep depression before her admission to the Ararat Asylum in 1893 where she was a patient for six years.  Thirty two years later her brother Jonathan was also admitted and remained there for 15 years.

 

ARARAT ASYLUM

ARARAT ASYLUM. Image Courtesy of the State Library of Victoria, Image no. H32492/2366 http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/63814

Since my suspicions were confirmed I have felt so sad for their father Jonathan.   Despite the death of his wife Mary Oliver at age 41, 46 years before his own death, two children dying as babies and one as a teenager, two children in the Ararat Mental Asylum and an illegitimate grandchild, he was a kind man with a happy demeanor.  I’ve actually grown quite fond of him.   I’ve also been struck at how his life evolved so differently to his brother’s, my ggg grandfather James Harman.  Both settled and farmed in Byaduk until old age and each had 10 children but that’s where the similarities ended.  Yet Jonathan appears to have accepted his lot in life and maybe his Methodist beliefs enabled him not to have feelings of regret or envy toward his brother.  Instead they were close to the end.

While there have not been  many new posts in the past few months , Western District Families has still been passing a few milestones.

Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria J.T.Collins collection.  Image no. H98.252/296 http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/235053

Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria J.T.Collins collection. Image no. H98.252/296 http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/235053

Recently the blog passed 100,000 page views and is now well on the way to 110,000.  There are now  162 of you following the Western District Families blog and 264 people “like” the Facebook page.  Thank you to everyone who has subscribed to the blog or liked the page.  I’ve been  delighted with Western District Families’ rise this year and I think the Facebook page has a lot to thank for that.  While I may not have time to write a blog post, I can always find a moment to share a photo or link or post one of the 300 posts from the past three years.

During August and September I have posted regular articles from the Hamilton Spectator to the Western District Families Facebook page.  The articles are about WW1  but not news from overseas. Rather they are about the war related happenings in Hamilton during that time.  I’m interested in the residents’ first responses,  their changes in attitude toward the war and toward the many people of  German descent living in nearby towns such as Tabor and Hochkirch .  I do know that anti-German sentiment did grow resulting in a change of name for Hochkirch to Tarrington, a safe Anglo-Saxon name taken from the nearby estate once owned by Stephen George Henty.  I’m also keen to see how The Hamilton Spectator reported those matters.

In around two weeks I hope to hit the ground running with some new blog posts and I can’t wait.  I’ve missed it but I have 20 draft posts in various stages of completion and I’m itching to share them.  For “Trove Tuesday” fans, there is also a long list of “Trove Tuesday” type articles ready to go.  So thank you for hanging in there and I’ll be back with you soon.

 


Passing of the Pioneers

A small band of Pioneers come together for August Passing of the Pioneers.  They include the first Mayor of the Borough of  Portland and a crew member of William Dutton’s whale boat.

William McLEAN – Died August 28, 1888 at Port Fairy.  At the time of his death, William McLean had resided at the Port Fairy Benevolent Asylum for 10 years and was known to all as “Old Billy”.  In 1887, he spoke about his life from his time in his birthplace of  Scotland .  William was born around 1790 and when around 20, he joined the navy and was a crewman on the HMS Warspite which brought him to Sydney while escorting convicts in 1822.  After meeting some whalers he decided to jump ship and join them.  The whaling ship belonged to William Dutton, one of the first whalers to Portland Bay and William was with him.

Image Coutesy of the State Library of Victoria.  Image no.  PN05/05/77/00  http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/78495

Image Coutesy of the State Library of Victoria. Image no. PN05/05/77/00 http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/78495

 

When asked who was the first to Portland Bay, William Dutton or the Hentys,  William replied that Dutton and his crew were there long before the Hentys.  Later, William spent time whaling at Port Fairy where he settled.

Mary GRIERSON  - Died August at Port Fairy.  Mary Grierson was born in Scotland in 1827 and arrived in Victoria with her parents in 1839.  They had sailed aboard the David Clark with Port Fairy’s Captain Mills at the helm.  Mary married David Thomas in 1846 and they settled at Rosebrook, near Port Fairy.  They had a family of 12, six girls and six boys.  Mary was a member of the Presbyterian church and her goodwill was known throughout the district.

Thomas BEVAN – Died August 1915 at Colac.  Born in Devonshire, England in 1829, Thomas Bevan arrived in Geelong in 1851.  He moved to Beeac and became a local preacher for the Methodist Church.  Thomas worked hard to build the community and had a strong involvement in all aspects of public affairs.  He was also a musician, with violin and flute his instruments both learnt while still in England.

George HAYNES – Died August 18, 1916 at Port Fairy.  The Port Fairy Town Hall flag flew at half mast the day George Haynes passed away.  George was one of Port Fairy’s earliest residents and the first Mayor of the Borough.  George was born in Staffordshire in 1826 and at the local grammar school.  In 1854, he and his wife travelled to Australia, landing at Melbourne where they remained for around a year.  George then moved on to Port Fairy where he settled and established a merchant business, Haynes and Young.  Married twice, George had seven children from his first marriage.

Advertising. (1915, February 1). Port Fairy Gazette (Vic. : 1914 - 1918), p. 4 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved August 30, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article94722841

Advertising. (1915, February 1). Port Fairy Gazette (Vic. : 1914 – 1918), p. 4 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved August 30, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article94722841

Joseph LEWIS – Died August 27, 1916 at Port Fairy.  Joseph Lewis was born in Staffordshire around 1824  and travelled to Australia aboard the Royal Saxon, landing at Willliamstown, Victoria in 1841Also on board was a relative of Charles Dickens.  After some time working at Little River Joseph travelled to the Grampians with a Mr Dwyer and they attempted to run cattle.  Unsuccessful, Joseph moved on to Port Fairy and purchased the property Glenview,  residing there until old age when he moved into the Port Fairy town.  Joseph left a widow, four sons, four daughters, 32 grandchildren and 18 great-grandchildren.

Denis BERMINGHAM – Died August 17, 1917 at Port Fairy.  Denis Bermingham was from Ireland and arrived in Port Fairy aboard the Chance during the 1850s.  Spending time at Koroit and then Woodlands, Denis worked on the land. After moving to Port Fairy the 1880s, he worked for a few years on the harbour.  Denis and his wife had 13 children, nine of whom were still living at the time of Denis’ death.

Robert LEISHMAN – Died August 28, 1917 at Port Fairy .  Robert Leishman was born in Scotland around 1830 and arrived in Victoria as a boy in the 1850s.  After some time spent at Woodford, he settled at Crossley and for many years ran the farm Cockpen.  He had also spent some time working on Korongah Station, then owned by Messrs. Knight and Lydiard.  It was there, during the 1870s that Robert’s wife passed away.  During their time together they had a family of five.  In the last years of Robert’s life, he moved to Rosebrook and then Bank Street, Port Fairy.

 


Passing of the Pioneers

When I started posting pioneer obituaries under the heading “Passing of the Pioneers” in July 2011, I never imagined that “Passing of the Pioneers” would still be going three years on.  (I didn’t think Western District Families would still be going).  Nor did I expect that I could announce this month marks the posting of the  500th pioneer obituary.  Over the three years, thanks to the stories of those 500 pioneers, the amount I have learnt about Western District history and the families who built that history has been invaluable.  However, the best aspect has been the number of people who have contacted me after finding their pioneering ancestor in the posts.  I hope what I have provided has gone a little way toward them learning more about their ancestors’ lives.

The precis I give for each pioneer summarises the obituary that appeared in the paper when the pioneer passed away.  I don’t check the facts written there, such as ships sailed on or years of arrival.  I do search for the maiden name of married women, simply because I prefer to list them with their maiden names and not Mrs A. Smith, for example.  Sometimes I will search for further information about a pioneer and  in the entry I include links to the sources I have found.  So basically, what I give you is an index to pioneer obituaries with a link to the original and from there you can make what you like of the information provided at the time of the pioneer’s death.  Obituaries are, after all, an inaccurate source as the information contained is second or third hand and rarely do you read of negative characteristics of a person or their failures in life.

Importantly, I must thank Trove Australia because without the digitised newspapers I would never have been able to find the 500 obituaries of some of the Western District’s great pioneers.

You can either search or browse the Passing of the Pioneers obituaries. Search a family name in the search box on the side bar of this page or select “Pioneer Obituaries” in the category box, also on the sidebar.  You can then browse through the 36 posts beginning with the most recent.  Simply click on the name of the pioneer to go to the newspaper obituary. If you find a family member, feel free to comment and give more information if you have any.  Leaving a comment increases your chance of finding someone else researching the same person.

 

____________________________________________________

This month’s pioneers include two men who knew family members of mine with both men being important figures in their respective towns.  There is also a bricklayer, a publican and one of the men who discovered the Londonderry mine at Coolgardie, Western Australia.

 

Hugh MURRAY – Died July 28, 1869 at Colac.  Hugh Murray was born in Scotland about 1814 and arrived in Tasmania with his parents and siblings in 1823.  At the age of 23, Hugh left Tasmania for Victoria and settled on the banks of Lake Colac before there was a town and today is considered  Colac’s first white settler.  Hugh had pastoral interests but also sat as a Magistrate at the local Colac Magistrates Court.  Last month’s Passing of the Pioneers included the obituary of Elizabeth Young of Hobart who married Hugh Murray in 1841.

EARLY SETTLEMENT AT LAKE COLAC c1875, BY NICHOLAS CHEVALIER.  Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria.  Image No.  H3572 http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/81081

EARLY SETTLEMENT AT LAKE COLAC c1875, BY NICHOLAS CHEVALIER. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria. Image No. H3572 http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/81081

Hugh  knew my ggg grandparents Thomas Gamble and Ellen Barry but not in the way one would like their ancestors to be acquainted with an outstanding citizen of Colac.  It started with Thomas Gamble, said to have been employed by Hugh Murray to make bricks for his new home at Lake Colac, thus prompting the Gambles to move from Geelong to Colac. Their relationship soon soured.  As early as 1851, Thomas’ wife Ellen faced Magistrate Murray in the Colac Court of Petty Sessions charged with drunkenness, one of dozens of charges she would face during her life and it certainly wasn’t her first.  On January 1853, Thomas Gamble faced court as the defendant in a case against Hugh Murray.  Although the hand writing in the original register of the Colac Court of Petty Sessions (p.83) is difficult to read, I can make out the words  -  “Thomas Gamble – Charged alleged arson in setting fire to Hugh Murray Esq.”.  Fortunately the case was  dismissed.

Peter LEARMONTH – Died July 19, 1893 at Hamilton.  Peter Learmonth was one of Hamilton’s most prominent citizens from the 1860s to the time of his death, contributing greatly to the growth of that town and the  villages surrounding it.  Born in Scotland in 1821, Peter travelled to Tasmania to meet up with his brother William who had already bought land in that colony.  Gold attracted Peter and he left for the Californian goldfields in the late 1840s.  With no success, he made his way to Victoria in the early 1850s and had good fortune on the Castlemaine goldfields. Getting out while ahead during the mid 1850s, he took up a manager’s job at “Merino Downs” station owned by Francis Henty, but not before marrying Mary Jarvey Pearson at Portland in 1854.  By 1859, Peter purchased “Prestonholme” on the banks of the Grange Burn near Hamilton from George Younger and proceeded to build the Grange Burn Flour Mill.  He later purchased mills at  Byaduk, Sandford and Penshurst.  The homestead at Prestonholme” and the mill still stand today on the Mill Road, Hamilton.

PETER LEARMONTH'S PRESTONHOLME MILL.  Photo courtesy of Denis Steer.

PETER LEARMONTH’S GRANGE BURN MILL. Photo courtesy of Denis Steer.

Not satisfied with his milling empire, Peter established P.Learmonth & Co Stock & Station agents in Gray Street, Hamilton.  Peter’s sons continued the business after his death.

P. LEARMONTH & CO. STOCK & STATION AGENTS. GARY STREET, HAMILTON, WILLIAM TIBBITS (c1896). Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria. Image no. H83.253/1 http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/67235

Peter Learmonth was a member of the Dundas Shire Council for nine years, serving as President for four successive terms, a record he still holds.  He was also one of the first councillors of the Borough of Hamilton.   Peter was one of the driving  forces behind the Hamilton & Western District Boys College and Alexandra Girls School, two schools that built Hamilton’s foundations as an education town.

 

HAMILTON COLLEGE.  Image Courtesy of the State Library of Victoria, J.T.Collins Collection.  Image no. H97.250/74 http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/229855

HAMILTON COLLEGE. Image Courtesy of the State Library of Victoria, J.T.Collins Collection. Image no. H97.250/74 http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/229855

 

ALEXANDRA COLLEGE, [No heading]. (1874, July 11). The Australasian Sketcher with Pen and Pencil (Melbourne, Vic. : 1873 - 1889), p. 52. Retrieved July 24, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-page5985586

ALEXANDRA COLLEGE, [No heading]. (1874, July 11). The Australasian Sketcher with Pen and Pencil (Melbourne, Vic. : 1873 – 1889), p. 52. Retrieved July 24, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-page5985586

The Hamilton Hospital was another of Hamilton’s institutions that Peter Learmonth helped set up and was President of the Hospital for 18 years.

HAMILTON HOSPITAL.  Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria, Image no. H32492/2732 , http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/63599

HAMILTON HOSPITAL. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria, Image no. H32492/2732 , http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/63599

 

Two of  Peter Learmonth’s  children married into families that were also influential in Hamilton ‘at the time.  Eldest son James Allan Learmonth married Annie Thomson, daughter of John Thomson of Monivae in 1886.  A daughter Mary, married the son of another prominent Hamilton man, David Laidlaw jnr, son of saddler and self-made man, David Laidlaw.  Mary’s obituary appeared in April 2013 Passing of the Pioneers.  Messrs. Learmonth, Laidlaw and Thomson were a force to be reckoned with and include Peter’s brother, Alex Learmonth,  also a man of much influence, and it is not surprising that they were able to grow Hamilton into one of Victoria’s most eminent towns.

Later in life, Peter purchased land in Mexico and gave his share to two of his sons.  He also purchased “Correa Estate” near Dunkeld and pursued pastoral interests with much success.

A supporter of the temperance movement, Peter was president of the Total Abstinence Society and the work of he and John Thomson, saw a Temperance Hall opened in Kennedy Street, Hamilton.  They obtained an existing building and converted it to suit the needs of the Society.

As I write my Harman family history and delve into the local histories of Byaduk and Hamilton, Peter Learmonth comes up time and again.  A Methodist, he knew my ggg grandfather James Harman and at one stage James was acting as an agent for farm machinery on Peter’s behalf.   James’ daughter Julia married George Holmes jnr, the son of George Holmes who was a manager of the Grange Burn mill before managing the Byaduk mill.  George Jnr worked at the Penshurst mill and took over the Sandford mill with his brothers.

Peter Learmonth passed away at his home at “Prestonholme” .  He was 74.

Sources:

Dundas Shire Centenary, 1863-1963. Hamilton Spectator for the Dundas Shire Council, [Hamilton, Vic.], 1963.

Garden, Donald S. (Donald Stuart) and Hamilton (Vic.). Council Hamilton, a Western District history. City of Hamilton in conjunction with Hargreen, North Melbourne, 1984.

Glenelg & Wannon Settlers (website)

Macdonald, Anita Mariposa : a story of the Learmonths of western Victoria and Mexico, 1834-1930. Heatherleigh Publishing, [Melbourne], 1982.

John SYMONS – Died July 10, 1914 at Hamilton.  Born in Cornwall around 1828, John Symons’ trade was ship’s carpenter and after his arrival at Portland in 1854, his skills were in demand with much building work required. From Portland, John moved to Balmoral before settling at the Wannon, near Hamilton.  John farmed but was also a contractor for the Roads Board and later the local Shires.  One of his most important works in the district was constructing the bridge over the Wannon River at Redruth, a necessity to enable travel from Hamilton to Coleraine and beyond.  Timber for the bridge was cut using pit saws and John did much of that work himself.  During his marriage, John and his wife raised 11 children with seven still living at the time of his death.

William DUNN – Died July 1, 1914 at Box Hill.  William Dunn arrived in Victoria in 1855 from Somersetshire aboard the “Raven’s Craig”.  After two years in Geelong, he rode by horseback to Hamilton, his home for the next 44 years.  As a bricklayer and builder he constructed the Victoria and Colonial banks in Hamilton with William Holden and  Budock Vean, a home in French Street, Hamilton still standing today.  A devout Methodist, he held various positions within the church.

FORMER BANK OF VICTORIA, GRAY STREET, HAMILTON.  Image courtesy of the J.T. Collins collection, State Library of Victoria.  Image no.   H97.250/89 http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/230031

FORMER BANK OF VICTORIA, GRAY STREET, HAMILTON. Image courtesy of the J.T. Collins collection, State Library of Victoria. Image no. H97.250/89
http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/230031

Jane DONNELLY  - Died July 1, 1914 at Hawkesdale.  Born in Ireland around 1834, Jane Jenkins arrived in Australia in the 1860s, settling at Myamyn.  She married William Walshe and they raised six children.  In the meantime,  Jane established the Foresters Hotel at Myamyn and ran a store to cater for the many carriers who used the town as a stopover on their travels.  After the death of her husband , Jane remarried to William Jenkins in 1883 and for a time ran the former Victoria Hotel at Portland.

John MUNRO – Died July 1914 at Hotspur.  John Munro was born in Scotland around 1833 and sailed to Hobsons Bay aboard the “Champion of the Seas” in 1854.  Gold must have been his primary reason for coming to Victoria as he spent time around the various diggings before travelling to New Zealand and the goldfields of Otago.  After two years he returned and took up residence at Portland and married in 1867.  For many years he was a storekeeper and post office operator.  He also engaged in farming pursuits and in the early 1890s took up land at Hotspur.  At the time of his death he left a widow and nine children.  He was buried at the Hotspur Cemetery.

Alexander John McLEAN – Died July 23, 1915 at Hamilton.  Alexander McLean was born in Scotland around 1836 and arrived in Sydney as a three-year old with his parents.  They later moved to Victoria, taking up residence at Tower Hill.  From there, Alexander went on to Myamyn and then Macarthur where he was a founding member of the Methodist Church.  Alexander enjoyed telling stories of the pioneer days, before bridges spanned creeks or railways traversed the countryside.  Alexander and his wife had nine children.

Sarah Ann FARNHAM - Died July 21, 1916 at Hamilton.  Born in Somersetshire, England around 1839, Sarah Ann Farnham arrived at Portland  in 1858.  She married Andrew Lockie at Portland in 1860 and by 1866 they had moved to Hamilton were Andrew ran a saddlery business.  Leaving a family of six children and her husband, Sarah Ann was buried at the Hamilton Old Cemetery.

Mary SAVIN – Died July 1918 at Muddy Creek.  Mary Savin was born in Oxfordshire and sailed to Victoria with her parents in 1853.  Around 1855, the family travelled north to Muddy Creek where they settled.  Two years later, Mary married John Addinsall and they had a family of 12 children.  Like many of the early settlers at Muddy Creek, Mary was a Methodist and it was in a crowded Muddy Creek Methodist Church where Mary was given her last farewell.

John HUXLEY – Died July 21, 1918 at Portland.  John Huxley was born in Portland around 1863.  During the 1890s, John travelled to Western Australia, lured by the discovery of gold, but unlike the other July pioneers who chose to seek their fortunes, John struck gold in a big way.  John and several other men discovered the rich Londonderry mine at Coolgardie, Western Australia.  Having made his fortune, John returned to Victoria and purchased the Straun Estate at Merino.  A keen racehorse owner, one of John’s big successes came less than a year before his death, when his horse the Ruralist, trained by James Agnew of Hamilton, won the Great Western Steeplechase at Hamilton in September 1917.  The horse was also a two-time Brierly Steeplechase winner at Warrnambool.  John passed away at his seaside home “Kenly” at Portland and was buried at the South Portland cemetery.

Christina Emily FORD - Died July 26, 1931 at Hamilton.  Christina Ford was born in Macarthur in 1880 into a well-known pioneering family.  In 1905, she married William Baker and they moved to Portland and  raised nine children.  Christina was a keen volunteer for the Portland Football Club and was a member of the Australian Women’s National League.

Charles HOLDER – Died July 21, 1922 at Warrnambool.  The story of Charles Holder’s life appeared in the Portland Guardian on September 28, 1931, nine years after his death and it gives a great account of Melbourne and Victoria in the 1840s.  Charles Holder was born in Bristol, England around 1838 and from the moment he set sail on the “Wardshipton” as a three-year old with his parent and siblings, his great pioneering life had begun.  The voyage in 1841, with almost 300 other immigrants was harsh with 24 deaths including 22 children.  Three of those children were Charles’ young sisters.  Arriving at Hobson’s Bay, Charles, his parents and two remaining siblings, took a steamer along the Yarra River to Melbourne.

MELBOURNE 1841.  Image Courtesy of the State Library of Victoria,  Image no. H6262/2  http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/87604

MELBOURNE 1841. Image Courtesy of the State Library of Victoria, Image no. H6262/2 http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/87604

After spending time on stations around Melbourne, including Dandenong as a boy and young teenager, Charles made his way to the Western District, working at the “The Gums” between Caramut and  Penshurst.  By that time, it was the early 1850s, and Charles headed to the Bendigo diggings but like so many his luck was out and he returned to the west of the state, working at Grassmere near Warrnambool.  In the early 1860s, he selected his own land at Cooramook and remained there for the rest of his life.

An obituary in the The Register (Adelaide) on September 2, 1922 , published at the time of Charles’ death has further detail of his pioneering life.

Ellen OSBOURNE - Died July 15, 1934 at Hamilton.  Born at Portland, Ellen Osbourne married local builder Thomas Cruse and they continued to resided at Portland .  She raised a family and was a devoted member of the Church of England.   Prior to her death, Ellen had been ill for many weeks and as a consequence was admitted to Kia Ora Private Hospital at Hamilton.   Ellen needed a blood transfusion but unlike today when we take  for granted stocks of blood at hospitals,  in 1934 there wasn’t a Red Cross Blood Bank.  Therefore, Ellen’s son donated the blood required for the transfusion.  Unfortunately it was not enough to save his mother.

 


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