This week’s Trove Tuesday article from the Portland Guardian and Normanby General Advertiser is not an enjoyable read, but it is a reminder of the changes in attitude towards our environment and the creatures that inhabit it. In 1867, a bird hunting cat was a thing to celebrate but remember this was a time when sparrow matches and other bird shooting was popular, so please think no less of Mrs Simpson of Bridgewater . The poor bird involved was a “land rail bird”, most likely the endangered Lewin’s Rail , a small native water bird found in the south-west of Victoria.
Tag Archives: Bridgewater
I thought I would share this snippet from the “Portland Guardian” of February 24, 1904. The single men of Bridgewater had a lot to think about while milking the cows during the leap year of 1904.
Seventeen more obituaries of Western District pioneers join the collection this month, and what a group they are. I must say I had to pass a lot over, but it will ensure Passing with the Pioneers will be going to at least January 2014! New papers at Trove has guaranteed that. Obituaries came from the “Portland Guardian“, “Horsham Times” and “Ballarat Courier“.
There are a couple of special ones, those of James Henty and Rebecca Kittson and I highly recommend that you read the obituary in full. I actually found Rebecca’s obituary rather moving and after driving through the Bridgewater area recently, I have great respect for her family and others that settled there. To read the full obituary, just click on the pioneer’s name and the obituary will open in a new tab. Some are a little hard to read, but magnifying the page helps.
I have also included a “young” pioneer who has a family link to me. Thank you to Rachael Boatwright for allowing me to include a photo of her family member.
James HENTY – Died January 12, 1882, Richmond, Victoria. I thought trash magazines today told all, but the obituary of the Honourable James Henty M.L.C. shared every detail of the last 24 hours or so his life. How can I possible give a summary of the life of James Henty, one of the famous pioneering Henty clan? Instead, read the obituary, it is great! Sadly I think James’ life may have ended prematurely, if that is possible at 82, due to a collision with a Newfoundland dog the week before.
Hugh MCDONALD – Died January 30, 1899, Portland. This is a timely obituary coming so soon after my Portland trip. While there, I learnt something of the wreck of the steamer “Admella” in 1859 and the Portland life boat crew that went to her aid. Hugh McDonald was one of the brave men on board the life boat during that daring rescue.
William GARDINER – Died January 17, 1904, Warracknabeal. William Gardiner, another pioneer with an interesting life. He arrived in Victoria in 1849 aboard the barque “Saxon” and spent time in Melbourne, Geelong and the goldfields, before heading to New Zealand. On his return to Australia, he lived in Port Fairy and Hamilton, working as a journalist, before moving to the Wimmera as a correspondent for the “Belfast Gazette”. He like it so much, he decided to select land at Warracknabeal. He also worked as a correspondent for the “Horsham Times” and built houses!
Jean MccCLINTOCK – Died January 19, 1904, Melbourne. While only 40 at the time of her death and not an “old pioneer”, I have included Jean as she was the sister-in-law of Alfred Winslow Harman. Jean married William Miller and they resided at Rupanyup. After some illness, Jean travelled to Melbourne for an operation, but she died as a result.
Joseph JELBART – Died January 17, 1904, Carapook. Joseph worked as the mail contractor between Carapook and Casterton up until his death. Prior to that he had worked as a blacksmith and a wheelwright at Chetwynd, Merino and Natimuk. Interesting coincidence, just as Joseph did, his father and brother both died on a Sunday morning in the same house.
Mrs HEDDITCH – Died January 15, 1904, Lower Cape Bridgewater. Mrs Hedditch and her husband Richard Charlton Hedditch arrived in Adelaide in 1838 and settled at Cape Bridgewater in 1841.
Donald McRAE – Died January 12, 1914, Tooan. Donald McRae was born in Inverness, Scotland in 1842 and travelled with his parents to Portland. In 1865, he moved to Muntham near Hamilton to farm with brother. The pair eventually selected 320 acres of land each at Natimuk. Donald was a member of the Horsham Caledonian Society.
Samuel WALKER – Died January 24, 1914, Ballarat. Samuel Walker was born in Cheshire, England around 1828 and travelled to Australia in 1852. After his arrival on the goldfields of Ballarat, he set up a soda water factory which proved profitable for him. He then became a partner in Evans and Walkers and worked as an accountant. He was also the registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages at Ballarat from 1872.
Mrs Selina HARRIOTT – Died January, 1917, Wickliffe. Selina Harriott had resided at Wickliffe for almost 60 years. She was twice married. Her first husband was Mr Hague and her second, George Harriott.
Phillip ORMSBY – Died January 12, 1918 at Ellerslie. Phillip Ormsby was born in County Cork and attended the Dublin University as a young man to study medicine. The lure of Australia was too great, and he abandoned his studies to sail to Australia on the “Champion of the Seas” in the early 1850s. After three years on the Ballarat goldfields, he selected land on the banks of the Hopkins River at Ellerslie. He was one of the founding members, and chairman for eight years of the Framlingham and Ellerslie Cheese and Buttery Factory. Phillip was also president of the Shire of Mortlake for two years. Only months before his death, one of Phillip’s sons was killed in France.
Mrs HARDINGHAM – Died January 3, 1919, Horsham. Mrs Hardingham was born in Norwich, England around 1831 and travelled to Australia with her husband, Mathias Hardingham in the mid 1850s. From Geelong they travelled to the Horsham area and were two of the first pioneers in that district. Mathias ran the Horsham Hotel for some time.
Mrs Christine SANDERS – Died January 8, 1921, Vectis. Christine Sanders was born in Yorkshire, England around 1835. As a teenager, she travelled to South Australia with her parents. She married Robert Sanders who had also travelled with his parents on the same immigrant ship.
John W. DAVIS – Died January 24, 1928, Horsham. John or “Jack” as he was known, arrived in Australia as a three old, living in Williamstown and then Stawell. He played with the Temperance Union Band in Stawell and then moved to Horsham in 1877 to play with one of two brass bands in the town. Known throughout the northwest for his ability as an euphonium player, Jack was also a bandmaster at Natimuk and Noradjuha.
Rebecca KITTSON – Died January4, 1929, Portland. What a grand old pioneer Rebecca Kittson was. A colonist of 88 years, she was a month from her 102nd birthday. Arriving in Melbourne from Ireland aged 11, she spent the next year in Melbourne, before joining her family at Cape Bridgewater where her father James Kittson had settled. She married Reverend William Lightbody, a Wesleyan minister in 1852. This obituary is a “must read”. Mrs Lightbody, as she was known for most of her life, was the last surviving member of her family and the obituary gives a glimpse at how the Kittson’s came to be in Australia.
Adrian ANDERSON – Died January 16, 1932, Horsham. This is a first for Passing of the Pioneers. Adrian Anderson was an immigrant from the United States. Wisconsin to be precise. He arrived aged four, with his parents and resided in Western Australia until he was 10. The family moved to Victoria, where he remained. He ran a shop in Jeparit before his death in the Horsham Base Hospital.
Agnes Sarah COOK - Died January 18, 1942, Casterton. This obituary begins “Born in a small house on the banks of the Glenelg River at Casterton 79 years ago…”. Agnes was a lady that like the past and the future, knowledgeable about the history of Casterton, she also liked to predict the future. Agnes married Robert Sylvester and they had four children.
Helen GULL – Died January 18, 1942, Casterton. Helen was born on the ship “Helen” during her parents’ voyage to Australia in 1852. The Gull family became respected pioneers throughout the Western District. Helen married Frederick Perry in 1876 and they resided at well known Western District properties, Rifle Downs at Digby and Runnymeade at Sandford. Frederick later ran the Digby Hotel.
It was great to get reacquainted with Portland. Apart from a quick overnight trip about 15 years ago, I had not visited since the 1970s and 80s with most of my time then spent around the harbour and foreshore. The town really has not changed, but now, compared to when I was a pre-teen on Sunday afternoon outings, I have greater appreciation of Portland’s history.
It did turn out that some of those Sunday afternoon outings were to witness events which are now engrained in the history of Portland. At one time, around 1979, we drove from Hamilton to Portland just to see a live sheep export ship! Sounds boring, and it probably was for an 11 year old, but a storm was brewing . The following months, into 1980 saw protests, black banned transport companies and disgruntled meat process workers from the local Borthwicks abattoir. The issue was the talk of the Western District and beyond, at a time when the Western District “rode on the sheep’s back”.
Another visit was to see the ongoing construction of the Alcoa plant, now a familiar fixture on Portland’s landscape. Construction began in 1981 and smelting began in 1986. The arrival of Alcoa was a milestone in Portland’s history, offering employment and growth.
Over a series of posts I will share some of what we saw on our recent visit, including the early architecture of Portland, the Cape Nelson Lighthouse, Bridgewater and the Old Portland cemetery.
It will be a busy month. As well as school holidays and extra “real” work for me, there will be a January Passing of the Pioneers and I will be joining my fellow geneabloggers for the Australia Day 2012 blog: Wealth for Toil . I also will be posting my family’s stories, which is really why I’m here. I just get a bit sidetracked. I will share the stories of Sarah and Walter Harman, two more of the children of Joseph and Sarah Harman. I am already looking forward to February when school returns, so I can have a rest!
Just to give you a taste of what is to come, this a photo I took of the Cape Nelson Lighthouse Keeper’s cottage.
The Portland Guardian of May 26, 1927 reports the death of Mrs Hugh Kittson. The obituary gives much information about Mrs Kittson’s early life including her arrival in Australia and her marriage. She was 94 years old and had been in Victoria for 82 years and had many memories of those early times. As I read her story, I wanted to know more about Mrs Hugh Kittson. The obituary, as was often the way, did not mention her first or maiden names. It did say she had travelled to Victoria on the “Intrinsic” with her parents and two brothers in 1840.
After searching death records and Trove, I found that Mrs Kittson was Margaret Jennings, daughter of Cook Abraham Jennings and Hannah Birchall. She was born in Manchester about 1833. Her brothers were Samuel and Robert Jennings and the “Intrinsic” had in fact arrived in 1841. I then discovered stories about two pioneering families of the south Western District I had not heard of before, the Jennings and the Kittsons who were both in the Portland and Bridgewater areas before 1850. I particular enjoyed a Letter to the Editor from the Portland Guardian of January 23, 1877 by Cook Jennings which painted a picture of the 1840s.
Cook Abraham Jennings’ letter gives an insight into life in the early days of Western Victoria. He refutes a claim by Thomas Fairburn to be the first person to find freestone at Mount Abrupt near Dunkeld suggesting it was he instead who made the first discovery. He describes a journey from Portland to Mt Sturgeon and Mt Abrupt almost 30 years earlier. As a stonemason in Portland, he was keen to source some freestone and after a tip-off, headed to the southern end of the Grampians in 1848, his travelling companions son Robert and an indigenous boy raised by Jennings wife.
Jennings describes the return journey when “there was no Hamilton…save Mr Beath’s store and Phastock’s public house”. After difficulty crossing the Grange and Violet Creek he eventually reached Portland and sold off the stone, which was still being used as grindstones 30 years later.
The letter also shows that overseas travel was not out of the question for those early pioneers. Cook Jennings travelled to Richmond, Virginia in 1858 to lodge a claim on a relative’s will. Although Cook did come across as somewhat of an opportunist!
Margaret Jennings’s husband Hugh Kittson was himself some sort of trailblazer. The Irish-born son of James and Catherine Kittson, was reported as the first white person to ride overland from Portland to Melbourne. Hugh and Margaret had seven children and surnames of their descendents include Johnson, White and Hodgetts.