Tag Archives: Condon

It’s My 1st Blogiversary!

Happy 1st Blogiversary Western District Families.  I thought we would never make it, but 84 posts and 12 months later, here we are.

What a fun year it has been.  It really was worth the procrastinating about whether to blog or not to blog.  Over the time I have made some great online friends, met some previously unknown family members and found out so much more about my Western District family.  Western District Families even got a Google+ page!

I hope some of you have also found out something about your Western District family, where they lived and the things they did through posts such as In the News and the Pioneer Christmas series.  Maybe you have found an obituary of an ancestor at Passing of the Pioneers.

I have found that the act of writing out my family history has been so useful for my research. It has helped me sort out what information I have but more importantly, what I don’t have.  Also, lining up the lives and events of siblings, in the case of the Harmans for example, has given me a better understanding of the dynamics of the family (can you tell I was a Social Sciences student?).

So what have been the most popular of the past 84 posts?

1.  The Fastest Ship in the World

2. A Tragic Night – January 24, 1882

3. Histories of  South-West Towns

4. Witness for the Prosecution

5. Only Seven More Sleeps…

Which posts have been my favourite to share?  Well it was hard to narrow them down to just five but here they are:

1 Elizabeth Ann  Jelly

2. All Quiet By the Wannon

3. Halls Gap’s Cherub

4. From Stone Country to High Country

5. A Tragic Night – January 24, 1882

An Honourable Mention must go to  What the Dickens? and the follow up post Another ‘What the Dickens” Moment.  They were both interesting and fun to write.

Over the past year, I have had made contact with Gamble and Jelly cousins and members of the Condon, Adams and Oakley families.

I  also heard from Rosemary of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Her great grandparents were married in the original St Stephens Church at Portland.

Plenty is planned for the next 12 months.  I thought I would run out of things to write about. Instead I am finding it difficult to keep up with all the subject ideas I have. There will be more Passing of the Pioneers and later in the year I will look at Christmas in the early part of the 20th century.  Of course, I will have more stories about my family.  I’ve barely touched on some of the stories I had planned when I started the blog as I keep finding more great stories in the meantime.

A big thank you must go to my fellow Australian geneabloggers.  Your support and encouragement have been fantastic and you have all inspired me to keep going.   What I have learnt from each of you has been invaluable.  It  was great to meet some of you at the Unlock the Past Victorian Expo at Geelong last year.  Also to the 29 followers of Western District Families, thank you for following and for your great comments.

I must also make a special mention of my maternal grandmother, Linda Gamble (nee Hadden).  Nana did not get to see my blog.  She passed away six days before I published my first post.  It was Nana that got me to this point.  Her love of  the past and her family inspired me almost 20 years ago to start researching our family tree simply to find out more about them for her.  What a wonderful family she gave me.

Nana & me


From Stone Country to High Country

If I wasn’t the ggg granddaughter of James Harman, I would be just as happy to be the ggg granddaughter of his brother, Walter.  He broke away from Byaduk farm life to pioneer in the High Country of Victoria at Ensay.

There are many things to like about  researching Walt.  He and wife Lydia Poynton chose beautiful names for their children. They also liked to be photographed and I have been lucky enough to view some of those wonderful snaps. Also, Walt’s obituary was rich with history and is the kind I wish I could find from James Harman’s death.

Walter was born in December 1845 at Melbourn, Cambridgeshire, England to Joseph and Sarah Harman.  It would be unlikely he remembered a time when older brother James, 15 years his senior, lived in the family home.  While in England he would not have had much to do with any of his older brothers as by the time he was 8, four of them had left for Australia.

In 1854,  Walter sailed with his parents, Joseph and Sarah, sister Sarah and younger brother Alfred for Sydney aboard the “Queen of England“.  We now know the family went to Western Victoria and were in Byaduk by 1863.

In 1872, aged 27, Walter married Lydia Poynton, daughter of John Poynton and Lydia Walton. Immigrants from Lincolnshire, England, the Poyntons lived in the Macarthur area. The following year Walter applied to the Lands Board for a license on 300 acres near Macarthur.

LOCAL LAND BOARD. (1873, February 24). Portland Guardian and Normanby General Advertiser (Vic. : 1842 - 1876), p. 5 Edition: EVENINGS. Retrieved February 20, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article65429471

In 1879, he applied for the land next door to the earlier allotment, a further 44 acres.

LOCAL LAND BOARD. (1879, June 7). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 - 1953), p. 2 Edition: MORNINGS.. Retrieved February 20, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article63398356

Walter and Lydia started their family without haste, with Eunice Walton Harman born the year after their marriage.  Another nine children followed over the next 15 years.

Eunice Walton:  Birth:  1873 at Byaduk; Marriage: 1893 to  Benjamin Miller Lucas;  Death: 1954 at Heathcote Junction, Victoria.

Susannah Nash:  Birth:  1875 at Byaduk; Marriage:  1898 to William Condon;  Death:  1957 at Bairnsdale, Victoria.

Nathan:  Birth: 1878 at  Byaduk; Death:  1892 at Omeo.

Henry: Birth:  1880 at  Byaduk; Marriage:  1922 to  Eva Gertrude Jamison; Death: 1954 at  Bairnsdale, Victoria.

Louisa Mulberry:  Birth:  1881 at Byaduk; Marriage: 1900 to John Phiddian; Death: 1946 at Kyneton, Victoria.

Julia Georgina:  Birth:  1882 at Byaduk;  Marriage:  1915  to  Arthur Frances Lousada;  Death:  1929 at  Malvern, Victoria.

Selina Victoria:   Birth: 1884 at  Byaduk;  Death:  1977 at  Kew, Victoria.

Seth Livingstone:  Birth:  1884 at  Byaduk;  Death: 1892 at Omeo.

Golder Alberta Arlettie:  Birth:  1886 at Byaduk;  Marriage:  1923 to Solomon Kerrison; Death:  1963 at Melbourne.

John Joseph Stanley:  Birth: 1888 at Omeo;  Marriage:  1916 to Daisy Edith Masters;  Death: 1959 at Bairnsdale, Victoria.

This brings us to the wonderful names of the children of Walter and Lydia.  Eunice Walton takes her second name from her maternal grandmother Lydia Walton.  Susannah Nash was named after her maternal aunt Susannah Poynton.  Susannah married John Nash in 1869 but she died in 1875 aged just 34.  That was the same year Susannah Nash Harman was born. Lydia’s other sister Mary, also named her daughter Susannah Adeline Skipworth in the same year as her sister’s death.

My favourite name is Julia Georgina.  Julia is such a beautiful name and it may have come from her older cousin Julia Harman, daughter of James.  Selina Victoria is another of my favourite names.  Louisa Mulberry takes her second name from her paternal grandmother, Sarah Mulberry and John Joseph Stanley was named after his grandfathers, Joseph Harman and John Poynton.  I have absolutely no idea where the name Golder Alberta Arlettie may have come from!

The art of child naming carried on to the next generation, with grandchildren of Walter and Lydia having given names such as Stella Camilla Ina May, Edison Winslow, Harold Ornamen Tennnesyn, Cyril Montrose, Aldith Lorraine, Alban Harcourt, Beryl Maitland, Rodney Raeburn, Wilbur Henry, Athol Elwyn, Winton Harman, Jewel Victoria, Molly Lousada and Gloria Felicity Cambridge.

Just when it seemed Walter was settling into a life in the Western District, around 1888  Walter Harman packed up the family and made the long trip to Ensay in East Gippsland, Victoria’s High Country.  It is the move which  interests me, both the reason for travelling to the other side of the state and how they made the trip of over 600 kilometres, including the route they travelled.  The Ensay district did sound enticing as this article from 1888 suggests:

In Gippsland. (1888, April 7). Australian Town and Country Journal (NSW : 1870 - 1907), p. 44. Retrieved February 20, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article71096208

In 1843, Ensay Station consisted of 38,400 acres.  An article from the Bairnsdale Advertiser and Tambo and Omeo Chronicle in 1917 cites the total acreage at Ensay Station at that time as 11,000 acres.  Over time land was sold off to the likes of Walter Harman.

When I started researching the Harmans and I found the first references to Omeo, about 40kms north-west of Ensay, I imagined that Walt and his family went alone.  As my research continued I discovered the Condon family from the marriage record of Susannah Nash Harman and William Condon in 1898.  William was born in Portland in 1870, the son of William Charles Condon and Susan Baker.

(1888, April 28). Australian Town and Country Journal (NSW : 1870 - 1907), p. 33. Retrieved February 19, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-page5096395

Later, thanks to newspaper reports of  Henry HARMAN’s court appearances in the trial of Ronald Griggs, I found John Henry CONDON, father of Lottie Condon.  While John was born in Omeo, he was the cousin of William Condon, Susannah Harman’s husband.  Not only that,  John Condon’s wife, Frances Ethel HUGGINS was born at Mount Eccles, near Macarthur in the Western District.  Frances’ mother was a SKIPWORTH, from Macarthur and her grandmother was a POYNTON, sister of Lydia Poynton, Walter Harman’s wife.  That sister, Mary, was also in the area with her husband, Thomas Skipworth. Phew!

Confusing maybe, but it shows five families living in the Omeo/Ensay area all with links to Byaduk/Macarthur and all connected through marriages over three generations.  Oh yes, Mary Poynton’s daughter Lydia Skipworth took along her new husband Andrew BAULCH from Tower Hill, near Warrnambool.  By 1890, his parent James Baulch and Ann Hulm were living at Bairnsdale.

So, the next question was who was the trailblazer that made the first big move to the High Country, or was there a convoy of families making the move at the same time?

Using the years the children were born as a guide, the first family to make the move appears to be Henry Condon, older brother of William Condon with his wife Agnes Huggins, aunt of Frances Ethel Huggins.  Married in 1885, their first child was born at Omeo in 1886.  Agnes’ brother James Huggins and wife Elizabeth Skipworth had a child in Macarthur in 1886 with the next child, Thomas Leslie born in 1888 at Omeo.  This is also the same year John Joseph Stanley Harman was born at Omeo.

The obituary of John Tomlin Poynton, nephew of Lydia, talks of his move to the High Country in 1888 with his brother Edward with yet another family tie in, this time to the Skipworths.

PASSED AWAY. (1943, July 19). Gippsland Times (Vic. : 1861 - 1954), p. 1. Retrieved February 14, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article63255330

From 1886 to 1888 a  stream of Condons, Poyntons, Huggins, Skipworths and Harmans left the stone country for the high country.

Walter, with help from Lydia, worked quickly to establish a Sunday school at Ensay and they were a major force behind a State school being opened in the town.  In1890, Walter was one of the first trustees of the Ensay Public Cemetery.  The name of the Harman property at Ensay was “Systonholme”.  This name paid  tribute to Lydia’s birth place, Syston, Lincolnshire, England.

Like his brother James, Walter was a lay preacher for the Methodist Church and would travel by horseback spreading the word of John Wesley.

In 1892, tragedy struck the Harmans in quick succession.  Seth died in July aged 7 and Nathan passed away in August aged 13.  The boys were buried at the Omeo cemetery.  Their death certificates are just another two on my long list of “must get” certificates, to see how the boys died so close together, although one would assume it was illness.

I love this photo of  Walt and Lydia.  Despite the stiffness and lack of emotion of early photographs, there is a warmth here with the two seeming very comfortable in each others company.  They were a team and this is clear from the photo.  I would like to thank Linda Thatcher for allowing me to use this wonderful photograph.

Walt and Lydia Harman (photo courtesy of Linda Thatcher)

In Walter and Lydia’s later years, they moved into “town”, taking up residence in the Melbourne suburb of Malvern.  In 1923, they were living at 11 Jordan Street with their house named “Systonholme” , a reminder of Ensay. Daughter Selina was living with them and Julia and her husband Arthur Lousada moved from their home in Toorak to 113 Tooronga Road Malvern, only two streets from her parents.

In 1926, Lydia passed away at the age of 79.  Walter had lost his beloved wife, the woman with whom he had  pioneered and raised 10 children.  A  family notice was placed in “The Argus” at the time of her death:

Family Notices. (1926, September 11). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1956), p. 17. Retrieved February 20, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article3808510

In 1928, two years after Lydia’s death, Walter and daughter Selina placed an “In Memoriam” notice in “The Argus” and the pain was still clear.

Family Notices. (1928, September 15). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1956), p. 13. Retrieved February 20, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article3957034

Faced with life without Lydia, Walter  returned to live at Ensay, his other great love.  On October 22, 1936 Walter passed away at “Systonholme” Ensay.

Family Notices. (1936, October 23). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1956), p. 1. Retrieved February 20, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article11928521

His obituary from the “Gippsland Times” is a fitting tribute to such a wonderful pioneer who gave so much to his local community, while ensuring a comfortable life for his family.

PASSING OF AN EARLY PIONEER. (1936, November 5). Gippsland Times (Vic. : 1861 - 1954), p. 3. Retrieved February 14, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article62986267

As yet I have not found an obituary for James Harman but the words written of Walter may give a clue to James himself…”his sterling Christian character, his genial personality, and his extreme kindness to all whom he met”.  There are many similarities between James and Walter, despite their age difference and the fact the lived on opposite sides of Victoria including their devotion to the Methodist Church and their community involvement.  Both brothers played a role in establishing schools in their respective towns.  The obituary also reconfirmed the Harman’s journey from N.S.W. on arrival in Australia to Port Fairy and then Byaduk.

While Walter Harman is  remembered as an Ensay pioneer, he also lived in Byaduk and district for 25 years from the age of 18 to 43, which one could describe as his “formative years”. There was plenty of time for the characteristics, passions and wisdom of his brothers to rub off.


Witness for the Prosecution

Searching old newspapers has uncovered three family members who were either mentioned or were witnesses at three separate murder trials.  They were my ggg grandmother, a cousin and to my surprise, my grandfather.

The earliest of these was known at the time as the “Casterton Murders” . My ggg grandmother Margaret Ann Turner, (Mrs Diwell)  was mentioned at an inquest in February 1860, which ended with Casterton man, George Waines, being placed on trial for the murder of Robert and Mary Hunt, also of Casterton.

The Hunts had not been seen since 1858, with many believing they had left the colony.  George Waines claimed he had brought furniture off them, but rumours  spread around the town that George may have been responsible for their disappearance.  The local police investigated and where unable to find the Hunts in the other colonies or New Zealand.

Margaret was mentioned in evidence by Dugald Campbell -

THE CASTERTON MURDER. (1860, February 3). Portland Guardian and Normanby General Advertiser (Vic. : 1842 - 1876), p. 2 Edition: EVENINGS.. Retrieved August 11, 2011, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64513414

This was a gruesome murder, but it captured the attention of people around Australia.  I found 60 articles from four states.  Many are detailed, including  forensic evidence, a letter to the editor from the autopsy surgeon and George’s confession.  He was eventually hung at Melbourne Gaol.

The second murder trial had it all.  Small country town, married Methodist preacher, a young, single,  grazier’s daughter and arsenic.  A search at Trove for “Omeo 1928″ brings up hundreds of articles.  There is also a Western District connection.

Ronald Griggs moved to Omeo to take up the role of Methodist minister, moving into the residence with wife Ethel.  Originally from Tasmania,  Ronald and Ethel were welcomed into the community by the elders of the church including John Condon and his wife Frances.

OMEO MURDER CASE. (1928, March 8). The Register (Adelaide, SA : 1901 - 1929), p. 9. Retrieved August 11, 2011, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article57042062

GRIGGS NOT GUILTY. (1928, April 21). The Canberra Times (ACT : 1926 - 1954), p. 1. Retrieved August 11, 2011, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article1228707

After meeting John and Frances’ daughter Lottie, Ronald (right) was a regular visitor to the Condon property.  Ethel was pushed to the outer and after giving birth to their first child, she returned to Tasmania  spend time with her parents.

Ronald and Lottie’s “meetings’ became more frequent, but Ethel (left), inconveniently for Ronald, returned to Omeo.  Only days later, she fell ill and died after several days of severe pain.  Thanks to a suspicious local policeman, the case was taken further and Ethel’s body was exhumed for an autopsy.  Arsenic was present in her body.  Ronald was charged with murder.

Henry Harman was the son of Walt Harman and grandson of Joseph Harman.  He was a well known Ensay grazier and Omeo Methodist church elder.  He was called to give evidence against Ronald Griggs, described as a friend.

OMEO WOMAN'S DEATH. (1928, February 29). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1956), p. 24. Retrieved August 11, 2011, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article3914287

I  found a photo of Henry, along with some of the other key witnesses, in the Barrier Miner, a NSW paper which continues to reward me with articles about my Western Victorian family.  It is becoming a reliable but most unlikely source.

S. (1928, March 2). Barrier Miner (Broken Hill, NSW : 1888 – 1954), p. 4. Retrieved August 8, 2011, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article46008416″%5D

WITNESSES AT THE OMEO INQUIRY INTO THE DEATH OF MRS. ETHEL CONSTANCE GRIGGS

After two trials, the jury retired to decide its verdict.  According to the Canberra Times, thousands waited on the street outside the court to hear the decision.  Ronald Griggs was acquitted, however his infamy dogged him.  He changed his name and continued to preach, but as his photo had been seen around the country, he was found out.  He struggled to find work and the newspapers followed him for months after.

The Western District connection? Henry was born in Byaduk in 1880 as was his sister Susannah Nash Harman.  She  married  William Condon, cousin of Lottie’s father John.  The Condons first settled in the Portland area, before some of the family moved to Omeo.  Lottie’s mother Frances Ethel Huggins was born at Macarthur in 1883 and her family moved to the Omeo area around 1888.  This  is around the time Henry’s father Walt Harman took his family to the High Country

For more reading about the case there is a book by Reg Egan,  Lottie: A love affair with a man of God and the cruel death that shocked Australia with Henry Harman a key character.  Murder case aside, it offers an insight into life in a small Victorian town in the 1920s.  I have also a public list of newspaper articles at Trove on the case under the heading “Griggs murder

Finally, the “Body under the staircase” trial of fish monger Thomas Garrity, charged with the murder of widow Rose Harvey on April 28, 1931.  Rose had met up with Garrity for a few drinks at a local hotel and they returned by tram to the residence adjoining Garrity’s shop in Port Melbourne.  Police later found Rose’s body stuffed in a cupboard under the stairs of the residence.

Percy Riddiford was a 27 year old, single man from Ballarat,  boarding at his brother’s home in Port Melbourne.  He worked on the trams, based at the Camberwell depot and happened to be working the day Thomas Garrity  and Rose Harvey travelled his route.  As a result, he was required to appear as a witness to assist in determining the movements of Garrity on that day.

BODY UNDER STAIRCASE. (1931, May 20). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1956), p. 9. Retrieved August 10, 2011, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article4400320

Garrity claimed that unknown men had visited his home on that night, proceeded to get him drunk then robbed his till.  He claimed that they must have killed Rose.  The judge considered that Garrity could not have put her body under the stairs without help and reduced his charge to manslaughter.  He received 18 months jail with hard labour.  Garrity pleaded his innocence after sentencing.

This was an event in my grandfather’s life that he kept to himself.  The first my father and uncles had heard of it was when I told them of the articles I had found.  He was one to keep things to himself,  so it was good to find out something of his early life.


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