Tag Archives: Diwell

The McClintock Brothers

This is the second year I have participated in the ANZAC Day Blog Challenge.  It is a privilege to share the stories of my family members who went to war.  The stories of the men and women who served their country in each of the wars should never be forgotten.

Reading the World War 1 service records of  my 1st cousins 3x removed,  brothers, John, James and Albert McClintock one thing was obvious.  The great adventure of  war soon became a nightmare for the McClintock family of Grassdale near Digby.

Head of the family, John McClintock was born in Ireland in 1842.  He arrived in Victoria in 1865 aboard the “Vanguard“.  Somehow he ended up in the Digby area and in 1878 he married Sarah Ann Diwell, my ggg aunt and daughter of William Diwell and Margaret Turner.  The following year, daughter Margaret Ann was born and in 1880, son David was born.  Life seemed good for the McClintock family.

In 1882, the first  tragedy befell them.  Sarah passed away at just 31.  John was left with two children aged just three and four.

Help was close at hand.  In 1883, John married Sarah’s younger sister, Margaret Ann Diwell.  At 26 and 15 years John’s junior, Margaret went from aunt to mother to Margaret and David.

In 1885, the first of 11 children to John and Margaret McClintock were born.  A son, William Diwell McClintock died as an infant in 1887 but by 1902, when the last child Flora was born, Margaret and John had six girls and six boys.

In 1913, a seemingly harmless activity of chasing a fox, ended in another tragedy for the McClintocks.  Eighteen year old Robert died from heart strain and tetanus as a result of his fox chasing.

Next was the outbreak of war in 1914 which paved the way for the greatest tragedy faced by the family.  Three of the five McClintock boys, John, James and Albert, enlisted.  Of the remaining two boys, David was too old and Thomas was too young.

JAMES RICHARD MCCLINTOCK

James was the first of the McClintock boys to enlist.  In Melbourne on October 7, 1915, the 24 year old signed his attestation papers and effectively signed his life away.

At the time,  those of eligible age were  bombarded with  propaganda designed to drive recruitment.   The horrors of war had already been felt at home with the Gallipoli landing earlier in the year. The recruitment campaign went to a new level.  War was no longer the big adventure it was made out to be.  Rather men were urged to fight in honour of  their fallen countrymen who had died for them.

Recruitment posters were everywhere and articles such as this from The Argus of September 16, 1915 must have gone a long way to persuading James to enlist the following month.

A CALL TO THE FRONT. (1915, September 16). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1956), p. 5. Retrieved April 20, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article1560597

On January 27, 1916, James was given a send off by the Digby community,

A Digby Recruit. (1916, January 27). The Casterton News and the Merino and Sandford Record (Vic. : 1914 - 1918), p. 3 Edition: Bi-Weekly. Retrieved April 19, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article74484539

24th Battalion 10 Reinforcements. Australian War Memorial http://cas.awm.gov.au/item/DAX1243

James sailed on March 7, 1916 aboard the HMAT Wiltshire with the 24th Battalion 10th Reinforcement.  He arrived in England on July 26, 1916 and later France at “Sausage Valley” south of Pozieres on August 5, 1916.  The 24th Battalion had been in France since March after arriving from Egypt.  Previous to that the Battalion had been at the Gallipoli landing in 1915.

On the day of his arrival, the 24th had seen action with casualties.  They moved on from their position, making their way around the Somme before reaching Moquet Farm on August 23.  The Battalion settled in, digging trenches while they could.  The  noise of shelling was all around them.

THE FIGHT AT MOQUET FARM. (1916, August 31). Townsville Daily Bulletin (Qld. : 1885 - 1954), p. 4. Retrieved April 21, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article58914119

The following day, the battle intensified . The 24th Battalion received an estimated 50 casualties.  James McClintock was one of those

CASUALTIES IN FRANCE. (1916, October 3). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1956), p. 7. Retrieved April 20, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article1626549

Details surrounding his death were sketchy, so much so, his father employed the services of Hamilton solicitors, Westacott and Lord.  On his behalf, they requested details of the death from the defence department to finalise necessary paperwork.  As of November 1916, the final report on James’ death had not been received.  It was clear  his remains had not been  found.  He now lies below the former battlefields of the Somme with no known grave.

James is remembered at the Villers-Brettoneaux Military Cemetery.    The cemetery has the remains of soldiers brought from various burial grounds and battlefields when it was created after Armistice. It also has memorials for those missing and with no known grave.  James is one of 10, 885 listed with such a fate.

Anxiety at home must have increased after news of the death of James.  It was too late to talk John and Albert out of going to war. They had already arrived in England preparing to also travel to the battlefields of the Somme.  At least John and Margaret would have been comforted that 26 year old John would be there to look after his younger brother.

ALBERT EDWARD MCCLINTOCK & JOHN MCCLINTOCK

John and Albert McClintock shared their World War 1 journey.  They would have been spurred on by the enlistment of James and maybe envy that he was setting sail on March 7, 1916.  The recruitment drive was in full swing and what man would not have feelings that he was less of a man if he did not enlist?

No title. (1916, March 1). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1956), p. 7. Retrieved April 20, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article2092485

Albert enlisted six days before his brother John.  At 19, he filled in his enlistment papers at Hamilton on February 25 1916.

STREET APPEAL AT HAMILTON. (1916, February 26). The Ballarat Courier (Vic. : 1914 - 1918), p. 4 Edition: DAILY. Retrieved April 20, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article74502118

On March 2, John enlisted at Ararat.

The Ararat Advertiser. (1916, March 4). The Ararat advertiser (Vic. : 1914 - 1918), p. 2. Retrieved April 20, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article75028814

John was married and living at Wickliffe with his wife Selina Miller Ford.  They had married a year earlier.  At the time of John’s enlistment, it is unlikely that the couple knew they were expecting their first child, due in December.  Maybe John knew by July 4, when he and Albert boarded the HMAT Berrima  and sailed for war with the 29th Battalion 7th Reinforcements.

John and Albert disembarked in England on August 23, 1916.  During December, back home, John’s wife Selina gave birth to their son, John James, his second name a tribute to his fallen uncle.

After time in England,  Albert and John arrived in Etaples, France on February 4, 1917.  On February 9, they marched out into the field.  The 29th Battalion unit diary notes their location on February 9 as Trones Wood near Guillemont and only 10 kilometres from Moquet Farm.

The Battalion was not involved in any major battles at the time.  It  had been at the Battle of Fromelles in 1916 and later in 1917 would be a part of the Battle of Polygon Wood. John and Albert had arrived between campaigns.  During February 1917, some of the Battalion were laying cable in the area around Trones Wood.

What exactly happened, three days later on the 12th, is not clear, however the outcome saw both McClintock boys fighting for their lives with gunshot wounds to their faces.  John’s service record notes the injury was accidental.  He  also had shoulder injuries and a fractured left arm.  Albert lost his right eye and had an injured left arm and a fractured right leg.   They were relocatied over the next 24 hours to the 1st New Zealand Stationary Hospital at Amiens.

On February 17,  John and Albert’s war-time “adventure” together would end.  Albert was transferred to the 13th General Hospital at Boulogne, leaving John fighting for his life at Amiens.

On March 1, 1917, John McClintock passed away from his wounds.  He was buried at the St Pierre Cemetery at Amiens.  Both boys said goodbye to France on the same day, as it was that day that Albert sailed for England.  After only 20 days in the country, and no active fighting, one had lost his life and the other had suffered life changing wounds.

AUSTRALIAN CASUALTIES. (1917, March 16). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1956), p. 10. Retrieved April 19, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article1604104

On February 28, 1918, over 12 months after the incident,  Albert was discharged from Harefield House Hospital, north of London,  the No.1 Australian Auxiliary Hospital.  He remained in England until May when he returned to Australia.

Digby. (1918, July 25). The Casterton News and the Merino and Sandford Record (Vic. : 1914 - 1918), p. 3 Edition: Bi-Weekly.. Retrieved April 19, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article74221588

So Albert was home and the war had ended.  Life was expected to go on.  On the outside that is what it did.  There would have been some brave faces at the welcome at Digby.

Albert married Doris Hancock around 1920 and they raised a family of seven.  He died in Digby in 1970 aged 74.

Selina never remarried and remained in Wickliffe most of her life, finally passing away in Adelaide in 1960.  John jnr enlisted in WW2 but was discharged early.

Parents John and Margaret McClintock did not live long past the war.  The loss of one son would have been enough for any parents to bear, but two would be heart wrenching.  Another tragedy bestowed them with daughter Flora passing away in 1921 aged just 19.  John passed away in 1923 aged 80 and Margaret in 1932 aged 74.

On the inside,  these people could never have been the same as they were before the war.  In Albert’s case the loss of an eye and memories of  his short time as a soldier would have lived with him forever.  For the others, the deep loss each suffered must have been immense.

This story interested me in a number of ways.  In particular the timing and the locations of  the McClintock brothers while in France.  They were each there for such a short time and in similar towns and villages.

Maybe, in those last days before the departure of James, the brothers talked about  meeting up somewhere, sometime during their war adventure. They were very close.  James was killed only six months before John and Albert arrived in the same area of France he had fallen.  They marched the same roads.  Maybe at some time they did in some way pass each other by.  As John and Albert marched to Trones Wood they could well have passed the final resting place of their brother James.

Today, John and James lay around 40 kilometres away from each other in France.  Albert is buried at Digby, thousands of kilometres away from his brothers, but I am sure he left a part of his heart in France the day in left in 1917.

LEST WE FORGET

REFERENCES:

24th Battalion Unit Diary

29th Battalion Unit Diary

Australian War Memorial

Australians on the Western Front 1914-1918

Commonwealth War Graves Commission

The AIF Project

The National Archives of Australia

The War Graves Photographic Project


Another “What the Dickens?” Moment

To mark the 200th birthday of Charles Dickens, I posted about Alfred Tennyson Dickens who lived in my hometown of Hamilton.  Entitled “What the Dickens?“, the post describes my amazement that a son of Charles Dickens could have lived in Hamilton.  Alfred left the town due to the accidental death of his wife Jessie.

Yesterday I was in Hamilton for several reasons, one of which was to visit the Hamilton Old Cemetery in search of the grave of Jessie Dickens and as a result, I had another “What the Dickens?” moment.

My visits to Hamilton are infrequent day trips so I try to cram in as much as possible. Visits to the cemetery are quick, usually to search for a specific grave or graves. Yesterday was no different, except I had absolutely no idea where in the cemetery Jesse was buried.  With Mum, we headed to the oldest and biggest graves.

We found the grave quicker than expected.  It turns out  the grave of Jessie Dickens is immediately behind my gg grandparents Richard Diwell and Elizabeth Jelly who I have posted about before.  We couldn’t believe we had previously visited the Diwell plot before, unaware the grave of the daughter-in-law of Charles Dickens was right behind. As we were earlier unaware of the Dickens link to Hamilton, we had not made the connection.

What I couldn’t believe was that I had missed the grave immediately behind Jessie’s. It was that of Stephen George Henty one of the Henty brothers, Victoria’s first settlers.  Stephen, thought to be the most influential of the brothers, was the first to settle inland from Portland, at Muntham, Merino Downs and Sandford stations.

DIWELL, DICKENS & HENTY GRAVES

 

Both the Diwell and Dickens headstones were chosen by heartbroken husbands, shattered by their wives premature deaths. Jessie was only 29, thrown from a horse-drawn carriage on Portland Road in 1878 and Elizabeth died at 44 due to complications of childbirth in 1900. I have updated the “What the Dickens?” post with a photo of Jessie’s grave.

When I came home I checked the photos I already had of the Diwell grave, and sure enough, you can see the two other graves in the background.  One of these photos appears on the post “Elizabeth Ann Jelly“.

The thing that struck me was that within a distance of about 6 metres lay the remains of 10 people.  Great Victorian pioneers, Stephen George Henty and wife Jane and their son, Richmond; the wife of the son of one of the greatest novelists of all time and my gg grandparents, Richard and Elizabeth Diwell and four of their children, Ralph, Rebecca, Ernest and an unnamed baby.  Wow!

 


In the News – January 19, 1944

On January 19, 1944, Victorians were counting the cost of disastrous bushfires that burned out of control just days earlier.  In Hamilton, the losses were particularly heavy in what would have to be the worst fires the town has seen in its history.

HAMILTON AREA LOSS £270,000. (1944, January 19). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1956), p. 4. Retrieved January 18, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article11821239

Fifty homes were lost in Hamilton and included those of my family members.  Lives were lost and many were hospitalised.

CATASTROPHIC FIRE AT HAMILTON. (1944, January 15). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1956), p. 4. Retrieved January 18, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article11816144

On a trip to Hamilton, I visited my cousin and mentioned this fire to her husband, as his family, the Lovell’s lost their home.  He disappeared from the room and returned with a clump of fused pennies, all he had left after the fire, a “memento” he had kept  for over 60 years.  His house would have been around three kilometres from the main street, Gray Street.  “The Argus” reported the closest the fire got to Gray Street was just 500-800 metres from the Post Office.  Having lived in Hamilton, I find this unimaginable, particularly the thought of roofing iron been blown into the main street.

MANY LIVES LOST AND ENORMOUS DAMAGE IN BUSH FIRES. (1944, January 15). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1956), p. 1. Retrieved January 18, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article11816061

Another resident to lose a home was Mrs E.Diwell.  This was Louisa Spender, wife of  Ernest Diwell, a son of Richard and Elizabeth Diwell.  Ernest had passed away in 1939 and Louisa remained at their home, described as “off ” Penshurst Road” on the 1942 Australian Electoral Roll.  Earlier Electoral rolls had listed Ernest at Rippon Road.  The southern end of Rippon Road could be described as “off” Penshurst road. Penshurst Road is to the east of Hamilton and not far from where I used to live.

Something that must be considered was that this was wartime, with many men away either fighting or POW’s. With limited manpower, it was not surprising that women were fighting side by side with men.  I mentioned this fire to Nana and while she did recall it, she had no other knowledge of it.  She would have been living in Melbourne at the time as she was working at the Munitions factory at Maribyrnong prior to her marriage in 1945.  Also her family lived on the northern side of the town which does not seem to have been in the path of the fire.  When I mentioned the women firefighting, she gave me a “Of course!” type of reply.

Hamilton was not the only town devastated by the fires of January 1944.

FIRES IN WIDELY-SEPARATED ZONES. (1944, January 15). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 9. Retrieved January 18, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article17878294

Even wealthy beach side suburbs of Melbourne saw fire run through the ti-tree, forcing hundreds on to the beaches.

FOURTEEN DEATHS IN DISASTROUS BUSH FIRES IN VICTORIA. (1944, January 15). Advocate (Burnie, Tas. : 1890 - 1954), p. 5. Retrieved January 18, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article68837972


Surname Saturday Meme: Names, Places and Most Wanted Faces

Following the lead of U.S. genealogist Thomas MacEntee and  in turn Australian genealogist Jill Ball, I decided to take part in this meme.  It interested me more than others I had seen, because not only would I get my names “out there”, I also got the chance to do a stocktake.  What an interesting exercise it was.  With some names, I did not have to look up the details as I knew them so well, others I had to refer back to my tree, and for one name, I had basically nothing.

It’s easy to develop favourite families, with some just oozing information making them more compelling to research.  The Harmans are an example of that.  The Riddiford line was probably my least favourite  and despite it being my family name, I tended to pass it by. When I did starting seriously researching them, I found loads of information.  This avoidance was probably due to them being 20th century immigrants and my history interests lie in 19th century Australia.  I had no choice but to delve into 18th and 19th century English history and I have really enjoyed it and learnt a lot and I continue to do so.  I am glad I got over my previous mindset.

I also have more Irish links than I normally given myself credit for and I can now clearly see the branches I have been neglecting.

I have included the surnames of my great great grandparents, but I have taken the places and dates back a little further.  If not, I would have had entries with just a single place in Australia with no indication of where the family originated from.

To take part, just do the following at your own blog, then post a  link in the comments at Thomas’ blog post

1. List your surnames in alphabetical order as follows:

[SURNAME]: Country, (State or County, Town), date range;

2. At the end, list your Most Wanted Ancestor with details about them.

MY NAMES, PLACES AND MOST WANTED FACES:

BISHOP:  England (Dorset, Weymouth) 1825-1850; Australia (South Australia, Adelaide) 1850-1854;  Australia (Victoria, Byaduk)1854-1950

COMBRIDGE:  England (Huntingdonshire) 1833-1855;  Australia (Victoria, Geelong 1855-1935);  Australia (Victoria, Grantville) 1900-1950

DIWELL:  England (Sussex) 1825-1852;  Australia (Victoria, Casterton) 1852-1893;  Australia (Victoria, Hamilton) 1893-1940

GAMBLE:  England 1808-1840;  Australia (Victoria, Geelong) 1840-1850;  Australia (Victoria, Colac), 1850-present

HADDEN:  Scotland (East Lothian) 1823-1852;  Australia (Victoria, Geelong) 1852-1865;  Australia (Victoria, Cavendish) 1865-1975;  Australia (Victoria, Hamilton) 1900-present

HARMAN:  England (Cambridgeshire, Melbourn) 1800-1854;  Australia (New South Wales) 1852-1857;  Australia (Victoria, Port Fairy) 1852-1863;  Australia (Victoria, Byaduk) 1863-present

HODGINS:  Ireland (Fermanagh) 1816-1853;  Australia (Victoria, Colac) 1853-1940

HUNT:  England (Middlesex, Poplar) 1834-1854;  Australia (Victoria, Geelong) 1854-1865; Australia (Victoria, Collingwood) 1867- ;  Australia (Victoria, West Gippsland) 1880-1936

JELLY:  Ireland (Down, Drumgooland) 1815-1845;  England (Lancashire, Manchester) 1845-1854;  Australia (Victoria, Casterton) 1854-1900

KIRKIN:  England (London, Lambeth) 1859-1940;

MORTIMER:  England (Berkshire, White Waltham) 1823-1852;  Australia (Victoria, Cavendish) 1865-1930

PIDDINGTON:  England (Buckinghamshire, Cuddington) 1700s-1880

RIDDIFORD:  England (Gloucestershire, Thornbury) 1600s-present; England (Buckinghamshire, Cuddington) 1846-present;  England (London, Lambeth) 1896-1913; Australia (Victoria, Ballarat) 1913-present

WEBB:  England (Surrey, Clapham) 1845-1878; England (London, Lambeth) 1878-1900

WHITE:  England (Kent, Broadstairs) 1857-1876;  Australia (Victoria, Grantville) 1876-1950

WYATT:  ???

MOST WANTED ANCESTOR:

When I started this I thought my most wanted ancestor would be gg grandmother Mary Jane HODGINS.  She was born in Ireland around 1849, immigrated with her parents West HODGINS  and Martha BRACKIN in 1853 aboard the “Marion Moore” . She married Matthew GAMBLE in 1871 at Colac.  That is all I know except for the accident which saw Mary Jane loose the top of her finger, as mentioned in the post Misadventures, Deaths and Near Misses.

However, when I looked at the completed list it seemed clear it had to be Jane WYATT, another gg grandmother and second wife of Herbert John COMBRIDGE.

I had previously found a birth for a Jane Wyatt born 1882, St Arnuad but this did not really add up, mainly because my Jane Wyatt married Herbert Combridge in 1895 in Gippsland.  If I searched the Australian Death Index 1787-1985, I find the death of Jane COMBRIDGE in 1909 at Grantville but with no approximate birth year or parents.

As I was writing this post, I decided to have a look around for Jane again.  I checked for people researching Combridges at Ancestry.com and found a reference to Jane’s birth in 1873.  I searched again with this birth date and that threw up something interesting.  There is a Jane Wyatt listed on the Victorian Index to the Children’s Register of State Wards, 1850-1893.  Her birth date is given as 1873, but no birth place.  This could be my Jane and it could explain the lack of parent names  and birth year on the Death index.

So, thanks to this exercise, I may have come a step closer to finding Jane Wyatt, but if she was a ward of the state, I may not be able to find anything else about her.  So if anyone has information on Mary Jane HODGINS and her family, I would love to her from you!


Passing of the Pioneers

The September “Passing of the Pioneers” in the Portland Guardian saw  several prominent Western Victorian residents pass away and two of my own relatives.

Richard LEWIS – Died September 1890, “Bryngola” near Digby.  Richard owned some well known stations in the Western District including “Rifle Downs” and “Hilgay”.  An excellent biography of Richard Lewis is on the Ballarat Genealogical Society website.  Richard died as a result of Bright’s disease.

Samuel CROSSDied September 4, 1901,  Hamilton.  Samuel was 79 at the time of his death and had been in Australia since 1849 after travelling from Sussex, England.  He worked in, and owned, department stores including the Beehive Store in Hamilton.  In his later years he was a librarian at the Hamilton Mechanics Institute.

Jacob THEISINGER – Died September 13, 1901,  Portland.  Jacob, also a sufferer of Bright’s Disease, had been in the colony since around 1854.  He was a popular person around town and was a member of the Portland German Band.

R. STAPYLTON-BREE – Died September 17, 1907,  Hamilton.  Robert Edwin Windsor Sandys Stapylton-Bree was a Hamilton stock and station agent and well know identity not only in Hamilton, but also Portland.  He married the daughter of Stephen HENTY, Annie Maria.  His funeral was well attended with Dean Parkyn presiding over the service .  He and Archdeacon Hayman had motored the 119 mile trip from Ballarat in five hours.

Mrs D. McPHERSON – Died September, 1921,  Hamilton.  The former Miss STEWART was born in Kingussie, Scotland in around 1825 and travelled with her husband, Duncan McPherson, to Australia in 1851 on board the “Hooghly”.  While Duncan went off to the goldfields, Mrs McPherson waited in Melbourne until they journeyed to Portland.  For a time, she and her husband ran the Dartmoor Hotel.  She was a mother of eight children.

Mrs Elizabeth LAMB – Died September 18, 1825,  Millicent.  Mrs Lamb had grown up near Portland and the Guardian notes she rode 80 miles each day to school.  I am assuming this is a round trip, or it was a short school day.

Miss ROBERTSON – Died September, 1925,  Gringalgona.  Miss Robertson arrived in Sydney with her family in 1847 from Scotland.  They travelled to the Coleraine district by bullock wagon.

Mrs Margaret Emily CAMERON - Died September 5, 1928,  New Zealand.  Mrs Cameron was born Margaret McDonald.  Her parents were early pioneers and she spent time around Portland and Hamilton as a child with one of early memories being that of Adam Lindsay Gordon and his riding feats.  Margaret moved to New Zealand as a new bride and raised 12 children.

Mrs Margaret BELL – Died September 7, 1933,  Hamilton.  Margaret was born in County Caven, Ireland in 1853 to Mr and Mrs William Best.  They arrived at Portland on board the “General Hewitt” in 1856.  After time in Portland the Bests moved to Heywood when Margaret was nine. She married James Henry BELL and remained in the Heywood area.

Miss Ada Catherine HAYMAN – Died September 1934,  Portland.  Ada was born in Axminster, Devon, England in about 1858.  She arrived at Portland with her parents and siblings in the 1860s.  This is an interesting family.  Ada’s father was a doctor and practiced in Harrow, Edenhope and Ararat.  One of her brothers was a doctor, another Archdeacon Hayman presided over R. Stapylton-Bree’s funeral (above).  Another brother W.R. Hayman was one of those who organised the  Aboriginal cricketers’ tour of England in 1868.  The biography of one of the players, Johnny Mullagh, describes the part Hayman played.

Finlay McPherson PATON – Died September 1936,  Tarrayoukyan.  Finlay Paton was born at Sterlingshire, Scotland and after landing at Portland, took on the job of ringing the church bell and did so for 15 years.  This could have been just one of the reasons for his “magnificent physique”.  Maybe it was because he claimed that he was one of those that carted stones to build Mac’s Hotel in Portland.  Or was it lifting four bushel bags of wheat from the ground to a wagon, with little trouble.  He really must have been a fine specimen. As were his team of horses used for his carrying business. Bred by Finlay they were the “admiration of the district”

William DIWELL – Died September 1939,  Jeparit. William was my ggg uncle.  His obituary mentions his work as a builder and the several buildings in Portland remaining, at the time of his death, as memorials to his work.  It does mention he was a native of Portland, however he was born at Merino.  It correctly states his wife Frances was a native of Portland.

Thomas Haliburton LAIDLAWDied September 1941,  Hamilton.  Over 500 people were reportedly at the funeral of Thomas Laidlaw, a Hamilton stock and station agent.  Thomas was the son of pioneers, Thomas and Grace Laidlaw.   The obituary offers a great description of the early days of Thomas Laidlaw senior in the colony with his four brothers.  Thomas junior, along with building his successful stock and station business was at one time a Shire of Dundas Councillor, president of the Hamilton Racing Club and chairman of directors of the Hamilton and Western District College, today Hamilton and Alexandra College.  Laidlaw is one of the names that if I hear it, I think of Hamilton.

Henry MORTIMER – Died September 6, 1948,  Portland.  Another ggg uncle of mine, Henry was the son of James Mortimer and Rosanna Buckland.  He was born in Cavendish and was 80 at the time of his death at Portland.  He is best known at this blog as Mr Mortimer of Mr Mortimer’s Daughters.  This was an informative notice as it listed Henry’s children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.


Misadventures, Deaths and Near Misses

You have found your ancestor’s date of death, but you are wondering how they died.  You could buy a death certificate, but a certificate for all relatives can be a costly business.  Newspapers are the answer.  With the growing number of Australian newspapers available to search at Trove, there is a good chance you may find an article on your relative’s demise.  In turn, it may lead to an obituary which can also be a wealth of information, but I will discuss those in a future post.

When I began reading old newspapers, I was amazed at the number of deaths and accidents reported, compared to today’s papers.  It seemed even the smallest of accidents could make newspapers right around Australia.  Death reports were explicit and sparing little detail.  However, despite the nature of these reports, I do find them intriguing reading and they can show when, where and how a family member died.  Also accident reports show information that you may never have found otherwise.  I may never have known that my great great grandmother lost the top of her finger or my great great aunt was bitten by a snake.

Horse related accidents were naturally common whether  falls or buggy accidents.  As the years passed, motor cars where the culprits, with many stories of them rolling or hitting trees.  The increasing number of  motor cars also caused some problems for those still using horses as their main source of transport.  Fire was also a common cause of death or accidents.  Candles, coppers and fire places all increased the risk of burns.

Following are some examples of deaths and accidents involving my family members found in the papers at Trove:

Charles Bishop worked at Weerangourt Station, Byaduk,  but I found he also died there.  While chopping wood in 1916,he suffered heart failure and died at the age of 60.   I found this reported in four newspapers.

I feel sorry for poor James Elston.  He died at only 21.  The first article I found on him was in 1901, eight years before he died.  James had broken his leg, but this was the fifth break in two years.  He was sent to the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne.  The Barrier Miner published in Broken Hill reported the accident as a possible record breaker.

A Marino Boy Puts Up a Record. (1901, August 29). Barrier Miner (Broken Hill, NSW : 1888-1954), p. 2. Retrieved June 4, 2011, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article44302344

In March, 1908, James was back in hospital.  He had been thrown from a buggy and fell on a fence.  As a result he fractured his spine between the shoulder blades and was crippled, his condition critical.  In January 1909, it was report that James had succumbed to injuries at the Hamilton Hospital.

Robert McClintock died from heart strain and tetanus as a result of chasing a fox.  This was in 1913 and Robert was only 18.  I decided to search Trove with the phrase “chasing a fox” and it threw up many articles about  deaths and accidents incurred while chasing foxes.  Some had fallen from horses, others accidentally shot by themselves or others died  the way of Robert McClintock.

Jane Diwell’s death in 1909 demonstrates the dangers women faced doing simple housekeeping tasks.  Married to Samuel Hazeldine,  Jane was in a back shed at their home in Murtoa boiling up beeswax and turpentine, when her clothes caught fire.  Despite desperate attempts by her husband to save her, she died from her burns.  Samuel received severe burns to his hands.

Frederick Hazeldine of Murtoa, was watching the eclipse of the sun in 1910, when the 10 year old slipped off a fence and broke his arm

Frank Coulson was only 17 when he met his fate in 1935.  His body was found near Digby.  He had sustained a fractured skull and his pony’s saddle and bridle were lying close by.  Different articles tried to offer and explanation to his death from having been kicked in the head by the pony or haven fallen awkwardly as the pony jumped a fence.

George Gamble lost his life after a cave in at the Colac Brick Works in 1910.  He was dug out but later died at the Colac Hospital,

Mary Jane Hodgins(Mrs Matthew Gamble, below), my great great grandmother,  lost the top of her finger in an accident involving a horse.  Notice that this took place in Colac, Victoria, but was reported as far away as Maitland, New South Wales

GENERAL NEWS. (1877, September 1). The Maitland Mercury & Hunter River General Advertiser (NSW : 1843-1893), p. 7. Retrieved June 4, 2011, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article18829977

In 1906, Amy Margaret Bubb, Mrs Benjamin Combridge, was bitten by a snake which had hidden in a mattress.  Her daughter Amy was darning the mattress and noticed something she thought was mice, moving inside.  She called her mother who hit the mattress and was bitten by a black snake on the wrist.  Young Amy ran to the neighbours’ house almost a kilometre away through paddocks and returned with a Mrs Arklay.  By this time, Amy snr’s arm was black.  Mrs Arklay made an incision and drew black blood from the wound which saved Amy.  This article ran in Tasmania and Adelaide as well as The Argus.

I had known that my great, great, great grandfather William Diwell had died in a fall at the Merino Flour Mill in 1871, but I have since found that he was severely injured three years earlier.  In 1868, the Merino school-house verandah was falling down, so William volunteered to remove it.  Part of the verandah fell on him and his was pulled out suffering a severe head injury.  By all accounts if the full verandah had of fell on him he would have been crushed to death.  He was 43 at the time and I think he may have been lucky to make it 46 when he did die.

The most gruesome article I have ready about one of my family members, is that of my great, great, great grandmother Ellen Barry, Mrs Gamble.  Ellen was a feisty Irish woman, often in the courts and rather fond of a drink.  One night in January 1882, Ellen was home alone in her cottage in Colac, when a fire broke out.  The next day, the coroner found that due to Ellen’s propensity for a tipple, it was most likely she had knocked a candle which started the fire.

A WOMAN BURNT TO DEATH. (1882, January 26). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848-1954), p. 8. Retrieved June 5, 2011, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article11530343

These few examples prove how much you can find out about  your ancestor’s death, not to mention their life before death.  If you are using Trove, it is useful to search  all the papers available because as Mary Jane Hodgins’ accident  shows, incidents can be reported interstate.  You can use filters to narrow your search down, particularly if you have a specific date.

In a future post I will share some of the other articles I have found which don’t relate to my family, but show the value of these stories in developing an understanding of  how precarious life could be for those living in the 19th and early 20th century.  We can also learn how death was considered in those times by the style of writing and the depth of description.  Most importantly for family historians, our ancestors become more than just a one-dimensional date on a page.


I Wish I Were Related to Chris Coulson

I am sure most of you have come across a person in your research who,while not related, still captures your imagination.  I have found myself off on a tangent many times with a family who have married into my own, only to rein myself in to focus on my direct relatives.

One such person is Christopher Coulson who I first encountered when I found his son Frank married my 2nd great grand-aunt Harriet Diwell.  Chris was a horseman and had some involvement with the early days of  Western District racing, and this tweaked my interest.

Christopher Coulson was born at Scarborough, Yorkshire in 1817 and married Mary Frances Stubbs in 1841.  Not long after, Christopher began working as a groomsman at the Royal Mews at Buckingham Palace during  Queen Victoria’s reign.  Christopher and Mary had one child at that time, Francis Stubbs Coulson (Frank), born in 1842, and they had three more children at the Mews.  The 1851 Census shows the family living at the Royal Mews. Christopher’s occupation was recorded as “helper in the master of the horses department”.  In 1855, Queen Victoria set up the Buckingham Palace Royal Mews School for the children of those working at the Mews.

In 1856, Christopher, Mary and the four children sailed for Australia on the “General Hewitt” arriving in Portland.   The Coulsons’  immigration record shows Christopher was to be employed by Mr McKellar of “Ardachy” at Branxholme for twelve months.  At some stage, Chris went to “Rifle Downs” at Merino to work as a trainer for Richard Lewis who owned such horses as thoroughbred “King Alfred” and Clydesdale stallion “Agronomer”.  “King Alfred” was revered throughout the district and Adam Lindsay Gordon wrote of him. He is worthy of his own story.  He stood at stud with “Agronomer”  who competed in local shows and was sire to many of the heavy work horses in the area.  Eventually Chris selected his own land at Dwyers Creek and became a sheep breeder, but always remained a horse lover.  He died in 1904 aged 86.

Chris Coulson Obituary - THE FRUIT INDUSTRY. (1904, August 2). The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864-1933), p. 5. Retrieved May 30, 2011, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article19293600

Christopher and Mary had five children, four born in England and the fifth Georgiana born in Australia at Digby.  Sadly Georgiana died aged five in 1865.  The remaining four children all married and raised families.  They were:

Francis Stubbs Coulson – Born 1842 Yorkshire Died 1916 Victoria.  Frank married Harriet Diwell, daughter of William Diwell and Margaret Turner in 1873.  They had 13 children and lived in the Dwyers Creek/Merino area during their married lives.  Descendants’ surnames include Miller, Cameron and Gull.

Betsy Ann Coulson – Born 1845 Westminster, London, England Died 1896 Casterton, Victoria.  Betsy married Joseph Wombell and they had six known children.  Descendants’ surnames include Petterd, Chester and Rowely.

Christopher Coulson Jnr – Born 1847 Pimlico, London  Died 1893 Merino, Victoria. Chris married Lorina Ann Eastick in 1872.  They had nine known children and their descendants’ surnames include Crawley,  Grant, Ames, and Stanmore

Amy Oliver Coulson – Born 1852 Pimlico, London Died 1926.  Amy married Alexander Cameron in 1875.  They had three known children.  Descendants’ surnames include Milward and McCombe

I have researched enough of my family tree  to know I will not unearth an ancestor who had contact with the early days of the racing and horse breeding industry in the Western District.  A romantic time when Adam Lindsay Gordon wrote of the fields of Coleraine, there was a racecourse in most towns and the early horses, ancestors themselves to many Western District progeny,  where swum to shore from boats.  That is why I wish I were related to Christopher Coulson.


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