Tag Archives: Elston

Jim’s Gone A-Droving

In the 1970s, I visited a Western District drovers’ camp with my father.   I remember the weathered stockmen, their battered caravan and wiry dogs.  It was not uncommon in those days to drive up behind a mob of sheep being slowly moved along the grassy roadsides.

Then, drovers moved stock to find feed when grass was scarce, but in the early years of settlement, the only way to get stock to and from market or from the ports was to use a drover. Known for their hard-drinking and foul mouths they were often away for months at a time.

My ggg grandfather James Bishop was of those hardy breed.  He herded cattle from Adelaide to the Western District and moved sheep for the local stations for around 30 years.

Jim was born in Dorset in about 1825.  I am still to find how he came to Australia, but I first catch up with him in this country when he married Sarah Hughes on October 26, 1852 at Adelaide.  They had one child in Adelaide, Mary Elizabeth, but she died aged two.

James and Sarah then moved to Ararat, where James tried his luck on the goldfields.  Charles was born in 1856 in Ararat, followed by my gg grandmother Elizabeth on September 12, 1857.  Her birth certificate shows James’ occupation as a miner.  James and Sarah had one more child at Ararat, George in 1859.

Not long after, the Bishops moved back to South Australia with two children born in Mt Gambier.  Peter Fraser mentions in Early Byaduk Settlers that James Bishop went to Byaduk around 1865.  This is backed by the birth of Mary Bishop at nearby Macarthur in 1865.   In 1870, Jim selected 16 acres of land at Warrabkook between Byaduk and Macarthur.   Robert, Louisa and Alice were born at Macarthur and William was born at Byaduk.

CHILDREN OF JAMES BISHOP & SARAH HUGHES

Mary Elizabeth – Born:  1853 Adelaide, SA.  Died:  1855 Thebarton, SA

Charles – Born:  1856 Ararat, Victoria.  Died: 1916 Macarthur, Victoria

Married:  Sarah DANCER

Elizabeth- Born: 1857 Ararat, Victoria.  Died: 1890 Byaduk, Victoria

Married:  Reuben James HARMAN

George – Born: 1859 Ararat, Victoria.  Died: ?

Married:  Mary HUGHES

Harriet – Born: 1860 Mt Gambier, SA.  Died: 1922 Merino, Victoria

Married:  James ELSTON 1882

Ellen- Born: 1862 Mt Gambier, SA.  Died: 1931 Byaduk, Victoria

Married:  Frederick Watson HINDES 1885 Married:  Abraham CLARKE 1905

Mary- Born: 1865 Macarthur, Victoria.  Died:  1889 Byaduk, Victoria

Robert- Born: 1867 Macarthur, Victoria. Died: 1945 Port Fairy, Victoria

Married:  Edith HARMAN 1901

Louisa – Born: 1870 Macarthur, Victoria.  Died:  1915 Strathmerton, Victoria

Married:  Jonathan Thomas REEVES 1892

Alice – Born: 1872 Macarthur, Victoria.  Died:  1894 Byaduk, Victoria

William James – Born 1874 Byaduk, Victoria.  Died:  ?

Peter Fraser tells of  Jim droving cattle overland to the Adelaide market and I have  found several references to Jim’s droving in The Argus.  “Pastoral Intelligence” notes in The Argus updated readers on the weather, crops and stock movements, among other things.  Jim is mentioned on August 4, 1890  droving fat cattle from Muntham, between Coleraine and Casterton to Warrnambool.  The same article mentions the weather as being very cold with constant heavy rain over the previous 24 hours.   Tough conditions for a drover of any age, but at 65 Jim must have found it incredibly tough.

A month after the Argus article, Jim’s eldest daughter Lizzie (Elizabeth) died of consumption (TB) aged just 33.  Only a year before, daughter Mary also died at age 24.  Of 11 children born, Jim had lost three of his daughters.  Also, his wife of 33 years, Sarah,  died in 1885 at only 51 years.  Another daughter, Alice, died before Jim’s own death.

Jim just kept droving.  In October 1892, he was moving cattle from the property of the Powers at Byaduk to Framlingham near Warrnambool this time in humid conditions.  Two months later he was moving heifers during a cold December.

PASTORIAL INTELLIGENCE. (1892, December 16). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848-1954), p. 6. Retrieved July 12, 2011, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article8493210

The last article I find about Jim is on February 15, 1893.  He had taken horses from William Melville’s Weerangourt station at Byaduk through to Ballarat.

Jim died just two years later in 1895 at Hamilton, aged  70, leaving behind four sons and three daughters.

 



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.


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