Once again an interesting band of Western Victorian pioneers were found in newspaper obituaries from February. There is a tightrope walker, philanthropist, a motor car pioneer and several hardy pioneer women. It continues to amaze me the lives the pioneers lived. I mean, who could imagine a tightrope walker living in Portland in the 19th century, in fact at anytime!
Thomas STODDART – Died February 20, 1905, Ballarat. When next in Ballarat admiring the many statues in Sturt Street and the Botanical Gardens, thank Thomas Stoddart. He was responsible for getting the ball rolling for leading Ballarat identities to give statues or money towards statues, to the city. From digger to stockbroker, Stoddart donated 12 statues to the city of Ballarat in 1884 after a trip to Europe. This act of philanthropy saw some of Ballarat’s other wealthy citizens bequeath money to fund more statues. In fact, John Permewan who featured in December Passing of the Pioneers donated the well know “Hebe” which stands in Sturt Street. As well as the obituary from the “Horsham Times” a lengthier obituary appeared in The Argus on February 21.
John COFFEY – Died February 9, 1908, Melbourne. John Coffey was born in Limerick, Ireland and came to Australia with his brother in the 1860s. He first went to the Wimmera while carting between Melbourne and the Wimmera. Making a permanent home there, he worked as a farmer and a hotel keeper. He left a wife, Catherine Almond, five daughters and three sons.
Thomas HENNESSY – Died February 19, 1908, Horsham. Thomas Hennessy arrived in Victoria in 1859 aboard the “Royal Charter” from Limerick, Ireland. He began farming around Koroit, lost a leg, and moved to the Pimpinio district where he farmed for many years. An accident prior to his death contributed to his demise.
James DAVIDSON – Died February 12, 1913, Narrawong. James Davidson, born at Narrawong, was described as a “good all-round citizen” in his obituary. He was involved in the mounted rifles and athletics.
Mrs Thomas LANG – Died February 14, 1914, Hawthorn, Victoria. Born in Paisley, Scotland, in 1920 she arrived on the “Star of the East” in 1855. Her husband Thomas was a well-known horticulturist in the late 19th century. Mrs Lang was a principal of a girls’ school for a time.
Mrs Mary Ann LINDON – Died February 15, 1915, Willaura, Victoria. Born in Buckinghamshire, England, she came to Victoria in her 20s during the 1850s. She worked at Golf Hill Station at Shelford for George Russell, before moving to Sandford where she married William Lindon. Mary Ann lived at Willaura with her daughter for the last 10 years of her life.
Edward Harewood LASCELLES – Died February 12, 1917, Geelong. Lascelles is a well-known name in WesternVictoria. Not only does his name form part of the Geelong wool broking firm Denneys Lascelles & Co, the town of Lascelles in the Mallee was named after him. Edward Lascelles was born in Tasmania in 1847, married Ethel Denney and they had six children. He was a leader in vermin extermination on his property in the Mallee and was the first to introduce share farming in Victoria.
Mrs John WHITEHEAD – Died February, 1918, Dandenong, Victoria. Mrs Whitehead arrived in Victoria with her widowed mother in 1863. The following year she married journalist, Mr Dudeney, who had gone to Ballarat to report on the Eureka Stockade riots. Only after a few years of marriage, Mr Dudeney passed away and she married John Whitehead a worker at the Ballarat Post Office and later the GPO in Melbourne
Mrs Martha PHILLIPS – Died February 14, 1918, Buninyong. Martha Phillips was a colonist of 64 years, arriving in Victoria to join her husband on the goldfields of Ballarat. Mrs Phillips enjoyed telling stories of the goldrush days.
Mrs Janet Simpson CLARK – Died February 19, 1920, Bondi, N.S.W. Mrs Clarke, her husband Robert and four children sailed for Australia in 1857. One child, Agnes died during the journey. At the time of their arrival, the train line to Horsham was under construction, so the family took a coach to Stawell, then bullock wagon to Horsham. She was one of the many pioneer women who coped under tough conditions.
William HANLON – Died February 19, 1923, Portland. William Hanlon was the mayor of Portland 11 times. His interests within the municipality included President of the Portland Free Library.
William ROBERTSON – Died February 2, 1924, Portland. A colonist of 77 years, William Robertson arrived in Portland as a five-year old with his parents. He had travelled to New Guinea and Western Australia as well one time riding in the Great Western Steeplechase at Coleraine.
Charles Francis PATTERSON – Died February 17, 1933, Portland. Charles was born in Portland in 1857 and spent some time in Western Australia on the railways. It was there he met his future wife and after marriage, they returned to Portland to raise 10 children. Charles was a popular figure around the town and he worked in the fish distribution business.
Alfred Irvine HOGAN – Died February 8, 1934, Portland. From tightrope walker to sawmiller, Alfred Hogan was an interesting chap. Arriving in Portland as a young man, he gained notoriety as a tightrope walker performing daredevil tricks in the mould of “Blondin” the French tightrope walker. Age must have caught up with his tightrope walking feats and he turned to sawmilling, with his obituary crediting him as a pioneer of sawmilling in the Portland district, an industry which became one of the biggest in the area. Alfred also had a keen interest in Australian Rules football and was one of the people behind the development of Hanlon Park, which is still home to the Portland Football Club today.
Mary Jane SPIKEN – Died February, 1934, Warrnambool. Mary Jane Spiken’s mother Anna Harland arrived in Victoria with members of the Henty family. Anna married John George Spiken with Mary Jane born around 1861 at the Henty homestead. Mary Jane married William Jenkins and they had seven children. She was a wealth of knowledge on the early days of Portland.
Fanny Ann MALSEED – Died February 13, 1936, Myamyn. Fanny Ann was the daughter of James and Eliza Malseed of Mount Richmond. She married Thomas Edmund Adamson around 1886 and they raised eight children.
Richard YOUNG – Died February 16, 1939, Horsham. Richard was born at Clunes and moved to Horsham with his parents as a 10-year-old. He married Isabella Anderson and they raised a large family. Richard was a keen footballer and played for United Traders football club. He was a founding member of the Horsham Football Club and was an active member of the local fire brigade.
Walter Birmingham EDGAR – Died February 22, 1939, Portland. Walter Edgar was born at Pine Hills Station at Harrow in 1856. Educated at Hamilton College, he achieved the double honor of dux of the college and athletic champion. Despite studying civil engineering at Melbourne University, he returned to Pine Hills to take up agriculture pursuits. In 1882 he married Jessie Swan of Konongwootong. In the years before his death, Walter toured England, Scotland, Norway and Sweden with his daughter. In his younger days, Walter was something of a cricketer and golfer. He and his father played some part in the Aboriginal cricket team touring England in 1867. The team included Johnny Mullagh who Walter often played cricket with.
Ann NIVEN – Died February 24, 1942, Coleraine. Ann Niven’s came to Australia at five, but without her parents. They arrived at a later date, but until then Ann was under the guardianship of Mr and Mrs Christorphen. They lived where Balmoral now stands, but then it was only bush. She married William Bird, living at Wombelano and then for the last 32 years of her life, at Coleraine. Mrs Bird was the mother of 11 children.
Mr Patrick HENRY – Died February 1942, Terang. Patrick Henry, with his parents, settled in the Woodford area upon their arrival in Australia in 1866. He began driving bullock wagons as a teenager and worked in that occupation until he was 86. When he finally retired, it was thought he was the oldest bullock wagon driver in the Western District.
Thomas Turner SHAW – Died February 1, 1949, Beaumaris, Victoria. Thomas Shaw was a not only a pioneer of fine merino wool production but also motoring in Victoria. He drove one of the first steam cars and was also a founding member of the Royal Auto Club (RACV).