Author Archives: Merron Riddiford

Last Ride

Each regiment formed upon a squadron frontage in three lines from 300 to 500 yards apart, and every man was restless, excited, and resolute for victory.

At 4.30 the two regiments moved off at a trot. Surprise and speed were their one chance, so no time was lost in breaking into a gallop. For what seemed to be a space of minutes the Turkish fire ceased, as if the garrison was wondering what the approaching horsemen had in mind. Then swiftly realising that they were out for business, the whole line burst into a flame of fire.

But the Australians were not to be denied, much less were their glorious chargers in the mood to hesitate. As if entering into the spirit of the great game, with ears pricked and manes flashing back, they headed in a wild scamper into the setting sun.

As they reached the Turkish front line trenches, the leading troopers dug in their spurs and their mounts cleared the obstacle in their stride”   

P.Goldensted. (November 11, 1933). The Sydney Morning Herald, p11 http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article17023181.

The outcome, achieved in just under 60 minutes of wild riding,sheer bravery and maybe a touch of madness, saw the 4th Light Horse Brigade, consisting of the 4th and 12th Light Horse Regiments, capture Beersheba in one of the most important offensives of  WW1.

Eight hundred Australian Light Horsemen waited on a ridge about six kilometres from the town of Beersheba, hidden from the Turkish troops.  At 4.30pm on October 31, 1917, under the orders of Lieutenant General Harry Chauvel, they moved forward, first at a walk, then a trot, gradually quickening until the order of “CHARGE” was given, and 800 horsemen urged their horses, tired and thirsty from travelling overnight, into a gallop.

THE CHARGE AT BEERSHEBA.  Image courtesy of the Australian WAr Memorial.  Image No, A02684  http://www.awm.gov.au/collection/A02684/

THE CHARGE AT BEERSHEBA. Image courtesy of the Australian WAr Memorial. Image No, A02684 http://www.awm.gov.au/collection/A02684/

The Turks, expecting the Australians to dismount and fight one on one at the first trench, watched with surprise as horsemen, with only bayonets in hand, rode resolutely with no intention of stopping.  They cleared the first trench, then the second. As the first squadron approached the third trench and dismounted,  gun fire raining upon them, a bullet hit a 28-year-old farmer from Byaduk in the Western District and he died where he fell.

Walter Rodney Kinghorn, the youngest child in a family of 12, was born in Byaduk in 1888 to Francis Kinghorn and Elizabeth White.  Britain declared war on Germany on August 4, 1914 and 20 days later at Broadmeadows, 26-year-old Walter Kinghorn enlisted, one of the first from the Hamilton district to do so.  Prior to that, life for unmarried Walter consisted of farm work at Byaduk, like his father and brothers before him.  His future had looked mapped out for him, but with no wife or children, the offer to see the world was all too enticing.

On August 22 1914, the people of Hamilton demonstrated the patriotic feelings that abounded as they bid farewell to what they then thought was the remaining quota of Hamilton district volunteers preparing for departure overseas.  Those in the streets that day described the scene as “stirring”.

THE EXPEDITIONARY FORCE. (1914, August 22). Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1914 - 1918), p. 6. Retrieved April 19, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article119865290

THE EXPEDITIONARY FORCE. (1914, August 22). Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1914 – 1918), p. 6. Retrieved April 19, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article119865290

It was not just men leaving Hamilton.  Fourteen horses, donated by prominent local breeders, including James Learmonth of Melville Forest, also said goodbye to their breeding grounds and like the men, were oblivious to what lay ahead of them.

The mood was buoyant and locals provided gifts for the men including cigarettes and a box of cigars, from Mr Short, brother-in-law of Private Maurice Tilley.  The parade moved along the streets of Hamilton to the Town Hall, accompanied by the Hamilton Pipe Band.

THE EXPEDITIONARY FORCE. (1914, August 22). Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1914 - 1918), p. 6. Retrieved April 19, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article119865290

THE EXPEDITIONARY FORCE. (1914, August 22). Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1914 – 1918), p. 6. Retrieved April 19, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article119865290

 

Walter spent time training at the Broadmeadows Camp until  October 19, 1914 when the men and horses of the 4th Light Horse sailed aboard the steamer HMAT Wiltshire bound for Egypt.  With him were Tom Henderson, Maurice Tilley and William Niven of Hamilton and John Francis of Yulecart.

Image Courtesy of the Australian War Memorial.  Image No. A04186  http://www.awm.gov.au/collection/A04186/

HMAT WILTSHIRE. Image Courtesy of the Australian War Memorial. Image No. A04186 http://www.awm.gov.au/collection/A04186/

 

FEEDING HORSES OF THE 4TH LIGHT HORSE ON BOARD HMAT WILTSHIRE. Image Courtesy of the Australian War Memorial.  Image no. PS0008 http://www.awm.gov.au/collection/PS0008/

FEEDING HORSES OF THE 4TH LIGHT HORSE ON BOARD SS WILTSHIRE. Image Courtesy of the Australian War Memorial. Image no. PS0008 http://www.awm.gov.au/collection/PS0008/

They arrived at Port Said, Egypt on December 10, 1914 and work began to unload the horses and set up camp.

THE 4TH LIGHT HORSE UNLOADING AT .  Image courtesy of the Australian War Memorial.  Image no.  PS0384 http://www.awm.gov.au/collection/PS0384/

THE 4TH LIGHT HORSE UNLOADING AT PORT SAID, EGYPT. Image courtesy of the Australian War Memorial. Image no. PS0384 http://www.awm.gov.au/collection/PS0384/

 

Walter Kinghorn’s service record gives no clue to his whereabouts from the time the steamer docked in December 1914 until January 2, 1916 when he was recorded as being in Heliopolis.  The only other listing was that he was a driver with 4th Light Horse Transport from the time of his enlistment until July 5, 1916.

4th LIGHT HORSE TRANSPORT.  Image Courtesy of the Australian War Memorial.  Image no.  B00752 http://www.awm.gov.au/collection/B00752/

4th LIGHT HORSE TRANSPORT. Image Courtesy of the Australian War Memorial. Image no. B00752 http://www.awm.gov.au/collection/B00752/

If Walter remained with the 4th Light Horse after their arrival, he would have travelled with them to Gallipoli during May 1915, minus the horses, as infantry reinforcements.  The regiment spent six months in the trenches at ANZAC Cove before returning to Egypt to discover the regiment would be split up.  Horses had limitations in the desert with water supplies an ongoing concern.  Two squadrons left for France, while the rest remained around the Suez Canal.

Image Courtesy of the Australian War Memorial Image no. PS0800 http://www.awm.gov.au/collection/PS0800/

Image Courtesy of the Australian War Memorial Image no. PS0800 http://www.awm.gov.au/collection/PS0800/

Walter spent time at the 4th Light Horse Regiment Headquarters at Heliopolis before falling ill late in May, 1916.  He spent a few weeks in hospital before joining the 1st Light Horse for a month at Tel-El-Kebir.  Then on to the  1st Double Squadron at Serapeum, Egypt in July, where he remained for four months.

There was still reshuffling among the Light Horse regiments and the 4th Light Horse joined with the Imperial Camel Corps to form the 3rd Camel Regiment at El Ferdan, Egypt in November 1916. Walter was with the camel regiment for three months.  On December 27, 1916, Henry Langtip wrote in his diary “Got camels issued today.  I don’t like them at all but I suppose one will get used to them“, but the following day…”On camels for the first time today and it was great fun as several fell off”.

4th LIGHT HORSE REGIMENT BATHING HORSES & CAMELS,  MARAKEB, PALESTINE, 1917.  Image Courtesy of the Australian War Memorial Image No. J00425 http://www.awm.gov.au/collection/J00425/

4th LIGHT HORSE REGIMENT BATHING HORSES & CAMELS, MARAKEB, PALESTINE, 1917. Image Courtesy of the Australian War Memorial Image No. J00425 http://www.awm.gov.au/collection/J00425/

 

With further reorganization to the mounted brigades in early March 1917, Walter returned to his role as a driver with the 4th Light Horse Transport, then camped at Ferry Post on the Suez Canal.  He was also promoted to Lance Corporal.   For some reason, at his own request, Walter reverted from driver to trooper on May 26, 1917 while in Tel El Fara, Palestine.  That decision may have sealed his fate.

4th Light Horse in Palestine c 1915.  Image courtesy of Picture Queensland, State Library of Queensland Image no. 182314 http://trove.nla.gov.au/version/47940236

4th Light Horse in Palestine c 1915. Image courtesy of Picture Queensland, State Library of Queensland Image no. 182314 http://trove.nla.gov.au/version/47940236

 

In the months leading up to the attack on Beersheba, on two occasions the Allies had unsuccessfully tried to take Gaza but a different tack was in the planning.  The Light Horse would come from a another direction, the East.

Harry Langtip wrote on Sunday October 28, 1917, “We are ready  to move out to attack Beersheba at a moments notice.  We have had a lecture from the Colonel and he tells us that we are going 30 miles tonight and 30 miles again the next night” (p37 of transcript).

On October 31 he wrote “We rode all night to get right around Beersheba, 32 miles in all…Our horses ready to go into the line to attack within the next few minutes.  It was a terrible ride in heavy dust all the way.  The horses have still got the saddles on and I don’t know when they will get them off…”

 

 

The Road to Beersheba (Oct 1917).  Image courtesy of the Australian War Memorial Image no.  A02788  A02788

THE ROAD TO BEERSHEBA (Oct 1917). Image courtesy of the Australian War Memorial Image no. A02788 A02788

 

Soon they were on the move as the charge began.  Aloysius Cotter of the 4th Light Horse, wrote home  to his sister in Gippsland about the charge.  He recounted burying his head in his horse’s mane as they galloped directly into the barrage.

OUR SOLDIERS. LETTER FROM PALESTINE. (1918, February 28). Foster Mirror and South Gippsland Shire Advocate (Vic. : 1914 - 1918), p. 3. Retrieved April 21, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article129511784

OUR SOLDIERS. LETTER FROM PALESTINE. (1918, February 28). Foster Mirror and South Gippsland Shire Advocate (Vic. : 1914 – 1918), p. 3. Retrieved April 21, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article129511784

Thomas Hoskisson, of the 12th Light Horse Regiment wrote home to his brother in N.S.W. about his experience.

HOW THE LIGHT HORSE FOUGHT IN THE CAPTURE OF BEERSHEBA. (1918, December 5). Camden News (NSW : 1895 - 1954), p. 1. Retrieved April 21, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article136790912

HOW THE LIGHT HORSE FOUGHT IN THE CAPTURE OF BEERSHEBA. (1918, December 5). Camden News (NSW : 1895 – 1954), p. 1. Retrieved April 21, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article136790912

 

Walter Kinghorn was one of the brave troopers at the head of the charge.  His father Francis received a letter from Major James Lawson, a hotel keeper from Rupanyup prior to the war, describing  Walter’s last ride.

THE LATE LANCE-CORPORAL WALTER KINGHORN. (1918, May 9). Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1914 - 1918), p. 4. Retrieved April 21, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article119501800

THE LATE LANCE-CORPORAL WALTER KINGHORN. (1918, May 9). Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1914 – 1918), p. 4. Retrieved April 21, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article119501800

As members of the 4th Light Horse dismounted and fought the Turkish soldiers in the trenches, the 12th Light Horse passed them by and continued on to Beersheba clearing the way for the remaining squadrons to move forward, resulting in the capture of the town.  Horses wasted no time drinking from the wells, another advantage of taking Beersheba.  Some horses that had survived the grueling gallop, dropped dead from exhaustion after drinking.  Behind them, on the path they had travelled lay fallen horses, taken down from underneath their riders.  Considering the number of troops involved and the risk taken, the casualties were considered light with 31 men killed and 36 wounded.  The loss of horses was higher, with 70 killed and at least 70 wounded.

Seven other men died at the same trench as Walter from Troopers to Officers , and they were buried close to where they fell.  Eight white crosses marked their graves.

Image courtesy of the Australian War Memorial.  Image no. H15569  http://www.awm.gov.au/collection/H15569/

Image courtesy of the Australian War Memorial. Image no. H15569 http://www.awm.gov.au/collection/H15569/

 

The 4th Light Horse Quarter Master Sergeant James French managed to craft a memorial plaque for the grave site, using scrap metal, the debris of war.  During the 1920s, the plaque was donated to the Australian War Memorial, but not before approval was given by the eight families.

 

Memorial at Beersheba. (1918, May 14). Gippsland Farmers Journal (Traralgon, Vic. : 1914 - 1918), p. 2. Retrieved April 21, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article88057978

Memorial at Beersheba. (1918, May 14). Gippsland Farmers Journal (Traralgon, Vic. : 1914 – 1918), p. 2. Retrieved April 21, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article88057978

 

Image Courtesy of the Australian War Memorial.  Image no. H15570  http://www.awm.gov.au/collection/H15570/

Image Courtesy of the Australian War Memorial. Image no. H15570 http://www.awm.gov.au/collection/H15570/

Image Courtesy of the Australian War Memorial Image no.  RELAWM06330  http://www.awm.gov.au/collection/RELAWM06330/

Image Courtesy of the Australian War Memorial Image no. RELAWM06330 http://www.awm.gov.au/collection/RELAWM06330/

He may have been thousands of miles from home when he died,  but a touch of Byaduk, family and friends was not far away from Walter.  Also in Palestine was the No. 1 Squadron of the Australian Flying Corp (A.F.C.) and among the ranks was Charles Harman, Walter’s brother-in-law.

 

No. 1 Squadron Mechanics at work in Palestine. Image courtesy of the Australian War Memorial.  Image no.B01646  http://www.awm.gov.au/collection/B01646/

No. 1 Squadron Mechanics at work in Palestine. Image courtesy of the Australian War Memorial. Image no.B01646 http://www.awm.gov.au/collection/B01646/

The A.F.C.’s role in Palestine was mainly surveillance, taking photos of the war front and military objectives, such as this photo above Beersheba.

Aireal View of Beersheba taken from the plane of No 1 Squadron AFC.  Image courtesy of the Australian War Memorial.  Image no. B02020 http://www.awm.gov.au/collection/B02020/

Aireal View of Beersheba taken from the plane of No 1 Squadron AFC. Image courtesy of the Australian War Memorial. Image no. B02020 http://www.awm.gov.au/collection/B02020/

 

Charles Harman, 10 years older than Walter, married Walter’s eldest sister Catherine in 1905, but he would have known Walter all of his life.  After all, Charles’s grandfather James Harman and the Kinghorns had neighboring properties and in 1907, James and Jonathan Harman stood with Frank and Elizabeth Kinghorn for a photograph with other Byaduk pioneers.  The two families had known each other for 50 years.  Even while they were overseas, letters to Walter and Charles would have told them the news of the marriage of Walter’s brother David Kinghorn to Charles’ cousin, Charlotte Harman in 1915.

Charles Harman was a Sergeant with the A.F.C. No. 1 Squadron mechanics.  The mechanics made a memorial plaque and Charles erected it on Walter’s grave.  A touching gesture and most likely one of the most difficult times of Charles’ war service.  During the 1920s, the plaque was returned to the Kinghorn family after Walter and the other men were exhumed and buried at the Beersheba War Cemetery.

Image Courtesy of the Australian War Memorial.  Image No.

MEMORIAL PLAQUE MADE BY THE MECHANICS OF THE NO. 1 SQUADRON AFC Image Courtesy of the Australian War Memorial. Image No. B02143 http://www.awm.gov.au/collection/B02143/

 

In contrast to the deserts of Palestine, back at home in Western Victoria, the spring grass was abundant, lambs were fattening and the local P&A Agricultural show season was underway.  News of Walter’s death, however, began to reverberate from Byaduk by mid November, 1917.  His death was felt as far away Trawalla, west of Ballarat,  home to Walter’s sister Flora. Reports appeared in both the Ballarat Courier and the Ripponshire Advocate.

FOR THE EMPIRE. (1917, November 17). Riponshire Advocate (Vic. : 1914 - 1918), p. 3. Retrieved April 21, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article119573918

FOR THE EMPIRE. (1917, November 17). Riponshire Advocate (Vic. : 1914 – 1918), p. 3. Retrieved April 21, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article119573918

 

TROOPER W. KINGHORN. (1917, November 16). The Ballarat Courier (Vic. : 1914 - 1918), p. 1 Edition: DAILY.. Retrieved April 21, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article73334841

TROOPER W. KINGHORN. (1917, November 16). The Ballarat Courier (Vic. : 1914 – 1918), p. 1 Edition: DAILY.. Retrieved April 21, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article73334841

 

In the Hamilton Spectator, Frank Kinghorn gave thanks to all those who had paid tribute to his youngest son.

Advertising. (1917, December 1). Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1914 - 1918), p. 7. Retrieved April 21, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article119860038

Advertising. (1917, December 1). Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1914 – 1918), p. 7. Retrieved April 21, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article119860038

 

When Major Lawson corresponded with Frank Kinghorn the following year, he too paid tribute to Walter and reassured Frank that Walter had played a part in the “finest charge in the annals of modern warfare”.  Little consolation for Frank, then in his 80s.  He died in 1919.

THE LATE LANCE-CORPORAL WALTER KINGHORN. (1918, May 9). Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1914 - 1918), p. 4. Retrieved April 21, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article119501800

THE LATE LANCE-CORPORAL WALTER KINGHORN. (1918, May 9). Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1914 – 1918), p. 4. Retrieved April 21, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article119501800

Byaduk suffered the loss of 14 men during WW1 and the community moved to remember them.  Described as a historic day for Byaduk, on June 28, 1918, the families of the local men that served, planted trees for an Avenue of Honor. Those who had paid the supreme sacrifice carried a laurel wreath on their plaques. One of Walter’s sisters, most likely Fanny, planted his tree.  Mrs Hilda Harman, aunt of Charles Harman planted one for him, while Charles’ sisters Julia and Alice planted trees for the other Harman brothers to serve, Reuben Edward and William Loud.

A cousin of Charles Harman, Isabella Harman had two brothers-in-law serve, Denis and Michael Bunworth.  Denis was killed only a month earlier in France.  As Isabella’s husband, Jonathan Bunworth planted a tree for his brother Michael, he could never imagine that within two weeks, Micheal’s plaque too would bear the telling laurel wreath. Michael was killed on August 1, 1918 in France.  The deaths of the two Bunworth boys was also felt by the Kinghorns as Walter’s brother Frank jnr. married Denis and Michael’s sister, Johanna.  Three families intertwined through marriage and united in grief.

BYADUK AVENUE OF HONOUR. (1918, July 13). Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1914 - 1918), p. 8. Retrieved April 22, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article119504179

BYADUK AVENUE OF HONOUR. (1918, July 13). Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1914 – 1918), p. 8. Retrieved April 22, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article119504179

 

In 1922, a  War Memorial was officially unveiled at Byaduk to remember the fallen.  A fitting tribute to the men from Byaduk who served and died.

HAMILTON. (1922, June 14). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), p. 15. Retrieved April 21, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article4627391

HAMILTON. (1922, June 14). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957), p. 15. Retrieved April 21, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article4627391

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In nearby Hamilton, the brave ride of the Light Horsemen at Beersheba was also remembered, with a row of  14 Aleppo palms planted along Alexandra Parade in 1920 as a tribute.

 

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Unveiled in 1995, a memorial stone close to the palms completes the Beersheba memorial.  Water Kinghorn’s name is beside Dunkeld boy, Edward Womersley, who died of his wounds in the days after the charge.

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To the horses of the Australian Light Horse, especially those from the Western District that never returned to rolling green pastures, but instead only knew sand, dust, flies, heat and death, their bravery and endurance should never be forgotten.

Image Courtesy of the Australian War Memorial.  Image No. H12486  http://www.awm.gov.au/collection/H12486/

Image Courtesy of the Australian War Memorial. Image No. H12486 http://www.awm.gov.au/collection/H12486/

 

While in no way can the adrenaline, fear and the scale of the charge at Beersheba be recreated, the Australian film “The Lighthorsemen” does go some way to depict the events of October 31, 1917.

But nothing can go past recollections of those that were at Bersheeba such as the following poem by  Trooper Arthur Beatty of Sassafras written in 1918 remembering those buried in a “Bedouin camping place”

 

beersheba

ORIGINAL POETRY. (1918, September 21). The Australasian (Melbourne, Vic. : 1864 - 1946), p. 53. Retrieved April 21, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article140212130

ORIGINAL POETRY. (1918, September 21). The Australasian (Melbourne, Vic. : 1864 – 1946), p. 53. Retrieved April 21, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article140212130

 

SOURCES

Roll of Honour – Walter Rodney Kinghorn

Embarkation Roll – Walter Rodney Kinghorn

Commonwealth War Graves Commission – Casualty Details – Walter Rodney Kinghorn

Australian Light Horse Studies Centre – Roll of Honour Walter Rodney Kinghorn

Australian Light Horse Studies Centre – Embarkation Roll – 4th Light Horse Regiment – A Squadron – HMAT Wiltshire

Australian Light Horse Studies Centre – The Battle of Beersheba

The AIF Project – 4th Light Horse Regiment, A Squadron Unit Details

A.W.M – 4th Light Horse Regiment

The Desert Mounted Troops at Beersheba

Transcript of Diaries of Henry “Harry” Langtip

Beersheba: The Charge of the 4th Light Horse

The Australian Light Horse Association – Mounted Troops

Australian Reserve Forces Day Council – The Charge at Beersheba

A.W.M. – The Charge of the 4th Light Horse Brigade at Beersheba

 

This post was written for the 2014 Trans-Tasman ANZAC Day Blog Challenge.  Click on the link to read some great ANZAC day tributes from other bloggers.  To read my previous ANZAC Day posts, click on this  link…Trans-Tasman ANZAC Day Blog Challenge – 2011-2013.

 

 


Happy Birthday WDF

That time of year has rolled around again…blogiversary time.  Yes, Western District Families is three today and it’s party hat time.

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MY NANA, LINDA HADDEN, IS IN THE BACK ROW WITH THE POINTY WHITE HAT

At first glance, my blogging year seemed uneventful.  With much time taken up with study and family, and little left to write the type of posts I enjoy.  But when I look back over the 100 or so posts of the past year, when at times I’ve felt as though I was in a tug of war with demands from everywhere, I didn’t too badly.

hb

Image Courtesy of the State Library of Victoria. Image no. H2010.137/14 http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/85452

I managed to write posts that are now among my favourites of the past three years including Sweet Daisy, stories of The Vagabond, the Muddy Creek Reeds, Claremont, Portland and  Skipton, the Local Horse, each requiring plenty of research to sink my teeth into.  I also enjoyed writing the post that evolved while cooking, Stretching My Genealogy Muscles.

There has also been the ever dependable Trove Tuesday posts. This time last year I had written 33 Trove Tuesday posts and in the past year another 49 have evolved. I particularly enjoyed learning about Aaron Weller, who in 1897 was Victoria’s oldest man.  I know some you are missing the Trove Tuesday posts, but they’ll be back.  Another regular, Passing of the Pioneers, is still going strong and I will keep up the posts over the coming months.  I haven’t counted for a while, but the number of pioneer obituaries is nearing 500.

There were some other highlights such as The Hamilton Spectator (1914-1918) arriving online at Trove.  Also the birth of the Western District Families Facebook page  now with 162 members.  And of course,  the re-incarnation of the “I’ve Lived in Hamilton, Victoria” Facebook group , with 2590 members. It has been huge, bringing me new friends, new research ideas and an increased knowledge of Hamilton and district.

But the biggest highlight once again was Western District Families inclusion in Inside History magazine’s 50 top genealogy blogs.  To have Western District Families recognised with 49 fantastic blogs from Australia and overseas definitely takes the cake.

http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/85452

Image Courtesy of the State Library of Victoria . Image no.H2010.137/14 http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/85452

 

So what’s been popular this year?  The Top 5 includes two new posts, another only 13 months old and two old favourites.

  • A Pleasant Distraction – Introducing the Hamilton Facebook group and an insight into the gathering of Hamilton social history that has resulted.
  • The General Hewitt – Portland Bay 1856 - First posted in March 2013, this post tells the story of the ship’s arrival in Portland Bay and the events in days after, along with some of the passengers who made the Western District their home.
  • Muntham Station – A You Tube clip, produced for the sale of the former Henty property, spurred me on to share a little of the history of the former Henty property.

It is also great  to see the Links page getting many views and lots of clicks.  I hope you found a useful Western District link.

Western District Families has really moved forward in the past 12 months.  Views to the blog have almost doubled and at the last blogiversary had 64 followers, today there are 144. I would love to get back to the usual two posts a week, but while I’m working on my Diploma thesis I will be limiting my output here, but I’m looking forward to the second half of the year when I can share some more stories of our Western District Families.

Thank you to everyone.

 

Image courtesy of the Lindsay G. Cumming Collection, State Library of Victoria.  Image no. H2005.88/353 http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/26100

Image courtesy of the Lindsay G. Cumming Collection, State Library of Victoria. Image no. H2005.88/353 http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/26100

 


Passing of the Pioneers

March Passing of the Pioneers shares obituaries of well-known residents of Hamilton, Heywood and Portland.  They include the surveyor of Camperdown and yet another man who was at Blue Lake, Mt. Gambier the day Adam Lindsay Gordon took his famed leap.

Thomas BROOKS – Died March 7, 1888 at Hotspur.  At the time of his death, Thomas Brooks was on of the oldest inhabitants of the Heywood district, having arrived in 1853.  His death was a result of an accident, after 62-year-old Thomas delivered a coffin to Hotspur from Heywood for the funeral of Mr Fidler.  After the funeral he returned home, only to fall from his horse.  He received head injuries, from which he died.  A contract worker for the local shire, Thomas was known as an eccentric and was referred to as “Old Tom Brooks”  For more information about Thomas see the South-West Victoria Pioneers website.

John THOMSON – Died March 27, 1894 at Melbourne.  Anyone who lived in Hamilton and district prior to the late 1980s, would know the name John Thomson as that was that name that adorned the front of one of Hamilton’s longest running department stores John Thomson & Co of Gray Street, locally known simply as Thomsons.  John Thomson arrived in Victoria from Scotland at a young age and was educated at Scotch College, Geelong and the Hamilton Academy.  He joined his uncle and brothers, Alexander and William in the store, first established as an Iron store in 1866, and later became a partner.  He had a strong association with the Hamilton Presbyterian Church and when he died, aged 46, he had attended  the Convention of  the Presbyterian Fellowship Association.  He fell sick over the weekend and passed away.

 

Advertising. (1953, July 21). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), p. 21. Retrieved March 27, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article23256981

Advertising. (1953, July 21). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957), p. 21. Retrieved March 27, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article23256981

 

 

 Robert Dunbar  SCOTT - Died March 7, 1898.  Robert Scott was born in Scotland and he and his wife arrived in Victoria around 1851.  Robert was employed as a land surveyor, his first job to survey the western part of Port Phillip.  He set up camp near what would become the town of Camperdown and set about laying out a new township.  He named the first streets, including Manifold Street after the Manifold brothers.  He selected land on the banks of Lake Gnotuk and established the property “Gnotuk Park”.  Robert was a member of the local P&A Society and the Freemasons.  In the late 1890s, he sold “Gnotuk Park” and let a property at Craigieburn.  He later moved to Melbourne establishing himself as a commission agent, but lost money in the crash after the land boom.  A further account of Robert Scott is on this link – A Link With The Past – Interview with David Scott.

Mercy ERRI – Died March 26, 1932 at Cobrico.  Mercy Erri was born in England and arrived in Victoria with her parents in 1857.  Her father started in business in Camperdown, one of the early pioneers of that town.  Mercy trained as a nurse and was a Sunday School teacher.  In her later years, she became an invalid, confined to her bed, but she continued to produce beautiful needlework, even with failing sight.  Mercy was 88 years old when she died and never married.

James MOLLOY  – Died March 25, 1937 at Portland.  James Molloy arrived in Portland with his parents aboard the “British Empire” when he was 11.   He went to school at All Saints school in Portland and during those years spent time with William Dutton extracting oil from whale blubber.  He was then employed by Edward Henty at Narrawong.  His next job was for the Bell’s at Heywood, training racehorses, his greatest success winning the Great Western Steeplechase at Coleraine.  Apparently he was with Adam Lindsay Gordon on the day Gordon took his leap at Blue Lake, Mt Gambier.  He later returned to Portland, working as a storeman and a water-side worker.  James married Mary Beglen and they had three sons and two daughters.

David Edmund BATES – Died March 5, 1938 at Casterton.  David Bates was born at Narracorte before moving to Casterton with his parents when six.  He was educated at the Casterton school before becoming an apprentice draper with Mr Mills.  David was an athlete and once ran second in the Stawell Gift.  He took a great interest in the public affairs of Casterton and served as secretary on the Casterton Hospital board.

Eliza MOORE – Died March 24, 1939 at Colac.  Eliza Moore was born in Ireland in 1854 and travelled to Victoria as a child aboard the “Chance“.  Her parents settled at Port Fairy and later at Woodford.  Eliza married Alexander Russell at Warrnambool and they farmed at Dennington.  They then moved to Colac where they remained until Eliza’s death.  In her younger years, Eliza was an excellent horsewoman and was devoted to the Church throughout her life.

Daniel FENTON – Died March 17 at Camperdown.  Daniel Fenton was born in Camperdown in 1860 and was the first child baptised at the St. Andrews Presbyterian Church in the same year.  Educated at Camperdown State School, he spent his entire working life as a dairy farmer.  He married Mary Ann Shenfield of Cobden and five children were living at the time of Daniel’s death.

 

 

 

 

 


Oh No…I Missed Trove Tuesday

After 82 consecutive Trove Tuesday posts, I’ve missed one.  Yes, I just couldn’t get a post prepared this week and I’m a bit sad that it has come to an end.  I really was hoping to get to 100 without a break.  Now that I have broken the succession, it is a good time to say that I will have a short break from Trove Tuesday.

With a lot going on in my life including a rapidly approaching due date for my thesis , I need to take a break.  I will still have a March Passing of the Pioneers post (hopefully in time) and will of course post for the Anzac Day Blog Challenge, which I just can’t miss.  In the meantime, if I get a chance to post I will, but I’m not making any promises.

For Trove Tuesday this week, I intended to share some feedback from my post a few Tuesdays back called “Dear Cinderella”.  It is always a bit nerve-racking when I write about someone, not related to me who people may remember.  I did it when I wrote about Lottie Condon, Sultan Aziz, Elsie Day and again when I wrote about the owners of  Skipton, the 1941 Melbourne Cup winner.  I heard from family members of each of those people, which is great and, thankfully, the responses were positive.

I was lucky enough to receive an email and a blog comment from the granddaughters of Nicholas Dix, Paula and Dallas.  Nicholas was one of the many children that wrote to the Leader Newspaper’s “Dear Cinderella” column.  His description of his farm life in the Western District gives those researching the area a great record of daily life during that time, but for Paula and Dallas it provides a wonderful piece of family history.  His granddaughters on finding my post were “thrilled” to have this reminder of their much loved grandfather who passed away over 30 years ago.

 

CORRESPONDENCE. (1914, June 13). Leader (Melbourne, Vic. : 1914 - 1918), p. 58. Retrieved January 27, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article89313857

CORRESPONDENCE. (1914, June 13). Leader (Melbourne, Vic. : 1914 – 1918), p. 58. Retrieved January 27, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article89313857

I may have found the article, but it is the work of  those at Trove Australia, bringing us the great resource of digitised newspapers, that led to Nicholas’ letter coming to light.  Without the digitisation program, the letter may have remained buried in an archive, possibly to be never read again.  My aim with many of my Trove Tuesday posts, is to find such lost treasures and bring them out for all to read.  If you would like to read my previous 82 Trove Tuesday posts until I resume them again, follow the link – Trove Tuesday.  In the meantime, I hope that other bloggers continue the Trove Tuesday tradition of sharing Trove’s treasures.


Trove Tuesday – Money Shortage

Still on the subject of Charles James Harman, this is an interesting snippet from the Townsville Daily Bulletin of September 3, 1930.

In the 1920s,  Charles, his wife Lavinia Fisher and daughter Mary travelled to London for Charles to take up a post with the R.A.A.F. at the R.A.F. headquarters.  His position was terminated in 1930 and the family returned to Melbourne.  The world was in Depression and while this was not the apparent reason for Charles’ role ending, it was probably a good time to return home.

According to Lavinia, even if Australians in London had money in the bank they could only access their funds after a 60 day waiting period.  The jewellery had to go with women selling off their valuables, probably at a deflated price, just to get some cash to survive.

AUSTRALIANS IN LONDON. (1930, September 3). Townsville Daily Bulletin (Qld. : 1885 - 1954), p. 7. Retrieved March 18, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article60774888

AUSTRALIANS IN LONDON. (1930, September 3). Townsville Daily Bulletin (Qld. : 1885 – 1954), p. 7. Retrieved March 18, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article60774888


Trove Tuesday – Charlie and Arthur

Newspapers are a great for filling in the gaps in our family histories, uncovering information that would never be known using vital records alone.  That has been the case with my research on my gg uncle Charles James Harman.  The co-subject of last week’s Trove Tuesday post, Charles just keeps popping up in the papers offering me more and more about him.  I had found a lot of information on his post-war life in The Argus, but the arrival of the Hamilton Spectator and the Port Fairy Chronicle at Trove has helped me fill in his pre-war days, spent around Macarthur and Byaduk.

Firstly, I discovered why Charles’ engineering skill was quickly noticed by the A.F.C., with his mechanical crew keeping the No.1 Squadron in the air over Egypt during WW1.  Also, I found Charles had a friend.  Yes, even our ancestors had friends and I’m always keen to find those relationships.  The following article from the Port Fairy Chronicle drew my attention to the working relationship between Charles and Arthur Parfrey, but the letter Charles wrote to Arthur, featured in last week’s Trove Tuesday, proved they were mates too.

Twelve months before this article, Charles was left a widower when his wife Catherine Kinghorn passed away.  Catherine was 10 years older than Charles and 37 at the time of their marriage in 1905. They never had children.

cj3cj4Macarthur Matters. (1914, December 31). Port Fairy Gazette (Vic. : 1914 - 1918), p. 2 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved March 10, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article91982808

Macarthur Matters. (1914, December 31). Port Fairy Gazette (Vic. : 1914 – 1918), p. 2 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved March 10, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article91982808

By January 1915, Charles and Arthur had their water boring plant up and running and available for hire.  Business was brisk with dry conditions prevailing.

Macarthur Matters. (1915, January 18). Port Fairy Gazette (Vic. : 1914 - 1918), p. 2 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved March 10, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article94724361

Macarthur Matters. (1915, January 18). Port Fairy Gazette (Vic. : 1914 – 1918), p. 2 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved March 10, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article94724361

 

Advertising. (1915, January 18). Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1914 - 1918), p. 6. Retrieved March 10, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article119833885

Advertising. (1915, January 18). Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1914 – 1918), p. 6. Retrieved March 10, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article119833885

But things can change so quickly and with the war escalating, and no family ties, Charles sold up everything in April 1915. On July 12, 1915 at the age of 36, Charles enlisted, never to return to the Western District as a resident again.

Advertising. (1915, April 20). Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1914 - 1918), p. 2. Retrieved March 10, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article119839929

Advertising. (1915, April 20). Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1914 – 1918), p. 2. Retrieved March 10, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article119839929

The rise of Charles through the ranks with the A.F.C., finishing the war as a 2nd Lieutenant with military honours, led to a posting in London during the 1920s with the R.A.A.F. followed by a life in Melbourne until his death in 1943.  The last half of Charles’ life was a total contrast to the first half.  He went from pigs and dairy cows on the farm at Macarthur to rubbing shoulders with the highest ranked officials in the R.A.F. and R.A.A.F, flying in airships and attending the funeral of the victims of the R101 airship crash at St Paul’s Cathedral, London. Other attendees included some of the highest ranked officials in England including the Prince of Wales.  All found out thanks to online newspapers at Trove.


Trove Tuesday – Those Magnificent Men

This is my 80th consecutive Trove Tuesday post but I thought my run would end at 79.  Yesterday I took a tumble and now have soft tissue damage in my knee and after a late night in the emergency department, things weren’t looking good for a 80th Trove Tuesday post.  Thankfully, I had started the post over the weekend, so I thought I would give you what I have so far and finish next Tuesday with the relationship between the subjects in my article, found once again at Trove.

Over the past weekend, the R.A.A.F.  celebrated 100 years of military aviation with an air show at the Point Cook R.A.A.F. base.  So, I thought it was a good time to share an article I found about my gg uncle Charles James Harman, that I found in the Hamilton Spectator when the paper came online in 2013.  Charles was the son of Reuben James Harman and Lizzie Bishop and grandson of James Harman and Susan Reed of Byaduk.  He has had a post here before, about the time he took a flight in the R101 airship.

Charles Harman joined the Australian Flying Corp in 1915 as a flight sergeant and over the course of the war rose to an officer ranking with the No. 1 Squadron of the A.F.C.  He spent most of the war in Egypt and mid-way through 1916, wrote home to his mate and business associate, Arthur Parfrey of Macarthur.  Arthur passed the interesting letter across to the Hamilton Spectator and the paper published  it on September 14, 1916.

The flight he writes of was with pilot  Oswald Watt  as they reached heights of 7000 feet.   Considering the planes the then Major Watt was flying, they were daring.  Oswald Watt’s biography is available to read at the Australian Dictionary of Biography.

 

A LETTER FROM THE AIR. (1916, September 14). Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1914 - 1918), p. 4. Retrieved March 1, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article133707498

A LETTER FROM THE AIR. (1916, September 14). Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1914 – 1918), p. 4. Retrieved March 1, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article133707498


Passing of the Pioneers

When an obituary has only a female pioneer’s married name, I do like to find their maiden name.  This month, there was one such pioneer, Mrs Susan Sloan.  After a quick search, I found on her death record her father’s name recorded as Francis Sloan.  As I don’t want to make assumptions based on a death certificate, I will continue to call her Mrs Susan Sloan, however I will keep trying to find her maiden name in the future as I have an interest in Susan as you will see in her obituary below.

Marks DAFFY – Died February 22, 1902 at Cundare.  Marks Daffy was born at County Clare, Ireland and arrived in Melbourne in 1857.   He spent his first five years in the colony around the Barrabool Hills near Geelong, working on various farms.  With money saved, Marks selected land in the Colac district after the passing of the 1862 Duffy Lands Act.  He set about building a fine dairy farm, using his good eye for stock to select the best dairy cows.  He gave up dairy-farming after 25 years and settled into an “easier” life as a grazier.  In 1887, after dissatisfaction with the Colac Shire, he ran for a seat which he won.  Around 18 months before his death, a fall from his buggy eventually left him bedridden and ultimately  claimed his life.  His funeral procession was a mile long and was the largest to arrived at the Cundare cemetery.

William MOODIE - Died February 25, 1914 at Coleraine.  William Moodie arrived in the Coleraine district with his Scottish parents at the age of six weeks around 1841.  His father took up the property “Wando Dale” at Nareen and so began William’s life on the land, breeding some of the finest wool stock.  After taking over the property from his parents, he built the current “Wando Dale” Homestead (below) in 1901.

"WANDO DALE", NAREEN.   Image courtesy of the  J.T. Collins Collection, La Trobe Picture Collection, State Library of Victoria.  Image No.  H94.200/302 http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/217385

“WANDO DALE”, NAREEN. Image courtesy of the J.T. Collins Collection, La Trobe Picture Collection, State Library of Victoria. Image No. H94.200/302
http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/217385

He also spent a good part of his 73 years in public life.  He was a member of the Casterton Roads Board and the Wannon Shire Council.  He was also involved with the P&A Society, the local Horticultural Society and St Andrews Church at Coleraine.  William Moodie left a widow, seven sons and five daughters.

John KELLY – Died February 7, 1915 at Macarthur.  John Kelly arrived from Tasmania, his birth place, with his family when he was three years old.  If John was 85 at the time of his death, it would mean that he arrived in Victoria in 1833, so I’m thinking it may have been a little later.  Even still, he was an early arrival in the colony.  John worked as a carrier with his brother, working the route between Geelong and stations as far west as Casterton.  He also ran a store at Yambuk for many years and took up property at Codrington.  He died at the home of his daughter Mrs Hindhaugh of Macarthur.

John MURRAY – Died February 13, 1915 at Hamilton.  Born  in Stirlingshire, Scotland, John Murray was a resident of Hamilton for over 50 years by the time of his death.  His family arrived at Geelong aboard the “Chariot of Fame” and went directly to Hamilton.  He spent much of his working life as a labourer and was a member of the Court Brotherhood  of the Ancient Order of Foresters for over 45 years.  He was a widow and left five sons and one daughter from a family of 12 children.

Jane O’MAY - Died February 17, 1916 at Buckley Swamp.  Jane O’May was born in Paisley, Scotland in 1822 and married William Kirkwood in 1842.  William and Jane arrived at Portland in 1852 aboard the “John Davis”.  They travelled by bullock dray to “Warrock“, near Casterton.  The Kirkwoods were hard-working pioneers and Jane left a large family at the time of her death.  Three daughters were still alive along with 24 grandchildren and 21 great-grandchildren.  Jane’s grandson, William Kirkwood of the Hamilton South area, married my first cousin 4 x removed, Sarah Ann Reed.

James COWELL – Died February 24, 1917 at Mortlake.  James Cowell was born in Cambridgeshire around 1838 and by 1868, had already established a butcher’s shop at Mortlake.  he later became a road contractor for the local Shire.  One of James’ three sons, Pte Harry Cowell, lost his life at Gallipoli.

Joseph WOMBWELL – Died February 9, 1918 at Casterton.  Arriving in Portland in 1853 aged 17 years from Essex, England,  Joseph Wombwell’s first job was at the  Henty’s Muntham Station.  He married Betsy Ann Coulson in 1869, the daughter of Christopher Coulson and Mary Frances Stubbs and stayed in Merino until 1875.  They then moved to Casterton and lived in a bark hut while Joseph ran a carrying business between Casterton and Portland.  One claim to fame is that he delivered the “first load of grog” to the Sandford Hotel.  The Hamilton Spectator also published a lengthy obituary for Joseph Wombwell

Mrs Susan SLOAN – Died February 9, 1918 at Hamilton.  Mrs Susan Sloan was born in Glasgow, Scotland and after arriving in Portland in 1855, she went to Ararat where she married Thomas Sloan    They returned to Portland, and ran a shipping business, but the trade was tough and they moved inland to Hamilton where there were greater opportunities, and they established a cordial business.  Thomas died in 1910 and Susan continued to run the business until her death, after which time family members continued its operations until 1930.    The Sloan’s cottage “Whinhill” in Pope Street, Hamilton was featured in a I’ve Lived in Hamilton, Victoria group post as it is a highly visible and known to most who have lived in Hamilton time, None of us knew the history of the cottage and there is still more we would like to find out.  The cordial business operated behind the cottage.


John MOFFATT – Died February 9, 1926 at Chatsworth. John Moffatt was born in Scotland in 1854 and arrived in Victoria with his parents in 1872 and resumed his education at Geelong Grammar.  At aged 19 he took up the running of the Burnewang Estate near Bendigo before he inherited “Chatsworth House” from his uncle John Moffatt in 1879.  He also leased his uncle’s property “Hopkins Hill” from the estate’s trustees.  John Moffatt was a sat on the Shire of Mt Rouse and was a member of the Landowner’s Council.

DEATH OF MR. JOHN MOFFATT. (1926, February 10). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), p. 21. Retrieved February 28, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article3733963

DEATH OF MR. JOHN MOFFATT. (1926, February 10). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957), p. 21. Retrieved February 28, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article3733963

John Moffatt’s uncle, John Moffatt, has been a Passing Pioneer and his obituary offers more history about the Moffatt family.

 

 

 


Trove Tuesday – The Oldest Man in Victoria

The intention for this week’s Trove Tuesday post was brevity.  But as often the way, as I investigated my chosen article further, I discovered a few twists and turns.

Mentioned last week, The Australasian has arrived at Trove and I’ve been searching for photos relevant to the Western District.  That is how I discovered Aaron Weller, the subject of a photo in The Australasian in 1897.

THE OLDEST MAN IN VICTORIA. (1897, July 24). The Australasian (Melbourne, Vic. : 1864 - 1946), p. 23. Retrieved February 23, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article139744803

THE OLDEST MAN IN VICTORIA. (1897, July 24). The Australasian (Melbourne, Vic. : 1864 – 1946), p. 23. Retrieved February 23, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article139744803

On July 24, 1897, The Australasian published an article and photograph of Aaron Weller, headlined “The Oldest Man in Victoria”.  A Mr George Baird had come across Aaron, living in the Balmoral area, listened to his story and took a photograph.  Aaron told George he was born in Wimbledon, England on August 11, 1790.  By the 1830s, he was in Tasmania where he worked for the Circular Head Company.  Later in the ’30s, aboard the “Henry” he sailed to Port Phillip, obtaining work as a shepherd with Phillip Rose at his pastoral run “Rosebrook”, near Horsham.  Mr Rose must have felt something for Aaron as, on a trip back to England, Phillip picked up Aaron’s birth certificate.  It was later destroyed in a fire at the “Rosebrook” homestead during Black Thursday, 1851.

After 1851, Aaron was working for Mr Robertson at his property “Mount Mitchell” near Lexton.  With the discovery of gold just south at Ballarat,  all the property’s labourers took off to try their luck, all except Aaron. He was content to stay on as a shepherd and besides, he was into his 60s.  He then headed across the Murray, continuing as a shepherd until he gained employment with Alex McIntosh at his property “Glendenning” near Balmoral where Aaron remained for 22 years.  After the death of Alex McIntosh,  Aaron moved to nearby “Rocklands “and even after he passed the age of 100, he was still chopping wood.

The digitised copy of the article is very faint but you can read it in full on the following link, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article139744803  , but it concluded in this way:

THE OLDEST MAN IN VICTORIA. (1897, July 24). The Australasian (Melbourne, Vic. : 1864 - 1946), p. 23. Retrieved February 23, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article139744803

THE OLDEST MAN IN VICTORIA. (1897, July 24). The Australasian (Melbourne, Vic. : 1864 – 1946), p. 23. Retrieved February 23, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article139744803

So, that’s the story of Aaron Weller.  Well at least I thought it was, but I wanted to know how far past 107 Aaron had lived.  Now, the story becomes sad as Aaron only lived a short time after July 24, 1897, the date of his article’s publication.   The Balmoral correspondent for the Hamilton Spectator reported that almost to the hour the July 24 edition of The Australasian landed in Balmoral, the townspeople were bidding farewell to Aaron at the local cemetery.  According to his wishes, he was buried close to Alex McIntosh, the man who employed him for over 20 years and whom he held in such high regard.

After his death the Horsham Times remembered Aaron Weller through the reminisces of  “Rocklands” owner ,Mr Turnball.  Aaron had told him tales of the Duke of Wellington and Waterloo,  George III and William IV.  Maybe delirious in his last days, he claimed he was off to Melbourne to retrieve a sum of £40,000, the dividend of a £100 investment, money given to him by Angela Burdett-Coutts, a 19th English philanthropist  and her husband the Marquise of Westminster.

The Horsham Times. (1897, August 3). The Horsham Times (Vic. : 1882 - 1954), p. 2. Retrieved February 23, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article73121416

The Horsham Times. (1897, August 3). The Horsham Times (Vic. : 1882 – 1954), p. 2. Retrieved February 23, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article73121416

The Australasian article, probably published without Aaron’s knowledge, was thought to have brought unwanted attention to him.  He had spent 60 years keeping to himself in Victoria, living a simple life with dogs as companions. But he’d been in the papers before,  when he turned 100 and again when he turned 106.  On that occasion, Mr Turnbull  held a celebration in Aaron’s honour    How much Aaron knew about The Australian article, which in no way mentioned his liking for a drink or his pipe, and the resultant public reaction, is unknown but reports after his death suggest he may have had some knowledge.   The Australian responded to his passing,

aw3

TALK ON 'CHANGS. (1897, August 7). The Australasian (Melbourne, Vic. : 1864 - 1946), p. 32. Retrieved February 23, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article139745269

TALK ON ‘CHANGS. (1897, August 7). The Australasian (Melbourne, Vic. : 1864 – 1946), p. 32. Retrieved February 23, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article139745269

While they said they were not blaming the Women’s Christian Temperance Union (W.C.T.U.) as such, they weren’t exactly shying away from the possibility.  Not so subtle was the Freeman’s Journal (Sydney), a Catholic newspaper that in 1942 merged with the Catholic Press to become the Catholic Weekly.  The Freeman’s Journal was not an official publication of the Catholic Church, but it offered news of a Catholic and Irish nature.

    ACTA POPULI. (1897, September 18). Freeman's Journal (Sydney, NSW : 1850 - 1932), p. 8. Retrieved February 24, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article115469610

ACTA POPULI. (1897, September 18). Freeman’s Journal (Sydney, NSW : 1850 – 1932), p. 8. Retrieved February 24, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article115469610

If the article about Aaron had not been published, would he have lived for another year or two?  Or was his time up anyway?  Looking back at the concluding paragraph of the original article, Aaron was tiring.  Maybe, if the W.C.T.U. did write a letter to Aaron’s guardians, presumably the Turnballs. maybe they too could sense his weariness through his photo and words.

Aaron’s story was interesting.  Interesting enough to see what else could be found.  A search of Australian records at Ancestry.com.au revealed within the New South Wales and Tasmania Australia Convict Muster records (1806-1849),…Aaron Weller, assigned to Mr John Sinclair, 1833.  On to the English records and there was Aaron Weller in the Australian Convict Transport Register 1791-1868, convicted at Kent and sentenced to transportation for seven years.  His crime, listed in the England & Wales Criminal Registers, 1791-1892, was fraud.  Next, across to the Tasmania’s Heritage website and the convict index and there again was Aaron Weller,  transported aboard the Gilmour from London on November 27, 1831, arriving at Tasmania on March 22, 1832.

After all of that, I couldn’t find the age of the said convict, Aaron Weller.  If it was Aaron of Balmoral, he would have been 41 at the time of his departure from England.  I did find one other Aaron Weller, and of Kent, in the UK Land Tax Redemption Records from 1798, eight years after Aaron’s birth.

Back to Trove, and I searched for Aaron Weller through the 1830s and, looking to confirm some of Aaron’s story, I searched for the Henry, the ship Aaron said he sailed aboard to Victoria.  Despite not having any ages to match up Aaron, the results of my two searches found something that may get me a little closer to confirming Aaron Weller, of Balmoral came to the Australia as a convict.  In May 1836, convict Aaron Weller, only three years into his seven-year term, was granted a ticket of leave.  Coincidentally, on July 15, 1836, the Henry, Balmoral Aaron’s ship, sailed from Launceston to Port Phillip.

Classified Advertising. (1836, May 20). The Hobart Town Courier (Tas. : 1827 - 1839), p. 1. Retrieved February 24, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article4176331

Classified Advertising. (1836, May 20). The Hobart Town Courier (Tas. : 1827 – 1839), p. 1. Retrieved February 24, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article4176331

SHIP NEWS. (1836, July 16). The Cornwall Chronicle (Launceston, Tas. : 1835 - 1880), p. 2. Retrieved February 24, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article65950241

SHIP NEWS. (1836, July 16). The Cornwall Chronicle (Launceston, Tas. : 1835 – 1880), p. 2. Retrieved February 24, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article65950241


Bric-a-Brac

You may have noticed mostly Trove Tuesday posts and monthly Passing of the Pioneers from me lately, but there’s been a good reason.  Aside from  school holidays, that always slow me down, and family keeping me busy in general,  I’ve been writing the history of the Harman family of Byaduk for a Diploma in Family Historical Studies.  So for something different, I thought I would share some snippets from my research so far and some other news.

It’s been difficult for me to get to the out-of-town places that may hold information to help my Harman research, but I’ve found ways around it.  I’ve mentioned in a earlier post about an email enquiry to the Port Fairy Historical Society that resulted in some wonderful Harman history forwarded to me.  I have also contacted both Macarthur Historical Society and Hamilton Historical Society by email to first find out what they have, to weigh up a visit.  Unfortunately, I can cross Macarthur H.S. off my list but Hamilton H.S. do have some other bits and pieces relevant to the Harmans’ lives in Byaduk that will help develop their story.  There is still the Port Fairy Genealogical Society , somewhere I hoped to visit during a short holiday to the town in January.  The heat got the better of me and the beach won out.  I will now have to resort to an email enquiry.

HARMAN VALLEY,  BYADUK

HARMAN VALLEY, BYADUK

I’ve known for sometime that the State Library of Victoria held a copy of a letter written about the voyage of the “Duke of Richmond” to Portland in 1853, the same voyage that brought James and Susan Harman to Victoria.  I’ve always had great intentions to get to the library and view it, but I realised that was not going to happen.  Instead, I made use of the Library’s wonderful copying service and last week I received a copy of a beautiful letter from 1853 written by Mrs Maria Taylor (nee Ridgeway), just after her arrival at Portland.  She describes aspects of the voyage including the food and the crew and the conditions on arrival at Portland including the price of vegetables and employment opportunities.

Archival Access has been a life saver for records from the Public Records Office of Victoria (PROV).  Recently I received a disc in the mail with a copy of the Victorian Inquest file for a cousin, Charles Frederick Ward, who died in the Ballarat Asylum in 1928.  I am trying to build a profile of Charles, knowing little of him except his birth and death dates and that his mother, Isabella Harman, died while giving birth to him, an only child.

The most significant thing I had found to date, thanks to James Harman’s will, was that Charles’ aunt, spinster Henrietta Harman, a  daughter of James, played a big part in his upbringing.  Henrietta is the person who my Harman history will revolve around and to know more about Charles is vital in reaching my final conclusions.  Details from the inquest were useful and I discovered he was only in the asylum a matter of weeks ,taken there by the police after being found in a malnourished and agitated state in Ballarat.  He was 42 when he died.

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Also on my Archival Access disc were Wills and Probate records for my gg grandfather, Reuben James Harman, gg aunt Henrietta Harman and ggg uncle Jonathan Harman.  Well, well, well.  The things I have found out about the Harman family dynamic, particularly those I am directly descended from is amazing and while not altogether surprising, it was still confronting to see the written proof.  Henrietta’s will is an absolute gem and some of the items she bequeathed where her Mason & Hamlin organ and framed photos of her parents James and Susan Harman, her brother Albert, her nephew Charles Ward and herself.  What I would do to see a photo of Henrietta.  I still have some more  Probate records to get from PROV, so I will again call on the  wonderful services of Archival Access.

So that’s my thesis, but I’ve been up to a some other things.  My I’ve Lived in Hamilton, Victoria Facebook group continues to grow. now with 2313 members and over 1800 photos.  I highly recommend anyone with a family link to Hamilton and even the surrounding towns to check it out.   We have some keen family and local historians among the members and those that have joined for research purposes have had success.  I have found that someone usually knows something about most topics raised and we have all enjoyed learning more about our hometown.

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THE TOWN OF HAMILTON.
THE NORDENFELT GUN IN ACTION : A SKETCH ON THE DETACHED SQUADRON. (1881, July 16). The Australasian Sketcher with Pen and Pencil (Melbourne, Vic. : 1873 – 1889), p. 225. Retrieved February 20, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article60622490

Some mini-reunions have evolved from the group, but on the past weekend, over 30 former Hamilton residents attended a reunion in Brisbane.  They had a fantastic day and are planning another for 2015.  Thank you to Helen for getting the reunion up and running and those that helped her with memorabilia and other arrangements. It really has been wonderful to see not only the reunions, but the collaboration among members to solve mysteries, share stories and discuss current Hamilton events and issues.

Don’t forget the Western District Families Facebook page.  “Likes” are about to reach 150 which is exciting and it’s been great to see others sharing photos to the page.

As mentioned,  I was in Port Fairy in January and amassed an array of photos.  Currently, I’m slowly preparing two posts, each on the Port Fairy Cemetery.  I hope to get a least one of them out soon .  Also, I have ideas for posts coming out my ears, but I will just have put them on hold until the second half of the year, but there will be some good things to look forward to in the meantime.  We will continue The Vagabond‘s journey through the Western District, finishing off the Portland area and then on to Warrnambool, and  I still have many photos from a Portland trip two years ago to share.  And I have some more Hamilton photos along with some interesting stories I’ve picked up from the Hamilton group and of course some more great stories about my Western District Families.

A Hint of Port Fairy

A Hint of Port Fairy

To close, may I share a little from Edna Harman’s history of the Harman family of Port Fairy.  Edna was a granddaughter of George Hall Harman.  Unmarried, she served with the RAAF in WW2 and after that devoted much of her time to recording and preserving the history of Wangaratta, writing a book and tirelessly volunteering with the Wangaratta Historical Society.  The following is an excerpt from her closing paragraph about her maternal grandparents the Grahams of Port Fairy.  The subject is Edna’s great-grandmother Mary Graham.

“My eldest cousin often tells me she can recall seeing great Grandmother (Mary) Graham and she remembers her bests as a ‘little old lady sitting up in bed, smoking, of all things a pipe’.  Mary Graham died in 1898 at the age of 93 years” (Harman Family History,(1970), Held by the Port Fairy Historical Society)


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