Category Archives: Miscellaneous

Loads of Links

Have you checked the Links page lately?  There are loads more links.

You will find links for historical, family history and genealogical societies from across Western Victoria.  There are Cemetery links and of course all the Western District newspapers that are now online at Trove.  That list is growing rapidly.  I have also labelled recently added links with New”.

I have recently added Facebook pages to the links page because there are several societies that have started pages that are proving very popular.  Check out the Mortlake & District Historical Society or the Port Fairy Historical Society pages for some great photos and biographies.  It would be good to see more of the societies taking their lead of taking history to the people.

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It’s not only the “Links page” where you will find links at Western District Families.  Throughout my posts you will notice underlined text. Click on the link and you will find more information about the subject.  It may be another post about the subject, sites such as the Australian Biographical Dictionary and Victorian Heritage Database or maybe an article at Trove.

When writing Passing of the Pioneer posts, I do a Google search on most subjects or the property they resided at, just to see if there is more information about them.  So, if you find one of your ancestors listed in Passing of the Pioneers, you may find something else that I have dug up about them, maybe even something you didn’t know…

Checking my site stats for “link clicks”, I found the most clicked newspaper article to date has been that an Obituary page from The Horsham Times of January 22, 1904.  The article was an obituary bonanza with obituaries for William Gardiner, Mrs Jean Miller, Joseph Jelbart and Mrs Rachel Hedditch and they each appeared in the January 2012 Passing of the Pioneers.  Close behind was an article from the Cairns Post of February 1, 1935 about the clipper, Marco Polo.

The most popular newspaper title clicked was the Portland Guardian and Normanby General Advertiser (1842-1876) followed by the Portland Guardian (1876-1953).  The top two sites were Ian Marr’s Cemetery of SW,  and Daryl Povey’s Glenelg & Wannon Settlers & Settlement.

If you know any great Western District sites or Facebook pages, let me know and I will be happy to add them to the list.  Also let me know if you notice any of my links are broken.

Get Clicking!

Image Courtesy of the State Library of Victoria, Argus newspaper collection of War photos WW2.  Image No. H99.201/919

Image Courtesy of the State Library of Victoria, Argus newspaper collection of War photos WW2. Image No. H99.201/919

The Bloggers’ Geneameme

I really should have been writing the August Passing of the Pioneers post when I clicked on my RSS feed for the Geniaus blog.  Jill Ball’s latest post, “The Blogger’s Geneameme” sounded like a bit of fun and it was a chance to have a break from the obits.   To see the full set of questions, go to Jill’s blog – Geniaus

1. What are the titles and URLs of your genealogy blog/s?

Western District Families

2. Do you have a wonderful “Cousin Bait” blog story? A link to a previous blog post might answer this question.

Last year I started writing a post about the people I had come in contact with, related and otherwise,thanks to Western District Families. The post was getter longer and longer and needed fine tuning, so I put it away for a while, well,  quite awhile.  Finding cousins was never my intention but the number of connections I have made is amazing.  I will mention a couple here, but I will  get on with my “Finding Cousins” post to celebrate my new found cousins.

The research room at my local library is a place I frequent at times, but it wasn’t until I wrote about my Mortimer family that I found out the research librarian, Edie, is my fourth cousin 1 x removed.  We also have a link through the Hadden family through marriage.  To think I have been there researching the Mortimers and another Mortimer descendant was only metres away!

Fellow blogger Kerryn Taylor from AncestorChasing is related through the marriage of her gg grandfather George Adams and my ggg aunt Sarah Harman (both second marriages).  This is a special link beyond our blogging connection.

Finally I must mention my 1st cousin 1 x removed, Warren Gamble who I have only connected with since I been blogging.  Warren is an enthusiastic researcher of the Gamble family tree and connected families and is a great supporter of mine, often leaving comments of encouragement.  Thanks Warren.  We will catch up in person soon.

3.  Why did you start blogging? Is there someone who inspired you to start blogging?

Over the years I had gathered stories and facts about my various families and I was looking for a way to share or organise everything.  Blogging was the answer.

4. How did you decide on your blog/s title/s?

I was going to call my blog My Western District Families but I changed it to Western District Families because it gave me room to move with the content.

5. Do you ever blog from mobile devices? What are they?


6. How do you let others know when you have published a new post?

I post on Twitter and the Western District Families Facebook page.  I also post on Google+ .  If the post is specific to the Western District, I will post it on the Western District Families Google+ page or if it is a general genealogy post, I will post it on my personal Google+ page. I also use StumbleUpon for most posts  and Pinterest for visual posts.

There are now 92 followers of the Western District Families blog and they either receive an email with each new post or if they are WordPress subscribers, they view each new post on the WordPress Reader.

7. How long have you been blogging?

Just over two years.

8. What widgets or elements do you consider essential on a genealogy blog?

I think a search box is important, especially with so many family names. I also use a category list, tags and an archive list, just so it easy to find posts.  I use all these features myself to get around the blog.  The RSS feed and the subscribe widgets are important to get posts out there.

I did have a Trove search box. The graphic didn’t install properly but the search function worked.  It had been on the side bar for months when I just had to fiddle.  I removed it with the aim of re-installing it, hopefully with the graphic.  Bad move.  Now the box doesn’t  work at all.  I have a person to contact at Trove to discuss it, but time hasn’t permitted .

9. What is the purpose of your blog/s? Who is your intended audience?

The essential purpose of Western District Families is to share the stories of my Western District Families with snippets of social history, with the intended audience those with the same family interests.

The audience has evolved and is now multi-layered – Those with the same family interests, those with Western District families, local history enthusiasts and those with a general interest in history.  Passing of the Pioneer posts and the Trove Tuesday posts have broadened the audience, as have horse racing posts and the Adam Lindsay Gordon post.

I enjoy when visitors to the blog are those that would not normally visit a history blog.  I have found there is an interest in history out there,  but for some the topic needs to be something they can relate to and “hometown history” does provoke interest.  I have posted links to Hamilton history blog posts to my Facebook group, “I’ve Lived in Hamilton, Victoria” and they’ve been met with interest.

People do like to recall how things were and rekindle memories of their childhood or youth.  You only have to look at a new Facebook page Have You Seen Old Ballaarat Town?  In just over four weeks it  has attracted over 5000 “likes”.  It was surprising to see that some of my friends that prefer the offerings of popular culture had “liked” the page before me.  A similar page Stawell’s Views by Old Time Photos is pushing 1000 “likes” after a couple of months.  Keeping the content light, fresh and identifiable are some of the keys to taking history to the masses.

One of my biggest blogging thrills to date was hearing from Samantha.  After visiting Shelly Beach near Portland and reading my post The Sultan of Shelly Beach, Samantha’s primary school age daughter wrote about Shelly Beach, the Sultan and the camels for an “interesting facts about Australia” school project.  As a child I read a lot of Australian history and it was stories like those of Sultan Aziz and my many Trove Tuesday animal posts that attracted me.  I got hooked and if just one child gets hooked on history because of Western District Families, I’ll be delighted .

10. Which of your posts are you particularly proud of?

The posts that involve the most research such as Everybody Happy? about Rupert Hazell, Alice Hawthorne – The Western MareOn the ALG Trail and Ship Mates.

11. How do you keep up with your blog reading?

Finding time to read other blogs has been difficult of late, but the WordPress Reader is convenient to keep track of  WordPress blogs I follow.  I also have RSS feeds at the top of my browser for the blog posts I don’t like to miss including Geniaus and the Gould Genealogy & History News.  Those blogs often lead to me to other blogs of interest.

12. What platform do you use for publishing your blog/s?

13. What new features would you like to see in your blogging software?

It’s not really something I’ve considered.

14. Which of your posts has been the most popular with readers?

The Fastest Ship in the World

15, Are you a sole blogger or do you contribute to a shared blog?

Sole blogger

16. How do you compose your blog posts?

I plan a little more than I used to, so I start off the month by coming up with a working title for each post I plan to write during the month ahead.  That’s become easier with Trove Tuesday each week and a monthly Passing of the Pioneer post always scheduled for late in the month (very late this month).  Then I only have to come up with another three or four other post ideas.  Most times I have drafts carried over from earlier months.

My draft list has ideas that go back 18 months but when I’m short of ideas I can return to them.  As soon as an idea comes to me I start a draft with at least a title, just so I remember.  Sometimes an unexpected post may come up (such as this one) and I need to reschedule, but I look at on the bright side, I will still have something to write about in following months.

Some posts can take a few weeks, depending on the amount of research involved.  The posts I have listed under Question 10.  are an example of those.  I work on posts concurrently but each post maybe at different points of preparation.  I usually begin with the photos or newspaper clippings I have gathered and then put the words around them.  The Fashion and Christmas posts have been most time consuming in this respect due to the number of images.  Often I find myself composing posts in my head when I’m away from a computer (…very sad) such as cooking dinner, at work, trying to sleep… some ofs my better opening and closing paragraphs have come that way.

17. Do you have any blogs that are not genealogy related? If you wish please share their titles and URLs.


18. Have you listed your blog/s at Geneabloggers?

Yes, one of the first things I did.

19. Which resources have helped you with your blogging?

To help with the Western District Families content, obviously Trove and the Victorian Heritage Database have been very important.  To improve the blog overall, I keep up with articles I find through Twitter and Facebook about both geneablogging and blogging in general.  One of the sources I use for links is the Blog Chicks Facebook page.

20. What advice would you give to a new Geneablogger?

Just go for it.  Don’t take it too seriously and most importantly, have fun.  I do!

If you would like to read what other geneabloggers have written, see Jill’s post – Feeling the Love – Responses to The Bloggers’ Geneameme.

Now back to those obituaries…



Harman Housekeeping

It’s time to tie up the loose ends with my Harman research before I launch into writing a thesis on the Harmans of Byaduk (1852-1952) for a Diploma in Family Historical Studies.  That’s a daunting thought despite what you may think.  I write often about my family here, especially the Harmans, I have  research gathered over 20 years and I could ramble for 20,000 words about the Harmans if anyone would listen.  Putting the research together into one structured and organised piece is what I find daunting.

So daunted in fact,  I purchased Hazel Edward’s Writing a Non-Boring Family History and revisited a NLA podcast – “How to write history that people want to read” by Professor Ann Curthoys and Professor Ann McGrath.  Not that I’m worried about it being non-boring or uninteresting, I need tips on putting it all together

Structure aside, there are still some unanswered questions about the Harmans that need resolution.  The year the Harmans arrived in Port Fairy from N.S.W. is one question.   Looking for leads,  I contacted the  Port Fairy Historical Society (PFHS) hoping they may have something.  Robyn Bartlett, an archivist at PFHS got back with the news there was a lot of information particularly from a source I had forgotten as a possibility but was not unexpected.  Last week I received a nice thick parcel from the PFHS.  Thank you Robyn,  You provided a wonderful service.

After the dancing died down and I carefully examined the contents of the envelope, I knew If I got nothing else from the information Robyn sent (which I doubt will be true), I have had my Who Do You Think You Are (WDYTYA) moment.  You know that moment  when a celebrity finds a family member that helps defines them, explains their career path or personality traits.  It is different to the other WDYTYA moment when a celeb. visits the former home of an ancestor and feels some affinity.  I have had that moment too.

My WDYTYA moment came as I read several letters written by my 2nd cousin 3 x removed, Edna Harman, formerly of Wangaratta.  Distant cousin I know, but as I read the letters I could feel her passion for her family’s history and history in general .  It was like reading me.  Edna wrote six letters over a 20 year period from 1963 to the PFHS.  I knew she was an active member and one time research officer of the Wangaratta Historical Society and had also co-written a book,  Wangaratta: old tales and tours (1983) with Judy Bassett.  Edna’s grandfather George Hall Harman left Port Fairy for Byaduk with the other family members, but later returned to Port Fairy where he remained for the rest of his life.  That is how Edna came to have a Port Fairy connection.



Edna’s letters contain snippets of some wonderful family stories and as luck would have it, Edna put those stories. and others she had gathered from cousins, into a text book, complete with photos (yes, she used photo corners!).  There are pages and pages of history of the Harmans of Port Fairy and her family in Wangaratta including her father Herbert Harman, a long serving journalist with the Wangaratta Chronicle.  One of Herbert’s poems was in the package, and I had to smile because the subject  was the S.S.Casino.  The steamer was the subject of a recent Trove Tuesday post.  A story of Edna’s grandfather’s visits to Wangaratta resonated with me,  George Harman would take a bunch of boronia for his granddaughter.  That reminded me of my grandmother Mavis Riddiford telling me about grandpa Percy giving her bunches of boronia.

I am eternally grateful to the late Edna Harman, and I am sorry that I never met her.  I know I would have liked her.

I have also been buying a few certificates that I have need to help answer some questions, well at least try.

Reuben Harman died in 1883 at only 44,  less than half the age of most of his siblings.   I wanted to find the cause of his death,  and check his “length of time in the colony” status, to compare with the other family members.  Turns out Reuben died of hydatids, a condition on the increase in the Western District during the 1880s and was probably caught from his dogs or dirty drinking water.  This article from the Horsham Times of  March 16, 1883, warned of the dangers of hydatidis and its spread.  Reuben died weeks later on April 28.


The Horsham Times. (1883, March 16). The Horsham Times (Vic. : 1882 - 1954), p. 2. Retrieved August 21, 2013, from

The Horsham Times. (1883, March 16). The Horsham Times (Vic. : 1882 – 1954), p. 2. Retrieved August 21, 2013, from

I have also purchased the marriage certificate of Sarah Harman, sister of Reuben.  She married Walter Oakley in  1864 but married again to George Adams in 1885.  When I first wrote about Sarah and Walter I heard from  Brad,  a member of the Oakley family.  As the family story goes,  Walter disappeared while delivering horses to India, part of the active export trade during the later half of the 19th century.  I wanted to know how Walter’s “disappearance” was explained on Sarah’s second marriage certificate.  It said that Walter was “not seen or heard of or from for a period of nine years”.  That would make it around 1876 when he disappeared, leaving Sarah with four children aged six to eleven,

Finally, I  purchased the death certificate  of Charles Frederick Ward, son of Stephen Ward and Isabella Harman and grandson of James Harman.  Isabella died during child-birth and the Harman family raised Charles and from what I can gather, his aunt Henrietta played an integral part.  Charles died in 1928 at Ballarat aged just 42, presumably unmarried and childless.  It always appeared that something tragic had happened to Charles, but I had never found anything in the papers.   Now the story is much clearer.  Charles Ward died in the Ballarat Asylum, later known as the Lakeside Hospital, from “organic disease of the brain” and yes, confirmation he never married or had children.  Of course, this now leads me down the path of inquest and asylum records, but if I am to know the part that Harmans of Byaduk played in the life of Charles, particularly Henrietta, I do need more.



The next steps in my research will be a call to the Macarthur Historical Society,  a visit to the State Library of Victoria for some elusive Byaduk history books, PROV for land records and correspondence with living Harmans.  Just all the things I’ve put off for the past twenty years.


While I’m here talking about corresponding with living Harmans, it is worth mentioning some of those descendents I’m keen on catching up with.

Descendants of:

Gershom HARMAN (1869-1940) and Elizabeth HILLIARD (1874-1931) of Byaduk

Related Names:

ADDINSALL (Wallacedale)

WHEELER (Branxholme)

Walter GREED (1870-1955) and Jessie HARMAN (1871-1949) of Hamilton

Related Name:

JONES (Mumbannar)

James HANKS (1871-1909) and Ellen May HARMAN (1881-1948) of Horsham

Related Name:

WOODS (Horsham & Kaniva)

Reuben Edward HARMAN (1894-1959) and Elizabeth Evaline HENRY (c1900-1979) of Preston.

Related Names:

KING (Thornbury)

SIMMONS (Mordialloc)






Inside History’s Top 50 Genealogy Blogs 2013

What a thrill it was to open the current issue of Inside History Magazine and see Western District Families listed in the Top Genealogy Blogs for 2013.

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Inside History is a beautifully produced magazine blending history and genealogy in a seamless way.  The covers are always special and the July-August edition (above) is no exception and rates among one of my favourites.   So to be included in a list of blogs compiled by the Inside History team and Jill Ball, my unsuspecting blogging mentor, is an honour.  And not just any list.  The company I keep in the personal blogger category  include some of the best Australian and International genealogy blogs.  Never did I think Western District Families would be shortlisted with Dear Myrtle!  You can find all the Top 50 blogs by following this link     Congratulations to all the bloggers in the Top 50.

Thank you to Jill and Inside History for including Western District Families.  After a difficult year it has been a lovely surprise as  I doubted I could repeat last year’s efforts of  being included in the 2012  Top 50 Genealogy Blogs .  Escapism from daily life by way of travelling back to the time of my pioneering Western District Families has proven worthy on many levels.

Thank you also to all the followers of Western District Families for your encouragement for me to keep sharing stories from the past.


I was casually searching at Trove last night, as you do, and a “coming soon” result came up for the Koroit Sentinel & Tower Hill Advocate (1914-1918).  Very surprising as the paper is not on the 2012-13 list of titles coming.  Could this be one of the new titles for 2013-14?  If only the Hamilton Spectator would come up in a search result.   I did another search and there it was, almost glowing on the screen     ***”The Hamilton Spectator” (1914-1918)***.   Happy dance time.

Maybe I could find some more.  I searched “Byaduk” and checked the list of newspapers in the sidebar.  I found the Coleraine Albion & Western Advertiser (1914-1918) and the Penshurst Free Press (1914-1918).  More dancing.

Recently I read in The Warrnambool Standard (a modern day edition) that the Hamilton History Centre had received a Local History grant to digitise the Hamilton Spectator (1860-1878).  That was exciting but I didn’t expect to be reading articles from the Hamilton Spectator on the Trove site in the coming months.

The time period 1914-1918 is of particular interest to me as both James and Susan Harman died in 1916 and I’ve been holding out for a decent obituary for James.  The Spec was my last hope.  I had a false alarm when the Port Fairy Gazette came online, so I have my fingers crossed.  As I will be researching the Harmans more extensively in the next 12 months for my Diploma thesis, this may save some time at the Hamilton History Centre looking through microfilm for his obituary.

Of course I’ve already done a search and had results for each of my family names and I’ve sent requests to my Electronic Friend to email me when the articles are available.  I’m off now to check the other three papers. Think of all the obituaries I can find for Passing of the Pioneers.

If you would like to have a preliminary search too, click on the newspapers above and you will go to the full list of articles already digitised.  You can search from there and if successful,  request a notification when the articles are available.  Happy searching.

What Was “Lost” is Now Found

The subject of my 2013 Anzac Day post was great-grandfather Les Combridge.  I wanted to include a photo of Les and I couldn’t get one of Grandmas’ photos in time, but I knew I had a large envelope with information Grandma’s sister Jean had sent me.  There were photos in the envelope but I couldn’t remember if there was one of Les.  Well, I searched everywhere for that envelope and I couldn’t find it.   That’s right, I’m not an organised genealogist and to qualify that, I recently joined a Facebook group The Organized Genealogist.  I doubt it will help me.

Over the past weekend I stumbled across the envelope.  It wasn’t lost.  I always knew it was somewhere.  I just had to find that somewhere.

The envelope has a treasure trove of information about the Combridge family and should have demanded my immediate attention when Auntie Jean first sent it to me.  But you know how easy it is to get sidetracked.  There were no photos of Les.  Instead there was one of his father Herbert John Combridge.

Herbert was born in Geelong in 1873, the youngest of 12 children of John Combridge and Martha Baker.  John and Martha had arrived in Geelong in 1855 from England.  Herbert married Jane Wyatt in 1895 at Kyneton. The minister was Herbert’s brother John Robert Combridge, Church of Christ minister at Kyneton at the time .  Herbert and Jane went back to the Geelong district and my great-grandfather Leslie Herbert Combridge was born in 1897 at Steglitz, west of Geelong.  By 1900, Herbert, Jane and Les had moved to Grantville in Gippsland where the remaining three children to the couple were born.

Herbert Combridge2


On the back of the next photo someone had written”Les and Claude”.  Claude was the younger brother of Les.  However Auntie Jean had written underneath “not Les and Claude”.


She seemed fairly emphatic about that and I do agree with her.  The photo is too early for Les and Claude and there was a 10 year age difference between the two.  Given the photos came from the same source, a cousin of Auntie Jean, and there was also information about the Geelong Combridge’s, Auntie Jean was probably given the photo for a reason.  I suspect this is another photo of Herbert Combridge.

The first step was to follow-up on the  photographer, “Wilmot of Malop Street, Geelong” to establish a time frame.  The Geelong District Local and Family History site includes a useful Geelong and District Photographers Database.  “Wilmot” was George Wilmot, in business in Geelong from 1865-1923.  He started off with William Keys in 1865-1886, then went out on his own in 1886, first in Fyans Street, then from 1891 to 1923 in Malop Street.

From Trove photographs, I knew that when in business with Keys, the business name at the bottom of the photo was “Wilmot and Keys”.  The logo on the border changed a lot over the years and I only found one other with a coat of arms, that being from around 1907.  The photo was likely taken after 1891 when George moved his business from Fyans Street to Malop street.  Herbert was 18 in 1891.

The boy on the right looks younger and I suspect they are brothers.  If  it is Herbert, he’d be on the right as he was the youngest child in the family.  Benjamin was the next eldest by two years.    Benjamin would have been 20 in 1891.  If Herbert, the photo would be from before his marriage in 1897 when Herbert was aged 24.  The time frame would then be 1891-1897.  What do you think?

I know that while I have learnt a lot about Ladies fashion writing seasonal posts that have proved useful when trying to date photos, I don’t know a lot about men’s clothing, so that’s penciled in for a future post.

Of course this may not be Herbert at all.

You may remember from the Anzac Day post that Herbert’s wife Jane died in 1909 as a result of childbirth.  In Auntie Jean’s envelope were two cemetery receipts, a sad reminder of that year.  The first receipt, from July 27, is for the interment of a stillborn baby.  The charge 17/6.  Then from December 14, a receipt for the burial of Jane.  The charge £1.


Now, you’ll be pleased to know,  all the gems in Auntie Jean’s envelope are scanned and the originals in a safe place.  I suppose that’s one step toward being more organised.

The Victorian Heritage Database

On May 5, I attended Day 2 of the Victorian Association of Family History Organisation (VAFHO) conference in Ballarat.  It was a great day with some wonderful speakers and I regret I couldn’t make the first day.

The first keynote speaker was Lisa Gervasoni, a town planner dedicated to Heritage conservation and a member of the Daylesford & District  Historical Society, among other things.  She gave a great talk about using Google Maps to help with family history research and then showed us the usefulness of the Victorian Heritage Database (VHD).  Timely, as I had considered a post about the VHD as I think it is a valuable resource for those researching families from Victoria.

The Victorian Heritage Database is a collection of Heritage places and precincts in Victoria including Heritage studies completed by local councils around the state.

While writing Passing of the Pioneer posts, if I see a property name in an obituary, I head straight to the VHD.  If the property is on the database, most times I can find more about the obit’s subject.  There is always a history of the building, property etc offering a wealth of information

In May Passing of the Pioneers, one obituary belonged to Mary Laidlaw (nee Learmonth).  She and her husband David lived at “Eildon” in Hamilton.  A search found information about the house, the architects Ussher and Kemp and the Napier Club that purchased the building in 1939, the year of Mary’s death.  Not only was I able to expand on the obituary, I learnt something of a house that it is a Hamilton landmark and has intrigued me since childhood.



The VHD was useful when I researched The Parisian, the 1911 Melbourne Cup winner, because his owner John Kirby lived at “Mt Koroite Station” opposite Coleraine Racecourse .  On the VHD entry for “Mt Koroite” I found out more about John and even what he did with his winnings from the Melbourne Cup.

The VHD  is useful when researching a cemetery and I have used it for cemetery related posts.  There are photos of headstones and the Byaduk Cemetery entry even has a photo of Jonathon Harman’s headstone.  A short history of the town is given and a history of the cemetery, early burials and notable “residents” and more.

I have searched property names and  town names, but not surnames and Lisa’s talk made me realise I should.  Individuals may be listed as builders of a property or a labourer on a station.  My search of towns had found some references to my family members but I thought for the purpose of this post I would search specific family names.

None of my family were owners of large holdings or houses but the Diwell family were bricklayers and George Jelly was a builder, so maybe there was a chance.

When searching the VHD, use the “Advanced Search” form (below). It  will give you more results than the “Simple” search.

There are plenty of options to narrow down a search, but I only used the field “with all of the words“.

An entry on the database will include the location, statement of significance, history and description of the building or otherwise.  There is a Google Maps link with both the aerial view and Street View and most times there is a photo or photos.

Now for my results.  I did find entries I had seen before when searching towns,  but there were some new things.  What all the results show is the different ways your family members can be found at the Victorian Heritage Database.


My search started with the Haddens on my mother’s maternal line.  I had two relevant matches.  The first was about a Bills Horse Trough, in the Lions Park on the Glenelg Highway at Glenthompson installed in the 1920s.

A BILLS HORSE TROUGH (Portland Gardens)

A BILLS HORSE TROUGH (Portland Gardens)

While the horse trough had nothing to do with a Hadden, the entry has a history of the site, previously a blacksmith shop run by Donald Ross.  The other blacksmiths that operated in the town are named including the shop of  Harold James Hadden, my 2nd cousin 1 x removed.

Buggies outside blacksmith's shop.  Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria -  Elliot collection.

Buggies outside blacksmith’s shop. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria – Elliot collection.

I knew Harold was a blacksmith and that he lived in Glenthompson during that time period, but I didn’t know he ran his own blacksmith shop.

Another entry under “Hadden” was found on a previous search of “Cavendish” and is about gg uncle William Hadden, son of William Hadden and Mary Mortimer.  In 1913, he purchased the Cavendish Cobb & Co Depot and Stables (below) and the adjacent property on the corner of the Hamilton Road and Scott Street, Cavendish.  The 1914 Electoral Roll lists William’s occupation as blacksmith, useful with a Cobb & Co depot.  However, in 1915, the train came to Cavendish taking passengers away from Cobb & Co.

By 1919, William was living at Kiata near Nhill in the Mallee, running the Kiata Hotel.  I am not sure if he had sold the Cobb & Co depot by that time but he never returned to Cavendish and died in Geelong in 1927.


A “Harman” search brought up not a building but a roadside Memorial plantation at Byaduk, sadly in poor condition.  The trees, planted in memory of the Byaduk soldiers that served during WW2, have not been maintained over the years.  My 1st cousin 3 x removed and grandson of James and Susan Harman, Leonard Roy Harman, was killed during the war as was another Byaduk man A.R.McNair.   The Southern Grampians Shire Heritage study on this site reported that much of the significance and integrity of the site had been lost.

The Memorial planting was the only “Harman” reference found until I did a “Byaduk” search.  Then I discovered that a search of “Harman” did not bring up any references to “Harman’s”.  This was after I read the report about the Byaduk General Store ruins.  The general store is thought to have opened around 1863 when another early shop opened,  Joseph Harman’s, bootmaking shop.


I then turned to Mum’s paternal side and searched the Diwells.

Surprisingly the result took me back to Cavendish, a town I never thought they had links to.  However, I found my gg uncle William Diwell, a bricklayer, was the contractor that built the Cavendish Memorial Hall in 1920.

It was no surprise William Diwell was a bricklayer.  The following entries are about his father and grandfathers, all bricklayers or builders.

Firstly, St. Andrews Presbyterian Church in Merino.  Builders Northcott and Diwell built the church in 1868.  That would be ggg grandfather William Diwell and I am assuming Northcott is George Northcott of Merino.  George owned Merino’s Commercial Hotel (below) and the Cobb & Co Station.  From the VHD I  discovered they received  £126/15/- for the job and that they had also built the Merino Free Library and the Mechanics Institute.

COMMERCIAL HOTEL, MERINO 1880 Image Courtesy of the State Library of South Australia

COMMERCIAL HOTEL, MERINO 1880 Image Courtesy of the State Library of South Australia

The next Diwell match was for the Sandford Mechanics Hall (below).  I knew from a transcript of the booklet, Back to Sandford Centenary: 1957  on the Glenelg and Wannon Pioneers site, William Diwell senior had a link to the building of the Mechanics Hall but only that he suggested that it be made of brick and not wood.  The VHD shed a little more light on a conversation that took place between William and the committee secretary J.S. Anderson in 1864, but in doing so, it leaves me questioning the entry

From the Back to Sandford booklet ,I knew that William ran into Mr Anderson on the Casterton Road.  Anderson told William of the plans to call for a tender for the building of a wooden hall.  William suggested a brick building and that Mr Anderson should take the idea to the committee before advertising.  The committee thought it was a great idea and they called for tenders for a brick hall.

Turning to the VHD, the report continues on from the above story but cites rate book entries from 1863 that Richard Diwell of Casterton was a brickmaker or bricklayer.  Richard was my gg grandfather and he was nine in 1863 . It continued with the story that William suggested Anderson go back to the committee, but added that William had a proposal , maybe an offer of funding.  The committee agreed to the unknown proposal and the tender process began.   The tender was won by James McCormack.

The thing is, the hall was not built until 1885, 19 years after William Diwell met Mr Anderson on the Casterton Road.  William had been dead 14 years.  So he could hardly be credited for a brick hall,  surely.  Also, why is Richard Diwell mentioned?  Did they mean William or was Richard involved later when the hall was built when, as a 30-year-old bricklayer, it was more realistic?


I found entries for George Jelly, my ggg grandfather, and father-in-law of Richard Diwell.  George built the Anglican Rectory in Henty Street Casterton in 1887.

What particularly interested me came from a spontaneous search I did for “George Jellie”.  It brought up the Coleraine Anglican Church.  The history of the church referred to the original structure built in 1853 by Casterton contractor, George Jellie.  My George Jelly did not arrive in Victoria until 1855 aboard the Athelate with his wife Jane and daughter, Mary.  According to his obituary, they first went to Murndal at Tahara, run by Samuel Pratt Winter and then on to Casterton.  George and Jane’s first born child in Australia was my gg grandmother, Elizabeth Ann Jelly at Casterton in 1856.

That beggars the questions, was there a George Jellie, contractor of Casterton in 1853 or did the first building at the Coleraine Anglican Church not get constructed until around 1856 by which time George Jelly had arrived in the town?  More research is needed on that one.

George’s obituary credits him for building the Casterton Mechanics Institute also, however that building is not on the VHD.


While the Victorian Heritage Database is full of useful information, I do wrestle with it on occasions as it takes on a mind of its own.  I use a Firefox browser and I think it doesn’t agree with the database. I have tested Chrome and it seems a lot happier.  Another problem I occasionally have is when clicking on a link to VHD from Google or Western District Families.  I get a message that my session has ended.  If that happens, page back and click again and it will come up.

More on Lisa Gervasoni.  Lisa  has over 300,000 photos on Flickr and they are also found with a Trove search.  Lisa’s photos of landmarks and war memorials, often come up in my searches of Western Victorian towns.  When I have wanted to see what something in the Western District looks like, Lisa’s great photos have been there.  Thank you Lisa.

More on the VAFHO conference.  It was great to finally meet in person, Liz Pidgeon from the Yarra Plenty Regional Library and Infolass blog, who I have known on social media for some time.   I also met Craige from the Mortlake Historical Society.  You should check out the great Facebook page he is running for the society.


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