Category Archives: Pioneer Obituaries

Passing of the Pioneers

Welcome to a bumper May Passing of the Pioneers.  So many interesting pioneers passed in  the month of May,  I had to leave some for next year.  Those that remain had such great stories that it was necessary to share some extra bits and pieces found about them.  Some just passed through the Western District from time to time, others lived there only for a short period while others were residents for over 50 years, but they all left their mark in some way.    They include army captains, ship captains, a dentist and a naturalist.

Captain Foster FYANS:  Died May 23, 1870 at Newtown.  Western Victorian historian, Margaret Kiddle, wrote in her book Men of Yesterday: a social history of the Western District of Victoria (1834-1890) “the story of  Foster Fyans’ commissionership is a joy to historians” (p.50) . Born in Dublin, Ireland, Foster Fyans was an army captain.  He enlisted in 1816 and served with different regiments of the British army including a stint in India.  On arrival in Australia in 1833, he became the captain of the guard on Norfolk Island and remained there for two years.  In 1837, he left the army and headed to Port Phillip to become the first police magistrate at Geelong.

From 1840, Foster Fyans held the important position of  Crown Lands Commissioner for the Portland Bay area.   A squatter taking up land had to seek permission from the Commissioner and pay an annual fee.  The Commissioner’s word was law and there was no arguing with Foster Fyans, a man with a temper.  He tangled with many squatters including the Hentys.  Governor  La Trobe had his moments with Fyans and Kiddle cites La Trobe declaring Fyans “secured to him the chance of a duel once at least in the week as long as he may live” (p.50).

As commissioner, Fyans would ride great distances from Geelong through to Portland and into the Wimmera, a formidable task but his skills marking out selections  may not have been as great  according to Richard Bennett’s Early Days in Port Fairy (edited by Jan Critchett).  Fyans’ marking of runs “amounted to almost a farce” as Bennett  described the technique used by Fyans:

They were usually laid off in ten mile blocks, measured with a compass in his hand, and timing his horse.  A blackfellow followed, and notched a tree line.  When the Commissioner had travelled what he considered the distance, he notched a corner tree with a broad arrow, and then rode off again at right angles to the next corner, and so on round the block.  Captain Fyans was a bluff old gentleman…” (p.26).

Despite his ways, Fyans was kept on as Commissioner because their was no one else qualified to do the job.

THE LATE CAPTAIN FYANS. (1870, June 18). Illustrated Australian News for Home Readers (Melbourne, Vic. : 1867 - 1875), p. 114. Retrieved May 19, 2013, from

THE LATE CAPTAIN FYANS. (1870, June 18). Illustrated Australian News for Home Readers (Melbourne, Vic. : 1867 – 1875), p. 114. Retrieved May 19, 2013, from

Foster Fyans died at Balyang (below) in the Geelong suburb of Newtown and while the house was demolished in 1896, the site is now a part of the Balyang sanctuary. Around the Geelong area the Fyans name is still present with Fyans Street and the suburb, Fyansford.   Around the Grampians there is Lake Fyans and Fyans Creek.

BALYANG, RESIDENCE OF FOSTER FYANS c1851. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria Image no. H88.21/107

William CARMICHAEL:  Died May 1890 at Macarthur.  William lived at Harton Hills, near Macarthur.  According to his obituary, William purchased the property in 1843 from squatter James Hunter.  However, the Macarthur Historical Society website states William bought the property from the Bolden brothers in 1842.  Any wonder William’s  obituary notes there were “many and varied stories” about how he acquired Harton Hills.

Captain Alexander CAMPBELL:  Died May 25, 1890 at South Yarra.  Alexander Campbell was born in 1803 in Argyleshire, Scotland and followed his brothers to Tasmania in 1825.  After farming for a few years, Alexander left for Sydney in 1831.  The following year a position in charge of the whaling station at Portland was offered to him but he didn’t take up the role until 1836.  In the meantime he went whaling, sailing as far as Japan.  After Portland, he went on to Port Fairy where he stayed for about 15 years.  In that time he built at least two cottages, one occupied by his sisters.  In 1851, he became a harbour master and later moved to Gippsland where he returned to farming.  In his last years, Alexander and his wife moved to Caroline Street, South Yarra where  he died aged 87.

Captain David FERMANER:  Died May, 1893 at Newport.  Earlier this year I wrote a Trove Tuesday post entitled Gilding the Lily.  Captain David Fermaner may have been guilty of just that.   At the time of his death, Fermaner, a whaler,  was credited as being Victoria’s earliest colonist and that he was standing on the beach at Lady Bay when the ship carrying the first Henty’s reached the Victorian coastline.  However, after reading  Jenny Williams Fawcett’s account of David Fermaner and his link to the legend of the Mahogany Ship, it became obvious telling the truth was not one of his strong points.

CAPTAIN DAVID FERMANER. Image courtesty of the State Library of Victoria Image no. H2889/85

After his time in the south-west, Fermaner later became pilot and harbourmaster at Port Albert in Gippsland.

William Thomas PILE:  Died May 25, 1901 at Portland.  William Pile was born in Devonshire, England and as a boy served an apprenticeship in the fishing industry at Hull.  With an urge to see the world, he became a sailor and in 1852, his ship “Cossepore” arrived at Portland, but he travelled on to Geelong and like many other ships’ crew he left and headed to the diggings.   The thrill of the high seas and travel was a greater lure and he returned to England.  It was not until 1854 on a return visit to Portland, he decided to settle.

William’s working life in Portland started as a fisherman and in 1869 after a trip home to England, he returned with a new type of gun to harpoon whales.  He bought into a wattle bark business with Stephen Jarrett that proved lucrative. In 1876 William became a Portland Councillor and then Portland Mayor in 1880 and 1886.

Stephen DUDDEN:  Died May 2, 1903 at Hamilton.  Stephen Dudden was born in Somersetshire around 1819 and arrived in Victoria in the 1860s.  Stephen showed some entrepreneurial skills setting up a refreshment tent opposite the Hamilton Lands office, in Brown Street, during the rush to buy land after the passing of the Land Act in 1860.  He later went  to Portland working as a stonemason and then retired to Myamyn.  In the month prior to his death, a dehydrated and disheveled Stephen was found by a Hamilton policeman and taken to the Hamilton Hospital where he remained until he passed away from senile decay.

Janet MILLAR:  Died May 3, 1910 at Portland.  Janet’s obituary named her only as Mrs Browning, so I turned to the Australian Death Index to find her birth name, Janet Millar.  Janet and her husband  John Browning arrived in Victoria in 1849 and headed to Portland to set up a school.  With the discovery of gold, the school was abandoned and the Brownings headed for the diggings.  They returned to Portland and eventually John set up another school, John Browning’s Boarding School for Boys.

Janet was 88 at the time of her death and had kept relatively good health and was still tending her home.  However it was a once in a lifetime chance to see Halley’s Comet in 1910 that led to her demise.  She had been out early on cold mornings trying to catch a glimpse of the comet and developed a chill, too much for her weak heart.

Laurence FINN:  Died May 24, 1914 at Port Fairy.  Laurence Finn from Tipperary, Ireland arrived in Melbourne with his parents in 1841 and in 1843 they settled in Port Fairy.  In 1858, Laurence married Ellen Crowe (Australian Marriage Index) and they took up residence at Comely Banks, Port Fairy.  Laurence’s father ran the Belfast Inn for a time until he let the lease lapse.   As a the only child from his father’s second marriage, Laurence and his children inherited a large amount of land.  Laurence was a Justice of the Peace and was a member of the Port Fairy Agriculture Society.

John McCOMBE:  Died May 7, 1916 at Casterton.  Fourteen year old, John McCombe arrived in Melbourne aboard the Champion of the Seas in 1854.  His family headed directly to Portland but John soon moved on to the Casterton district taking up work at Dunrobin and Nangeela.  He purchased a bullock team and began a carrying business and moved to Sandford around 1861 after he married.  Four years later he bought land at Deep Creek, Corndale and he remained there until his death.

Frederick  Sunderland Wood MAWSON:  Died May 19, 1916 at Geelong.  Frederick Mawson was a dentist and he travelled the Western District and  Mt. Gambier inspecting the teeth of the residents.  Born around 1843 (Australian Death Index), Frederick studied dentistry in England and practiced in Yorkshire.  After acquiring the necessary qualifications for Australia, Frederick set up practice in Geelong and for a few years had a practice in Mt Gambier.

DENTISTRY. (1914, April 2). The Casterton News and the Merino and Sandford Record (Vic. : 1914 - 1918), p. 1 Edition: Bi-Weekly. Retrieved May 23, 2013, from

DENTISTRY. (1914, April 2). The Casterton News and the Merino and Sandford Record (Vic. : 1914 – 1918), p. 1 Edition: Bi-Weekly. Retrieved May 23, 2013, from

This “advertorial” from the Border Watch gives a good description of Frederick Mawson and his dentistry.


F. J. Mawson,. (1899, April 5). Border Watch (Mount Gambier, SA : 1861 - 1954), p. 4 Supplement: Supplement to the BORDER WATCH. Retrieved May 23, 2013, from

F. J. Mawson,. (1899, April 5). Border Watch (Mount Gambier, SA : 1861 – 1954), p. 4 Supplement: Supplement to the BORDER WATCH. Retrieved May 23, 2013, from


Mr George Deihl McCORMICK: Died May 29, 1916 at Warrnambool.  Born in Toronto, Canada, George McCormick arrived in Victoria in 1852.  He farmed and apparently  became a part owner of Cobb & Co. coaches.  While I can’t find evidence of this claim, George did know a lot about Cobb & Co. as recorded in his reminisces from 1902 with a writer from the Warrnambool Standard.  The article also appeared in the Portland Guardian of January 20, 1902

mccorm mccorm1 mccorm2

This is a perfect opportunity to show a Cobb & Co. coach and the Leviathan coach, introduced in 1862, was the height of madness.  Smaller coaches would have been scary enough to ride in as they hurtled along unmade roads.  But a coach for 89 passengers.  What were they thinking?  George’s account above mentions the perils facing the Leviathan coach, but it was not the risk that proved them unsuccessful.  Rather, the driver’s whip could not reach the front horses, so a bag of stones were carried to throw at the leaders.

COBB & CO COACH WITH 89 PASSENGERS.  Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria Image No. H4051

COBB & CO COACH WITH 89 PASSENGERS. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria Image No. H4051

George became a police magistrate in 1882 and purchased Bournfield Park Estate at Woodstock near Whittlesea and in 1889 he arrived in Warrnambool.  He remained there until his death.  He left a wife, Barbara Waddell and five sons and four daughters.

 John James VILLIERS:  Died May 1917 at Warrnambool.  London born John Villiers was a talented man.  He arrived in Victoria in 1858 aged around 17 and headed to the diggings.  In the early 1860s he went to Warrnambool and his obituary in the Argus May 12, 1917 said he ran a painting and decorating business in Libeig Street and imported crockery.  John’s  interest in painting went beyond house painting.  He enjoyed painting landscapes in oils and watercolours and once he presented a painting to the Warrnambool Art Gallery.

A man of the arts, John was also an amateur dramatic and vocal performer and organised dramatic events to raise money for the likes of the Warrnambool Hospital and the Mechanics Institute.  John was a part of the earliest known sound recording in Australia by Warrnambool shoe shop owner, Thomas Rome on one of the first Edison phonographs.  John Villiers sang the The Hen Convention and if you click on the link, you can hear the song.  More information about Thomas Rome and John Villiers and their recordings can be found in a story by ABC Southwest from 2010.

Sarah BARKER:  Died May 1917 at Ararat.  Most months I can find a pioneer that I have even just a tenuous family link to.  This month it is Sarah Barker.  Sarah was the mother of Stephen Ward.  Stephen married Isabella Harman, daughter of James Harman.  I didn’t know that Sarah Jerrett, as she was in her obituary, was formally Sarah Ward and Sarah Baker.  When I read the obituary however, it mentioned the Ward connection and her son Stephen.

Sarah, from Norfolk, England and her first husband James Ward , arrived at Portland in 1852.  She was 23.  Sarah remained there until the late 1890s when she moved to Ararat.  Prior to that  Sarah and James had seven children. including second youngest Stephen in 1867.  James died in 1879 and Sarah married Francis Jerrett in 1883.

John GURRY:  Died May 24, 1917 at Condah.  John Gurry and his wife left Ireland for Portland in 1857.  They tried Harrow and Branxholme, running the Western Hotel there,  then settled in Condah where John ran a farm.  In their later years, they moved into the Condah township.  John was buried in a family grave at Portland.

OBITUARY. (1917, May 28). Port Fairy Gazette (Vic. : 1914 - 1918), p. 2 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved May 23, 2013, from

OBITUARY. (1917, May 28). Port Fairy Gazette (Vic. : 1914 – 1918), p. 2 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved May 23, 2013, from

Adam EDGAR:  Died May 8, 1941 at Tapanui, New Zealand.  At the age of six, Adam arrived in Portland aboard the Severn in 1857 with his parents, James and Isabella and his eight siblings.  The family went straight to “Pine Hills”  Harrow the property of James Edgar’s brother, David.  Like his cousins and siblings, he was educated at the private school David Edgar had established at Pine Hills.  In 1871,  Adam married Margaret Huston and in 1875, they left for New Zealand where they stayed for the rest of their lives.  One of Adam and Margaret’s sons was the Reverend James. Huston Edgar, an explorer, missionary and author who spent much of his life in China. His obituary is below.   Adam’s sister Jean Edgar was a Passing Pioneer from March 2012.

MR. J. H. EDGAR DEAD. (1936, April 6). The Courier-Mail (Brisbane, Qld. : 1933 - 1954), p. 14. Retrieved May 26, 2013, from

MR. J. H. EDGAR DEAD. (1936, April 6). The Courier-Mail (Brisbane, Qld. : 1933 – 1954), p. 14. Retrieved May 26, 2013, from

Captain Robert Ernest BAKER:  Died May 4 at Larpent,  What an interesting character Captain Baker was.  Not a ship’s captain, but a captain in the AIF during WW1 he served with the 8th Light Horse.  Reading his 88 page service record, I found that Baker was actually a Lieutenant when delisted and was a just temporary Captain at one time during his service.  “Captain” does have a better ring to it.

This wonderful photo from the Australian War Memorial has a real Western District flavour but sadly only one, Robert Baker, returned.  Captain Baker is seated on the left.  He was 41 at the time of enlistment.  The other men are, seated right:  Keith Allan Borthwick of Armadale.  Standing from left:  Major Thomas Harold Redford of Warrnambool, Lt Edward Ellis Henty of Hamilton, Lt Eliot Gratton Wilson of Warrnambool.

Edward Ellis Henty was the grandson of Stephen George Henty.  He,  Borthwick, Redford and Wilson joined up on the same day, September 21, 1914 and all died on the same day, August 7, 1915 at the battle of The Nek at Gallipoli.  Robert Baker’s war was plagued with illness, including dysentery and lumbago, but it probably saved his life.  On August 7, 1915, he was in the No 1 Australian Stationary Hospital on Mudros.

Image Courtesy of the Australian War Memorial P00265.001

Image Courtesy of the Australian War Memorial P00265.001

After the war, Captain Baker transformed his property at Larpent into a sanctuary for the native fauna.  He often contributed to the Nature Notes in the Argus.

NOTES FOR BOYS. (1930, September 9). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), p. 9. Retrieved May 26, 2013, from

NOTES FOR BOYS. (1930, September 9). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957), p. 9. Retrieved May 26, 2013, from

In 1936, he offered kangaroos from his own sanctuary to the Healesville sanctuary.  Healesville Sanctuary was in its first years as it was officially opened in 1934.

Healesville Shire Council. (1936, May 2). Healesville and Yarra Glen Guardian (Vic. : 1900 - 1942), p. 3. Retrieved May 26, 2013, from

Healesville Shire Council. (1936, May 2). Healesville and Yarra Glen Guardian (Vic. : 1900 – 1942), p. 3. Retrieved May 26, 2013, from

Herbert Edward RIPPON:  Died May 19, 1954 at Hamilton.  Herbert Rippon was the son of George Rippon, part owner of the Hamilton Spectator Herbert lived at Edradour, a house on Ballarat Road, Hamilton I must have passed a thousand times.  Photos of Edradour can be seen on a Hamilton real estate agency listing.  Herbert inherited ownership of the Hamilton Spectator in 1899.  The Victorian Heritage Database has a short bio on Herbert and he was one of the original backers of Sir Reginald Ansett, then a Hamilton resident.  He also was a director of John Thompson & Co department store of Hamilton.

Passing of the Pioneers

April Passing of the Pioneers includes members of some of Western Victoria’s well-known pioneering families including Bell, Learmonth, Trigger, Kittson and Coulson.  There is also the great character of Thomas Tattersall of Ararat, a train driving pioneer.

Edwin CUMMINGS:  Died April 2, 1892 at Portland.  Edwin Cummings, originally from Tasmania, had only been in Portland around 16 years but in that time he worked hard to improve his lot.  On his arrival in Portland he ran a successful saw-milling/cabinet making business.  Edwin then moved to farming pursuits.  Using modern farming methods, he was able to improve his holding.  Edwin also lost several adult children to consumption.

Thomas TATTERSALL:  Died April 24, 1894 at Ararat.  Lancashire born Thomas Tattersall died from fish poisoning on his birthday.  He was a pioneering engine driver and his death was recognised by the  Governor of Victoria who sent a telegram of condolence to the Ararat railway station.  Thomas drove the first train from Melbourne to Bendigo and was one of the first drivers to Portland.  He had also driven the train for many dignitaries including the Governor and the Premier of Victoria.

Thomas BROWN:  Died April 1903 at Hamilton.  Thomas Brown went to Hamilton with his parents, after their arrival in Victoria from Scotland in 1852.   Thomas was an elder of the Hamilton Presbyterian Church and a long time member of the Sons of Temperance and was also involved with other temperance movements.  Active in many charities, his obituary noted that the poor of Hamilton had lost a friend in Thomas Brown.

Alfred COWLAND:  Died April 27, 1908 at Casterton.  Alfred Cowland was born in Kent, England and arrived in Victoria around 1858 aged 22.  He travelled with his parents, and Alfred and his father began farming at Greenwalde.  Alfred married the widow of Fred Spencer, but they did not have any children.

Mrs W.H. OSMOND:  Died April 8, 1915 at Port Fairy.  Mrs Osmond’s husband Harry was a partner in Osmond Bros., hotel keepers and butchers.  Mrs Osmond was hostess at the Market Hotel, Port Fairy, and considered  a most popular landlady in the Western District and if the races where on, she was there.

Thomas Ferry PEARSON:  Died April 24, 1915 at Port Fairy.  Thomas Pearson was born at Newcastle-on-Tyne, England and arrived in Portland in 1852.  He married Jane Strachan there before moving to Port Fairy in 1855.  He went to work on the pilot boats under Captain Mills and then for 13 years was keeper of the Griffiths Island lighthouse.

Francis Stubbs COULSON:  Died April 10, 1916 at Hamilton.  Francis Coulson was the husband of my gg aunt Harriet Martha Diwell.  He was the son of Christopher Coulson and Mary Frances Stubbs and was born in Yorkshire, England in 1842.  He married Harriet in 1873 and they had 13 children.  Francis ran a carrying business between Portland and the inland towns.  He also farmed at “Rosebank” Dwyers Creek and hard work saw him turn it into a “nice property”.

Mrs DIGBY:  Died April 23, 1918 at Port Fairy.  Mrs Digby was born in Somersetshire, England and arrived in Victoria in 1852.  Soon after she married Joseph Digby.  They had a large family of nine sons and daughters.  She was 88 at the time of her death.

Kate CUE:  Died April 23, 1917 at Port Fairy.  Kate Cue was from the Casterton district.  Her brother  Tom Cue, a miner, had the town Cue, Western Australia named after him.  She married William Sutherland McPherson of “Nangeela” station, Casterton.  They took up residence in Port Fairy and had seven children.

James MAHONEY:  Died April 27, 1918 at Port Fairy.  James Mahoney of Killarny was a member of one of the oldest families in the district.  He was the son of Mrs Quirk and had three brothers and a sister living at the time of his death aged 69.  James had travelled extensively throughout Australia and never married.

James BELL:  Died April 1923 at Mt. Eckersley.   James Bell was a member of the well known Bell family of Mt Eckersley near Heywood.  James, his parents and siblings arrived in Victoria in 1841 and they settled at Mt Eckersley.  James was the last surviving member of the original family known for their longevity.  James was 97 at the time of his death and his father John Bell lived to 101.

Jonathan HARMAN:  Died April 1930 at Heywood.  Jonathan Harman, my ggg uncle was also from a family known for longevity. He died at the home of his daughter, Amelia, wife of the nephew of James Bell (above).  Jonathan was 92 years old and a colonist of 76 years.

Kate Isabella HILL:  Died April 1934 at Wodonga.  Kate Hill was the daughter of John and Isabella Hill of West Portland.  She was better known as “Kitty Hill” and her and sister Lizzie were household names in their early days.  John Hill was a local school teacher.  Kitty married William Smith of Wodonga and was 75 years old when she died.

Alexander MOTT:  Died April 12, 1934 at Casterton.  Alexander was born in Millicent, South Australia and went to the Casterton district in the early 1900s.  He farmed at Carapook and Bahgallah before settling in the Casterton township.  His wife predeceased him and he left seven sons and daughters.

Mary Simpson LEARMONTH:  Died April 2, 1939 at Hamilton.  Mary Learmonth was from one well-known Hamilton family and married into another when she wed David Laidlaw.  Mary was the daughter of Peter Learmonth of “Prestonholme” Hamilton.   David’s father was David Laidlaw, a saddler who arrived in Hamilton with no money and become one of the town’s most prominent citizens.

Mary was quite the sportswoman and was 17 times female champion of the Hamilton Golf Club.  This was according to her obituary in the Portland Guardian however her obituary in The Argus of April 4, 1939 states she was club champion 39 times.   She was also a talented tennis and croquet player.  Other than sport, Mary was president of the Australian  Women’s National League prior to her death and was a member of the Hamilton Horticulture Society.

Mary died at her home “Eildon” on the corner of Thompson and French Street Hamilton.  Everyone who has lived in Hamilton will know the Laidlaw’s former home, just on the edge of the CBD and overlooking the Hamilton Botanic Gardens.  The house, designed by Ussher and Kemp, was sold after Mary’s death to the Napier Club, a club formed by the female counterparts of the Hamilton Club.  The club, formed around 1931, still occupies “Eildon” today.

"Eildon", Hamilton

“Eildon”, Hamilton

Alice M. WYATT:  Died April 23, 1940 at Hamilton.  Alice Wyatt, the daughter of Mr and Mrs T.L. Wyatt, spent her childhood in Portland before moving to Hamilton around 1878 when she was 20.  She did spend some time in Melbourne working for Sir Edward Miller and his wife Lady Mary Miller.  Sir Edward was a politician who made his money in finance and pastoral pursuits.  Alice spent the last 25 years of her life in Hamilton.

Irwin BELL:  Died April 1940 at Hamilton.  Irwin Bell of Dartmoor was a son of James Bell (above).  Irwin was born in Portland around 1874 and lived at Mt Eckersley until the Bell family property was sold.  He married Ann Letts of Heywood and together they led a life dedicated to the Church of England.  They established the first Sunday School at Dartmoor and prepared parishioners for their first communion.  Irwin also worked for the Department of Forestry and in later years was a Justice of the Peace.  He died at KiaOra Hospital in Hamilton and was buried at Heywood cemetery.

James TRIGGER:  Died April 25, 1945 at Macarthur. James Trigger was the son of Samuel and Eliza Trigger of Warrabkook near Macarthur.  Born in 1859, James selected land at Mt Eccles at a young age and he farmed there for the duration of his life.

OBITUARY. (1945, May 24). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 - 1953), p. 3 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved April 27, 2013, from

OBITUARY. (1945, May 24). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 3 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved April 27, 2013, from

James was interested in horse racing and was an owner of a number of horses.  He left a widow and a son and daughter.

Mr R.S. KITTSON:  Died April 8, 1948 at Lower Cape Bridgewater.  Stephen Kittson was the son of James Kittson and Catherine Trotter and the last surviving member of the first family of Kittsons to arrive at Cape Bridgewater.  A deeply religious man, he was involved in many church activities.  Having had two sons serve in WW1, Stephen showed an interest in returned servicemen and with his passing “ex-servicemen have lost a loyal friend”

Mary Ann ALLSOP:  Died April 10, 1953 at Port Campbell.  Mary Ann was the daughter of Mr and Mrs Samuel Allsop, pioneers of the Port Campbell district.  She married Thomas Wiggens at Purrumbete.  After the death of Thomas, Mary Ann moved to Camperdown.  She left one son and three daughters and was buried at the Camperdown cemetery.

Passing of the Pioneers

March Passing of the Pioneers  once again gathers together a diverse group of Western District pioneers.  They include a winemaker and a lighthouse keeper.  There are links to some well-known Western District properties and families, and a Portland resident that grew up with an English author.

Eliza Mary KEARTON:  Died March, 1891 at Creswick.  Eliza Kearton was a long-time resident of Portland.  She had gone to Creswick for an operation, but  died of complications.  She was born in London in 1820 and married William Tulloh in 1844 in Tasmania.  William’s obituary appeared in Passing of the Pioneers in July 2011 and includes a lot of detail about their lives in Portland.

James ROBERTSON:  Died March, 1892 at Portland.  James Robertson was born in Alvie, Scotland.  Once in Portland, he set up the Iron Store business with his older brothers John and William Robertson.

Anne WILCOX:  Died March 12, 1894 at Portland.  Anne and her husband Thomas Must were well-known residents of Portland.  Anne was from Sydney and married Thomas a Sydney mechant in 1842  before they travelled to Portland to set up a branch of Thomas’ business, Must and Flower.  A few years after his arrival in Portland,  he had an architect design a home resulting in “Prospect“, built in 1855. The couple lived there for the rest of their lives.  In 1908 at St Stephens Church, unveliled a stained glass window in memory of Mr. and Mrs. Must.




Ann PAXFORD:  Died March 1900 at Portland.  Ann Paxford was the daughter of Jonathan Paxford and Ann Bray and was born around 1818.  She married Edward Francis Hughes and they arrived in Victoria in 1853 and Portland in 1854.

Ann had an interesting life while a child in England.  She spent time with a young Marion Evans better known as George Elliott, writer.  Looking further into the story, which appears correct, proved intriguing.  Ann, through her mother, Ann Bray was related to Charles Bray a ribbon manufacturer and a leader of the “intellectual elite”.(Oxford Dictornary of National Biography)  He described his house, Rosehill, as “a mecca for radicals and intellectuals” (The Continuum Encyclopedia of British Philosophy in Oxford Reference).  Marion Evans lived at Rosehill and that is where Ann would have come to know her.

Janet McCRACKEN:  Died March 1911 at Stawell.  Born in Scotland around 1840, Janet McCracken arrived in Melbourne with her parents in the early 1850s.  After a few years they moved to Stawell and Janet married James Mathers.   The couple lived in Stawell for the rest of their lives and had four sons and three daughters.

Daniel TYERS:  Died March 15, 1915 at Byaduk.  After arriving in Victoria around 1856, Daniel Tyers lived at Port Fairy.  He later moved to Byaduk where he remained until his death at the age of 95.  He was buried at the Byaduk Cemetery along with his brother Samuel and sister Jane.

John MOONEY:  Died March 29, 1915 at Mooney’s Gap.  In 1854, John Mooney from Ireland, travelled to Australia aboard the “Great Britain“.  His brother Lawrence had arrived the year before, so John joined him on the Ararat diggings.  In 1858,  the brothers planted grape vines at Mooney’s Gap near Ararat and started the “Emerald Vineyard“.  In the same year, just down the road, Jean-Pierre Trouette, his wife Ann-Marie and brother-in-law Emile Blampied, were the first to plant vines at Great Western.  While Troutte’s winery “St. Peters” no longer exists, other wineries from the early days, Best’s and Seppelts are still in production there.

OBITUARY. (1915, March 30). The Ararat advertiser (Vic. : 1914 - 1918), p. 2 Edition: triweekly. Retrieved March 26, 2013, from

OBITUARY. (1915, March 30). The Ararat advertiser (Vic. : 1914 – 1918), p. 2 Edition: triweekly. Retrieved March 26, 2013, from

In 1925, Lawrence Mooney uprooted the vines at “Emerald Vineyard” and used the land for other purposes.

Elizabeth Robertson MURDOCH:  Died March 7, 1916 at Port Fairy.  I did a little extra research at on Mrs Whiting because I wanted to find her name, in preference  to listing  her as Mrs Albert Edwin Whiting.  Elizabeth grew up around the Geelong area and married Albert Whiting in 1878.  Albert was a son of Edwin Whiting and Hannah Manifold.   Hannah’s brothers were Thomas, Peter and William Manifold, original owners of the “Purrumbete run.

At the time of marriage, John was station manager for the Chirnsides property “Boortkoi” .  Their wedding was at  “Woolongoon” ,Mortlake then owned by Anthony McKenzie.  Elizabeth and Albert moved to Port Fairy and lived at Boodcarra before moving to “Loongana” for several years before Elizabeth’s passing.

Family Notices. (1878, May 6). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1956), p. 1. Retrieved March 28, 2013, from

Family Notices. (1878, May 6). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1956), p. 1. Retrieved March 28, 2013, from

William HILL:  Died March 14, 1916 at Warrnambool.  Born in Ireland, William Hill spent the first 20 years of his time in Victoria working for Henry de Little, owner of Caramut station.  He then began farming himself, first at Woodford and later at Framlingham where he had dairy cows for 17 years.  In the early 1860s, William married Mary Hassett of Caramut.

Mary FITZGERALD:  Died March 17, 1916 at Tower Hill.  Mary Fitzgerald lived in the Tower Hill district since she was 10 years old, around 1849.  She married John Fitzgibbon and she left two sons and eight daughters at the time of her death.  Her funeral was attended by a large crowd of mourners.

Mr J.J.T. COOPER:  Died March, 1918 at Port Fairy.  Mr Cooper was born in Somerset, England and arrived in Victoria with his parents as a baby.  He became an assistant life boat pilot in 1883 and became the Superintendent of Life boats at Queenscliff in 1892.  Around 1905 he moved on to lighthouse keeping, working at Queencliff, Port Fairy, Cape Nelson and Warrnambool.





Mrs Letitia EMERY:  Died March 13, 1918 at Port Fairy.  Letitia Emery was born in London in 1848 and arrived in Port Fairy four years later.  She lived with her aunt, Mrs Gillespie at the Union Inn at Port Fairy.  Letitia’s husband died eight years before her and she left no children.  She had two cousins surviving and two nieces.

Margaret WHITE:  Died March 4, 1925 at South Portland.  Margaret White spent most of her life living in the Narrawong and Portland districts, an estimated 82 years.  She married James Grant in 1870.  She left two sons and three daughters.  Margaret’s obituary mentions the hardships faced by the early settlers.

Old Resident Passes. (1925, March 5). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 - 1953), p. 2 Edition: EVENING.. Retrieved March 26, 2013, from

Old Resident Passes. (1925, March 5). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 2 Edition: EVENING.. Retrieved March 26, 2013, from


Florence EDSALL:  Died March 22, 1944 at Geelong.  Florence Edsall was born at Warrenheip near Ballarat around 1858.  She married W.J. Silvester and they lived in Cobden during their working lives, before retiring to Geelong.  Florence’s husband was a Councillor with the Heytesbury Shire and was the first child of European descent born at Cobden,

Passing of the Pioneers

February Passing of the Pioneers has obituaries from some of the Western District’s early colonists.  They include Fanny Fisher and John Kelly, both born in Tasmania. They each lived in Victoria for 79 years by the time of their deaths.

Alexander LEARMONTH:  Died February 8, 1874 at Hamilton.  The Learmonths were one of Hamilton’s most noted families.  Alexander was the eldest of four brothers to immigrate to Australia and in time their paths led to  Hamilton.  Alexander arrived in 1857 and immediately took an interest in the town’s affairs.  He  founded the Hamilton municipality and was the first Mayor of the Borough, holding the office for six years.  The contribution Alex Learmonth made to Hamilton in those early days was immense.

OBITUARY. (1874, February 24). Portland Guardian and Normanby General Advertiser (Vic. : 1842 - 1876), p. 6 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved February 20, 2013, from

OBITUARY. (1874, February 24). Portland Guardian and Normanby General Advertiser (Vic. : 1842 – 1876), p. 6 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved February 20, 2013, from

Alexander was a trustee of the Hamilton Mechanics Institute.  After his death, funds raised built an extra room named the Learmonth Memorial Hall.  He also served as a territorial Magistrate, Coroner, Government Auditor and many other offices, too many to list, but all are in his full obituary.




John KELLY:  Died February 7, 1914 at St Helens.  John Kelly, born in Tasmania, was one of the oldest residents in the Port Fairy and Yambuk district when he died in 1914.  He had been in Victoria for 79 years, having arrived aged three.  He first resided at Casterton, then near Port Fairy and later he ran a general store at Yambuk.  His wife passed away 41 years before him and he left seven children.

John Wishart GIBSON:  Died February 10, 1914 at Colac.  John Gibson was a Geelong importer before purchasing a large amount of land in and around Colac.  He was a keen golfer and enjoyed playing the Port Fairy Golf Links on his summer holidays.  John’s wife Grace signed the 1891  Women’s Suffrage Petition at Highton.  They had five children.

Fanny Mercer FISHER:  Died February 25, 1914 at Dobie.  Fanny Richardson was the oldest resident in the Ararat district at the time of her death, aged 81.  She had been in Victoria for 79 years and that was also thought to qualify her as the oldest lady colonist in the state.  Apparently she shared the title with a Mrs Pearman and Mrs Creswick until they both passed away.  Fanny, born in Tasmania, was the daughter of David Fisher.  He took up the position of manager for the Derwent Company bringing him, and later his family, to Geelong in 1837.  A letter from David appears in Letters from Victorian Pioneers.  In 1850, Fanny married James Richardson.

Mr John Henry JACKSON:  Died February 2, 1915 at Casterton.  John Jackson was born in Longford, Tasmania in 1829.  At 14 years, he travelled to Victoria to work for his uncles Samuel and William Jackson near Sunbury,  When his uncles purchased “Sandford Estate” from John Henty in 1847, John rode from Sunbury to Sandford by himself aged 18.  He remained there for the rest of his life.  John married Marianne Bowtell in 1855 and they had two sons and three daughters.  John was one of the earliest J.P.s in the area and was a Honourary Magistrate.

John HOWELL:  Died February 17, 1915 at Orford.  John Howell was born in the Port Fairy district around 1843 to Irish parents.  He selected land at Orford in 1867 and remained there until his death.  He never married, and thanks to his thrift was a donor to many worthy causes.  He left three brothers and five sisters.

Reverend Mother Josephine:  Died February, 1915 at Ireland.  The Reverend Mother Josephine was one of the founding members of the Brigidine Convent in Ararat, arriving around 1888 from Ireland. With  guidance from the much admired Mother Josephine, the convent school, was highly regarded.  Marian College still operates today. Sadly, after a trip home to Ireland, Mother Josephine passed away on the ship during the return voyage.

Jane O’MAY:  Died February 17, 1916 at Buckley Swamp.  Referring to my Family Tree Maker program, I found Jane O’May defined as the “Paternal grandmother of husband of 1st cousin 4 x removed” of me.  Jane was the wife of William Kirkwood.  Their grandson William married my 1st cousin 4 x removed, Sarah Ann Reed in 1903.  Sarah was a niece of James Harman and Susan Reed.

First Issue, August 20 1842. (1916, February 23). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 - 1953), p. 2 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved February 22, 2013, from

First Issue, August 20 1842. (1916, February 23). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 2 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved February 22, 2013, from


Hugh CAMERON:  Died February 1934 at Drumborg.  Born in Portland around 1855, Hugh Cameron moved around the Western District for several years,  finally settling at Drumborg.  He lived at Condah, Willaura, Telangatuk and Branxholme.  He married Mary Cameron of Toorak and they had five boys and two girls.

Mrs Ellen HICKEY:  Died February 4, 1937 at Portland.  Ellen Hickey lived in Portland for most of her 76 years, but moved to Moonee Ponds for the last 13 years of her life.  During her time in Portland, where her husband Thomas Hickey ran a livery stable, Ellen attended All Saints Church.  After the move to Melbourne, Ellen enjoyed returning to Portland for her annual holiday.  She left Thomas, five sons and two daughters.  A son John, a veteran of the Boer War, predeceased her.

Samuel ARTIS:  Died February 1938 at Port Fairy.  Samuel Artis was born around 1858 and worked for the Belfast and Koroit Steam Navigation Company  for many years and was at one time, foreman of the wharf.  Samuel was also an expert on the history of Port Fairy.

Mr Frederick H. BEST:  Died February 29, 1940 at Winslow.  Frederick was born in England in 1849 and arrived in Portland with his parents, in 1852.  He began work as a tanner at 15 and work around Australia and New Zealand for the following 10 years.  He married Louise Cardinal at Woolsthorpe in 1875 and set up a tannery business at Winslow.  It became the biggest tannery outside the larger cities.

William McKENZIE:  Died February 2, 1949 at Newfields.  Born at Carranballac Station in 1868, William McKenzie was the youngest of 13 children.  He worked as a shearer through the Western District and N.S.W. before taking up dairy farming around the turn of the century.  William married Augusta Schmidt in 1896.

Passing of the Pioneers

After nearly two years of Passing of the Pioneers, I am beginning to have to dig a little deeper for pioneer obituaries but I have managed to find an interesting group for January.  There are members of the Black, Herbertson and Guthridge families.  Also a butcher, a baker and a newspaper maker.  Then Sarah Jane Wadmore, an early Portland historian, and Mary Ann Skilbeck, a member of a family that left a legacy of value to historians today.

Don’t despair, there will still be many more Passing of the Pioneers and if the Hamilton Spectator ever finds its way to Trove, well, my life will be complete.

T.E. THOMAS:  Died January 20, 1909 at Casterton.  Mr Thomas was the owner of the Casterton Free Press and a former owner of the Port Fairy Gazette and was well-known for his journalism.

Mrs W. DEWAR:  Died January 24, 1910 at Casterton.  Arriving at Portland in 1861, the Dewars headed to Heathfield Station near Strathdownie where they were both employed.  Later they moved to Casterton until their deaths.  Mrs Dewar had nine children and lived to 84 years.

Archibald BLACK:  Died January 20, 1912 at Camperdown.  Son of Western Victorian pastoralist, Niel Black MLC, Archibald was born in South Yarra and educated at Geelong Grammar, Trinity College and Cambridge.  He then settled in the Western District and was one of the first landholders in the Hampden area to recognise the potential for dairy-farming, an industry the area is today renowned for.  His obituary and photo can also be found at Obituaries Australia

Thomas MORRISSY:  Died January 1914 at Beeac.   Tipperary born, Thomas Morrissey arrived in Victoria around 1860 and farmed around Ballarat.  After two years he moved to Beeac were he farmed for the next 52 years.  He was a member of the Colac P & A Society and took a keen interest in the affairs of the Colac Dairying Company.

Mrs George SEALEY:  Died January 5, 1915 at Casterton.  Mrs Sealey was born in Middlesex in 1833 and arrived in Victoria in 1854.  She was a Casterton resident from 1855 to 1875, then Corndale for the next 35 years before returning to Casterton in the years before her death.  She had a family of nine sons.  One son lost his life during the Boer War.  She left 50 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.

Patrick  KINNANE:  Died January 9, 1915 at Port Fairy.  A Koroit resident for many years, Patrick Kinnane was born in Limerick, Ireland around 1827.  He arrived in Portland about 1854 and worked for the Koroit Borough Council.  He had a large family of four sons and five daughters and was buried at the Tower Hill cemetery.

Mary Ann SKILBECK:  Died January 22, 1915 at Port Fairy.  Back in the 1990s, I read The Diaries of Sarah Midgley and Richard Skilbeck: A Story of Australian settlers 1851-1864, edited by H.A. McCorkell.  It has a lot about Port Fairy and the Wesleyan Methodist Church, both relevant to the Harman family.  Mary Ann was a sister of Richard Skilbeck,  and she married the brother of the other diarist, Sarah Midgley.  This was a great read, giving an insight into pioneering life in the south-west of Victoria.  Finding Mary Ann’s obituary has reminded me I must read it again.  It is available online via the Midgley family website, but I think I’ll wait until I get the hard copy from the library.  The website does have a lot about both the Midgley’s and Skilbecks for those interested.

Mrs Agnes Jane LEWIN:  Died January 5, 1917 at Casterton.

Obituary. (1917, January 8). The Casterton News and the Merino and Sandford Record (Vic. : 1914 - 1918), p. 3 Edition: Bi-Weekly. Retrieved January 26, 2013, from

Obituary. (1917, January 8). The Casterton News and the Merino and Sandford Record (Vic. : 1914 – 1918), p. 3 Edition: Bi-Weekly. Retrieved January 26, 2013, from

John TOOGOOD:  Died January 18, 1917 at Hawkesdale.  John Toogood was born at Princess Bridge, Melbourne in 1840.  He married, for the first time, at Richmond in 1862 and he moved to Port Fairy in 1864.  He then moved to Winslow near Warrnambool where his wife died.  On to Hawkesdale where he ran a carrying and contracting business for some years before he turned to farming pursuits.  He married a further two times, but both wives predeceased him.

Phillip ORMSBY:  Died January 12, 1918 at Ellerslie

PERSONAL. (1918, January 17). Warrnambool Standard (Vic. : 1914 - 1918), p. 3 Edition: DAILY.. Retrieved January 26, 2013, from

PERSONAL. (1918, January 17). Warrnambool Standard (Vic. : 1914 – 1918), p. 3 Edition: DAILY.. Retrieved January 26, 2013, from

Phillip Ormsby was born in Dublin and enrolled in the Dublin University to study medicine.  His sense of adventure saw him leave his studies and sail to Melbourne on the large clipper, Champion of the Seas  in 1854.  He got his land legs in Geelong, then he went on to the goldfields at Ballarat for three years, farmed at nearby Learmonth and then purchased land on the banks of the Hopkins River near Ellerslie in 1865.

Like, Archibald Black (above), Phillip was remembered as one of the first to see the potential for dairy-farming in the area.  He was one of the co-founders of the Western District Co-Operative Factories Company and served on the Mortlake Shire Council with two years as President.  He was also secretary of the Mortlake Cemetery Trust.

Phillip married Jenny McKellar and they had four sons and seven daughters.  Phillip died with the knowledge that is son was killed in France only months before.

 Mrs Jane HEANEY:  Died January 29, 1920 at Hamilton.  Jane Heaney was one of Condah district’s oldest residents.  She arrived from Ireland with her husband, Robert in 1856 aboard the General Hewitt .  After 10 years at Heywood, the Heaney’s moved on to Condah Swamp, later known as Wallacedale.

Donald McINNES:  Died January 9, 1924 at Warrnambool.  Donald arrived on HMS Hercules after an horrendous voyage.  His first job in Victoria was at the Kangaroo station near Hotspur owned by the McKinnon brothers, uncles of Donald. He never married.

Thomas HERBERTSON:  Died January 17. 1932 at Portland.  The Herbertson family have a long association with Portland.  Thomas was the son of Robert Herbertson an 1840s arrival at Portland.  Thomas was 81 at the time of his death and during his years in Portland worked as a saddler, then owned a saddlery business, before purchasing “Wattle Hill”, where he farmed and ran a successful orchard with his sons.  He married Jenny Miller of Portland and they had a family of five children.

Frederick GUTHERIDGE:  Died January 16, 1933 at Ullswater.  Frederick Gutheridge was a member of a large family well-known for their longevity.  They featured in this week’s Trove Tuesday post for that reason.  Frederick was the son of Richard Guthridge and Elizabeth Pitts.  He married Alice Byrne and they had four sons and four daughters.  Frederick also left eight brothers and sisters and a 95-year-old father.

Joseph JACKSON:  Died January 16, 1940 at Camperdown.  Joseph Jackson was a native of Armagh County and spent most of his years in Victoria at Camperdown.  A butcher by trade, he ran a successful business for nearly 40 years.  He was a committee member of the Camperdown Mechanics Institute and the Camperdown Turf Club.  He was the longest-serving member of the Camperdown Bowling Club and had success locally and in Melbourne.

Sarah  Jane  WADMORE:  Died January 1, 1941 at Portland.   Sarah Wadmore was a woman after my own heart.

OBITUARY. (1941, January 6). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 - 1953), p. 1 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved January 28, 2013, from

OBITUARY. (1941, January 6). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 1 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved January 28, 2013, from

Sarah had a great interest in the history of Portland and with the approaching centenary of the town in 1934, she and two other local’s, Mrs W.F. Hedditch and Mr E. Davis of the Portland Observer produced a booklet entitled Portland Pioneer Women’s Book of Remembrance for the event.  She was also the main force behind the Pioneer Women’s statue at Portland.  Sarah’s obituary gives a detailed history of her life, including the loss of her father, a Cape Bridgewater pioneer, swept off the rocks when Sarah was only one month old.  Sarah was a school teacher and never married.

John Charles HAUGH:  Died January 12, 1943 at Geelong.  John Haugh was born at Bri Bri around 1866.  In his early life he went to Stoneyford, beginning work as a baker.  He later worked for Camperdown baker, Mr G.  Robertson.  John was an original member of the Camperdown Brass Band and performed in local theatrical productions.  He was a gate-keeper at the Camperdown Football oval for many years.


Passing of the Pioneers

What an interesting group of pioneers December brings us.  Some were well-known in the Western District while others toiled quietly to build their lives.  Obituaries come from a chemist, a cricketer, a former Portland Mayor, a pastoralist, a Monsignor, mothers and two pioneers of the newspaper industry in Western Victoria.

James TRANGMAR:  Died December 16 at Portland.  James Trangmar was a resident and a former Mayor of Portland, but he acquired land throughout the Western District.

James Trangmar, photographer Thomas Fostor Chuck -1872.  Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria

James Trangmar, photographer Thomas Foster Chuck -1872. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria

After working as a manager of a grocers in Tasmania, he arrived in Portland in 1844.  He worked in that  field before turning to sheep farming.  He bought  properties including “Bochara”, “Violet Creek” and “Morgiana“.  James had connections to the Portland Hospital and the  Portland Free Library and was also a Justice of the Peace.  He was buried in the North Portland Cemetery


Headstone of James Trangmar & family. North Portland Cemetery.

William NICHOLAS:  Died December 17, 1890 at Colac.  Arriving in the Colac area around 1841, William Nicholas was an early pioneer of the district.  He came first to shear for three local squatters,then he worked in the forests before purchasing a bullock wagon.  He carted produce to Geelong and Ballarat, returning with stores.  His obituary, by Mr B.N. Butcher of Colac, was written with emotion.

MEMOIR OF A DEPARTED COLONIST. (1891, January 2). The Colac Herald (Vic. : 1875 - 1918), p. 4. Retrieved December 27, 2012, from

MEMOIR OF A DEPARTED COLONIST. (1891, January 2). The Colac Herald (Vic. : 1875 – 1918), p. 4. Retrieved December 27, 2012, from

John HARRIES: Died December 18, 1914 at Stawell.  John Harries was born in Carmarthenshire, Wales in 1843 and arrived in Stawell in 1875.  A true Welshmen, he was a great singer and was a member of the Presbyterian church choir and Prouts Band of Ballarat.  He married and had eight children.  His brother, Reverend David Harries had joined him Australia, but he had passed away a few years earlier.

Ann WALTON: Died December 31, 1914 at Mount Arapiles.  Ann Walton is one of my favourite pioneers and I am familiar with her as she was the mother-in-law of Jonathan Harman Jnr and mother in-law to the nephews of the Oliver sisters that married Harman brothers.  Also, I know the area around Natimuk and Mount Arapiles in the Wimmera where she and her husband James Keyte pioneered and it can be harsh country.

Ann, born in Scotland, arrived in Portland aboard the “Indian Ocean” in 1854 as a four-year old.  Her parents, David Walton and Margaret Tennant went to Mount Gambier and that is where she married James Keyte.  James and Ann selected land in the Natimuk district in 1872 and remained until 1892 when the bought land in New South Wales.  She later returned to Mount Arapiles when her health began to fail.

Oliver YOUNGMAN:  Died December 17, 1915 at Port Fairy.  Oliver was born in Norwich, England in 1847 and arrived to Port Fairy with his parents in 1849.  His father, Arthur Youngman was an owner of the “Port Fairy Gazette” and later the “Alpine Observer” at Bright and Oliver was involved with both newspapers.  He was the ledger keeper for grazier Sir William Clarke for 29 years and later his for his son Sir Rupert Clarke.  Oliver held high office in the Methodist Church and was a member for 50 years.  Leaving a daughter to mourn him, he was buried at the Port Fairy Cemetery.

Mrs Catherine McKENZIE:  Died December 14, 1916 at Ararat.  Catherine McKenzie was born in Scotland and arrived in Australia with her parents around 1853.  She was married Alexander McKenzie at Trawalla Station near Beaufort where Alexander was manager.  They spent time at De Cameron Station near St Arnaud before settling at Ararat.  Catherine and Alexander had nine children.

Mrs Florence DOW:  Died December 16, 1917 at Ararat.  Florence was born in Scotland and arrived  in Victoria aboard the “Lady Peel” as a 16-year-old in 1853.  She married John Dow at Skipton before they took up land at Tatyoon under the Duffy Land Act of 1862.  After John died, Florence lived at the Burrumbeep Homestead, before moving into Ararat.

Alfred Bussell CLEMES:  Died December 26, 1917 at Stawell. Born in Cornwall, Alfred Clemes trained as a chemist in Bristol before travelling to Victoria in 1852.  He opened a business in Melbourne until 1854 when he and his wife opened businesses at the various goldfields.  They arrived in Stawell in 1858 where he remained.  He became Shire secretary in 1870 and held the role for 44 years, only retiring four years before his death.  He was a co-founder of the Stawell Hospital and the Mechanics Institute.

Bernard CONLAN:  Died December 12, 1918 at Dixie.  Bernard Conlan, born in County Down, Ireland, should have bought himself a lottery ticket after a twist of fate saved him from death from a cauldron of molten iron at the Clyde shipyards in Scotland and he survived a bout of typhoid fever on the voyage to Australia, despite given little chance of survival.  He worked first in South Australia before moving to Victoria, living at Garvoc and Wangoom before buying land at Dixie, near Warrnambool.  Despite being burnt out in bush fires in 1887 and losing much of his stock during drought time, with Bernard’s hard work and perseverance he raised a family that had much respect for him.

John THORNTON:  Died December 16, 1919 at Mount Myrtoon

Late Mr. John Thornton. (1919, December 18). Camperdown Chronicle (Vic. : 1877 - 1954), p. 4. Retrieved December 27, 2012, from

Late Mr. John Thornton. (1919, December 18). Camperdown Chronicle (Vic. : 1877 – 1954), p. 4. Retrieved December 27, 2012, from

And so begins the obituary of Yorkshire born, John Thornton.  At age 18, with his brother, he left England aboard the “Great Britain” for Melbourne.  He spent time in Gippsland before buying land at Mount Myrtoon, where he lived for the next 50 years.  He also opened a stock and station agents that he built into a successful business with transactions from Hamilton to Geelong.  John was a talented cricketer and represented Victoria in 1859 and 1860 and made a great contribution to the Camperdown Cricket Club.

James Park Dawson LAURIE:  Died December 2, 1928 at Naracoorte, South Australia.  James Laurie was a son of Reverend Alexander Laurie and was born at Kongatong station, near Warrnambool, in 1846,  After his schooling, mostly at Portland, he pursued his journalistic aspirations and started the Mount Gambier newspaper “The Border Watch, along with his brother Andrew Frederick Laurie.  In 1868 he travelled to America and Europe and on his return, having sold his share in the newspaper, he moved into pastoral pursuits.  In 1870, he was elected to the Victorian Legislative Assembly.  He married Dora Kean, daughter of Thomas Kean, in 1882 at Portland.  James Kean, Dora’s brother, established the “Portland Mirror“.

Right Reverend Monsignor SHANAHAN:  Died December 6, 1931 at Hamilton.  Monsignor Shanahan was well-known among the Roman Catholic community in the Western District.  Ordained in his home country, Ireland in 1864 he then travelled to Melbourne.  He took up the parish at Carisbrook and later the Inglewood parish overseeing churches in towns such as Clunes, Creswick and Talbot.  In 1878 he became assistant pastor at Warrnambool, then parish priest at Hamilton in 1886 and was there for the completion of the St Mary’s Church.  In 1916 he was appointed Dean of Ballarat.  During his time in Hamilton, Monsignor Shanahan was president of the hospital for 22 years.  Money raised and presented to him went towards completing the well-known spire of  Hamilton’s St Marys Church.

Louisa SEALEY:  Died December 4, 1934 at Casterton.  Louisa Sealey was born around 1861 and arrived in Casterton with her parents when it consisted of only two houses.  She married John Black and they lived in Miller Street, Casterton.  After her husband’s death she resided with her son on his soldier settlement property at Nangeela.  Another son, Gordon was killed at Passchendaele, France during WW1.  Four sons and four daughters survived at the time of Louisa’s death and she still had eight surviving siblings.

Thomas PHILIP:  Died December, 1937 at Hamilton.  Thomas Philip was born in Scotland and came to Victoria as a child after his father, Captain John Philip, gave up the high seas and took over Lagoon Station near Cavendish.  John then purchased Miga Lake Station and St Mary’s Lake Station, which his sons, trading as Philip Bros.  ran after his death.  Thomas married Margaret Laidlaw in 1883 and they had one son and three daughters.

Thomas died at his home “Kenmure” in Ballarat Road, Hamilton.  “Kenmure” is one of my favourite homes in Hamilton and one that I went  past almost daily for around 15 years.  It has recently been sold and is now, probably for a short time only, on a Hamilton Real Estate agent’s site, with some great photos too.

Mary Ann JOHNSTONE:  Died December 22, 1951 at Portland.  Mary Ann was born in Portland around 1856, the daughter of James Johnstone and Dorothy Hall.  Her brother was John Johnstone and her sister-in-law, Mrs Hannah Johnstone.  Mary Ann married Mark Kerr in 1876 and they resided at Drik Drik before moving to Swan Lake about 25 kms away.  Mary Ann was considered an excellent horsewoman, equal to any man.

Passing of the Pioneers

Many of the November pioneers came from the south-west of Victoria from Bridgewater to Timboon.  Somewhere in between is Koroit and four of the pioneers resided there, all of Irish descent.

SAMUEL LORD – Died 18, 1906 at Pombereit.  Samuel Lord was a resident of Pombereit for 41 years, but it took him the 20 years prior to settle.  Samuel, born in Devonshire, England. arrived in Adelaide in 1845, went to Sydney, then back to Adelaide and in 1849 returned to England for a visit.  He then came back to Australia, heading to the goldfields for several years.  He then selected land at Pombereit in 1865.  He was a member of the Heytesbury Shire Council and had nine children.

MRS T. LOWREY – Died November 27, 1914 at Garvoc.  Mrs Lowrey and her husband Mr T. Lowrey and a child, left Tippary, Ireland in 1851 for Australia, specifically Hobsons Bay, Victoria.  After a time at the Bendigo goldfields, the Lowreys bought land at Kirkstall.    Following  the Land Selection Act of 1865 the Lowreys selected at the Yallock Estate and turned bush into a “beautiful farm”

GARVOC. (1914, December 5). Warrnambool Standard (Vic. : 1914 – 1918), p. 6 Edition: DAILY.. Retrieved November 22, 2012, from

DANIEL O’CONNELL – Died November 5, 1916 at Koroit.  It was a lonely end for Daniel O’Connell.  He lived in a hut near the Koroit racecourse and received the old age pension.  In his earlier years he had worked as a groom and roustabout.  Daniel’s body was found in his hut after a kindly neighbour, Miss Mullens, noticed he seemed unwell and couldn’t hear her.  She rang the police who visited the hut and found his body.  He was well in excess of 80 years, according to locals,  and he had lived in the district for around 60 years.

MRS. JOHANNA MALONEY – Died November 16, 1916 at Chocolyn.  Johanna arrived in Port Fairy from Ireland when she was 16, around 1845.  She married John Maloney and they raised six sons and one daughter.  The Maloneys also resided at Koroit, but when John died, Johanna went to live with her son James at Chocolyn.

HUGH McDONALD – Died November 17, 1917 at Ararat.  Hugh McDonald is another Ararat resident, like those in October Passing of the Pioneers, that did the goldrush circuit.    Arriving from Scotland in 1854 aboard the ship “Tasmania”, he travelled to most of the goldfields in Victoria as well as a stint in New Zealand, but like those October pioneers, it was Ararat that he returned to.  His travels must have brought some success as he selected land at Mt. Ararat and built up what became known as the Mt. Ararat Estate (a winery today).  He married and had five children.  He was buried at the Moyston cemetery.

GEORGE CAMPBELL – Died November 1918 at Portland

(1918, November 25). Portland Observer and Normanby Advertiser (Vic. : 1914 – 1918), p. 2 Edition: MORNING. Retrieved November 23, 2012, from

MRS. CATHERINE THOMAS – Died November 6, 1918 at Yambuk.  Catherine Thomas arrived in Port Fairy in 1852 aboard the Priam.  She married Richard Thomas of Yambuk and they had four sons, two daughters, 45 grandchildren and 37 great-grandchildren at the time of her death.  She lived to 92 years of age.

JAMES BLACK – Died November 17, 1918 at Koroit.  James met an unfortunate death at age 76.  Despite bad health, he was turning out cows, when the bull rushed him and knocked him to the ground.  He never recovered and died four days later.  James was born in Paisley, Scotland and had been a Koroit butcher for over 40 years.  He was also Mayor of Koroit on several occasions.

MRS. MURRAY – Died November 24, 1918 at Koroit.  Mrs Murray’s obituary described her as a “good old sort”.  She had been a resident of Koroit for 60 years after arriving from Ireland in 1852 at the age of 15.  She travelled with her father and brother and her maiden name was Maloney.    Her son Richard was killed at war in 1916 and Mrs Murray’s health began to fail after hearing the sad news.  She was buried at Tower Hill cemetery.

SARAH ANN OLIVER – Died November 15 at Brisbane, Queensland.  Sarah Ann Oliver was an older sister of  Elizabeth and Mary Oliver, wives of Reuben Harman and Jonathon Harman .  Like her two sisters, she was born in Cornwall and immigrated in 1849 aboard the “Courier” into Port Phillip.  Ten years later she married Edmund Dalton, an Irishman and they lived in Port Fairy for the following twenty years, raising eight children.  In 1879, Sarah and Edmund moved to the Darling Downs, Queensland.

THOMAS MAILON – Died November 10, 1930 at Portland.  Thomas Mailon was born in Portland and was a policeman during his working years.  He lived in what was known locally as the “White House”, a home set on the sand hills near Portland.   An advertisement in the Portland Guardian (below) lists the “White House” for sale.  This was only nine months before his death.  Thomas had a number of brothers and sisters but never married.

Advertising. (1930, February 10). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 3 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved November 26, 2012, from

MARION NUNN JONES – Died November 11, 1936 at Bridgewater.  Marion Jones was born at the Tasmanian Hotel in Portland around 1851.  She married William Forward Hedditch at “Lal Lal“, the Hedditch family home at Cape Bridgewater.  Forty-six years later, Marion died in the same room as she was married.  Her mother in law, Mrs Hedditch was a January Passing Pioneer

JANET ISABELLA MARY BLACK – Died November 10, 1941 at Mt. Gambier.  Janet Black was born at Bridgewater in October 1863.  She was the only daughter of Mr and Mrs Joshua Black and stepsister to Rachel Black who’s obituary was in the October Passing of the Pioneers.  Janet married Samuel Kenney and they had one daughter, Lexie.  They lived at both Cape Bridgewater and Kongorong.  Janet was the last surviving child of Joshua Black.

MARY KENNEY – Died November 19, 1941 at St. Kilda.  Mary Kenney was a sister-in-law of Janet Black (above) and they passed away within nine days of each other.  Mary was the daughter of John and Ellen Kenney of Lower Cape Bridgewater and she was born in Richmond Street, Portland in 1847.  She later married J.K. Palmer of Hawkesdale.

MARGARET MARTIN – Died November 12, 1942 at Portland.  Margaret Martin lived in Portland for the entire 85 years of her life.  She married Mr Symington and they had two sons and three daughters.

FLORENCE COUCH – Died November 17 at Surrey Hills.  Florence Couch’s father was one of the original pioneers of the Scott’s Creek district near Timboon.  Florence was the last surviving member of a family of 13.   The Couch family were well-known for their horse handling skills.  When Florence married Mr Roberts around 1906, they moved to South Africa for two years before returning to Scott’s Creek.  She had five surviving children at the time of her death.

Passing of the Pioneers

The Ararat Advertiser (1914-1918) is now available at Trove and October Passing of the Pioneers highlights some obituaries from that area.  They show the lure of gold drawing people to Victoria with some of them, such as Mr and Mrs George Stock and Elizabeth Williams, being more like “gold rush chasers” moving from town to town as a rush occurred.

If you hoped your ancestor may have been a gold seeker and you haven’t found them at Bendigo or Ballarat, maybe they were at towns like Pleasant Creek (Stawell), Ararat, Landsborough or Ampitheatre.  I thought I had no gold miners until I found that James Bishop was a miner at Mount Ararat when my gg grandmother, Elizabeth Bishop, was born.

Other pioneers featured include one of my family members, Edward Gamble,  Mrs Hannah Johnstone who would never have starved if she had a gun at hand and two friends of Adam Lindsay Gordon.  I have noticed reading  obituaries that Adam Lindsay Gordon had a lot of friends, maybe even more than he thought himself!

James STARRIT: Died October 3, 1889 at Portland. It could be easy for those like James Starrit to be forgotten forever.  I have come across similar obituaries of men and women, unmarried and with few living relatives.  James Starrit, his two brothers, two sisters and elderly father arrived at Portland from Garry Gort, County Donegal, Ireland on August 18, 1852.  James and his two sisters never married and lived together on a farm, earning enough from the farm to allow them to live their simple life.  Prior to farming, James had been a policeman at Portland.

Edward GAMBLE: Died October 1897 at Colac.  Edward was my ggg uncle, and the son of Thomas Gamble and Ellen Barry.  He was only 47 at the time of his death from cancer.  His obituary alludes to its cause being his work canning rabbits,  a job he had for 21 years.  There was a preserving factory in Colac and surrounding towns.  Born in Geelong in 1847, Edward married Martha Hodgins in 1873.  They had 10 known children.  Almost 100 Oddfellows attended Edward’s funeral, dressed in their full regalia as a tribute to their fellow lodge member.

John McKAY:  Died October, 1907 at Richmond.  At the time of his death at age 84, John McKay was living with his son-in-law.  Prior to that he resided in Portland where he made his name as a blacksmith and wheelwright.  He arrived in Victoria in 1853 and Portland in 1854.

Mrs Martha FRENCH: Died October 30, 1908 at Portland.  Martha French died at the home of her grandson Charles French, just three months short of her 99th birthday.  Martha raised Charles and his siblings after the death of their father and as the obituary puts it so well “…the love and care she gave the three little ones was not relaxed as years advanced, and in return she in her declining years reaped the full reward by equally as loving care and devotion”.  Martha arrived in Victoria around 1858, spent a few years in Hamilton before moving to Portland.  She had two children living at the time of her death.

Mrs Mary MOULDEN:  Died October 1910 at Stawell.  Mary Moulden was born in Yorkshire on October 23, 1836 and at 13 she travelled to Adelaide, South Australia.  She married Mr Moulden and around 1875, they moved their family to the Wimmera in Victoria.  They later moved close to Stawell where she remained until her death.

Mrs Mahala LITTLE:  Died October 14, 1915 at Malvern.  Born in Cornwall in 1824, Mahala came to South Australia with her parents in 1840.  Mahala and her gold seeking parents moved to Victoria around 1852.  She married John Little at St Paul’s Cathedral in Melbourne in 1857 aged 33 and they lived in the Ararat district throughout their married lives.  Just weeks before her death, Mahala moved to Malvern to live with her daughter.  Mahala lived through the reign of five monarchs and was 91 at the time of her death.

Thomas Christopher COATES:  Died October 26, 1915 at Buninyong.  Thomas Coates was one of the founding members of the Ballarat Stock Exchange and served as the secretary of the Ballarat Benevolent Society for 26 years.  He was born in Westmorland, England and arrived in Australia in 1853.  He settled at Creswick in 1854.  He died at the home of his son.

Mrs Agnes STEELE: Died October 11, 1916 at Rosebrook.

Obituary. (1916, October 19). Port Fairy Gazette (Vic. : 1914 – 1918), p. 2 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved October 22, 2012, from

Mrs Elizabeth PRESNELL:  Died October 30, 1916 at Port Fairy.  Elizabeth Presnell was born in Parramatta, New South Wales.  When she was 11, she spent six weeks on a voyage to Port Fairy with her parents.  She married William Presnell, a farmer, known for having one of the first threshing machines in the Port Fairy district.  Elizabeth and William had 13 children, six sons and seven daughters.

William ARMSTRONG:  Died October 5, 1917 at Colac.  William was born in Belfast, Ireland the son of a Presbyterian Chaplin.  He arrived in Victoria in the 1860s, first spending time with his uncle at West Cloven Hills before setting up is own dairy farm at Darlington.  His community interests included the Darlington Presbyterian Church, the Mechanics Institute and he was the Darlington correspondent for the “Camperdown Chronicle”.  He left a widow and nine children.

Mrs Elizabeth STOCK: Died October 1917  at Ararat.  Born in 1823 in Somersetshire, England. Elizabeth married George Stock around 1852.  Not long after they married they sailed for Geelong arriving in October 1852.  In 1853, the moved to Ballarat then Stawell when gold was discovered in 1856 at “Forty Foot Hill” and then on to Ararat for the “Commissioners Hill” rush.  George was obviously following gold as they then went on to the rushes at Amphitheatre, Barkly and Landsborough.  Finally, in 1867, they settled at Ararat.  Elizabeth and George had 11 children, with seven still alive at the time of her death.  Like Mahala Little (above), Elizabeth’s obituary mentioned that she had lived through the reign of five monarchs.

Mrs Elizabeth WILLIAMS: Died October 10, 1918 at Ararat.   Elizabeth Williams was an early resident of Ararat.  She was born in Essex, England around 1824 and sailed for Sydney in 1852 aboard the “Earl of Elgin“.  While in Sydney she married J. Green.  After a year and with the lure of gold, she arrived in Bendigo, Victoria and followed the rushes until she ended up in Ararat.  She re-married to Robert Williams and they had three daughters.

Mary BARRETT:  Died October 19, 1918 at Ararat.  Mary Barrett was born in Ireland and arrived in Ararat in the 1860s.  Her uncle, Reverend Father Barrett was a pioneer Roman Catholic priest in the Ararat district and Mary resided with him.  Mary never married and when her health was failing, she moved to the Brigidine Convent in Ararat where she passed away aged 70 years.

James R. KEAN:  Died October 11, 1926 at Ararat.  Born in Portland in 1858, James Kean started working as a printer at aged 20.  Two years later, he became a journalist and produced the “Portland Mirror”.  The paper started out small, but within a year the subscribers increased and the paper was already thought of as “an influential and up to date journal”  In 1885, James purchased the “Portland Guardian” a paper established in 1842.  In the same year he married Jane Robertson,  daughter of Angus Robertson of Straun station near Merino.  James was  a member of the St Stephens Church choir, a member of the Portland racing club and the Masonic Lodge.

St Stephens Church Portland

John JOHNSTONE:  Died October 1930 at Portland.  John Johnstone was a very early arrival in Portland, in 1841, as a baby with his parents James and Dorothy Johnstone.  James was a blacksmith and wheelwright but he eventually purchased land at Kentbruck and built the Emu Flat Hotel or as known by travellers,” Mrs Johnstone’s”.  After his parent’s deaths, John took over the running of the hotel for a short time before selling it and taking up farming.  More commonly known as “Jack”, he was an expert bushman and rider and was a friend of Adam Lindsay Gordon.  He married Elizabeth Angus and they had three daughters and two sons.

John Richard MALLINSON:  Died October 14, 1934 at Pomborneit.  Born in Portland, John spent time in Merino and Hamilton as a child and young man.  He completed an apprenticeship as a blacksmith and wheelwright and opened a business in Coleraine.  After eight years, he moved to Timboon and then Camperdown in 1894 where he again ran a blacksmith’s shop.

Having lived in a number of towns and with his work as a blacksmith he had many friends with horse interests including Cobb and Co drivers of renown and like John Johnstone (above) Adam Lindsay Gordon.

OBITUARY. (1934, October 20). Camperdown Chronicle (Vic. : 1877 – 1954), p. 2. Retrieved October 24, 2012, from

Frederick WRIGHT:  Died October 14, 1934 at Camperdown.  Frederick Wright was born in Cambridgeshire, England around 1842 and arrived at Corio Bay, Victoria aboard the “Omega” aged 14.  He worked as a nurseryman in the Geelong district before learning to drive bullocks.  At 18 years of age, he took a load of flour to the goldfields at Stawell, the first bullock wagon driven into that area and he only had bush tracks to follow.  He moved to Camperdown in 1871 and ran a dairy farm and a chaff mill and later a butcher shop.  He was an original member of the Camperdown Turf Club.  He had 35 grandchildren and 39 great-grandchildren at the time of his death.

Mrs Hannah JOHNSTONE:  Died October 1937 at Portland.  Hannah was born in Adelaide in the late 1840s  and moved to Kentbruck, near Portland aged 18.  She married Thomas Charles Johnstone, brother of John Johnstone (above).  Hannah was a woman not afraid to open and close gates and was handy with a gun.  She was known around Portland for sharing ducks or other game she had hunted.  Hannah and Thomas had 10 children.

John A. RIPPON:  Died October 13, 1938 at Camperdown

VICTORIA’S OLDEST “BULLOCKY”. (1938, October 20). Camperdown Chronicle (Vic. : 1877 – 1954), p. 1. Retrieved October 24, 2012, from

John Rippon carted the first load of timber into Purrumbete Estate  owned by the Manifold brothers  at age 18.  He liked it there and stayed for 10 years.  He then spent another 10 years with William Irving Winter-Irving at Tirrengower near Colac.  He then returned to work for William Thomas Chirnside splitting timber.  But John yearned for his bullock driving days and he began his own carrying business.

VICTORIA’S OLDEST “BULLOCKY”. (1938, October 20). Camperdown Chronicle (Vic. : 1877 – 1954), p. 1. Retrieved October 25, 2012, from

Rachel BLACK: Died October 27, 1941 at Kongorgong.  Rachel Black was born in the mid 1850s at Bridgewater.  Her father was Joshua Black, a pioneer of that area.  When Rachel married James Lightbody, the union brought three Bridgewater pioneering families together as James Lightbody was the son of Rebecca Kittson also from a pioneering family of Bridgewater,

Colins CATHELS:  Died October 26, 1952 at Hamilton.  Although he died at  Hamilton, Colin Cathels was a Portland identity.  Old aged forced him to leave the town he loved and he was not happy in his last days.  Born in the 1850s, Colin knew much of  Portland history and enjoyed reminiscing about picnics at the Henty’s home.   He was the Portland manager of the Belfast and Koroit Steamship Navigation Company.  Colin married a Robertson girl, from the well-known local family.

Passing of the Pioneers

September’s Passing of the Pioneers brings the opportunity to post the obituary of Henry Annett of Wallacedale.  It shows  how much information you can find out about a person from their obituary, if you are lucky.  Of course any information found is purely a lead to primary sources.

After 16 Passing of the Pioneers, there is now a large collection of Western District pioneer’s names.  If you would like to see the full list of pioneer obituaries, follow the link – PIONEER OBITUARIES

Thomas BENNETT: Died September 25, 1889 at Portland.  Thomas Bennett was born in Derbyshire, England and arrived at Portland in 1854, taking on a job as a merchant tailor.  He enjoyed cricket,  racing, athletics and hunting as both a participant and spectator.  Thomas married after arriving in Portland and he and his wife raised 10 children.  His wife died of stroke some years before and Thomas raised the children, with only four having reached their teens by the time of his death.

Richard BLOOMFIELD: Died September 16, 1901 at Hamilton.  Richard Bloomfield arrived in Australia, first to Tasmania in 1842 and later to Victoria.  He joined the Police Force with his first  station at Hamilton as chief constable.  In his later years Richard turned to farming and was 79 years at the time of his death.

John RIORDAN: Died September 27, 1905 at Portland. Before arriving in Portland, just prior to the turn of the century, John Riordan spent time in Ballarat, Creswick and Ararat running businesses.  In Portland, he owned the London Hotel and served a period on the Portland Council.

The former London Hotel, Portland

Mr. F. BUCKNALL: Died September, 1908  at Dartmoor.  In his early days in Portland, Mr Bucknall believed wattle trees could be commercially grown.  He purchased land at Dartmoor and planted his wattles, but blight and fires made his venture difficult.  He went to the goldfields of Western Australia, where he had worked before.  He returned to Dartmoor, a lot more finacially secure and continued his Wattle plantation, with more success than his first attempt.

Thomas DONOHOE:  Died September 26, 1908 at Narrawong.  Thomas Donohoe of Narrawong was a cabinet maker of much renown,  a farmer and an administrator.  He had great political knowledge and for a time was the Narrawong correspondent for the Portland Guardian.

Thomas R. OLIVER:  Died September 21, 1910 at Horsham.  Thomas Oliver was a brother-in-law of Reuben and Jonathan Harman.  Born in Cornwall in 1848, he arrived at Melbourne with his parents John Henry Oliver and Ann Richards and five older brothers and sisters.  Thomas worked in the carrying business around Port Fairy before moving to Kalkee in the Wimmera in 1874.  In 1876, he married Margaret Luxton, daughter of William Luxton.  Around the early 1890s, Thomas and Margaret moved into Horsham where Thomas opened a grocery business on Church Hill.

Sarah CLARK Died September 10, 1915 at Ararat.  Sarah Clark was born in Hertfordshire, England and came to Victoria with her parents as a small child.  Her father, Leonard Clark took up a position as gardener at the Burrumbeep Estate at Maroona.  Sarah married John Basham in 1866 and they had 13 children.  Nine children were still alive at the time of Sarah’s death.

Alfred BYRON:  Died September 28, 1916 at Denicull Creek.  There is no chance Alfred Byron, born at Ashton-Under-Tyne, Lancashire, England remembers his voyage to Australia as he was only 10 days old when the ship sailed.  Alfred’s parents settled at Port Fairy, but as a young man he headed off to the goldfields before settling at Denicull Creek, near Ararat.  Farming became his new pursuit.  He married and raised a family of six children.

Thomas POLLAND Died September 16, 1917 at Moyston.  Born in County Down, Ireland in 1924, Thomas Polland arrived in Victoria in 1853, making his way to the Ballarat goldfields.  Present at the time of the Eureka uprising, Thomas enjoyed recounting the stories of the time.  He eventually headed to Moyston and for a time worked carting timber from the Grampians, before purchasing land to farm.  His wife passed away around 1904 and Thomas left five of his eight children when he passed away.

Margaret THOMPSON:  Died September 2, 1919 at Horsham.  Margaret Thompson was born in Melbourne around 1870, the daughter of Mr W. Thompson and Mrs Bedwell.  Her parents settled at Wonwondah and she lived there until she was 17.  Margaret’s mother remarried at this time and Margaret selected land at Telangatuk.  After three years, she married Herman A. Rokesky of Clear Lake.  They moved all over the district in the following years before Margaret and Herman settled in Horsham until the time of Margaret’s death.

Henry ANNETT:  Died September 29, 1927 at Wallacedale.  In the November 2011 Passing of the Pioneers, I promised I would post Henry Annett’s obituary in September 2012 and here we are.  At the time I had posted Henry’s wife’s obituary, that of Sarah Millard.   I mentioned then that the story of  Henry’s life one of the best of I had read in the form of an obituary.  I have read many more obituaries since that time, and I still think Henry’s is right up there.

Henry Annett was born in Sevenoaks, Kent, England on July 5, 1845.   Seven years later he sailed to Portland with his parents aboard the Pryam and Henry’s father joined the police force.  Their first home was a Government issued bell tent.  After four years in Portland, Mr Annett snr transferred to Port Fairy where Henry took up butchering.  Preferring the outdoors, Henry became a carrier taking goods to the Ararat diggings and to Dunkeld with materials for the first school.  At around 17 years, Henry travelled to New Zealand where he walked 10 days from Christchurch over mountains and rivers to reach the newest of the gold diggings in the country, but like many others, he left empty handed.

After returning to Victoria in 1866, Henry married Sarah Millard of Narrawong but Henry still could not settle down.

THE PIONEERS PASS BY. (1927, October 6). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 3 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved September 24, 2012, from

Eventually he did settle taking an interest in community affairs and  he earned the name the “father of Wallacedale”

Henry and Sarah had 13 children, 11 boys and two girls.  Three boys had predeceased Henry.  He also had 48 grandchildren and 4 great-grandchildren.  He was buried at the Conday cememtery.

Robert HICKLETON:  Died September 14, 1932 at Koroit.  Robert Hickleton arrived in Portland with his parents in 1852.  They had sailed aboard the Old Ellen.  Robert’s first job was a compositor with the Portland Guardian.  Over the following years he worked for the Warrnambool Standard, the Portland Mirror, the Hamilton Spectator and the Port Fairy Gazette, where he spent 29 years.  In his early years he was a keen athlete and cricketer and later he was a successful lawn bowler.

Sarah HERBERTSON:  Died September 1932 at Portland.  Sarah Herbertson was born in Portland in 1844.  She married Joseph Henry Porter and they lived in Portland during their married life, with Joseph passing away in 1931.  They had no children.  Sarah’s obituary mentions she was “deeply attached to her home”.  A model, built by Joseph and Sarah, of that home in Gawler Street is now on display at Portland’s History House , testimony to her attachment.  Sarah’s obituary gives her maiden name as Henderson.

Model of the home of Joseph and Sarah Porter

Emma GRIFFITHS:  Died September 1936 at Irrewillipe.  Emma Griffiths was 100 years old when she died after spending 85 years in Victoria.  Emma was just a girl when her and her mother arrived in Sydney aboard the Avocalle, on which Emma’s mother was a matron caring for the female passengers.  Later they went on to Melbourne, Geelong and then Buninyong where she married Mr Nicholan.  They had three children at Buninyong before moving to Irrewillipe, near Colac around the late 1850s.  Emma had 14 children and when she died she had 62 grandchildren and over 30 great-grandchildren.

Clara Quick GEOMAN:  Died September 24, 1941 at Hamilton.  Clara was born at Yambuk in 1859 and in 1884 married Francis Hollard at Portland.  They moved to Wallacedale, being among the earliest settlers there.  Clara appears to have had a link to Henry Annett as her daughter Ethel married Edward Annett.  Clara had five other children alive at the time of her death.

Passing of the Pioneers

Collecting the obituaries for August Passing of the Pioneers, I discovered that many of the  pioneers had either worked for or had a father who for the Henty brothers.  Hannah Spiken and Elizabeth Stevenson were both born at the time their fathers worked for the Hentys, with Elizabeth born at Munthum Station.  Mrs Harriet Jackman was also at Munthum Station where she worked as a nursemaid.

There is also the story of John Bodey who lived to 106 and Mary Finn who’s husband’s family operated the Glenelg Inn, around which the town of Casterton grew.  The hotel still operates today.  Also included are two of the wealthier pioneers of the Western District, Alexander Davidson and James Whyte.

Alexander DAVIDSON:  Died August 17, 1874 at Portland.  Western Victorian squatter, Alexander Davidson was born in Inverness, Scotland in 1801.  He acquired his wealth during his time as co-owner of Satimer station at Wando Vale.  In later life he built the Portland home, “Wando Villa” and contributed extensively to the Portland Wesleyan Church.  The Glenelg and Wannon Settlers website has further information on Alexander Davidson on the Wando Vale settlers page.

James WHYTE:  Died August, 1882 at Hobart, Tasmania.  James Whyte and his brothers were pioneers of Coleraine, with the main street named in their honour.  Born in Scotland in 1820, Whyte arrived in Tasmania with his family in 1832.  In 1837, James and his brothers William, George, Pringle and John arrived in Port Phillip settling at Konowootong near Coleraine.

James then moved to Clunes taking co-ownership of a large station where gold was later discovered.  In 1853, he returned to Tasmania, a much richer man, and ran for the seat of Brighton during the 1854 election.  He was unsuccessful, but ran again in 1856 and won a seat in the Legislative Council of Tasmania.  In 1863, he became Premier, holding the post until 1866.

Despite their name held in perpetuum at Coleraine and a state leader among them, the Whyte Brothers hold a place in the darker history of the Western District.  In March 1840, the brothers took part in the massacre of at least 30 aboriginals at “The Hummocks” near Wando Vale.  The Museum Victoria website gives an account of what became know as the Fighting Hills Massacre.

Joseph COUCH:  Died August 30, 1911 at Portland.  Joseph Couch, born in Cornwall, arrived in Victoria aboard the “Mary Ann” in 1856.  He spent 17 years working for Edward Henty before taking up the role of curator of the Portland Botanic Gardens.  Joseph was curator for 26 years demonstrating a great knowledge of plants and a passion for the gardens.  Joseph’s memory continues with his name on a plaque on the curator’s cottage at the gardens.

Mary FINN:  Died August 15, 1913 at Kew.  Mary Finn was born in Ireland and arrived on the ship “Susan” in 1839 with her family.  In 1852, Mary married Edmund Kirby, one of Casterton’s earliest settlers.  The marriage took place at the Glenelg Inn  built on a part of “Springbank” station run by the Edmund Kirby, his brother James and sister Mary.  The Kirby’s later took on the ownership on the hotel, previously operated by Mary’s late husband, and the town of Casterton grew around it.  The Glenelg Inn still operates today.  One of her sons was John Finn Kirby, owner of 1911 Melbourne Cup winner, The Parisian.  More information on the Kirby family is on the Glenelg and Wannon settlers website.

John BODEY:  Died August 21, 1916 at Camperdown.  Ireland native, John Bodey was born in 1810 making him 106 at the time of his death.  He lived through the reign of six British monarchs.  This article appeared on his 100th birthday and outlines some of the events which occurred during John’s long life:

Centenarian’s Recollections. (1910, May 24). The Horsham Times (Vic. : 1882 – 1954), p. 1. Retrieved August 23, 2012, from

Having a keen interest in politics, John voted in a by-election at Warrnambool not long before his death.  Upon John’s 105th birthday, his son George talked about his father’s longevity and  independence.

INTERESTING CENTENARIAN. (1915, July 3). Border Watch (Mount Gambier, SA : 1861 – 1954), p. 4. Retrieved August 23, 2012, from

Edwin Clough DERMER: Died August 26, 1917 at Ballarat.  Edwin Dermer was born in London and worked as a clerk for the Bank of England were his father was a departmental manager.  At 18, Edwin headed to Australia where he became a gold buyer at Melbourne, before heading for the goldfields of Ballarat.  After around 20 years on the diggings, Edwin moved into retail, first as a manager of a crockery shop and then manager of a drapery business.  He then opened a grocery business in Mair Street.

While not working, Edwin was a founding member of the Druids Lodge, a member of the Orion Masonic Lodge and president of the United Friendly Societies Dispensaries.  He was had a keen interest in state and federal elections and served as a deputy returning officer for the electorate of Ballarat West.  In 50 years he never missed a game of cricket in Ballarat.  One interesting point of interest in Edwin’s life was his wife was born in the same street in London and attended the same school, however they did not meet until they came to Victoria.


PASSING OF THE PIONEERS. (1920, August 24). The Horsham Times (Vic. : 1882 – 1954), p. 4. Retrieved August 20, 2012, from


Annie DONNELLY:  Died August 1933 at Warrnambool.  Annie Donnelly of Irish descent married James Percy Skeyhill.  They spent time at Terang where their son Thomas John Skeyhill was born in 1895.  The family moved to Hamilton with Thomas educated at St Mary’s Convent School.   Thomas enlisted for WW1 and it  changed his life.  While at Gallipoli, a shell blinded Thomas and upon his return he published his war poetry and travelled overseas on lecture tours.

The Sydney Morning Herald published an example of his poetry at the time of his death in 1932, as a result of an airplane accident in the United States.  The full obituary is here and another from a local perspective was in the Camperdown Chronicle published May 26, 1932

TOM SKEYHILL. (1932, May 25). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954), p. 16. Retrieved August 24, 2012, from

Annie and husband Thomas moved to Warrnambool where Thomas operated the Warrnambool Cordial Co. until his death in 1932, just a year before his wife.

Mrs Harriet JACKMAN:  Died August 1935 at Portland.  Harriet Jackman arrived in Australia from Ireland as a seven-year old.  At just 18, she married William Jackman, an early Wimmera pioneer.  In her early years, Harriet worked for Edward Henty at Munthum Station.  William and Harriet moved to Portland in their later life, with Harriet spending the last 25 years of her life in the town.

Hannah SPIKEN:  Died August 3, 1936 at Portland.  Born in Portland around 1864 Hannah was the daughter of John and Hannah Spiken.  John worked for the Hentys and Hannah was said to have followed behind the plough, planting potatoes.  At 18 she married Walter Dennis Pitts a union which lasted 54 years.

Elizabeth STEVENSON: Died August 3, 1938 at Coburg, Victoria.  Elizabeth was born at Merino Downs around 1863, the daughter of Joseph and Mary Stevenson.  Joseph was working for the Hentys at Munthum station at the time of her birth, but the family later moved to Portland.  Elizabeth married William James Dunne of Ararat and they spent some time in Portland before moving to Ballarat.

John NIDDRIE:  Died August 1939 at Hamilton.  John Niddrie was born at Cherrymount near Glenthompson around 1865.  John and his four brothers spent much time in the bush as children and as a result all became accomplished bushmen.  They also were able to climb tall trees, a skill they learnt from local aboriginals.  John married Florence James of Hamilton.

Henry Dyer RUNDELL:  Died August 1941 at Hamilton.  Henry Rundell was a long time resident of Condah, the son of John and Mathilda Rundell.  John was from Cornwall and Mathilda from Somerset.  Henry married Annie Dawkins and they celebrated their Golden Wedding anniversary only months before Henry’s death.  Henry was a dairy farmer at his property “Swamp View” near Condah and he was a parishioner of the Church of England.


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