Sunday, October 21, 2012

A country ball

Margaret (Maggie) McKernan
When she was 23, in 1896, Maggie* attended a Military Ball in the small town of Violet Town in Victoria, and kept the little program card as a memento. It's now in my care.

Military Ball programme (front)
Military Ball program (back)
I chanced upon it today, when I was looking for something else, and decided to do some research following the clues on the card. A couple of hours later and I'd found out quite a lot.

The National Library of Australia (Trove) has put the local newspaper online and I was able to find a very detailed newspaper report about the ball and the associated sporting tournament held the same day.

Euroa Advertiser 1 May 1896
I discovered that V.M.R. stands for Victorian Mounted Rifles and the National Archives of Australia has holdings associated with the various companies that were established.
Mounted Rifles and Victorian Rangers – The Victorian Mounted Rifles (not to be confused with similarly named contingents to the Boer War) were first formed in December 1885, with companies recruited in rural centres. The Victorian Rangers, an infantry equivalent, were raised in 1888. A small allowance only was paid to members, and Mounted Riflemen were required to provide their own mount. Members of country rifle clubs formed significant components of both corps. No service records are held for these units, but information may be found in correspondence records for the period.
I found photos of uniformed men mounted on their horses in Museum Victoria's collection here, Victorian Mounted Rifles, and in uniform here.

And at the ALH (Australian Light Horse Studies Centre) I found this: 
This regiment [8th/16th/8th Australian Light Horse] sprung from the Victorian Mounted Rifles a volunteer unit raised i 1885. Detachments existed at Euroa, Longwood, Violet Town, Benalla, Thoona, Wangaratta, Rutherglen and Beechworth and formed part of the 1st Battalion Victorian Mounted Rifles until 1901. During the Federal organisation of 1903, these detachments were formed into a separate unit style 8th Australian Light Horse Regiment (Victorian Mounted Rifles). The regiment continued under this title until 1912 when four squadrons of the 8th were designated the 16th Light Horse (Victorian Mounted Rifles). In the following year, 1913, it became the 16th (Indi) Light Horse, reverting to the 8th (Indi) Light Horse in 1918, this was later altered to 8th Light Horse Regiment (Indi Light Horse). Extracted from RK Peacock, Evolution of Australian Light Horse Regiments 1841-1935, p. 8. Australian Light Horse Studies Centre

*MARGARET ANNE (MAGGIE) MCKERNAN was born on 20 Jan 1873 in Balmattum, Victoria, Australia, the daughter of Daniel McKERNAN and Christina GORDON. She died on 24 Nov 1939 in West Preston, Victoria, Australia. She married William Robert PHELAN, son of Daniel PHELAN and Jane WELSH on 05 Jan 1897 in Balmattum, Victoria, Australia. He was born on 01 Jun 1861 (Pentridge, Victoria, Australia). He died on 04 Dec 1946 in West Preston, Victoria, Australia.


  1. Welcome to Geneabloggers!


  2. What a lovely photo--and wonderful keepsake. Interesting to read all the background information you were able to find on this event! I can imagine how special the event must have been to Maggie.


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