Thursday, November 29, 2012

Sepia Saturday: Joy at Hepburn

Joy Phelan on a swing footbridge at Hepburn, Victoria c1938.
You can find more blogs on the Sepia Saturday's theme of 'bridges' here.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Trove Tuesday: Ploughing a straight furrow

Wheel plough, Fife Folk Museum. (Image copyright Kim Traynor)
James and William Alford were brothers and they migrated together in February 1855 from Devonshire in England to South Australia. They were agricultural labourers in Devon and must have learned how to plough properly because both of them were very successful in ploughing competitions in South Australia and Victoria.

In the newspapers at Trove I've found quite a few articles detailing their successes and also those of William's sons, Thomas and George. Here's a taste.

James was living near Encounter Bay in South Australia when he entered this ploughing competition with a horse-drawn wheeled plough (similar to above) and took out first prize.

South Australian Register, 4 August 1855, p.3
Photo taken from Rosetta Head (the Bluff) west of Victor Harbor, showing the vicinity of the ploughing match.
The Fountain Inn mentioned above still exists. It's now a B&B called 'Yelki by the Sea'. James left South Australia and moved to Victoria. He also appears to have left farming and I can't find any other references to him as a ploughman. But his brother William was a farmer in Victoria and entered quite a few ploughing matches (Bendigo, Baringhup, Marong, Warragul, Buln Buln) as a competitor and was later a judge. Ploughing matches were very popular events in the 1800s.

Ploughing Competition. Powerhouse Museum collection (on Flickr)
Bendigo Advertiser, 25 June 1869
The Lennon plough used by Alford was made by Hugh Lennon's company in Melbourne. His single and double furrow ploughs were hugely popular and William Alford seems to have also liked them very much. [Ned Kelly also used one of his ploughs to make his metal armour.]

William ALFORD, son of Jacob ALFORD and Mary WEBBER was born in 1827 in George Nympton, Devon, England. He died on 15 Jul 1903 in Warragul, Victoria, Australia. He married Ann ROGERS, daughter of Philip ROGERS and Mary ? on 21 Mar 1851 in George Nympton, Devon, England. She was born in 1828 in Meshaw, Devon, England. She died on 05 Feb 1906 in Warragul, Victoria, Australia (At the home of George Henry Alford.).

James ALFORD, son of Jacob ALFORD and Mary WEBBER was born on 27 Jan 1832 in Devon, England. He died on 08 Sep 1895 in Ballan, Victoria, Australia. He married Honora FALLON, daughter of Owen FALLON and ? on 26 Oct 1855 in Encounter Bay, South Australia, Australia. She was born in 1833 in Sligo, Ireland. She died on 27 Feb 1880 in Parwan, Victoria, Australia. He married Elizabeth KELL, daughter of John KELL and Elizabeth AGNEW in 1882 in Victoria, Australia. She was born about 1845 in Ireland. She died on 29 Sep 1939 in Ballan, Victoria, Australia.

Monday, November 26, 2012

The unlucky shoemaker

Rural scene, Scotts Creek near Timboon
State Library of Victoria image

A fatal accident occurred in the Heytesbury forest yesterday, to a man named John Brown, some time a resident of Cobden, where he carried on business as a shoemaker. Brown had recently selected land in the forest, and yesterday was at work on his holding in Cooriejong, clearing the land, when in attempting to remove a large fallen tree by the aid of a lever, the tree slipped and fell on the unfortunate man, crushing him so severely that he died in the course of a short time. Information was given to the police, and the coroner being telegraphed for, Dr  Hinchcliffe proceeded last night to Cobden for the purpose of holding an inquest, which, however, owing to the non-arrival of the body detained by bad roads, has been postponed until this day. The Hampden Guardian, December 31, 1875
Sixty year old John Brown was a shoemaker in Cobden where he resided with his wife and family. He had selected a bit of land in the parish of Cooriejong* (present day Scotts Creek), had erected a hut there and had begun the process of clearing the land of timber. One day in late December 1875 he was cutting a branch when it struck him in the chest. His son Francis, who was only twelve years old, found him and went to neighbours, Robert Howard and William Marshall, for help. He was carried to the hut where he died two hours later. An inquest was held at Cobden two days later with John's body present as was case in those days.

Cooriejong parish is south of Cobden, Victoria
John's wife, Maryanne, was left with a young family, including Martha who was not quite two years old. She was working as a housekeeper when she married a local farmer four years later. We have no way of knowing now but it must have been a huge shock for her to suddenly find herself a widow with dependants. She had a few shocks in her life. To find out more about this accident-prone family click on 'Brown' in the label list in the side panel.

*Cooriejong is also called Corriejong in some sources.

John BROWN, son of John BROWN and Jane PORTER was born in 1815 in Tyrone, Ireland. He died on 29 Dec 1875 in Scotts Creek, Cooriejong, Victoria, Australia. He married Mary Ann HOWE, daughter of Francis HOWE and Ann WEAR on 14 Mar 1850 (St Peters, Melb, Victoria, Australia). She was born in 1834 in Dublin?, Ireland. She married 2. John Lee at Camperdown on 26 May 1879. She died on 13 Jan 1907 in South Ecklin, Victoria, Australia.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Trove Tuesday: Lost in the bush

It was early in the morning, sunrise, on a summer day in January 1861. William Cook had left home near Digby with his dray. His wife, Mary Ann, went out to tend to the corn in the garden. There were children still asleep in the house. One of them, Frances aged 2, woke up and wandered outside. Her mother returned to the house and found her missing. Neighbours and the police started looking for her. It was three days before Frances was found about six miles from home, dead, beside a waterhole on Pleasant Hills Station.

I gleaned all of the above facts from witness* reports of the inquest that was held at Murndal Station, a property near Pleasant Hills. The Coroner's finding was that Frances had died from exhaustion.

In Trove I found a newspaper advertisement, inserted by William Cook, asking people to look for his daughter. By the time it was published the body of young Frances had already been found.

Portland Guardian and Normanby General Advertiser, 21 January 1861

There is a very good website that covers the early settlers of south western Victoria, and I was able to find a map there that shows the properties mentioned in the inquest (highlighted).

On Trove I also searched for information about Glenlivet station to try to work out exactly where the Cook family were living.
Leases Granted 
No. 198 - Duncan McRAE. Name of Run, Glenlivet. Estimated Area, 5300 acres. Estimated Grazing Capacity, 500 head cattle - 4000 sheep. Bounded on the east by the station of Messrs. George and Samuel WINTER and the Messrs. COLDHAM: on the south by Messrs. McLEAN and McRAEs station: on the west by A. ROSEs station, and on the north by Francis HENTYs station: all the boundaries being settled or determined lines. Port Phillip Gazette, 1849, page 147.
* The following were witnesses at the inquest: Thomas McEvoy (Constable at Digby);
Archibald McArthur, Overseer, Ardgarton; William Cooker, stock keeper of Digby ; Mary Ann Cook, mother; John Maclean, shepherd of Ardgarton; Thomas Mark, farmer of Murndal

Frances Merino COOK, daughter of William COOK and Mary Ann PRICE was born on 15 Apr 1858 in Merino, Victoria, Australia. She died on 16 Jan 1861 in Digby, Victoria, Australia.

Monday, November 19, 2012

The women tuck up their skirts

A night's haul of mice, Minyip, 1917
We have a photo in an old photo album. It shows my ancestor (at right) and three barrows full of mice. Robert Wyllie was a wheat farmer near Minyip in Victoria's Wimmera district. In the autumn and winter of 1917 the mice built up to huge numbers, millions, and there are articles in the newspapers of the day about how to protect wheat reserves in silos and stacks. Sowing the crop was also a problem as the mice ate the seed in the soil. The mouse plague was bad in South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales and cost the farmers and the governments millions of pounds.

Ararat Advertiser 5 April 1917
I couldn't find many articles about women trying to keep mice out of their homes but I know they were impossible to keep out. Imagine! This quote is from one report:
We are having a visitation of mice. They swarm in the paddocks, and the little creatures are swarming with fleas, and they invade the house, bringing their companions with them. Dan complains that a mouse has mullenized* a patch in his whiskers while he slept! After that, uneasy lies our head. They rob the roses from the curtains, they nibble mats and rugs, they borrow our books leaf by leaf, and have made a library of their own in which we commonly find a nest of wee pink quadrants. The men wear 'yorks'** to prevent the invader mounting, the women tuck up their skirts, and when sitting keep up a constant movement with their feet; but this tapping of the foot is common to bush women, for there is continual necessity of warding off small life. The Register, Adelaide, 4 May 1917
I have added the photo, above, to the National Library's Flickr group so it now shows up on Trove's search page when you search 'mouse plague'. Those keywords turns up other amazing photos on Trove as well.

* Pending the development of an effective machine, a technique known as mullenizing (after a farmer from Wasleys named Charles Mullens) became popular as a means of clearing the scrub. Mullenizing involved dragging a heavy roller over roughly cleared ground to crush young shoots; the field was then burnt, and a spiked log was run over the ground, and a crop of wheat sown. The next season, the stubble and any mallee regrowth was again burnt, and eventually the mallee died, though stumps remained underground. Wikipedia

**  I can't find a definition for 'yorks'. I wonder if it means knickerbockers, or a clip around the bottom of the trouser legs.

Friday, November 16, 2012

A bread and milk poultice was applied

This is the next instalment in the series about the accident-prone Brown family. You can read my previous blogs about the deaths of three siblings Isabella, David and James. This blog is about their brother John.

In April 1858 the mother, Mary Ann Brown, was 24 years old. She had already given birth to four children, one of whom had died, and she was six months pregnant with her fifth. Some time in the last year the family had moved from Geelong to Camperdown where the father, John, worked as a bootmaker.

One day Mary Ann put the water on to boil to wash up the dinner things. Her eldest child took the pot off the fire and put it on the floor and little John, less than two years old,  stepped backwards and fell sitting in the pot. The father removed him immediately and applied salad oil and a bread and milk poultice to the scald that extended over his buttocks, back and chest. He was later given a dose of castor oil. But baby John died two days later after a fit. The parents didn't call in a doctor because they "did not think the scald to be serious". The Coroner and jury at the inquest brought a finding of accidental death with no blame attached to the parents.

Mary Ann's next baby, born three months later, was also named John.

John BROWN, son of John BROWN and Mary Ann HOWE was born 1856 in Geelong, Victoria, Australia. He died on 05 Apr 1858 Leura Marsh, Camperdown, Victoria, Australia. Inquest: John stepped backwards and sat in a pot of boiling water that had just been taken off the stove. His father applied salad oil and a milk poultice but he died two days later.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

A lecture, or four

I couldn't pass up the opportunity the hear a world-class researcher deliver four lectures in the course of the day. The Genealogical Society of Victoria organised the event, Michael Gandy was the guest. Michael is editor of the Genealogist (the magazine of the UK Society of Genealogists), author, researcher and member of AGRA (Association of Genealogists and Researchers), and, as we discovered, raconteur.

It was a brilliant day. Michael talked about 18th century English records for the conformists and non-conformists, the Irish, the poor, the Catholics. Here are some of the things I learned or was reminded about:

  • a lot of Irish records are in England
  • be flexible about religion, ethnicity and spelling of surnames
  • a third of the British army soldiers were Irish, Scottish or Catholics.
  • being really poor may have been a temporary status due to illness, age, number of children to support, work availability
  • Settlement certificates were extremely important in Anglican parishes but not in Catholic parishes or in Ireland or Scotland.
  • the importance of proving the facts on your family tree, not just relying on family stories, old publications, local histories and old genealogies
  • 'of this parish' and 'of full age' on marriage records are unreliable
  • not to be judgmental about my ancestors' attitudes, actions and beliefs
  • don't assume stereotypes re class, mobility, disciple, religion
  • and much, much more
Michael's talks have provided me with ideas for future research and a timely reminder to be exact and accurate.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

We were robbed

Good news. Trove at NLA has scanned all of the early Geelong newspapers up to August 1856 (local historian, Susie, has written a blog with the exact details). This is good news because so many of Victoria's early residents lived in or passed through Geelong, and those years also cover the early period of the goldrush.

So I thought I'd do a quick search to check it out. My keyword was 'John Brown'! Can you believe it? John and Mary Ann Brown lived in Geelong in the early 1850s and John was a bootmaker. I wasn't expecting a result but I struck gold of a different sort. There were three separate reports:
19 Feb 1853 Geelong Advertiser and Intelligencer
POLICE OFFICE. Friday, 18th February. Before his Worship the Mayor and the Police Magistrate. ROBBING A TENT. Giles Fuller and George Sirridge were placed before the bench, under the following circumstances: Constable O'Connell deposed--That in consequence of information he received on Thursday last, he apprehended the prisoner Fuller for robbing a tent situated near the Breakwater, and upon receiving further information he proceeded to the Retreat Inn, South Geelong, and there took possession of a pair of boots and a sword-stick, now produced, which were alleged to have been stolen from a Mrs Brown by the prisoner Fuller and sold on behalf of Serridge. James Hale, residing at South Geelong, deposed -- That he purchased a pair of boots from the prisoner Fuller; cannot swear to the boots, but the boots now produced greatly resembled them. This witness giving his evidence in a very careless manner, was severely admonished by the Bench, who were about to commit him for contempt of court. Owing to the owner of the property, Brown, being absent, the prisoners were remanded until Tuesday next.

23 Feb 1853 Geelong Advertiser and Intelligencer, p1

POLICE OFFICE. Tuesday, 22nd February. Before His Worship the Mayor, and Alexander Thomson, Esq.
ROBBING A TENT. The two men, George Surridge and Giles Fuller, who stood remanded from last week for robbing the tent of a person named Brown, situated near the Breakwater, were brought up for further examination. John Brown stated that about six weeks ago he left his tent at the Breakwater and started for the Diggings. On his return last week he found that various articles, consisting of boots, axes, sword sticks, &c., had been abstracted from the tent during his absence. His wife and a servant girl were in charge of the tent and its contents during his absence. The sword stick now produced is one that has been stolen from him, and valued at 15s. The boots produced are, to the best of his belief, his property. Cannot swear to their identity, but swears positively to the sword stick by a particular mark upon the cane. Mrs Mary Ann Brown, wife of the last witness, deposed that her husband left town for the Diggings about six weeks ago, and returned after being three weeks absent. His boots being worn out on his return, he desired witness to bring him a pair of new ones that were supposed to be in the tent. On searching the tent, the boots were not to be found, and she subsequently discovered that various other articles had been taken away. On one occasion during her husband's absence, the wife of the prisoner Fuller came to her tent to purchase some articles. The property that was afterwards missing was at that time safe in a large chest which stood outside the tent. Her servant girl left her service about a week after Mrs Fuller called. The chest was not locked, but guarded by two fierce dogs which never permitted strangers to go near without giving an alarm. Mr Francis Balfour, landlord of the Retreat Inn, South Geelong., deposed that he bought the sword stick, now produced, from the prisoner, Fuller, about a fortnight ago, for which he paid 15s. Fuller offered, also, a pair of boots for sale but witness declined purchasing. Fuller did not say from whom he procured the sword stick. Loveridge was not present when this occurred. Both prisoners were working for witness in painting his premises, &c. Cross-examined by Mr Combe - Swears positively by a certain mark now observable upon the cane of the sword stick that the one now produced is the same he bought from Fuller. Contracted with George Surridge for the painting of his premises, and Fuller was employed under Surridge. Constable McConnell deposed that from information ho received last week he proceeded to the Retreat Inn, South Geelong, when Mrs Balfour, wife of the last witness, handed him the sword- stick now produced, and put a particular mark upon it, to enable her to identify the property again; obtained the pair of boots from a person of the name of Hale, who was working under Surridge, who obtained them from the prisoner Fuller in consideration of 20s which was owing to him by Surridge and Fuller. James Hale being sworn, corroborated the evidence of this witness, and further added that Fuller had been engaged some time in disposing boots to the extent of several pairs to his knowledge; he always obtained 20s per pair, and on one occasion was seen with a gunny bag stacked full of the same kind of boots ; Surridge was not present. Cross-examined by Mr Combe - Saw Mr Balfour pay Fuller 15s for a stick at the same time that witness bought the boots; the boots were taken out of a bag, and paid for by Mrs Balfour on account of money that was due to witness on the part of Surridge; Surridge and Fuller were understood by witness to be partners in business. Mary Fuller, wife of one of the prisoners, deposed, that the prisoner Surridge had lived together with her and her husband. Examined by the Prosecutor - Has heard Surridge say that the goods stolen from the tent had all been sold, and the money divided ; Surridge also informed her that the boots which he and her husband sold were stolen from Brown's tent - this was about three weeks ago; the conversation took place between Brown's tent and the New Jail. The case was again remanded until this day week, for further evidence.

29 Apr 1853 Geelong Advertiser and Intelligencer, p1, p3

Thursday, 28th April. Before His Honor Mr. Justice Barry. CRIMINAL SITTINGS. The following Jury were impannelled:-J. Cumming, R. Betts, James Black, B. Martin, S. Ball, J. Bond, J. Bray, E. Baxton, J. Bristowe, B. Bragshawe, T. Benmore, J. Buck.
ROBBING A TENT. George Fuller, was indicted for robbing the Tent of John Brown, pitched near the Breakwater, on the 1st February. Brown deposed, that he was a shoe-maker by trade, that in January last he left his wife, family, and property in a tent over the Breakwater, and proceeded to the Daisy Hill Diggings. On his return, at the beginning of February, he desired his wife to hand him a new pair of boots, out of a quantity which he had deposited in the tent, in a large chest with other property. Upon proceeding to take the boots from this chest, it was found that the whole of them were missing, and also some sword sticks, and other property. This witness entered into a long explanation, with a view of establishing the innocence of the prisoner, Fuller, whom he assured the Court had been the victim of the dishonest practice of a man named Surridge. Mrs Brown, wife of the last witness, stated that the boots and sword sticks, now produced, were safe in the chest a few days prior to her husband's arrival from the Diggings. About a week before he returned, witness sold a pair of these boots to the prisoner at the bar, for which he paid cash. Mr. F. Balfour deposed, that in January last he bought a sword stick, the one now produced, from the prisoner at the bar, for which he paid 15s. He also offered witness some boots for sale. Witness did not purchase any of the boots, but a person present bought one pair out of four which the prisoner had, for which he paid 10s. The Jury enquired of Brown, what was the fair value of the boots, and was informed 20s. per pair. The prisoner, when called upon for his defence, observed, that he had been led into the affair by the villainy of a man named Surridge, who had a criminal correspondence with his wife, and who had given him directions where to obtain the property, and to hand him over the proceeds. By the Jury to Brown.-Paid the sum of £5, to Sergeant McConnell, of the Police Force, for apprehending the prisoner. Did not himself put the notification in the newspaper offering the reward. Believes that Surridge caused the advertisement to appear in print, offering a reward of £5 for the apprehension of Fuller. His Honor said the case was one of common larceny, the jury would decide themselves whether the statement of the prisoner, was entitled to credit. They would take into consideration the facts which occasionally occur of designing men concocting robberies, and making an innocent person a victim to their evil designs. On the other hand, the jury would remember that, when the prisoner entered the Inn, for the disposal of the property, he did not explain where he got it, or whose property it was, or on whose behalf he was disposing of it, also the circumstance that the boots sold were sold for less than half their value. If any reasonable doubt, however, remained upon the minds of the jury, they would give the prisoner the benefit. The jury acquitted the prisoner, who was ordered to be detained as a witness.
ROBBERY IN A TENT. John Surridge was indicted for robbing the tent of John Brown, situated near the breakwater, on the 1st February. John Brown deposed that he left certain property, consisting of boots, sword sticks, &c., in charge of his wife, in January last, and proceeded to the diggings; upon his return, he found that a considerable portion of this property had been stolen during his absence. Mary Ann Brown stated that when her husband returned from the diggings, in February last, six pair of boots, three sword sticks, and a quantity of shot were found to have been taken out of the tent occupied by her, near the breakwater; did not remember seeing the prisoner at the bar in her tent. George Fuller being sworn, stated that in January last he was in the employment of the prisoner Surridge as a painter and glazier; that about that time the prisoner requested him to sell certain boots and sword sticks, which he said belonged to him; witness obtained this property from a box kept in an outhouse of the Retreat Inn; the proceeds of these goods was handed over by the prisoner, in the presence of his (Fuller's) wife. Mary Ann Fuller corroborated this latter part of the evidence; also, that she bought a pair of the boots, on account of her husband, from Mrs. Brown, for which she paid 23s. Mr. Francis Balfour deposed that he bought the sword stick now produced, from the witness, Fuller. The prisoner at the bar was at this time engaged in painting witness's house; Fuller did not state whose property he was selling, or on whose behalf. The prisoner entered into a very lengthened explanation of his conduct, but which, appearing to have neither beginning nor end, could not have operated with the court either in favor or against his interest. His Honor summed up, observing that the prisoner had put forward a long statement, imputing the basest motives to the witness, Fuller. This man had been tried as an accomplice in the robbery, and had been acquitted by the jury; his testimony was therefore entitled to belief; one part of it had been supported by the evidence of his wife, who distinctly stated that she saw her husband, on a certain occasion, pay over a sum of money to the prisoner, as the proceeds of the property he had disposed of, on his account. The jury found the prisoner guilty and he was sentenced to twenty calendar months hard labour on the roads of the colony.
It appears that John and Mary Ann were robbed and there was a court case, the details of which were published in the newspaper. It has provided me with information that I didn't have before (see below)and opens up more research possibilities.

      * They were living in a tent at Breakwater near South Geelong.
      * John went to look for gold at Daisy Hill, south of Maryborough.
      * He kept a sword-stick! I wonder why.
      * They employed a servant girl.
      * They kept two fierce dogs to guard their property.
      * He kept a supply of boots to sell, worth 20s a pair.

John BROWN, son of John BROWN and Jane PORTER was born in 1815 in Tyrone, Ireland. He was a shoemaker. He died on 29 Dec 1875 in Scotts Creek, Corriejong, Victoria, Australia. He married Mary Ann HOWE, daughter of Francis HOWE and Ann WEAR on 14 Mar 1850 (St Peters, Melb, Victoria, Australia). She was born in 1834 in Dublin?, Ireland. After John's death she married John LEE. She died on 13 Jan 1907 in South Ecklin, Victoria, Australia.

This is what a sword-stick looks like - a walking stick that contains a sword. They are now illegal.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Trove Tuesday: In which James falls off his bicycle

This is the next installment in a series about the accident-prone Brown family of Cobden. In previous posts here and here I wrote about two siblings who drowned in separate incidents. This time I tell the story of another sibling, James Wear Brown, who died at the age of 52. It appears that he was riding down a hill to work in Cobden, turned sharply to avoid a vehicle and fell off his bike. He died a week later as a result of the injuries.

The Argus, 10 January 1925, digital scan from Trove.
James and Agnes Brown, wedding photo 1900
Man faking fall from bicycle, SLV collection Image H84.201/90 accessed via Trove 'pictures, photos, objects'
James Wear BROWN, son of John BROWN and Mary Ann HOWE was born on 14 Feb 1872 in Cobden, Victoria, Australia. He died on 15 Jan 1925 Camperdown Hospital, Victoria, Australia as a result of injuries to head and mouth when he fell off a bicycle. He married Agnes Eleanor SPRUCE, daughter of James SPRUCE and Caroline FRANCIS on 19 Dec 1900 (St Mary's C of E, Cobden, Victoria, Australia). She was born on 22 Jul 1884 in Apsley, Victoria, Australia. She died on 04 Aug 1955 Austin Hospital, Heidelberg, Victoria, Australia.


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