Thursday, January 31, 2013

Sepia Saturday: How does a country kid get to school?

This is the theme photo for this week's Sepia Saturday. Lots of choices - bicycles, boys wearing caps, bare feet, advertising signs. I think my photo from a family album fits the bill nicely.

It's maybe 1930, you live in or near a small country town in Victoria, you need to get to school every day. So, does mum get the 4-wheel drive out of the garage? Do you join a 'walking bus' group? Do you use public transport? None of the above. You walk, or ride your bike or saddle up your pony. The children look pretty happy. And look at that show-off in the very front!

School kids and their means of  transport, 1943. Bayunga, Victoria.
That's young master Johnston in front with his big bike, with a bag wrapped around the crossbar for him to sit on because he couldn't reach the seat. After school the teacher, Lena Alford, would sit him on the bike and give him a push to start him off and there would be someone waiting at home to help him stop and get off!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Trove Tuesday: In which Uncle William's house burns down

I know, it's Wednesday not Tuesday, but here's my entry for Trove Tuesday because I've solved a mystery using Trove.
William Thomas Wyllie
William Wyllie was a brother of my great-grandfather Robert. Both were wheat farmers near Minyip in the Wimmera district of Victoria, both had selected blocks of land when the government opened up the area for selection and both were married with young children. But in the 1890s Robert stayed and William left with his family to live and work in Melbourne. I never knew why.

But then I found these reports on Trove. They've lost their house in a fire and they weren't insured. So with a family of four young daughters and a wife to support I'm guessing William didn't have many choices. I still don't know exactly when they moved but I'm sure the fire would have been a contributing factor.

The Argus, 30 Dec 1895
Horsham Times, 10 Jan 1896

William Thomas WYLLIE, son of William WYLLIE and Ann Megget CRANSTON was born on 20 Aug 1861 in McLaren Vale, South Australia, Australia. He died on 08 Oct 1935 in Mentone, Victoria, Australia. He married Naomi MILGATE, daughter of James MILGATE and Emily MOORE on 09 Nov 1885 in Dunmunkle, Victoria, Australia (Primitive Methodist). She was born on 21 Feb 1862 in Jacobs Creek, Lyndoch, South Australia, Australia. She died on 10 Dec 1945 in Mentone, Victoria, Australia. 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Sepia Saturday: Outside the country store

The theme photo for this week's Sepia Saturday is a shopfront and I found a photo to match the theme in our family's album.

A small country town in the early part of the 20th century needed a good general store because the nearest big town was Bendigo and getting there and back took all day. Not exactly convenient, especially in the days when horse-drawn vehicles were more common than cars. In Mitiamo the store was run by Charles W Sims and then his son-in-law Roy Phelan. As well as food and haberdashery they provided everything from petrol to insurance and delivered around the local farms every fortnight. There was a train station in Mitiamo so they were able to bring their goods to town on the rail system. It was a very busy place.

During WW2 the shop and the adjoining residence burnt down but I'll save that story for another day.

Outside Sims store, Mitiamo
Charles William SIMS, son of Samuel SIMS and Elizabeth CARTER was born on 21 May 1869 (Coliban, Victoria, Australia). He died on 20 Apr 1942 in Mitiamo, Victoria, Australia. He married Euphemia YEAMAN, daughter of Charles YEAMAN and Sarah PAYNTER on 16 Jun 1892 in Pine Grove, Victoria, Australia. She was born on 12 Aug 1866 in Cobaw, Victoria, Australia. She died on 01 Sep 1941 in Mitiamo, Victoria, Australia. 

Monday, January 21, 2013

Trove Tuesday: In which I use Lists

Thank goodness for lists. The older I get the more I rely on my lists of things to do, things to buy. And as a field naturalist I'm always compiling lists of birds or plants or fungi or insects I've seen for my small contribution to citizen science.

But one of the best use for lists is the section of Trove at the National Library of Australia. I can explore other peoples lists of interesting newspaper items they've found pertaining to particular families, towns or subjects. It can save you a lot of time and effort because someone else has already done the search.

For instance, I'm interested in the family of Joseph and Ann Stone of Hobart and Bagdad in Tasmania because they're direct ancestors of my husband. They were among the first teachers in Hobart. 'Kizzie56' has created a list of 23 items that pertain to the family so I'll be able to check out each of those myself. Thanks Kizzie. This is one of the items on her list.

Hobart Town Gazette and Van Diemen’s Land Advertiser (Tas. : 1821-1825), Saturday 21 September 1822
And I can also make my own lists. I've created a few for families I'm researching and add items to them each time I log on. Mostly I save the items as a file to my hard drive as well but it's very useful having the list on the Trove website because I can check what I've done in the past so easily. I can also email the link to other family members.

If you do a general search on the Trove website the results appear in all of the categories on the tabs (books, newspapers, music, archived websites, pictures and photos, diaries, people and organisations ... and lists) and the list category usually appears at the very bottom of the page and can be easily overlooked. I'm suggesting that you try searching the lists only and see what happens. Or better still, create your own lists.

Thomas STONE, son of Thomas STONE and Lucy CAINS was born on 28 Jan 1796 in Horfield, Bristol, GLS, England. He died on 27 Nov 1862 in Green Ponds, Tasmania, Australia. He married Ann WITHERS, daughter of John WITHERS and Susannah COOK on 13 Jul 1817 in St John, Bedminster, Somerset, England. She was born on 30 Aug 1798 in Bristol, England. She died on 24 Apr 1856 in Bagdad, Tasmania, Australia. 

Friday, January 18, 2013

Sepia Saturday: Red Cross calling

Each week over at Sepia Saturday a photo is posted as a theme for contributors to blog about.
This week's photo has a truck with someone standing on the tray and I immediately thought of a photo in my mother-in-law Shirley's album that also includes a truck with people standing on the tray.

In 1939 a number of young men from the rural area of Mologa in central Victoria volunteered to serve their country. It was the start of World War 2. Shirley's mother, Mary Alford, was the local Red Cross coordinator and put a lot of time and effort into fund raising, recruiting members and making items for the soldiers. It must have been a cause close to her heart because her brother was killed in France in the first World War. For several years a truck was decorated and driven in Pyramid Hill, a nearby town (possibly at the annual show). Shirley and her cousin Mary Leed dressed as nurses, and two local men, Ernie Boorn and Dave Williams, as soldiers.

Patriotic Red Cross truck, Pyramid Hill, c1939

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Trove Tuesday: In which Thomas is awarded a medal for bravery

Over the past decade or more I've been trying to track down several of my husband's great (whatever) uncles. I have records of their early lives and then they just disappear. Unfortunately their surname is Carter so when I google them or search on Trove I get lots of occupation records, and even when I use the double quotes to include their first names I get too many matches.

Nevertheless I keep trying. And I managed to get another snippet when I searched Trove with a name and last known location in Victoria.

It turns out that Thomas Carter was awarded a bronze medal for bravery in 1876. The newspaper report was quite detailed.

The Argus (Melbourne) 28 April 1876

So, apart from the description of the rescue I was able to glean the name of his flour mill (I already knew he had one and that he had selected land in the area), that he was an auctioneer and that he was a general agent. I also found him a year or so later involved in a court case with his brother-in-law (my husband's ancestor) over debts, and some advertisements when he was declared a bankrupt. But after that? Nothing.

I've never actually been to Lake Cooper or Corop between Rochester and Shepparton in central Victoria but I found a photo on the web. I think the lake has water in it at the moment but when we had the decade-long drought in the noughties it was bone dry. From the newspaper report I'd say there used to be more reeds growing around the edge.

Lake Cooper, Corop
The Victorian Humane Society had only been established a year or two earlier (following a tragic instance of bravery) and still exists under a different name (The Royal Humane Society of Australasia). They have a webpage here that provides some of the history. And a book has been published that lists the recipients of the medals over the years but it's not in my local library so I'll have to have a look at the state library's copy. 

7000 Brave Australians: A history of the Royal Humane Society of Australasia, 1874-1994, Edited by Colin Bannister 
I can't find an image of the bronze medal on the web. I wonder if Thomas' still exists somewhere.

Thomas CARTER, son of Joseph CARTER and Ann TURNER, was born in 1834 in Billingshurst, England. He died after 1882 (in Australia?). No evidence that he married or had descendants.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

David Jackson, where are you?

Finally. The little bundle of clues coalesced and my theory has turned into a fact.

Here's the story.

In March 1857 a baby, Thomas, was born in Fryers Creek, Victoria. His father was Robert Leed and his mother Helen Jackson. At the time of his birth his parents weren't married, although they stated that they were, and didn't marry until after their third child was born. So, working backwards, Thomas must have been conceived about June 1856 when Helen was 17 years old. Fryers creek in 1855/1856 was a rich goldmining area near the present day town of Castlemaine in central Victoria. It was an area in an extreme state of flux, with miners coming and going continually. What was a 17-year old girl doing there?

When I checked Robert and Helen's marriage certificate it stated that Helen's parents were David Jackson, storekeeper, and Helen Kinross. A witness to the marriage was a David Jackson. I found young Helen on the 1851 Scottish census for Leith, Scotland - she was living with several relatives including her grandmother and her younger brother John but no parents were present.

So I wondered if the David Jackson who witnessed the marriage was her brother or her father. Next I checked the immigration records and found Helen (16) and her brother John (13) arriving in Melbourne on the ship 'Oliver Lang' in April 1856. I assumed that as they were so young they would be travelling to join a family member, and speculated that it would be her father. So I checked all sorts of records without being able to prove any connection but there was a John Jackson who died at Castlemaine in 1916 (who I think is Helen's brother) and a David Jackson operating a store at Castlemaine. I got excited when I  found that that David Jackson remarried in 1857 at Castlemaine and quickly got a copy of the marriage certificate but it was inconclusive although several facts, including age and birthplace, were about right.
The Argus (Melbourne) 7 April 1856
But just before Christmas I found this newspaper notice. The shipping agents in Melbourne are advertising for David Jackson of Leith to tell him that his daughter and son have arrived. Remember, Leith is where Helen was living in 1851. That was the proof I needed that David was in Victoria prior to his children arriving. And now I think I'm on safe ground assuming that the David Jackson living in Castlemaine was her father.

Helen JACKSON, daughter of David JACKSON and Jane KINROSS was born on 11 Feb 1838 in Leith, Scotland. She died on 20 Jun 1886 in Eaglehawk, Victoria, Australia. She married Robert LEED, son of Thomas LEED and Grizzel (Grace) McLEISH on 19 Aug 1863 in Eaglehawk, Victoria, Australia. He was born on 22 Aug 1832 in Glasgow, Scotland. He died on 26 Jul 1889 in Eaglehawk, Victoria, Australia

Thursday, January 10, 2013

My dad, the dairy farmer

Dad has worn a few hats in his long life (he's nearly 92) but mostly he was a farmer. The word 'farmer' covers a lot of ground but in dad's case it means 'wheat and sheep', then 'dairy', then 'sheep'. This blog is about his time as a dairy farmer because that period coincides with my youth.

In the early 1950s mum and dad moved from a wheat farm in Victoria's Wimmera district to a dairy farm in the Western District. Dad says they moved because he got sick of driving round and round in circles. The farm they bought was perfect for dairying - it had a creek flowing along one border, it had low paddocks that held good pasture over the dry months and high paddocks that were dry in the wet months, it had acres of natural bush that provided timber for new fences - and it was in a great little community.

Dad's dairy, summer 1973
Dad worked hard and made a good living off the dairy cows in the 50s and 60s, and supplemented his income with relief school bus driving, contract hay baling and sale of timber from the bush. We kids thought it was a perfect environment. A dairy farmer's daily routine is dictated by the needs of the cows so dad was always up early for the morning milking and we always had to be back for the afternoon milking (this was particularly annoying if we'd been to the beach for the day). And we could only go on holiday in May because that was when the cows were briefly 'dry'. Dad didn't need to go down to the paddock to get the cows because he could stand on the back verandah and whistle loudly and they would lift up their heads from grazing and start walking up the lane to the dairy. He always had machinery to milk the cows, a walk-in dairy system that had six or eight cows being milked at any one time. Dad's herd size was less than 40 and took more than an hour to milk - now in the same time they milk hundreds of cows in fully automated rotary dairies. At first dad would put the milk and cream in cans and take them to the end of our lane to be picked up but later he put the milk in stainless steel vats and a truck came to pump it out every day or so. I think he enjoyed his work.

Dad's dairy, summer 1973
After about 20 years the authorities started to tighten up on regulations about health, cleanliness and quality and dad decided that he didn't want to spend the money to upgrade, stopped being a dairy farmer and became a sheep and beef cattle farmer. And then they sold the farm and moved into town. But he made sure he bought a house with a big shed so he's still got somewhere to go and tinker.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Sepia Saturday: The swimmers

The topic for Sepia Saturday this week is very apt given that here in Australia we're breaking records left (west), right (east) and centre. We've just had our hottest day ever (average of all temperature reports nation wide) and there are fires all over the place creating havoc.

These photos of three sisters are from a family album, taken in the 1920s in central Victoria. There is another one from the same album that I blogged about here.

I think their bathing costumes are wool, and aren't those hats great? (We used to call swimsuits 'togs' when I was young but that word seems to have gone out of use, replaced by 'bathers'.)

Annie and Edith

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Trove Tuesday: A brief business venture

The late Mr Sims was a pushing, energetic man, and one of the luckiest pioneers of the district. He owned a lot of land at Pine Grove, also at Kerang, where he resided for some years until recently. His was a well-known name amongst auctioneers and business men all over Victoria and he always did his utmost to push the interests of his district ahead. He also took a keen interest in the Mallee, and by his energetic advocacy did much towards the development of a considerable part of that country.  [Rochester Express, Friday 6 April 1906]
The obituary above describes Samuel Sims as an energetic business man. Today's blog for Trove Tuesday details just one of his business ventures, one I didn't know about before 'reading all about it' at Trove.

In 1889 he was farming near Kerang and at Pine Grove in northern Victoria and, as well, had established a store, butter factory and butchery at Pine Grove. The eldest son, Sidney (aged 23), was also at Kerang and was a player with his father in their brief venture into the butchering business there.

The first evidence I found was this newspaper notice from May 1889.

Kerang Times and Swan Hill Gazette, Friday 24 May 1889, page 3
In the same newspaper there is an article (too long to reproduce here) about a court case involving the prior owner, Mr Moorhead. Apparently there was a misunderstanding about who actually owned the debts associated with the business when Moorhead was the butcher. It appears to me that Samuel Sims, the canny businessman, had all his bases legally covered. The article provided me with interesting details about how much he paid and how he organised his business affairs.

Then there is a newspaper advertisement I found, dated 27 September 1889.

The Kerang Times, Friday 27 September 1889, page 4
Then, a month later, this notice appeared. They've closed the business.
The Kerang Times, Tuesday 22 October 1889, page 3
Samuel Sims and his son Sidney continued to farm in the district. There's more to their stories, there always is, but that will have to wait for another day.

Samuel SIMS, son of William SIMS and Mary LEATHERLAND was born on 14 Apr 1831 in Uppingham, Rutland, England. He died on 31 Mar 1906 in Pine Grove, Victoria, Australia. He married Elizabeth CARTER, daughter of Joseph CARTER and Ann TURNER on 29 May 1865 in Lauriston, Victoria, Australia (In the home of Elizabeth's mother, Ann CARTER.). She was born in 1842 in Billingshurst, Sussex, England. She died on 03 Sep 1891 in Pine Grove, Victoria, Australia. Issue: Sidney, Ann (married Edwin Chappel), Charles and Albert.


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