Helena was the second youngest of eight children of my third great grandparents Samuel Hughes (1827-1896) and Sally Hughes née Plaisted (1826-1900); she was the younger sister, by twelve years, of my great-great-grandfather Edward Walter Hughes (1854-1922).
In April this year Greg and I went for a drive along the Great Ocean Road. We visited Apollo Bay and had lunch at the Apollo Bay Hotel. The hotel has a memorial to the Casino, which includes the ship’s wheel.
The Casino carried cargo and up to 25 passengers between Melbourne and Portland, stopping at Apollo Bay, Warrnambool and Port Fairy, for almost 50 years, from July 1882 to July 1932. She made more than two thousand of these coastal passages.
From about 1914 Helena Gill worked on the Casino as a stewardess. Her bravery in the shipwreck is recalled in a newspaper clipping, part of the display at the Apollo Bay Hotel.
Tomorrow there will be a small ceremony to mark the anniversary of the sinking. A service will be held at the Casino memorial in Gipps Street at 10 a.m. on Saturday 10 July.
When the over all gold [alluvial gold] was booming, the squatters’ drovers became restless and left to go gold digging, and the squatters in desperation imported Chinese by the thousand, at one time 100,000 Chinese were here and they also left for the gold. They were paid by the squatters per month and keep. The pastoralists advertised In China and the Chinese paid £3 boat fare and brought their own food.
In 1862 the bill was passed to open up the land and started the selected going north. And in 1874 with his brother Thomas and a little money saved, James came to Charlton and pegged out two 320 acre blocks adjoining making the square mile. An Act passed in 1862 allowed a selector only 320 acres at £1 per acre with conditions such as, the selectors had to build, fence and clear with 10 years to pay off, which the selectors could not do, and the payment was extended from time to time.
James Edwards went back to Geelong after selecting land in Charlton and married Elizabeth Ann Nicholas on 29th December 1874 and started making preparations to come to Charlton. They got together 4 horses, a buggy, a light wagon and bare necessaries and started off in the late autumn of 1875. It took two weeks to arrive at Charlton and heavy rain slowed the travel, it took three days to go from Charlton to the selection 12 miles out. It was a big trial especially for James Edwards’ young wife who had not been out of Geelong, she had known her husband quite a few years. She had three brothers and one sister Ellen, who married a Shire Secretary at Wagga and lived there all her life and reared a big family. Her own mother corresponded regularly and I remember how the letters were looked forward to. Our mother was a stout strong woman, as her father who, tradition says held the belt for wrestling In Cornwall.
The coming to Charlton, and the prospect of a home, allowed them to look forward to their future life. Her parents said to her when leaving, in 10 years you ought to be able to retire back to Geelong, little did they know the hardships of Pioneers. The first job after arriving at the selection was to build a home, which consisted of logs and mud, the roof was the tent and the house consisted of one room. With improvements to this they lived there three years, and during that three years they were building the home which we know. There were plenty of straight pine trees which were stood up 3 feet apart with slabs across and filled with mud.
I have often heard our mother say how lovely it was to get into this new house, bark of a big tree and flattened with weight was used a lot for roofing. A poem by Tom Murphy would fit in here
Wattle and Dab formed the walls of the hut From gumsucker saplings the highbeams were cut And the roof over the heads of my parents and I Was the bark of a box from the gully near by The furniture crude in the old fashioned shack Was the pine from the pine ridge a mile or so back And the hole still remains not far from the door Where they puddled the clay for the old earthern floor The flesh of the roo for mutton did pass And faces were washed in the dew laden grass This beautiful towel was the bright morning sun And the moon gave them light when the daylight was done Our porridge a corn twint, the wheat and the oat Whilst we coloured our tea with the milk from the goat But although they were days of trials and fears They but used them as steps did our old pioneers.
Our mother was a wonderful woman and took her part in the pioneering of the district. A little woman named Jane Prichard came up with her and stayed with her for 10 years, a grand little woman. The first 10 years being the hardest for the pioneers. Our mother’s first born arrived in November 1875. She journed to her old home in Geelong for the event, the rest of her family were born at ‘Lamorna’. Ada the second girl was born in the tent, there was quite a big population coming there by that time, and a few of the old women acted as maternity sisters and the friendships in the District was a wonderful help to those old pioneers.
The Narrewillock school had 60 on the rolls and the families of those old pioneers always had 8 to 10 children, in fact 3 families adjoining us had 13 children. Within a few miles of our parents home there were a dozen big families, amongst the neighbours were the Douglass family of 12 only 1/2 mile away. Alec Coote, W. Coote and Tom Coote, O’Callaghan, O’Mearers, William, and a few others, all good neighbours and would all help one another.
For the first 10 years clearing the land carting water, and sinking storages was the big worry, the years 1875 to 1907.
The dingo gave them a worry, I have heard our father speak of the last dingo shot, he hid in a big bush one bright moonlight, expecting the old man dingo he came back to the kill of the night before and shot him. His 4 paws and tail were hanging up in the barn for many years. Kangaroos and Emus were all gone and driven back by 1880. About the early 80’s the rabbits put in their appearance, our father came home excited one day with a young rabbit and in a few years there was a plague of them. I caught the first fox in about 1890 with the sheep dogs. That was their first appearance and of course that pest will be always here now. The Shire gave a bonus of £1 a scalp and I got the £1 for the skin we kept for many years.
The native wild life that was on the Lamorna farm In the 1870s are now gone. Kangaroo, Emu, Native Cat, Wood mice, Curleu, Woodpecker, Ground Pluver, Chatterona Brown Bird, twice the size of a starling. The fox, rabbits and house cats, gone wild, are responsible for their disappearance.
Schooling for myself and four sisters was at Narrewillock five miles from home, the school had a few rooms attached, and an old man lived there named Brightwell, he kept the Post Office. Our eldest sisters did all their schooling there, later there was a school built one mile away from home called Hallam school, myself and youngest sister went mostly to this school. All walking was the order of the day. A teacher called Os Derrick stayed at Hallam four years and this was really the only schooling I received. Our parents lost one of the family, a girl they called Mary Beatrice who died of quinsy in 1880 which was a heavy blow to our parents. Two of the biggest worries was the shortage of water and money, and carting water was a constant job and sometimes from the Avoca River 7 miles. This worry was not realised [relieved] till 1921 the year I tapped the Marmal Creek and filled our dam, when the creek ran in the winter time. This creek ran eight years out of ten, the farmers are now served by a channel from Lake Lonsdale, in 1948.
On the 640 acres there were two patches of about forty acres without trees and these patches got more than their share of cropping, as the clearing of this was a big job. Our father bought a mower with two horses to pull in 1877 and a little peg drum thrasher to thrash the barley, and in about 1882 bought a stripper and winnow from South Australia which was wonderful in those days.
This type of stripper was used till the turn of the century. Our father bought the first H. V. McKay harvester in 1906 and from then on harvesting became much easier.
The horses named Darling and Jess were two good mares, they bred from them and their breeding was carried through right to the time the horses were discarded on the farms in about 1935, some farmers favoured horses earlier and some later. The prices for grain were too low for the farmers to prosper, the prices were controlled by spectator [speculators] being about 2/6 for wheat and as low as 1/- for oats, lambs 10/-. On less [Unless] a compulsory pool was established in 1916 but still no price fixed. In 1928 the Wheat Growers Association was formed which I was a foundation and executive member and from then on we gradually took control. The stabiliasion [stabilisation] scheme has been paying 12/- for quite a few years. I stayed on the State Council of the Victorian Wheat Growers Assoc. for five years and for the work and enthusiasm I put into the Association in the pioneering days, the Association at the Annual Conference in 1964, I was made a life member.
The season in this part of Victoria was uncertain, sometimes a very wet year and sometimes a drought. 1902 was the big drought and the next year 22 inches of rain. The big drought that I remember was 1902, 1914, 1920, 1929, 1940, 1944. I Frederick James took over the control of the farm in 1907. Nell the eldest married in 1902 to J. Findlay. Ada was music teaching in Ararat and Jean the youngest sister was with her, and Beatrice married P. Toose in 1909. I married in 1910 and had our 5 children there and for a while drove them to Narrewillock school but in March 1920 bought this house in Charlton and have lived there ever since. My wife Anne died 9th January 1963. Our family all turned out well they were all big, strong and good sports. Gwen (4 daughters) now Mrs. Richards, Bob married Joyce Parker (3 daughters) and is now at Beaumaris, Freda (1 son & 1 daughter) now Mrs. Piccoli and is now at Barraport. Joyce with two sons is on the farm, Nan (2 daughters) now Mrs. Nagel and lives at Black Rock.
The following is from my father James Edwards Diary.
1874. Met the surveyor from St. Arnaud and pegged out the two blocks at Narrewillock, the ground looks good plenty of grass but no water. I was married on 29th December 1874.
1875. Spent a few months in preparation in coming to Charlton, left Bullarook on 22nd May having lived there 14 years. My father has recorded they were very happy there. Arrived at the farm having spent 16 days on the trip. Very wet which made the travelling hard. First child born in November (Nell).
1876. Sowed the first patch of wheat, carting water.
1877. Second child born (Ada) .
1878. Drove to Geelong — one horse and buggy. We shifted to the new house having lived in a tent for 3 years.
1880. Rabbits were in plague proportion. Brought first stripper which proved a success.
1881. Lost two fingers, a sad event. Father suffered severely and was in St. Arnaud hospital for awhile.
1882. Started a Sunday school at Narrewillock which he kept on for 25 years.
1883. Shortage of water is causing hardship, sold 150 sheep 7/-.
1884 Received £11/7/3 as fathers share of Will B. Gilbart (London).
1885. Very bad year, 167 bags (4 bushels) total cheque £115/11/11.
1886. Another bad year 94 bags from 150 acres. Sold 61 bags for £34/19/6.
1887. First plague of Locusts.
1888. Sold 220 bags wheat price 2/10 ½ per bushel. Rev. Kirkwood started preaching at Narrewillock, he stayed there 20 years. Bought 125 sheep at 6/5d. , wheat price this year 1/9d.
1891. Sent two trucks of sheep and lambs to Melbourne, price £87/5/- for 226 sheep.
1892. Later sent 165 lambs to Melbourne, cheque £54/4/10. Bought stripper and winmower, the winmower is still at the farm. Bought cow and calf for £3.
1893. Sold 163 bags for 1/9 a bushel some at 1/7 ½, sold 115 bags oats @ 6 ½ d.
1896. Wheat price rose to 4/6 ½. 696 sheep were shorn, shearing cheque £5/2/- for shearers.
1897. Sent 130 lambs to Melbourne, cheque £41/1 2/10.
1898. Rented Howards 1200 acres for 3 years, £150 per year, this land is held now by Hillard, Blair, McGurk and L. Douglass.
1900. Ordered first seed drill, Massey Harris £45.
1901. Very dry, carting water takes the whole time.
1902. The first big drought, practically no rain for the year, horses went to Lang Lang and sheep sold, this from now on is written by F.J. Edwards.
1903. The year was good and from now on the farming system very much improved.
1905. We bought a H.V. McKay harvester which made harvesting from now on much easier.
1907.  Uncle Tom died, he had been a great help mate to father all his life – age 81
1908. Our mother died, she had been in Ararat with Ada, but came home when she became sick – age 65.
1909. Sister Beatrice married P. Toose
1910. Myself married to Annie Morcon of Bendigo.
1914. Another drought, no wheat, the first big war started.
1916. Our father died this year aged 81 both he and our mother are buried in Terrappee cemetery.
1920. Been having good seasons, my wife and self bought our home in Charlton, we have five of our family.
1921. I sank the big dam at the farm 9000 yds it took three five horse teams about three months, a big job.
1925. Ken McPherson took wheat growing on the shares, he and his wife stayed five years.
1929. Another drought, sent 24 horses to Tatura on swamp country, Gerald Buckley property, stayed 6 months.
1930. The Wheat Growers Association was formed this year the first big move to organise the wheat growers as a foundation member. I stayed on the State Council five years. The next ten years was the depression years, fair seasons but low prices.
1931. Bob 21 was now working the farm, I made over Pratts and Howards 560 acres to him.
1941. Son Bob married and built the new home at the farm, costing about £3,000.
1944. Very bad drought, Bob Edwards took over the full management and bought O’Mearers land 500 acres @ £7 per acre.
1948. Bob bought 2,000 acre property at Ballan and left the farm.
1949. Joyce and Bob Chambers left the Bank and gradually took over the whole farm, bought Bob Edwards’ land for £20 per acre.
1963. 9th January mother died and is buried in Terrappee Cemetery, her passing has left a blank in the family.
1964. Another good season, the Chambers have two good boys, one 19 and the other 13, these boys should and I think will carry on and uphold the tradition of the Pioneers, and who will carry on the farm at Narrewillock.
Yesterday Greg and I drove to Charlton to look at the Wimmera land selected in 1875 by his great great uncles Thomas Edwards (1826 – 1908), James Edwards (1835 – 1916), and John Gilbart Edwards (1829 – 1912).
Last week I had found the properties on the parish plans, through the website of the Public Record Office Victoria. Thomas and James were in Narrewillock Parish north-east of Charlton. Comparing the plan to Google maps I discovered the road adjacent to the property was named—conveniently for us—‘Edwards Road’.
John Gilbart Edwards settled at Yeungroon southwest of Charlton.
We first found the property at Yeungroon, on Five Mile Road. The countryside nearby was in splendid condition after the rain. We stopped to look at a mob of sheep. They had a lot to say, much of it ‘maa’ rather than ‘baa’. Perhaps they were maa lambs, not baa lambs, a different breed.
Afterwards we looked through the Charlton Golden Grains Museum. The volunteers there had sent me a comprehensive list of newspaper articles about the Edwards, including obituaries for Thomas and James. At the museum we saw photos of the Charlton H.E.S. (Higher Elementary School) Basketball team of 1925. A couple of the photographs had the granddaughters of James Edwards Gwen (1910 – 2006) and Freda (1913 – 2008) Edwards in them .
Thomas died in 1908 at Charlton and was buried in Charlton cemetery. James, who died in 1916, was buried in Terrappee cemetery. We found their graves.
Charlton Cemetery is a mile west of the town. From the obituary published in the East Charlton Tribune, which had been shared with us by the Charlton Golden Grains Museum, we knew that Thomas was buried there. At the cemetery is a directory of the site, erected by the Rotary Club, which lists all the graves and their location. The grave of Thomas Edwards has no headstone, but we were able to determine which plot was his by confirming the location of the neighbouring headstone. It is rare to find such a useful finding-aid at a cemetery.
Afterwards we visited the grave of James Edwards at Terrappee Cemetery, about 10 km northeast of Charlton. We knew in advance from FindAGrave that James’s grave there has a headstone.
James’s son Frederick James Edwards is buried next to James. Strangely, his gravestone has the wrong date of death. Frederick James died on 15 December 1974, the date confirmed by his death notice in The Age of 16 December.
Terrappee cemetery is a small bush graveyard, peaceful and calm, surrounded by enormous cultivated paddocks. It has a large peppercorn tree.
Then we found their property, formerly known as “Lamorna”, which had been selected by James and Thomas Edwards. A new crop of wheat had sprouted. James Edwards’s diary recorded that he sowed his first patch of wheat in 1876, a year after his arrival.
From Terrapee we came back to Charlton and after a pleasant roast lunch sitting in the sun on the verandah of the Cricket Club Hotel drove home to Ballarat.
Major Thomas Mitchell, Surveyor-General of the Colony of New South Wales from 1828 to 1855, undertook several journeys of exploration. His third, in 1836, took him south into what is now Victoria. On 10 July he recorded in his journal that he and his party
crossed a deep creek running westward which I named the Avoca, and we encamped on an excellent piece of land beyond it.
Mitchell, Thomas, Sir, 1792-1855 (1839-01-01). Three expeditions into the interior of Eastern Australia : with descriptions of the recently explored region of Australia Felix and of the present colony of New South Wales. T. & W. Boone volume 2 retrieved through http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks/e00036.html
Sweet Vale of Avoca! how calm could I rest In thy bosom of shade, with the friends I love best; Where the storms that we feel in this cold world should cease, And our hearts, like thy waters, be mingled in peace.
In the 1850s the town of Avoca was established on the Avoca River. Greg’s great great grandfathers George Young and John Plowright were gold miners there.
My Cudmore relatives had a property on the Darling River named Avoca. We visited it earlier this year. It was said that Daniel H. Cudmore named it Avoca after his father’s hometown in Ireland. However his father, Daniel M.P. Cudmore, was from Limerick Ireland. I am not aware of any connection of the Cudmore family to the town of Avoca in Ireland.
On Thursday 9 February the weather was warm reaching 37 degrees (98 degrees Fahrenheit). We took a two hour paddle steamer ride on the Murray through lock 11 and downstream.
We admired the Murray River Flag which dates from the early 1850s; there are three variations. Our paddlesteamer flew the Upper Murray River Flag with the darker blue bands on its flag, representing the darker waters of the river’s upper reaches. At lock 11 we saw the Combined Murray River Flag.
In the evening we visited a local distillery and after sampling several types we purchased a gin infused with saltbush.
The next day Friday 12 February we drove to South Australia. Because of the pandemic we needed to apply for permits to enter South Australia and also to return to Victoria.
The Sturt Highway passes along the boundary of Ned’s Corner, a property once owned by the Cudmores. Ned’s Corner Station is now owned by the Trust for Nature who bought the property in 2002 when it was very degraded from drought and overgrazing. The Trust claims the 30,000 hectare property (74,000 acres) is the largest freehold property in Victoria and also the biggest private conservation reserve in the state.
My great great grandfather James Francis Cudmore (1837 – 1908) managed Paringa, 208 sq. miles (531 km²) near present day Renmark from 1857. Paringa was first leased by James’s father Daniel from 1850 as well as a number of other stations. In 1860 James Cudmore leased Ned’s Corner, further up the Murray. From these properties he overlanded sheep to Queensland and took up leases there. In1867 he married Margaret Budge. James and Margaret had 13 children; my grandfather Arthur Murray Cudmore was their third child born at Paringa in 1870.
In 1876 James Cudmore enlarged Ned’s Corner in partnership with Robert Barr Smith and A. H. Pegler. By the end of the 1870s 130,000 sheep were being shorn at his stations on the Murray.
James Mansfield Niall (1860-1941), a first cousin to James Francis Cudmore, worked at Paringa Station as a young man before moving to central western Queensland. His great grandson has been kind enough to share some of James Niall’s reminiscences.
In 1876 I went up to Paringa Station on the Murray, and took a position there as bookkeeper. I had to travel by train to Kapunda, thence by coach to Blanchtown, Overland Corner, to Ral Ral. We travelled most of the night and all day for some 3 days. The coachdriver on the later stages was a man named Lambert. Lambert had been fined the previous week for over-carrying the Paringa mailbag, and when he learned I was going to the Station he did not hesitate to abuse me at every opportunity. I was practically only a schoolboy, and I put up with it until we got to Ral Ral, where a blackfellow met me leading a horse on which I was to ride out to the Station. Lambert on seeing the horse flogged it with his whip, upon which I told him that I had had enough of it, and that he could give me a hiding, or I would give him one. (Other passengers on the coach were John Crozier – late of St Albans near Geelong – Fred Cornwallis West, and Dr Wilson of Wentworth). Lambert and I had a fairly lengthy fight, and I beat him very badly, although he broke my nose, from which I am suffering even today. John Crozier enjoyed himself immensely watching the fight from the box of the coach, calling out ”Go it young un”, a term with which he always greeted me when I met him in the Streets of Melbourne 40 years afterwards. Dr Wilson patched up my nose. We had travelled most of the night in the Coach without meals, I only had sixpence in my pocket, and I hadn’t the effrontery or courage to ask the shanty-keeper at Ral Ral to give me a meal without paying for it, so I bought the nigger a nip of rum with the 6d and rode out to the Station. There I remained for probably 18 months, when in 1878 Mr Kenneth Budge (who was manager of Gooyea Station in Queensland) died suddenly from heart disease getting out of bed, and my first cousin, J F Cudmore, on whose Station I was working, hurried me off to Queensland, without notice, to go up and take control.
My interest in visiting Olivewood was to see the plaque from the grave of my 3rd great grandmother Margaret Rankin nee Gunn (1819 – 1863). The plaque had been stolen from the grave but was found in 1994 and is now cared for by the National Trust at Olivewood. Margaret’s husband Ewan Rankin was an overseer at Bookmark station – the station no longer exists as it is under present-day Renmark.
There is a link between Olivewood and Paringa as while George Chaffey was siting for Olivewood to be built he stayed at Paringa House, the Cudmore home. There was a painting of the house at Olivewood.
My great grandfather Arthur Murray Cudmore was born 11 June 1870. Later that year there were enormous floods and the old house was destroyed. The present house was built after the flood. The 1870 flood was measured at 11.65 metres (38 feet) at Mildura but was a very slow flood. In September the flood had reached the verandah at Mildura Station.
We paused for afternoon tea at Paringa and drove back.
On the way to Mildura we received news of another lockdown for the whole of the state of Victoria due to the pandemic. We made the decision to return home that evening. We were only cutting our holiday short by one night and the restrictions were that most businesses were to be shut and you could not travel further than five kilometres from home. We did not wish to experience the lockdown in Mildura. So we packed our bags and headed south stopping for dinner in Birchip. We were fortunate to have a holiday between lockdowns.
Greg and I took our first holiday in a year to Mildura to visit some family history places nearby. A combination of illness and various lockdowns due to the Covid pandemic had prevented any travelling away from home overnight in the last twelve months. We decided to take the opportunity of some free time to meet with a cousin and see some of the places we had only read about.
Tuesday 9 February we drove north to Mildura via Warracknabeal. We travelled through the Wimmera region and the scenery matched that captured in the recent film ‘The Dry’ which I had seen only a few weeks ago.
We had a terrific lunch at Warracknabeal at The Creekside Hotel in a very nice beer garden beside the Yarriambiack Creek. The hotel’s staff were very Covid-conscientious with masks, check in, sanitiser, and ordering lunch via an online webpage retrieved by a QR code; we even managed to order a jug of iced water and 3 glasses for the table, free, through this page.
Yarriambiack Creek was fairly full and attractive to look at. There was a park across the creek with some cages of birds and an enclosure of kangaroos.
Our trip north continued with more silos and a stop in Ouyen. Ouyen had been famous for its vanilla slices having hosted a competition from 1998 to 2011 initiated by Jeff Kennett, the then premier of Victoria. Kennett acted as guest judge until 2005. In 2011 volunteers relinquished the competition to another small town. This afternoon the bakery and many other shops were closed and there were no vanilla slices to be bought.
Wednesday 10 February we visited the Australian Inland Botanic Gardens just across the Murray River in New South Wales and also the confluence of the Murray and Darling Rivers at Wentworth. When we visited the confluence last in 2010 you could see the muddy Darling joining the clearer Murray. This time the two rivers were a similar colour.
On Wednesday afternoon we visited Avoca Station and met one of my fourth cousins, AL, and her mother, JA, my third cousin once removed. JA’s grandfather (AL’s great grandfather), George Agars (1864 – 1943) was the son of Margaret Alice Agars nee Cudmore (1842 – 1871) and grandson of Daniel Michael Paul Cudmore (1811 – 1891) and Mary Cudmore nee Nihill (1811 – 1893).
George’s mother Margaret died in 1871 at 29 from an ear infection. George was brought up by his grandparents Daniel and Mary Cudmore. He was educated in Adelaide to become an accountant for his Uncle Dan at Avoca Station. George later became an irrigation pioneer in Mildura when the Chaffey Brothers arrived from Canada. My cousin commented “He did not do that well on the land and should have followed his dream of being a writer and poet.”
The property was established on the west bank of the Darling River in 1871 by Daniel Henry Cashel Cudmore (1844 – 1913), the fifth of nine children of Daniel Michael Paul and Mary Cudmore. Daniel H purchased the western half of Tapio Station on the Darling from Messrs. Menzies and Douglas, and named it Avoca, said to be after his father’s hometown in Ireland; however Daniel Michael Paul Cudmore was born in Tory Hill, Limerick near Adare, 230 km west of Avoca.
Avoca Station had frontages of ten miles (16 km) to the Murray and twenty-five miles (40 km) to the Darling. Other properties in the area were acquired and in 1885 Daniel Henry and two of his brothers, Milo Robert (1852 – 1913) and Arthur Frederick (1854 – 1919), managed 709,000 acres including Avoca and Popiltah Station to the north of Avoca. 120,000 sheep were shorn at Avoca in 1888 with new Wolseley shearing machines. The wool clip was transported by paddle steamer from the woolshed downstream via the Darling River to the Murray River. Daniel Henry retired in 1895 to Victor Harbour. Avoca Station was sold in 1911.
The homestead was built in two stages. In 1871 the first stage was constructed of cypress pine drop logs. Many of the outbuildings are believed to have also been built at this time. In 1879 a second stage stone wing of the homestead was added.
I have previously written about Ernest Osmond Cudmore (1894 – 1924). He was the second of four sons of Milo Robert Cudmore and a cousin of my great grandfather Arthur Murray Cudmore. In 1908 Ernest was holidaying at Avoca when he jumped from a horse as he feared he was about to collide with a portion of the stable. He broke his leg and it was badly shattered; the bone did not set and his leg had to be amputated below the knee.
Sara Kathleen de Lacy Roberts (nee Cudmore) (1883 – 1972), the daughter of Arthur Frederick Cudmore, was another cousin of my great grandfather Arthur Murray Cudmore. In 1971 Kathleen Roberts was interviewed by a granddaughter of Milo Robert Cudmore, Helen Bewsher nee Cudmore (1928 – 2001). Kathleen lived at Avoca as a teenager and young adult from 1895 until her marriage in 1909. She was educated at boarding school in Melbourne and travelled to and from school via train and the paddle steamer, Trafalgar. Her recollections of Avoca, when she was 88 years old in 1971, were as follows:
One cook, one housemaid, one nurse at Popiltah. No Aborigines in the house at Popiltah, one at Avoca. A camp of 30 as stockmen.
The Avoca vegetable garden was on the river. A huge steam engine, between the vegetable and flower gardens, pumped river water to them. In the hot weather this was done at night and made a terrible noise. A Chinaman worked full time on these gardens and would come to the kitchen door every morning to enquire on what vegetables were required that day. All the linen was made at Avoca, the girls spending their time sewing, making visitors’ beds and preserving.
Staff of 10 men at Avoca, jackaroo and overseer.
Bred horses there – had about 100. Every second year, one of the men spent two or three months breaking in – always gently.
reminiscence of Kathleen Roberts nee Cudmore
Ian and Barb Law, the present owners of Avoca, gave us afternoon tea and showed us around the property. It was delightful to meet them and our cousins too.
Fires covered a quarter of what is now Victoria (approximately 5 million hectares). Areas affected include Portland, Plenty Ranges, Westernport, the Wimmera and Dandenong districts. Approximately 12 human lives, one million sheep and thousands of cattle were lost.
In 1851 among our forebears these people were living in Victoria and would have experienced the frightening conditions that day:
Greg’s third great grandparents John Narroway Darby (1823 – ?) and his wife Matilda nee Moggridge (1825 – 1868) had separated and Matilda was living with David Hughes with whom she had a daughter Margaret born 1850 at Ashby, now west Geelong. In 1851 Matilda and her daughters Matilda (1845 – ?), Greg’s great great grandmother, and Margaret were probably living in Ashby. John Darby and their daughter Henrietta may have been living in Portland where John married for a second time in 1855.
Greg’s third great grandparents Thomas Edwards (1794 – 1871) and Mary Edwards nee Gilbart (1805 – 1867), were living near Geelong at the time of the death of their daughter in 1850. They later moved to Bungaree near Ballarat but at the time of the fires they were probably in the Geelong district with their children including their youngest son and Greg’s great great grandfather, Francis Gilbart Edwards (1848 – 1913).
Samuel Proudfoot Hawkins (1819 – 1867) and his wife Jeanie nee Hutcheson (1824 – 1864), my third great grandparents, were living in the Portland district. Their second daughter Penelope was born in July 1851 at Runnymede station near Sandford which had been settled by Jeanie’s brothers. Also at Runnymede was Isabella Hutcheson nee Taylor (1794 – 1876), Jeanie’s mother and my fourth great grandmother.
The fire did not reach Ashby or Geelong but a week later a report wrote about the conditions experienced that day in the Geelong district.
The peculiarity of the phenomena of Thursday, was the extraordinary violence of the hot blast by which the conflagration was kindled. Had the hurricane continued to blow during Thursday night with the same violence as during the day, the conflagration might have approached closer to the suburbs, and we might have been exposed to the fiery projectiles which were swept through the air, and which carried devastation to stations and homesteads that were thought to be secure. The violence of the wind, the intensity, breadth, and volume of the fire, the combustible condition of grass, trees, fences, train, huts, and houses, formed a combination that baffled both calculation and means of resistance; and had the fire reached Ashby, we could not have reckoned on the safety of Geelong.
An account of the bushfire from the Portland perspective:
BUSH FIRES. (From the Portland Guardian.) Yesterday forenoon was a period of extraordinary heat, and we are sorry to say, of calamity also. The heat from 11 o’clock, am, until afternoon was most oppressive ; a hot wind blowing from the N.N.W. in a most furious manner. At this time the thermometer stood for an hour by one glass at 112° while by two others it reached 116° in the sun. The dust in the streets was most suffocating, penetrating the smallest crevices, and filling the houses. In consequence of the excessive heat and bush fires, the last day of the races was postponed, until this day, when they duly came off. About 12 o’clock a bush fire in the vicinity of the town began to rage with the utmost fury. It sprang up near the racecourse, and through the violence of the hot wind, threatened to consume the booths, and to envelope the persons who had assembled there in the flames, before time could be afforded them to escape. By a slight change of wind, however, the racers escaped ; but the resistless element swept away in its course the newly erected cottage of Mr Howard the collector of Customs, leaving time only to hurry away Mrs Howard and the family out of the house, before their residence became a perfect cinder So sudden and rapid was the progress of the flames that the fowls and goats about the premises were all consumed. The fire swept along before the wind, carrying away the fences, and all that stood in its way, for about a mile and a half, when Mr Blair, with the whole body of the constabulary, and others from the racecourse arrived in time to save his own hay-stack and residence. The utmost concern was felt in town at the same time, at the approach of the fire from another quarter. Burnt particles were whirling down the streets and flying over the tops of the houses in profusion. But a constable was not to be seen in town. Those of the inhabitants in their houses were making the best preparations which they could for themselves respectively , water carts and concentrated effort was at a sad discount. Several gentlemen did their utmost to prepare against a highly probable casualty, but the utmost which they could do was to warn others of the danger. Fortunately the wind moderated about two o’clock, and the apprehension passed away.
While this fire was raging in the immediate vicinity of the town, Mount Clay and the farms in that locality were enveloped in one vast blaze. Mr Millard has again been a heavy sufferer in this latter fire, and has now lost the whole of his crops. Messrs Monogue, M’Lachlan and Dick, have partaken with him in his misfortunes. The work of years has been swept away from those industrious families and severe sufferers. Their fences, their crops, and their homes, have been annihilated at a stroke.
Just at the same hour the Bush Tavern, which has stood scathless for many years in the midst of a dense forest, and proved so often a place of shelter to the forlorn traveller from the pitiless storm of winter and the scorching heat of summer, is now a heap of ashes. The fire reached the buildings without warning ; and the few articles which were saved from the wreck ignited afterwards with the excessive heat which the burning houses created. The bridge across the Fitzroy has shared a similar fate with the house; a dray, and it is supposed a horse, have met a similar calamity.
At sea, the weather was even more fearful than on shore. Captain Reynolds reports that yesterday, when 20 miles from the Laurences, the heat was so intense, that every soul on board was struck almost powerless. A sort of whirlwind, on the afternoon, struck the vessel, and carried the topsail, lowered down on the cap, clean out of the bolt rope, and had he not been prepared for the shock, the vessel, he has no doubt, would have been capsized. Flakes of fire were, at the time, flying thick all around the vessel from the shore in the direction of Portland.
I was looking at one of the smaller clusters – cluster 21 on the chart – and the associated notes, when I noticed that there was a small family tree of 22 people attached to one of the matches. Looking at the tree I noticed the Bell surname, which matched what I knew of the rest of the cluster. There was also a match with the Darby surname. Although I did not recognise Henrietta, the Darby surname did seem to fit the tree of the other shared matches where I did know how we are related, namely the trees of my Sullivan cousins.
I contacted Greg’s second cousin LB on Facebook to share the discovery, saying, “I have had a look at the tree [of SK]. She has a Bell marrying a Darby. Her tree has no details but I ran Vic BDM and found two births and the marriage.”
I dithered a little but decided to order the marriage certificate. The image of a Victorian historical certificate costs $20, not cheap, but there’s only so much you can do with just indexes.
It was indeed our family. At Creswick on 4 October 1868 Creswick James Bell, a miner, aged 22, married Henrietta Bell, no occupation, aged 24. Both were living at Creswick. They were married by a Wesleyan minister. The witnesses were Alexander and Agnes Pavina [I am not completely confident I am reading this correctly]. Henrietta said she was born in County Down, Ireland and her parents were John N Darby Compositor and Matilda Mograge.
I didn’t have Henrietta on our tree. If she was 24 in 1868 then she was born in about 1844.
I believe she is the child born in New Zealand, one of the two children of John Darby and his wife recorded on the shipping list of the Sir John Franklin, which left Auckland on 12 April 1845 and reached Hobart after what was described as ‘a tedious voyage of 25 days’. The other child was Matilda, who was baptised in Hobart in November 1845. She was born on 14 March 1845, less than a month before they set sail.
I had previously found no other record for the other child of John and Matilda Darby and had assumed it had died young.
I do not know why Henrieta said she was born in Ireland. Her parents were from Exeter, England and I am reasonably confident (if she recorded her age correctly) that she was born in New Zealand. Otherwise she was born in Australia. I ordered her death certificate which said she was born in Geelong and had lived all her life in Victoria. In 1896 her age was given as 47, which means she was born about 1849.
When John Darby married Catherine Murphy in Portland in 1855 he stated that his wife was dead and that he was the father of two children, one of whom had died. In fact, his wife Matilda was still alive and his second marriage was bigamous. I had assumed the living child was his daughter Matilda and that the unnamed child on the voyage had died. I now think that when John and Matilda Darby separated they kept a child each. Matilda junior stayed with her mother and Henrietta remained with her father, hence her knowledge of his name and occupation when she married. Her sister Matilda did not know her father’s name when she married William Sullivan in 1862.
Henrietta and James Bell had five children before James’s untimely death in 1884:
Annie Jane Bell 1872–1918
Agnes Estella Bell 1875–1961
Catherine Elizabeth Bell 1878–1929
James Henry William Bell 1879–1928
Francis Sinclair Bell 1881–1935
Greg and his cousins share DNA with descendants of Annie and James Henry.
There were several Bell families in Creswick. The family trees I have looked at have different parents and a different death date for James Henry Bell, whose birth was registered as James William Bell. To confirm my suspicion that he was indeed related to Henrietta Darby I ordered his death certificate, and yes, James Henry Bell who in 1904 married Edith Jane Hocking (1884 – 1963) was indeed the son of James Bell and Henrietta nee Darby. I was thus able to resolve several more DNA matches that had puzzled me for some years. James Henry and Edith had seven children. He served in World War I, was wounded and was a prisoner of war.
Yesterday we visited Creswick Cemetery and Long Point. Henrietta and James Bell’s grave is unmarked. Long Point, where they lived, is a pretty area of bushland next to a small settlement just outside Creswick.
There are still unanswered questions about what became of John Narroway Darby and what Henrietta did before her marriage and how she came to be in Creswick.
I am pleased to have learned a little more about the family though. It’s fun to follow through the clues.
In 1852 there was a large rush to a newly-discovered gold field at McIvor Creek, sixty miles north of Melbourne.
The following year, Philip Chauncy (1816 – 1880), my 3rd great grandfather, was appointed surveyor-in-charge of the McIvor district. He laid out the town there, naming it Heathcote. The origin of the name is unclear. The town may have been named after named after Sir William Heathcote, a British member of Parliament 1854-68, or after the prolific wild heath in the area.
The Victorian government provided Philip Chauncy with funds to erect a stone house in the main street. This served as both the Survey Office and his residence. The Chauncys – Philip and his wife Susan (1828 – 1867) and their children- lived there for six and a half years.
Philip Chauncy 1878, image attached to my ancestry.com family tree
After 167 years the Survey office and Chauncy residence is still standing. We visited it yesterday. The last time we saw it, in 2007, it was overgrown and falling down. Now the main structure is being renovated and an extension added. A wooden two-storey 1897 add-on at the front has been demolished.
Heathcote Government Surveyor’s Office 2007 from Chauncey Street
Heathcote Government Surveyor’s Office in 2007 – this building was added in the 1890s and had been demolished by 2020
Heathcote Government Surveyor’s Office March 2020
Heathcote Government Surveyor’s Office from High Street in 2020 – the two storey wooden building built in te 1890s has been demolished
Heathcote Government Surveyor’s Office from the corner of High Street and Chauncey Street. There is a new fence around the property since 2007.
Chauncy’s oldest child Philip died less than week after the family moved into their new stone house. He was 3 years and 2 months. The death was put down to ‘croup’.
Philip was the first interment at the Heathcote cemetery. As District Surveyor Chauncey had selected the site, and as a trustee held helped to lay laid out the fencing, divisions, and walks.
drawing by Philip Chauncy of his son’s grave
to the memory of PHILIP LAMOTHE CHAUNCY the eldest and beloved Son of PH. L. S. & S. A. CHAUNCY Obit. 19th May 1854 aged 3 years & 2 mos. He died for Adam’s sin He lives for Jesus died
In a memoir of his wife and his sister, Philip wrote that while they lived in Heathcote Susan visited the child’s grave every Sunday. On a drawing of it, she wrote, “The last earthly dwelling place of my much-loved child, and the grave of my chief earthly joys.”
Philip and Susan had nine children. The other eight all survived childhood. Three of the children were born at Heathcote, including my great great grandmother Annie Frances Chauncy (1857 – 1883).
Chauncy, Philip Lamothe Snell Memoirs of Mrs. Poole and Mrs. Chauncy. Lowden Publishing Co, Kilmore, 1976.
My third great grandmother Charlotte Frances Champion Crespigny née Dana, lived from 1820 to 1904, a period of great change in the political status of women.
Charlotte Frances Champion Crespigny née Dana (1820 – 1904) photograph probably taken in the late 1850s
In 1902, when she was 82 years old, the Commonwealth Franchise Act 1902 granted Australian women the right to vote and the right to stand for election to the Commonwealth Parliament.
When the list of voters was compiled, Charlotte was recorded on the Electoral Roll for the polling place of Beaufort, Division of Grampians, State of Victoria, as Charlotte Champion, living at Eurambeen, occupation home duties. (Eurambeen was about 11 kilometers west of Beaufort.) Also on the Roll were her daughters Viola Julia Champion and Helen Rosalie Beggs née Champion Crespigny, both also living at Eurambeen with the occupation of home duties.
The Commonwealth of Australia 1903 Electoral Roll for the polling place of Beaufort, Division of Grampians, State of Victoria, pages 2 and 3 showing the surnames of Beggs and Champion. Image retrieved from ancestry.com
Oddly, it appears that Charlotte and Viola were recorded twice. There are entries on page 4 of the roll for Crespigny Frances and Crespigny Constantia, also both of Eurambeen; Frances was Charlotte’s middle name and Constantia was Viola’s third given name. When names were collected for the roll the surname Champion Crespigny went over two lines and so did their given names. There was not enough space on the form: the result was two Roll entries each.
The Commonwealth of Australia 1903 Electoral Roll for the polling place of Beaufort, Division of Grampians, State of Victoria, pages 4 and 5 showing the surname Crespigny. Image retrieved from ancestry.com
On the 1909 roll Viola’s surname was changed to Crespigny, with her full name recorded as Crespigny, Viola Julia Con. C. At that time she living at St Marnocks with her sister and brother-in-law.
A Victorian state election was held in October 1902 but for this women were as yet not enfranchised. The next year, however, there was a Federal election on 16 December and Charlotte and her daughters were eligible to vote.
The Federal Division of Grampians was retained by the sitting member Thomas Skene (1845 – 1910) of the Free Trade Party, an anti-socialist party which advocated the abolition of tariffs and other restrictions on international trade.
Charlotte and her daughters, from a prosperous family of graziers, probably supported Skene, a pastoralist. Voting was not compulsory, however, and though she was entitled to vote, Charlotte was unwell and probably unable to travel to the polling station at Beaufort to cast her vote.
There was provision for postal voting but it was very complicated, with specific witnesses required.
All in all, the story of my great grandmother’s enfranchisement is not especially remarkable. She was not a fire-breathing suffragist, but an ordinary person who, late in life, accepted a new political privilege with no great fuss.
Australia, Electoral Rolls, 1903 retrieved through ancestry.com first published by the Australian Electoral Commission