Newsletter of the Avoca and District Historical Society Inc.

Incorporation No. A5883

President: Mr. Stuart Smith, RMB 4212, Elmhurst, Vic. 3469

Correspondence Secy. : Mrs. Jill Hunter, "Stronvar", RMB 4342, St. Arnaud, Vic. 3478

Minute Secretary : Mrs. Edna Jarvis, 123 Inkerman Street, Maryborough, Vic. 3465

Treasurer : Mrs. Dorothy Robinson, 27 Orme Street, Avoca, Vic. 3467

Research Officer : Mrs. Jan Burnett, 92 Barnett Street, Avoca, Vic. 3467

Newsletter Editor : Mrs. Lorna Purser, 250 Burwood Hway., Burwood, Vic. 3125

Note - All correspondence should be addressed to the Correspondence Secretary.

Web-site -

Newsletter No. 207 OCTOBER, 2002

October Meeting - After being away from "home" on our last two meeting days, we gathered at the Court House for our October meeting and working bee on Sunday, the 20th. Thanks to the efforts of some keen gardeners, the grounds are now looking very neat and tidy. The painting of the decking was postponed but we thank those who came prepared with their overalls and paint brushes and trust you will be available on the appointed day to lend a hand. We welcomed Kevin and Julie Chiller, from Linton, to the meeting, also Stuart’s friend, Adrian, and thank them for their interest and assistance. Our thanks, too, to Murray Little, who again set up his computer equipment for the scanning of photos of interest from the general public, who unfortunately did not respond to this "photo call" day.

Next Meeting - Our last meeting for the year will be held at the Court House on Sunday, 17th November, at 1.30 p.m., when the general meeting will be followed by an end-of-year break-up and Christmas-style afternoon tea. To add to the festive spirit, we will exchange small gifts, to cost no more than $3.

Closure of Court House Over Holiday Period - Our Local History Resource Centre at the Court House will close for the holiday period on Sunday, 22nd December, and will re-open in 2003 on Sunday, 2nd February. As always during this period, the Court House can be opened to researchers by request by ringing our Research Officer, Jan Burnett, on 5465 3265.

Garage Sale, Saturday, 15th February - The Society’s activities for 2003 will commence with the annual Garage Sale on Saturday, 15th February. Members and friends are urged to start tidying the cupboards and the shed and to pass on to us their unwanted bits and pieces, which can be left at the Court House. Please remember that any electrical goods must be in working order.

The first meeting for 2003 will follow the Garage Sale, commencing at 2 p.m.

Annual CHHA Local History Expo - We thank Colleen Allan for representing the Society at the CHHA Local History Expo at Ballarat on 5th and 6th October, and congratulate Dorothy Robinson on winning the raffle.

Proposed Visit to Werribee Park - A visit to Werribee Park is planned for Sunday, 16th March, 2003, to see the mansion and the rose garden. To proceed with plans for a bus for this outing, we are keen to know who would be interested in going from Avoca. The cost would be $10 for admission to the mansion plus approximately $10 each for the bus. If you are interested but cannot attend our November get-together, please let one of the executive know by next meeting day.

April Meeting Day - As our April meeting day falls on Easter Sunday next year, it has been decided to meet on the following Sunday, the 27th April.



A reunion will be held on the weekend of 24th-25th November, 2002, at the Lower Homebush School of the descendants of Johannes ROHDE and Maryanne PEDRO, of Vales Reef, and any of the eleven or so families who lived at Vales Reef from 1860 onwards. Vales Reef was a small village of mostly German families in the Homebush area and photos of Vales Reef would be most appreciated.

This reunion also concerns descendants of the following families :-

John NICHOLLS and Augusta Susan WALSH/PUGH, of Lower Homebush, including the

KERR, GILLIES, and BARRY families;

Bridget PARTRIDGE/PEDRO/PASSAW (Granny Posso) and August PASSAW, of Homebush,


Charles Edward WALSH/PUGH and Eliza DINIGHAN, of St. Arnaud.

The organiser, Rhonda Denholm, plans to produce a book and website on which to record oral and photographic history and is seeking old photographs, newspaper cuttings, certificates and other memorabilia which could be copied or displayed. A computer scanner will be available so that items can be copied on the day and returned immediately to their owner, and all sources will be acknowledged.

For further information, contact Mrs. Rhonda Denholm on phone (02) 6922 5438 or fax her on

02-69223091, or email

Correction - Member Phil WARING advises that his interests were incorrectly listed in our August newsletter. They should read – Pubs of the Pyrenees and the family names of HODGETTS and GLOVER. We apologise for this error.

Tour of Havelock Forest - On Monday, 18th November, the Dunolly Historical Society is having a day in the Havelock Forest, which is about 8 kms., north of Maryborough, with John Tully as the tour guide. Those interested in attending should meet outside the Dunolly Gold Fields Museum and be ready to depart by 11 a.m. and bring a picnic lunch with them.

For those coming from Maryborough, it is suggested that they wait for the folk from Dunolly on the Bendigo Road, near the railway crossing, which is about 1 km. north of the old Berger home at Havelock.

Members’ Interests Directory - Our last Members’ Interests Directory was compiled in 1997. It is planned to up-date this in the New Year and a form to be completed by members will probably be included in your January newsletter.

Your Last Newsletter for 2002 - As we have no activities in December and January, it has been agreed that this October newsletter will be the last one for this year. Look for your next newsletter in your mail box about the end of January, early February, 2003.

We send hearty greetings for Christmas and the New Year

to all our members, near and far.

The gift of love, the gift of peace, the gift of happiness,

May these be yours at Christmas.


New Book - The Diaries of John Reid: Victorian Schoolmaster 1853-1856 have been transcribed by the Newcastle Family History Society Inc. John Reid was born in Scotland on 12th June, 1835, the eldest child of Rev. John Reid and Marion (nee Crybbace), their family consisting of five sons and two daughters. In 1852, the family came to Australia where the Rev. Reid preached at Moonee Ponds for four years before going to Sydney, where he became a colleague of the Rev. John Dunmore Lang.

John Reid, whose six diaries and notebooks are the subject of this transcription, established a school at Essendon, where he was master. With an active mind, he has recorded several events of the times, such as witnessing both the arrival and the funeral of the Governor, Sir Charles Hotham, and hearing Caroline Chisholm’s address in Melbourne.

The transcriptions also index the many people he knew and visited and record his pupils by name and subject performance. These included three of his own siblings, Marian Jane (Mrs. James Ewan of Sydney), Mary Eliza (Mrs. D. York Syme, whose husband was the proprietor of The Melbourne Age), and George Houston Reid, who later became Premier of New South Wales, Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of Australia, High Commissioner in London, and took a seat in the British House of Commons.

John Reid, although intending to enter the Church after giving up teaching, eventually settled in Newcastle, where he established the shipping firm of John Reid and Co.

The book is A4 format, consists of 134 pages and is plastic comb-bound. It costs $30, plus $5 p&p, and is available from The Newcastle Family History Society Inc. (to which cheques should be made payable), P.O. Box 189, Adamstown, NSW 2289.

A Peep Into The Past - Appalling Mining Accident at Lower Homebush – Tremendous Fall of Drift – One Man Buried – Miraculous Escape of Three Others – The Body Of The Victim Recovered (As reported in "The Avoca Mail" on 8th May, 1883)

"The township of Lower Homebush was on Saturday morning last thrown into great excitement when it became known that an appalling mining accident had happened during the night at the No. 2 Working Miners’ United claim. The news reached Avoca early in the morning, and created no small amount of consternation, owing to the fact that as usual the blackest side of the affair was drawn. We were led to believe that four men suffocated, but we are happy to say that such is not the case. In the afternoon our reporter proceeded to Homebush, where he obtained the following particulars:- The men on night shift went to work at the appointed hour on Friday evening, when no signs of a fall of earth were discernible. Four of the men, named William Hill, Samuel Waters, Henry Calaby, and Neil Lawson, immediately they got below commenced operations at the blocking strip that is eight feet from a crosscut, and a distance of over 200 feet from the No. 5 rise, which is known as the upper or washdirt level, then there is a quantity of sand and water, that has to be always watched. The boss of the shift paid the drive in which the catastrophe took place a visit about one o’clock in the morning, when he found all hands at work, and there did not appear to be any cause for fear, and subsequent to giving orders, he proceeded on his night’s inspection. About two hours afterwards, he heard constant knocking on air pipes, which is known to intimate that something wrong has taken place. Observing from whence the alarm came, he with all haste proceeded to the drive where the four men were employed. He had not gone far into the drive before he could tell that there had been a fall of earth, for light sprinklings of sand and water were still falling. He had not gone much further when he met Waters and Lawson, who informed him of what had taken place. They also said that Calaby had been overtaken by the fall, and was fast getting completely buried, and that there could be no hope for the fourth man, Hill, as he was not seen after the drift had come down. Measures were at once adopted to extricate Calaby, and within a very short space of time, several of the men set to work with that object in view. After about three hours incessant toil they managed to dig Calaby out. But upon numerous occasions he had to keep moving his head, and had to resort to the use of his hands to push away the sand which reached his mouth. Had he lost presence of mind, he undoubtedly would have shared the fate that befell his comrade, William Hill. Calaby, when overtaken by the fall, seized hold of some of the timbering of the drive, and by this means he managed to keep his head above ‘sand level’. When rescued, he did not appear to be much injured, although he was greatly prostrated, and was suffering from a severe shock to the nervous system. At the time of the accident, Hill, it is asserted, was engaged putting in timber at the opening of the blocking strip, which was being done to stop the inroad into the mine, and he was placing the last slab when down came the drift in large quantities.

Hill did not attempt to leave the scene of the accident, but when last spoken to by his mates, he appeared to be fighting against the sand, and trying to put the slab into its position. He was requested by the other three men to move out from where he was, but they did not hear him make a reply. Lawson and Waters made good their escape by way of the No. 4 rise. After rescuing Calaby, they commenced to work to endeavour to reach the spot where Hill was last seen, but not the faintest hope was entertained of finding him alive. All the available men were put to work, and shifts of nine men have ever since been working in the drive, but the unfortunate man’s body was not come upon until midnight last night. Thus an idea of the quantity of the drift that fell may be conjectured, when it takes two days and three nights to clear the drive. The men worked most assiduously, notwithstanding the fact that they knew they would never see Hill alive again. In the absence of Inspector Nicholas, Inspector Stewart went to Homebush in the afternoon, and at about six o’clock he descended the shaft with the object of making a thorough inspection, and he has given it as his opinion that he has never seen a better or more thickly timbered mine.

The manager, Mr. J. Williams, who, for some time past, has been seriously indisposed, was at Ballarat when the unfortunate affair took place, but immediately the news reached him, he started for Homebush, although he was very unwell, and confined to his room at Ballarat.

William Hill, the victim, is said to be an experienced and practical miner, and well known throughout the whole of the district. He was much liked by his fellow workmen, and the accident which has happened to him has cast quite a gloom over all of them. He was leader of the Homebush

band, and was always foremost in anything which would tend to benefit the township. He leaves a wife and child, a boy about eight years of age, to mourn their loss. Only recently he was induced to become a member of the Australian Miners’ Association, thus his wife will get something like a sum of £80.

A magisterial inquiry will be held as soon as possible."

On 11th May, 1883, the following report of William Hill’s funeral was published :-

"The funeral of William Hill, the victim of the Working Miners’ United claim accident, took place on Wednesday last, when there was a very large attendance of mourners. The cortege was a long one, comprising about 40 vehicles and a number of horsemen. The funeral procession was headed by the Homebush brass band, of which the deceased was bandmaster, and just as the solemn gathering was entering Avoca, the band played The Dead March in Saul. The Homebush and Avoca Miners’ Association, of which Hill was a member, was well represented. The men employed at the mine obtained permission to absent themselves from work so that they might be enabled to pay their last tribute of respect to their late fellow-workmate. A number of the directors of the company was also present. Upon arriving at the Avoca cemetery the body of the deceased was carried to the grave by Messrs. John Kennedy, president of the Avoca and Homebush branch of the Miners’ Association, E. Waters, E. Tregoning, C. Burt, John Searle and J. Waters. The Rev. D. Lindsay, Wesleyan minister, who conducted the service at the grave, delivered a very impressive address. Much sympathy was shown for the widow."


* * * * * *

FEDERATION : We continue the listing of names shown on the Electoral Roll in the wider

Avoca area who voted at the Victorian Federal Election in 1899 :-

T A L B O T (contd.)

LUFF Alfred Grocer POLLOCK Ezekiel Butcher

LUFF Charles C. Storeman POLLOCK Hugh Miner

LUFF Walter H. Gentleman POLLOCK Robert S.C. Butcher

LUNDBERG Andrew A. Gardener PRICE William H. Miner

LYLE Andrew Gentleman PRITCHARD John Gardener

McCLEARY Josiah Labourer PROUD George Miner

McDERMOTT Dugald Miner QUINLAN John Ganger

McINTYRE Patrick Labourer QUINLAN Martin Gentleman

McKENZIE Adam K. Blacksmith RAIL Richard Teacher

McKENZIE William Engineer RAMSAY Samuel W. Plumber

McKENZIE William Jnr. Engineer RATHJENS Adolph Carpenter

McKINSTRY James Jnr. Miner REED James Blacksmith

MACKIN Christopher Miner ROBILLIARD Daniel Hawker

MACKIN William Miner ROBINSON George Grocer

MANFIELD William Constable ROBINSON Henry Legal Manager

MANTELL Henry J. Miner ROFFEY Alfred E. Accountant

MARCH Joseph Miner ROOKE James Bootcloser

MAUGER George E. Chemist ROOKE John Cab Owner

MEANEY James Ganger ROOKE Thomas J. Labourer

MEARS Charles Labourer ROPER Alfred H. Teacher

MEYERS Harry Tobacconist ROSS George Miner

MILNE Alexander Line Repairer ROSS Thomas Miner

MITCHELL George Bootmaker SAMUELS Otto Grazier

MITCHELL William Bootmaker (Lone Tree)

MONK Alexander Farmer SCHMIDT William Miner

MOORE James Miner SCHOTTLER Henry Watchmaker

(Kangaroo Flat) SCHOTTLER Philip Cabinetmaker


(Kangaroo Flat) SCHWENNESSEN Hans H. Tailor

MULLINS William Blacksmith SCHWENNESSEN Leslie R. Tailor

MUNRO James Miner SCUCE Robert Surfaceman

(Daisy Hill) SEBIRE Amos Miner

MURPHY Thomas Blacksmith (Rocky Flat)

NEVE William Farmer SHACKLES Edward Miner

NICOL John Minister SHACKLETON Thomas Carpenter

NUGENT Anthony J.B. Bank Manager (Ballarat St.)

O’CONNELL Thomas Miner SHORT William Gentleman

OLIVER William Miner SHUTTLEWORTH Joseph R. Sexton

PHELAN Bertram L.C. Ironmonger SIMPSON James Labourer

PHELAN Daniel R. Merchant SPENCE George H. Publican

PHILLIPI Frank Baker SPRINGFIELD George Assistant

PHILLIPS Henry Shearer STEIN Alexander Tentmaker

PHILLIPS John Shearer SWAIN Thomas Fellmonger

WINDMARCH Andrew Farmer


LYNCH Peter Snr. Farmer REECE Thomas Farmer

PAYNE James Farmer SMITH Thomas Jnr. Farmer

PAYNE William L. Farmer SMITH Thomas Snr. Farmer

(To be continued)