ADHS Newsletter No. 219 August/September 2004

Items of interest -

Don’t forget to order your 2005 ADHS Calendar! See order form on page 5.

Report on the August Meeting: The topic was "150 years of railways in Victoria" and we were fortunate to have obtained, through the efforts of our stalwart member Mrs. Mary Dridan of Amphitheatre, two speakers on the subject, who complemented each other very well. Steve Norgate from Ballarat is a Committee Member of the Seymour Railway Heritage Centre, which was established in 1983 as the Seymour Loco Steam Preservation Group to restore and operate steam locomotive J 515, which was transferred from Newport to Seymour in an unserviceable condition. Since completing that project they have restored many diesel-electric locomotives, a diesel-electric rail motor, and many carriages which they now use to operate charter services throughout Victoria. Steve distributed some very interesting written material on the history of the various lines, including Maryborough-Avoca. He was followed by Allan Butt from the Ararat Railway Heritage Association, who was the last Train Controller at Ararat when made redundant in 1988, after working for the Victorian Railways since 1952. Allan’s grandfather, who died in 1907, had been head teacher at the Avoca School. He related some interesting and humourous stories of happenings and mishaps on the Maryborough to Ararat line, and donated to the Society several back-issues of the Victorian Railways Newsletter which featured stories about Avoca. A number of members and visitors displayed artifacts and memorabilia from their private collections which were inspected closely by everybody present. These included Margaret & Harry Oulton, John Egan and Lesley Bennett. We also featured some display boards which had been constructed by the late Ivan Redpath, who had been the last Station Master at Avoca, and which he had displayed at the station. These were kindly loaned to the Society by Ivan’s family, together with his caps bearing badges of Station Master and Assistant Station Master. The subject matter of this meeting had been widely advertised in both local newspapers, which resulted in an attendance of approximately forty people, and "gold coin" admission was charged to non-members, as well as a raffle being conducted.

Donations- The Society is most appreciative of the following generous donations to our funds for the restoration of the Court House - R. Denholm, K Chapman, R. & Y. Beaumont, R. Bowen, C. Fitzgerald, B.Reeves, H. Ellett, F. Glover, Lower Homebush School Assoc., Mr & Mrs M. Church, M. Brown, R. Carless, N.Edwards, A.Smith, L.Wilson, K.Grumont, M.Gray, G.& A. Young, N.David, F.Anderson, L.Huddle, N.Eastman, S.Savage, Mr & Mrs G. Christie, Mr & Mrs D. Birchall, L. Leyden, N. Rowland, A. Hall, L. Finger, Mrs. J. Wordly, Mrs L. Miller, Mr R. Bundy, Mrs J. Adams, Mrs J. Canning, Mrs P Boyd, Mrs N. Andrews, Mr P. Waring, Miss M. Hunter, Miss L. Bennett Mrs B. Sterck, Mrs E. Roberts, E. Chandler, Mrs J. McGee, Miss C. Rohde Mrs J. Austerberry, Mr & Mrs R. De Fegely, Mr T. Collins, Mrs L. Griffiths

Waanyarra Reunion to be held 20 March 2005. There is a new email address for the Convenor George Swinburne <> phone(613) 9817 6276

President’s Report Monthly Committee Meetings continue to be held in the Board Room of the Avoca Community Bank (a corner of the President’s shed!!). Recent decisions include publication of a book entitled "Postcards from Avoca" and an ADHS 2005 Calendar using images from the book. The book’s author, Margaret Wills of Lake Bolac, attended part of a recent Committee Meeting to finalise the arrangements. For further details see the item on another page about our October Meeting, at which the book will be launched with the Author in attendance. There is an Order Form on page 5 to enable you to purchase copies of the book and the calendar. There is a special price on the book for orders placed before 17th October, 2004.

The Society has obtained the right to use any of the approximately 140 images on other projects which are under consideration, including a range of postcards which will be marketed to tourists through the Avoca Visitor Information Centre as well as the Court House, etc. We are delighted with the improvement in quality, presentation and content of the "Pyrenees Advocate" newspaper under the new management, and are happy to supply stories and photographs which they regularly publish under the heading "Pyrenees History re-lived". The "Avoca Pages" in the "Maryborough District Advertiser" are also regularly using stories provided by our Society and publicising our activities. We have booked space for a display at the CHHA Fair in Ballarat on October 2-3, 2004. We have obtained a permit to sell our ADHS 2005 Calendars outside the Avoca Polling Booth on Election Day. As the Court House renovations seem to have no completion date yet in sight, we decided to re-open the Helen Harris Room at the rear of the Court House for limited research each Sunday from 22nd August. Dorothy Robinson has made herself available on most Sundays, with Tony & Elizabeth O’Shea taking over for one day, and Jan Burnett & Jill Hunter on another.

Our Day in Maryborough In lieu of our September meeting we attended the Family and Local History Fair conducted by the Maryborough Family History Group Inc. The Society had a display area comprising a table loaded with a representative selection of our holdings etc., and a display board featuring information about our new book and calendar. We had the calendars on display and sold about fifteen, having had a special delivery from the printer that morning. Our stand was staffed by our President, Treasurer and Editor. A number of Avoca members were in attendance, eagerly examining the displays by the various Societies and

commercial exhibitors and spending money. After lunch many of them, including Lorna & Jack Purser, Sue Slater and her Mother, Mrs Hicks, Gwen Noonan, Dorothy Robinson and Elizabeth O’Shea moved across to another venue where talks by Lady Teviot were presented, as we mentioned in Edition 218.

The first topic was "Medical Conditions of the 19th Century" and included the following:

The most common illnesses people in England died from were: Cholera, Smallpox, Consumption, Fevers of various kinds, and paralysis. Even up to the 1950’s they were still getting epidemics of cholera until they finally realized that the source of their drinking water had to be clean. A great number of women died in childbirth The King’s Evil was also mentioned as being a skin rash, which they thought could be cured by the King laying his hand upon the sufferer. The King’s Evil was Scofula, a tuberculous infection of the neck glands.

Lady Teviot explained to us that registration did not start in England and Wales until July 1837, and in fact was not compulsory until 1874, so this explains why now and then we cannot find that elusive birth or death. Even deaths did not have to be registered until 1874, nor did they have to be certified by a Dr. either. Anyone could say what the person died from. After 1874 if a Dr was present at the death then he had to state what they died of, but it was not compulsory for him to attend & certify the cause of death until 1926.

When it says on the certificate "present at death", it means exactly that; but if it says "in attendance" then it means in attendance at the registrar’s office.

The second talk was "Work Houses and Baby Farming in the 18th & 19th Centuries". Baby Farming was the description given to a common practice which resulted from the refusal of most orphanages to accomodate illegitimate infants. Mothers of such infants found difficulty in obtaining employment and were solicited by unscrupulous "baby farmers", usually women, who would seek as many sickly infants as possible, preferably aged less than two months, because their deaths would appear to be less suspicious. They commonly charged fifteen shillings per week for accomodation, or twelve pounds for adoption. The poor care given to such infants caused high mortality rates. Workhouses were established under the "Poor Laws" to provide relief for paupers, who would be assisted only if they were prepared to enter the Workhouse where "conditions were to be lower than those for the poorest paid labourer"; and "should be a place of hardship, of coarse fare, of degradation and humility...." The "coarse fare" consisted largely of porridge or gruel for breakfast, and for dinner soup and pudding made from flour, suet and water with no salt or other flavouring. The Workhouse "was to be a large, grim building built to look like a prison", and inmates who complained had to go without meals.

Next Meeting 17 October Book Launch The main business of our October meeting, to be held at the Avoca Senior Citizens Club Rooms, 186 High Street, will be the launch of a new book published by the Society called "Postcards from Avoca" compiled by Margaret Wills. Our Guest Speaker, who will officially launch the book and the 2005 ADHS Calendar which features 13 of the images of early Avoca streetscapes etc., will be Joan Hunt, who chaired the formation meeting of the Society twenty years ago. Joan is currently President of the Ballarat & District Genealogical Society, Convenor of the History Victoria Support Group (RHSV), and Vice President of the Royal Historical Society of Victoria. The meeting will commence at 2.00pm, and will conclude with afternoon tea. Non-members will be most welcome upon payment of a "gold-coin" admission charge. An "order form" can be downloaded from the ADHS Website. The book and the calendar would make ideal gifts for Christmas or other occasions. Order NOW to avoid disappointment.

November Meeting: Sunday 21 November 2004 at the Senior Citizens’ Hall 186 High Street Avoca. There will be a raffle at $1 a ticket for a Christmas Hamper and Cake; and we suggest the exchange of a small gift, $3 maximum value, marked Lady or Gent. Please bring a plate of Christmas fare to share. This will be, as usual, our final meeting for the year, which doubles as our "Christmas Breakup", after which we go into recess until February. This year there will, however, be no recess for the Committee, whose members will be busy planning and carrying out the move of much of the Society’s holdings back into the Court House from the Helen Harris Room and various other places of temporary storage. This will be a slow process, as we will be compiling an inventory in a computer database, cataloguing each item as we move it, together with the precise location of its new display or storage facility.

Garage Sale Consideration is being given to delaying this annual event until March or April, in the hope that we may avoid the extreme heat which marred the 2004 Garage Sale, and also to give us more time to get re-organised after the renovations. Further news on this matter will appear in the November-December edition.

General Register Office(England & Wales): You can now order your certificates on line. It is easy to use, cheaper and they come much quicker. Your Editor has used the service and has received them within 2 weeks; sometimes in 4 days. The new website is

Welcome to new members Mrs Bev Bailey and Miss Lis Bailey of Holder ACT who are researching LeTissler, Lawrence and McIllwrick or McIlwrick; Mrs Joan Oxley of Vermont South VIC whose interests are Harbour, Yates and Mathews; Mrs Maree Green of Knoxfield VIC researching family and local history; Mrs. Marg. Zeuschner of Avoca, VIC, researching Lillicur and Lamplough; Mr. John A. Chapman of Avoca, VIC.

Electronic Newsletters We are pleased to report that more members are electing to receive their newsletter as a .pdf attachment to an email. This is of considerable benefit to the Society in containing costs, as the postage is an even greater expense than the printing. Most computers have the Adobe or Acrobat Reader program which is needed to open a .pdf document, and if not, it is a free download from the internet.

Acquisitions The Society has recently received a large number of bound volumes of early Avoca Newspapers; mainly "Avoca Mail" and some "Avoca Free Press" covering around fifty years from late 19th century to early 20th century. These newspapers formerly belonged to the Shire of Avoca, and had been stored in a strongroom situated in that part of the building now used by the Baptist Church. Most of the volumes contain complete years, and are generally in fair to good condition, with some silverfish damage. Also "Victorian Mining Accident Index on CD" with over 7,500 names of those killed or injured in mining accidents in Victoria. Also "Victorian Railways Newsletter April 1968" featuring a story on the Avoca Railway Station, donated by Lorna Purser.

Extracts from Avoca Mail 29 January and 5 February 1904

An Avoca Citizen Speaks for the Benefit of His Fellow Citizens:

Mr. Geo. Sparks Jun., Rutherford Creek, Avoca says: ’I am a woodcutter and my work plays up with my back and I get severe pains about the kidneys in consequence. It is very hard cutting wood when the back is sore, and when I saw Doan’s Backache Kidney Pills advertised, I obtained a box at Lalor’s Pharmacy. I am glad to tell you that they proved alright. I used them with very good results. I felt better after a few doses, and I can recommend these pills to all who have sore backs.’

If It Were Not For Avoca Endorsement People Might Be Sceptical:

Mr. W.H. Tregonning, sexton and caretaker, Avoca cemetery says: ‘For the past ten or twelve years I have had trouble with the secretions and pains in the small of the back. I have had a lot of treatment for these troubles, but it was only within the last couple of years that I had any success. I did not have proper control over my secretions and they scalded. This was the most disagreeable feature of my malady, although the pain in the back was very bad. When I got up in the morning I could not stand straight, but would be bent for some time. I got Doan’s Backache Kidney Pills at Lalor’s Pharmacy about two years ago, and these pills did me a wonderful amount of good. I’ve used them occasionally since then. I would have got a cure out of this remedy only the pills gave me such relief that I forgot to take them. They are great pills for kidney trouble.’

Doan’s Backache Kidney Pills are sold by all chemists and storekeepers at 2s9d per box (six boxes 15s3d) or will be posted on receipt of price by Foster McClellen Co., 76 Pitt St., Sydney, N.S.W. But be sure they are Doan’s! (Item contributed by Helen Harris).





    No. of copies required of book@ $25 each:............Total $.....................

    No. of copies required of calendar @ $10 each.........Total $.................

    Please include $5.50 for packing and postage if required.

    Amount enclosed: $.................

    Send to: The Treasurer,

  • Avoca & District Historical Society Inc.,
  • 27 Orme St Avoca VIC 3467.

  • This price is applicable only until 17th October, 2004. Books purchased after that date will cost $30.00 plus p&p if applicable. Price of the calendar is $10.00; send your order NOW as they are selling like hot cakes!!