ADHS Newsletter No. 220 October/November/December 2004
Items of interest:-
There are still a few 2005 ADHS Calendars available despite many members and others having purchased them in quantity for use as gifts. Good value at $10 each plus $2 postage. Order NOW from The Treasurer.
Next Meeting Sunday 20th February 2005 at 1.30pm. We are having this meeting in the Court House, finished or not. The front doors cannot be opened as we are still awaiting the arrival of a stonemason, so for safety reasons we have the witness box blocking it to prevent it being used.
Between now and February please give some thought to the Societys Calendar of Events for the year. What excursions would YOU like us to arrange? What topics would YOU like to have explored by a Guest Speaker? Do YOU have contacts which may assist us with making the necessary arrangements? The Committee does not pretend to be the fountain of all wisdom. Please come to the February meeting armed with suggestions.
Annual Garage Sale Saturday 19 March 2005 This event normally takes place in February, but the Committee has decided that a repeat performance of last years extreme weather conditions would not be a good idea, so it has been planned for March, when we hope the weather may be a little cooler, & also that the Court House might be finished by then. Goods can be left at The Court House on a Sunday between 10-30 am & 4-00pm or by ringing Tony OShea on 5465 3744 to arrange for the Court House to be opened at a convenient time. A short meeting will follow the Garage Sale.
Bendigo Family History Expo Sunday 20 March 2005 10am - 4pm Kangaroo Flat Leisure Centre Browning St. (Off Calder Hwy Kangaroo Flat) Some of our members will be staffing a table on the day.
October Meeting & "Postcards from Avoca" Book Launch
This was held at the Avoca Senior Citizens Clubrooms on Sunday, 17th October, 2004, and was attended by a large number of members, plus many relatives and friends of the Powers and Wills families, some of whom had travelled long distances. We heard briefly from Margaret Wills, who explained how the postcards were found by her family in Lake Bolac, and she recognised the potential to make them into a book. John Powers from Adelaide spoke about the family history, and was followed by Lynne Powers who filled us in with the current-day involvement of the Powers family in Avoca. Joan Hunt, Convenor of the "History Victoria Support Group" within the Royal Historical Society of Victoria, then delivered the following oration for the "Official Launch" of the book and calendar. Joan kindly supplied us with the electronic version of her speech notes, which makes life much easier for the Editor!
"Members and friends of Avoca Historical Society, ladies and gentlemen. It is great to see so many historical society members and their friends and supporters here today for the launch of "Postcards from Avoca" with its many images of early Avoca; and the 2005 Calendar with its 13 images of early Avoca streetscapes. We all know of the wonderful postcard collections in our major collections such as, to name but a couple, the State Library and the Gold Museum. And it would be difficult to find a home today which does not have postcards with scribbled messages on the back tucked away forgotten in some drawer.
Postcards have played an important part in our recorded history and continue to do so. Postcard collectors, I believe, make up the third largest collectable hobbyists in the world, surpassed only by coin and stamp collecting. I must add here, however, that I also believe that family history
research is now the most popular hobby in the world - a sort of collectable hobby, I suppose, as family historians are constantly adding to their collection of family members. Postcards are still, as they were in the past, the most popular form of souvenir for travellers, as well as a cheap and quick means of communication. I am not sure, however, that all those messages proclaiming "Wish you were here" were strictly truthful.
It is claimed that any subject imaginable has been, at some time, portrayed on a postcard. Consequently, they are great historical and social evidence and therefore a very important aspect of community or local history. The concept of postcards seems to have developed from envelopes printed with pictures on them, dating from the 1840s. But postcards as such started appearing in the 1870s. They reached their greatest popularity, though, at the turn of the century and in the years before the First World War when divided backs were provided to allow a message to be written to one side of the full name and address of the would-be recipient. During the First World War an incredible range of postcards were developed with all sorts of gimmicks, materials, colours and decorations, often embossed or with novelty additions such as glitter, ribbons, silk and feathers. This was the "Golden Age" of postcards when millions were sold and used. The range of subjects broadened to include messages from the front, art showing reproductions of old masters, holidays and special occasions, political humour cards, real photographs of disasters and personal photographs. (I have a postcard of my great-great grandmother with her message written on the back to her daughter in Australia, talking about her own forthcoming 85th birthday in 1911, in which she writes: "You must think I am a wonderful old lady".)
We are interested today, however, in the view cards which show images of buildings and street scenes, sometimes showing early forms of travel and the beginnings of telegraph, telephone and power lines and other evidence of social change. And these images, compiled by Margaret Wills, and reproduced in this book by the Avoca Historical Society, are a wonderful contribution to community and local history of the Pyrenees. It is the work of local historical societies such as Avoca's, that has raised people's awareness of the concept of community, presenting and emphasising the continuity of lifestyle that is unique to each local area, and sharing the history of how communities have coped with and even embraced change.
The stories of those changes, embedded in the people, the institutions, the industries, the architecture are the lifeblood that feeds the production of community history in its many forms. Advances in technology, and in particular information technology, have provided the tools enabling local historians to discover and apply new sources, and present information graphically, to reproduce and improve photographs, and to publish in ways other than just the printed word.
The capacity for members of local historical societies to make history available and relevant to their communities seems boundless, and I commend Margaret Wills and the Avoca Historical Society for this wonderfully innovative idea of publishing a book of postcards pertaining to Avoca and its history. The many activities that bring local history alive cannot be achieved without lengthy and exhaustive research being done by the thousands of volunteers involved in the local history movement across the State, research from within their own societies' often extensive collections as well as from the major historical research repositories. These volunteers are the grassroots workers who continually prove that amateur historians can achieve professional standards. And we see the results today.
With the strongest possible words of congratulation I commend to you all "Postcards from Avoca" with its many images of early Avoca; and the 2005 Calendar with its 13 images of early Avoca streetscapes and I declare both publications well and truly launched."
John Powers was also kind enough to supply us with the electronic version of his notes of the speech he delivered at the book launch, which we reproduce hereunder:
"Firstly I should explain where I fit into the Powers family. Henry Powers migrated from England in 1852 and I am a great grandchild of his. My grandfather, John Powers, was his first child and my father John (Jack) was his first son.
My research of the Powers family tree goes back some 400 years when John Powers married Mary Hogg. The Powers family lived in Bedfordshire in three towns from around 1750 until 1900. These towns are in a triangle about five miles from each other - Blunham, Sandy and Biggleswade - and are situated about fifty miles north of London. Bedfordshire countryside is little changed from the 18th and 19th centuries the land has very little in the way of hills and the crops are mainly wheat and barley as well as vegetable crops such as lettuces and beans. Blunham is a small village with a number of houses with thatched roofs although a more modern estate is at one end of the village. Sandy is a small town situated on the main motorway from London to Edinburgh and Biggleswade is a larger town beside the M1 motorway.
Henrys grandfather and father as well as several brothers were bakers in Blunham and Sandy. Henry was the fifth of eleven children and was born in Blunham on 4th April 1835. The family bible in England shows that this event occurred at 2.00 p.m. The building where he lived still stands today some 300 years after it was built and was the local bakery run by the Powers family. The thatched roof building today is divided into two houses with one half where the bakery was now being a house named "The Ovens". It was quite a special moment to be in such an old building, with its low massive beams, and to touch these beams and think that these same beams had been there through many generations of the Powers family.
The last of the Powers family in the area was Henrys brother, Frank, who died in Blunham in 1923. Frank had continued the bakery business in Blunham. My wife and I recently visited England and met with three of Franks great grandchildren.
The 1851 census of England shows that Henry was living with his eldest brother John in Sandy. And you guessed it - John was a baker. Shortly after this, in 1852, Henry migrated to Australia. Another of Henrys brothers, Alfred migrated to Canada in the 1870s with his wife and family.
It would appear that Henry first arrived in Melbourne and lived there until he moved to Avoca in 1859 and established the Powers bakery in 1860. In 1862 he married Christina Johnstone. Christina was 16 years old when she married and in the ensuing years gave birth to fourteen children on average one every two years. Only one did not reach adulthood, Ellen, who died within one month of birth. The story goes that just before Christmas in 1896, when the youngest child was just nine years old, Christina was bitten on the nose by a spider and she died on 10th January 1897.
The thirty five years that Henry and Christina were married were good years for the Powers family the bakery business prospered, as did the Avoca area in general. The bakery was situated at 96 High Street this is where Harry and Marion Powers lived, later Geoffrey & Lynne and also Matthew Powers. The original house was at this site also and all Henry and Christinas children were born in the front room. My father and all his brothers and sisters were also born there bring the total number of Powers births on this site to 20. In 1894 Henry purchased The Vale property turning his mind more to farming. The property also included an hotel building which provided welcome extra rooms for his large family. The bakery business continued in the Powers name with my grand father taking over the business.
Henry died in 1914 and the Avoca Mail in recording his death mentioned that he was of a kind and genial disposition and was universally respected and esteemed by a large circle of friends. When this was mentioned to the members of the Powers family that I met in England they agreed that this was similar to the sentiments they had heard of Henrys brother, Frank their great grand father.
In the first half of the 20th century the older generation died and most of the later Powers family moved away from Avoca. Contact with the various members of the large family continued by way of post.
Two of Henrys daughters Emma & Lillie married Lilburnes and two other daughters, Christina & May, married Wills boys. It is through Mays son Jim Wills, that Margaret Wills has been able to assemble the 140 postcards that have been preserved from this era. Postcards were a popular means of communication with family members in the early 20th century and it has been of great interest for me to see a number of postcards of Blunham on a website showing scenes of Blunham. These postcards of Avoca now bring together the two worlds of Henry Powers Blunham in Bedfordshire and Avoca in Australia.
On behalf of those interested in the Avoca area and particularly the wider Powers family I wish to thank Margaret Wills for the great work she has done in compiling "Postcards from Avoca". I would also thank the Avoca Historical Society for their contribution in preparing the book and the 2005 calendar."
Miss Joan Miller of Stradbroke Victoria researching Christian SCHMIDT & Ottilie RIGOLL of Amphitheatre and Mark Lamburt TURNER & Elizabeth RICHARDS of Elmhurst;
Mr & Mrs Brian & Irene Henley of Belmont who are researching POWERS & JOHNSTON;
Ms Diane Harrowfield of West Brunswick who is researching HARROWFIELD & CAHILL;
Mr Sam Dellaera of Thornbury who is interested in the ANGLICAN CHURCH at REDBANK;
Mr Michael Lea-Whyte of Mooroopna who is researching ANDERSON & SANDERSON of Moonambel & WHYTE of Coleraine;
Mrs Hilda Francis of Nairne SA researching CALABY, JOHNSTON/JOHNSTONE, BULLOCK & ANGOVE. We extend a warm welcome to each of these people, and hope that their association with our Society is mutually beneficial.
Found in The Avoca Free Press, Wednesday 24th July 1907:
An extraordinary freak of nature is reported from Mount Beckworth(says the "Clunes Guardian"). A ewe on the farm of Mr Leys recently gave birth to a lamb with eight well formed legs and two tails; there was no neck, but a head appeared on the back with two faces, there being one large eye in the centre of the forehead of each, and four ears. The lamb was dead
Contributed by Nicole Murphy
Acquisitions since our last newsletter: Donated by Pyrenees Shire Council: Large timber map cabinet and Portraits of King George V & King George VI from the old Avoca Shire Offices;
two large (6 x 4) cork pin-board type display boards; 1 small stained timber office desk with 2 drawers; 1 Apple iMac DV450 computer; 1 large painting of the Avoca Hotel and nearby streetscape in very early days; all from the Avoca Visitor Information & Resource Centre.
Donated by Wes Dawson: Leather-bound volume gold-embossed on spine "Registration Book" containing "Registrations Avoca Division of the Maryborough Mining District" from 16 July 1862 to 16 August, 1902; Leather-bound volume gold-embossed on spine "Registration of Claims" as above, from 19 August, 1902 to 24 November, 1935; Quantity of very old newspapers;
Leather-bound volume gold-embossed on spine "Minute Book" and "The Avoca District Butter, Cheese & Freezing Co. Limited" containing minutes of all company meetings from formation on 10 May 1894 to liquidation on 14 October, 1903; Framed Testimonial from the "Inhabitants of Avoca" to Mr. James Leonard Willox, the "first National Schoolmaster on Avoca" upon his departure after nine years service on 1 May, 1866; Large wall-hanging "Illustrated Map of Victoria" containing advertising by many business houses throughout the State, including some in Avoca; Large metal sign in timber frame proclaiming the "Scale of charges and fees to be taken at the Avoca Public Cemetery" and including names of members of the Cemetery Trust.
Donated by Department of Sustainability and Environment, LSB-Historic Places:
Large light table; 3 upholstered metal-framed visitors chairs; carton of filing folders & inserts.
Donated by Mrs. Bev. Redpath: Three display boards used at Avoca Railway Station by her late husband, Ivan Redpath. (We also acknowledge the loan of other similar items for our display at a recent meeting, and which the Redpath family requested to be returned when we have finished with them.)
Donated by Constance Eastwood:
Twenty years of back issues of "The Ancestor" (GSV quarterly newsletter) except for the following issues; Vol 18 No 4,; Vol 19 No 1,; Vol 26 No 1 & Vol 26 No 8;
5 copies of Lancashire Family History & Heraldry Society newsletters;
I copy of GRD (Genealogical Research Directory) 2001 edition.
Donated by Lesley Bennett:
1 copy of a book "Gallipoli Heroes" by Graeme Massey
Donated by Jill Hunters daughter, Kerry:
HP Scanjet 4200C Scanner & Canon BJC2000SP Printer
I have received dozens of phone calls from people all over the State as a result of the publicity we received about "Postcards from Avoca" in the "Weekly Times" a few weeks ago. Callers have purchased copies of the book and the calendar, and some have placed repeat orders.
We continue to supply articles of historical interest to the "Pyrenees Advocate" every six weeks for publication in a series entitled "Pyrenees History Re-lived"which usually manage to fill about 75% of a page, and have been very good PR for us at no cost. Our most recent story was published on Friday, 3rd December, 2004, and covered the beginnings of the Avoca Butter, Cheese & Freezing Company Limited, extracted from one of our recent acquisitions.
Our Society participated in the Ballarat Expo organised by the Central Highlands Historical Association Inc on the first week-end in October, with the main thrust of our display being "150 years of Christian Worship in Avoca". Jill Hunter and Dorothy Robinson set up the display on the Saturday, with some help from Elizabeth & Tony OShea. On the Sunday Elizabeth & Tony arrived early and, with assistance from Beryl Maidment, re-arranged the layout in such a way that the public could get a closer look at the detail of the display. The judging took place on the Sunday, and our success in winning the "Encouragement Award" was largely due to the fact that the Judges liked the easy public access, as well as the comprehensive treatment of the subject. Edna Jarvis and Marj Partridge helped with staffing our display on the Sunday. We won $100 worth of archival materials from the PROV which we will choose when we finish cataloguing our holdings and have a better idea of what we really need.
The Court Room floor has been replaced, along with the Judges Room floor, both of which had severe termite damage. New carpet has been laid in the Judges Room and in the Clerks Room, and we are busily engaged in moving our treasures which, for many months have been jammed into the Helen Harris Room, back into their proper places, and in the process Elizabeth OShea is cataloguing them into a "Filemaker Pro" database running on the Apple iMac computer donated by the Shire.
The Court House has been re-opened for limited research each Sunday between the hours of 10.30am and 4.00pm. We are planning to have the re-organisation largely completed by the time of the February meeting, on Sunday 20th, which will be the first opportunity for most members to see for themselves what has been achieved over the preceding year.
More members are responding favourably to the suggestion that they agree to receive newsletters electronically. This will result in a considerable cost saving to the Society, as well as enabling the members concerned to get their copy earlier.
Our Christmas Break-up meeting was held on Sunday, 21st November, 2004, at the Avoca Senior Citizens Rooms. Several dozen members had an enjoyable afternoon tea, during which the raffle was drawn. Ada Hobson won the hamper, and Jan Burnett won the cake. One of the topics discussed was "Dalys Cottage" at Percydale. For the benefit of those members who dont know what that is, let me briefly explain: it is one of a very small number of surviving examples of the early timber houses built of vertical slabs of red gum timber with bark roof and stone chimney, etc. The timber was from a huge redgum on the property, which was reduced into slabs by the men using crosscut saws then smoothed off by the women using adzes. It has not been occupied as a residence for some seventy years. When I first inspected Dalys Cottage several months ago, I was accompanied by a long-time resident of the district who showed me the room in which he spent some time whilst suffering from the measles (or maybe chicken pox, he wasnt certain which!) as a child. The honorary caretaker for many years was Mrs Fay Peck, of the Avoca Rock Museum, whose name, address and telephone number still appear on the sign in the garden, despite the fact that she died some years ago! It has been listed on the Register of the National Estate since 1978, but appears to have fallen through the cracks during and since the Council Amalgamations. The Society has drawn this to the attention of the Pyrenees Shire, which is currently conducting an investigation into who actually owns it and what can be done to ensure its preservation. It is possible that the Society may become involved in some way in its future management. Those members who are familiar with Dalys Cottage are in agreement that it should be preserved and displayed to the public in a controlled manner.
I would like to conclude by wishing all of our members a happy and peaceful Christmas and New Year, and look forward to meeting more of you in the coming year.
Tony OShea. President.
The following extract from "The Avoca Mail" of 29 January, 1904 was supplied almost one year ago by Helen D. Harris OAM and the Editor decided that now was the time to find room for it!
Important Sale by Auction. Monday 1st February, 1904. Butter Factory & Residence, Land and Creameries. AT AVOCA HOTEL, AVOCA.
Pinch & Campbell will offer on the above date, at 2 oclock p.m. (through their auctioneer Mr. J. Campbell) under instructions from the Trustee of the Debenture Holders, the whole of that valuable property formerly owned by the Avoca District Butter, Cheese and Freezing Company and comprising the following land etc.:-
Allot 2, 4 and 5, sec. 30; allots 1,2,3,4,5 and 6, sec 30A, town and parish of Avoca county of Kara Kara, the whole containing 3 acres 4 roods 27 perches. On allot 4 is erected a commodious dwelling house built of brick and wood containing 7 rooms with detached kitchen. On allotment 5 is erected a substantial brick building equipped with a first class butter factory and refrigerating plant in perfect order and ready for immediate operations.
Allot 21, sec A, village of Natte Yallock, parish of Moyreisk, containing 29 perches, more or less, and on which is erected a creamery and machinery.
Allot 3, sec 13, township of Elmhurst, parish of Glenpatrick, containing 2 roods 4 perches more or less and on which is erected a creamery and machinery.
Also land and creamery at Bung Bong.
The factory at Avoca is in the centre of a large grazing and farming district convenient to the railway station and on the bank of the Avoca River, and thus offers an inducement to millers and others. It is built of brick three stories high and was used originally as a flour mill. The property throughout is a first class one, and the auctioneers direct the attention of investors to this sale, as it affords a splendid opportunity to invest money in splendid security.
The whole must be sold, in one block or subdivided.
Victorian Historical Journal Index is now available online: The index contains a comprehensive index for Volumes 1 - 71 (1911-2000) and an author title index for volumes 72 - 75 (2001-2004). The index is located on the Local History Online section of the RHSV website www.historyvictoria.org.au