ADHS Newsletter No. 153, OCTOBER, 1997

Items of interest –

  • Bald Hill Cemetery (Carisbrook)
  • Death of Miss Lindsay Cheesman
  • Description of Port Arthur Convict Database
  • Centenary of the foundation of Chalmers Presbyterian Church Avoca 1862-1962

The Society’s two-day display on Law and Order held at the Court House on 18th and 19th October, as part of the Wool Festival, covered many aspects of life. Among the exhibits was a photo of Trooper Comrie, grandfather of our present Police Commissioner Neil Comrie, with

newspaper reports of the several socials which were held in his honour in 1909 when Trooper Comrie transferred to Tarnagulla. Other photos from our collection were of Sgt. Alexander Nicholson, Hugh Alexander Morrison, William Gordon Neil, Ostle Casson, Ernest Mayo Garner, Robert Ballantine and Gordon Victor Barnes. Many of these were accompanied by copies of their applications for the situation of police constable and their records of conduct whilst serving in the police force. There was quite a story on Arthur Webster, who was born at Glenpatrick in 1894, and reached the rank of Inspecting Superintendent. Other reports on display were from newspapers and the Victorian Police Gazette giving details of crimes in the district over the years, showing names of victims and perpetrators and enabling the researcher to take a valuable peek into the social history of the past. Items used by the police at Avoca were on display and included a straight jacket and restraining belt, and finger-print equipment.

Jim Martin, from the Bendigo branch of the Australian Institute of Genealogical Studies, was in attendance with his computer and records on CD-ROM (in place of Cath Martin (no relation), who was unable to be there), also Rita Hull with the four interesting books she has researched and written on people and districts in our area. Our thanks to both of them for giving us of their time.

Attendance at the display was disappointing on this occasion, but it is realised that there were many attractions on throughout the area for the rural community – Open Days at properties, the Blessing of the Fleece service, and an excellent wool display at the R.S.L. Hall.

Our thanks to Wendy Taylor, Colleen Allen and Dorothy Robinson for putting the display together, our excellent cooks who supplied tempting goodies to be served with a cuppa, and all who assisted us in any way at all.

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Our next meeting will be held on Sunday, 16th November, at the Court House at 1.30 p.m., when Mr. Cliff Phelan will speak on the Maryborough Cemetery and the Cemetery Trust. Cliff needs no introduction to the majority of folk with Maryborough connections, being well-known as an undertaker and Secretary of the Maryborough Cemetery Trust. We look forward to a most interesting afternoon.

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We had some media coverage on Thursday, 9th October, when Ross Gibbs and Shane Carmody, from the Australian Council of Archives, visited the Court House and presented the Society with a grant of $200 to assist with preserving our collection of photos. Jill Harding, who prepared our application for this grant, received the cheque on behalf of the Society.

Wondering what the Petanque Festival, to be held at Avoca on 30th November, is all about? Your Editor has been informed it is a French bowls competition, held on the wide median lawns of High Street. As part of this Festival, we will be conducting cemetery tours that day at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Those attending should meet at the Avoca Cemetery and the charge will be $2.

Our Christmas get-together is to be held on Sunday, 14th December, at the Court House.

Details next newsletter.

It has become apparent that correspondence for the Society is being sent to members other than the Secretary and is not being tabled at meetings. Our executive has therefore requested that all correspondence must be sent to the Secretary forthwith and it will go through the correct channels from there. Please see the note at the top of this newsletter, which will serve as a reminder each month.

Wendy Taylor and Colleen Allan are very busy re-organising our library, classifying the many books into topics, etc., and placing typed records in books of clear plastic pockets to save wear and tear through constant usage. The number of A4 books with clear plastic pockets needed to complete this project is considerable and it has been suggested that members might like to make a small donation to help defray the expenses involved.

Sincere thanks is extended to Jack Purser who has kindly donated a tape recorder for the Society’s use. This thoughtful gesture is much appreciated and will be a great asset at our meetings and in recording oral history. Thanks must also go to Nola Summers who made a similar kind offer.

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Bald Hill Cemetery (Carisbrook) – On Sunday, 12th October, 1997, Mr. Brian O’Connor, the Mayor of the Central Goldfields Shire, unveiled two brass plaques on a large bluestone cairn at the old cemetery located at Bald Hill, east of Carisbrook. These plaques list 87 names of people known to be buried in the old cemetery which was in use between 1851 and 1857, when the Carisbrook Borough Council requested a new cemetery site on the Amherst Road (the present Carisbrook Cemetery).

Senior Constable Edward Barnett, of the Victoria Police, was the first person to be buried in the new Carisbrook Cemetery. He was shot at Havelock, situated between Maryborough and Bet Bet, on the night of 3lst January, 1858, whilst bravely endeavouring to arrest an armed felon.

Mrs. Elaine Stevens, secretary of the Carisbrook Historical Society, has been able to supply the list of names on the plaques as a result of her extensive research over a number of years. Afternoon tea was served at the Carisbrook Town Hall after the unveiling, and those attending found much of interest in a display of historic items relating to the district.

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Members of the Society were saddened to learn of the death of Miss Lindsay Cheesman on Sunday, 19th October, at 81 years of age. Lindsay had been a member since the Society’s inception in 1984 and gave of her time on indexing projects and the photocopying of the Parish cards for our district at the Titles Office in Melbourne. A descendant of John Cheesman, of Barkly, Lindsay was a sister to our member, Eulalie Driscoll, and we extend our deepest sympathy to Eulie and the Cheesman and Driscoll families. The funeral service was held on 22nd October in the historic Anglican Church of St. Mary and St. John at Barkly, followed by a memorial service on 27th October at the Anglican Christ Church, Heathmont, where a recording of the Barkly funeral service was played.

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Log of Logs, Volume 3 – Ian Nicholson, the author of Log of Logs, Volumes 1 and 2, is planning to publish a third volume and input related to Australia and New Zealand and the surrounding seas is invited from all sources. Brief details of any logs, shipboard letters and diaries or voyage narratives of any type not already listed in Volumes 1 and 2 would be appreciated by Ian Nicholson, Wunnunga Crescent, Yaroomba, Qld. 4573.

(From Ancestor, Winter, 1997)

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Entries for the 1998 Genealogical Research Directory (GRD) must be in the publishers’ hands no later than 30th November, 1997. This is the largest Surname listing published in bookform whereby you may find others researching your family. For full details and an entry form, contact Keith Johnson, PO Box 795, North Sydney, NSW 2059, without delay.

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Port Arthur Convict Database – The Port Arthur Historic Site is currently undertaking a major research project, using records held at the State Archives Office of Tasmania, into the convict history of the settlement. Convict numbers at Port Arthur have long been estimates based on the number of convictions. In order to produce a more accurate figure, it is necessary to go through and read every conduct record in existence for Van Diemen’s Land – about 70,000+ – all under custodianship of the State Archives. The records of those who went to Port Arthur are transcribed and, in turn, they will be logged in a database at Port Arthur. The project will take several years to complete. In the meantime, a limited service is provided for people wishing to enquire about Tasmanian convicts only – whether that person went to Port Arthur or not, or purchase transcribed conduct records. For further information and an enquiry form, contact The Database Office, Port Arthur Historic Site, Port Arthur, Tas. 7182 (tel. (03)62502731 or (03)62502363, or fax. (03)62502494).

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PIONEER REGISTERS – Camden Area District Family History Society is compiling a register of pioneers of the Camden, Wollondilly and Campbelltown area to include all those born, married or deceased in this area up to 1888. For further information, write to the Secretary, PO Box 679, Camden, 2570.

Parramatta and District Historical Society Inc. Family History Group is compiling a register of pioneers to cover the period of Settlement to 1901. Closing date June, 1998. Further information from Mrs. Beth Matthews, Family Liaison Officer, 31 Taralga St., Guildford, NSW 2161.

(From Sept./Oct. 1997 Bulletin 129 of the Newcastle Family History Society Inc.)

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SEPTEMBER 1862-1962

The Shire Hall was the scene of a successful Pleasant Sunday Afternoon on September 30, when the initial function of the Avoca Presbyterian Church’s centenary got under way. A near-capacity house enjoyed the varied program of devotions, hymns, songs, and an address by the Rev. L. G. McBain, of St. Andrew’s Church, Maryborough. The stage looked most attractive, decorated with spring flowers and foliage, the artistic work of Mesdames Rae and Streeter.

The guests on the platform included Cr. D. Peck (Shire President) and Mrs. Peck, the Rev. McBain, Rev. C. C. Keefer (former minister of Chalmers), Rev. F. Plumb (minister of the Avoca Methodist Church) and Mr. N. W. Gillan (chairman). An apology was received from Canon and Mrs. Millard.

On behalf of the councillors and citizens of Avoca, the Shire president welcomed the former residents who had returned for the celebrations and congratulated Chalmers Church on having reached the 100th birthday.

The guest speaker, the Rev. L. G. McBain, delivered an appropriate address in which he paid tribute to the pioneers of Chalmers Church and the persistent witness during succeeding generations, pointing out the problems and difficulties with which the earlier settlers had to contend to honor moral principles and Christian graciousness in character, in the “rip-roaring” gold-digging days of Avoca. The speaker said that the church’s faith must be projected into these hardened areas of life and that he believed Chalmers would do its share in the future as it had done so in the past.

The musical contributions by the Ballarat artists were of a high standard. Phil Hobson’s rich, baritone voice was heard to great effect in “How Great Thou Art”, followed by two Negro Spirituals, “It’s Me, O Lord” and “Go Down Moses”.

Arthur and Loris Mee gave a superb interpretation of “Our Divine Redeemer” and “Rise, O Sun”. Loris Mee returned to reveal her musical artistry in “It Is Quiet Down Here” and “They Say”. Isobel Page delighted with her accompaniments. Mrs. I. Templeton officiated at the organ.

A pleasant duty was performed when flowers were presented to several ladies by Sharyn Collison, Ann Gillin, Caroline and Leanne Castleman, pupils of the Sunday school.

Chalmers Hall was attractively decorated with spring flowers for the re-union tea, which was most informal. Canon Millard was present and brought greetings from the Church of England. The Rev. I. Silke (Beaufort) asked the blessing, after which a buffet tea was served. The tables were laden with delicious food and so arranged to allow visitors to intermingle and enjoy meeting old acquaintances.

Among those who travelled from more distant places were three grandchildren of the late Mr. Johnstone, one of the original members present at the first meeting of Presbyterians in Avoca. They were Mr. R. Johnstone (Brisbane), Mrs. R. Baker (Melbourne) and Mrs. C. Mortimer (Ararat).

Daughters of the Manse present were Miss B. Robinson (daughter of the late Rev. F. (Pa) Robinson), Mrs. Menzies (daughter of the late Rev. Cox) and Mrs. M. Henderson (daughter of the late Rev. H. J. Saw).

Other former parishioners present were Mr. E. Bryson (Poowong), Mrs. S. Clifford (Terang), Mr. and Mrs. R. Coates (Dandenong), Mr. and Mrs. W. French (Melbourne), Mr. and Mrs. F. Golder (Queenscliff), Mr. and Mrs. G. Golder (Ballarat), Mr. and Mrs. J. Gronn (Donald), Mrs. H. Gear (Ballarat), Mr. and Mrs. M. Henderson (Wendouree), Mr. and Mrs. A. Hiscock (Gymbowen), Mr. and Mrs. R. Hall (Strathmerton), Mr. W. Hammond (Ascot Vale), Mr. and Mrs. R. Johnson (Clunes), Mrs. E. Lelasteur (Horsham), Mrs. L. Motton (Lang Lang), Mr. and Mrs. McCann (Ararat), Mr. and Mrs. D. Powers (Thornbury), Mr. and Mrs. H. Reid (Hawthorn), Miss V. Thomas (Brighton), Mrs. J. Wilmot (Molesworth), Mrs. W. Bates (Surrey Hills and Miss L. Gordon (Geelong).

The guest speaker at the 7 p.m. service was the Rev. I. Silke, of Beaufort, Moderator of the Ballarat Presbytery. He brought greetings from his Parish and from Presbytery. He went on to compare the Wilderness journeyings toward freedom of the ancient people of Israel and the testing of their faith, with the faith of the church that seeks to lead mankind to spiritual freedom.

The speaker referred to the establishment and the 100 years journey of the Avoca Presbyterian Church and the great and sometimes calamitous events, at home and abroad, that were front page news during that time.

But the faith that put steel into the Ancient Israelites was the faith that put steel into the church and into the lives of men and women of all generations down through the cennturies. It gave courage and resourcefulness. It brought correction and a purifying influence. Mrs. A. Castleman was the soloist.

After the service the congregation appreciated the brief remarks of Miss B. Robinson (daughter of a former minister) and Mr. R. Johnstone (Brisbane), as well as the reading of many letters and telegrams from former residents whon were unable to attend the celebrations. A dainty supper was enjoyed by all.

The centenary celebrations of Chalmers Presbyterian Church concluded on Tuesday evening, October 2, with the visit of the Moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Victoria, the Right Reverend G. A. Wood, B.A., who was accompanied by Mrs. Wood.

Following a short devotional opening in the church, speakers who welcomed the visitors were Cr. R. D. Peck (Shire president), Rev. F. Plumb (Methodist Church), Mrs. Blackney (Chalmers Guild and P.W.M.U.), who also presented flowers to Mrs. Wood, and Mr. N. W. Gillin (Chalmers Church) who acted as chairman. An apology was received from Canon Millard.

In his reply the Moderator referred to the local fellowship as being but part of the world-wide witness of the church. He explained that the symbolism in the Badge of the World Council of Churches represents the Ark of God (Church), afloat on the sea of the world, with the Cross in the midst, guided by the Holy Spirit.

An interesting set of slides depicting the life and work of the Presbyterian Church throughout Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania was screened and an excellent running commentary was given by the Moderator. The soloist was Mr. R. Johnstone, Brisbane.

At the close of the service the people adjourned to the church hall where a bountiful supper was served by the ladies. Mr. A. Finch expressed thanks to the ladies of Chalmers for the capable way they had helped to make the celebration a wonderful success.

Chalmers Church and grounds made a picturesque setting for the centenary celebrations and reflected great credit to the members who had voluntarily worked during the past months.

Two sign boards enhance the grounds and were the work of former scholars of the Sunday school, Messrs. Thomas and Walter French, of Ashburton, Melbourne.

An attractive leather-bound Visitoprs’ Book, the gift of Mrs. M. Gordon, Bung Bong, to mark the celebrations was signed by the many visitors who enjoyed their return to the old Kirk again.

(From The Avoca Mail, early October, 1962)

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