ADHS Newsletter No. 155, JANUARY, 1998

Items of interest –

  • Death of Janice Driscoll, formerly of Moonambel
  • Description of book “From Loch Leven to Little River – Our Stewart Family
  • 1905 bushfire at Avoca
  • 1938 obituary of Mrs Amelia Wilkins
  • 1882 inquest on an unknown person
  • 1876 inquests: John Bright, Charles Laurence
  • Those who signed visitors’ book at 1962 centenary celebration of Chalmers Presbyterian Church, Avoca

This first newsletter for 1998 brings New Year greetings to one and all – we wish each of you health and happiness and an interesting and successful year in your historical and genealogical endeavours.

The first event to mark in your 1998 diary is the Monster Garage Sale to be held on Saturday, 14th February, from 9 am at the Court House. We seek donations of goods, cakes and produce for this special effort and help is required for pricing the goods and the setting up and manning of the stalls. All assistance will be greatly appreciated. Members in Melbourne who have goods to donate should ring Margaret and Harry Oulton on 9571 8838.

It is important to note that our February meeting will be held that afternoon (14th February) commencing at 2 pm, following the Garage Sale.

Our Christmas get-together held on 14th December proved to be a most enjoyable and relaxed affair with the Court House suitably decorated for the festive season. Tables were attractively laid with bon bons, peppermint cane sticks and hats. Soft background music added atmosphere to the occasion and lucky tickets at each place gave each of those present a small gift. Sincere thanks must go to Colleen Allan for the time, thought and effort she put into the preparations, which included hand-made decorations. Everyone present agreed that they had a most enjoyable day. It was good to have Roger Cleverdon and his family, from Dromana, with us again on this occasion.

The year 1997 ended on quite a high note with the announcement on 17th December by Mr. Stephen Elder, MLA for Ripon, of a $5,060 Victorian Government Community Heritage grant to the Society. The grant will be used to remove paint from the exterior walls of the Court House and we look forward eagerly to seeing this task accomplished.

Those attending the cemetery tours conducted by the Society during the Petanque Festival at the end of November found them most interesting and this activity may well become a permanent feature of the Festival. We thank the Shire for its assistance with mowing at the cemetery and also our members Jill Hunter, Colleen Allan, Dorothy and Herb Robinson for their help in general tidying up. (As we have learned, Petanque is a game of French bowls. Your Editor now finds that it is played with steel balls.)

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We extend a warm welcome to new member Mrs. Liz WILSON, of Rochester, Vic., who is researching the McMAHON family and Lexton.

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Members of the Society were deeply saddened to learn of the sudden death of Janice Driscoll on 21st December, aged 60 years. Born Janice Hope in Williamstown on 10th November, 1937, she was the youngest of nine children. She was raised in Moonambel and educated at the Anglican Girls’ Grammar School in Ballarat. In 1961, she married Pete Driscoll at St. Paul’s Church of England at Moonambel.

Apart from her interest in history, Janice was active in many areas – she was the sewing mistress at Moonambel Primary School, taught music for 20 years and was the church organist at Navarre, played tennis and netball, and was well-known for her love of gardening. She loved life, was a perfectionist and was not afraid to ‘call a spade a spade’! Janice had only six weeks earlier celebrated her 60th birthday, which was a milestone for her, having only narrowly survived a triple by-pass at the age of 50.

Janice was devoted to her many nieces and nephews and her many friends and was farewelled by hundreds of mourners on 29th December at Moonambel. The Society extends deepest sympathy to her husband, Pete, and her extended family at this time. We will miss her bright personality and her interest in our activities.

(My thanks to Jill Hunter for her assistance with this obituary. Ed.)

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“From Loch Leven to Little River – Our Stewart Family” is the title of a new family history by Robyn Gay and Lynne Towers and we are indebted to Robyn for her donation of a copy of this production, which comes in two volumes, for our library. The family has been traced back to the 1700s in Scotland, right down to the present day, and over 2,700 names are listed. As well as a social history of the times, there are many photos, sketches, documents and maps. Both volumes are on A4 paper and have been comb-bound. They can be purchased as a set or singly, as each book is complete in itself. Volume I contains 318 pages and costs $35 (plus postage), whilst Volume II has 350 pages and costs $37 (plus postage). Postage rate is $4.80 for each single copy (to country Victoria) and $5 for two to six copies, posted together. For copies of this work, contact Robyn Gay, PO Box 23, Rosebud, Vic., 3939 or phone 0359 866 145 after hours.

The Oldest Family Tree – London – British Scientists have been celebrating their feat in tracing living descendants of a 9,000 year-old skeleton and establishing the world’s oldest known family tree. In an astonishing piece of detective work, they matched DNA material extracted from the tooth cavity of Britain’s oldest complete skeleton, known as “Cheddar Man”, with that of a 42-year-old history teacher, Mr. Adrian Targett.

(From “The Central Queensland Genieologist”, No. 5, Vol. 6, September, 1997)

Do You Have Italian and Swiss Ancestors? A GRD-style publication is being compiled by Clare Gervasoni for people researching Italian and Swiss ancestors to Australia. Clare welcomes all enquiries to PO Box 52, Hepburn Springs, Vic. 3461.

(From Mt. Isa FHS Journal, May 1997)

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EXTENSIVE BUSHFIRES – LARGE AREAS BURNED (From the ‘Avoca Free Press’, 15th January, 1905)

The first fortnight of 1905 will be long remembered in Avoca for the extreme heat and the abnormal outbreaks of bushfires. On Wednesday the official register showed 105 degrees in the shade and 161 degrees in the sun; while Thursday registered 106 and 153 respectively. In the forenoon of Thursday a fire, the origin of which is entirely unexplainable, started near the residence of Mr. R. Gollop, at the foot of the Pyrenees, and Mrs. Gollop and a young daughter had for some time an unaided battle with the flames to prevent their reaching the house. The smoke, however, attracted some of the neighbours and other men in the vicinity, and after a gallant struggle of upwards of two hours the danger was averted. Mr. Gollop resides on a 20 acre block, and the energy with which the firefighters worked was shown by the fact that, though the country all around the block was burned, the fire was scarcely allowed to get inside Gollop’s fence.

The smoke was also observed from Avoca, and shortly after noon over 20 members of the bushfire brigade and others started for the scene. In the meantime, fanned by a north breeze, the fire was rapidly proceeding towards the homesteads of Messrs. Reeves, and the timely arrival of the Avoca contingent was welcomed. A fierce struggle to turn the blaze from Messrs. Reeves’ property followed, and during the afternoon an urgent message was sent to Avoca for further assistance, which was promptly responded to – indeed various parties went out up till pretty well 10 p.m. The beaters were successful in their efforts, the course of the eastern branch of the fire being turned towards the ranges. The large force of beaters had a hard and anxious time, many of them remaining on duty until 7 o’clock yesterday morning, but they have the satisfaction of knowing that they were instrumental in saving valuable property. The fire steadily worked westerly and southerly, creeping up the range, which was ablaze for a considerable extent before nightfall. The state forest will suffer a good deal.

Yesterday, a fiercely hot wind ruled, and the temperature was again high, the maximum being 108 degrees in the shade and 156 degrees in the sun. This wind had the effect of sending the Pyrenees fire rapidly to the south and west, and the settlers in the valley on the west side were seriously threatened at the time of our going to press. At half-past 4, help was called for, as the fire had reached Mountain Hut. The firebell was at once rung, and all the business men closed their premises, a large party going out. A fresh fire was reported as having broken out between Amphitheatre and Messrs. Laidlaw’s property.

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(From the ‘Victoria Police Gazette’, 12th January, 1882)

James Hogan, alias James Henry Hanley, is charged on warrant issued by the Moonambel Bench, with setting fire to the dwelling of Elizabeth Sutherland, Four-mile Rush, Moonambel, on the 5th instant. Description: 33 years of age, 5 feet 6 inches high, brown hair, light-brown whiskers and beard, dark-blue eyes, straight nose, sunburnt face, stout build; wore dark-brown coat, white pants, light-coloured leggings, dark-brown hat; appearance of a horsebreaker or jockey; rode a well-bred chestnut mare, switch tail, about 14 hands high; had new saddle. His stepfather, named Hogan, is working at Minyip, and the offender may go there.

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(From ‘The Maryborough Advertiser’, Friday, 14th January, 1938)

It is with deep regret that we record the death of Mrs. Amelia Wilkins, of York Avenue, Avoca. The deceased lady, who was 73 years of age, was born at Darling Flat, near Percydale, and resided in the district practically all her life. About ten days ago Mrs. Wilkins was conveyed to the Maryborough Hospital, where she passed away on Thursday morning. Mrs. Wilkins was very highly respected in Avoca, and the deepest sympathy will go out to her husband (Mr. Henry Wilkins) and family. The members of the family are: Ivy (Mrs. J. Coad, Rocky Point), Daisy (Mrs. P. Osborne, East Melbourne), Lily (Mrs. Humphrey-Grey, Melbourne), Mr. Henry Wilkins (Richmond), Tabitha (Mrs. P. Lyons, Lorne), Mr. John Wilkins (Melbourne), Mr. George Wilkins (Ararat) and Lucy (Mrs. R. Milliken, Lorne). The funeral took place this (Friday) afternoon, when a large number of relatives and friends assembled at the Avoca Cemetery. The Rev. E.J. Lees (Anglican) officiated at the house and the grave.

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(From the ‘Victoria Police Gazette’, 17th February, 1882)

The remains of a man unknown were found down a deserted shaft at the Alma Lead, on the 19th January, and at a magisterial inquiry held by George Knight, J.P., Alma, on the following day, a finding of ‘Found dead’ was recorded. Medical evidence was given to the effect that deceased was a man apparently between 40 and 50 years of age, and probably about 5 feet 9 inches, and that death had taken place between four and five years previously. No clothes were discovered, excepting old boots on the feet, and an old panama hat some distance away in a drive; portion of papers believed to be the Maryborough Standard and Melbourne Leader, and a bag and two empty gin bottles were also found.

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(From an unknown paper dated 5th May, 1875)

A gallant rescue of the eldest son of Mr. Thomas Green, miller, from an inevitable death by drowning which fairly entitles the youthful hero to the medal of the Humane Society (writes the Avoca Free Press) was made on Tuesday last. Young Green, a boy about four years old, lost his balance when crossing the Avoca River on the dangerous planks and fell into the stream opposite the residence of Mr. Hellings. The eldest son of Mr. Hall, Shire secretary, plunged boldly into the flood and after great difficulty succeeded in bringing young Green to land amidst the plaudits of those who witnessed the brave deed.

(The above extract was contained within a letter from the Humane Society to the Police Department, asking them to confirm the incident. This the local constable did; presumably the Society duly awarded a medal to Hall.)

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INQUESTS. The following inquests have been located and indexed by the Society. The original file is held at the Public Record Office, Laverton repository, and a photocopy can be obtained at a cost of 50c. per page, plus $2.50 postage. The Society is willing to arrange the copying for members if they are unable to get to the Repository themselves. Please ring Helen Harris on (03) 9890 9288 if interested in obtaining a copy of either of the following inquests:

No. 1017 of 1876 JOHN BRIGHT died of apoplexy at Adelaide Lead. Witnesses: Marie and Emma Bright, Richard Sanders, Dr. Andrew Clarke. Jury: Fredk. Falkiner, Patrick Cahill, Thomas Holmes, Basil Smith, David Dillon, John Gaines, Skrethren (?) Small, William Jones, John Minter, Michael Keay (?), James Bolton, Francis Mathias.

No. 1041 of 1876 CHARLES LAURENCE crushed in a mining cave in at Landsborough. Witnesses: Constable Robert Molyneux, Thomas Racey, James Law. Jury: Fredk. Vendy, Thomas Mogg, Francis McKenna, Alex. Miller, P. B. Tyrie, James Spence, John Farrelle, John Farrelle Jnr., Fredk. Curnick, George Emmerson, David North, Peter Gianoni.

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At the celebrations to mark the centenary of the foundation of Chalmers Presbyterian Church at Avoca, held on 29th-30th September, 1962, Mrs. M. Gordon, of Bung Bong, presented a Visitors’ Book for the occasion. The following people attended the celebrations and signed the book: Philip Hobson (Ballarat); Arthur Mee (Ballarat); Bessie Bird (Amphitheatre); E.B. Robinson (Preston); R. and T. Coates (Dandenong); Jean Hiscock (Goroke); Mrs. Le Plastrier (Horsham); James R. Johnstone (Brisbane); Caroline Mortimer (Ararat); Winifred Gronn (Donald); Mamie Smith (Emerald); Jean Fealy (Brighton); Douglas and Jean Powers (Thornbury); Mr. and Mrs. H. Powers (Avoca); Annie C. Baker (Thornbury); L. Henderson (Avoca); Valmai Thomas (Brighton); Doreen Shaw (Brighton); Fred and G. Golder (Queenscliff); Ella Pullen (Brighton); O. Golder (Ballarat); I. and H.G. Moorhead (Maryborough); E. Millard (The Rectory, Avoca); J. Gronn (Donald); E. Bryson (nee Elsie Clark) (Poowong); R. Reid (nee Ruby Clark) (Hawthorn); Jean Gordon (Bung Bong); Ercil Willmott (Molesworth); Morna Moston (Lang Lang); Dulcie Bate (Balwyn); A. Bryson (Poowong); Nancy Forbes (Maryborough); Elsie Bailey (nee Chambers) (Ballarat); Ann A.K. Galbraith (Parkdale); Ethel M. Menzies (Preston); Geo. L. Golder (Ballarat); Will Hammond (Ascot Vale); Minnie Elliott (Brighton); Anne Marshall (Avoca); Mr. and Mrs. R.D. Peck (Avoca); Lois Bradley (Lexton); Isabelle A. Henderson (Wendouree); Allan Hiscock (Goroke); T.J. Bradley (Lexton); Dorothy and Joseph Horvath (South Yarra); Florence and C. Bowker (Avoca); Hal. Sandell (Brisbane); Florence L. Hall (Avoca); Lesley K. Gordon (Geelong); Muriel and Wal. French (Ashwood); Jean and Roy Hall (Strathmerton); Jean Gear (Ballarat); Heather, Elizabeth, Margaret and Anne McCann (Ararat); R. McCann (Ararat); John Rowan (Waubra); Leanne Chapman (Avoca); ? Gordon (Bung Bong); M.M. Silke (The Manse, Beaufort); R.C. and Ethel Johnson (Clunes); G. and E. Lilburne (Avoca); A.W. and F.M. Castleman (Homebush Lower); F.E. French (Avoca); Reginald R. Steed (Bung Bong); James Richardson (Rathscar); L. and M. Fraser (Natte Yallock); Lily Romey (Avoca); Eileen J. Blair (Avoca); Frances M. Elliott (Rathscar West); Edna Richardson (Rathscar); Alice Burns (Avoca); A.R. Rowe and Marion A. Rowe (Avoca); Marjory Reid; A.C. Henderson (Avoca).

(See Newsletter No. 153 of October, 1997, for a report of these celebrations.