ADHS Newsletter No. 164 OCTOBER, 1998

Items of interest –

  • Guest speaker Mr Bruce Osborn on the history of Maryborough Gaol, 1861-1902
  • Death of Mrs. Irene Classen at Shepparton
  • Debate on location of Avoca Town Hall 1860
  • A short history of the Avoca Bowling Club 1974
  • Waubra Primary School open day at Kilcogy, Lexton

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The speaker at our monthly meeting, held at the Court House on Sunday, 18th October, was Mr. Bruce Osborn, President of the Midlands Historical Society at Maryborough, who told us something of his research into the history of the Maryborough Gaol, 1861-1902. The results of this research will appear shortly in a 300-page book based on a reconstruction of the gaol records and will give an insight into the social conditions of the times. Bruce has looked at many aspects of prison life including gaol conditions, rations, and the type of work done by the prisoners whilst serving time. It is well-known that Lake Victoria and Princes Park were created through the labours of Maryborough prisoners working for the Council. Bruce has also looked at the areas from which the prisoners came – Talbot, Avoca, Moonambel, Navarre, Carisbrook, Inglewood (in the very early days), Dunolly, St. Arnaud and Donald – as well as the Courts at which some 1,600 prisoners were tried and what they were charged with. Along the way, Bruce has been able to prove that some long-held beliefs about the gaol and its inmates are quite wrong. This book will add much to our understanding of the social history of the area, and the hardships and poverty endured by many of our ancestors, which gave rise, in 1899, to consideration being given to the introduction of the old age pension. This pension was introduced in 1900 and it was early in February, 1901, that the first such pension was granted in Maryborough. Our thanks to Bruce for a most interesting talk and we look forward to the forthcoming publication of his book.

We were delighted to have Betty and Ross Smith, from Benalla, with us on this occasion, also Irene Macwhirter and her daughter-in-law, Laurette, from Melbourne, Alan Hall, Betty Osborn, Mr. and Mrs. Eric Miles and some folk from Bendigo. It was quite a coincidence that, among the new acquisitions tabled at the meeting, there was a photo of a Mrs. Lily Miles with her two little boys, Jack and baby Eric, the latter proving to be the same Eric Miles attending our meeting that day! The photo was taken during World War I when the boys’ father was away with the armed services.

Some excellent family group photos, from our extensive collection, were on show as part of our Families display. Among them were some well-known names – Wise, Smith of Homebush, Plowright, Moyle, Golder, R. Pugh, Mills and Rev. Currie. Irene Macwhirter has a long family history in the area, dating from William and Rachel Jolly in the very early days at Mt. Mitchell and the family tree of eleven generations is shown as an elongated wheel, beautifully executed by Irene. More of her painstaking work was shown in a similar family tree of the descendants of Richard and Eliza Bergen, covering nine generations, and including the Rev. Roy Addinsall, who once served the Avoca area as a Methodist minister and was mentioned in our last newsletter. Betty Smith is another of our members with a deep family history in the area, her great-great-grandfather being Arthur Barker, of Navarre Station. Again, many well-known names appeared on the two charts Betty exhibited. Member Nell Rowland’s chart showed family details from 1719 of the Rowland ancestry in England. Another exhibit was of the Perry family of St. Arnaud, dating from 1850, William Henry Perry having married Elizabeth Ann Henry (nee Wells). Our thanks to all who loaned material for this display.

The Society is most appreciative of a substantial donation made to our funds recently. The donors wish to remain anonymous. We thank them sincerely for this generous gesture.

It is good to see the two claret ash trees, recently planted in the Court House grounds, decked in their fresh green spring finery. We thank our stalwart members, Margaret and Harry Oulton, for their thoughtfulness in donating these trees, which will add colour and shade to the Court House surrounds in the years ahead.

Our next meeting will be held on Sunday, 15th November, at the Court House, at 1.30 pm, when it is proposed to do the heritage walk of historic sites in Avoca which was recently launched by the Pyrenees Tourism Association.

Researchers please note! The Court House will be closed from 13th December, 1998, to 20th February, 1999. During this period, our vast collection of index cards is to be placed on the Heritage 3 database thus making research easier and quicker for family historians.

The children at the Natte Yallock Primary School are currently participating in family history studies via the Internet and Wendy Taylor is arranging for them to visit the Court House to assist them with these studies.

A suggestion has been made that we form a Grants Applications Sub-committee to lighten the work load of our Secretary. The completion of submissions for grants requires quite a lot of time and effort and two or three people working together will find the task less arduous than having to do the job alone. Please contact our President or Secretary if you would be prepared to help the Society in this way.

Our thanks to Denis Strangman who is creating a web page for the Society on the Internet. Latest news is that we now have two colour photos of the Court House on our page with links to many back issues of our newsletter. Around six people a day have been visiting our ‘site’ which can be found at http://www.canberra.starway.net.au/~string/ADHSMain.htm.

We thank Russell Bowen for a donation of index cards, and Ralph Stavely for an excellent book to add to our library, Weevils In The Flour, which gives first-hand experiences during the Great Depression.

The End of an Era. The death of Mrs. Irene Classen occurred on 18th October, 1998, at Shepparton. She was the widow of Carl Classen, youngest son of Herman Classen, the well-known furniture maker and undertaker at Avoca. In recent years, Mrs. Classen has passed on to this Society memorabilia of the Classen family business, referred to as the Classen Collection. We will always be indebted to this most genteel lady for her thoughtfulness.

The Society extends a warm welcome to the following new members:

Mr. Kevin JENKINS, of Officer, Vic., who is interested in BROWN, a school teacher at Navarre.

Mr. Allan FARNSWORTH, of Palm Beach, Qld., who is researching FARNSWORTH,


Mrs. Leanne FIELD, of Avoca, Vic., whose interests are CHAPMAN, HOWELL and FIELD.

Mention is made in Bulletin No. 135, September/October, of the Newcastle Family History Society Inc., that a new microfiche index will be available at LDS Family History Centres of Irish Probate Records, created from 135 films in the Library at Salt Lake City. Approximately 27,000 records include surname, given names, status, date, location, film number, source and item number. (From Irish Roots, February, 1998 as cited in Newcastle Bulletin No. 135)

An Irish Nun in the Family? A database of Irish nuns who were in England pre-1914 might be useful for some lateral searching in your Irish family. The Catholic Family History Society has details including place and date of birth, sometimes parents’ names. Send queries, with return postage, to T. and M. Butler, 6 Wyndcroft Close, Enfield, Middlesex, EN2 7BJ, England.

(From Irish Roots, February, 1998 as cited in Newcastle Bulletin No. 135)

Records of the Marine Police and Thames Division, London (not the Metropolitan Service in general) exist from 1798, with some gaps. The Museum Curator, Mr. Keith Gotch, Thames Division HQ, 98 Wapping High Street, London E19 NE will search for officers – age on joining, height, place of birth, etc. (From Family Tree Magazine, June, 1998 as cited in Newcastle Bulletin No. 135)

A new Family History Society has been established for the Orkneys – Orkney Family History Society, “Furrigarth”, Downies Lane, Stromness, Orkney KW16 3EP, Scotland.

(From Bulletin No. 135 of the Newcastle Family History Society Inc.)

New South Wales BDMs. The Births, Deaths and Marriages Website forms part of the Attorney-General’s Department and may be accessed via www.lawlink.nsw.gov.au/bdm.

NSW Transcription Agents are Joy Murrin, P.O. Box 278, Oatley, NSW 2223, and Marilyn Rowan, of Marbract Services, P.O. Box 38, Menai Central, NSW 2234. They can provide transcripts of NSW Birth Certificates 1788-1905; NSW Marriage Certificates 1788-1918 and NSW Death Certificates 1788-1945. See last month’s Newsletter No. 163, page 3, for details of Joy Murrin’s service for English and Welsh certificates from 1837 and Marbract’s “Researcher Matching” service.

Death in the Hunter: Inquests in the Maitland Region 1834-1942 is a new publication of two volumes, produced by the Maitland Family History Circle, which covers many aspects of accidental deaths in a wide area of the Hunter Valley and is fully indexed for all people featured in the reports. Volume A mentions almost 4,000 names, some of which do not appear on NSW BDM records. Volume B covers the reports and gives personal information, place where inquest held, ideas on medical ideas and treatment, and more. Cost is $25 for the two volume set, plus $5 p&p. Publication is planned for early December and a pre-publication offer gives free p&p for orders paid by 25th November, 1998. Available from Maitland Family History Circle, C/o 39 Oakhampton Road, Maitland, NSW 2320.


(To the Editor of the M. and D. Advertiser)

[Published in the Maryborough and Dunolly Advertiser on 12th September, 1860]

SIR, – As there is ever a watchful eye placed upon the doings of the various municipalities in this district, and as all matters connected therewith seem to be freely discussed in our local paper, we beg in good time to add our quota of news.

It is not long since a great deal of excitement prevailed here relative to having a government post office, and a suitable site for the same. As a matter of course parties were divided upon the subject, there were petitions and counter petitions, and eventually the Council fixed upon a nice little spot in an imaginary street called Rutherford-street, but what a Public Health Officer might term a manure depot, with a notice, “rubbish may be thrown here”. The Postmaster General refused to accede to the wishes of the Council, and carried out his original intention of placing the post office in the Camp, and so the matter ended.

But now, Sir, there is a far greater excitement, and upon a matter that comes more home to all of us; we allude to our Town Hall. It is nearly eighteen months since this place was blessed with local government, and ever since the Councillors were like a man without a house of his own, and have now wisely determined to erect one – but where? Echo answers, in the nice little spot above mentioned!

At a large and influential meeting held at the Locomotive Hotel, it was unanimously carried that all public buildings should be placed in High-street, and it is now with great regret that we state the Council not only act in direct opposition to such, but they refuse to accede to the wishes of, by far the greater majority of ratepayers, and persist in building the Town Hall in a back street, where it will be sunk in oblivion. We beg leave then to make a few statements:-

Although there are many streets, yet Avoca only boasts of one business street, namely, High-street; but as this might mislead the general reader, and make him fancy in consequence we must have a compact set of shops, stores, and buildings all in a row, it is just the reverse. For argument sake let us take the east side and begin with Meyer’s wholesale store, then comes a number of blank allotments till we reach Downie and Donaldson’s grocery store, shut up; then again blank allotments, a church, a gingerbeer shop, then Mr. Downing, coach builder and painter, shut up; more blank allotments till we reach the more commercial part of High-street, where we find the best sites in the town not tenanted and Mr. Cameron, baker, shut up; and Mr. Enderby, draper and clothier, shut up; and Gazzard and Dodd, butchers, shut up; and a few mysterious looking buildings without name or sign. Were we to go further on, the picture would not be improved. These are facts, for the places and names are daily staring us in the face. The one side of the street is the counterpart of the other.

Under these circumstances the ratepayers argue – that it is absurd to talk of forming a new street when the principal one presents such a miserable and unbusinesslike appearance – that every effort should be used in filling up as far as is in our power, the many frontages as yet without a building, and so, after a few years we could boast, at all events, of having one well filled street, especially as it is three chains wide, that adopting the present desire of the people would be a move in this direction – and they further argue that such a nice building as the Town Hall is intended to be, ought to be placed where it could be seen at once on entering the township, and not in a back street, known only by name.

We are sorry that in such a small community as this there should be such disunion, but why the Municipal Council of Avoca should act so directly opposite to the wishes of almost all the ratepayers, remains by them to be explained. We ask, for we cannot see any reason for so doing. To impute personal or selfish motives to these gentlemen who are so well known amongst us, we would regret doing, and the only construction we can put upon such an act is, that there was only one allotment near the Camp in High-street with which the Council could deal, and as that quarter was already fortified with public buildings, they did not feel disposed to make it stronger, but divide the interest a little, and so they placed it in Rutherford-street. That they have the power to do so, we do not dispute, still we sincerely hope as the persons who so numerously signed the petition asking the Council to place the Town Hall in High-street, deny that they want it placed in or near the Camp, that the Council will consider the matter favourably, and place this attractive building in High-street on whichever they think the most eligible situation. It is not yet too late, and when the Council consider it is the united voice of those who placed them in the position they now enjoy, they will not we think, turn a deaf ear to our entreaties, and so let good fellowship reign among us once more.


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(As told in a Souvenir Booklet of Avoca, 1974)

Bowls was established in Avoca on John Mackereth’s private property in the early thirties. The original members were G. Howell, J. Mackereth, N. Gollop, J. Lusby, T. Henderson, J. McDonald, J. Quayle, B. Spiers and F. Spiers, J. Grant, D. Keith, and H. Worthington.

In 1947, the club bought the present site, at auction, for £100. This area had been the site of the old Ginger Beer factory. Fred. Burns, snr., was the first Green Keeper and held this position for about 15 years, and what a beauty he was with always a 15 sec. or faster green.

The club has had only three secretaries [as of 1974] with A. Rowe holding the position for eleven years and the present secretary, Stan Beavis, for ten years.

The club has a current membership of 62 and 45 associates. We have played Pennant bowls in Midlands and Ballarat with quite some success, rising from C grade to A grade in Ballarat Division, and winning a number of pennants in Midlands Division.

Mr. Ern Streeter is one of our top bowlers and he won his way through to the final four in the R.V.B.A. Country Singles Championships.

Our present club house was built with a great deal of help from the associates and the Ladies Committee.

The committee for the 1974-75 season are president, I. Streeter; senior vice-president, A. Field; junior vice-president, W. Coates; secretary, S. Beavis; delegate, T. Bradley; and C. Carlyon, C. Cain, H. Cocking, J. Price, R. Matheson, G. Croft and M. Squires.

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STOP PRESS – The Waubra Primary School is having an Open Day at Kilcogy, Lexton, on Sunday, 29th November, from 10 am to 4 pm., admission $3, children free. Among the many activities to be enjoyed on the day will be re-enactments of old farm skills like reaping and binding a crop, and the use of the wonderful Clydesdale horses on the farm; there will be demonstrations of craft work, like bobbin lace making and stalls where craft work and produce will be available. Musical entertainment will include a cellist, the Connie Lemke children’s choir and the Denis Walter children’s choir. Garden lovers can enjoy a stroll in the beautiful garden with its 300 roses. There will certainly be something for everyone at this big event with proceeds going to the Waubra Primary School. To find the venue, turn off the Sunraysia Highway at the Lexton Hotel and follow the signs.

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