ADHS Newsletter No. 176 NOVEMBER, 1999

Items of interest –

  • Talk on medical terms used on death certificates
  • Court House closed for research until 6 February
  • Annual Garage Sale 19 February
  • Toll Bar Park, Lexton, background
  • Reunion and dedication of Honour Roll at Evansford. Names mentioned: Violet Severino and George Severino, Russell Gallagher, Brenda Flynn (nee Gallagher), Cr. David Bailey, President of the Pyrenees Shire; Cr. David Clark, Landcare representative; Stephen Elder, former Member for Ripon; Fr. Keith Smith; David Baird, from the Prisoner of War Association at Ballarat; Bill Loader, from the Learmonth Historical Society, Piper Bill Williams, Privates Robert White and Rod Allan, Russell and Troy Cheesman, Frank Briody, H J Ead, J T Severino, W Smith, J V Boyd, G Lenan, L W Rye, W J Boyd, M Lenan, F P Rye, A F Boyd, R E McCallum, G Severino, E Carter, W J L McCully, J W Severino, J Carter, K Mcrae, Les J Severino, J Cullinan, L L Potter, Len J Severino, M J Cullinan, O N Potter, E W Sterritt, E E Dawson, W Potter, J L Thompson.

Those who attended our monthly meeting on Sunday, 21st November, enjoyed a most interesting and informative talk given by Lis Allan on medical terms used on death certificates, some of which are puzzling to family history researchers. Lis referred to the Nosological Index which was compiled in 1863 as a guide to the classification and tabulation of the various causes of death, principally for the use of the Registrar-General’s Department with instructions to Deputy Registrars throughout the Colony of Victoria. At the time, it was found that many terms used on death certificates were too often vaguely expressed.

Here are a few examples – The index referred to the terms “Natural causes” and “Visitation from God”, often given as causes of death. It stated that these terms were too general and inconclusive. There was reason to believe that many diseases of the aged were not detected, so such terms should be avoided as far as possible and more information sought. Another term which was discouraged was “Decline”. “Phthisis” was recommended rather than “Consumption”, and, in the case of an “Abscess” or “Congestion”, the part where the condition existed should be stated. “Teething” was given as a development disease of children and a correct term to be used on a death certificate.

In the informal discussion which followed, we learned of some of the cures which were administered back in those days. It was also pointed out that the reason so many toddlers drown is because the weight of their head is the heaviest part of the body thus causing them to topple easily into a bucket of water, pool, etc., should they get inquisitive.

(The Nosological Index 1863 has been reproduced by Marjorie Morgan and was published in 1987 by Marjorie Morgan Publications.)

It was good to have Ray Wigraft, from Melbourne, with us, also Gwen Noonan.

Christmas Get-together – Our next function will be our Christmas Get-together at the Court House on Sunday, 12th December, from 12 noon. It is suggested that we each take our own sandwich or salad lunch, and a sweet to share later, as well as a small gift to exchange.

The President of the Pyrenees Shire, Cr. David Bailey, will be attending this function to present to the Society a Certificate of Recognition which was presented to a Councillor Bailey, of the Avoca Council, in the 1800s (no relation to our Shire President).

Research at the Court House – Please note that Sunday, 5th December, will be the last opportunity for researchers to avail themselves of our family history resources for this year. The Court House will re-open after the holiday period on Sunday, 6th February, 2000. However, appointments can be made with Jan Burnett on 54 653 265 during the holiday period. Jan is happy to open the Court House at any time to suit researchers.

Looking Ahead – The first event for the year 2000 to mark in your diary is the Annual Garage Sale to be held at the Court House on Saturday, 19th February, from 9 am. A general meeting will follow at 2 pm. Don’t forget our big Fashion Parade on Saturday, 18th March, at the RSL Hall. This promises to be a very interesting evening with some beautiful gowns from days gone by being paraded.

Raffle – We are currently raffling a beautiful Australian Heritage Cook Book, kindly donated by Margaret Oulton. This is no ordinary cook book, and the lucky winner will not be storing it in the kitchen – this is very much a book for the coffee table with its beautiful photos taken throughout Australia as well as its recipes, which cover simple fare as well as more elaborate dishes. Please support this raffle, with tickets at $1 each.

New Members – A warm welcome to the Society is extended to the following folk:

Mr. and Mrs. M. BARRY, of Avoca, who are interested in the Mackereth home and winery. Mr. Bob CHAPMAN, of Ararat, who is researching the CHAPMAN and CLOKE families. Ms Edwina SHOSTER, of Mt. Helen, Vic., whose interest is the DATE family.

Can You Help? The Society has a Xerox 1038 photocopier which is in need of a good clean and general service. Is there a qualified person among our readers who would be prepared to carry out this work and so get the machine into running order? If you can help us, please contact Dorothy Robinson on 54 653 528 or Colleen Allan on 54 653 296.

A to Z Australian Genealogy Helper – Cora Num has produced a new guide book for researchers of Australian local and family history. It is of B5 format, with 110 pages arranged alphabetically, and includes a glossary and place index. This book highlights the wide variety of records available to local and family history researchers, everything from Adoption, the Australian Joint Copying Project, Bankruptcy, etc., etc. It can be obtained from Mrs. Cora Num at 17 Pendred Street, Pearce, ACT 2607, at a cost of $20 per copy, plus $3 p&p.

The Chronologia Historical and Educational Jigsaw – This is a large 630mm x 435mm (250 piece) jigsaw puzzle. Those using it will gain not only a knowledge of mariners and explorers of importance to Australia but also details of how Australia got its name, the journeys of the early Dutch, English and French explorers, and the Route of the First Fleet. Boundary changes as the Commonwealth developed and when each Colony was founded, gained Representative Government and Statehood are also part of the jigsaw.

Included also is an early map of voyages in the Pacific, Tasman’s expedition to New Holland and an 18th century map showing New Holland, as it was then named.

The jigsaw comes in a large, shrink-wrapped box 420mm x 240mm and would make an ideal gift for young students. The price is $25 plus postage – $5 to Victoria, $7 to N.S.W. Post cheques and purchaser’s address to: Chronologia Australia Pty. Ltd., ACN 070 023 157, PO Box 116, Dingley, Vic. 3172. Phone/Fax: (03) 9551 5255. E-mail: edit@enternet.com.au

TOLL BAR PARK – Toll Bar Park, on the corner of the Lexton to Talbot Road and the Sunraysia Highway, has an interesting historical background. The Park is situated at the crossroads of Major Mitchell’s line of road from Portland to Sydney, later used by the ‘overlanders’ travelling down from Sydney with their shepherds and flocks of sheep, and the route taken by the ‘overstraiters’, graziers from Van Diemen’s Land travelling from Geelong to Buninyong, then through Lexton and on to the Wimmera.

Lexton (or Burnbank as it was known in the 1840s) became a teamsters’ depot for the bullockies moving much needed supplies into the hinterland. The reliable supply of fresh water from the Burnbank Creek at the crossroads encouraged weary travellers to spend a couple of days catching up on news from Geelong, Van Diemen’s Land or Sydney.

By 1845, a village was being established, with the Burnbank Inn built on the site of the present Pyrenees Hotel. By 1852, the Lexton Hotel of 27 rooms was in existence on land now taken up by Toll Bar Park. The hotel was very important to the town, having a large assembly hall and with stables and grooms’ quarters at the rear. It was the staging post for Cobb and Co. and served as temporary quarters for early police troopers in the town. Unfortunately fire destroyed the Lexton Hotel on 10th February, 1899.

In 1910 the vacant land became the Lexton SaleYards operated by Tom Smith. Sales ceased in the 1950s and the land remained vacant until the former Lexton Shire purchased the block from the then owner, Mr. Pat Briody, to develop a park. The Park was created as part of Lexton’s contribution to Victoria’s 150th celebrations.

The name Toll Bar Park reminds us that, in the 1860s, there was a Toll Bar about 2 kms south of Lexton on the Sunraysia Highway – now known as Toll Bar Hill. A replica of the Toll Bar is to be found in the corner of the Park closest to the crossroads.

An Information Board in the Park displays on one side Major Mitchell’s 1836 Journey of Exploration, while on the reverse is an historical overview of the early history of Lexton.

Surrounding Toll Bar Park is a replica of a historic Chock and Log fence. This type of fence was popular and strong enough for a lasting boundary fence. Helen Palmer, in her book Fencing Australia published in 1961, describes this form of fencing as follows: “This type of fencing was only practical in country where timber could supply straight spars of from 9 to 12 inches in diameter and up to 15 feet in length. Chocks were placed on the ground at right angles to the direction of the fence. A cut was made in the upper side of the log, a chock placed in it at right angles and another log placed on top. Such a fence might be 3 or 4 logs in height, and each set of logs overlapped the previous one by about 2 feet. The lower log was to be about 7 inches off the ground and the bark was not to be included in the measurement of either block or log. A log fence made in this workmanlike way was very strong and firm against stock.”

Toll Bar Park is also the starting point for a Historical Walking Tour. Several historical plaques are in the Park and details of these and others are in brochures available from the Lexton Store and the Avoca Historical Society Inc.

With amalgamation of the Shires in 1994, ownership of the Park passed from the Lexton Shire to the Pyrenees Shire. The RSL Hall, which stood on the adjoining block of land, was sold by the new Shire, and the Lexton Progress Association Inc. asked permission to extend the Park to cover the area through to Skene Street. So the Park has doubled in size through co-operation between owners of the land, the Pyrenees Shire, working with the Lexton Progress Association Inc. and the local Lexton Community, who have supplied enthusiasm and volunteer labour.

Toll Bar Park is a credit to all who have been involved in its development and a practical way of encouraging people to become interested in their historical background. Further information about this historical area is in the book, A Valley of the Finest Description, also available from the Avoca and District Historical Society Inc. for $20 plus $5 postage.

(My thanks to Margaret Oulton for this interesting article. Toll Bar Park is well worth a visit and all those involved in the many hours of volunteer labour put into the planning and creating of it are to be congratulated. I intend to take a much closer look at the Chock and Log fence on my next visit. Ed.)

REUNION AND DEDICATION OF HONOUR ROLL AT EVANSFORD – On Saturday, 23rd October, over 150 visitors gathered at the Evansford Community Centre for a reunion of past pupils, teachers and their families from the Burnbank, Caralulup and Evansford Schools, all of which are now closed.

The oldest former students who attended were Violet Severino and George Severino, both in their 90s, from the Evansford Primary School, and Russell Gallagher and Brenda Flynn (nee Gallagher), both in their 60s, from the Burnbank Primary School.

Among the official guests were Cr. David Bailey, President of the Pyrenees Shire; Cr. David Clark, Landcare representative; Stephen Elder, former Member for Ripon; Fr. Keith Smith; David Baird, from the Prisoner of War Association at Ballarat; and Bill Loader, from the Learmonth Historical Society.

After a barbecue lunch and roll call at 1.30 pm, the focus of the celebrations moved to the dedication of the Honour Roll. Piper Bill Williams led the march of representatives, headed by Privates Robert White and Rod Allan, from the 8/7 Battalion, Ballarat, then followed by the ex-servicemen and the official party.

The Honour Board was unveiled by brothers George Severino, aged 91, and Jack Severino, aged 86. They then laid a wreath in memory of ex-pupils and local residents who lost their lives in WWII. A very moving dedication was given by Fr. Keith Smith, an ex-pupil. The flag was then lowered to half mast as the Last Post and Reveille were played by Russell and Troy Cheesman. Frank Briody, from the Beaufort RSL, recited the Ode.

The wording and names on the Honour Roll are as follows:

In Memory of the Men and Women who fought for King and Country 1939-45

A.I.F., R.A.A.F., R.A.N., M.N., W.R.A.N.S.









1914-1919 and 1939-1945 EAD, H.J., SEVERINO, J.T.*, SMITH, W.*

* Denotes Military Medal

After the dedication, those present moved to the school ground where trees were planted in honour of those who had served in the first and second World Wars. Other trees were planted for the three schools and in memory of the early settlers of the district.

The celebrations continued with a barbecue tea, followed by an excellent concert in the evening. A very memorable day concluded with an old-fashioned supper.

HISTORY OF AVOCA (From a Souvenir Booklet published in 1974) – “Although early settlers had been attracted to the district about 1839, Avoca was originally a mining town. Alluvial gold was discovered in 1852, 3 km east of the township, and a canvas town of about 40,000 gold-seekers quickly sprang up. A surveyor, Joshua Green, laid out the Township of Avoca in 1854 and the first land sale was held on 24th October of that year. After gold was exhausted in the 1860s, the rich farming land was quickly taken up by selectors, and by 1871 the population had dropped to about 2,500 people. The present population of the Shire is 2,000 people, half of which live in the Township of Avoca.”

Water Supply – “In 1910 the Avoca Township Waterworks Trust had the Sugarloaf Reservoir constructed at the foot of Mount Sugarloaf in the Pyrenees. The original capacity of the reservoir was 48 million gallons which was enlarged to 80 million gallons in 1948. The Trust also has a storage reservoir at the Avoca Lead, 3 km east of Avoca, with a capacity of 25 million gallons; a supplementary supply of underground water is also available for use in time of drought.

Extensive improvements to the reticulation have recently been carried out at a cost of $55,000 and the town now has a reliable and satisfactory water supply.”

Low Rental Units – “In 1971, the Council purchased and transferred to the Housing Commission of Victoria one acre of land adjoining the Avoca Presbyterian Church, in order that the Commission could build low rental units to house pensioners. Four lone person units were subsequently erected. The Council is now looking to have the second stage of the plan implemented which involves the construction of Darby and Joan units on the site.”

* * * * *

As this is the last newsletter for 1999, your Editor wishes to thank all those who have assisted her throughout the year with items of interest and reports of events and functions for publication in the newsletter. My thanks also to Irene Macwhirter and Kendra Grumont who get the newsletter into the mail so promptly each month. Your next newsletter should be in your letterbox in early February, 2000.

* * * * *

We wish for each of our members all the joys of Christmas.

May you have Peace and Happiness this Christmas Season and throughout the New Year.

* * *