ADHS Newsletter No. 182 JUNE, 2000

Items of interest

  • Obituary Hilda Higgins
  • Lexton Primary School 125th anniversary celebration. Names mentioned – Mr. William Wern, Mr. James McKenzie, William Millar, Walter Fairlie, J.P., James Gray, John McDonald, John Roxburgh, John Fowler, Eneas Conway, Wm. Greene, Wm. Howard, James Conway, Thos. Fairman, Michl. Lyons, Catherine Murphy, Lachlan McKenzie James Robertson, J.P., Mt. Mitchell, Alfred Murphy, Iain G. Goodshaw, Thomas Kirk, Jane Moore, William McDonald, William Lofts Granite Hill, David Moore, David Gray,Paul Wilkinson, Alfred Porter, Donald A. Ferguson Lexton, Jonas Simpkin, James Clark, John E. Williamson Tomas Palmby, Smith Giles, Archibald McPhee, John P. Murphy, John Little, William Kendall, Augs. N. Hallifax, A.B., John McGillivray, Walter Fairlie, Chas. G. Schulz.

Fashions Through The Ages – The three parades of “Fashions Through The Ages” which the Society has presented at Avoca, Bealiba and Clunes in recent months have created great interest and we thank all the good folk who attended and supported these events. Perhaps a special mention should be made of the people of Bealiba who braved an extremely chilly night to attend The display of some of these fashions at the Avoca Court House on 17th June afforded us the opportunity of studying the finer detail of the garments which was not possible when they were being paraded.

We must again thank Lily Mills for the idea and for the many, many hours she has put into the preparation of the garments, the cataloguing of every item which was loaned, and the organising of the parades, each one a little different from the previous one, and some with different models, all necessitating hours of preparation and organisation. Our thanks also to Lily’s committee members for their help in various ways on each occasion, not forgetting our President, Graeme Mills, who also made a big contribution each time, whether transporting the collection, preparing the ‘cat walk’ and working behind the scenes or taking part in the parades.

Next Meeting – Our next meeting will be held on Sunday, 16th July, at 1.30 pm at the Court House, when our member Anne Young will speak on Avoca During World War I. Anne is currently doing a correspondence course at the University of New England, Armidale, NSW, on Local and Applied History and has chosen the Avoca-Homebush area as the subject for her studies. One of her assignments has been an in-depth look at the effects of WWI on the local community, with so many young men enlisting and leaving the town and the farms. This should be a most interesting afternoon as we learn something of the times of our fathers or grandfathers in the Avoca area as they marched off to war, and the folk they left behind to ‘keep the home fires burning’. We hope to see you there!

Extensions to the Court House – As announced in our March newsletter, the Pyrenees Shire has been successful in obtaining a grant of $18,650 from the Rural Community Development Scheme for work at the Avoca Court House. This project will provide extensions to the Court House, giving us a new work-room and kitchen and toilet facilities, with disabled access to the building, all much needed and urgent! Some additional funding will come from the Pyrenees Shire, with the remainder to come from our Society, both in cash and kind.

A builder has been engaged and it is hoped work will commence about the end of July. This means the next three to four months will be extremely busy ones for the Society. Most of our funds in the Court House Restoration Fund have been used on the completion of the exterior of the building so fund-raising will be one of our main activities, as there is already a difference of $3,500 in the costs of the extensions, which will also have to be carpeted and furnished.

Whilst this Society has a large membership, spread throughout Australia and beyond, the number of very active members involved in the Society’s work is really quite small in comparison. This dedicated group of volunteers give much time and expertise to the Society, building up the resources from which the general membership draws its family history information.

As we approach this next stage of our development, we are calling on all members for their support and we ask each of you to consider what contribution you can make to help us reach our goal, whether financial or the offer of labour for the finishing touches to the new building.

Our Photo Collection on the Web – Work is continuing on the scanning of our photo collection and the placing of ‘thumbnails’ on our web page. Should visitors to our web site locate a photo of an ancestor held by the Society, they can order a copy on floppy disk at a cost of 5 x 45 cent stamps. Please send your request, and stamps, to our Secretary, Wendy Taylor.

Condolences – The Society has been saddened to learn of the death, on 18th June, of our long-time member, Hilda Higgins, at the age of 92. Born Hilda Elizabeth Davies on 28th November, 1907, she was the younger daughter of William and Olive Davies, of Tanwood, and sister to Olive (Mrs. Marland), Roy and Maurice (Bob) (all deceased). Her husband and her son and daughter-in-law had predeceased her. A service to celebrate her life was held at the Anglican Church in Maryborough on 23rd June, and was attended by her grandchildren and great-grandchildren, as well as friends from the various groups in which she had been interested during her very active days in Maryborough. A eulogy was given by her grandson, Dennis Higgins, in which he told of Hilda’s very caring nature, helping people, and her ‘pitter-pattering’ about as she cooked for others, sometimes late into the night.

Yes, Hilda was very quick and light on her feet, and her ‘pitter-pattering’ about and first-class cooking were well known to us at the Avoca Historical Society, where she was affectionately known as the ‘Catering Captain’, running the kitchen most efficiently whenever the Society had big weekend displays requiring constant cups of tea and refreshments.

Hilda always entered into the spirit of things at Society functions, putting great effort into her exhibits for ‘Show and Tell’ and other events. We particularly remember her, in 1993, dressed as a gold miner, complete with swag, supposedly arriving on the Avoca diggings of the 1850s, taking part in our parade along High Street on the occasion of the opening of the Court House. The ‘swaggie’ disguise was so good it was hard to recognise ‘our Hilda’ beneath it! We have missed her bright personality at our meetings in recent years, as her health has deteriorated, and will always have fond and happy memories of this special lady and her contribution to the Society. Vale, Hilda. Our sympathy is extended to all who loved her.

Sympathy is also extended to Nell Rowland on the death of her brother, Newton Annear, and to Ray Wigraft on the death of his uncle, Frank Kennedy, of Maryborough.

New Members – A warm welcome is extended to the following new members :-

Ms Kate LOUGHEED, of Sale, Vic., who is researching LOBB, LOUGHEED, JONES and FISH.

Mr. and Mrs. Noel JESS, of Avoca, Vic., whose interest is LOBB.

Mrs. Ann VAUGHAN, of Mittagong, NSW, who is interested in the ARMOUR and McGUAN families.

Reminder – Have you paid your subs? We remind members who may be unfinancial that this newsletter will be the last one sent to them. Please check your April newsletter and complete the renewal slip contained therein and forward this with your cheque to our Treasurer, Dorothy Robinson, as soon as possible. Our sincere thanks to all those who have rejoined so promptly. If, for some reason, you do not wish to continue your membership, a short note to this effect would be much appreciated.

Lexton Primary School No. 1569 – Celebration of 125 years of education – This celebration was held at the school on Saturday, 6th May, beginning at 11 am with the registration of visitors, followed at 12 noon by Pamela Sandlant, chairperson of the 125th committee, welcoming official guests, past students and friends of the school.

Those in the official party were the two oldest former students present – Jean Donaldson (née Gray) and Linda Hinchcliffe (née Prentice); Alex Driscoll, the youngest student; Ingrid Johnson, the School Council President; the Hon. Michael Ronaldson, Federal Member of Parliament; Joe Helper, MLA, Member for Ripon; David Ingham, R.P.C., Department of Education and Training; Dianne Hadden, MLA for Ballarat Province; Lester Harris, Shire President, and his wife, Elizabeth; Stephen Cornish, CEO Pyrenees Shire; Leni Vandenbeld, Principal; Jos Kulman, Acting Principal; and Pamela Sandlant, Chairperson of the 125th Committee.

Michael Ronaldson and Joe Helper both gave short addresses to those present and Dianne Hadden presented Ingrid Johnson with a tree to be planted to mark the occasion. A plaque was unveiled by Ingrid Johnson and young Alex Driscoll, and a cake was cut by the two oldest returning pupils present, Jean Donaldson and Linda Hinchcliffe, assisted by the youngest student, Alex Driscoll. This was followed by a roll-call of past and present students and teachers of the school.

The afternoon activities included old-fashioned games, the boot throw, sack races, broom throw, etc. Old-time colonial school lessons created much interest, with both present-day pupils and former students enjoying the experience of doing old-style copy book writing with pen and ink! There was also an excellent memorabilia display of photos, letters and old books, covering the school’s 125 years’ history. These activites concluded with a barbecue followed by a bush dance in the evening, where the band, ‘Man of the Hill’, played.

Although it was a cold and windy day, all 250 guests who attended enjoyed this excellent celebration and sincere thanks must go to the organisers, and the people and companies who helped or donated items toward the day, and made it as successful as it was.

An excellent booklet, “Lexton Primary School No. 1569 – 125th Celebrations, 1875-2000” was put out to mark the occasion and copies are available at $3.50 each. This booklet includes snippets of school history, some class photos from 1931-1993, and a list of all the teachers over the years. Good souvenir pens, marked ‘Lexton School 2000’ are $5 each. Both are available from Mrs. S. Driscoll, C/o Post Office, Lexton, 3352, or phone (03) 54 66 7313.

Some Background Information to Schooling in Lexton Before the Opening of Primary School No. 1569 on 1st May, 1875 –

The Anderson family, pioneer settlers in Lexton (Burnbank) in 1845, engaged Mr. William Wern, son of the great Welsh Congregational preacher, as a tutor to their family and some others. In 1850, Mr. James McKenzie was a tutor to the children at Mt. Mitchell. No doubt there would have been others employed as a tutor or a governess in the town or on nearby stations.

In 1851, Port Phillip was separated from New South Wales, creating the new Colony of Victoria. Confidence in the new Colony was soon reflected in growth at Burnbank. At the Annual Meeting of the Anglican Diocesan Society, held at the Mechanics’ Institute in Melbourne on 26th September, 1851, His Honour Superintendent Latrobe was the Chairman. On the agenda was a report by Mr. R.W. Pohlman on progress made in the affairs of the Church. During discussion of the report, it was revealed that the Church was contemplating establishing boarding schools at Ballan and Burnbank. As with many other plans at this time, the discovery of gold brought about changes and the school at Burnbank did not eventuate.

By 1855, the Presbyterians had established a school in the ‘Blue Store’. It is thought that the ‘Blue Store’ formed part of William Millar’s headquarters, from which he had conducted his business as a hawker, taking a variety of goods to stations in the Western District and the Wimmera. When the Presbyterians opened their Church on Talbot Road, the school moved into the new building in 1857. In 1863, the Presbyterian School became Common School No. 380. This School became State School No. 1569 on 1st May, 1875 when teachers and students moved across the road, from the Presbyterian Church to the new school building.

Memorialists who signed a petition for the building of a Government school at Lexton –

(VPRS 795/PO, Unit 940)

Walter Fairlie, J.P. Lexton James Gray Lexton John McDonald Lexton

John Roxburgh .. John Fowler .. Eneas Conway ..

Wm. Greene .. Wm. Howard .. James Conway ..

Thos. Fairman .. Michl. Lyons .. Catherine Murphy .. Lachlan McKenzie .. James Robertson, J.P., Mt. Mitchell Alfred Murphy ..

Iain G. Goodshaw .. Thomas Kirk ? Lexton Jane Moore ..

William McDonald .. William Lofts Granite Hill David Moore ..

David Gray .. nr. Lexton Paul Wilkinson ..

Alfred Porter .. Donald A. Ferguson Lexton Jonas Simpkin ..

James Clark .. John E. Williamson .. Tomas Palmby ..

Smith Giles .. Archibald McPhee .. John P. Murphy ..

John Little .. William Kendall .. Augs. N. Hallifax, A.B.

Epidemics at Lexton – On 22nd May, 1883, John McGillivray, the Head Teacher, wrote to the Secretary of the Education Department, as follows:-

“I regret to have to report an outbreak of Typhoid Fever in Lexton, and according to instructions issued, will prevent the attendance of any children from infected houses.” (VPRS 640/PO Unit 1148 File 1569)

On 22nd July, 1909, Robert J. Adams was Head Teacher, and wrote to the Department:

“I have the honour to state that from advice given by the local Health Officer, I have this day closed the Lexton State School owing to an outbreak of Whooping Cough.

“Owing to the outbreak, which appears to be of a very severe nature, the average daily attendance has fallen to 30, and some of those are becoming affected. I am forwarding herewith a recommendation to close the school from the Health Officer.”

(The initial recommendation was closure for two weeks, but from official notes on the correspondence, it would seem the school was closed for much longer.)

(VPRS 640/PO, Unit 1149)

The School and the Community – On 23rd November, 1882, Mr. Walter Fairlie, of Lexton, wrote the following letter to the Secretary of the Education Department:

“Sir, I understand there are several ‘Black Boards’ not in use, stored at the Lexton State School No. 1569. As President of the Public Library at Lexton, might I ask if the Department will grant us the use of one of the Boards for the convenience of Lecturers to be engaged by the Library Committee to give Lectures in connection with the Library. I have the honour to be Sir, Your Obt.St., (Sgd.) Walter Fairlea” (VPRS 795/PO, Unit 940)

Social Evenings at the School – Charles G. Schulz, as Correspondent for the Lextonshire Board of Advice in 1883, wrote to the Secretary of the Education Department, as follows:-

“Springs, Jun. 5th, 1883

Board of Advice No. 174 School District of South Riding, Lextonshire

Sir, Application has been made by the Springs Football Club for the use of the State School for a Social Evening on Friday, 22 inst. I have the honour to inform you that the Board has granted the application (there not being another Building available), subject to the consent of the Minister, whose consent they request.

I have the honour to be Sir

Your Obedient Servant

(Sgd.) Chas. G. Schulz Correspondent.”

This was followed by another letter to the Department on 16th July, showing developments in this matter:

“Springs, July 16th, 1883

Board of Advice No. 174 School District of South Riding, Lextonshire

Sir, I have the honour to inform you that, on the receipt of your letter of the 13 ultimo, a Special Meeting was called for the Board to deal with the conditions laid down in that letter – the Secretary of the ‘Springs Football Club’ withdrew the application, and the matter lapsed. Enclosed I now append an application for a social evening from the Springs Bachelors in which dancing is to form part of it. The Board of Advice has granted it unanimously and will see that it is carried on with decorum. Subject to the Minister’s consent which is hereby solicited. I have the honour to be Sir

Your Obedient Servant

(Sgd.) Chas. G. Schulz, Correspondent”

(VPRS 640/PO Unit 1148, File 1569)

(My thanks to Margaret Oulton for these interesting items from the PRO re the Lexton State School. Thanks also to Margaret and Harry Oulton, Sue Driscoll and Edna Jarvis for their assistance with other items in this newsletter. Ed.