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The courthouse on a Monday morning continues to be a busy place. With the cold weather the workers are found in the two smaller rooms, which can be heated! The 2 readers are in use in indexing the Echo microfilms and the computers are in use entering the Margaret Di Fiore files. Meanwhile two people are cataloguing the photos and another entering their index onto computer, another is indexing the articles on printouts from the newspapers, maintenance is being carried out and we welcome the visitors that drop by! John Neall has undertaken the big job of replacing the termite damage in the door jam on the magistrate’s bench. Lynn Wallace has come across the fascinating story of Madeline Hugo, lost in the Guildford bush in 1894... but more of that later!


Thanks to Dorothy and Dave Clark for donating another Mac computer to us. Our resident computer guru Brian Dieckmann has set it up as the main repository of our Newstead data and it now leaves another older machine to be taken home to index the Newstead Echo data by Janet Trudgeon and Di Reid. At present there are over 22,000 items indexed.


Earlier this month we went to Guildford to meet with Frank Passalaqua and learn more about that part of our district. Frank met us on the steps of the hall and pointed out what the street scene looked like in past years. Then we moved inside to see the impressive array of things Frank and the Guildford people have on display. One of the first things that caught our eye was the Lowrie shield hanging on the wall. Frank explained that it had been rescued from a disused mineshaft in Chewton. With us was Elsie Barkla who as Elsie Williamson, had helped win the shield for Newstead in the nineteen thirty period! Another thing that caught our attention was an article in Frank’s book of Madeline Hugo... but more of that later! We made the obligatory visit to the big tree where we shared our afternoon tea. Our next excursion will be on Monday August 12, leaving from the courthouse at 1.30 to go to meet with Max Kay and to see the Yapeen area. We will get a view of Strathloddon and see the house where William Aberdeen lived. We plan a visit to the Sandon area in September and hope to go to Tarilta-Vaughan at a future date.


This fascinating story, gleaned from the Mount Alexander Mail is as follows...

Monday August 20 1894

”LOST IN THE BUSH”. Yesterday afternoon shortly after 3 o’clock, a vague communication was received here by Sergeant Salts, to the effect that a child, five years old, had been lost near Guildford at about 10 o’clock Saturday morning. Mounted Policeman Prictor was at once dispatched to Guildford, and joined over 300 persons who were searching for the child. Had the intimation been received in Castlemaine earlier yesterday a large number of persons here would have assisted in the search for the child, whose name is Madeline Hugo. It appears that on Saturday morning she accompanied her father into the bush beyond Guildford to cut some firewood. After filling his wheelbarrow, he told the girl to remain where she was, and to take care of his coat. She promised to do so but upon the father’s return he found the child was missing... The search continued yesterday, over 300 persons (including many horsemen) participating in it, but nothing could be seen or heard of the little girl up to a late hour last night. The search will be continued at daybreak this morning, when it is hoped the child will be found safe and well. Fortunately, the weather has been milder than usual since Saturday morning, and unless the girl has fallen into a hole, there is the probability that she may not have perished, but in her wanderings, may have reached the house of some resident in the Guildford or Newstead districts.

Tuesday August 21 1894

Up to last night, no trace had been found of the little girl Madeline Hugo, who has been missing since Saturday afternoon. During yesterday the police and a large number of civilians scoured the thickly-timbered bush near Guildford, Newstead and Yandoit, but were unable to glean any tidings of the child. A piece of ribbon which she had worn was found on Sunday in Vosti’s paddock, situate about a mile from Guildford, and four miles from her parent’s residence. Last night two blacktrackers arrived in Castlemaine by express from Melbourne, and afterwards proceeded to Guildford in charge of Mounted-Constable Faulkner. They will join the search today, and it is hoped, the poor little girl will be found alive and well. It has now transpired that she had been staying with Mr McEnvoy (sic), a relative, and went into the bush on Saturday morning with her brother (10 years old), and not the father, as previously stated.

Wednesday August 22 1894

The search for the missing Child, Madeline Hugo, was continued yesterday without any trace being found of her whereabouts. The supposition now is – and it is well grounded that the little girl has succumbed to exposure and starvation, as four days and nights have elapsed since she was missed...The two blacktrackers were yesterday taken to the spot in the bush between Guildford and Yandoit, where the child was last in the company of her brother, and a trail was followed for a distance, but the hardness and the density of the bush country rendered the task of tracking a most difficult one, and so far nothing has resulted there from... 

Thursday August 23 1894

The two blacktrackers and over 200 other searchers scoured the bush beyond Guildford yesterday in quest of Madeline Hugo, who has been lost since last Saturday morning. The day again passed without any tidings being gleaned of her whereabouts, but at 6 o’clock a track was found about 11 miles from the residence of her aunt (Mrs McEvoy) at Limestone Creek, and the police believe that by following the track the poor little girl will be found.

Friday August 24 1894

The sixth day and night having passed without the missing child, Madeline Hugo, being found, the opinion is expressed more freely that the poor little girl will not be recovered alive. The black trackers, mounted police and over 200 civilians, including the distracted father of the girl, resumed the search yesterday, and it was learnt that on Monday a charcoal burner, while returning to his camp, distant about 6 ˝ miles from Guildford, found a marble and the footprints of a child in the bush. The excuse tendered for not reporting the discovery earlier than yesterday was owing to the fact that he had two horses and drays and could not leave them. The search parties expressed their indignation with the charcoal burner for his action in the matter. Had he reported the fact at once, the child may have been found ere now. The blacktrackers followed a trail picked up by Mounted Constable Prictor in the Porcupine Ridge area... the search will be resumed today... the horses are knocked up...

Saturday August 25 1894


Great excitement prevailed yesterday afternoon about 5 o’clock when it was learned that Sergeant salts had received a welcome telegram from Guildford, stating that the lost child, Madeline Hugo, was found alive by a party at Glenlyon, and requesting to send a doctor. This cheering news spread with extraordinary rapidity; it quickly passed from one to another, and formed the theme of universal discussion. The common wonder was that the poor girl was alive, as an impression existed that she must have perished from the exposure and want of sustenance. She wandered away on Saturday forenoon, so she was out for six nights in the bush exposed to cold and rain.... The honour and pleasure of finding the child go to a party of six formed at Glenlyon by Constable Fitzpatrick, of Daylesford and Constable Meredith of Glenlyon. They started intent on their humane mission at noon yesterday, and after an acute search For three hours, Mr Smythe stopped for a few seconds to light a cigar when at a distance, of about a hundred yards he saw something moving, and quickly came to the conclusion that it was the child. When making towards her she did not turn to her rescuers but the poor wearied, famished little thing turned away from them because she was frightened...... The place where she was happily discovered was....about 16 miles from where she was lost. The only sustenance she had during all her long weary travels was water. When seen she was gnawing at a boot she had taken off, and had likewise taken off a sock. The coat she had been carrying was lost so even that raiment of warmth was gone.”

V/hat a story!

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