My Blog is turning 1!

Today is my blog’s 1st birthday!

Time for a review…

Site Stats:

Since going online on 28 October 2015, there’s been 24 blog posts, 5,249 views, 1799 visitors, and 183 comments.

The blog post with the most views?

Back to the Main Drain-Cora Lynn, Vervale and Iona. A car trip around the Koo Wee Rup Swamp with my Aunty Muriel and my cousin Howard, revisiting the places inhabited by the WINTER and COGHLAN families.

Greatest number of views in one day?

91 views on 8 November 2015.

This was most probably a consequence of being added to the blog roll of GeneaBloggers an online family history blogging community started by Thomas MacEntee in the USA.

The country with the most views?

The blog has been visited by people from nearly every corner of the globe, but most of the views have come from:

Australia…4,331 views

USA…337 views

Brazil…185 views (This happened in the early days and caused me a little angst. I thought someone was trying to hack me but nothing eventuated.)

United Kingdom and Ireland were next on the list followed by about 15 other countries.

Sharing the blog on social media certainly bumps up the views.

The blog post with the most comments?

What’s in a Name? This was my first foray into locating places that no longer exist today. I learnt that early Victorian place names were often the names of landmarks, such as, the names of properties rather than towns as we know them today.

What have I learnt about the blogging process?

Technically, it’s a steep learning curve but persistence pays off…and watching a few video tutorials also helps.

I‘ve learnt how to embed Google maps into the WordPress platform. This has enabled me to show a visual display of the local geography, roads, rivers, etc, surrounding the place in question as it looks today.

I‘ve learnt how to overlay historic parish maps onto the same area as it looks today using Google Earth. This is fabulous. It enables you to see how the layout of areas has changed and it gives you an idea of the size of former properties.

Challenges?

The constant challenge is to make the stories informative, accurate, concise and at the same time entertaining.

Reminding myself to always think laterally, not to assume b follows a. To remember it’s sometimes necessary to find 2 or 3 items of corroborating evidence before jumping to conclusions.

Surprising Contacts?

A member of the Greta Heritage Group in Victoria contacted me via the blog. She had found a document tucked away in a second-hand book she’d bought in a clearance sale. The document pertained to a William WINTER of Diggers Rest. Was I interested in it, she asked?

I sure was. She generously posted the document to me. It was a thrill to handle a document my great great grandfather had handled even if it was about money he owed….more of that later.

Another surprise contact was from the author of a book I had based a post on regarding the drinking habits of one of my forebears: Some ‘hard’ drinking in the WINTER line. The author’s name is Patrick J. O’Connor and his book is called, ‘All Worlds Possible: The Domain of the Millers of Coolybrown’. On May 27 2016, he commented,

I am delighted to discover the use to which my book was put. I presented a copy to the National Library of Australia in 1999, when sojourning briefly in Canberra. The letters of Edward Miller are a wonderful evidential source.

Patrick O’Connor

Another contact was from Ray Gibb, a ‘guru’ on the history of Tullamarine. He gave me some historic details and some helpful ideas to enable further research on Edward WINTER and the property known as ‘Springs’.

There’s also been contact from distant cousins here in Australia and in Ireland and England. It’s funny how a smattering of common genes can promote an instant connection. It’s been very gratifying to share information with them.

The regular contact with the LEE relatives in the USA has been very special too. Our swapping of information and photos has led to some wonderful insights and some conundrums, yet to be figured out…

What are the advantages of blogging the family history?

Without a doubt, the flexibility and scope of the medium. I can correct and/or add to stories as new information arises. I can reach out to a wider audience, both locally and internationally than I can with a book. I can share photos and embed movies.

Fears?

Pressing the Publish button…this always makes me nervous. Am I sure the details are correct? Are there any living relatives that might be exposed who don’t want to be exposed? (I’m ever mindful of protecting the living and their identity).

The possibility of being hacked. Hopefully, I have enough security to prevent this from happening. The satisfaction I get from blogging tends to dispel this fear.

The joys?

The joy of writing. I love it especially when you reach that magical moment, when the words just seem to leap off your fingertips and onto the screen and you look up and it’s 3 in the morning. Fabulous!

It’s also a joy and a relief to finally get the family history ‘out there’, out of my head and into yours.

Another joy has been becoming part of a Facebook group called Australian Local & Family History Bloggers. This is a very supportive group of like-minded bloggers who share ideas and knowledge and discuss problems. The group has provided a venue for the family history bloggers to post blog entries on Facebook. The page is called Australian History Bloggers Fan Page.

The highlight of my research?

There are many highlights, but the one that springs to mind is finding the headstone of  my great grandfather’s brother, George Williams LEE, in Sale cemetery.

I’d spent a lot of time researching this previously unknown young man who emigrated from London to Australia as a gold seeker and ended up running for parliament. Unfortunately, his young life was cut short by a fatal kick from a colicky horse. He died in 1864 at the age of 32. After reading all the reports of his speeches in the newspapers I felt as if I knew him so it was a thrill to see the headstone and to pay my respects.

My favourite online sites…

TROVE Love it. This is an invaluable site. Not only can I check the Australian newspapers for my forebears movements, but I can look up the availability and location of books, documents, photos etc.

Victorian Places A simple and beautifully crafted website detailing the history of towns, cities, suburbs, villages and settlements in Victoria with a population of more than 200 people.

Births, Deaths & Marriages, Victoria An obvious inclusion. The instant gratification of downloading a certificate after paying online is very appealing and very addictive.

State Library of Victoria SLV Great resource for anything Victorian. The online catalogue is especially useful for downloading old photos and parish maps which add colour and interest to the blog.

Public Record Office Victoria Great online resource for wills and probate records in Victoria.

Deceased Online Central Database of UK burials and cremations. I used this site to find the LEEs’ burial place in Nunhead Cemetery, London.

Australian Cemeteries Another wonderful resource for finding headstone inscriptions and photos.

Australian Dictionary of Biography  A great resource for finding out about ‘significant people in Australian history’.

National Film and Sound Archive You never know what you’ll find here. This is where I found the film of my dad at the Olympic Games in Melbourne in 1956. He only appears for 4 seconds but it was a thrill to see him on film.

National Archives of Australia I use this site to download personal war service records.

Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Medals, Biographical database, War History.

Of course subscriptions to Ancestry and Find My Past are very useful. Not forgetting Family Search which is free.

Plans?

More of the same. I haven’t even touched on some of the forebears. I think this blog may go on for years yet.

Relaying some stories from 2014 of walking in my forebears’ footsteps in Ireland.

Making plans to walk in more footsteps both here in Australia and in Ireland and England. I need to walk in Dundalk, Belfast, London, Bradford and possibly the Carribean!

Thank you!

Thanks to anyone and everyone who’s graced these pages over the last 12 months. I hope instead of boring you to tears I’ve left you with a slight smile, a little more knowledge or just some satisfaction that you’ve helped out a soon to be ‘old girl’ with indulging her in her passion.

And a big thanks goes to Mum who would have been 99 today. If it wasn’t for the time I had caring for her, which in turn allowed me the space to explore other interests, I may never have ventured into the wonderful world of writing.

Cheers, Marg.

Posted in Blogging, Coghlan, Lee, Winter | 16 Comments

John COGHLAN, a gold town and Puckapunyal

Once again, as in a previous blog post, What’s in a Name?, I was bamboozled by a Victorian place-name containing the word ‘Spring’. This time it was ‘Spring Creek’, the wedding venue of my great grandparents, John COGHLAN (c1836-1904) and Ellen QUINLAN (c1843-1905) who married there in 1869.

1869-marriage-of-john-coughlan-and-ellen-quinlan-spring-creek-cropped

23 July 1869 Certificate of Marriage of John CO(U)GHLAN, 33 yo, ‘storekeeper’, born Co. Galway, IRELAND and Ellen QUINLAN, 23 yo, ‘domestic servant’, born Co. Tipperary, IRELAND in Spring Creek, Victoria. Vic BDM Reg No. 2883. It’s interesting to note that John’s signature includes a ‘u’ in COUGHLAN. It’s possible, and probable, that the ‘u’ was dropped in Australia.

Here’s a reminder of how the couple (highlighted) fit into my dad’s (John Leo COGHLAN) family tree:

18-9-2016-pedigree-chart-for-john-leo-coghlanThe details of how the couple met and the lead up to how they came to be residing in Spring Creek are unknown. In fact, as far as the family folklore goes, I don’t know any ‘stories’ about this couple; they’ve been lost in time. Also, they predeceased my dad’s birth (John died in 1904 and Ellen in 1905), so he didn’t ‘know’ these grandparents, and I never heard him mention them.

So, to find out anything about them I turned to resources, such as, the newspapers of the time and the vital records (birth, marriage and death certificates). With findings from these resources and a little supposition, I have determined something of their life in Spring Creek.

THE SEARCH FOR SPRING CREEK

‘Spring’ was a popular inclusion in many Victorian place names, such as, Spring Plains, Springvale, Spring Hill, and so on. It’s not a surprising inclusion as the name acts as a marker of a water source—a necessary commodity for the colonial pioneers in setting up successful agricultural and mining pursuits and for the establishment of lasting communities. Unfortunately though, for the family historian, the preponderance of one name, such as, Spring, makes it difficult to determine a firm location, especially since the names changed over time.

In my early years of family history research, I presumed—wrongly as it turned out—that Spring Creek was in the Daylesford area. It’s not an unreasonable assumption as the COGHLANs settled in Bullarto, a town near Daylesford, which in turn is in the same locale as Hepburn Springs. However, with the gathering of more details of the COGHLAN clan, the definitive location of Spring Creek eventually revealed itself and it wasn’t near Daylesford.

We are very lucky in Victoria as our early registration records are very detailed. A requirement of registration of births was the naming of the marriage place of the parents. In regards to the birth certificates of John and Ellen’s children, the marriage place was documented as Spring Creek, Graytown, or both. A check on Victorian Places confirms that Spring Creek and Graytown are one and the same.

WHERE IS SPRING CREEK/GRAYTOWN?

The exact location of Graytown is described in the book titled, Bridging the Gap: Shire of Goulburn 1871-1971 by Joyce Hammond. The author devotes a chapter to ‘The Graytown Story’:

Formerly known as Spring Creek, Graytown is situated among the hills north of Kilmore and approximately 21 miles from Seymour, between Nagambie and Heathcote. Now part of Goulburn Shire, Graytown was formerly part of McIvor Shire, and once boasted its own governing body. It was proclaimed a borough on 9th August 1869…Nothing is left now of its former glory except Spring Creek…(page 74)

The town was named after Moses William GRAY, a passionate land reformer, ‘who was a Parliamentary member for the nearby Rodney electorate from 1860 to 1864’. (Graytown, Victorian Places)

At the time of John and Ellen’s marriage in 1869, Spring Creek was a thriving gold mining town. Gold was discovered there in October 1868 by Albert Corbett and Co. News of gold always travelled fast and the area was soon swarming with gold fossickers.

Graytown Courtesy of SLV

‘Graytown formerly known as Spring Creek’. Courtesy of State Library Vic (SLV) http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/279614

And with the influx of miners comes bankers, storekeepers, hoteliers and traders of all descriptions. It’s reported that the population swelled to between 20,000 and 30,000 during the town’s height.

By all accounts, Spring Creek/Graytown was a pretty rough place. An article in the Leader, dated Saturday 17 July 1869, written by ‘a special correspondent’ recounts the short history of the Spring Creek diggings, eight months after the discovery of gold there:

During its short career it has borne a very doubtful character, both morally and commercially: two suicides, one murder, garotte robberies, thefts and burglaries innumerable, and insolvencies by the dozen bear proof that those who looked upon it with grave suspicion were perfectly justified in so doing (page 22)

The ‘special correspondent’ believed the lack of water in the initial stages of the rush— meaning the gold could not be separated from the ‘washdirt’— contributed to the bad character of Spring Creek. Later in the report, the ‘special correspondent’ gives a more positive opinion of the new town:

Amongst the civilising influences at work may be mentioned two newspapers-one weekly, the other bi-weekly. The schools are well attended. The Church of England are about building a substantial church. The Presbyterians have purchased a building, and the services of a resident minister have been secured. The Roman Catholics have erected a substantial and handsome edifice, and the Wesleyans have also provided themselves with a respectable place of worship (page 22).

According to Hammond, ‘day after day endless numbers of drays loaded with household furniture continued to arrive and women and children were making their presence pretty fast’ (page 75).

Obviously, the new town was a good place to set up a store.

A search through Trove turned up a reference to John COGHLAN, a storekeeper, in the McIvor Times and Rodney Advertiser, dated 15 September 1871. Apparently, one of his customers, a G.P. GREENSHIELDS, had not paid up:

1871-john-coghlan-v-greenshields-majorstown

This little dalliance gave me some more info about John COGHLAN: he was a butcher as well as a storekeeper and his store was in MAJORSTOWN. Where was that?

Another search through Trove revealed an article in the same local newspaper as above, the McIvor Times and Rodney Advertiser, reporting on the naming of MAJORSTOWN:

1870-naming-of-majorstown

The Major’s Line Reefs were in the same general area as Graytown. The Major Creek being a tributary of Spring Creek. Victorian Places explains the Major’s Line in the details of the McIvor Shire:

The Major’s Line refers to wheel-tracks left by the exploring party led by the New South Wales Surveyor-General, Thomas Mitchell, on his return journey from Victoria’s Western District in 1836. He passed through the future shire (McIvor) during 5-7 October, travelling north-east. Overlanders such as Charles Ebden and Alexander Mollison came to the district in 1837, using the ‘line’ as a guide.

THE DEMISE OF SPRING CREEK/GRAYTOWN

As a ‘gold town’, Graytown was short-lived. In 1870, just a couple of years after its birth, a flood devastated the town, water filling the mine shafts. It seems ironic when prior to this, water had been so scarce they were going to haul it in from the Goulburn River. Fortunately, the flood came in the early hours of the morning so there was no loss of life in the mine shafts but the excess of water put a halt to the mining and people gradually moved away from the area.

John and Ellen’s first child, William Luke COGHLAN (1870-1892), was born in Graytown on 29 July 1870. I’m not sure if this was pre or post the flood:

1870-birth-of-william-luke-coughlan-spring-creek

29 July 1870 Birth of William Luke COUGHLAN, first child of John COUGHLAN, ‘storekeeper’, born Clonfert, Galway, IRELAND and Ellen QUINLAN, born Clugulla (sic), Tipperary, IRELAND in Spring Creek/Graytown. Vic BDM Reg No. 19538.

The next child, Ellen, was born in Bullarto (b.1872) as were the rest of their children. I could propose that the flood, the desertion of most of the population and ongoing debts payable to John, ended his business in Graytown, prompting a move by the young family to a more prosperous location.

Despite these issues, another reason the young couple left may have been the death of John’s father, Luke COGHLAN, in Bullarto on 31 July 1871. John and his now growing family may have taken over the running of the Bush Inn (store/hotel/accommodation) previously run by his father (I’ve yet to confirm Luke had set up the Bush Inn at this stage but he was living in Bullarto and he had been a storekeeper in Newbury, not far from Bullarto).

family-view-report-for-john-coghlan-c1839-1904

Summary of children born to John COGHLAN and Ellen QUINLAN. William Luke COGHLAN was the only child born in Graytown, the rest were born in Bullarto (near Daylesford),Victoria.

 A DRIVE TO GRAYTOWN

As is my wont, I like to walk in my forebears’ foot steps.

I drove to Heathcote. I tried their very nice rolls in the bakery for lunch, walked the main street with its noticeable accent on advertisements for local wines, and visited the information centre. There, I found a small pamphlet on Graytown. It was basically the information I had already read in Joyce Hammond’s book. The helpful informer told me that most people come in there to ask for directions to the wineries not to the old diggings.

I then headed for the Heathcote – Nagambie Road. It was a good road cutting through the tall, grey blue, ironbark forests. There was a sign for Graytown in the middle of what seemed like nowhere. I turned into ‘Corbett Street’, the main street of the old Graytown. A wall of trees confronted me, with a narrow muddy lane wending its way through them:

11 Sep 2016 GRAYTOWN Corbertt Street

11 Sep 2016 GRAYTOWN Corbett Street. Author’s collection.

A bit different to Corbett Street’s heyday:

View of Corbett Street, Graytown' (Spring Creek Diggings). Courtesy SLV. http://www.slv.vic.gov.au/pictoria/gid/slv-pic-aab67793

View of Corbett Street, Graytown’ (Spring Creek Diggings). Courtesy SLV. http://www.slv.vic.gov.au/pictoria/gid/slv-pic-aab67793

There was nothing left of the town and without a four-wheel drive there was no way I was going to bush bash my way through the muddy landscape.

Across the other side of the main Heathcote-Nagambie road is the remains of a Prisoner of War camp and 700 metres into the bush is the Graytown cemetery. This also looked like a bush bashing exercise–not an inviting prospect so I skipped it. As far as I know no relatives are buried there.

That was the end of my visit to Graytown. As I suspected, there was basically nothing to see.

AN ASIDE….

A FAMILY TRIP TO PUCKAPUNYAL IN 1959

On locating Graytown on the map, I was curious to know about the large greyed out area to Graytown’s south. On closer inspection, I realized it was Puckapunyal military camp.

1959-geoff-as-cadet

1959 Geoff as school cadet

Puckapunyal stirred a memory in me of a family trip we did in 1959 when I was about 3 years old. Mum, Dad and four of us five kids bundled into the ‘tank’, the green Vanguard, and drove up the highway to visit my eldest brother, Geoff, who was ‘stationed’ at Puckapunyal on a two-week camp. It was part of his training as a school cadet.

Geoff must have been about 15. I can remember meeting up with him and seeing big tanks but that’s all I remember. At home, I remember him meticulously polishing his big black boots on the back verandah before he headed off, in uniform, to catch the Mont Albert tram to go to school in East Melbourne, his rifle slung over his shoulder. Not something you’d see on the tram these days.

Geoff says he has fond memories of those camps. One of the highlights for him was being able to shoot with ‘live ammo’. A pretty exciting prospect for a 15 year old boy brought up on cowboys and indians!

Reference for Graytown

Joyce Hammond, Bridging the gap, Shire of Goulburn 1871-1971, Shire of Goulburn, 1971.

Posted in Coghlan, Quinlan | 18 Comments

Me, Dad and the Olympic Games

1956 was a very busy year for my dad, John ‘Jack’ Leo COGHLAN (1909-1974). Not only did he become a father for the fifth time—to me—but he was working at the Olympic Games in, our home town, Melbourne.

1957 Marg

The XVI Olympiad was the first Olympic Games to be held in Australia and the first to be held in the Southern Hemisphere. It was also the first Games to be televised.

Dad’s official position at the Games was: ‘Technical Instructor, Olympic Training Scheme’. The position was for 12 months as a teacher of broadcasting techniques. Three hundred technicians were trained at this time.

The lead up...

Dad’s service during WWII was as a radio operator in the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), serving in New Guinea and the South Pacific. On joining up, he was already proficient in morse code; a lover of anything to do with valves, resistors, oscilloscopes or such like. As a teenager he built his own crystal set (a radio receiver that received radio waves by a wire antenna) and in 1936, as a 27-year-old, he obtained his amateur radio licence. His future in the world of technology was laid out.

However, an episode of intense communication during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour in 1941 nearly put an end to his dreams of a technical life. During the attack Dad sent morse code for 48 hours. The intensity and repetitiveness of this action resulted in a ‘wayward’ right arm. Messages from his brain to his arm became scrambled. In my childhood years, the disability manifested itself, mostly, at the kitchen table: in reaching for something, such as, the salt and pepper his arm would rise up, like something possessed. To control it he had to bring it down with his left arm. We laughed. We thought it was a joke. And I must admit Dad made a joke of it too. Ever the comedian. But it must have been very frustrating for him. Mum told me she had to cut up his food for him after they were married in 1943. However, not one to be beaten by adversity (in fact, the COGHLAN family motto is ‘Courage in Adversity’) Dad learnt to write and send morse code with his left hand. Nothing was going to stop him pursuing his technical dreams.

Following his medical discharge from the RAAF, and as part of his repatriation back into civilian life, he was asked what sort of work he would like to do. He didn’t hesitate; telecommunications. He was now learning to manage his disability with a little Valium, a muscle relaxant, and his new found skill of ambidexterity.

In 1944, he took up a position as a technician in the Radio section of the Post Master General’s (PMG) Department. He worked in Broadcast House, Lonsdale St, Melbourne, the home of the radio station 3LO (now 774 ABC Melbourne)* on-air studio until 1955. Whilst there he learned a lot about recording techniques, even recording his young children, singing, on a ’78’ record.

*For a brief history of 3LO to 774 click here


The Games…

Amongst the family memorabilia are some of the official photos taken of the broadcasting areas at the Games. The following photos feature a spruced up Dad with a seemingly fresh short, back and sides, ready for one of the most exciting times of his life—besides my entry into the world, of course:

1956 Dad at the controls. Olympic Games Melbourne. Unknown photographer. Author’s private collection.

1956 Dad on left. Others unknown. Olympic Games Melbourne. Unknown photographer. Author’s private collection

1956 Dad top of photo with ? Olympic Games Melbourne. Unknown photographer. Author’s private collection.

An ‘unofficial’ photo’ of the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) is also part of the family archive. Family folklore says that Dad is the fellow in the white trailer perched precariously in front of a jeep in the centre of the following photo:

1956 MCG Olympic Games, Melbourne Australia. Apparently Dad’s the guy being transported precariously on the front of a jeep standing in the white cubicle on top of steps, centre of photo. Unknown photographer. Author’s private collection.

It’s great to have these photos and it’s been an added bonus to find Dad in a film clip archived in Australian Screen; ‘Australia’s audiovisual heritage online’, part of the National Film and Sound Archive.

This clip comes from a film sponsored by the Postmaster-General’s Department (now divided into Australia Post and Telstra) designed to celebrate and promote the achievement of a telecommunications system for the 1956 summer Olympics in Melbourne that was modern and of an international standard. The Games, the first to be held in Australia and in the southern hemisphere, were seen as a chance to prove Australia could stage a world-class event.

In the film clip (below), Dad is standing to the left of screen, in his ‘supervising role’ at the 32 second mark. He’s on for about 4 seconds so you’ve got to be quick!

Australia Post – Olympic Post Script (1956) Clip 1

There’s also some great examples of home movies taken at the Melbourne Games by Bruce Beresford, Mike Leyland and Sir Robert Menzies on the National Film and Sound Archive. To see them click here


After the Games, Dad went on to have a very fruitful and rewarding career with the PMG. But his technical interests did not stop at work; in his ‘spare time’ he made our television set and stereo equipment, and to ‘relax’, he exchanged signal strength information and weather conditions with people all over the world on his beloved ‘ham’ radio. A true techno whiz!

Posted in Coghlan | Tagged | 14 Comments

Where did I get that hair…Mary Jane CAMERON?

I have a lot of hair. It’s thick and curly. As a child my mum attempted to train its unruly behaviour by giving me frequent ‘trims’. She skilfully wielded those sharp scissors over my head as a I dutifully perched on the high, yellow stool. The result: a short style with ‘room to grow’, which meant, a fringe halfway up my forehead.

1961 Studio photoMum had gained tips for cutting curly hair from an auntie of Dad’s, ‘Auntie Grace’, and she, in turn, had picked up tips from her husband, Charles Edward Cameron LEE (1875-1950), who had been a hairdresser in Albury. Auntie Grace taught Mum how to ‘cut into the curl’, angling the scissors so that the ends were tapered, resulting in separate curls rather than a ‘mop’. It was a successful technique and is still used by hairdressers today.

As I ventured into adolescence, I wanted to grow my hair. Mum was not a proponent of long hair as she believed it sapped energy. She’d say to me, ‘all your energy is going into your hair’. I’m not sure where she got this idea from, perhaps it was part of her family folklore or perhaps it was something she learnt in her 1930s nursing training. Anyway, the growing of the hair did not result in a perceived drop in energy levels but it did result in a voluminous nest of curls and split ends.

1971 Long hair

The long hair did come in handy though, especially for ‘up-dos’. I was a bridesmaid for my sister’s wedding in 1971 and the fashion of the day was a slightly Victorian/Edwardian style: hair piled high on top of the head and high collars; Mandarin collars I think they were called.

My sister married on a public holiday, Easter Monday. Negotiations were ventured into with venues to open, as in those days most establishments closed on public holidays. The hairdresser, however, made an exception and agreed to open for the wedding party only.

1971 Wedding The hairThis was my first time at a hairdresser. I was excited. The sweet smell of the lotions and potions that would make my hair soft and manageable along with the cloud of hairspray mist just hanging in the upper stratosphere of the salon was intoxicating to an impressionable teenager with unruly hair. It felt luxurious just being there.

I don’t remember much else about the experience except that it seemed to take a very long time; my ‘do’ taking the longest. The hairdresser struggled to find places to pin the never-ending curls. And after the final curl was placed and the creation was secured with VO5, I stood up and nearly fell backwards; the weight of the veritable mountain that had erupted out the back of my head had altered my centre of gravity. I soon adjusted and, thankfully, stayed upright for the rest of the day.


But where did this hair come from?

Maybe Mary JAne CAMERON in locket

As you may have noticed from previous blog posts, I love a bit of genetic analysis; a search for traits ‘handed down’ through the generations.

And in the case of my hair, my initial thoughts turned to my dad’s grandmother, Mary Jane CAMERON (1852-1934), sometimes documented as Jane Mary CAMERON, and commonly known as Jean/Jenny.

As you can see from the accompanying photo, taken in the 1870s, her hair is a similar style to mine at my sister’s wedding a hundred years later. It’s certainly thick. I suspect this is a photo of Jean on her wedding day but I don’t have proof, unfortunately.

My curl probably comes from Mum’s side but I’ll concentrate on Dad’s grandmother for this post.


What do I know about Mary Jane CAMERON?

  • She was an Irish lass, born in Dundalk, County Louth in about 1852.
  • Her parents were Alexander CAMERON and Catherine RICE.
  • She had five siblings, that I know of, and they were all born in Dundalk.
  • She married Edward LEE in 1873 in St Francis RC Church, Melbourne.
  • Capture john leo coghlan pedigree
  • The couple started their married life in Murray Street, Prahran, Victoria living there for at least 10 years. The growing family also lived in St Kilda and Carlton and lastly, in Bullarto South.
  • The couple had seven children:

Family View Report for Jane Mary Cameron

  • Jean spent a good deal of her later years living with her married daughter “Doll” (Mary Grace Jane LEE), Doll’s husband, Peter COGHLAN (my grandparents) and their two children, Jack (my dad) and Nance. She accompanied the family to Cora Lynn, West Gippsland for the few years that Peter COGHLAN managed the General Store.
  • She died in Cora Lynn on 6 Jan 1934 and was buried with her husband, Edward LEE, in St Kilda Cemetery.

1920s Mary Jane Jenny LEE nee CAMERON

The photo opposite is Jean on ‘hair wash day’ in Cora Lynn. Drying off her hair in the sun, perhaps? Maybe she never had her hair cut! I could never have managed that.

But what of Jean’s early years in the colony of Victoria, prior to her marriage?

I haven’t been able to verify her arrival in the colony but I suspect she is the Mary CAMERON (16) listed with Henry RICE (47), both Irish, in the passenger list for the ship Morning Light which arrived in Melbourne on 9th Feb 1867 from Liverpool.

Why do I think this? I know Henry RICE was Jean’s grandfather as he is named as Catherine RICE’s father on the marriage certificate of Jean’s parents, Alexander CAMERON and Catherine RICE. His age on the passenger list is about 10 years younger than I would have calculated for him (from his birth notice in 1808) but he may have lowered it to comply with emigration rulings regarding age. After all, the colony was keen to have ‘productive’ people. The ‘Mary CAMERON’ listed is the right age according to Jean’s known birth year.

1866 Henry RICE leaves for AustraliaA further piece of corroborating evidence confirming Henry RICE’s emigration is a few lines I found in the Irish newspaper The Dundalk Democrat and People’s Journal dated  27 Oct 1866:

MR. HENRY RICE-a respected inhabitant of Dundalk, left for Liverpool on Monday evening to take shipping for Australia, where he goes to join some of his children who are in a prosperous position in that Colony. Always honest, trustful, and kind-hearted, Mr Rice has left his native town with the good wishes of all his friends. We wish him a prosperous voyage.

I have no evidence to support Jean’s parents and/or siblings coming to Australia but there is evidence that members of her mother’s clan, the RICE family, did emigrate, as inferred in the newspaper article regarding Henry RICE (food for a later post).


A clue to how Edward and Jean may have met…involving the RICEs and the “King of Maffra”, James GIBNEY…

A cousin on my dad’s side sent me a transcript of a handwritten list of names she’d found on the inside back cover of a book titled Spirit of Prayer, which was in some family memorabilia:

  • Auntie Bessie. Died April 5th 1890 RIP.
  • Sister Mary Angela. Died June 15th 1890. RIP.
  • Bella Denholm. Died Mar. 28 1891
  • Rev. Mother Margaret. Died April 13th 1891. RIP
  • Auntie Gibney. Died March 18th 1893. RIP

And inside the front cover was the following handwritten note:

K. E. Lee, Murray Street, Prahran. April 7th 1888′

with the words ‘Windsor’ and ‘Presentation’ just visible.

I think I can safely deduce from the address that the book belonged to the eldest child of Edward and Jean, Kathleen Elizabeth LEE (sometimes referred to as Catherine). I could also deduce that Kathleen was a student at Presentation Convent, Windsor. (To read more about the history of the Presentation Sisters in Victoria, click on this link to the website  Society of Presentation Sisters)

A map of the area shows Murray Street Prahran, where the LEE family lived, is only a 15 minute walk from the Convent. I researched ‘Rev Mother Margaret’ and found that her date of death coincided with the date of death of a Presentation Sister, Sr. Margaret Mary CRONIN, one of the first Presentation Sisters to come to Australia from Ireland. It seems the family had a ‘connection’ of some kind to the Presentation Sisters-perhaps going back as far as Ireland. A whole new track to go down…..

But what really intrigued me about the list of names was the entry, ‘Auntie Gibney’.

I’d often wondered if there was a connection between James GIBNEY, a land owner in Maffra in the mid 1800s, and the naming of Edward and Jean’s youngest child, Edward James Gibney LEE (Walter ‘Alan’ LEE’s father). I’m pretty sure the following research holds the key…


A search for James GIBNEY of Maffra…

I did a search for ‘James GIBNEY’ and ‘Maffra’ in Trove. His obituary in the Maffra Spectator, dated 28 Dec 1899, gave me an approximate date of death and a burial place:

1899 Obituary for James GIBNEY

1899 Obituary for James GIBNEY Maffra Spectator (Vic. : 1882 – 1920), Thursday, 28 December 1899, page 3. Accessed through Trove.

OBITUARY            

DEATH OF MR GIBNEY

We, in common with old residents of Maffra, regret the demise of Mr James Gibney, which sad event occurred at Richmond last Thursday. The pseudonym, “King of Maffra” was in every way applicable to the deceased. He was the founder of the Macalister Hotel in the early days; he built at his own expense the bridge spanning the Macalister River; he was the mainstay of the church in connection with the Roman Catholic religion here and was never found wanting, in fact he practically provided funds for the building of the first chapel. Mr Gibney settled down here in one of our most comfortable homes, but at the death of his wife some few years ago he bade adieu to the district. According to the old adage, ‘Good deeds live after men!’ Did the man who has left this mortal life imagine there would have been TWO sympathisers to meet his remains at the Maffra station and FOUR to follow the bier to God’s acre?

No direct clues there …

A further search for James GIBNEY, this time on the website Australian Cemeteries revealed the details of the occupants of his grave in the Maffra Cemetery:

MAffra Cemetery Gibney graves with headingsThis information gave me James GIBNEY’s exact date of death, 21/12/1899, his second name, Joseph, and where he came from, ‘Native of Dublin Ireland‘. It also revealed details of his wife, Margaret. And, lo and behold, her date of death, 18/3/1893 coincided with ‘Auntie Gibney”s date of death. I had a connection…

Monument at grave site of James GIBNEY and his wife Margaret GIBNEY nee RICE

Monument at grave site of James GIBNEY and his wife Margaret GIBNEY née RICE

James Joseph GIBNEY () and Margaret GIBNEY nee RICE (-1893E

James Joseph GIBNEY (c1824-1899) and Margaret GIBNEY née RICE (c1827-1893)

Upon request, the kind people at Australian Cemeteries supplied me with photos of the grave site of James and his wife, Margaret GIBNEY in Maffra Cemetery.

As you can see, there is quite a substantial monument erected to James and his wife. It’s topped with a Celtic Cross and the Harp of Erin sits just below it.

The side of the monument reads:

Of …… ……… pray

For the eternal repose of

MARGARET GIBNEY

WHO DEPARTED THIS LIFE 18TH MARCH 1893, AGED 65 YEARS

ALSO OF HER HUSBAND

JAMES JOSEPH GIBNEY

NATIVE OF DUBLIN, IRELAND

AND ONE OF THE PIONEERS OF THIS DISTRICT

WHO DEPARTED THIS LIFE

21ST DEC 1899 AGED 75 YEARS

RIP


So, how was Margaret GIBNEY, alias ‘Auntie Gibney’, related/connected to the LEE family?

A search on BDM Vic using her date of death revealed that Margaret GIBNEY’s maiden name was RICE and her father’s name was Henry RICE. Bingo! Jean’s mother’s name was Catherine RICE and Catherine’s father’s name was Henry RICE.

So, Margaret GIBNEY née RICE was Jean’s mother’s sister. In other words, James GIBNEY’s wife was Jean CAMERON’s auntie.

Hope you can follow that…


Land in Maffra

A look at a map of Maffra shows many allotments owned by James GIBNEY. I’ve highlighted some of them near the Macalister River on a portion of the map (see the highlighted areas on the map below). On close inspection, there is a small block owned by ‘H RICE’ (black square). Perhaps Henry RICE and his granddaughter, Jean, settled here on their arrival in the colony to be near Henry’s daughter, Margaret, ‘Auntie GIBNEY’.

The large block near the river owned by ‘J GIBNEY’ is where the Macalister Hotel was built and owned by him. It still stands on this spot today but has undergone many renovations. And the bridge over the Macalister River (where it says ‘From Seaton’) is the bridge he built. It’s named ‘Gibney’s Bridge’.

Map of Maffra showing J Gibney and H Rice properties

Portion of map of ‘Maffra, parishes of Maffra, Bundalaguah and Wa-De-Lock, County of Tanjil’ showing the allotments owned by J GIBNEY near the Macalister River. The black box shows a block owned by H RICE. Accessed through the State Library of Victoria (SLV)  http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/109185

Below is an engraving of an artist’s impression of the township of Maffra in 1882. Note ‘Gibney’s Bridge over the Macalister River in Picture 4.

1882 Town of Maffra Gippsland Engraved by Samuel Calvert. IAN 13.5.1882. NOTE GIBNEY BRIDGE Accessed online via SLV

1882 TOWNSHIP OF MAFFRA, GIPPSLAND. 1. Maffra, from Sale Road, 2. Avon Shire Hall, 3. Church of England, 4. Gibney’s Bridge. Engraving by Samuel Calvert in Illustrated Australian News 13.5.1882. Accessed through SLV. http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/107132


The naming of Edward James Gibney LEE?

So, why did Edward and Jean LEE include ‘James GIBNEY’ in the name of their youngest son, Edward James Gibney LEE? Was it because they admired the man, James GIBNEY, and wanted to honour him by perpetuating his name? Or was it because James and Margaret GIBNEY were ‘surrogate’ parents to Jean? It’s possible Jean’s parents died prematurely in Ireland and her grandfather, Henry RICE, believing that Jean would have better prospects in Australia, brought her out to be cared for by his daughter, Margaret and her husband James GIBNEY, who didn’t have any children of their own. In fact, the more I think about this the more I think this is probably the case. There were similar arrangements in the next generation of the LEE family where children spent extended periods of time with relatives following the premature death of a parent or parents. Jean may have used the name with the idea of honouring her ‘surrogate’ parents, the GIBNEYs.


A possible scenario of how Jean CAMERON met Edward LEE:

After arriving in Melbourne in 1867, Henry RICE settles in Maffra with his granddaughter, Jean CAMERON, in order to be near his daughter, Margaret GIBNEY, née RICE. Jean spends much of her time in the Macalister Hotel helping her ‘Auntie GIBNEY’ who has no children of her own. The LEE brothers, Edward and Charles, are frequent visitors to the Macalister Hotel after rowing their boat up the river from their farms in Upper Maffra (Newry)—after all, they’re descendants of Thames lightermen, they know how to manage water transport. Edward takes a shine to the teenager with the full head of hair, Jean, but they wait until she’s 21 and he’s established himself in his profession as a wood engraver before they marry in 1873.

All supposition…but a possibility, I guess.

ADDIT

  • It turns out that ‘Auntie Bessie’, mentioned in the Spirit of Prayer, is also connected to the RICE family (for a later post)…
  • An interesting finding regarding the Macalister Hotel is that George MILLET (1851-1906), Mum’s great-uncle bought the hotel in the 1880s, and in the 1930s, Mum’s father, William Thomas Rupert WINTER was the publican there. So, the Macalister Hotel was in the hands of both sides of my parents’ pioneering families. This was years before my parents met and it’s highly unlikely the families would have known each other. An amazing case of 6 degrees of separation!
Posted in Cameron, Lee, Rice, Winter | Tagged , , , , , , | 6 Comments

My DNA. Results are in.

I’d often thought about submitting my genes for analysis to establish and/or verify my ethnic origins. Genetic testing has become a very popular thing to do in the genealogical world. The impetus to act, finally came in the form of an email I received a few months ago. It was from a relative of the WINTER clan still living in Ireland—my mother’s paternal line. The relative informed me that she’d done the test and she was ‘95% Irish’. This was interesting, as it basically put to bed the theory that the WINTERs had migrated from Germany to Ireland, possibly, to escape religious persecution. It meant that the WINTERs were, in fact, ‘natives’ of Ireland.

The genetic line this relative carried had been passed down, in Ireland, for many generations. I, however, was a mixture. From what I knew of my heritage, I was 75% Irish, and 25% English. Three quarters of my great-great-grandparents, 12 out of 16 in fact, were born in Ireland: Luke COGHLAN, Ellen NEVIN, Martin QUINLAN, Ellen DUNN, Alexander CAMERON, Catherine RICE, Edward WINTER, Honoria TANCRED, Susanna FITZPATRICK, Jane BLAIR, Edward BOWES and Catherine KEEGAN. The other four were born in England: Edward LEE, Jemima WILLIAMS, George MILLETT and William SELLERS. I wondered, if I did the test, would it show this mix as I had calculated it or, would there be surprises? A Viking, perhaps?

My results arrived via email, two months after my little vial of spittle had flown over the Pacific to the AncestryDNA lab in America. The results were exciting… and surprising.

Here they are:

My AncestryDNA results

2016 My AncestryDNA results. Courtesy of Ancestry.com

And in a little more detail:

2016 My AncestryDNA profile. Courtesy of Ancestry.com

Yes. I am 75% Irish. Not surprising. But what about those other bits and pieces? And the Iberian Peninsula (Spain and Portugal). 9%! That’s quite a chunk of my DNA. Strangely, I’ve never had the desire to dance the fandango or tease a bull with my red cape, so, what’s the story?

Ancestry.com has a lot of information about the different ethnic groups it tests for and after much reading it appears that my Iberian genes and all the other European bits and pieces I’m made up of are the result of the Celtic tribes moving across Europe. As it states on Ancestry.com:

Originating in central Europe, they [the Celts] spread to dominate most of western Europe, the British Isles and the Iberian Peninsula.

Admittedly, testing autosomal DNA (AncestryDNA test), that is, the hotchpotch of DNA inherited from both parents, is going to result in ‘mixtures’ of ethnic origins unless, of course, the parents have lived in the same place and married within the same group for generations. In that case, they may be considered ‘natives’ of the area. It is a fairly crude analysis, at best. There are other DNA tests available which will give more particular information: the Y-DNA test analyzes the DNA passed down on the patrilineal line, that is, from father to son, and the mitochondrial DNA test analyzes the DNA passed down on the matrilineal line, that is, from mother to her children. The latter test is interesting in that the mitochondrial DNA inherited by a daughter from her mother is in turn passed on to her daughter, and so on. Results from this testing may provide valuable historical information about the origins of the maternal line. This information is often hard to find or sometimes impossible to find as women were not often mentioned in records or newspapers.

So far, Ancestry has ‘matched’ my test results with 37 4th cousins and another 60, or so, distant cousins. A few of them have contacted me and no doubt we’ll be swapping facts and stories in the future.

Unfortunately, or fortunately, I didn’t score highly in the Viking stakes but I’m very happy to be a Celt…I think.

Posted in DNA | 4 Comments

A LEE Match!

About a month ago, a LEE ‘relative’ in the USA, who I’ve recently made contact with, emailed a couple of photos of a brother of her forebear, Charles LEE (1841-1929). Charles LEE being the brother of my great-grandfather Edward LEE (1840-1898).

The question….are the photos of Edward LEE?

Edward LEE sent to USA from Australia copy

?Edward LEE. Courtesy of relative in USA.

Edward LEE Stewart and Co

?Edward LEE. Courtesy of relative in USA.

One of the photos is labelled Stewart and Co., Melbourne. I found a brief history of the company on the Cambridge University Library website as part of a project The Royal Commonwealth Society Photograph Collection.

The project is a history of photographers active in the Commonwealth and the images taken.

Robert Stewart was a commercial photographer active in Australia. He had studios in: 267 Pitt Street, Sydney 1863-64; 396 George Street, Sydney 1867-68; 348 George Street, Sydney 1868-70. From 1871 Stewart also had a studio at 217 Bourke Street East, Melbourne. This studio seems to have become known as Stewart and Co.. Stewart and Co. occupied a (sic) various studios in Bourke Street, Melbourne, until circa 1900 (Davies and Stanbury 1985, p.235).
Sources: Davies, Alan and Stanbury, Peter (1985), ‘The mechanical eye in Australia: photography 1841-1900’. Melbourne: Oxford University Press.

The fact that the photographers were not in business as Stewart and Co. in Melbourne until after 1871 rules out the possibility that the photo is of the other LEE brother known to have emigrated to Australia, that is, George Williams LEE, as he died in Maffra, Victoria in 1864.

I think you’d have to agree that the gentleman in the two photos above from the USA, who I suspect are of the same person, bears a striking resemblance to the gentleman in the locket owned by my grandmother, Mary Grace Jane COGHLAN (née LEE) (1881-1958), one of Edward LEE’s three daughters.

The Locket belonging to my grandmother Mary Grace Jane LEE (1881-1958), known as ‘Doll’.

In a previous blog post, The Locket, I came to the likely conclusion that the images were of my grandmother’s parents: Mary Jane LEE (née CAMERON) (c1852-1934), known as Jean, and Edward LEE (1840-1898). Now, with the likenesses from the USA of ‘Charles LEE’s brother’ matching the photo in my grandmother’s locket this raises the probability even higher that it is indeed, my great-grandfather, Edward LEE, in the locket.

I was really excited to receive the images from the USA. They are a very valuable addition to the LEE story in Australia. So many thanks LEE ‘relative’!

Posted in Cameron, Lee | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

‘Duty nobly done’: two WINTER brothers KIA in France.

Poppies

My homegrown Flanders Poppies

In ‘travels with my forebears’ I came across the deaths of two WINTER brothers, killed in action, in the First World War:

Private Herbert William WINTER (c.1888-1917)

Private Bertram John WINTER (c.1891-1917)

They were the sons of John WINTER (1850-1902) and Margaret FOX (1859-1930) of Lake Rowan, a small town in northern Victoria between Benalla and Yarrawonga.

Family View Report for John Winter captureJohn WINTER, the boys’ father, was the youngest son of Edward WINTER (1812-1869), my great-great-grandfather of Diggers Rest (see previous posts) and Honoria TANCRED (1818-1856). In an easier to understand relationship, the brothers were first cousins of my maternal grandfather, William Thomas Rupert WINTER (1875-1939).

Herb, the older brother, was the first to enlist. He ‘signed up’ at Benalla on 20 July 1915 at the age of 26. Seven months later on 8 March 1916 Bert enlisted at Wangaratta, Victoria at the age of 25. They were both assigned to ‘Reinforcements’ of the 22nd Australian Infantry Battalion; Herb to the 7th Reinforcement and Bert to the 13th Reinforcement. Herb eventually becoming part of the 57th battalion.

Herb and Bert were country boys; Herb a ‘farm labourer’ and Bert a ‘labourer’. Both single. Their father John, died when the boys were about 14 and 12 from tuberculosis. The boys may well have been the main breadwinners for the family before enlisting.

Their mother Mrs Margaret WINTER, ‘widow’, is listed as their next of kin on the enlistment forms.

Herb embarked from Melbourne on 26 November 1915, disembarking in Egypt. There he was admonished for playing ‘House‘ (housey-housey perhaps, a form of bingo/lotto) in the Moascar camp in June 1916.

AWM Photo H02274 SUEZ CANAL AREA, EGYPT. C. 1915. SIX AUSTRALIAN SOLDIERS OUTSIDE TENTS ON THE EDGE OF MOASCAR CAMP. (DONOR A.M. MEENAH)

1915 ‘SUEZ CANAL AREA, EGYPT. C. 1915. SIX AUSTRALIAN SOLDIERS OUTSIDE TENTS ON THE EDGE OF MOASCAR CAMP. (DONOR A.M. MEENAH)’. Courtesy of Australian War Memorial (AWM) Photo H02274.

He was transferred from Alexandria to Marseilles, France on 24 June 1916 and was killed in action on the Western Front at Beaumetz, France on 26 March 1917.

AWM Photo J06114 THE CROSSROADS AT BEAUMETZ, IN FRANCE WHERE MINES MADE HOLES 20 YARDS WIDE AND 6 YARDS DEEP. TAKEN ON 1917.04.05. (DONATED BY MR. T.J. RICHARDS, M.C.)

5 April 1917 ‘THE CROSSROADS AT BEAUMETZ, IN FRANCE WHERE MINES MADE HOLES 20 YARDS WIDE AND 6 YARDS DEEP. TAKEN ON 1917.04.05. (DONATED BY MR. T.J. RICHARDS, M.C.)’. Courtesy of AWM Photo J06114.

Not long after Herb was transferred to France his brother, Bert, embarked from Melbourne on 3 July 1916. He was transferred to France from England on 12 November 1916 but a month later he ended up in hospital in Rouen with mumps on 8 December 1916. He didn’t return to his battalion until 5 February 1917. So, for about 6 weeks (5 Feb 1917 till 26 March 1917 when Herb was killed) the 2 brothers were moving, I presume separately, in an easterly direction towards the Western front.

Bert was killed in action at Bullecourt on 15 April 1917, a couple of months after returning to duty and 3 weeks after his brother was killed.

I wonder if he knew?

AWM Photo H12360 BULLECOURT, FRANCE, C. 1917. VIEW OF TRENCHES CLOSE TO THE VILLAGE.

c. 1917 ‘BULLECOURT, FRANCE, C. 1917. VIEW OF TRENCHES CLOSE TO THE VILLAGE’. Courtesy of AWM Photo H12360.

The Australian War Memorial website describes the movements of the 22nd Australian Infantry Battalion after being joined by reinforcements:

In March 1916, the battalion embarked for France and experienced their first service on the Western Front in reserve breastwork trenches near Fleurbaix at the end of the first week of April 1916. The battalion’s first major action was at Pozieres, part of the massive British offensive on the Somme. In September/October they were moved to the Ypres sector then back to the Somme for the winter. The battalion spent most of 1917 bogged in bloody trench warfare from Bullecourt to Broodseinde in Flanders.


The family death notices in the Melbourne newspaper, The Argus, are each published a month after the deaths:

1917 Death notice for Herbert William WINTER 27 April The Argus

Death notice for Herbert William WINTER printed in the Argus on 27 April 1917.

WINTER– Killed in action in France, March 26 1917 Private Herbert William Winter, dearly loved eldest son of Margaret and the late John Winter, Lake Rowan, loved brother of Maud, Laura, and Bert (on active service); aged 28 years.

Sadly missed. Loved by all.

Duty nobly done.

1917 Death notice for Bertram John WINTER KIA 15.4.17. The Argus 15 May.

Death notice for Bertram John WINTER printed in the Argus on 15 May 1917.

WINTER-Killed in action, France, 15/4/17, Private Bertram John, beloved youngest son of Margaret and the late John Winter, Lake Rowan, also loved brother of Maud, Laura, and the late Private H. W. Winter (killed in action), aged 26 years.

Loved by all who knew him.


The brothers are honoured in two different cemeteries in France: Herb in Lebucquiere Communal Cemetery Extension Plot 1, Row B, Grave No. 4 and Bert in Villers-Bretonneux Memorial.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission manage the cemeteries. Certificates of commemoration as shown below can be downloaded from the website here

Herbert William WINTER commemorative certificate

 

Bertram John WINTER Commemorative certificate

My only sources for this blog post have been the records available through the various Departments. For further information about the brothers’ war experience the Defence service records can be accessed and downloaded from the Australian National Archives and the Red Cross reports of their deaths can be accessed and  downloaded from the Australian War Memorial website.

A very sad tale

Lest we forget

Posted in Winter | Tagged , | 8 Comments

Sunbury Festivals and my great-great-grandfather, Edward WINTER’s, farm.

Pondering the fact that Mum’s side of the family had strong links to the Sunbury area in Victoria, I wondered if the original WINTER farm as detailed in my last blog post How I ‘met’ my great-grandfather William WINTER. Part 1. was anywhere near the Sunbury pop festivals of the 1970s. I did a bit of googling and the results were surprising…

According to Wikipedia, the annual festivals (1972-1975 inclusive)—Victoria’s version of Woodstock—were held on ‘George Duncan’s farm, Diggers Rest’:

The four Sunbury Pop Festivals were held on the same 620-acre (2.5 km2) private farm along Jacksons Creek, 3.5 km south of Sunbury and 2 km north-east of Diggers Rest.[3] The property was owned by 50-year-old farmer and local identity George Duncan who offered the use of his land at no cost to the organisers. The property was known locally as “Duncan’s farm”… The entrance gates to the Sunbury Pop Festival were off Watsons Road, Diggers Rest. Promoters rejected the name of Diggers Rest ’72 in favour of Sunbury ’72 as being more suggestive of a good time and sunny destination. (Jenkins, Jeff; Meldrum, Ian (2007). “Festivals”. Molly Meldrum Presents 50 Years of Rock in Australia. Melbourne: Wilkinson Publishing. pp. 245–251).

The festival venue was closer to the smaller township of Diggers Rest, so many attendees who travelled by train alighted at Diggers Rest railway station, and not Sunbury.

‘off Watson’s Road, Diggers Rest’. This was intriguing. Watson’s Road, Diggers Rest was the southern boundary of my great great grandfather, Edward WINTER’s, farm.

I turned to Google Earth to compare the topography.

A wonderful attribute of Google Earth is that you can overlay an old Parish map onto an aerial view of the land as it is today. By lining up the main landmarks, such as water courses, you can see where the parcel of land in question is in comparison to the current features.

I made an overlay of the Parish map of Holden outlining the original survey of allotments, as accessed through the State Library catalogue, onto the aerial view of the Sunbury/Diggers Rest area as it is today .

After lining up Jackson Creek and the Calder Freeway dissecting Diggers Rest I could see how Edward WINTER’s farm lined up with the land.

This is the result:

Overlay of Parish of Holden on Google map of Sunbury and diggers Rest highlighting Edward Winter's farm

Overlay of Parish of Holden, County of Bourke (courtesy of State Library of Victoria) onto an aerial view of the current landscape around Sunbury/Diggers Rest via Google Earth.

Edward WINTER’s farm, within the black circle (Section 17 allotments C and D), is not quite down to Jackson Creek but no doubt some of the Festival  revellers would have walked or driven down Watson’s Road, the southern boundary of the farm, to get to the entrance of the festival. I don’t know exactly where George Duncan’s farm was but I suspect it was next to the WINTER farm, to the east, running along Jackson Creek, but for all I know Duncan’s farm may have incorporated the WINTER farm, or part of it.

The YouTube video Arriving at Sunbury Rock Festival 1970s gives you a feel for the general landscape-dry and rocky-as well as some amusing interviews by ‘Molly’ Meldrum with the revelers.

The farm was owned by the WINTERs from 1854 to about 1870 so we’re talking about a more than 100 year gap between the WINTER clan working the land and Billy Thorpe belting out Oop poo pa doo down the road. Not quite the singalong ’round the piano of Edward WINTER’s day.

My brother went to a couple of the Sunbury Festivals much to my mother’s horror. Little did she know, or he know, or any of my relatives know, that the festivals were so close to our forebears’ farm. An interesting little aside….

ADDIT I’ll return to Part 2 of the William WINTER story eventually…

Posted in Winter | 2 Comments

How I ‘met’ my great grandfather, William WINTER. Part 1

I didn’t ‘physically’ meet my great-grandfather, William WINTER (1845-1883), and neither did any of my mum’s generation; he died well before any of us were born. There are no photos of him and there’s no memorabilia—that I know of.  And it seems that any stories about him have been lost in time.

William became my mystery man. I had a death certificate but I couldn’t prove it was one and the same; the details didn’t ‘match up’. However, a concerted search through the digitized newspapers accessible through TROVE gave me the proof I needed.

The search enabled me to ‘meet’ William WINTER, giving me some insight into how he led his life and the challenges he faced. I’ll spread the findings out over two posts, Part 1 and Part 2.

For Part 1, I’ll focus on proof of his death.


Part 1  The search for proof of William WINTER’s death.

For those not familiar with TROVE it is a fabulous resource for historians, novelists, genealogists and anyone interested in Australian history. TROVE is managed by the National Library of Australia. It’s a searchable online database of resources available in Australia, including, books, articles, maps, movies, images, newspapers and just recently added, Government Gazettes. Besides the obvious value of the digitized newspapers I’ve found it invaluable for locating books in Australian libraries. It saves the laborious task of checking each library one by one.

But TROVE has been in trouble lately. The Government has recently announced cuts to its funding which will restrict the upload of new material onto the site. The announcement has resulted in a social media campaign #fundtrove. A petition to be sent to Malcolm Turnbull can be accessed and signed here.


Now to William WINTER…

As can be seen in the chart below William WINTER was Mum, Teresa Bernadette WINTER’s,  grandfather.

Pedigree Chart for Teresa Bernadette Winter

From previous research, I knew William was born at ‘Springs’ in 1845. ‘Springs’ was the farm his father, Edward WINTER (c1812-1869) was leasing at the time in Keilor (see the post What’s in a Name?). The Edward WINTER family eventually settled on a farm in Digger’s Rest, just south of the township of Sunbury. In 1870, at the age of 25, William married Mary Ann MILLETT, a local girl, who lived a few miles further up the road leading to the Mount Alexander goldfields (Calder Fwy), at the Gap.

It was evident from the birthplace being Sunbury as documented for the couple’s first four children that William and Mary Ann stuck around the local area (see chart below) until at least about 1880.Family View Report for William Winter

William’s father, Edward WINTER, a widower, died the year before William’s marriage. He left a detailed will. The family farm at Digger’s Rest was left to his four sons, William, Edward, Richard and John and £100 was left to each of his daughters, Honora, Susan and Lydia. Below is the approximate location of Edward’s farm in Digger’s Rest:

Satellite view Google Maps Edward Winter's farm Digger's Rest Section 17 Allotments c and d Parish of Holden County of Bourke

Today’s Google satellite view of location of Edward WINTER’s farm, Digger’s Rest, the Sunbury side. Parish of Holden, Section 17, Allotments C and D.

Family folklore told me that William WINTER had died ‘young’ and that his widow, Mary Ann, had married again to an Edward WILLIAMS. Fortunately, the marriage certificate of Mary Ann and Edward in 1885 had the death year of her late husband, William WINTER—1883.

I now had a year and I believed I could be pretty sure that the informant, Mary Ann, William’s widow, would not have got this wrong. However, the only record for the death of a William WINTER in 1883 was one in NSW with some troubling details—or lack of them—that made me doubt I had the right one.

1883 Death certificate William WINTER Armidale NSW

31 July 1883 Death certificate of William WINTER Armidale, NSW. BDM NSW Reg No. 10763/1883.

This William WINTER was the right age and was born in Victoria—correct. But what was he doing in NSW? Yes, there were WINTER relatives there and possibly relatives of Mary Ann so maybe he was there for work? I don’t know. However, the troubling details were there—the informant said William was ‘not married’ and had no children. From what I knew, this didn’t seem to fit.

As I’ve mentioned before it’s best to be wary of the information given by informants on death certificates. The informant, in this case, was the matron of Armidale Hospital, NSW. Maybe there was not enough time to get William’s family details before he died. His death may have been sudden (he had a 2 years history of ‘heart disease’). And maybe there wasn’t any family around as he’d left his young family with relatives while he travelled further afield, following job opportunities. All supposition.

For many years I sat on this death certificate, reluctant to add the details to the family tree until I had further proof. As TROVE came online with newspaper collections constantly being added I tried sporadically with various search terms: ‘WINTER’; ‘ARMIDALE’ and varying combinations, but to no avail. I knew too that if the print was not clear the search couldn’t pick up the text. (The beauty of TROVE is that users can correct the text which is helpful  for future searches).

A few months ago, I tried again. This time I used the keywords ‘WINTER’ and ‘DIGGERS REST’ and the year, 1883. To my delight the proof I’d been hoping for turned up. There was a death notice in the Victorian newspaper, The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 – 1954) on Thursday 2 August 1883, page 1 and an identical notice in another Victorian newspaper, Leader (Melbourne, Vic. : 1862 – 1918) on Saturday 11 August 1883, page 40. The notice said William WINTER died on 31st July at Armidale, NSW, 37 years old. The details were consistent with the death certificate I had. But the detail that clinched the deal was that William was the ‘eldest son of the late Edward Winter of Digger’s Rest’.

1883 Death notice of William WINTER The Age 31 July

1883 Death notice of William WINTER, Armidale, NSW, 31st July. The Age. Courtesy of TROVE.

So, the NSW death certificate I’d kept was in fact the correct one. Thank you TROVE!


In Part 2, I’ll go into the possible reason William WINTER headed to NSW following further findings in the newspapers.

To be continued…

Posted in Millett, Winter | Tagged , , | 11 Comments

A 13 year old biographer

When I was 13 years old, our English teacher, the delightful Miss Seedsman, gave us an exercise in biography. The task was to interview someone about their childhood and write it up in three sections: family life, school life and a description of a game played at school.

I interviewed my dad.

1970 Marg and Jack COGHLAN Mc Kean St Box Hill

1970 Dad, John “Jack” Leo COGHLAN (1909-1974), and me. Author’s private collection.

Dad, John “Jack” Leo COGHLAN, was no doubt a willing participant and, I can imagine, I was a diligent interviewer. I don’t remember the actual interview but, fortunately, I have kept evidence of it in the form of my finished assignment.

On reading it now, forty six years later, it seems very formal, especially referring to Dad as the ‘collaborator’! I’m sure this would have been Miss Seedsman’s idea not mine.

The following is the finished assignment with Miss Seedsman’s comments. There are a few cheeky details that Dad sneaked in. Was I being so diligent that I didn’t even notice or did I think they were funny too and included them on purpose? Who knows. I can’t remember. Whatever the case it gives the piece his ‘voice’ which is lovely. Hope you enjoy it.


The setting for Dad’s childhood is Bullarto, near Daylesford, Victoria.

The year of interview is 1970.

First up, a description of school life…1970 An enquiry into the Past 57 years ago Page 1 of 2

John Leo Coghlan abt 1913

c.1913 John “Jack” Leo COGHLAN. Bullarto, Victoria. Author’s private collection.

1970 An enquiry into the Past 57 years ago Page 2 of 2

Naughty me. I didn’t write a conclusion!

And now, some details of Jack’s home life…1970 biography of Joahn Leo Coghlan

Not sure what happened to that sentence, ‘His mother…’. I can imagine she wouldn’t have been too impressed with snowballs dropping onto the stove while she was cooking.

1920s Jack and Nance Coghlan and Snowman Bullarto

1920s Jack COGHLAN, his sister Nance and snowman. Bullarto, Victoria. Author’s private collection.

And lastly, the description of a game played at school.

Dad picked the game, ‘Trains’…1970 Explanation of 'Trains'

Yes, I agree Miss Seedsman, it sounds very chaotic. Not a game that survived the passage of time.


It’s hard to believe that what I documented is life as it was in country Victoria now more than 100 years ago. It’s not the best biography ever written but it sets the scene of a boy who had a pretty idyllic childhood and who liked to give a bit of cheek. Unfortunately, his mother, my grandmother, died before I was born. I would loved to have quizzed her about her boy and his pranks. I’m sure she would have had some stories to tell.

This is one instance where I’m glad I’m a bit of a hoarder.

Posted in Coghlan | Tagged , | 8 Comments