100 today…well, she would have been.

Today, Mum, Teresa Bernadette Coghlan née Winter (1917-2010)—known as Berna—would have been 100 years old. Wow. Hard to imagine. To commemorate her ‘centenary’ I’ve put together some research regarding her nursing training in Melbourne (1939-1942) during WW2.

The story goes that Mum gained no pleasure from working behind the bar at her aunties’ hotel, the Royal Hotel in Sunbury. And at the age of 21 she ‘ran away’ to St Vincent’s Hospital to take up nursing training where two of her older sisters, Phyllis and Dorrie, had preceded her.

Mum loved nursing. Dad, my siblings and I certainly benefited from her knowledge, skills and common sense. She didn’t officially finish her training, however, but she never regretted the decision to leave. Marrying Dad, a wireless operator in the RAAF, while he was on leave was more important to her than anything. And the prospect of him returning to serve overseas made her decision to leave even easier, being fully aware that on leaving she could not return as a married woman. That was the rule of the day.


The Archives at St Vincent’s Hospital, Melbourne

Mum’s nursing record

A visit to the St Vincent’s archives earlier this year revealed some great memorabilia. The archivist, Barbara Cytowicz, kindly retrieved all the information she had on Mum and Mum’s sisters, Phyllis and Dorrie, prior to my arrival.

As luck would have it Mum’s record had been saved. It was fabulous to see it (see below).

The significant dates are recorded: starting and finishing, sick leave and holidays, wards she worked on, external training, and marks.

‘Nurses’ Identification and Training Record’ for Teresa Bernadette WINTER, 27 July 1939-30 November 1942 (Page 1 of 2), St Vincent’s Hospital, Melbourne. Courtesy of St Vincent’s Archives.

‘Nurses’ Identification and Training Record for Teresa Bernadette WINTER’, 27 July 1939-30 November 1942 (Page 2 of 2), St Vincent’s Hospital, Melbourne. Courtesy of St Vincent’s Archives.

A study of the dates reveals another reason she didn’t finish her training before getting married; she had 7 months of sick leave. I’ll talk about that later…


Mum’s nursing training details

Mum’s training began on 27 July 1939 and ended on 30 November 1942. Mum left the hospital voluntarily to prepare for her wedding. And at the time of her wedding on 16 January 1943 she was 3 months off officially finishing and graduating.

Theoretically, Mum should have finished before she left but periods of sick leave pushed out her finishing date. Without the sick leave she would have finished in July 1942, that is, three years after starting.

Sick Leave

First episode of sick leave 21 August 1939—10 September 1939:

Mum’s first episode of ‘sick leave’ was only a month after she started training. Her father William Thomas Rupert WINTER had died on 20 August 1939. He collapsed and died at a dance in the church hall at Iona, Gippsland. Mum’s sister, Phyllis, delivered the news to her at St Vincent’s. Mum went home to the farm to attend the funeral.

Mum told me her father was lying in state in the front parlour of the family home. A not uncommon Irish custom. The requiem Mass was held in Iona then the family travelled, probably nearly 3 hours to  Sunbury, her father’s birthplace, for the burial.

The farm in Iona was sold in 1940 and Mum’s mother moved to Sandringham where the family had previously spent their holidays. This is where Mum stayed on her days off.

DEATH NOTICE:

1939 Death Notice for William Thomas Rupert WINTER. The Argus, 22 August 1939, page 8. Accessed through Trove.

WINTER—On the 20th August (suddenly) at Iona, William Thomas Rupert, beloved husband of Catherine Mary, and loving father of Irene (Mrs. L. Mahony), William, Leo (deceased), Phyllis, Edward, Dudley, Doreen, Roy (Rev. Brother Winter C.S.S.R.), Berna, Joyce and May, late of Sunbury, aged 65 years.—R.I.P.

FUNERAL NOTICE:

1939 Funeral notice for William Thomas Rupert WINTER. The Argus 22 August 1939, p.8. Accessed through Trove.

WINTER—Requiem Mass will be celebrated for the repose of the soul of the late WILLIAM THOMAS RUPERT WINTER the dearly loved husband of Catherine Mary of Iona. THIS DAY (Tuesday, 22nd August) at (?)8 am at St Joseph’s, Iona. The funeral will move from the church at 12 (noon) for St Mary’s RC Church Sunbury, leaving there at (?)3 pm for the Sunbury Cemetery. Friends are respectfully invited to attend. W. BROWNE Funeral Director, Bunyip. Phone (?).

Second episode of sick leave 8 November 1939 to 10 June 1940:

This was the long period of sick leave, just over 7 months. I’m presuming this was to recover from a foot operation. She told me that she developed a bursa on her heel after a wheelchair ran into the back of her foot. The orthopaedic surgeon at St Vincent’s, Dr Tom King, attended the operation.


Eileen Vaughan’s (née Cattanach) memories

Another fabulous document retrieved by Barbara was a compilation of nurse training memories put together by Eileen Vaughan née Cattanach. The name jumped out at me. I remember Mum talking about Eileen in her nursing days.

Eileen Vaughan’s (née Cattanach) memories of nursing training at St Vincent’s Hospital, Melbourne 1940-1943. Courtesy of St Vincent’s Hospital Archives. Accessed February 2017.

I immediately spotted Mum in the photo upper left hand corner of the page above. I’d seen this photo many times before as it was the same one in our family album (see below).

Mum, ‘Berna Winter’, is left, front and Eileen is second from right, front.

1940 Teresa Winter 1st on left, front; Sadie O’Farrell 2nd left, front; Eileen Cattanach 2nd from right, front. Group of trainee nurses, St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne

Some other photos in our family album which also appear in Eileen’s memoirs:

c1941 Eileen Cattanach and Berna Winter after night duty in Fitzroy Gardens. Author’s private collection.

1941 Trainee nurses, Sadie O’Farrell and Berna Winter. ‘Bazaar weekend’ at St Vincent’s Hospital, Melbourne. Author’s private collection.

After returning from her extended sick leave Mum ended up in Eileen Cattanach’s group and as luck would have it in the same group as her school friend from Iona, Gippsland, Sadie O’Farrell.

Eileen’s memoirs were a wonderful find. And being in the same group, I could envisage Mum’s experiences would have been similar to Eileen’s.


Some extracts from Eileen’s reminiscences:

Viewing

I remember Mum telling me how she used to have to ‘prepare’ the viewing room for relatives who were coming into the hospital to view a deceased member of the family. According to Eileen, the nurse was expected to,

Bring the body out (of the mortuary) after checking wrist bands. Light candles either side. Fix sheet. Stay there.

Not for the faint hearted I wouldn’t imagine.


Lectures

These were held in the Pathology or X-ray department:

The lectures were held after duty hours, usually by an honorary doctor and did not finish until 9.30 pm- we would all be so tired it was difficult to keep our eyes opened or concentrate.

Sounds pretty archaic to me and fortunately, not a practice that continued into my training.


Late passes

Generally lights out in the nurses’ home at 10pm.

Late passes until 11.30 pm were granted once a week. If a nurse came in later than this, late passes were cancelled for 1 month.

If you were late for breakfast your late pass would be cancelled.

St Moritz skating rink, the Esplanade, St Kilda. Wikicommons.

Ice skating at St Moritz in St Kilda was a popular thing to do on a late pass and one that Mum and Dad enjoyed doing during their courting days.


Wages

The nurses rate of pay during their training:

1st year nurses 5 shillings per week

2nd year nurses 10 shillings per week

3rd year nurses 15 shillings per week


Mum’s experience in the ‘Diet kitchen’ (1 July 1940-30 Sept 1940)

Prior to Mum’s nursing training she was already a proficient cook: helping out on the farm as she grew up and then cooking for the guests at her aunties’ hotel, the Royal Hotel in Sunbury, on the cook’s ‘day off’.

Mum’s nursing notebook became the family recipe book. Mum wrote up her favourites on the blank pages and added cuttings from magazines and newspapers of recipes she planned to try.

Below is a tried and true recipe for the family Christmas cake. This recipe became the recipe for my siblings’ wedding cakes. Mum always gave a recipe a gong, such as, ‘my favourite’ or ‘good’ if the recipe lived up to its reputation and her expectations:

1960s/70s Mum’s tried and true Christmas cake recipe that became my sibling’s wedding cake recipe. Author’s private collection

The front pages of this tome contain her lecture notes and recipes from the ‘Diet Kitchen’ at St V’s. After having another read of these notes I can see where Mum got her ideas for a nutritious, balanced diet and we certainly benefited from that.

1941 Mum’s lecture notes, St Vincent’s Hospital, Melbourne. Author’s private collection.

As I grew up, breakfasts were major, often consisting of a chop and tomato, maybe an egg as well, or black pudding and tomato sauce or lamb’s fry and bacon, and this was probably after porridge or cereal. I drew the line at brains though. Mum was a great believer in starting off the day with a full stomach.

1941 Some of the recipes from the ‘Diet Kitchen’ at St Vincent’s Hospital, Melbourne. Author’s private collection.

I remember Mum telling me about the lucky patients who had relatives/friends who brought them in eggs. The patient’s name was written on the egg, boiled and served only to that patient. Eileen also mentions this in her notes. She says that one of the nurses who considered this unfair arranged for her father to bring in a crate of eggs so none of the patients missed out.


Infectious diseases training at Fairfield Hospital (1 Oct 1941-31 Dec 1941)

1941 Berna WINTER with patient at Fairfield Hospital. Private collection.

This was early vaccination days and pre antibiotics.

Eileen states there were 5 diphtheria wards, 3 scarlet fever wards and a ‘lot of polio’ with 3 rooms of iron lungs at Fairfield Hospital.

Eileen’s experience on the wards:

In this Diptheria ward I cared for 22 children under four years of age from 7pm to 7am. You were on your own with an occasional visit from the night superintendent … On another night duty stint, Carmel Daniels and I nursed 22 airforce men with meningitis. It was a “nightmare”!

Treatment for Diptheria:

In the days before antibiotics, a child with scarlet fever had a towel wrapped around him to keep his arms down. A makintosh and towels placed in position and the throat was douched with warm, salty water two hourly by placing a nozzle in the mouth. Pressure was gained by tubing being attached to can on high pole. After a couple of days the throat was douched 4 hourly….most of them went home in three weeks.

Even the nurses had to gargle salty water at the end of their shift and then 2 hours later. No wonder Mum was keen on this treatment for us.

Another photo of Mum at Fairfield Hospital with some of her charges:

Nov 1941 Berna WINTER with patients at Fairfield Hospital. Author’s private collection.


Mum gets married

As I mentioned earlier, Mum hadn’t completed her training when she walked out the door on 1 December 1942.

1940 Sergeant John “Jack’ Leo Coghlan (1909-1974)

Her handsome beau, Jack Coghlan had returned from nearly 18 months service in the Pacific and there was talk he might be sent back overseas.

I’m not sure when the proposal of marriage happened, before or after his stint overseas, but Mum told me she wore her engagement ring on a chain around her neck, out of sight of the nuns.

Wedding preparations were hastily put together. Mum wore her sister, Joyce’s wedding dress and, Nance, Dad’s sister and bridesmaid wore the dress Mum wore as a bridesmaid to Joyce’s wedding. It was war-time and everything was shared around.

16 Jan 1943 Marriage of Jack Coghlan and Berna Winter.

The best man was a sad affair. Mum and Dad had written to Dad’s second cousin, David Lee, a fellow RAAF man, asking him to do the honours. Unfortunately, he could not attend due to training. Dad asked one his RAAF mates to step in instead. David died in a bombing raid over Solingen, Germany in November 1944. I’ve blogged about his sad demise in An Officer and a Gentleman.

The marriage took place on 16 January 1943 at Sacred Heart Church, St Kilda. After the ceremony, Mum gave her wedding bouquet/sheath of water lilies and gladioli to her fellow nursing trainees to be placed on the altar in the chapel at St Vincent’s Hospital. A wedding ‘breakfast’ followed at Scott’s Hotel. Melbourne.

Eileen Cattanach finished her training and graduated on 20 March 1943.

A search through death notices in the newspapers revealed that Eileen had only died in August of this year. She was 102.


A trip to the cemetery

Today, my sister and I visited Mum and Dad’s grave in Templestowe Cemetery. We placed some home-grown flowers there: the rose, originally a cutting from my Uncle Leo, a great gardener, and the pelargonium, originally pinched by Mum from a neighbour’s garden. Both, significant symbols of Mum’s nurturing talents. Rest in peace.

2017 28 October. Plaque on Mum and Dad’s grave at Templestowe Cemetery.

Thanks to Barbara Cytowicz in St Vincent’s Archives for being so obliging and for supplying me with the records. And thanks to Eileen Vaughan for documenting her memories of training as a nurse at St Vincent’s Hospital, Melbourne.

And … Happy 2nd Birthday to my blog!

Posted in Coghlan, Winter | Tagged , , , | 14 Comments

How Good a Wood Engraver was Edward LEE?

In the last third of the nineteenth century, my great-grandfather, Edward LEE (1840-1898) was employed as a wood engraver on the colonial illustrated newspapers in Melbourne. In June 2016, I was fortunate enough to have an article published in the Ancestor journal of the Genealogical Society of Victoria (GSV) detailing Edward’s working life in Australia.  The article is entitled…

‘Shades of Grey: the Colonial Wood Engraver, Edward Lee’

…and you can see a copy of it on the ‘Publications’ page of my blog.


Since writing the article, I wondered…how good a wood engraver was Edward?

A chance finding of a journal article by Michèle Martin, entitled, ‘Nineteenth Century Wood Engravers at Work: Mass Production of Illustrated Periodicals (1840-1880)’ published in 2014 has helped me shed some light on Edward’s possible level of competence and consequent standing in the hierarchy of image making in the printing business. NB Technically, prior to the use of photomechanical processes by the late 1880s, wood engravings were the only way imagery could be displayed in the printed press.


Firstly, a recap of Edward LEE (1840-1898) in Australia

c1870s Presumed to be Edward LEE (1840-1898). Photo courtesy of Lee relatives in USA.

Edward LEE arrived in Melbourne in 1863 as a 23-year-old. The passenger list of the ship, Prince of Wales, classifies him as a ‘trader’ from London.

The London Post Office Directory of the early 1860s lists an ‘Edward Lee, wood engraver, The Strand, London’ but I can’t find any evidence to confirm this was him. 1 A more obscure name would have been helpful!

In Australia, Edward can be identified by his monogram, E Lee or E L, on engravings published in the colonial illustrated newspapers in Melbourne during the years 1871-1885. The engraver’s monogram was usually engraved at the lower right hand corner of the engraving.

There is evidence that Edward did not always work on the newspapers. In 1872 he went into business with John Thomas RICHARDSON in Melbourne, as detailed in the advertisement below. The pair described themselves as ‘draughtsmen and engravers on wood’.

1872 Advertisement for Lee and Richardson 3 Collins St West in Melbourne Punch 26 December 1872. Accessed through TROVE

Transcription of ad:

LEE & RICHARDSON
Pictorial and Mechanical
DRAUGHTSMEN & ENGRAVERS ON WOOD,
No. 3 COLLINS STREET WEST.
Sketches of Machinery and Buildings taken with the greatest accuracy and Drawn and Engraved on Wood at most moderate Charges

Collins Street West was west of Elizabeth Street and numbering began at the Elizabeth St end, so the business would have been located very close to the corner of Collins and Elizabeth Streets.

The business partnership was short-lived, however, as Richardson left Melbourne in 1874 to accept a £100 commission to do a painting in Sydney. During the partnership the two men entered six engravings in the Fine Arts Section of the Victorian Intercolonial Exhibition 2 for which they received an honourable mention. 3

Search the LEE tag for further information about the family.


Some examples of wood engravings by Edward LEE and Lee and Richardson

Many of Edward’s engravings, with and without Richardson, can be seen on the State Library of Victoria (SLV) website. Some are also listed on the National Library of Australia (NLA) website. The engravings were mainly featured in the Illustrated Australian News for Home Readers (IAN), a newspaper published by the proprietors of The Age, the Syme brothers, Ebenezer and David.

The wood engravings featured below were downloaded from the SLV website. The stories associated with the imagery can be accessed through the digitized newspapers on Trove.

Maximilian Creek, near Gladstone, North Gipps Land, Photographer, C. Walter, Lee, engraver, IAN 23 April 1872, p. 97. Image courtesy of SLV http://handle.slv.gov.au/10381/241534.

Port Darwin Rush. The S.S. Omeo leaving the Sandridge Railway Pier. Creators: Lee & J. T. Richardson, IAN 10 Oct 1872. P. 205. Image courtesy of SLV http://handle.slv.gov.au/10381/240384.

Scene on the Upper Yarra, near Fernshaw. E LEE, engraver, after photograph by C. Walters. Illustrated Australian News (IAN) 21 May 1872, page 121. Image courtesy of SLV http://handle.slv.gov.au/10381/241528

Bream Creek, Wood engraving by E Lee, IAN 29 February 1872, p. 60. Image courtesy of SLV http://handle.slv.gov.au/10381/241627.

The Orange Orchard of Mr. Pye, Parramatta, NSW. Illustrated Sydney News (ISN), 25 November 1871, p. 40. Artist AC Cooke and Engraver E LEE. Image courtesy of SLV. http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/241264

The engraving below shows a herd of cattle on their way to the stockyards in Flemington via Elizabeth Street. It’s hard to imagine in present day busy Elizabeth Street. What a frightening sight to come across at night…

Drove of Cattle for the Melbourne Market. Wood engraving. Creators, Lee and Richardson, IAN 13 Aug 1872, p.5. Image courtesy of SLV. http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/241574

…as is hinted at in a snippet from the accompanying article…

Snippet from article accompanying the engraving ‘Drove of Cattle for the Melbourne Market’. IAN 13 August 1872, p. 2. Accessed through Trove.


So, Edward was more than an ‘Engraver’?

As mentioned Edward was classified as a ‘draughtsman’ as well as an engraver. He interchanged his occupation, ‘engraver’ or ‘engraver and draughtsman’ on the birth certificates of his children.

A ‘draughtsman’ was responsible for transferring the illustrator’s/artist’s drawings onto the wood blocks. The engravers then set to work engraving the draught and the finished block was inserted into the letterpress ready for printing. Reprints were made from the same blocks for interstate newspapers. According to Martin,

‘…it was the draughtsmen…who were seen as creators of original illustrations and thus as artists…’ 4

So, if Edward had limited artistic leeway as the engraver he had more opportunity for interpretation as the draughtsman.

Was Edward classified as an artist then?

According to Martin, a skilled engraver was called an ‘artist’. The artist was one who had attained a level of skill that was ‘beyond the factory floor’.

On the death of Edward’s brother, George Williams LEE, in June 1864 only 14 months after Edward’s arrival in Australia (see ‘George Lee, Pompous Git or Good Bloke?’ on Publications page), Edward is described as an ‘artist’ on George’s probate papers (see below).

1864 Probate papers for George Williams LEE. Died intestate. George’s brother, Edward LEE, to be the administrator of George’s ‘goods’. Accessed online through the Public Records Office of Victoria PROV. VPRS 28/P0 unit 49, item 4/828

I haven’t been able to find any information about Edward’s training in wood engraving but it’s more than likely that he did his training in England before emigrating to Australia.

…the length of the apprenticeship…lasted between 5 and 7 years, during which the pupil started by learning to imitate what the master was doing and if he was talented, eventually became an autonomous engraver. Very few however, reached that level. Some considered those who did as “artists” even when they were only doing interpretation of drawings or paintings…’5

…maybe Edward was one of those talented pupils.


In conclusion…

I don’t think there’s any doubt Edward Lee was a skilled engraver/draughtsman. I’d have no hesitation in calling him an ‘artist’. Unfortunately, though, for Edward and the others in his profession the work dried up by the late 1880s. Photomechanical processes had advanced to such a level that photographs could be incorporated into the printing making engravings redundant.

Since writing the article in Ancestor I’ve learned that the move by Edward and his family to Bullarto, near Daylesford, in the 1890s was more likely to have been due to a dire economic situation related to a depression and Edward’s probable unemployment than to an elective move to a nice retirement in the country.

A personal communication from Marilyn Kenny of the Essendon Historical Society in response to my article describes the establishment of ‘Village Settlements’ for the unemployed—‘a quasi utopian scheme to resettle workers on the land to become self sufficient’—land in Bullarto being one of them. It must have been a difficult move for essentially ‘city folk’ like the Lees to move to the bush. But if they hadn’t, Edward’s daughter, Grace, would not have met Peter Coghlan and I wouldn’t be here writing this piece!


References

Coghlan, Margaret, ‘Shades of Grey: the Colonial Wood Engraver, Edward Lee’, Ancestor, Vol. 33, Issue 2 (June 2016), pp. 4-7.

Coghlan, Margaret, ‘George Lee, Pompous Git or Good Bloke?’, Ancestor, Vol. 33, Issue 5 (March 2017), pp.9-11.

Martin, Michèle, ‘Nineteenth Century Wood Engravers at Work: Mass Production of Illustrated Periodicals (1840-1880)’, Journal of Historical Sociology, Vol. 27, No.1 (March 2014), pp.132-150.

Footnotes

  1. RK Engen, Dictionary of Victorian wood engravers, Teaneck N.J: Chadwyk-Healey, Cambridge, 1985, p.153.
  2. The Exhibition. Opening Ceremony. The Exhibition Described. Paintings, Advocate, 9 November 1872, p.7.
  3. The Exhibition. Fine Arts. Section 3 Miscellaneous. Honourable Mentions, Argus, 10 January 1873, p.6.
  4. Michèle Martin, ‘Nineteenth Century Wood Engravers at Work: Mass Production of Illustrated Periodicals (1840-1880)’, Journal of Historical Sociology, Vol. 27, No.1 (March 2014), p.142.
  5. Ibid., p.138.
Posted in Lee | Tagged , | 10 Comments

A bee, a Saint and some Irish woods

In 2014, I went to Ireland. I went armed with the known details of three great great grandparents. I was hoping to find and walk on the land they came from and, if I was lucky, I was hoping to find some living descendants. And I was lucky: I sat at kitchen tables with ‘relatives’—some definite, some probable; I was shown family headstones—some likely; and I was shown the original baptismal record of a great great-grandmother by a genealogically inspired Monsignor—absolutely definite. The trip surpassed all my expectations.

But, that’s not the story I want to tell you here. Instead, I want to tell you about an experience I had on a ‘day off’ from relative hunting which fed right into Irish folklore.


A ‘Day off’

September 2014. Ballyvourney, Co. Cork, Ireland. The road from Macroom to Killarney. Author’s private collection

‘There’s a beautiful walk just across the road,’ says my ever helpful B&B hostess, Sheila, ‘up through the woods. If you keep going up to the top, and through the cemetery,’ she continues, ‘you’ll come to a shrine.’

A shrine. A cemetery. Ireland. Perfect.

It’s my last day in Ballyvourney, County Cork. Tomorrow, I head back to Dublin to return the hire car. I’ve spent nearly two weeks sitting in it; aquaplaning over the middle of Ireland, looking for land and following leads, but now it’s time to get these hips out of their 45 degree angle.

I need to walk…desperately.

I wait a few minutes to cross the road. Tourist buses hurtle by on their way to the tourist spots of Killarney and the Ring of Kerry. For the briefest of moments this morning I thought about joining the hordes but the prospect of spending more hours with flexed hips didn’t thrill me.

It was time for this body to do some exercise.


A Bee

After a safe crossing, I head for an opening in the woods I can see on the other side of a green open area running alongside the River Sullane.

The day is beautiful: the sky cloudless, the sun so gentle…not like our harsh Aussie sun. There’s no wind either, just perfect stillness. I lengthen my stride. My hips are loving it.

On reaching the opening, a Messerschmitt in the form of a winged, hairy ball accelerates towards my head.

I duck. It follows. I weave. It weaves. In, out, up, down. I’ve never seen one before but I’m pretty sure it’s a bumble bee.

I can see the newspaper headlines now:

Australian woman stung to death by bumble bee in quiet Ballyvourney. Giant hive found in her hair.

Fortunately, the frantic dance only lasts a few seconds and my hair and the rest of me avoid contact and colonization. I run into the woods and the bee disappears.


The Woods

Adrenalin still surging, I walk on. Head down.

Halfway up an ascent, I eventually slow and stop.

I’m in the midst of a magnificent glowing, lime green forest. The sun’s rays are glistening through the leafy canopy above and they’re creating patches of dappled light that skip and play along the path in front of me.

September 2014 St Gobnait's wood Ballyvourney, Co. Cork Ireland

There’s no sound, no people, and, best of all, no bees.

I suspect some people would find the isolation unnerving but I find it surprisingly comforting. Yes, I’m on the other side of the world to my home, I’m by myself and I’ve nearly been ravaged by a bee, but I feel safe. There’s a magical, mystical quality about this place, this moment.

September 2014 St Gobnait's Wood, Ballyvourney, Co. Cork, IrelandI try to soak it all in. With camera in hand, I attempt to get the best angles; trying to capture the brilliance here, but I suspect the photos will never do it justice.

September 2014 St Gobnait's Wood. Ballyvourney, Co. Cork, Ireland

I venture further into the woods. The light changes. The arching, protective arms of

the tortured, dark branches overhead create a more subdued light allowing masses of spongy moss to form on the shaded sides of the trunks and fallen logs.

Further up there’s yet another incline and the light changes again. Bright sunlight reappears…


The Cemetery

At the very top of the hill a small gate divides the woods from a cemetery. I reluctantly pass through. I’m sorry to leave the dappled light of these beautiful woods behind.

It’s the first Irish cemetery I walk through where I won’t be looking for ‘relatives’.

I note the recurring surname of the husband of my B&B hostess on the headstones. It’s not surprising as his family has lived in the area for many generations. I’m drawn to a child’s grave. The white stones on top are covered with every variety of winged cherub. A much-loved child.

September 2014 St Gobnait's cemetery, Ballyvourney, Co. Cork Ireland

September 2014 St Gobnait’s cemetery, Ballyvourney, Co. Cork Ireland. Author’s private collection.

The sun is hot now, or as hot as an Irish sun can be. There’s no longer any escape from its direct rays. I take off my jumper and continue on through the cemetery to the church further up. I try the door. It’s locked. Still further on, I can see some seats facing a grey statue of a cloaked woman on a large plinth. This is no doubt the shrine Sheila was telling me about. I head on over.


The Saint

September 2014. Monastic site of St Gobnait, Ballyvourney, Co. Cork, Ireland. Author’s private collection.

A man in his 60s is escorting a girl of about 12 years of age around the site. As he points to the statue he appears to be telling her about the woman the statue represents. I’m intrigued.

‘Hello,’ I say, as he passes nearby. ‘Could you please tell me who the statue represents?’

‘That’s St Gobnait,’ he says.

‘Who?’ I ask.

‘St Gobnait,’ he repeats.

Never heard of her. Has my Catholic upbringing been so remiss?

He continues on in his delightful Cork accent. ‘She’s a medieval saint from the sixth century. She’s highly venerated around here. She performs miracles; heals the sick…if you believe in that sort of thing.’


The Sermon on the Mount.

The ‘knowledgeable Irishman’ continues the history lesson, no doubt realizing he has a captive audience. I sit back and listen. His musical, lilting accent lulls me into a kind of stupor.

He’s on a pilgrimage from Cork, he tells me, with his niece and her daughter. He talks about the statue’s sculptor Seamus Murphy who has also sculpted the gravestones of the poet, Sean O’Riordain and the composer, Sean O’Riada, both of whom are buried in the cemetery.

Occasionally, he interrupts the soliloquy to advise the young girl on the best camera angles then he returns to me and continues.

‘There’s a holy well just off the road on the way up here,’ he says. ‘People drink the water from the spring and pray for healing. I don’t know why they bother there’s cows all around it, shitting, and contaminating the water.’

There’s a contrariness to the ‘knowledgeable Irishman’: I can’t quite work out whether he’s a ‘believer’ or not.

I’m happy to keep listening and he’s happy to keep talking, but there’s something he says that finally brings me out of my stupor.

‘St Gobnait is the patron saint of bee keepers,’ he says.

‘Did you say beekeepers?’ I ask.

‘Yes. Look,’ he says, pointing to the statue. ‘She’s standing on a beehive.’

September 2014 Statue of St Gobnait standing on a beehive with bees at its base, Ballyvourney, Co. Cork. Author’s private collection

Oh, my goodness, so she is. And there’s ornamental bees dotted around its base. I’m struck by the coincidence.

I tell him about my experience with the furry, kamikaze sentry. He’s all ears.

‘Go on,’ he says, in that Irish way of saying, that’s really fascinatin’. Tell me more…

So, I do.

As I finish the story, he asks for some confirmation.

‘You came up through the woods, you say?’ He’s now rubbing his chin, eyes looking afar.

‘Yes,’ I confirm. ‘I came up through the woods.’

Is that significant? He doesn’t elaborate. It appears that most people pay their homage to St Gobnait by driving up from the main road.

After some pondering he returns to the now and says, ‘We’re going to Gougane Barra next.’

‘So am I,’ I say. ‘My B&B hostess tells me it’s a magical place.’

‘It is,’ he says. ‘When you go there, have a look inside the chapel. There’s some beautiful stained glass windows of St Gobnait in there.’

And with that he walks back to his car, his great-niece in tow.

‘We might see you there,’ he calls out.

‘OK. Thanks.’


A Holy Well

I walk back to the B&B via the road. As much as I loved the walk through the woods I don’t want to chance another confrontation with the sentry bee. I stop off at the holy well the ‘knowledgeable Irishman’ was telling me about. It’s slightly off the beaten track. Cows moo as I pass. I recall his thoughts regarding the contaminated spring water. I have to agree with him, the cows’ proximity to the well is a little worrying. I don’t drink.

There is one young calf, especially, who eyeballs me with a fixed stare like he’s frozen in time. It’s unnerving. Perhaps he’s in cahoots with the bee? Did he tell you I was coming? I’m starting to get suspicious…even superstitious.

I hasten my return to the open road. Heading down the hill vistas of far off green pastures and undulating hills appear. Several cars pass me on their on their way up to the shrine. One pulls over. A lady of obvious Irish origins asks, ‘Do you know where the holy well is?’

‘Yes,’ I say. ‘I do’. I give her instructions and secretly hope she doesn’t drink from it.


Back at the B&B

I risk my life again crossing the road back to the B&B. Safe inside I tell Sheila about my walk, the bee, the saint, etc.

‘And a funny thing happened…’

Sheila’s eyes widen as I relay the story of the menacing sentry bee.

‘And it wouldn’t leave you alone,’ she says. She’s rubbing her chin now like the ‘knowledgeable Irishman’ and she’s got that far away look too.

‘Yep. That’s right,’ I confirm.

I can almost hear the cogs in her brain spinning around, trying to make sense or meaning out of this Australian woman and the bumble bee. Finally she says, ‘Ohhh. I think something good’s going to happen to you.’

Oh, that’s a relief. I thought it might be a bad omen. I left her still pondering and I set out in the car for Gougane Barra.


More St Gobnait…

Gougane Barra

It’s Sunday and it’s packed.

Gougane Barra is a beautiful forest park in Co. Cork with a huge lake in the middle of it. Unfortunately, I don’t have time to partake of the many forest walks but I do have time to take a quick squizz at St Gobnait in the chapel as suggested by the ‘knowledgeable Irishman’.

The chapel is a very quaint stone building. I enter after a wedding concludes and not surprisingly I find the ‘knowledgeable Irishman’ and his great-niece already inside. They’re surveying the windows and taking more photos. We nod.

Sept 2014 Gougane Barra, Co. Cork, Ireland.

September 2014 Gougane Barra, Co. Cork, Ireland. Author’s private collection.

September 2014 Chapel at Gougane Barra, Co. Cork. The ‘knowledgeable Irishman’ and his great-niece are lighting candles. Author’s private collection.

And Yes. There’s St Gobnait in all her glory, with her trusty beehive beside her.

2014 St Gobnait with a beehive beside her. Chapel, Gougane Barra, Co. Cork. Author’s private collection.

The Mills Inn, Ballyvourney

In the local pub that night I partake of the local beer, 9 White Deer’. A card on the table tells the St Gobnait story in Ballyvourney:

Saint Gobnait followed a Celtic prophecy to our village where she would find 9 white deer grazing at the source of a mystical spring who’s (sic) waters have healing powers. Local folklore tells of a long white stag that still appears at the well of St Gobnait.

And it’s a very nice brew too!

Leaving Ballyvourney

The next morning it’s time to leave the lovely Ballyvourney. After breakfast Sheila makes a request: could I please visit the local church, St. Gobnait’s, and light some candles for her and her family?

I get the feeling I might have become some sort of conduit between the living and the dead after my brush with St Gobnait’s bee and especially since I work in palliative care.

‘Sure,’ I say. ‘Will do.’

St Gobnait’s Church has a very impressive stained glass beehive shining down over a statue of St Gobnait.

September 2014. Statue of St Gobnait in the church of St Gobnait, Ballyvourney, Co. Cork, Ireland

I light some candles for Sheila and her family and I light some for my family as well…just in case.

September 2014 St Gobnait’s Catholic Church, Ballyvourney, Co. Cork. Author’s private collection.


Back in Dublin

2014 The National Museum of Ireland – Archaeology, Kildare St., Dublin, Ireland. Author’s private collection.

Back in Dublin I head for the The National Museum of Ireland-Archaeology. I’ve always had a fascination with the Irish bog bodies and maybe a little fascination with death, as you may have suspected by now and I’m hoping they’re on display.

I get a brief rundown of the plan of the exhibits from the guy at the information desk.

“What are you interested in?’ info guy asks.

‘The bog bodies,’ I say.

‘Is that how you like your men to be treated?’ Cheeky.

Without further ado I head for the display.

Below is Oldcroghan man. He was found in May 2003 on a parish boundary of County Offaly during the digging of a bog drain. At the time of his death he’s estimated to have been over 25 years old and 6 ft 6 in tall. His torso had been severed under the thorax and he had been decapitated.

I’m fascinated by the excellent preservation. According to the Irish archaeology site:

[The preservation] is primarily due to the cold, acidic, oxygen-free conditions that persist beneath peat bogs and which prevent decay and mummify human flesh.

The more I looked at that hand the more I thought it was going to move.

‘How did you go?’ ‘info guy’ asks as I finish my visit.

‘Loved the bog bodies,’ I say.

Sensing ‘info guy’ likes a chat and seeing I haven’t used my voice for a while I tell him about my bee story.

‘A funny thing happened to me in Ballyvourney…’ I start off.

‘Info guy’ leans forward.

‘There was this bee…’ I continue.

Not long into the story, I sense a queue building behind me.

‘Just go on in,’ ‘info guy’ says, as he waves at least ten people on through the entrance. ‘There’s no entrance fee’, he adds. The patrons do as they’re told but they look a little bewildered.

‘Info guy’ leans forward again and says to me in a low voice, ‘I don’t have to molly coddle them. They can find their own way around.  Now keep goin’,’ he urges. ‘I love these kinda stories.’

‘Well, when I reached the top,’ I continue, ‘there was this shrine. I asked this guy who the statue was of….’

I reveal the Saint’s name and I tell him about her predilection for bees and beekeeping.

‘How fascinatin’,’ ‘info guy’ says. He starts rubbing his chin and getting that far away look like Sheila and the ‘knowledgeable Irishman’.

I don’t dare look behind me again, but I’m sensing another queue is forming. ‘Info guy’ is not worried.

‘But I’ve never heard of her,’ he says. ‘How do you spell it?’

‘G-o-b-n-a-i-t,’ I spell out for him. He looks puzzled. He seems to be having trouble with my accent so I write it down. He turns on his computer, a relic of the ’80s, and says with some glee, ‘I’ll Google her.’

‘Info guy’s’ attention is now consumed by the small screen so I take my leave.


Back in Australia

‘Telling the bees’

I do a bit of research on bees and Irish folklore when I get back home. In her article ‘The Bee, its Keeper and Produce, in Irish and other Folk Traditions’ Eimear Chaomhánach of the Department of Irish Folklore states that,

…in folklore tradition bees are seen to have a sense and understanding of death.

[They] are seen to share much of the magical ability possessed by the saints who acted as their patrons. They are seen to protect and remain loyal to their master.

Apparently, there’s a custom in Irish bee keeping of ‘telling the bees’ of any significant event in the family such as a birth, death or marriage so that they won’t take offence and leave.

It is believed that the bees like to be ‘involved’ in the affairs of the family.

There’s other beliefs that a single bee landing on someone’s head means that this person will experience great success in life.

Maybe, I should have let that bee land…

A writing course

Still full of my trip, I attend an all day writing course. I’m hoping the stimulation of other writers will give me the extra shove I need to stop procrastinating and write a book about my Irish travels.

One of the participants in the course is convinced she knows me. We go through all the places we’ve ever worked, lived or travelled. No connection. I tell her about my recent trip to Ireland. She tells me how she married her Irish pen pal. I tell her about my bee/St Gobnait story.

‘That’s funny,’ she says. ‘When I was pregnant we used to call our baby ‘Gobby’ after St Gobnait.’

‘You’re kidding,’ I say. ‘I’d never heard of Gobnait before this trip.’

I was gobsmacked (pardon the pun). Here I was thousands of miles away from that little village in Ireland and its adoration of a saint named Gobnait and the person I was sitting next to knew and had a familiarity with the Saint.

Maybe Gobnait was our connection!

ADDIT

  1. The proposed book didn’t happen—my stories turned into this blog instead, and,
  2. I’m no nearer to knowing whether the bee incident and ‘meeting’ St Gobnait has had any influence on my life, but I’m still open to possibilities, and,
  3. I’m still fascinated with death—in a healthy way!


A little about St Gobnait’s Wood

The site of St Gobnait’s wood has been classified as a Special Area of Conservation in Ireland:

Aerial view of St Gobnait’s Wood and cemetery, Ballyvourney, Co. Cork, Ireland. Google Earth. Accessed 17 July 2017.

…the canopy is dominated by a mixture of birch and oak with abundant old beech and rowan. Ash and sycamore occur widely…and Alder is occasional…The trees vary in height from 14m to 17m or more in height although a few old Scots Pine and fir occur as emergents.

The shrub layer consists of Hazel, Rusty willow, Holly and Hawthorn and the herb layer has such plants as Bluebells, Bramble, Wood Anemone, Ferns and Bracken and others with great names such as St Patrick’s cabbage, Yorkshire-fog and Enchanter’s-nightshade.

Well worth a visit if you’re ever in Ballyvourney—but watch out for bees!


Further reading

If you want to read more about St Gobnait, please click on the following links:

Pilgrimage to St Gobnait at Ballyvourney, Co. Cork

St Gobnait Monastic Site, Ballyvourney

Posted in Bees, Ireland | Tagged | 12 Comments

Sights and Sounds of Australia Part 1

Each season has its own features and aspects of life cycles in the ‘natural’ world. In this blog post, as in previous blog posts, namely, Sights and Sounds of Ireland, I’m going to share with you some recordings I’ve made. This time the sights and sounds are closer to home, they’re in my local ‘hood, the eastern suburbs of Melbourne.


Cicadas, Crickets and Corellas

Summer’s over for us Aussies and we’re now entering the cooler months. Some might say goodbye, good riddance to Summer. It’s too hot. But for many of us this last Summer has been relatively tame; less days over 40ºC than in other years. And for my worms that’s meant survival—in my worm farm, that is. On two occasions over the last five years I’ve had to clean out the putrefied, liquefied quagmire of worm remains from my farm following heatwaves, where the temp was over 40 for a few days in a row. This year, the cooler Summer has meant happy worms and, happy me.


Cicadas…

As I’ve hinted at in my blog name, I consider the sound of cicadas a quintessentially Australian sound even though cicadas are not endemic to Australia. They’re found worldwide. Maybe its the association they conjure up for me: balmy Summer evenings; too hot to do anything much except find the coolest spot and stay there. As a kid it conjures up memories of never-ending Summer holidays at the beach. Lying around on the cool floor of the beach house after a bath and fish and chips for tea as your skin turns beetroot.

I made the following recording of a chorus of cicadas as I heard them on a walk around my local streets one hot, balmy January evening.

See what memories they conjure up for you…


Crickets…

Now, we’re in Autumn. The screechy cicadas have gone.

In their place are the crickets. A much gentler chorus. At dusk one night in April, I recorded their dulcet tones as they set up their choir in my front yard.

Have a listen…

Certainly a much gentler sound for a much gentler season.


Corellas…

Now, these guys are raucous. They’ve been circling my neighbourhood in large flocks for the last couple of weeks. Many of them will descend on a tree, ravage the berries/seed pods and discard the remains out the side of their beaks like old codgers spitting into spittoons. This can make for hazardous walking, especially if the remains are strewn over the foot path.

Below is a recording I took of a flock that settled on a Cotoneaster just above my head as I was walking past. For a moment I felt like Tippi Hedren in Hitchcock’s The Birds as I instinctively placed my arms over my head and walked a little faster. But they weren’t interested in me, all they wanted was those delicious, bright red, juicy berries.

Have a look and a listen…

These recordings may not be quintessentially Australian but they certainly stir feelings of ‘home’ in me.

How about you?

Posted in Cicadas, Sights and Sounds | 11 Comments

Edward WINTER witnesses the hanging of three bushrangers

In my last blog post, Edward WINTER, Mary REIBEY and the $20 note , I spoke of the wonderful legacy Isaac BATEY left in the form of ‘Notes, 1840-1850‘—recollections of European colonial pioneers in Sunbury, Victoria and surrounds—available to be viewed in the State Library of Victoria (SLV). This post deals with another reference BATEY makes to Edward WINTER, my great great grandfather and his father in law. Edward ‘accidentally’ witnesses the public hanging of 3 bushrangers in Melbourne in 1842. I say ‘accidentally’ as it appears Edward happens across the scene rather than aiming for a front row seat. A relief for his great great granddaughter—me—and his many other descendants.


Intro

It was the second public hanging to be held in the Port Phillip District. Three bushrangers, ELLIS, JEPPS and FOGARTY, were hanged on 28 June 1842 outside the partially constructed Melbourne Gaol (now known as the Old Melbourne Gaol).

The event attracted a large crowd. Edmund FINN, the journalist and author writing under the pseudonym, Garryowen, reported that there were at least 7000 people in attendance..

…and with shame be it spoken, a very large preponderance of women and children (Garryowen, p.397).

Other reports say 2000 onlookers. Whatever it was, it’s amazing to think people wanted to watch at all.

It was also reported that the onlookers used the scaffolding of the partially constructed gaol as a grandstand.


Isaac BATEY’s ‘Notes’

According to a ‘memo’ left by Isaac BATEY’s father, Martin BATEY, Edward got mixed up in the crowd as he was coming into Melbourne with a ‘horsedray’.

Below is the extract describing the reference as written in the chapter entitled:

1842 June 28th. Bushrangers hanged-there were 3 of them

(See, also, the transcript following)

Extract from ‘1842 June 28th. Bushrangers hanged – there were 3 of them’ in Notes by Isaac Batey ‘Pioneers of Sunbury’ 1907. Courtesy of State Library of Victoria (SLV). http://search.slv.vic.gov.au/MAIN:Everything:SLV_VOYAGER1640276

Transcript:

…. These would be the three bushrangers, because Mr Edward Winter, then at Heidelberg, coming into Melbourne with a horse dray before he knew what was happening, got mixed up with the crowd. To show the horribly case-hardened nature of a woman in the assemblage I must speak plain. Dogs when hanged micturate, human beings do the same it seems, because Winter noticed water dripping from the bottoms of the mens trousers. The woman unquestionably a factory bird noting the state of affairs exclaimed ‘They ought to have pissed before they came to be hanged’…

Indeed. Charming.

The extract proffers some questions/explanations…

  • how common was it to hang a dog in those days?
  • ‘micturating’ — I’ll let you work that out,
  • ‘factory bird’ — I suspect this was a term used for a female convict originally housed in a female factory. Below is a description of female factories of the 1830s in Van Diemen’s Land, courtesy of the University of Tasmania website:

During the 1830s, those who entered a Female Factory were divided into three classes. At the bottom in the Third or Crime Class were women serving secondary punishment for offences such as insolence, drunkenness and being absent without leave. In the Second or Probation Class, women worked at lighter tasks and enjoyed a less meagre diet. At the top in the First or Assignable Class were women waiting to be sent into private service where settlers gave them room, board and clothes, but no wages.

  • ‘Edward Winter then of Heidelberg’ — This may refer to the time Edward was the farm manager/overseer of Lucerne, the property in Alphington, or, it may refer to another property a little further north—one I haven’t found yet. See blog post What’s in a name?

The above account is the only detail BATEY recorded in his ‘Notes’ of Edward’s experience of the hangings…perhaps that was all Edward bothered to tell anyone or, perhaps it was just a quirky little anecdote BATEY found amusing enough to be worthy of some posterity.

Whatever the reason, it triggered a curiosity in me: who were these bushrangers, why were they hanged and what did others report?


Who were these three bushrangers?

The three were originally four. The fourth member, John WILLIAMS, was shot dead at the time of the capture.

The youngest of the bushrangers was Charles ELLIS. He was 19 years old. ELLIS was born in Surrey, England into a very poor family. He was uneducated. He worked his passage to Australia as a ship’s cook, arriving in Sydney. He then worked his way down to Melbourne and became a ‘bullocky’.

Daniel JEPPS was 27 years old. He was Born in Boston USA and was known as ‘Yankee Jack’. (One of the captors was known as ‘Hopping Jack’. I wonder what prompted that alias?). In contrast to ELLIS, JEPPS was educated. He was a seaman/whaler. After arriving in Sydney he jumped ship (literally) at the Heads of Port Phillip Bay as the ship was leaving to return to America. He also made his way overland to Melbourne.

Martin FOGARTY was 26 years old. He was born in Templemore, Co. Tipperary, Ireland. FOGARTY migrated to Australia with John WILLIAMS. They worked together on the same station. WILLIAMS inducted FOGARTY into the gang.

ELLIS and JEPPS met up with FOGARTY and WILLIAMS and, all together, they commenced their raiding and looting. The capture of the three and the fatal shooting of WILLIAMS happened only seven weeks into their spree.


Reports of the bushranging escapades, the shoot-out and capture

The gang of four firstly raided properties in the Dandenong district. They then moved on to the Plenty river area, north of Melbourne. Eventually, there was a ‘shoot out’ on Campbell Hunter’s property in Whittlesea, between the police and the bushrangers. It’s said to have lasted for an hour.

There were several articles published in the newspapers of 1880 recounting memories of this period of time:

Thomas NAPIER, a resident of Essendon, wrote about his experience of being robbed by the bushrangers nearly 40 years earlier (Argus, 11 August 1880, p. 7.):

…I was, I believe, along with another, the first to be stuck up by them…

The robbery took place ‘on the Dandenong Road’. The gang took a watch and £2 from Napier’s companion:

They then made us ride before them for half a mile, then called on me to dismount and give up my horse to Fogarty, leaving me an old scrubber. Before leaving they gave us a drink of rum, and told us to go on our journey, threatening to shoot us if we gave information.

Governor LA TROBE put together a group of men from the Melbourne Club to help in the pursuit of the bushrangers as there were not enough police. They were sworn in as special constables.

Constable George VINGE, the leader of the band of ‘real’ police’, also wrote about his recollections of the events of 1842. The article was entitled, Bushrangers in the Olden Times and it was printed in The Argus on the 6th August 1880, p.6. It’s interesting to note that less than forty years earlier than this publication was considered ‘Olden Times’. I suppose it wasn’t too far fetched as there would have been rapid growth and change in the colony in the ensuing years.

VINGE declared:

…I was the leader of the party that captured them…

He reported that the bushrangers had ‘stuck up and robbed’ at least 6 properties in the Plenty as well as others ‘on the road’.

The bushrangers were eventually taken by surprise. They set up ‘a determined resistance’ in a hut. After an hour-long shoot out, WILLIAMS was dead and one of the captors, named FOWLER, had been shot in the face.

FOGARTY surrendered first. A short time later JEPPS came out of the hut. He asked the captors…

…if any of our party had been shot and coolly stood beside the hut lighting his pipe with banknotes, the remnants of which were picked up afterwards.

JEPPS asked his captors to let him go. On denial of this he made another request:

Gentlemen rather than be taken to Melbourne and made a public show of on the gallows, shoot me.

This request was also denied. VINGE then made his move…

…I walked up and handcuffed him, and upon searching him found £10 wrapped up in his neckerchief.

Meanwhile, Hopping Jack and another had entered the hut and after a short while ELLIS came out and surrendered. ELLIS had a go at VINGE but VINGE ‘knocked him down’. ELLIS requested to see ‘his mate Williams’. The captors agreed and took him over to the hut where Williams lay…

When he saw the dead body of Williams he (Ellis) knelt down and kissed it.

VINGE handcuffed the three prisoners to each other and ‘mounted them on separate horses’.

The captors and their charges arrived in Melbourne on a Sunday. The news of their capture had already reached the town…

…hundreds of people met us on our way and to show how great was the excitement people rushed out of the churches leaving the preacher alone in the pulpit.


The Trial and Hangings

Judge John Walpole WILLIS (1793-1877). Courtesy of the SLV. http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/273193

On 11th May 1842, ELLIS, FOGARTY and JEPPS were charged by Resident Judge WILLIS with ‘shooting with intent to kill at Whittlesea on 29 April 1842’. Shooting with intent to kill was a capital offence in the colony at the time.

Jepps turned to religion after the trial and assumed a leadership role in preparing his companions for their fate. Jepps largely kept his composure on the gallows and gave a speech exhorting people not to turn to crime – “I trust you will all take warning by our untimely fate, and avoid those crimes which have brought us to this end…” He then blessed the hangman, who shook hands twice with all three victims….Jepps’ last words were: “God bless you and your poor soul. Farewell.”  (Poultney, p.4)

Edmund Finn (Garryowen) 1819-1898.  Courtesy of SLV. http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/290970

According to Garryowen, Melbourne was ‘hero-mad’ in the interval between the condemnation and execution:

…and the air, so to speak, rang with the praises of the five gallant volunteers who so bravely brought them to justice.

It was agreed at a public meeting ‘to present the volunteers with an address and a case of pistols each, as well as to entertain them at a public dinner’.

The prisoners were visited by their various religious pastors. They became very penitent and asked to see one of their captors, Mr Fowler, the man who was shot. The request was granted. On meeting with the captor…

…they dropped on their knees and asked his forgiveness, which he freely gave, and kindly shook hands with them on leaving.

It was revealed that if they hadn’t been caught they were intending to murder Judge WILLIS. On the day of the hangings, ‘a large cart, with three rough coffins placed in it, was driven up to the gaol door’. The handcuffed and capped prisoners ‘mounted the cart, and each with his back to the horse, sat down upon his coffin!’

Garryowen infers astonishment at the sight :

“Swells” from the neighbourhood of the town, and from all the country for miles around: and as before, well-mounted smartly dressed settlers, with top boots and cord breeches, cantered about as if out on some equestrian spree. It appeared like a great gala celebration instead of the punishment of three guilty fellow-creatures.

It’s good to know ‘our Edward’ was not one of the “swells”.

Following the hangings, all three men were buried outside the Old Melbourne Cemetery. This site is presently covered by The Queen Victoria Market.


And for anyone interested in ‘Early Melbourne’…

Below is a wonderful depiction of Melbourne in 1854. It was drawn by the artist Nathaniel WHITTOCK from sketches done by a G Teale. I’ve circled the site of the (Old) Melbourne Gaol. As you can see, the gaol was on the outskirts of town and no doubt even more distant from the hubbub in 1842.

For a better view of the numbered landmarks and the corresponding legend the picture can be accessed and downloaded from the SLV website. Click here.

The City of Melbourne, Australia. Drawn by Nathaniel Whittock (artist) from sketches taken in 1854 by G Teale Esqr. Items of interest are numbered and a legend is printed below the picture. Courtesy of SLV. Accessed online 17/4/17. (The (Old) Melbourne Gaol has been circled by the author). http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/106370

References:

Most of the information regarding the three bushrangers was taken from the following resources:

Finn, Edmund (Garryowen), The Chronicles of Early Melbourne, 1835-1853, Fergusson and Mitchell, Melbourne, Australia, 1888.

Poultney, Trevor, Victims of the Rope: Executions in Port Phillip & Victoria 1842-1967, Trevor Poultney, Melbourne, 2016.

And, if you’re interested in Judge Willis, the first judge of Port Phillip, read on:

The Resident Judge of Port Phillip Who was Judge Willis? Blog by Janine Rizzetti.

The Judge Willis Casebooks Royal Historical Society of Victoria.

Posted in Winter | Tagged , | 8 Comments

Edward WINTER, Mary REIBEY and the $20 note

Isaac BATEY (1839-1928) left an invaluable memoir of recollections of life in the pioneering days of Sunbury, Victoria, and its surrounds. Several of his stories relate to Edward WINTER (1812-1869)—his father in law and my great great grandfather. The stories are surprising, exhilarating and previously unknown—to my present day clan anyway. They’re what every family historian secretly hopes for; an insight into a forebear’s character. Here’s one such story—a connection between Edward WINTER and the woman on the Australian twenty-dollar note, Mary REIBEY (1777-1855).

2017 Mary REIBEY (1777-1855) on the Australian $20 note.


Who was Mary REIBEY (1777-1855)?

Mary REIBEY, the rather dour looking woman above, was an astute Sydney businesswoman who operated as a trader in Sydney in the early 1800s. She was added to the $20 note in 1994.1

According to the entry for Mary REIBEY in the Australian Dictionary of Biography, Mary came to Australia from England as a convict. She was convicted in 1790 for horse stealing at the age of 13. At the time of her arrest, she was disguised as a boy, going by the name of James Burrow, her real name being Molly (or Mary) Haydock. She was transported to NSW for 7 years, arriving in Sydney in 1792.

In 1794, she married Thomas REIBEY (1769-1811) in Sydney. Thomas was a free man who had previously worked for the East India company. The couple had seven children together. They owned property on the Hawksebury River and in Sydney. Mary ran a store with goods from India and China which her husband procured on his travels. They built a house and warehouse in Macquarie Place, Sydney and named the establishment, Entally, after the Calcutta suburb where Thomas spent much of his boyhood.2

Thomas became the business partner of an Edward WILLS (1778?-1811), an emancipist. Together they established a boat building business.

♦ Edward WILLS…remember that name for later…


Entally House, Tasmania

1974 Entally House, Hadspen, Tasmania. Author’s private collection.

Entally House in Tasmania may ring a bell with some of you. It’s a beautifully preserved home in Hadspen, 13 km from Launceston. The Entally estate was established in 1819 by the three sons of Thomas and Mary REIBEY.

In 1974, I visited this house as part of a school tour to Tasmania. I fell in love with it—as I did with most of Tassie. I loved the old furnishings and the imaginings they stirred. I ‘saw’ the family sitting around the luscious dining room table sharing their day. I think this is when I started to live in the 1800s.


Back to Mary…

By 1811, Mary was a widow. Thomas REIBEY and his partner, Edward WILLS, died within a month of each other in 1811. Mary was left with seven children, the youngest being only five months old. Despite the demands of a young family, she continued the trading exploits of her husband and his partner and opened another warehouse in 1812, this time in George Street, Sydney. She became a major shareholder in the new Bank of New South Wales and a governor for the Free Grammar School.

Mary REIBEY died in 1855. Five of her seven children predeceased her, one of them being Celia REIBEY.

♦ Celia REIBEY…remember that name too.


Who was Isaac BATEY (1839-1928)?

Isaac Batey was the son of Martin BATEY, a pioneer in the Sunbury area in Victoria.3 Martin BATEY acquired land on the east side of Jackson’s Creek, known as Redstone Hill, almost opposite the property of Edward WINTER, who was situated on the west side of Jackson’s Creek, in Digger’s Rest. No doubt there were ‘meetings’ down by the creek as Isaac married Edward WINTER’s eldest daughter, Lydia WINTER (1843-1899) in 1877.

I first discovered the writings of Isaac BATEY when I was searching for any mention of Edward WINTER in the digitised newspapers accessed through TROVE. BATEY’s reminiscences, including his father’s recollections of the pioneering days, were serialised under the heading ‘The Far-Off Has-Been’ in the Sunbury News of 1903/1904. They turned out to be a rich source of the history of the pioneers, including several mentions of his father in law, Edward WINTER.

A further search for BATEY’s writings revealed an original manuscript in the State Library of Victoria (SLV). It’s identified in the SLV catalogue as ‘Notes, 1840-1850’ by Isaac Batey. There’s a copy on microfilm too. The SLV catalogue entry for the ‘notes’ reads:

Accounts of the life of pioneers in the Keilor, Sunbury and Werribee areas: “Further notes on early days on the Keilor and Werribee plains…with work-painted portrait of “Big Clarke” (H7913); a leather bound volume entitled “Pioneers of the Sunbury District” (172325 and also available on microfilm at MSM 506)

The catalogue entry describes the author, Isaac BATEY, like so:

Isaac Batey was a Victorian settler and grazier in the areas around Sunbury, Werribee and Keilor. He kept sheep on this land and is known to have made an inventory of native birds in what is now known as the Organ Pipes National Park, just outside Melbourne.

There’s something magical about seeing someone’s writing in the flesh and touching their original journal, so I ordered the ‘Notes’ and spent a delicious hour or so in the beautiful Manuscripts Room of the SLV soaking up BATEY’s musings. His reminiscences are an invaluable resource for anyone interested in the ‘goings on’ of the early days of the colony, especially around the district of Sunbury.


Edward WINTER and ‘Mrs BLANK’

The following extract from BATEY’s notes entitled, ‘Pioneers of the Sunbury District’ caught my interest. It describes the interactions between his father in law, Edward WINTER, and Edward’s employer in Sydney, a ‘Mrs Blank’, and some fellow employees (pages 382-384). Transcribed as written:

…The late Edward Winter whose tenacity is not to be doubted emigrated to Tasmania, from thence to better himself he went to Sydney where he obtained a situation as farm manager to a lady who had been transported. She had married well, when Winter entered her employ one of the assigned men said to him  ‘If Mrs Blank begins bullying you, give it her, that’s the way to beat her’. She opened on one day with ‘Who are you Sir?’ Winter responded with ‘Who are you. Madam when, I came to this colony I brought my character in my pocket’. Seemingly she admired the overseers plain speaking, for on her return to town she sent as a present a ham and a bottle of rum…

It seems that Edward gained the respect of his employer, but the interaction doesn’t throw a good light on the manner in which she, Mrs Blank, treated her employees—some of them anyway! The continuing extract perpetuates the supposed poor treatment and gives a hint as to the identity of Mrs Blank…

…Judging from what I have heard some masters were hard on their assigned men but by Winter’s account his mistress must have believed in the lash, because she said, ‘What Mr Winter, you have been here a month and not a man flogged’. There were little shortcomings that he winked at, one was loading firewood, down to Sydney at night, sell the wood, and with the money buy rum or other luxuries. The fellows would be back in time to go to work, and it seems the hands worked all the better in being allowed A little licence. The boatman said to Winter in speaking of Mrs Blank ‘Many a time I thought of upsetting the boat to drown her- but I can’t swim. It would be unfair to give Mrs Blank’s real name beyond saying that she is supposed to be the heroine of Cabbold’s novel, bearing the title of Margaret Catchpole.

The last sentence was a teaser. It was too good not to follow up. I investigated. It turns out that the novel, Margaret Catchpole, written by Rev. Richard Cobbold in 1845, was rumoured to be based on the life of Mary REIBEY.4

So, BATEY, in his quest to not ‘name names’, indirectly informed the reader of Mrs Blank’s true identity: she was the highly successful Sydney businesswoman, Mary REIBEY.


Figtree Farm, Hunter’s Hill, Sydney.

Mary REIBEY owned a farm—her country retreat—in Hunter’s Hill which she named Figtree Farm owing to a large Port Jackson fig tree nearby. The land was bought in 1835.

My great great grandparents, Edward WINTER (Parish of Hunter’s Hill) and Honoria TANCRED (Parish of St Lawrence), married on 28 Jan 1840 in the Parish of St Lawrence, Church of England after Edward arrived in Sydney in Dec 1839. The family folklore as per some recently discovered WINTER cousins is that Edward pursued Honoria to Australia from Ireland after their families tried to keep them apart because of religious differences, Edward being Protestant and Honoria, Catholic. At first, Edward went to Tasmania looking for her then returned to Sydney where he ‘met her in the street’. A romantic story good enough for a movie!

The witnesses to the marriage were Henry HOVENDEN of Sussex Street, Sydney, possibly Edward’s uncle, and William JONES of George Street, Sydney (the same street as the church), relationship unknown. Both living in central Sydney.

Perhaps Edward WINTER managed the Figtree Farm before taking up the position of manager at Lucerne, the farm in Alphington, in the Port Phillip District (Victoria was yet to be separated from NSW)? Edward and Honoria had left Sydney by April 1841 because their first child, Margaret, was born at, Lucerne. Also, the 1841 census of ‘New South Wales’ places Edward at Lucerne.

The Google Earth view below locates Figtree Farm at the site that is now known as Reiby Road, Hunter’s Hill and the church, St Laurence, where Edward and Honoria most probably married. Edward, living in the Parish of Hunter’s Hill according to his marriage certificate, was either living near the farm or on it if my supposition of him being the manager is right.


Now…remember Edward WILLS, Thomas REIBEY’s business partner?

Well, the reason I asked you to remember Edward WILLS is that I suspected there was a connection between him and the Thomas WILLS who owned the farm Lucerne in Alphington where Edward WINTER was later employed (about 1841) as the manager. See  What’s in a Name?

I checked the lineage of  the WILLS family.

Mrs Celia Wills daughter of Mary Reibey, ca. 1820 – watercolour on ivory miniature. Courtesy of Collections, State Library of NSW.

Sure enough, Edward WILLS had a son named Thomas WILLS (1799-1872) and his details fitted with the Thomas WILLS who married Celia REIBEY (1803-1823), one of the daughters of Mary and Thomas REIBEY. Celia died not long after the birth of their first child. Thomas then remarried and bought land in Alphington in 1840 and named the farm, Lucerne.5

So, Edward WINTER and Thomas WILLS both had connections to Mary REIBEY; Edward by employment and Thomas by marriage to her daughter and by his father’s business partnership with Mary’s husband. Edward and Thomas could well have met in Sydney through this association. And maybe, Edward, being a trusted employee of his mother in law was encouraged by Thomas to move down south to Lucerne and manage his farm.

All supposition…


So there you have it…

By way of a hint by a cheeky memoirist in a carefully preserved, publicly available memoir I’ve been able to gain some insight into not only my great great grandfather’s character but also into the character of the highly respected, colonial businesswoman, Mary REIBEY.

Much to my relief, Edward WINTER, comes across as a ‘good’ man: caring, respectful, non violent, not intimidated by bullies and a believer that if you treat your workers fairly they’ll reward you with productive work.

On the other hand, Mary REIBEY comes across as a bit of a tyrant: a bully and a believer in physical punishment. An interesting fact is that in 1817, Mary was found guilty of assault upon one of her debtors. She, apparently, wasn’t averse to a little rough stuff.


As with any family history research there’s always some trepidation when delving into new information. You hope you don’t find out something bad about your forebear, that he/she was cruel or dishonest or just not likeable. But, fortunately, in this case, my forebear Edward WINTER sounds like a decent bloke, a relative to be proud of.

There are other recollections in BATEY’s notes regarding Edward WINTER but I’ll leave them for another time…

References

1.Reserve Bank of Australia. http://banknotes.rba.gov.au/australias-banknotes/banknotes-in-circulation/twenty-dollar/

2.Dictionary of Sydney. Entry for Entally House. http://dictionaryofsydney.org/building/entally_house

3.Fords of Katandra. Entry for Thomas Place BATEY, Isaac BATEY’s brother. http://www.fordsofkatandra.com/index.php/ancestor-chart-sp-8908/42-thomas-ford/pink-descendants/92-example-layout-page

4.Australian Dictionary of Biography. Entry for Mary REIBEY. http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/reibey-mary-2583

5.Dorothy Rogers, A History of Kew. Kilmore, Vic., 1973, pp. 3-5.

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Sitting next door to Alice

Amongst Mum’s repertoire of schoolgirl memories was the oft-repeated story of Alice and her lollies. Alice sat next to Mum in the one and only classroom, consisting of Grades 1 to 8, at St. Joseph’s Convent School, Cora Lynn, West Gippsland.

The story went something like this:

“Alice’s parents had a shop in Nar Nar Goon and nearly every day she’d bring in a bag of lollies,” Mum said. “We used to open up our desk lids and eat the lollies behind them so the teacher couldn’t see.”

“Did you ever get caught?” I said.

“No. Never.” Mum said, with a hint of pride.

The Alice story usually segued into the story about wet boots…

“Once, I got punished for walking in the puddles and getting my boots sopping wet. I had to stand at the back of the class.”

And then, on to the horse stories…

Little Meena, was a one time racehorse, and Mum’s favourite…. “I loved getting up to a gallop on her”;

and, the not so favourite old horse… “There was a cranky old horse that used to jib. Wouldn’t go to school, only back home. So that’s what we had to do”;

and, the time her sister, Joyce, fell off the back of the horse Mum was riding… “I wondered why she wasn’t talking. I looked around and she wasn’t there. I turned the horse around and went back the way I came and there she was lying on the ground, crying. Her arm was really badly broken. Mum and Dad had to come home from the (Melbourne) Cup”.

I loved these stories. All of them painted a picture of schooldays that were so different to mine. Growing up in suburban Melbourne in the 1960s, I didn’t have to be able to ride a horse to get to school. I could walk. It wasn’t far. There was one similarity though. My school friends and I had a cheeky little note passing habit that went on under our desks and right under the teacher’s nose. I don’t believe we were ever caught. There was a sense of fun in getting away with it.


Back to Alice…

According to Mum, Alice was a chubby girl, the inference being, she ate a lot of lollies. Over a lifetime of hearing the story, I imagined Alice was a very chubby girl, one who perhaps struggled to fit behind the desk. I also imagined that the two of them would be stifling giggles as they scoffed the likes of  jelly babies and aniseed balls behind the open desk lids. There was never any mention of coercion by either party; it appeared to be a mutual scoffing.


Why am I recalling this story?

I’m recalling this story because a photo appeared in my inbox recently that lends weight to the Alice story. Not that I ever doubted Mum but it made the story more real. My cousin has been going through some old photos her mother, Mum’s sister, had left to her. She’s been very kindly scanning and emailing them to me. Some I’d seen before and others I hadn’t. This one, I hadn’t:

c1925 St Joseph’s Convent School, Cora Lynn, West Gippsland. Mum (Teresa Bernadette ‘Berna’ WINTER (1917-2010) and Alice are highlighted in black and white).

It’s a photo of unidentified children in the classroom at St Joseph’s Convent School at Cora Lynn in the 1920s. (The highlighting of the two girls in black and white is my doing).

I instantly recognized Mum—the girl with the short bob and fringe—as she’d identified herself to me in a school photo taken around the same time (see photo below), possibly taken on the same day.

Seated next to Mum in the classroom photo is ‘a chubby girl’. Could this be Alice? If it is, which I suspect is the case, she’s not quite as chubby as my mind’s eye had imagined her to be, but she does have a bigger frame, shall we say, than Mum. And looking at the desk the two girls are sitting at I can see it’s the type where the lids open up, perfect for hiding behind.

I wonder if Alice had a stash of lollies in her desk this day? Perhaps they’d already scoffed them or they were planning to once the photographer had left.

I can’t help but smile as I look at this pair. They look so delightfully innocent. But I know their secret and I get the feeling that if I wink at them they’ll wink back. They haven’t as yet, but they might after I’ve had a couple of wines.

It is eerie to see the story materialize in a photo, especially an image that’s now over ninety years old. Not something I ever imagined would happen but I’m glad it did as it’s kinda cute.

c1925 St Joseph’s Convent School, Cora Lynn, West Gippsland. Mum, Teresa Bernadette WINTER (1917-2010) (circled); Roy WINTER, top row, second from left (Mum’s brother); and Nance COGHLAN, 2nd top row, 4th from right (Mum’s sister-in-law). There’s a clearer photo of this group on my first blog post  98 today…..well, she would have been

Having another look at the photo above, I can now identify Alice as the girl standing to Mum’s left. It’s nice to finally meet you, Alice, after all these years. And thanks to my cousin for sharing her photos with me.

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How do we solve a problem like Maria?

Back in the 1990s, when I first started researching the family history, I innocently thought that my migrating forebears came to Australia and settled in one place. I soon discovered that, more often than not, immigrants to Australia in the mid 1800s often spent years finding their way; making money, losing money, battling disease, battling nature, battling each other. And eventually, if they were lucky and prosperous enough, they bought a parcel of land and then settled down. My forebears were no different.

A prime example of my lack of genealogical experience was the interpretation I made, or nearly made, of an inscription on the headstone marking the grave registered to my great great grandfather, Luke COGHLAN, in the Melbourne General Cemetery. The inscription reads:

Front of headstone. RC H19. North Avenue, Melbourne General Cemetery. Image taken 22 Nov 2015. Author’s Private Collection.

Erected by

LUKE COGHLAN

of Northcote

in memory of his daughter

MARIA COGHLAN

who departed this life

November 14th 1857

Aged 11 years & 6 months.

There are no particulars on the headstone indicating Luke is buried there but the register says he is.

But, was this Luke COGHLAN ‘of Northcote’ really my great great grandfather?

I was inclined to think ‘no’, as I’d only ever heard my dad talk about the COGHLANs ‘of Bullarto’, near Daylesford—never ‘of Northcote’. Although, I did know that my Luke did have a daughter named Maria. She was listed as one of Luke’s children on the passenger list (see below). But unfortunately, I couldn’t find her death certificate. If I had, it could have potentially told me her parents’ names and their place of residence, thereby, verifying that I had the right Luke and that he did reside in Northcote in the 1850s.

So, on arriving at what I perceived as a bit of a dead-end, I placed the grave in the ‘too hard basket’. There just wasn’t enough information to pull it all together. It sat there for a number of years. But, eventually, with the increased availability of certain resources, I was able to confirm that Luke ‘of Northcote’ was indeed my Luke and that Maria, his daughter, died of a disease that is common today.

Here’s the process and what I found…


The search for Luke COGHLAN’s final resting place

The first step was to obtain Luke COGHLAN’s death certificate from Births, Deaths and Marriages (BDM) Vic:

31 July 1871 Death certificate of Luke COGHLAN. Courtesy of BDM Vic. Reg. No. 6496.

The record states that Luke died on 31 July 1871 in ‘Glenlyonshire’. He died of bronchitis and cystic disease, at the age of 66. He was buried in the Melbourne General Cemetery on the 2 August 1871.

The Victorian Places website gives a description of Glenlyonshire:

Glenlyonshire was proclaimed on 12 December 1865. Its area of 310 sq km included the timber towns of Bullarto and Lyonville, Drummond, Coomoora and Yandoit.

This, more than likely, placed Luke in Bullarto which ‘fitted’ with the family stories.

Other details of verification: ’18 years in Victoria’, therefore, arriving in 1854. This also ‘fitted’ with the arrival details.

(The COGHLAN family arrived in Adelaide, South Australia on the ‘Sir Edward Parry’ on 25 March 1854 after leaving Plymouth 90 days earlier on Christmas Day 1853. The family unit consisted of Luke 37, his wife, Ellen 34 and their children: William 18, Anne 16, John 15, James 13, Patrick 10, Maria 7 and Catherine 5. Michael, the eldest, and another son, Luke, were not on this ship. They did come to Australia but I haven’t, as yet, found their arrival details. Another son, Daniel, was born in Australia-according to his death certificate)

Luke’s children, at the time of his death, as listed on his death certificate were: Michael 34, William 33, John 30, James 28, Patrick 27, Luke 26, Maria (deceased), Daniel 18, Catherine (deceased), Ann (deceased).

It’s interesting to note that by the time Luke died in 1871 all three of his daughters, Maria, Catherine and Anne, had predeceased him.

Luke’s age at death is recorded as ’66’. If this is correct, he must have put his age down on migrating; he was more likely to be 47 on arrival in Australia rather than 37.


Death of Luke’s daughter, Catherine COGHLAN

In the 1990s, I searched for the death certificates of all the daughters. I was only able to find one, and that was Catherine’s:

1 January 1859 Death certificate of Catherine COGHLAN, 8 yo, daughter of Luke COGHLAN and Ellen COGHLAN née Navin. Courtesy of BDM Vic. Reg. No. 396.

Catherine died on New Years Day, 1859, in Pentridge. I was a little perturbed when I read this. The only Pentridge I knew was the prison. What was an 8 year old doing in a prison?

A moment of enlightenment came a few months ago when I was doing some research in the Genealogical Society of Victoria (GSV). One of the volunteers overheard me relaying the sad story of Catherine dying in Pentridge. She politely interrupted and said, ‘Do you know that Coburg was once known as Pentridge?’

And with that, another assumption was put to bed.

I felt relieved for Catherine. I’m glad she didn’t die in a prison. At the same time, I was kicking myself for not having read up on the history of the suburbs. Leafing through Richard Broome’s book, Coburg: Between Two Creeks, published in 1987 would have enlightened me much sooner. A lesson learned.

Also, if I had have known about the change of suburb name, I might have given more credence to the notion that her father, my Luke, was indeed ‘of Northcote’, considering the close proximity of the two suburbs, Coburg and Northcote.

(On Catherine’s death certificate, the cause of death looks like ‘trauma’…I could be wrong. If anyone can enlighten me on a possible alternative, please let me know. I’ve checked for inquests for Catherine but there aren’t any recorded).


Back to the search for the location of Luke’s grave…

Still in the ’90s, I checked the Register of burials in the Melbourne General Cemetery compiled by the GSV for the location of Luke’s grave.

I identified Luke COGHLAN’s grave as RC H19. (RC=Roman Catholic). The site of the headstone.

A search for other COGHLANs in the Register revealed that Luke’s daughter, Maria, was in fact, in the same grave as Luke. It also revealed that they were not alone. There were four other occupants.

The occupants of Grave RC H19:

  • Maria COGHLAN    bur. 14 Sep 1857,  11 years old
  • Catherine COGHLAN    bur. 2 Jan 1859,  8 years old
  • William L. COGHLAN    bur. 13 Mar 1870,  2 years old
  • Luke COGHLAN    bur. 2 Aug 1871,  75 years old
  • Ellen COGHLAN    bur. 20 Apr 1874,  4 months old
  • Victoria P. COGHLAN    bur. 22 May 1878,  3 months old

The burial details of ‘Catherine COGHLAN’, date and age, coincided with those found on the death certificate I had found for Luke’s daughter, Catherine.

Then who were the other three occupants of RC H19?

It wasn’t until fairly recently that I discovered the identities of the three children, ‘William L.’, ‘Ellen’ and ‘Victoria P.’. Using the free index search on the BDM Vic website which became available last year, I determined that all three were the children of Patrick COGHLAN and Mary Teresa O’BRIEN. Patrick, being Luke COGHLAN’s son.

So, in regards to Luke COGHLAN, the occupants of RC H19, besides himself, were two of his daughters, and three of his grandchildren.


Locating Luke ‘of Northcote’

The 1856 Electoral Roll for Sub-district: Pentridge, District: East Bourke. State: Victoria records Luke COGHLIN as a ‘farmer’ on a leasehold, Goodwin’s Paddock, ‘near Northcote’. (Reference: ‘Australia, Electoral Rolls, 1903-1980’; Ancestry )

1856-east-bourke-electoral-roll-luke-coghlin-farmer-leasehold-goodwis-paddock-near-northcote

With the introduction of digitized Australian newspapers by the National Library of Australia as part of the website, Trove, in 2008, I was able to find additional information about Luke in this area by way of a couple of advertisements.

The first advertisement, placed in the ‘Lost and Found’ section of the Argus, 6 December 1856, Luke offers a reward for the return of two horses that had either been stolen or had strayed from Goodwin’s Paddock. Horse stealing was rather prevalent in those times.

1856-3-dec-the-argus-luke-coughlin-reward-for-horses

The advertisement locates Luke on Goodwin’s Paddock, between ‘Pentridge’ and Plenty Road. The ad also mentions the Pilgrim Inn.

The Pilgrim Inn, is known today as the Croxton Park Hotel on High Street, Thornbury. (High Street was once known as Plenty Road). It was the first hotel in Darebin.  You can find out more information about the history of the hotel on the Darebin Libraries’ Heritage website. Click here.

In 1859, another advertisement, once again, places Luke COGHLAN on Goodwin’s Paddock. This time Luke is calling for ‘wood splitters’.

So, during this time, the mid to late 1850s, Luke appears to be doing quite well financially but he has had plenty of sadness: the early deaths of two of his children, Maria, aged 11, in 1857 and Catherine, aged 8, in 1859. A tough start to a new life in the colony.

(Another daughter, Ann, may well have died around this time too. I have been unable to find her death certificate).

I became intrigued by Goodwin’s Paddock. Could I locate it?

The search for Goodwin’s Paddock

The probable location of Goodwin’s Paddock is Allotment 139, Parish Of Jika Jika. The land was bought by Thomas Goodwin, a Melbourne storekeeper, from John Carey in 1849. The Allotment, bounded by Merri Creek, Bell St, High Street and Miller Street is now part of the suburb of Preston. Sources: Darebin Heritage-Oakover Hall and the Newsletter of the Friends of Merri Creek, ‘Merri Growler’, Aug 2015-Oct 2015

I’ve highlighted the area on a present day Google street map. See below:

Just recently, I took a walk along the Merri Creek trail, near Goodwin Street.

18 Dec 2106 Merri Creek trail, near the end of Goodwin Street, Preston. Author’s private collection.

It’s a beautiful tranquil walk. The paths are well maintained and the gums offer some shade along the way. It was hard to believe I was in the middle of suburbia. At one point I heard some ‘babbling’. It reminded me of the Irish babbling I recorded and posted in Sights and Sounds of Ireland, Part 3

I wonder if the babbling of the Merri Creek reminded the COGHLANS of their homeland? It certainly reminded me of the soft babbling I’d heard in Ireland. Although I don’t think the Merri Creek was always a soft babble. It sometimes became a raging torrent, no doubt causing all kinds of headaches for the new farmers. But they were there because of the rich alluvial soil, perfect for market gardening, and the new migrants had to be fed.

Here’s a short recording of the babbling Merri Creek as I heard it on my walk:


Some additional information confirming Luke COGHLAN’s burial in the Melbourne General Cemetery

Once again, Trove was my hero.

I found a couple of Funeral notices in the Argus relating to Luke COGHLAN. One is an invitation to the friends of Luke, and the other is an invitation to the friends of Luke’s son, Patrick, the licensee of the Curzon Hotel, Hotham (now North Melbourne), to follow Luke’s funeral:

1871 Funeral notices for Luke COGHLAN of ‘Kangaroo Creek, near Daylesford’ in the Argus. To be buried in the Melbourne General Cemetery. Accessed through Trove.

The funeral was to move from Spencer St station at 1030am on Wednesday, 2nd August 1871 to the Melbourne General Cemetery.

The first notice gives the final abode of Luke: ‘of Kangaroo Creek, near Daylesford’. The creek runs from Bullarto to Malmsbury. I was in the right territory. I had the right Luke.

But what about the elusive Maria?


Finding Maria…

I have just recently found Maria’s death certificate after trying several variations of her name on the search page of the BDM Vic website. She turned up as ‘Mary COGHLAN’, right age, right year, right parents:

12 September 1857 Death certificate of ‘Mary’ COGHLAN of Northcote, Merri Creek. Image courtesy of BDM Vic Reg. No. 5725.

There’s a few minor discrepancies between the details on the headstone and those on the certificate but there’s enough corroborating information to confirm that this is the Maria COGHLAN of the headstone.

Discrepancies: the Month of death is different by 2 months and the day is out by a couple of days. Luke may have erected the stone years after Maria died and memories of dates can get a little fuzzy. I’ll also give some leeway to the maiden name of her mother, recorded as, Navan. In giving the information, William, Maria’s brother, being a young informant (21 yo), who couldn’t write (signed with an X) and speaking with an Irish accent, may have been misheard by the Registrar. Consequently, ‘NAVAN’ may have been heard instead of  NEVIN, and ‘Mary’ may have been heard instead of Maria.

Her father, Luke’s address is ‘Northcote, Merri Creek’.

So, the young 11 year old Maria died of the flu. A disease which still kills the young, the elderly and the vulnerable today. It must have been devastating to lose his daughter only 3 years after the family’s arrival in the new colony and especially after surviving the 3 month sea voyage from the other side of the world.

Additional confirming information came in the form of a funeral notice for Maria published in the Age and the Argus:

It’s interesting to note that it says ‘…his late eldest daughter Maria…’. Perhaps Anne, documented as being five years older than Maria on the passenger list, had already died by this stage.


A visit to the Melbourne General Cemetery

I recently returned to the cemetery to check out the headstone. The last time I’d seen it was about 20 years ago, in the rain. I remember being very excited on finding it, especially in such great condition. This time, in glorious sunshine, I was pleased to see it was still in really good condition.

For those interested in seeing the headstone, it is easily accessible. It’s on North Avenue, not far north of the Catholic Chapel and on the same side as the memorial to Elvis.

If you have trouble finding it, or you get lost, you can visit the Front Office, near the main entrance and they will help you locate the grave site. The image below gives you a better idea of its location. It’s the sandstone headstone in the middle of the picture next to the railing around the Moriarty grave in the foreground. The bluestone building in the background is the Catholic Chapel.

RC H19 Melbourne General Cemetery. Author’s private collection.

The back of the headstone faces North Avenue. There is a biblical inscription on this side. It is a fairly common Catholic prayer for the dead of the time. See caption of image below:

Back of headstone: It is a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead that they may be loosed from their sins. 2 Mac XII 46. RC H19 Melbourne General Cemetery.

The dedication of the headstone to Maria infers that Luke held his eldest daughter in very high esteem, and that by erecting a lasting monument he was ensuring her life was honoured and that she would be remembered. Finding the headstone certainly led me on a chase to find her story.


Have a safe and Happy New Year everyone! See you back on the blog in 2017.

Thanks for your faithful reading, liking and commenting throughout 2016. Very much appreciated.

Cheers, Marg

Posted in Coghlan, Nevin | Tagged , | 12 Comments

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