This is how I best remember my maternal grandfather, “Gramp” Archie Fleming, tinkering in his shed.
He used to tell tall stories and I would listen, totally enthralled … as I got a bit older I started to realize that these stories were a bit far fetched ….. but I loved them anyway.
The sad thing is I can’t remember them now.
I do remember bits of one where he told something about hundreds of cockatoos perching on a dead tree and when the farmer fired off his shotgun they all took flight at once and took the tree with them.
I used to love going to Nana and Gramps for school holidays. They seemed to move around a lot. They lived for a time at Edi Upper in Northern Victoria. I’m not sure what Gramp did for a living there. I took this photo at Edi Upper in about 1974 or 5 I think.
I fondly remember long drives from Shepparton to Melbourne (no freeways then), sometimes towing a caravan, and coming over Pretty Sally at night to see the lights of Melbourne in front of us. I loved the years he was a greenskeeper at the Northern Golf Club at Glenroy, Victoria and they lived in the “house” upstairs above the Clubrooms.
I have fond memories of Gramp taking us “rabbiting” even though I was so scared of his ferrets and their sharp sharp teeth but they were tucked away safely in the ferret boxes he made that had big straps so he could sling them over his shoulder for the long walks over the hills.
In his 60s Gramp ended up with diabetes. He had a corn or callous on his foot that a chiropodist cut back but because of the diabetes his foot never healed and gangrene set it. The foot was amputated but the gangrene spread further into the leg. Eventually they took it off at the knee. I’m not sure if it was a front for us kids but Gramp was always very brave and always jocular about his “stump” as he called it. He couldn’t wait to get his new “wooden” leg. The leg was finally made and fitted and he was learning to walk with not too many problems. He even had his HR Holden modified so he could still drive it.
I’m pretty sure it was only months later that I was called out of my class at the local TAFE college to be met by my Auntie with the horrible news that Gramp had just suffered a major heart attack and died at home that morning. He was only 68 years old.
Gramp owned a white HR Holden identical to this one
Mary married John Adams at Essendon in 1887.
The last electoral roll entry I have of him at the same address as his wife was 1909 at 104 Charles Street, Ascot Vale. After that it looks like he was in Adelaide for a while before being remanded back to Victoria to face the bench.
There were 32 articles in the newspapers over a period of five years.
Way too many to post so I will just post
the following main one.
Links to the many other news articles.
1913 ‘POLICE.’, The Register (Adelaide, SA : 1901 – 1929), 16 October, p. 5,
1915 ‘FLEMINGTON POLICE COURT.’, Flemington Spectator(Vic. : 1914 – 1918), 15 April, p. 6, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article88508880
1915 ‘Flemington Police Court.’, Flemington Spectator (Vic. : 1914 – 1918), 29 April, p. 2,
1915 ‘FLEMINGTON POLICE COURT.’, Flemington Spectator(Vic. : 1914 – 1918), 11 November, p. 6, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article88511342
1916 ‘FLEMINGTON POLICE COURT.’, Flemington Spectator(Vic. : 1914 – 1918), 17 February, p. 2, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article88449211
1916 ‘Tuesday, Noveber 28.’, Flemington Spectator (Vic. : 1914 – 1918), 30 November, p. 3,
1916 ‘MATTER O’ MONEY.’, Truth (Melbourne ed.) (Vic. : 1914 – 1918), 2 December, p. 8,
1917 ‘FLEMINGTON POLICE COURT.’, Flemington Spectator(Vic. : 1914 – 1918), 31 May, p. 3, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article88453439
1917 ‘ADAMS ANCHORED.’, Truth (Melbourne ed.) (Vic. : 1914 – 1918), 2 June, p. 2,
1917 ‘FLEMINGTON POLICE COURT.’, Flemington Spectator(Vic. : 1914 – 1918), 23 August, p. 3, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article88448514
1917 ‘Arrears of Maintenance.’, Flemington Spectator (Vic. : 1914 – 1918), 22 November, p.2
1917 ‘FLEMINGTON-POLICE COURT.’, The Essendon Gazette and Keilor, Bulla and Broadmeadows Reporter(Moonee Ponds, Vic. : 1914 – 1918), 20 December, p. 2 Edition: Morning.
1918 ‘FLEMINGTON POLICE COURT.’, The Essendon Gazette and Keilor, Bulla and Broadmeadows Reporter(Moonee Ponds, Vic. : 1914 – 1918), 17 January, p. 2 Edition: Morning,
1918 ‘Tuesday, March 26.’, The Essendon Gazette and Keilor, Bulla and Broadmeadows Reporter (Moonee Ponds, Vic. : 1914 – 1918), 28 March, p. 2 Edition: Morning,
1918 ‘Tuesday, April 23.’, Flemington Spectator (Vic. : 1914 – 1918), 25 April, p. 3,
1918 ‘Arrears of Maintenance.’, Flemington Spectator (Vic. : 1914 – 1918), 23 May, p. 6,
1918 ‘FLEMINGTON POLICE COURT.’, Flemington Spectator(Vic. : 1914 – 1918), 11 July, p. 2, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article92028699
1918 ‘Tuesday, September 10.’, Flemington Spectator (Vic. : 1914 – 1918), 12 September, p. 3,
William Finlay FLEMING
An association with impressive facial hair and medically out of the ordinary immediately brought to mind my maternal great great grandfather, William Findlay FLEMING. Myself and a few of our family members have researched his life and even though he initially seemed to be a medical marvel living to such a ripe old age we are now all in agreement that he was a bit of a story teller and perhaps didn’t know how old he actually was. He claimed to have been born about 1810 and all later records of his life state he was 102 years of age when he died but when we looked into Scotland census, passenger and early records it can be seen that he was actually born about 1831. We haven’t found an actual birth record in Scotland for him as yet. His parents were Andrew FLEMING and Helen/Ellen nee FINLAY of Wigtownshire, Scotland who migrated to Australia in 1848.
He was fond of speaking to the local newspapers and so effectually wrote his own obituaries.
Nathalia Herald, May 28, 1901 – A Kotupna Nonagenarian:
Mr. William Finlay Fleming of Kotupna, is in many respects one of the most remarkable men in this district. He was born at Galloway in Scotland, in the year 1810, consequently he is now 91 years old, he was in the Herald office last week and bore the appearance of having plenty of vitality in him yet. Mr. Fleming had, however, sold his farm at Kotupna and is now about to move to Hedi, on the King River, so a word or two concerning this remarkable pioneer is not out of place. He landed in Victoria from the ship “Empire” in 1847 and went to Lexton where he was engaged as a waiter in a hotel. Then he became a shepherd in the Clunes district where he also worked as a farm hand for several years. Next he turned his energies into the carrying trade, purchased a team and got over many miles of road travelling in the next few years. Later on we find Mr. Fleming acted as “Town Herdsman” for Melbourne. Then he put in 18 years of mining at Clunes. Following upon this he opened a butchering business at Creswick and was also engaged in farming pursuits there. At length he selected a block of land at Kotupna where he has resided for many years past and this he has now sold to Mr. J.J. Bartrop. It is a somewhat unique experience in these days of the inauguration of the Australian Commonwealth to converse with a man who lived in the days of Wellington and Napolean.
Nathalia Herald May 24 1910
A Centenarian —– Many residents of Kotupna will recollect Mr. W.F. Fleming, who some years ago went to reside in the Wangaratta district. The old gentleman recently passed his 100th year and is still hale and hearty. Mr. Fleming has often expressed a wish to return to Kotupna and die amongst those with whom he lived so long.
Nathalia Herald September 9, 1911:
Old Mr. W.F. Fleming who formerly lived for several years in Kotupna, but now resides at Edi, sends word that he is ill, but is hopeful of getting better and lasting a few years longer. When we remember that the old gentleman has passed the century, having been born in 1810, we hope his wish will be realised. Mr. Fleming, in the long ago, was once Town Herdsman for Melbourne.
Wangaratta Chronicle 2nd December, 1911
The death occurred at Edi (26 miles from Wangaratta) on Tuesday night of Mr. William Finlay Fleming, at the great age of 101 years. Had he lived until the 8th of January next he would have been 102 years. Mr. Fleming was possessed of a remarkably fine constitution and to back it up he was endowed with a fine stamina. While the good health he enjoyed for 100 years was the means of always keeping him in the best of spirits, until four months ago he did not know what it was to be ill, and during these last four months of his long existence he had the services of Doctor Bays and was well cared for by his wife and daughters and other descendants and friends. He died peacefully and quietly, surrounded by members of his family.
Although he had set out on his second century, he retained up to the very last the full use of all his faculties – his eye sight, hearing and speech where not impaired in any way and he enjoyed conversing with friends.
Although he worked hard and to use his own term “roughed It” in the early days in this country, the hardships experienced in the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s in this state, did not have any detrimental effect on his constitution. He was one of the hardy old Scotsman.
The late Mr. Fleming was a native of Galloway, Scotland, and was born on the 8th January, 1810.
When he was 31 years of age the family decided to migrate to Australia, and the father and mother with members of the family came to Victoria by the “William Stewart”, landing at Port Phillip in 1842. Melbourne was then in its infancy.
Shortly after the landing, the subject of this obituary went to “Burnbank” Lexton, where he was employed for a time as a waiter in a hotel and afterwards employed as a shepherd by the late Hon. Finley Campbell in the Clunes district. He also worked as a farm labourer for several years in the same district. He was thrifty and careful, and after some years of saving, he got together sufficient money to purchase a wagon and team of bullocks, with which he commenced carrying on the roads between Melbourne and several gold fields, including Castlemaine, Bendigo, Ballarat and Clunes. He was not impressed with the life of a carrier and later made an application for, and was appointed Town Herdsman for Melbourne. When he landed in Victoria, the boundary for a station was indicated by corner pegs driven into the ground, and when he took the duties of Herdsman of Melbourne, the ground on which Collingwood, Carlton and other neighbouring suburbs are now found, was a big common.
Being somewhat of a roving disposition, he didn’t keep the position of herdsman for long, but resigned for the purpose of trying his luck at mining. He started mining at the Bendigo and Clunes district. Although he was not very successful he secured one fine nugget which turned the scale at 3lbs 2oz. After 18 years on the gold fields, he entered upon farming pursuits at Creswick and combined butchering with his farm work. Beef and mutton were not costly in those days and a
quarter of mutton could be bought for 6d, roasts for 1d and 2d per pound and other parts at similar prices. Flour, sugar and tea were dear at this time.
In 1873, he left Creswick and settled at Kotupna in the Goulburn Valley, where he selected 185 acres of land. Here he and his family remained for 27 years, when in 1900 they removed and settled in the Edi district, where the sons followed farming pursuits, and the father and mother lived quietly, enjoying the company of their sons, daughters, grandchildren and great grandchildren.
The late Mr. Fleming was married by the Reverend Miller, in the Presbyterian church; Melbourne on 15th March, 1852, his wife being a native of Gloucester (shire?), England. She is now 78 years of age and is healthy and strong.
Mr. and Mrs. Fleming were in Wangaratta about six months ago, attending to business and on that occasion Mr. Fleming remarked that he was wonderfully well, the only thing that troubled him being his legs, which became weak at times.
When the American Fleet was in Melbourne, Mr Fleming visited that city and was presented to the Admiral with whom he conversed and joked about the guns and warships of the 30’s. Mr Fleming was accompanied by his wife and they visited various parts of Melbourne, which were a wilderness when they first lived there.
He lived under six different sovereigns viz: William, George 111 , George iv, Queen Victoria, Edward and George v. He was an interesting personality and could relate with the blacks in the early days. He remembered the gay doings and happenings of the Gold fields.
Mr Fleming was not an abstainer from spirituous liquors, but he never partook to excess. He also enjoyed his pipe. He was well known in several parts of the state and had a large circle of friends who held him in the highest esteem, not solely on account of his great age but because of his pleasant disposition and upright and manly actions during his 60 years as a Victorian Colonist.
By the death of Mr Fleming, the country has lost a nation builder, for his descendants, now living, total 98. Out of a family of 13, four boys and four girls still survive. They are Mr W. James Fleming, South Merong, Melbourne, Mr Don Fleming, King Valley, Mr Moses Fleming, Wyalong, Mr J Knight Fleming, Edi, Mrs Thos Tuckett, Melbourne, Mrs Chas Worrall, Camperdown, and Mrs Sam Laurence, Whitfield. There are 72 grandchildren and 18 great grandchildren. Mrs Mary Ann Stokes of Sydney is a sister of deceased and she is now in her 85th year.
Sympathy is expressed for the sorrowing wife. The funeral took place on Wednesday afternoon when the remains were interred at the Edi cemetery. The cortege was a fairly lengthy one. The burial service was read by Mr. Donaldson, Presbyterian Home Mission. The funeral arrangements were in the hands of Mr. Thomas Lachlan.
The North Eastern Despatch, Saturday, December 2 1911:
Death of Oldest resident of district, Mr. W.F. Fleming – Aged 101 years, 11 months.
The death occurred at Edi on Tuesday afternoon of a remarkable old man, Mr. William Finlay Fleming who, had he lived until January 12th next, would have reached his 102nd year. The old man’s great age was well attested, and he had marvellous vitality, retaining his faculties to a wonderful degree until four months ago, when gangrene developed in one of his legs, and his death then became a question to short time only. His brain was very active almost to the last, his hearing perfect, and his sight but slightly impaired of late years. He use to relate how second sight came to him some years ago, and after that his vision was so good that even a few months before his death he could distinguish the figure of a man half a mile away. Twelve months ago when standing at the door of his house he could recognize a buggy passing along the road quite half a mile distant. He attributed his long life to inherited vitality and took no special care of himself, eating and drinking anything, yet he could move about with comparative ease, and was able to come to Wangaratta by train last year. He was a heavy smoker in his early years, but during an attack of illness, when he was about 80 – his first and only illness until four months ago – he gave up the habit, not because he believed it was doing him harm, but in order to show possession of will power. ” My earliest recollection was seeing my grandfather, who was a soldier, on his arrival home after the Battle of Waterloo in June 1815″, This is how the late Mr. Fleming answered a question put to him a year ago regarding his early memories and in that momentous year he was five and a half years old. He had a mind full of reminiscences, but like many old people they were of personalities rather than of incidents, for he had lived a comparatively quiet life. Lack of education was a great draw-back to him, for he was not born “in the purple” and in his boy-hood days, schooling was for the well-to-do only. But though he never learnt to write with any facility he acquired the knowledge to read in later years, and was possessed of much intelligence. Blessed with a genial nature, he always took the best out of life, and even when past the century he was brisk in repartee and a capital conversationalist. The late Mr. Fleming was born in Galloway, Scotland in January 1810, and was descendant from wonderful stock, his grandmother living to the age of 105, while his mother died in Victoria when in her 90th year.
The second ship to bring emigrants from England to Australia, was the sailing vessel ” William Stewart” and on May 15th, 1842, there was landed at Port Melbourne amongst the passengers on that initial voyage a family party comprising father, mother, three sons and three daughters. William Finlay Fleming, then a man of 37 years, was one of those sons, who having no fixed occupation in Galloway had joined his parents and other members of the family in their expedition to Australia, which was then but slightly known in the Old country, Melbourne was only in its infancy, and while some of the family secured employment there, the son William set off for the country in search of work on some of the stations, His first job was at Burnbank, or Lexton, as the place is now called, and Mr. Anderson gave him work as barman in his hotel. The house was the rendezvous of men from the stations, and others, rough characters many of them, and Mr. Fleming’s first insight into Colonial life was not pleasing to one who had been reared amongst the staid population of the town of Galloway. The duties of a barman were not of the mild character associated with the position of to-day, and there was much drinking and consequent riotousness. Three months sufficed for Mr. Fleming, but he had signed an agreement to remain for 12 months, and it was only by pretending drunkenness at the suggestion of a station overseer that he managed to get a discharge, for he was in need of him on the station of Mr. Allan Cameron, on the Wimmera, and Mr. Fleming remained there for three months during the shearing. He had saved 90 pounds by this time, and decided on a trip to Melbourne to rejoin his relatives. In company with two other station hands he started off and stayed for a night at a hotel at Fiery Creek, but in the morning he found that his companions had robbed him and hurried away, he followed them as fast as he could but they reached Geelong, 60 miles away, in advance and he never saw them again, though he had the satisfaction of learning that both were imprisoned, one of them for a big robbery. The Lodden tribe of black fellows were wild in those early times and Mr. Fleming was an eye-witness of one startling incident during his walk to Geelong, a black fellow being engaged in roasting a lubra on a pile of burning wood. This was a portion of Magill/s station and the process was being calmly watched by a couple of of dozen men of the tribe, the woman having been adjudged guilty of some serious offence. His money gone, Mr. Fleming reached Melbourne from Geelong with difficulty, but he at once got to work again, being engaged with a gang of navvies cutting down the hill in Bourke Street, as the streets were only then being formed. A few months later he secured the position of Town Herdsman, his duties being the care of cows and horses that were turned into the bush to graze. They de pastured round about Footscray and Flemington mainly but those localities were not thus known in those days, and were covered with ti tree scrub. The racecourse was on Batmans’ Hill near where Spencer Street railway station is now situated. Mr. Fleming did well as herdsman, and with his savings decided to start butchering but two years later he was compelled to abandon the business and went back to the Clunes district, where he got an engagement as shepherd on the station of Mr. Donald Cameron, a brother of a former employer. Here he spent several years, and became a valued man, dealing with stock or droving them from the station to a depot at Footscray./ It was at Clunes in the year 1851 that Mr. Fleming’s marriage and the discovery of gold synchronized, and in 1853, a team of bullocks was bought for the purpose of carrying goods from Melbourne to the gold fields at Castlemaine and other places, The young wife accompanied her husband on several trips. Later on they settled at Creswick, where Mr. Fleming went prospecting on his own account, but with poor results, though he secured a 36 ounce nugget on one occasion. Engine diving at the Albion mine and butchering were other occupations he followed for several years, and altogether he spent 18 years at Creswick. In 1870 Mr. Fleming received another call to the lonely life of the station, and he and his wife and three children went to Campbell’s Willoora station, near Hay, where the husband was engaged as boundary rider. Mrs. Fleming and the children returned to Castlemaine, but after a few months Mr. Fleming joined them, and eventually they removed to Kotupna, where Mr. Fleming selected a block of 173 acres of land., Here he and his wife reared a family of 13 children, but their thrift and industry were poorly rewarded, as floods caused them serious losses and robbed them of the independence which was surely the due of this fine old pair of pioneers, The last remaining results of their many years of labour were sadly reduced by some dispensation, which was beyond their control, and eleven years ago they again changed their residence. One of their sons, Mr. John Fleming had previously settled at Edi, and the old couple decided to make their last home near him, hence at Edi, came the end of this remarkable old man. Of the Galloway family, who came to Melbourne in 1842, a daughter, Mrs Stokes, of Sydney, is now the only survivor, and she is 87 years of age, She visited her distinguished old relative a few months ago. Deceased’s wife, who has cared for her husband with great affection and whose family testify to her excellent motherly instincts, survives at the age of 84 and is still well preserved. The surviving members of the old couple’s family are – Messrs William James (Morang), Donald ( Whitfield), Moses (Wyalong), John K (Edi), Mrs R. Thompson and Mrs T. Tuckett (Melbourne), Mrs, C, Worrall (Camperdown), Mrs, S.J. Lawrence (Whitfield). Deceased had more than 70 grandchildren, and 16 great grand children, The remains of deceased were interred in the Edi cemetery on Wednesday afternoon. Mr. T Laidler conducted the funeral, and Mr. Donaldson, of the Presbyterian Church officiated at the grave.
The Chairman of the immigration board at Port Phillip, was not overly impressed with the appearance of the immigrants who had arrived after a voyage of 111 days, on board the “William Stewart”, on 15th May 1848.
“Although three young children have died, the remainder of the passengers have remained remarkably healthy”, he wrote “but the description and general appearance of the passengers appears to be amongst the most miserable that have here-to-fore reached the district”.
Not a wonderful description of the Fleming Family who were amongst the 233 passengers on board. Andrew and Ellen Fleming, both aged 38, and their six children, William Finlay 17, Annie 12, Ellen 11, Mary Ann 7, James 6 and Andrew 4, had left their home in Galloway shire, Wigton, Scotland, to make a new life in Australia.
William had travelled in the “unmarried males” quarters and was hired immediately upon arrival while still on board, by David Anderson, to work as a waiter at his hotel at Burbank (Lexton).
The remainder of the family were sent to the Government Depot before they could find employment.
Ellen was the daughter of William and Marion Finley, nee Bride, and this name Finley/Finlay, is carried through later generations as a forename.
It is not known what became of Andrew Snr, but his wife Ellen died at Nhill in 1885, where she had been living with her granddaughter Mary Connary. (sic) …(Convary)
William spent some years in the Clunes area working as a shepherd, farm hand and miner. He later purchased a team and worked for some years in the carrying business, before moving to Melbourne where he was employed as the the town Herdsman.
Before coming to Kotupna where he selected Allotment 22, he was a butcher at Creswick.
By 1897 he and his family were living in a four roomed weatherboard house, lined inside with deal and measuring 25 x 21 feet. His land was well fenced, some four acres were sown with wheat, 22 acres of trees had been rung with the dead wood cleared, and he had established an orchard containing 60 fruit trees.
William had married Ann Jane Knight in 1852 with their family of thirteen children, Anne Jane, William James, Ellen, Sarah, Donald, Alice, Finlay, Moses, Ruth, Matilda, Christina, John Knight and Selina, all being born before the family moved to Kotupna. Three of these sons, William James, Finlay and Moses also farmed at Kotupna before most of the family moved to the Wangaratta area in the early 1900’s.
William Finley died in 1911 at Whitfield, with his wife living another nine years before she passed away at Wangaratta in 1920.
A great grand daughter of William Finley Fleming, Mrs Joe Waite, is still living at Nathalia and her great grandchildren make the 7th generation of this family to live in the Nathalia Shire.
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The Seabrook brothers: all three killed at Passchendaele
The Australian War Memorial is seeking contact with relatives of the Seabrook brothers – 6147 Private (Pte) Theo Leslie, 6174 Pte George Ross and 6182 Second Lieutenant William Keith – all of whom were killed at Passchendaele in 1917.
Find out more about the Seabrook brothers by reading this blog post
If you have any further information about these men, or their descendants, the Memorial would love to talk to you. Please contact us via firstname.lastname@example.org
Three of my great great grand uncles, Michael, Thomas and William Kelly, were miners.
They were brothers of my great great grandmother, Alice Morgan nee Kelly (1834-1904)
Their parents were Cornelius Kelly and Mary Moloughney of Dualla, Tipperary, Ireland.
I’m told the surname Moloughney is pronounced with the ‘gh’ as MolloKney which I have read is also interchangeable with McLaughlin etc.
He appeared quite content to sit there until I gave him a cant and sent him some distance off.
This ” camping out” is not at all an unpleasant experience, as many might think, and this was a splendid moonlight night. At that time it was far more safe to keep clear of restaurants and shanties as they were the resort of the vilest characters. Neither was it safe to camp out alone with a fire at night, as this was an attraction, and you were pretty sure to get objectionable company. The plan, therefore, generally adopted, was to boil the billy for tea, then, after tea, leave, and go on a little distance in the dark, and turn off the road or track into the silent bush, and roll up in your blankets; thus you avoided unpleasant company. I got through in about seven days. I passed through the famous “Woolshed Diggings,” where the rich claims were, and where the men had to wash the gold off their boots when they left work. There was a “ strike” on just then. The claim_holders wanted to reduce the wages to £I per day. I was interviewed, and offered work at that price, but of course, I refused, as I was on my way to join my wife’s brothers. I then went on through Beechworth – Spring Creek diggings. The scenes on the diggings were strange and novel to me. Beechworth was the chief centre of the mining district, and the other diggings around were named by the distance from Beechworth, thus – “ The One Mile,” “ The Three Mile,” and “The Nine Mile.” This last was my destination. It was also called “Snake Valley,” from the winding course of the creek. It was late in the evening when I arrived, quite dark and pouring rain, and there had been a long rain before, so that the roads in the township were wretched. At the crossings of the creek it was impassable, and was only indicated by side logs, on which I had to crawl. The worst of it was, I had to wander up and down the creek to find my brothers’ hut. The storekeepers knew them by sight, but could not say where they lived. I was directed to a large restaurant, about a mile down the creek. There were about 40 diggers, just at tea. I walked up and down between the tables, and I think they were the finest, strongest, and roughest set of men I ever saw. I did not see my brothers, though. Came back, enquired at the police camp, also to no purpose. Over the creek again, when at last I found a butcher who pointed out on the bank, on the other side of the creek, the light shining through the calico top of their hut. He lent me a piece of candle to cross the creek with, and I managed to work my way among the holes and sludge, etc., to the other side. And glad I was to get there, and I was as “wet as a rat,” and pretty well tired out. I soon got “a shift ” however, and such a fire as they had never saw before; enough to roast a bullock; at which also I got a good roasting; and after a good supper of beef, damper and tea, soon felt all right. This for my first tramp in Australia.
This year (I856) was an exceedingly wet one, particularly in the winter and early spring, This drove the miners out of shallow sinking, and the great “Woolshed Diggings” (Read’s Creek) were flooded out, and thousands rushed the shallow sluicing ground of the Nine_mile Creek; in consequence, there was great trouble about water, and “water rights,” which caused endless litigation. The creek could not supply half the water required; therefore, all the hills for miles round were tunnelled for water, and an astonishing number of springs were opened. These were recognised by the Mining Warden as independent _independent of the creek _ and a permit given for the sole use of the same. Many of these cost hundreds of pounds to cut. It was also called “created water;” that is, water before locked up in the hills, and not feeding the creek. The creek water was available to all, but this would not command one_thousandth part of the mining ground. Our party, therefore, looked about for indications of springs, by sinking trial shafts, and then driving tunnels. We were fortunate in tapping water. This we conducted to dams, and used for sluicing purposes in shallow ground, from 8ft to I0ft, deep, washing away the whole of it.
I could not rest long with my family remaining in Melbourne, as some of the children had colonial fever; a very distressing complaint, but not very fatal. Most “new chums ” had it at that time, but I don’t hear anything of it now. Therefore, I tramped down to Melbourne and back twice during the first year to see them; the last time to bring them up; so that during my first year in Australia I walked about I000 miles. The last time I was over two months in Melbourne, as our eighth child was near at hand, and I thought it my duty to be with them. I filled up my time in Melbourne decorating the new Legislative Chambers, just then finished. My wages were just about the same as what I was getting in the claim, viz., £6 to £7 per week _good wages too; but not high for that class of work. Masons at that time got over £I per day. I then started with the wife and family in the arduous duty of taking them 200 miles through the bush in an American wagon. We were 20 days on the road. It is now done in about six hours per rail. We had a fearful time on “Pretty Sally’s Hill” (before mentioned); it blew a gale with heavy rain. It would have blown our tent clean away had I not “turned out ” and cut saplings down and logged it all round. We pitched our tent every night, and had a long picnicking all the way. We could only procure milk at one place (Benalla) the whole 200 miles. We went per coach from Beechworth to the Nine Mile; had to place all the children in the bottom to prevent them being pitched out, the roads being so rough, and hills all the way. Glad, indeed, were we (dear wife, in particular, with baby) to arrive at our digger’s home. I had previously erected the sides and skeleton of our future residence, and had only to put the calico top on, and stretch the fly roof. The sides were made of split slabs; the plates and rafters trimmed saplings, so that it took us, with the assistance of our mates, only a few hours to get it ready for occupying. It was very cold up there in the winter. I think the attitude is over 3000 feet. I often had to ” turn out ” in the night to shake the snow off the fly roof. We managed to keep nice and warm, though, with the huge logs on the fire _ the fireplace almost as wide as the hut. It took two men to roll some of the back_logs in, and the fire was kept burning all night. In a few years we put up a better residence. Sawn timber for the frame, shingle top and a verandah; and we started a good garden from the very first, and were the first to introduce fruit trees in the district. Mine was the second formed garden on the Creek, and out of which we made many a pound in vegetables _ sold cabbages at sixpence per pound. Had splendid flowers also. I likewise introduced the watercress, and had a sale for them even in Beechworth. They grew to perfection with our spring water running over the beds. The boys carried them round among the miners, and they were greatly appreciated. This was long before the Chinamen thought of gardening (which they monopolize now), and there were about 4000 of them then on the Nine Mile.I will not dwell long on our life on the diggings. I was not a “lucky digger,” with the exception of one little patch (which see particulars further on). We lived, however, a comfortable, happy, healthy, and a very independent life, and brought up a large family _ they now had increased to eleven, seven boys and four girls. This ten years on the diggings was, by far, the longest rest down, up to then, of our married life. For instance, of our seven children born in England, not two were born in one house; here, in our digger’s home, we had three in addition, one being also horn in Melbourne. It will be imagined that by this time I had worn off all my “smooth_handedness.” Yes, indeed, l had become a “horny_handed ” working man, and considered it no disgrace either.Who will hang his head in blushes
For the stains to toiling due?
There is dignity in labour,
If the labourer be true.”I worked like a navvy for ten years. through many hardships and danger. I had two narrow escapes in falling banks of earth _ had my pick caught each time, and buried as I was dragging it in running out of the way of the fan. I had also, during the first year, a very narrow escape of being buried alive, working underground when the ground was rotten and dangerous from the continued wet, mentioned before. It happened thus: Just before knocking_off for dinner, I had given up the washdirt to the man at the windlass, and put a prop in. On resuming work after dinner, I remarked that the prop had got “as firm as a church,” and that I did not like the appearance of things at all, as this was a sign that the ground was giving. I also said that, as the stuff would hardly pay for driving much further, I would sweep it out and try in another direction from the shaft, which my brother had pointed out, where he had got a fair prospect. I had just sent up the few buckets of sweepings, and was pointing out to the windlass_man the direction I intended driving, when, all of a sudden, without the least warning, the sides of the shaft commenced cracking; large masses also from the lower part breaking off. Of course, the rope was immediately let down, and I was hauled up, but not before a large block of earth struck me on the knee, which lamed me for about a week. Well, in about an hour afterwards, the whole of the ground, for about half an acre, sunk bodily down. The ground was completely honeycombed with drives. I was thankful I put that prop in before dinner, as it gave the indication of danger.As the mines are not now very interesting or attractive to intended emigrants, it is not necessary to enlarge further. It will be sufficient to say that when we broke up our partnership, my wife’s brothers, being single men, had saved, I think, about £400 each, but I only had my share of the water right, which we also sold. My share was about £60. The whole of my earnings, therefore, had gone to bring up my large family. My money was invested in them, to be drawn upon some day, by God’s blessing, with interest _and compound interest, too. Neighbours used to think they could command and use my boys as they liked. “ No,” I said, “you cannot draw upon my bank in this way; you must remunerate them for their services.”About this time, the Government were beginning to sell the country lands in the district. My brothers went with their savings and purchased land some thirty miles from the diggings, and started farming _an occupation they had been used to in the “ Old Country.” I continued working on the diggings with the boys for some time longer, sinking and driving for “a patch” I thought should exist from the formation and dip of the ground _but failed. A short time after, though, a party went down one of my shafts, and only drove a few feet and struck what I had been looking for so long. I believe it was about £90 worth. This is a very common fate on the diggings. The largest nugget ever got in Australia was found in an old drive only two or three inches under the bottom. The original occupiers had actually driven over and knelt over it, but the mass of gold, being so heavy, had sunk into the pipe_clay, below the ordinary run of wash_dirt. I could tell of many curious incidents of the sort. After this I and the boys worked a puddling machine; some of them were able to do a fine day’s work now. We only just made a living, though, and had to keep the horse; feed, also, was very expensive. I can remember hay being worth £50 per ton and that only bush hay; of course, it was only then used for the Government _ for police and gold escort horses.
By this time (I865), these old diggings were nearly worn out.About this time (I865) the Government passed a new land Act, opening the lands of the colony for free selection, and deferred payment at £I per acre, payable in half_yearly payments of one shilling per acre, without interest; certain improvements to be effected in residence, fencing, clearing, cultivation, etc., enforced. Of this liberal Land Act I thought I would avail myself. I could select up to 320 acres; but that was beyond my means. At the next sitting of the Land Board I selected I28 acres- the most suitable to my capital. A river_side lot. Of this, 30 acres were river flat, not suitable for cultivation, being subject to floods; 35 acres only were fit for cultivation, the other portion being inferior, crab_holey, grass land. I said above, this was most suitable to my capital. Upon selecting, I had only just cash sufficient to pay the first deposit, as the first half_year’s rent, viz., £6 8s. Little enough, it will be said, after I0 years’ hard labour in the colony. But, remember, labour is equivalent to capital, and I was backed with that banking account named before, viz., my seven good boys.
Another instance of my ancestors who tried their hands at mining.
George M Rathbone, author of a book “From Wheels to Wings – 1822 – 1986″, was a grandson of my great great grandparents, Agnes Mason and Peter Hart.
Peter was a miner for a while at Talbot in Victoria.
Agnes was the daughter of Peter Webster Mason and Margaret Leslie Mason nee Carstairs from Scotland.
The following is an excerpt from George Rathbone’s book
“Peter Webster Mason, his wife Margaret and family travelled the gold escort route to Ballarat. There they became friends with William Rathbone and the Martin brothers James, his wife Virtue and their baby son Isaac. Baby Isaac died somewhere along the inhospitable track. Isaac Martin and his wife Jean (nee Cromers). William Rathbone later married Elizabeth Martin, James Martin’s sister.
In the early years so scarce were women on the goldfields that at the appearance of one, the miners would shout “there’s a woman”. So the Mason and Martin families were drawn together for comfort and refuge.
None of the friends had any great gold finds, only sufficient to satisfy their needs.
The families were fortunately away from the Ballarat goldfields at the time of the Eureka Stockade.
My maternal great great grandfather, William Finlay Fleming had also tried his luck at mining.
He started mining at the Bendigo and Clunes district of Victoria.
Although he was not very successful he secured one fine nugget which turned the scale at 3lbs 2oz.
He moved on to farming after about 18 years on the gold fields,
In keeping with the 100th anniversary of ANZACS leaving Australian shores my Sepia Saturday post is about a different type of cruise on which so many of my ancestors sons and brothers embarked.
In this post I have mentioned just a few.
My paternal grandmother’s brother in law, Bertie Crowl, embarked from Melbourne, Victoria, on board HMAT A40 Ceramic on 23 November 1915
Bertie was a cook with the 58th battalion. He is pictured here standing at the front of the photo holding the cooking pot.
My maternal grandfather’s first cousin, William Finlay Fleming, embarked from Melbourne, Victoria, on board HMAT A11 Ascanius on 10 November 1915.
William Arthur Edmonds, my second cousin once removed, embarked from Australia on the 21st of June 1917 aboard HMAT Suevic A29.
Sadly, like many many thousands of others, he did not return home.
Private William Arthur Edmonds was killed in action on the 29th of September 1918 at Bony, France.
Lest we forget.
I’m updating and reposting this earlier blog post as a part of Geneabloggers prompt Mystery Monday.
My great grandfather, John Adams, was one of nine children born to George Adams and Catherine nee Barry listed below. John married Mary Agnes Morgan on the 7th of November 1887 at Essendon, Victoria. John’s brother, David Adams, was a witness at their marriage.
- Susan born 1854 Fremantle WA married John Tunney. Died 1880 Victoria
- George born 1856 Hotham (North Melbourne). Died 1876 Major Plains, Victoria
- John born 1858 North Melbourne. Married Mary Agnes Morgan. Died 1937 Victoria
- Mary born 1860 North Melbourne. Died 1878 Richmond, Victoria.
- Edward born 1862 Hotham (North Melbourne. Married Selina Clifton. Died 1933 New Zealand
- Catherine (Katie) born 1864 Melbourne. Married John McFadyen. Died 1946 Victoria.
- David born 1866 Hotham (North Melbourne) was still alive at his father’s death in 1921.
- Margaret born 1868 Albany, Western Australia. Married James Mansfield. Died 1926 Victoria
- Annie born 1870 Albany, WA. Married Henry Sloan. Died 1960 Ascot Vale, Victoria.
Nicol Thomas Findlater, a labourer, enlisted on the 21st of September 1914.
He was 32 years and 4 months of age, 5 foot 6 inches tall with dark complexion, brown eyes and dark hair.
He was born on the 27th of May 1882 at 3 Falconer’s Lane, Nairn, Nairnshire, Scotland to parents James Nicol Findlater and Margaret nee Bowers.
Next of kin on his attestation paper was his brother, James Findlater of 22 Huon Street, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.
Nicol Findlater was my third cousin three times removed. His great grandmother, Helen (Forsyth) Nicol was a sister of my 4 x great grandfather Alexander Forsyth
I’m fairly sure from looking at the Infantry records that Nicol was killed at Ypres.
Veterans Affairs Canada has a Canadian Virtual War Memorial for their soldiers.
From this website you can order a copy of the page from the Book of Remembrance on which your soldier is listed.
I ordered a copy for Nicol Findlater and it arrived in the mail the other day.
What a wonderful service.
We Will Remember Them.