September is National Suicide Prevention month.

Read Jeanette’s informative blog post – R U OK?

Source: R U OK?


Lance Corporal Herbert John MORGAN born Herbert John WAKENSHAW.

Herbert Douglas WAKENSHAW was born at Euroa, Victoria in 1895.

He enlisted in the 22nd Battalion, 3rd reinforcement A.I.F # 2037 on the 19th of July 1915 under the name Herbert John MORGAN.

Next of kin was given as Mrs M Cowell (foster mother) of Euroa.

Herbert died of wounds on the 7th of August 1916 at the 4th Field Ambulance in France.

Herbert’s mother was Miss Emily Wakenshaw, but no father was listed in his birth registration.
I would love to see a copy of his birth certificate one day.
According to her death registration, Emily’s parents were John Wakenshaw and Elizabeth Vidler Wakenshaw nee HEWISH.
She was born at Euroa in 1875 so was 19 or 20 years old when Herbert was born.  Emily had an older sister named Marion Elizabeth Vidler WAKENSHAW who married George COWELL.
This would be the Mrs M Cowell listed as Herbert’s next of kin.
In 1897, when Herbert was about 2 years old, Emily married my great-grand-uncle, Alexander Frederick MORGAN.  Also in 1897 a sister for Herbert, Elizabeth Marion MORGAN, was born.  Her birth registration names Alexander as her father.
Three more children were born to Alexander and Emily.
George Alexander in 1899
Emily Grace in 1901
Isabella Ida in 1902.
Sadly within a fortnight of Isabella’s birth in 1902 Emily died of exhaustion and diarrhoea.
Seven years later, in 1909, Alexander MORGAN remarried Alice McCann who may have been formerly Alice Ryan. They had 4 children.
Violet born 1909
Benjamin born 1912
Frederick born 1912

Thomas born 1914

To be named as his foster mother, Herbert’s maternal aunt, Marion COWELL, may have raised him after his mother’s death and his “step-father’s” re-marriage.

Herbert was 5 foot 9 1/2 inches tall and weighed 11 stone 5 pounds.  He had a fresh complexion, grey eyes and brown hair.

On the 25th of August, 1915 at Melbourne, Herbert embarked on the HMAT Anchises A68.
On the25th of October 1915, he was taken on strength at Gallipoli Peninsular.
On the 2nd of December 1915, Herbert was in hospital at Heliopolis, under treatment for severe frostbite and mild rheumatism.  By the 8th of January 1916, he was at the Australian and New Zealand Convalescence Depot at Helouan and was discharged to duty on the 16th of January.

In early March, he rejoined his unit in the canal zone and proceeded to join the British Expeditionary Forces at Alexandria, Egypt. On the 26th of March, the unit disembarked at Marseilles, France.

On the night of the 29th-30th of June, Herbert’s company took part in a raid on the enemy’s trenches.

On the 30th of July he was appointed Lance Corporal and on the 5th of August was reported missing.
He had sustained shrapnel wounds to the legs and died of these wounds on the 7th of August 1916.
Herbert was buried at Warloy Baillon Communal Cemetery Somme, France,  Extension (Plot VII, Row E, Grave No. 56

After some correspondence with the war office, Marion was able to receive Herbert’s medals and wrote the following letter stating he was in her care after the death of his mother.

Via the ship “Beltana”, Marion Cowell received Herbert’s personal effects of – scissors, pipe, identity disc, booklet, tobacco pouch, mirror in case and letters.

The following notice appeared in the local newspaper, the Euroa Advertiser on the 8th of September, 1916.

22nd Australian Infantry Battalion

Lieutenant Colonel Allan Percy FLEMING (1912-2001)

When it was announced in September 1939 that Australia was once again at war, my mother’s cousin, Allan Percy FLEMING, like his father in WW1,  was eager to enlist immediately.  At that time, he was a journalist for the Brisbane Courier Mail and being a key member of the senior editorial staff, it took some time to organize a replacement and clear his work commitments.

In late October, along with two Irish pals, Allan went to the recruiting office at the Brisbane town hall.  His Irish mates were taken straight in but because Allan was already commissioned as a Lieutenant in the Cadet Corps he was told he would have to wait until someone called him up.  Not to be beaten, Allan flew back to Melbourne and without any mention of his commission, enlisted on the 3rd of November, into the 5th Battalion, the same unit as his father had served in, renamed as the 2/5th Battalion.

On enlistment, his next of kin was recorded as Albert Henry Percy FLEMING of 22 Beauchamp Street, Preston.  Allan’s war service saw him rise from the rank of Private to Lieutenant-Colonel, decorated, wounded twice, captured, escaped, mentioned in despatches and awarded a military OBE.

Allan did his training at Puckapunyal military camp in Central Victoria.  To his annoyance, he was placed on the switchboard instead of being handed a rifle for training.  After messing up the connections of a few phone calls such as putting a Brigadier through to a butcher and General Blamey through to the cook he accomplished his mission to be kicked out of brigade headquarters and back to his unit, the 2/5th Battalion.

On the 23rd of November that same year Allan was given his first promotion to Corporal.  His officers must have noticed his abilities as after being transferred to 2/8th Battalion’s 17th Brigade,* on the 28th of December he was promoted to Sergeant and on the same day was commissioned as a Lieutenant.  On the 14th of April 1940, the 17th Brigade embarked for the Middle East at Port Melbourne on the troopship Dunera, arriving on the 18th of May at El Kantara, Egypt.   *(The battalion was originally formed as part of the 17th Brigade of the 6th Australian Division, but in February it was decided to reorganise Australian infantry brigades along British lines, with three battalions instead of four. This meant the 2/8th was eventually transferred to the 19th Brigade but remained part of the 6th Division.)

To greet him as he disembarked at Port Said was his fiance, Margaret Elsie MORELL nee PATTERSON.  Margaret’s divorce from Scott Morell had just been finalized and in a courageous act and against many obstacles, she and her friend Edna Harwood traveled to Egypt to meet Allan’s ship.

After quite a few further obstacles, Allan and Margaret were married at Tel Aviv on the 19th of June 1940 in the first AIF Middle East wedding of World War 2.

Margaret was now listed as his next of kin and her address given as C/- The Ritz Hotel, Hayarkon St Tel Aviv.  Later address was recorded as 82 Burke Road, East Malvern, Victoria.

Over the next weeks, Allan’s battalion moved from Tel Aviv to Qastina and on to the Gaza Strip. During this Libyan Campaign, Allan was transferred from his platoon to be appointed Battalion Intelligence Officer because of his navigational experience learned in the Scouts. It didn’t involve the usual intelligence work as such, but it was dangerous work  gathering information of specifics about the enemy’s position.  The Battalion moved on through battles at Bardia, Tobruk, where they suffered heavy casualties and on to Benghazi on the 6th of February 1941.  The Italians surrendered the next day.

By early April 1941 they were in Greece trying in vain to stop the German invasion. A fierce battle was fought at Vevi in the North under appalling conditions, but the German force was too strong and retreat was ordered.  Major Vasey later claimed that a large percentage of the 2/8th battalion had thrown away their weapons during the retreat.

Even into his old age, Allan Fleming was angry about this and continued to campaign to clear his battalion’s name from the slur in Vasey’s war diary about their retreat from Vevi.  Fleming gave his opinion in an oral history interview to Hank Nelson in 1990 for the Australian War Memorial and official war historian Gavin Long states that Vasey’s harsh statement was not all true.

Long wrote about how Allan had remained behind after his brigade had left to gather ‘stragglers’ who were lost and so scattered around the area that they would have had no idea where the rest of their battalion was.  He was at the front line directing and making sure the retreating troops knew what to do and how to get out.  A commanding officer spotted him and asked what he was doing, saying “We have to get the hell out of here, we’ll all be killed if we stay!”  When told that Allan was staying to direct the boys the Officer said he wasn’t going to stay and left.

On the 18th of April, Allan was injured in a bomb blast but made light of it and returned to duty within a few days.

In November 1941 Allan Fleming and Arch Molloy were taken prisoner by the Germans and met with Rommel.  An account was given in his obituary in 2001.

Allan Fleming Obit

From mid-1942 Allan ceased to be seconded to the 2/8th Battalion and was transferred to Air support control where he spent ten months as an instructor to train a small band of Australians to be air liaison officers.

Mid 1943 saw him promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel and he returned to active duty in command of New Guinea Force Air Liaison Group at Port Moresby with whom he flew many missions.

By June 1944, Allan had relinquished command of this Air Liaison Group and was appointed GSO 1 (Air) Advanced Echelon, Land Headquarters in Melbourne where he was directly responsible to Lieutenant-General Frank Berryman.  In 1945 he was “Mentioned in Despatches”.

mention in despatches snip

The fourteenth of January 1946 saw Allan Fleming granted an honorable discharge from the A.I.F and his distinguished service was recognized a few weeks with the Order of the British Empire (Military).

obe 1

In October of that year Allan was made an accredited war correspondent for the Herald Newspaper in Melbourne.  He was sent to Tokyo to cover the war crimes tribunal.  His later commissions included reorganising Australia’s defence intelligence, trade commissioner in Paris, representing Australia in international trade negotiation and next, the greatest switch of all, to Commonwealth parliamentary librarian and, most controversially, to National Librarian.

After he retired Allan was back at work setting up Australia’s first counter-terrorist organisation.

Allan Fleming Obit Age

Author Peter Golding, in his book “An Unqualified Success: The Extraordinary Life of Allan Percy Fleming”  gives a wonderfully detailed account of Allan’s war service and his life.

Lance Corporal William Arthur MITCHELL

William Arthur MITCHELL was the son of James MITCHELL  and Janet “Jessie” nee MASON.  He was born at Stawell in 1896, the second youngest child of five siblings and eight half-siblings. Jessie MASON was a younger sister of my maternal great-great grandmother, Agnes MASON.

He enlisted as a private in the 5th Battalion, 2nd reinforcements at Broadmeadows, Victoria on the 30th of October 1914.  He was 19 years and 2 months of age.  Next of kin was his mother Jessie MITCHELL of Princes Street, Stawell, Victoria.

William was five foot nine inches tall and weighed eleven stone one pound.
His complexion was dark with brown eyes and dark brown hair.

For some reason, he has two attestation forms and two service numbers, 1389 and 1266.  One attestation form lists his father James Mitchell as next of kin but has no service number, unit information or date joined although the form itself was dated the 30th October 1914 at the bottom of the page.

war service records at National Archives of Australia

The second attestation paper gave next of kin as his mother, Jessie MITCHELL of the same address as James.

war service records at National Archives of Australia

William was admitted to hospital several times during his service.

In June 1915 at Dardanelles on the Gallipoli Peninsula, he sustained a slight gunshot wound to the scalp and was admitted to the 15th General hospital at Mudros.

In August, he suffered a bout of dysentery and then in September 1915 embarked to England on the HMT Huntsend. Later in September he was admitted “sick” to the 1st southern general hospital Birmingham.

In early April 1916 he was back in Alexandria also on the HMT Huntsend and a couple of days later was back in hospital in Cairo.

By the end of April 1916, William was suffering “Fits” perhaps from the gunshot wound to his head.  He was admitted to hospital again, this time at Heliopolis and was discharged due to epilepsy.  On the 10th of June 1916, he embarked from Suez to Australia on HMAT Itonus.

Photo of the HMAT Itonus from the State Library of Victoria
A.I.F Project

In 1917, William married Edith Alberta BOYLE and they  had three sons.  Jack Stirling Mitchell b 1918, Ivor William Mitchell b 1920 and Roy Douglas Mitchell b 1921.  Edith died at Stawell in 1928 and William remarried Hazel Joan ROBINSON in 1939.  They had one son.

In a form dated 12th July 1967 William’s widow Hazel, since remarried and with surname Moy, applied for his Gallipoli medallion.
On the bottom of the form Hazel writes – I have Anzac Star, General Service and Victory Medals, in my keeping for my son Allan George Mitchell for whom I am claiming the Gallipoli Medallion.

On the 18th of July 1967 a letter was sent to Central Army Records Office from Mr R.D. Mitchell 16 Railway Avenue Ashwood, also applying for the Gallipoli medallion.
Dear Sirs,
I hereby apply for the Anzac Medallion as mentioned in the newspapers. My father, William Arthur Mitchell, served with the fifth Battalion in the first Word War.
Army Nos 1389-1266, William Arthur Mitchell.
yours truly Roy Mitchell.

I don’t know who got the medallion.  It would have been whoever was classed as the closest relative.  Perhaps Roy being the eldest son may have.

Archibald William Findlay Fleming

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

Legal Battle – Adams v Adams

I recenlty published this post on my Blogger platform for a 52 ancestors challenge as “A Tough Woman” but it fitted this Sepia Saturday theme so am reposting it here.
In Trove I found many years of newspaper articles telling of legal battle of my great grandparents to force my great grandfather to pay child maintenance for their two youngest children.  One of those children was my grandmother.  There loomed the possibility of the children being “put on the State”
My great grandmother, Mary Agnes Morgan, was born on the 17th of October 1864 at Moonee Ponds in Victoria.  She was  the eldest daughter of six children born to John Morgan and Alice nee Kelly.

Mary married John Adams at Essendon in 1887.

John was a bricklayer by trade and the second eldest son of 9 children of George Adams and Catherine nee Barry.  He was born on the 23 February 1858 at Provost Street, North Melbourne.
Mary and John Adams had seven children.
Alexander (1888-1888)
John (1889-1983)
Alice (1891-1960)
Morgan (1895-1923)
Catherine (1896-1973)
Brenda, my grandmother, (1905-1999)
Frank (1906-1979)

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,

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,

1916 ‘FLEMINGTON POLICE COURT.’, Flemington Spectator(Vic. : 1914 – 1918), 17 February, p. 2,

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,

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,

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,

1918 ‘Tuesday, September 10.’, Flemington Spectator (Vic. : 1914 – 1918), 12 September, p. 3,

Mary Adams ca 1930

Mary Adams died at North Melbourne on the 24th of August 1933.
John Adams died at Heidelberg on the 10th of April 1937.
I doubt a divorce was considered as they were Roman Catholic.

Sepia Saturday 261 – Out of the Ordinary


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.

william finlay and ann jane

Fleming Wm Finlay and Ann Jane Knight

From the book  “Pioneers of Nathalia and District”

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.

Sepia Saturday 261 : 10 January 2015

2014 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,200 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 37 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

The Seabrook brothers – Can you help?

The Australian War Memorial  has followed up previous leads and unfortunately didn’t find any family members. So they are opening the search again

Can you help?

Seabrook brothers
Seabrook brothers. L-R: Theo, William and George Seabrook, 17th Infantry Battalion  H05568

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


Sepia Saturday 253: Three Miners ….. and more

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.

Michael was born there in 1836, Thomas in 1843 and William in 1846.
Michael went to Kimberley, South Africa and I am presuming he was a miner there as he did very well for himself.
Diamond Mine, Kimberley

Diamond Mine, Kimberley

Michael contracted tuberculosis and came to his sister, Alice,  at the Cross Keys Hotel Essendon  in Victoria,  Australia where he died of the disease six months later in April 1898.
 In his Will he left quite a lot of money to family members.
Cross Keys Hotel
Michael’s younger brother,  Thomas Kelly  migrated to Australia in 1858 at only 13 years of age along with two other brothers, John  and William.
They arrived  just in time for their sister’s wedding that same year.
Thomas then moved on to New Zealand, obviously drawn by the gold rushes there.
He also did well from mining.
 Mr Thomas Kelly

Thomas Kelly

 The above photo is courtesy of the late Brigid Simpson and her sister Mary.
Thomas was one of three men involved in “Noble’s Rush”  on the Grey River , South Island of New Zealand.
Robert Noble was granted the prospector’s claim on a tributary creek of the Big Grey, just above Mackley’s station: five hundred men were there to see Noble’s party of three win seventeen pounds’ weight of gold in their first week’s wash up;
Thomas died in 1912 at Ohariu Valley, New Zealand.
William Kelly was much harder to find but mention in his brother Michael’s Will states he was a “speculator” for West Australian Mining.
Apparently a “speculator” is another term for a miner.
The only William Kelly I could find on further searching was the death of a William Kelly in 1899 in Queensland.
His parents were named as Con Kelly and Mary O’Loughlin.
I’m told the surname Moloughney is pronounced with the ‘gh’ as MolloKney which I have read is also interchangeable with McLaughlin etc.
William’s occupation was miner.
 I’m lucky to have a couple of little books written years ago by family members about their experiences in the Australian goldfields.
In about 1891 my maternal 3rd great grand uncle, Edward Hulme,  wrote a small book  called “A sketch of Life”.
It was an account of his emigration from England to Australia and in it there are a couple of paragraphs about his mining experience and even an account of his “200 mile tramp through the bush” which was from Melbourne to the Beechworth goldfields.
Off for the 200 mile tramp0060
OFF TO THE DIGGINGS.I started alone with swag, blankets, billy, pannikin, etc., in orthodox style, for a 200 miles’ tramp through the bush. (See frontispiece.) This, however, was not much of an undertaking for me, as I was a great pedestrian, could do my six miles an hour easy, and often over 50 miles per day on my sketching tours in the “Old Country ;” being tall (fully six feet), I had a good stride. At that time the Sydney Road was only formed a few miles out of Melbourne, and from the Rockey Waterholes to the footof the Big Hill (commonly then called Pretty Sally’s Hill) was swamp ground. I found a difficulty in getting over this ; I had to tread the thistles down for miles to prevent bogging, and it was raining fast. The contractors were just forming the road, and on the first rise on the other side of the swamp the camp was formed. The men had knocked off on account of the rain. Just as I was level with the camp, I beard my name called out in true Irish accent, and out ran one of our shipmates to greet me. He occupied the next berth to us on board ship, and was ill a great part of the way. He had been a tradesman in Dublin. He was lively enough now, as he grasped my hand and cut a real, Irish caper, with “Hurrah! for Australia and I4s. a day, and wood and water”! He was driving one of the contractor’s drays. He wanted me to stay, as it was far into the afternoon, but no _ my alloted mileage was not done, so I marched on.My first night’s ”bushing” was a strange experience. Rolled up in blankets, at the foot of a gum tree, I had not turned down long (I cannot say turned in) when I was conscious of something being upon my shoulder, and, cautiously turning round saw an animal perched quite innocently there. It was an opossum. I presume he did not recognise me from a log.
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.
TEN YEARS ON THE DIGGINGSI joined my brothers in their claim, and we had two other mates, making a party of five. We were driving out wash-dirt and sluicing it in long boxes with the creek water. We did fairly well _ made from £6 to £7 per week for each man.
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.

Agnes nee Mason and Peter Hart

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.


William Finlay Fleming

William Finlay Fleming

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,

Read more Sepia Saturday posts here:

253 : Miners, angling, fishy tales, three men