Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Great Grandma Jane was a Vaxxer


Mary Jane Eynon's biscuit tin contains two frail certificates of vaccination: Emily Isabel, vaccinated at 6 months in 1882;  and Charlotte Victoria in 1894, the year she was born.  Both took place in Fitzroy;  There was a further "Notice to Parents" that their child Violet Alicia was to be presented for vaccination, either to the Public Vaccinator or to a Medical Practitioner.  Isabel was vaccinated by a medical practitioner, Charlotte by the Public Vaccinator, and there is no further information about Violet's vaccination.

The certificates indicated that vaccination was compulsory for children under the Compulsory Vaccination Act.  The certificates were to be forwarded when vaccinations completed to the district registrar who presumably matched them with births registered.

The only vaccinations available at this time were for smallpox.  Public health was a serious issue for the government with a growing and mobile population.  Outbreaks of smallpox in Australia in the 19th century were common, but in 2015 no cases of small pox have been notified - the disease has been eradicated in Australia.  The last notification of a smallpox case occurred in 1921.

Mary Jane would have heard her mother talk about the two baby boys who had died in Beechworth in the 1850s, and would have personally remembered the deaths of other small children in the camps around her as she grew older, as well as two siblings who died as young adults.   Mary Jane's children benefited from public health programs.  She lost only one infant of her large family of eight children.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Mementos of Beechworth from 1922

The Gorge Road, Beechworth, Vic. Rose Series, P10559.
Reid's Creek, Beechworth.  Rose Series, P10543.
The Elephant Rock, Beechworth.  No 12.

These three postcards of the Beechworth area come from a biscuit tin in which George Griffith's  daughter  Mary Jane Eynon (who was born in Silver Creek, Beechworth) kept sentimental fragments of letters, cards, receipts, postcards and photographs, mainly from her children. On the back of one of these postcards was written "1922" in pencil, which is a match for the date on the back of a postcard of Camp St, Beechworth posted earlier on this blog.

The writing is hard to identify.  It doesn't appear to be Mary Jane herself - she learnt to write back in the 1860s and her writing is of a distinctive style.   Her children were taught a particular script at school in Fitzroy and the formation of their letters is quite similar, so taking a not-very-wild guess, the postcards were given to Mary Jane by one of her children  in 1922 as a memento of her birthplace. 

Friday, September 18, 2015

Dancing! Dancing! Dancing! April 1855

Camp Buildings Beechworth, A J Stopp, c 1870?  State Library of Victoria Collection

Dancing ! Dancing! Dancing!
M LANGFORD, proprietor of the Beechworth Hotel, begs to inform the inhabitants of Beechworth and its vicinity, that he has rented the above rooms, with an intention of making it into a  
Dancing and Musical Saloon,
which will be opened on
It is being fitted up in the best possible style, Messrs. Griffiths and Co. (Harp and Violin players) are engaged as musicians, and the lovers of really good music singing, and dancing, will have an opportunity afforded them unequalled in the district.
Doors open every evening, from half
past 6 to 12 p.m.
N.B.-There will be an entrance from the Assembly Rooms to the Billiard Room, which will enable persons who are fond of this game likewise to amuse themselves.
Beechworth, March 30, 1855.

Advertising. (1855, April 14). Ovens and Murray Advertiser (Beechworth, Vic. : 1855 -1918), p. 2.

The Harp player was most likely George Zeplin, who often accompanied George Griffith. 

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Reprise at the Salle de Valentino

Immense Attraction.  
Beechworth Hotel.
beg to acquaint the Public of Beechworth and the vicinity that a
will be held in the above place of amusement
This Evening, and continued every
Saturday Evening.
The Talented Instrumentalists, Messrs. Griffith and Zeplin, will perform 
on the Violin and Harp.
The Chair to be taken at eight, by Mr. Small.

Advertising. (1855, April 28). Ovens and Murray Advertiser (Beechworth, Vic. : 1855 -1918), p. 1.

 How did I miss this performance?  Thanks to Jenny Coates for drawing it to my attention.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Woolshed Valley, the Benalla letters, and the Kelly Gang

Dry Diggings, Woolshed Creek, 1857, engraved by Frederick Grosse.  Courtesy of the State Library of Victoria.
I have known for some time that the Woolshed Valley had been a haunt of the Kelly Gang in the 1870s.  The Griffiths had departed for Melbourne by then, but I like to think they may have rubbed shoulders there with some of the characters who had a role to play in the great saga of the Kelly 'outbreak.'  Constable Fitzpatrick, for instance, may have been the man who ran foul of Kelly in later years.

As time goes on, more flourishes are added to the Kelly story. A few years ago a "fossicker" found another set of Kelly armour in an old abandoned forge in the Woolshed Valley.  Recently my friend Jenny Coates verified a couple of letters written by a Benalla bank teller, one of which refers to Ned Kelly's horse being seen at the local races.    Jenny's Blog Conversations with Grandma explains her part in the story, and she links to a more detailed news story based on her research, where the reference to the Woolshed Valley forge will also be found. 

Monday, July 28, 2014

Diary of a gold digger

Unidentified man, photographed by William Mariner Bent at Bendigo, circa 1870.  Courtesy of the State Library of Victoria collection. H2007.44/24
I visited the library of the Royal Historical Society of Victoria on a quiet Friday afternoon to read the 'Diaries of Edward J. Mallandain', which included an account of the voyage of the Panama from :London to Melbourne in 1852.   This had been extracted and transcribed by Charles Mallandain.  Whether Charles M had imposed his own construction on the events of the voyage of the Panama is difficult to say ( had he left out all the interesting bits about musical interludes that I was keen to read?) but apparently Edward's on-board pre-occupations were largely to do with rows between the other passengers, and noting all the bible services on the poop deck, followed by a declaration that he didn't attend.  He mentioned only a few fellow-passengers by name, and even then, usually by initials, and nothing at all about any dance or musical parties.

The difficulties he experienced in getting himself and his good on shore are nothing short of a disgrace, and it was amazing to see how badly the passengers were treated at the end of the voyage.  It was not explained why this happened, but it was a very lengthy period of over a week after arriving in Hobsons Bay that the ship docked and allowed cargo to be removed - by which time Mallandaine had gone to a lot of trouble and expense to have his unloaded while the ship was still anchored out in the bay.

Mallandaine was certainly prepared to work hard with a pick and shovel, and his efforts with these were mainly rewarded when he got to the goldfields.  On Sunday 19 December 1852 while in camp at Bendigo he "received visits of Bennett, Fielden, Griffith, Clark re Fryers Creek & Co".  He showed his gold to them.

Whether the visitors were all shipmates from the Panama I cannot say  - PROV and its passenger lists is temporariy unavailable this evening - but even if they are, there is no clue to say whether or not that Griffith was my ancestor.

However, I enjoyed reading the manuscript, so I was glad to have spent the time on it.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Blog of Logs

Looking for an account of the voyage of the Panama from London to Melbourne in 1852, I consulted the three volume work Log of Logs by Ian Nicholson. These volumes list the whereabouts of known accounts of ships voyages - logs, diaries, newspaper accounts.

In Volume 2 there is a reference to a voyage by:

1852   clipper ship, Captain Lane, London 30.6 to Melbourne 12.11.52; +extracts from Edward Mallandaine's diary, *RHSV  MS00065. 

As a member I can consult that record for free.