Friday, October 21, 2016

Sisters' reunion at the goldfields

The story my grandmother told me:  The two Rochester sisters met again on the Ovens goldfields after many years apart.  The chain is a fine gold lady's watch chain made from a nugget found by the Griffiths at the Ovens and given to Elizabeth to have the chain made.  The chain is shown above with a gold bracelet for comparison.

It is only recently that the chain, which I remembered my grandmother telling me about as a teenager, fell into my hands.   It was the chain that set me off sifting through the known facts about Susan and Elizabeth Rochester and investigating them further.  We have already traced the Griffiths to the Ovens goldfields and the Hitchmans as newly weds most likely at Oaklands Junction on the Deep Creek.

Disappointingly, the Hitchmans, perhaps due to illiteracy, did not register the four known children they had in Victoria, but my grandmother told me that her father James, the eldest child, was born at Donnybrook in 1854.  The descendants of their third child, Elizabeth, had also heard Donnybrook as a birthplace for the daughter Elizabeth, about 1858.   The fourth child Anne was stated on her death certificate to have been born in Wangaratta,  circa 1862-63.  She died aged five at Wool Shed Farm, Gobbombalin in 1868, the details being verified by her father.

Donnybrook is about twenty kilometres north of Oaklands Junction, along the Sydney Road.   A cluster of businesses had grown up around a permanent water hole known as Rocky Water Holes near  the Sydney Road, including two inns, a post office, watchhouse, flourmill, coaching depot and accommodation houses.  Small mixed and dairy farms were nearby and provided more opportunities for work. (See Historic Views of the City of Whittlesea by Robert Wuchatsch and Gwen Hawke, Whittlesea Historical Society, 1988). The locality may also have included the area of Mickleham on the western side of Sydney Road.  In 1874 the name of the town was changed to Kalkallo.

The Town of Donnybrook Parish of Kalkallo County of Bourke [cartographic material] / Robt. Mason Assist. Survr.; lithographed by R. Meikle, 1855.  Courtesy of the State Library of Victoria Collection.


In October 1861 James Hitchman was charged with being drunk in charge of a team by Constable Jones of Moonee Ponds.  When he appeared at the Flemington Police Court on 21 October 1861, James was fined five shillings by local JP, Patrick Phelan.  Phelan had lost his seat in the Victorian Legislative Assembly just the year before.

Presumably James was just passing through Flemington or Moonee Ponds  with a load, after possibly stopping off for a quenching ale at the Flemington Inn, but it is some indication that he was still in the vicinity of Melbourne in 1861.  By 1863 the family had moved on to Wangaratta where a daughter Anne was born.  The Register for Births and Deaths is missing for the period, so we don't know any further details about their stay in Wangaratta. Thank you Jenny Coates for the information regarding the missing births and deaths in Wangaratta.

Leaving Donnybrook via the Sydney Road (now the Hume Highway), Wangaratta was on the way to their final destination in the vicinity of Wagga Wagga. Phil Sheather, a relative in Wagga Wagga, NSW, tells the story that the Hitchmans were accompanied part of the way north by Ellen and John (Red) Kelly, the parents of Ned Kelly.  

We don't know if they intended Wagga as their final destination when they first left Donnybrook, and we can't be sure just when they left Donnybrook.  The previous child to Anne was born at Donnybrook circa 1858, and Anne in Wangaratta in 1863.   The background to this movement north may have involved the dwindling of readily available alluvial gold in Victoria and the associated recession in the economy, with a peak in the number of bankruptcies occurring in 1862.  The through traffic from Melbourne to the goldfields in the north declined significantly, and the goods and services that a town like Donnybrook would provide to that traffic would have also declined.   The Hitchman departure may have occurred in response to loss of work.  It is interesting that they headed north at this time rather than return to Melbourne, but James' acquisition of a 50 acre conditional purchase farm at Malebo, near Wagga, in 1866 might indicate that the couple had a plan for their future.

Whether they spent any time at Wangaratta, or were resting there while awaiting the birth of their child I don't know.   We do know that the Griffiths were still in Beechworth in 1863, but had returned to Melbourne by 1865.  It would seem therefore that the fabled meeting of the sisters on the goldfields after many years' separation most likely occurred in Beechworth around 1863.  From Wangaratta, Beechworth was not overly far out of the way, with another route through to Albury north of the town, though the road may not have been as good.

The Sydney Hotel, formerly known as the Hope Inn, Wangaratta, 1868. Courtesy of  Museum Victoria, MM 6080. 
The story of the gold chain made from a nugget found on the Ovens goldfield hangs on whether or not the chain is made from gold.   This was a question recently resolved by calling in at a jeweller's in Moonee Ponds, Micheli Eurogold, and discovering that in fact the chain was machine made and gold plated.

Any number of explanations might be put forward - that the gift of gold was sufficient only to purchase a gold plated chain; that the original gold chain is in other hands in the family; that the original gold chain was sold in times of hardship (and there would have been many of those).  Whatever the case, I am prepared to believe that the lady's watch chain does represent a joyful meeting of the sisters in the northern goldfields after many years' separation.  The value is in the associations attached to the chain. (Even though my sister told me to cash it in if the chain was real gold!  There's sisters for you.)

It is indeed the case that all that glisters is not gold.

Elizabeth and Susan Rochester of Chipstead, Surrey, daughters of a labourer, would have had few enough opportunities had they remained in England, most likely becoming the wives of labourers, if they could find a husband.  By accepting the challenges of migration to a very strange and different land, among strangers, Elizabeth became a farmers' wife and with her husband James Hitchman, helped to populate the inland areas of the Riverina. Susan, on the other hand, cast her lot with a musician with gold fever, who took her at first to the northern Victorian goldfields of the Ovens River, and then a suburban life in the growing city of Melbourne.  Both lives involved hard work to sustain themselves and their families, but also offered opportunities.  The two young girls from Surrey proved to be resilient pioneers in their own way. Neither of them became particularly wealthy, but they became the mistress in their own homes, which may not have been the case had they stayed at Chipstead.

Thank you to Phil Sheather of Wagga Wagga for helping with some birth and death details for this story.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Elizabeth up a Deep Creek

View to the north from Donnybrook Road, Mickleham.  These fields are currently being developed for housing.  Photo:  Lenore Frost 2014.

















Elizabeth Rochester was a teenager of 18, in charge of a younger sister, when she stepped off the boat in Melbourne on 19 July 1853.   If they had hoped to stay together, that hope was dashed.  They were employed separately, Susan by Dr Hunter of Brighton and Elizabeth by Mr Livingston of Deep Creek.

Within five months of her arrival, Elizabeth married James Hitchman of Bristol, England, on 21 July 1853.  In a time and place where marriageable women were in short supply, Elizabeth might have chosen someone who had a greater claim to respectability, but realistically, out at Deep Creek her opportunities might have been as restricted as back home in Chipstead. The husband she chose was a time expired convict from Tasmania with an even larger age gap that that of Susan's choice.  Hitchman was aged about 35 to Elizabeth's 18.  It is interesting that both sisters chose much older men, but they presumably valued a more mature man in a strange place in a time of social turmoil.

The marriage record suggests they met at Deep Creek.  James was a labourer aged about 34 whose 'usual residence' was given as Deep Creek.  Elizabeth was a domestic servant, aged 23 (bit of a fib there) and her 'usual residence' Little Lonsdale Street in Melbourne. She had evidently left her employment at Deep Creek by then. Both James and Elizabeth signed with a mark, casting doubt on the passenger list in which it was suggested that Elizabeth could both read and write.  Most likely she could read a bible.  Writing was an accomplishment not widespread in the working classes in England at the time.

The witnesses also both signed with their mark, Thomas Caufield and Mary Mackay. Neither of those names appear on the passenger list of the Harpley.  Elizabeth and James were married by the Rites and Ceremonies of the Free Church of Scotland  at the Free Church Manse in Swanston Street, Melbourne. Although the minister at this time was William Miller, the ceremony was performed by the Rev Arch Simpson.

Photograph of a drawing of the John Knox Presbyterian Church manse, built for Rev. James Forbes in 1850. It was located in Swanston Street and was a building of eight to ten rooms that later housed some boarders from the John Knox School. Courtesy of the State Library of Victoria Collection, H6695.

It was an unusual choice of religion for their marriage.  Elizabeth had been brought up in the Church of England, and it seems likely that James was also C of E.   The term "Free" in the name of the church did not imply it was free of fees.  It was connected to a schism in the Presbyterian Church.  The purists formed the "Free Church of Scotland".   The John Knox Church, on the corner of Swanston St and Little Lonsdale Street was one of those.

Was it a co-incidence that the day following the wedding a notice appeared in the Argus Missing Friends columns  seeking James Hitchman?

If this should meet the eye of James Hitchman of Keilor, his brother wishes to see him at the Flagstaff Boarding House, King st, Melbourne.
The Argus 22 December 1853. 

One wonders how many times these messages got to the right quarter when the recipients were illiterate and lived out of town?  Whether James Hitchman had ever lived in Keilor is also a mystery.  But was it a co-incidence that ad was placed the day after the wedding?  Had the brother heard something on the grapevine?   All scenarios, both the message being transmitted to James, and the  brother possibly hearing of the marriage, rely on some fairly heavy duty gossiping going on.  Did James ever meet up with his brother in the Flagstaff Boarding House in King Street?


I was very interested in learning more about the Mr Livingston who had employed Elizabeth, and particularly where he lived.  It was was one of the first pieces of family history research I ever did, so perhaps 40 odd years ago I made a beginner's error, and was not able to correct it until fairly recently. That error was assuming that 'Deep Creek' was  the village of 'Bulla Bulla'.   Bulla had indeed been known as Deep Creek in the very early days of settlement. Living in the district, that was well known to me.   BUT (and you all know what I am going to say)  in the early days of settlement, Deep Creek could mean anywhere along the length of the creek (no matter how many miles), and I was not looking far enough afield to find Mr Livingston.  It was only with access to Trove and Ancestry, and a little more experience that I managed to correct that error.

So forty years ago I could not for the life of me locate a Mr Livingston.  He did not appear in directories, birth, death or marriage indexes, histories of the area, parish maps or any index that I cared to consult.  The lack of a known first name was a problem.  The Mr Livingston conundrum remained in the too hard basket until discussing it a year or so ago with a friend, Christine Laskowski.  Chris just happened to mention that there was a Deep Creek in the vicinity of Craigieburn where her ancestors had lived.  The penny dropped with rather a loud clang. When I looked itt was in fact the same Deep Creek near Craigieburn.  I hadn't been looking far enough.

Now Trove has become a major resource for family historians, and I went there first.  It took some lengthy searching to locate three relevant items in the papers, which I will discuss in turn, firstly:


Missing since on or about the 25th ultimo Francis Palmer Livingstone, five feet five inches high dark complexion, dark whiskers, stout build, twenty years of age, wore a dark plaid jumper, dark tweed trousers, and white Manila hat. Was riding an iron gray mare, branded H on near shoulder, L on off shoulder, bushy tail, star in forehead Information to Mrs. Livingstone, Oatland's Farm, near the Deep Creek.
Monday 19 March 1855   http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article4805607
Was Francis Palmer Livingstone the mysterious 'Mr Livingston'?  I presumed 'Mrs Livingstone' to be his wife and went to the BDM indexes to discover her name, but in one of those confusing results one gets, Francis Palmer Livingstone married 'Mary Livingstone' in 1859, four years after the above advertisement.  So who was Mrs Livingstone?  His mother? Turning to Ancestry family trees,  I found she was probably his sister-in-law, and a good 15 years his senior.

Mary's first husband was Gilbert Livingston, but I could not locate a death record for him. Several Livingston trees said he had died in 1853, but that didn't help to find him in the indexes.   However, one researcher had very kindly put the marriage record of Mary Livingstone and Francis Palmer Livingstone on Ancestry as a supporting document, and in this it was stated that her husband had died in 1853, so presumably this was the source of his death date.  The death occurred at the time civil registration was starting in Victoria, and it was not recorded.  He also didn't turn up in cemetery records and the like.  He may have died outside the colony, but no newspaper notices marked the bereavement.

Secondly, with the help of Ancestry trees, I now knew the names of the children, so was able to recognise one of their daughters in a Trove search - Mary Anne Livingstone, born in Tasmania in 1845, but attending the Bulla Bulla National School in 1855.  


BULLA BULLA NATIONAL SCHOOL.
An examination of the pupils attending the Bulla Bulla National School was held on Thursday, the 13th current, when the following patrons were present :-Rawdon Greene, Esq. (chairman) ; Messrs. Cameron, Murray, Forsyth, Patullo, Brannagan, and Massie (secretary). The Rev. Mr. Chapman, of Broadmeadows, was also present, and assisted at the examination.
[The prizes] were awarded as follows : [among many other prizes]


SECOND CLASS.-READING, SPELLING, &c:
Boys.-1st prize, Arthur Pattison.
2nd [ditto], Andrew Pattison.
Girls.-1st [ditto], Juliet Mackintosh.
2nd [ditto], Mary Ann Livingstone.



WRITING.
Boys.-1st prize, Richard Brannagan.
2nd [ditto], John Fawkner.
Girls.-1st [ditto], Agnes Robertson.
2nd [ditto], Mary A. Livingstone.
3rd [ditto], Mary Massie.

BULLA BULLA NATIONAL SCHOOL. (1855, December 15). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), p. 6. Retrieved October 5, 2016, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article4825881


Bulla Bulla National School at first glance seemed to take me back to the old village of Bulla, but looking at the three volume history of the Victorian Education Department, Vision and Realisation, a description of the location of the school placed it further north.

Plan of the Parish of Bulla Bulla, 1856.  Courtesy of the State Library of Victoria Collection. http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/117418

According to Vision and Realisation the Bulla Bulla National school was on an acre of land on the south east corner of Section 11 – in the above parish plan - owned by Crown Grantee J Cameron.   Trustees of the school included Patullo, Young and Cameron, all Crown Grantees in the vicinity. Cameron's 640 acres includes 'Warlaby', an historic property at Oaklands Junction, between Oaklands Rd and St John's Rd.  See this parish map at the State Library to get a better idea of the distance from the Bulla village to the National School: http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/192312.  It was several kilometres north of the village.

Mary Anne Livingston's presence at the Bulla Bulla National School suggests the Livingstone family was within striking distance of the school buildings at the southeast corner of Section 11 in 1855.

Thirdly, Mary Livingstone remained farming in the area after her husband's death for a little while, which we know from evidence she gave at an inquest in 1854. (Thanks to Christine Laskowski for alerting me to this inquest.)
Mary Livingstone - deceased Robert Smith has been in my employ for last 18 months and he left Flemington yesterday morning driving in  a bullock dray belonging to my brother. I was following in a dray behind and there was another dray in front. I was about ¼ of a mile behind. I saw the two drays ahead til they came over the hill about ½ a mile from this place and on coming over the hill I saw two men looking at something lying in the road and when I got up I found it go be the body of the deceased. He was quite dead. He was lying on his face and there was a great deal of blood on the spot. He was much intoxicated when he left Flemington but during the time he had been in my employ he had not been addicted to the drink. I saw the mark of the wheel of the dray which passed over the shoulders and head. There was above 2 tons on the dray. Mary X Livingstone of the Deep Creek, taken at Travellers Hope, Deep Creek.
Inquest on SMITH Robert VPRS 24  1854/560  Inquest held at Travellers Hope, Deep Creek

The Travellers Hope Hotel would appear to be the Travellers' Home or the Travellers' Rest Hotel, which was along Bulla Rd, about halfway between Parer Rd and Sharp's Rd, Airport West. See Steele Creek and the Lady of the Lake by Christine Laskowski.

Detail from the Parish of Doutta Galla. The Travellers Home was on the 'Main Road' (Bulla Road) in the apex of the triangle of roads between Section 22 C and 22 D. Section 23 is the site of Essendon Airport. Courtesy of the State Library of Victoria Collection. http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/156280

This route along the Bulla or Deep Creek Road is the one Mary Livingston would take to return to a farm at Oaklands Junction.

Returning to 1853, it is possible that James Hitchman was also working on the Livingstone place, or nearby, at least.  We know in the latter part of 1853 they were both working at Deep Creek, so it seems likely.  In 1853 the farms in the Oaklands Junction area were several hundred acres. Employees at this time most likely lived in mud-brick huts or cottages on the farms.  Some settlers owned several sections, so the area was fairly sparsely settled.  Gilbert Livingston's death evidently occurred between his employing Elizabeth in July 1853 and the end of the year, leaving his wife Mary with five young children.

Looking west on Mickleham Road to the open park-like landscape of the old Shire of Bulla.  Photo:  Lenore Frost, 2014.
 The landscape was considered significant in the  City of Hume: Heritage Study of the Former Shire of Bulla District, 1998, but time will tell whether the landscape will resist the inroads of developers.  The fine farming land just a little north at Mickleham, as shown in the photo above, is already disappearing under concrete and asphalt roads.

"The landscape is significant at the State level as a rare surviving example - at least as pristine as survives anywhere - of Melbourne’s exceptional and much valued “park-like” natural landscape at the time of European settlement. Partly as a consequence of these natural values, the area also acquired some outstanding cultural associations, evidence of which also survives".

In that curious way that we often cross paths our ancestors trod without realising it, my parents leased a block of land for a time a little north of Bulla on Wildwood Rd, near Oaklands Junction.

The block on Wildwood Rd.  Photo:  Lenore Frost, circa 1966.
 In the next episode, we will look at how Susan and Elizabeth met up again on the goldfields.

PS   While researching this story a couple of years ago I followed what looked like a lead from Trove about a farm at Oakland, Mickleham in 1876.  It turned out to be not connected, but having spent so much time on it I decided to write it up for Wikinorthia with the view that it might help someone else. You can read it here: Fellows of Oakland Mickleham  It explains why I have photos of Mickleham on hand and not Oaklands Junction!

Update:   The following paragraph is from an unpublished small history, called "History of Bulla, 1966", by Mary Butler.  A copy is located at the State Library of Victoria. No 42 was the number given to the Bulla Bulla National School in later years. While not sourced, the information would have come from a contemporary government report at the State Library.

"The formation of an Education System, however, provided instruction with the erection of three more schools in the Bulla area [Besides the C of E near the creek] School No 42, consisting of two rooms, had at this time fourteen girl students and twenty-one boy students located on Oaklands Road near Warlaby Stud, or "Narbonne". (page 10)