Friday, March 24, 2017

Sepia Saturday: It's time for work

We bought the farm. A lot of work needed doing. One of Phil's first jobs was getting the abandoned Field Marshall tractor going. (Never mind the poor quality pasture and the fences falling down. They can wait.)

Then the kids arrived, one by one, two girls then a boy. Glenn was a chip off the old block, always keen to help, Always keen to sort out anything mechanical.

Photo credit: Uncle Stephen

Photo credit: Uncle Stephen

This post is on response to the Sepia Saturday theme photo of work. You can see more workers here.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Trove Tuesday: The Chinese Question

In the 1850s my mother's ancestors, John and Janet Hillgrove, were living on the goldfields at Campbell's Creek near Castlemaine. John had done a bit of fossicking for gold but they soon set up a store instead and became shopkeepers.

The population in the area was in a constant state of flux as miners chased rumours of new gold fields and new immigrants continued to arrive and make their way inland.

Today there is a lot of talk about Muslim immigrants but in the 1850s the talk was about the Chinese immigrants who had arrived in thousands. There was a lot of ignorance and prejudice because of cultural differences and if European miners were finding it difficult to make a living from the gold they were quick to blame the Chinese. The 'Chinese Question' is a big and complicated topic but this post is touches on the subject as it applied to my ancestors.

The following letter from 'a digger and a sufferer' (who I fervently hope is NOT my ancestor John Hillgrove) appeared in The Argus newspaper in 1856, arguing that Chinese were having a detrimental effect on gold yields.
THE DIGGERS BANE. Sir, I beg the favour of a space in the columns of your journal for the insertion of a few remarks on the Chinese Question, in order to disprove the arguments by Mr Kelly and other Chinese advocates as to the desirability of this class of immigrants. I have been mining in the neighbourhood of Campbell's Creek during the last four years and have observed a gradual decline in the yield of this gold-field from the time those 'desirable' people came in force until the present, the cause of which decline is entirely attributable to these destructive people, as will be shown. 1stly. By their destroying the water in the back gullies, the working of which in the dry season is thereby rendered unprofitable, as most of the wash-dirt will not pay for carting, and they are consequently abandoned. 2ndly, By their washing large quantities of surface tailings and refuse they fill up hundreds of holes which would otherwise be worked, whereby ground that is solid cannot be distinguished from that which is not. The quantity of profitable ground destroyed by this means is enormous: whole gullies in this locality have been completely levelled. Lastly. As soon as one of their party strikes gold at any place they come in droves and take entire possession of the ground, to the exclusion of all Europeans;in consequence of which the miner dare not leave his ground (though ever so poor) till worked out. This prevents new ground being opened up, keeps the miner poor and, unless laws are framed to keep these people in check, will eventually drive him off the diggings. It is wrong that ground opened up by European industry should be destroyed wholesale by hordes of ... heathens. As regards the profits derived from these people by storekeepers, I have been informed by several who do a large business with them that what is stolen by them more than equates the profit. Hoping that a check may be put on the influx of these people, I remain yours respectfully, A DIGGER AND A SUFFERER.
Letter to the editor, The Argus, 27 Oct 1856
I have no idea what John and Janet thought about the Chinese but I know from a reference in a memoir that Janet blamed ex-convicts from Van Diemens Land (Tasmania) for money that was stolen from their store on one occasion.

A year earlier, in 1855, a Chinese miner called Ling Hing was killed in a mine accident and John Hillgrove and another miner A. Restleaux, tried to save him. John was required to give evidence at the inquest. I have looked for the inquest papers in the archives and failed, possibly because of the spelling of the Chinese man's name. The misundstandings of law and culture on both sides is again evident in the newspaper article about the inquest.

Inquest on Ling Hing, The Argus 7 Jul 1855
I have visited the museum at Young in New South Wales, a museum that preserves items and educates us about the anti-Chinese riots which occurred at Lambing Flat near Young in 1860.

On the plus side, several years ago I visited the Golden Dragon Museum at Bendigo, the ‘Chinese Cultural Centre of Australia’. The museum opened in 1991 to document, interpret and preserve the Chinese heritage in Australia. It's a wonderful museum that celebrates the lives of Chinese miners and their families. It also houses the world’s longest imperial dragon, Sun Loong, who appears in the annual street parade each Easter. You could start to plan your visit here.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Trove Tuesday: Richard goes missing

Sarah Alice Hillgrove, my great-grandmother, lived in Victoria. Her father, John, was born in Youghal, Cork. John's sister, Alice, also migrated to Australia, with her husband Aaron Pope, but they lived in Sydney, New South Wales. There's more to the story of the Pope family's life in Australia but now I want to concentrate on one of the sons.

I don't think Sarah ever met her cousins but it is possible she met cousin Richard Pope because he lived in Melbourne, Victoria for a few years before moving to Western Australia. Richard was born in Redfern, Sydney in 1850, and had several brothers and sisters, but for reasons unknown he 'disappeared' when he was only 13 years old. The advertisement that his father placed in the paper mentions that he left from Dr Egan's place in Jamison St (near Circular Quay). There was also a similar notice in the Police Gazette. Is it possible that Richard was working at Dr Egan's?

New South Wales Police Gazette, Nov 1863 p. 350

Sydney Morning Herald  3 Nov 1863
Richard was still missing almost a year later but he must have been spotted because his father put another notice in the paper. He was only 14 years old so the parents must have been very concerned.

Sydney Morning Herald 2 September 1864
I wish I knew what happened next. At some time in the next few years Richard must have returned home because he married Millicent Haynes in 1882 in Waterloo, the suburb next to Redfern. And when his nephew died in 1885 Richard's name is there with his brothers in the funeral notice.

Funeral notices for John Aaron Pope. Richard is named in the fourth notice.
Sydney Morning Herald 27 Apr 1885
Richard appears to have worked as a plasterer and he and Millicent lived in Redfern and then Hawthorn in Victoria in the 1890s before moving to Fremantle in Western Australia. In 1903, when he was 53, there is a newspaper report about a work injury.

The West Australian 17 Jan 1903
Richard died at Fremantle in 1921 when he was 71. Millicent died 10 years later. There are numerous descendants. I wonder if any of them know what happened to Richard in his 'missing' years. Did he ever talk about it?

West Australian 21 Apr 1921
The newspaper articles can be found on the Trove website at the National Library.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Sepia Saturday: Christmas greetings

New Gisborne is in central Victoria, Australia, about 55 kilometres north of Melbourne. It rarely snows in Gisborne and even more rarely does it snow in October. October in Victoria is spring heading for summer. This post card photo proves that it snowed in Gisborne on 10 October in 1910.

Seasons Greetings from New Gisborne. Snow Oct. 10th 1910
Reverse of post card
Miss Annie Sims, Mitiamo Post Office
Dear Annie Thanks very much for card and you[r] good wishes. Very kind of you to think of us, hope you are quite well. Allan & [Will?]  join me in wishing you a bright & happ[y] Xmas & New Year 
Yrs affectionately Edith McGregor

I checked the newspapers of the day to see what was reported. And, yes indeed, there was a very cold snap in Victoria in early October 1910.

The Age, 11 October 1910
Bendigo Independent, 11 October 1910
Annie Sims is my husband's grandmother and she lived in Pine Grove and later Mitiamo. John McGregor and his wife Margaret also lived at Pine Grove and several of their sons bought 'Emmeline Vale' at Kyabram in 1889. 'Emmeline Vale' was the property of the largest farming property in the area in the middle of the 1800s and the McGregor family lived there from 1889. My father-in-law thinks that Annie used to holiday with them when she was a child in the early 1900s. In 1910, when the postcard was written, Annie was only 12 years old. One McGregor brother, William, died at Gallipoli in 1915 and another brother, Harold, died in France in 1918. Coincidentally he had travelled to Europe on the same ship as Annie's future husband, Roy Phelan.

There is no date on the Christmas postcard below but it is from the same family and shows a fountain in a Gisborne intersection. It was made of concrete and built in 1901 to celebrate the Federation of the colonies in Australia. [A replacement fountain was erected in 2000.]

Merry Christmas
Fountain, Gisborne

Reverse of post card
Wishing Annie a Merry Xmas. Sorry I did not see you when in Pine Grove, better luck next time  
Louie McGregor  
'Emmeline Vale' Gisborne

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