Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Trove Tuesday: Was he guilty?

In 1906 young Charlie (David Charles) Stokes was 19 years old, almost 20, and had been working on Cornelia Creek station near Echuca as a boundary rider for five or six years. His father, Charles David Stokes, lived at Corop (his mother had died in 1904), and his grandmother Stokes (Eleanor nee Paynter) was still alive and living nearby. Charlie had 6 younger brothers and sisters and one older sister.

This is the story that I've pieced together from newspaper reports.

The manager, Ernest Harpham, of Cornelia Creek reported to police that he had been robbed on the 17th March 1906 and when on 22nd March they went to the sheep station to interview him he said that he'd been awakened at 1 a.m and found Charlie Stokes in the passage. Charlie had been sent to Echuca earlier in the day to pick up a telegram and entered the house to give it to him. As he opened the door into the living room Harpham found that the curtains were ablaze and considerable damage was caused before it was brought under control. The next day the manager found that he had also been robbed of a gold brooch, 2 watches, a gold chain, three pairs of cuff-links, £7/10 in cash and his day and cash books.

Suspicion soon fell on Charlie Stokes because as well as being in the house apparently he owed about five pounds to the station. The assumption was that by destroying the books he was destroying proof of the debt.

The police and the manager went to the Koyuga railway station where they found Charlie on the platform and persuaded him to return to Cornelia Creek. Detective Sergeant Wilson interviewed him in his room and asked him to write a statement. Wilson then left the room and he and two other witnesses, the gardener Thomas Mills and the cook John Irving, stated that he was only out of the room a few seconds when they heard a gun shot. Charlie had killed himself.

At the inquest the policeman said that the gun must have been prepared and hidden because there wasn't time for Charlie to have taken off his coat and hung it up before getting the gun and using his toe to pull the string attached to the trigger.

Albury Banner and Wodonga Express 30 Mar 1906

The day before he died Charlie wrote a letter to his sister (the newspapers don't say which one) claiming to be innocent of the crime and asking for help from his father. The letter was later published in the paper.

Riverine Herald 2 Apr 1906
Detective Sergeant Wilson stated that Stokes appeared to be agitated and denied implication in the crime. An article in the Bendigo Independent on 23 March had the following paragraph: The youth was greatly liked by the manager and other employees, who thought he would be the last person to commit such a robbery or take his own life. He was a general favourite and was regarded as trustworthy and hard working. His father resides in Corop.

The inquest returned an open verdict.

For me there are still questions that remain unanswered. Where are the stolen goods? Where was Charlie buried? Was he guilty and if not who was?


* Coincidentally the owner of Cornelia Creek, George Simmie, died in Melbourne in the same week aged 78. He was the former MLC for Northern Province.

** Cornelia Creek was subdivided in 1911 but there is a winery currently operating under that name on the original homestead site.

*** My connection with this story is that Charlie Stokes' grandmother, Eleanor Stokes nee Paynter, was a great great aunt of my husband.  She was born in the village of Iwerne Courtney, Dorset and when she was 18, in January 1855,  she married a local lad called Charles David Stokes. Almost immediately, with her new husband, her parents and siblings she sailed to Australia on the 'Omega', arriving in May 1855.

For this post I was able to use the amazing newspaper resources at Trove.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Sepia Saturday: Photographing children

This blog is generally about family but this post specifically highlights some photos I have purchased.
I think it's sad that snapshots and formal photos are sold online. Presumably when homes are cleaned out after people die their families don't want the old memorabilia. Most of the photos I buy (rescue) are the informal snapshots from the 1900s but some are formal studio photos like those below. I scan the photos, upload them with appropriate tags to my Flickr page and link them to the National Library of Australia's Flickr page that is connected to the library's search engine. 
I now have a shelf of photos that aren't connected to my own family and, like all collectors, I wonder what will happen to them after I'm gone. But in the meantime they have given me a lot of pleasure.

Why were babies and young children often photographed naked?

Judging by the bunched-up clothes it's possible the the mother is
sitting behind this child.

Photobomb: I presume mother has just let go of the youngest child.

This post is in response to the Sepia Saturday theme this week. The theme photo, below, is of a girl sitting at a desk. You could pop over there to see other responses.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Two Australian icons

Family holiday snap, Gundagai c1962
Ask any Australian if they know Streets Icecream and the answer will be yes. And ask any Australian if they know about the dog on the tuckerbox and the answer will be yes. They are two Australian icons. But ask any Australian about the background story of the icons and you'll be met with a blank face or a shoulder shrug. Here they are in the same family holiday snapshot taken near Gundagai, New South Wales in about 1962. There's the dog on the tucker box and parked nearby is a Streets Ice Cream delivery van.

The life-size statue of a dog was unveiled by the Prime Minister of Australia, the Right Honorable Joseph Lyons, in 1932. It is a memorial to the pioneers of the Gundergai district.

The Dog on the tuckerbox kiosk at Snake Gully
showing the Dog on the Tuckerbox statue in front. Gundagai, New South Wales, ca. 1970
[NLA P805/1732 Album 1139] 
Photo taken c2010. Same building, same dog.

Between WWI and WWII, Edwin (‘Ted’) Street with the help of his wife and brother laid the foundations (in Corrimal, NSW) for what would ultimately become Australia’s biggest and best-known ice cream manufacturer. Streets ice cream was originally made in the back shed by Ted. He would then sell these to neighbours along with sweets, cakes and lemonade. Popularity grew and he soon used a cart, then a one-horse- power motorbike to sell Streets ice cream. It continued to grow and today Streets ice cream is sold throughout Australia and New Zealand with well known brands such as Magnum, Paddle Pop and Blue Ribbon. [http://www.streetsicecream.com.au/ShareHappyFlexible/AboutStreets.aspx]

The statue was inspired by a bullock drover's poem, "Bullocky Bill", which celebrates the life of an allegorical drover's dog that loyally guarded the man's tuckerbox (an Australian colloquialism for a box that holds food) until death...Bullocky Bill was written by an otherwise unknown poet who used the pen name "Bowyang Yorke" and first printed in 1857. A later poem by Jack Moses drew on the Bowyang Yorke poem for inspiration and was published in the 1920s. The latter poem was very popular and was the inspiration for the statue. Moses's poem, Nine Miles from Gundagai, was first published in 1938, several years after the statue's unveiling. Jack O'Hagan's song, "Where the Dog Sits on the Tuckerbox (5 miles from Gundagai)", was published in 1937. [Wikipedia]

You can hear another Aussie icon, Slim Dusty, singing the song here.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Sepia Saturday: A set of wheels

Tricycle plus wheelbarrow. It might work.

This photo is a scanned family slide from a about the 1960s. I think the child is my husband's younger sister Kay. I like the creative thinking of the children at play. It looks like the arrangement of tricycle towing a wheelbarrow complete with passenger would work. And obviously an adult has taken the photo so they couldn't have been too worried about consequences.

This post is in response to the Sepia Saturday theme image. You can read other responses over there.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Sepia Saturday: Swimming in the '20s

Swimming in the 1920s, probably at Kow Swamp.
This week's photo is in a family album but I don't know who the people are. I think it was taken at Kow Swamp in the 1920s.

Kow Swamp is a shallow freshwater lake in northern Victoria near Gunbower now used for water storage and some recreational activities such as fishing and birdwatching. It is also a significant archaeological site of Aboriginal heritage and history.

You can find more responses over at Sepia Saturday.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Sepia Saturday: McKinnon's farm, Homerton

In 1952 my parents moved from a wheat farm in the Wimmera to a dairy farm at Homerton on the south coast of Victoria. I was three years old and my younger brother just one.

Our parents owned the farm for about 35 years so I grew up there and have many happy memories of the farm and the district.

Just a few years ago I met a lady by chance who, as a child, was friends with the girl in the first photo below, Heather McKinnon. The McKinnons had owned our farm before us and I was delighted when Heather gave me some copies of old photographs she had of the farm.

It's been interesting to compare what the farm looked like in the 1930s and as I remember it from the 1950s. Some of the buildings were still there, some not. Dad used a tractor rather than horses. Even the trees and vegetation in the background are interesting.

The three photos below were taken on different occasions so I think the cream cart must have been used to entertain visitors as well as their real purpose of taking the cream cans to the end of the lane for pickup and probably for carting other items around the farm as well. Heather was an only child so I imagine she was very skilled with horses and other farm work.
Heather McKinnon with her dogs on the horse-drawn cream sled.

Visitors with the dogs on the cream sled.
When we bought the farm we moved into the McKinnon's home (in the photo below) but it was quite old and we only lived there for about three years before my parents built a new house. Some of the garden trees still exist but the house in this photo is long gone.
Visiting children on the cream sled.
This post has been in response to Sepia Saturday's theme photo of dogs. You can see other responses here.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

London School of Music

At a recent family gathering a relative turned up with a photo I hadn't seen before. It was my husband's grandmother, Mary Leed.

Mary Leed, 1922
Mary is wearing a graduation gown and hat and holding a rolled-up certificate. The photo prompted me to search on Trove and I found a relevant article. It informs me that Mary was awarded the Diploma of Associate (A.L.C.M.) for Singing.

Mary Leed, The Argus 18 June 1922
ALCM means Associate London College of Music and Mary was entitled to put those initials after her name (ie Mary I Leed ALCM). It meant that she had studied singing for many years, moving through each of the eight grades and then the Diploma which is equivalent to a second-year university degree. She was, indeed, a very fine singer and entertained at concerts in northern Victoria.

The LCM exams started in London 1887 and were very popular in Australia. Students studied musical performance and theory and examinations were held twice a year.

Advertisement for London College of Music, The Advocate 26 May 1921
Mary grew up on a farm in Central Molga near Pyramid Hill, went to school locally and then attended Methodist Ladies College in Melbourne for a year. She married a local farmer, Ralph Alford, in September 1922 - the year the graduation photo was taken.

A generation later Mary's daughter, Shirley Alford, was awarded a Licentiate of the London College of Music, an LLCM, for piano. That award is equivalent to a final-year university module. She taught piano for many years and played the organ at church. She also supported local Eisteddfod sompetitions.

Shirley Alford, LLCM c1947
The London School of Music is still very active and is now incorporated into the University of West London.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Sepia Saturday: A trio of damaged photographs

The theme photo for Sepia Saturday this week is shows a print from a glass plate negative of three choir boys. I don't have any family photos to match so I've chosen a trio of damaged photos of trios.

These three photos are in the collection of the Genealogical Society of Victoria. They appear to be prints from damaged glass negatives. Most seem to be taken in a Melbourne studio in the 1920s, very few have names but the quality (of the undamaged bits) is very good. The photographer is unknown.

You can see more contributions to the theme over at Sepia Saturday's webpage. And you can see the rest of the collection on GSV's Flickr page here and here.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Sepia Saturday: April fool

A head on a platter (and she looks pretty happy about it)
A post for Sepia Saturday following the theme photo below. You can find more  posts for 1 April here.

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.


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