Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Story of the Dandenongs 1838-1958 by Helen Coulson

In the last two blogs we have looked at two of of my 'frequently referred' to resources and in this blog I will look at another great Local History Story of the Dandenongs 1838-1958 by Helen Coulson. This was published in 1959 and is a history of the old Shire of Fern Tree Gully. Even though many of the towns, covered by the book, are not part of Casey or Cardinina we still have strong historical, social and physical links (such as the Puffing Billy Rail line) to these towns.The Scoresby Ward of this Shire was, until 1889, originally part of the Shire of Berwick. Clematis, Emerald and Avonsleigh returned to us after the 1994 Local Government changes. The towns covered in the book include Emerald, Macclesfield, Avonsleigh, Narre Warren North and East, Clematis, Menzies Creek, Ferntree Gully, Bayswater, Wantirna, Scoresby and Lysterfield and the rural part of Cockatoo. There is a full list of Fern Tree Gully Councillors to 1957 and a great index, for those seeking family history information.

The Story of the Dandenongs tells us about one of the early families in the area, the Row family, after whom Rowville was named in 1903. Frederick Row was a co-founder of Goldsborough, Row and Company, Melbourne wool brokers. He acquired land in the area in the 1860s and called his property Stamford Park. Frederick and Elizabeth Row built a magnificent house there in 1882 (pictured below) which is listed by the National Trust and on the Register of the National Estate. The Rows entertained lavishly , especially during the Spring racing season and lived extravagantly. Mrs Row used to spend 100 pounds on a Melbourne Cup outfit (the equivalent of about $5,000 today) and had the reputation of being 'the haughtiest woman who ever stood in a pair of boots'. Frederick Row was also said to have been the first person to introduce sparrows and hares into Australia. Stamford Park remained in the Row family until 1909.

Stamford Park, built 1882.

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