Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Lang Lang Guardian

The Lang Lang & District Historical Society has reproduced the entire Lang Lang Guardian on DVD. The DVD covers the years February 1902 until December 1918. According to the local history, Protector's Plains : history of Lang Lang Primary School No.2899 & District, 1888-1988 the Guardian was shifted to Koo-Wee-Rup in 1918, and became the Koo-Wee-Rup Sun. The Guardian provides a wealth of information on early Lang Lang and surrounding towns such as Yannathan and Yallock. It was really a one-stop paper which could provide the local farmer and his family with all the information they needed. For a start, it had International News, for instance the edition of May 3, 1902 has a report on the health of Queen Wilhelmina of Holland and a report on the cost of the Auckland Town Hall.

Lang Lang Guardian, May 3 1902. Click on all the images to enlarge them.

Naturally, there is also plenty of local news and always of interest are the advertisements. There are many advertisements from Melbourne and Dandenong Companies offering their services to the locals as well as advertisements from local firms, such as Ernest Cougle's store, where all the necessaries of a household could be purchased. Ernest Cougle had taken over the store in 1907 from John Donaldson, who had purchased the store in 1903 from the original owners, the Priestley family. They had arrived in Lang Lang in 1898.

This advertisement for Ernest Cougle 's store was in October 11, 1911 edition.

Local News covered sporting groups, Churches, Community Groups such as the Red Cross. Farmers could get reports from the Dandenong Market, information on farming issues such as how to improve the dairy herd and Poultry Notes. During the First World War, there were articles on locals who had joined up, plus fund raising efforts. In the item below, it mentions the death of Private Frank Keighery. Edward Keighery, a boot maker, and his wife Annie, had arrived in Lang Lang in 1903 with their four children, Christopher (b.1889), Frank (b.1894) Sheila (b.1899), and Ned (b.1901). Frank had enlisted on March 20, 1915, and embarked aboard HMAT Euripides on May 10, 1915. He was killed in action on September 11, 1915 at Brown's Dip, near Lone Pine on the Gallipoli Peninsula.

This section of local news is taken from the Lang Lang Guardian of October 27, 1915.

Finally there were articles of interest to women. The Guardian had Health information, a weekly serial and Fashion notes, so even though you lived in the country, there was no need to be unfashionable. This article, below, from 1907 caught my attention. This elegant Ladies Fichu Bodice could be made from Butterick Pattern 9618, which came in six sizes. The pattern could be purchased for 10 shillings from M.Thorp & Co in Collins Street.

Lang Lang Guardian, May 8, 1907. A Fichu is a woman's shawl, or piece of lace, worn around the neck or shoulders.

You can purchase a copy of this DVD from the Lang Lang &District Historical Society, P.O Box 8, Lang Lang, 3984 for $30.00 plus postage. They also have an interesting website at http://www.langlang.net/historical.html

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Casey Cardinia and the Boxer Uprising

Do you have an ancestor who served in China during the Boxer Uprising? This is a little know part of our history and we have a book great book in the Reference Collection at the Narre Warren Library called The Australian Illustrated Encyclopaedia of the Boxer Uprising, 1899-1901, by Justin Corfield. (Published by Slouch Hat Publications in 2001). The book includes maps, photographs, details of the major players and groups involved and for family historians, the biographical details on all the Australians who served in the Boxer Uprising.


What was the Boxer Uprising? Western Countries, especially France, Germany, Britain and the United States controlled most of the trade between China and the West at the end of the nineteenth century. Merchants from these countries also demanded land, the right to build railways and ‘extra territorial rights’ where they were subject only to the laws of their own county and not Chinese law. As a result, many Chinese joined anti European Secret Societies, including the violent I-ho-ch'uan (the Righteous and Harmonious Fists) who were named the Boxers by Western media. In 1899, the Boxers and other militant Societies combined in a Campaign against the Westerners, including merchants, Missionaries and westernised Chinese. In 1900 this uprising became more wide spread and nine Western nations responded by sending in warships and Armed forces. Though Australian troops were largely involved in the Boer War in South Africa, the Australian Colonies sent Naval Contingents to China to support Britain. One hundred and ninety seven came from Victoria, two hundred and sixty three from New South Wales and one hundred and three from South Australia. The first Australian contingents left at the end of July in 1900. Many of the Australians were too late to take part in battle and instead had a role in restoring civil order, and they left China in March 1901 to return to Australia. No Australian was killed by enemy hand, although six died of illness or injury.

Now, as this is a blog on the history of the Casey Cardinia region I have found a Casey Cardinia link in the book. Joseph Hughes, who was born in 1861, was part of the Victorian contingent. He married Elizabeth McDonald and their first two children were born in Collingwood and Carlton, in 1889 and 1892. Their third child, Joseph, was born at Koo-Wee-Rup in 1894 and their fourth child, Neil, was born at Bunyip South (later called Iona) in 1896. By the time Joseph embarked for China on July 30, 1900 he was living at Surrey Hills. In the 1890s, Australia was in a Depression, with up to thirty percent unemployment. Unemployment benefits were generally linked to Public Works schemes. By March 1893 the basic drainage of the Koo-Wee-Rup Swamp was complete. As a consequence of these two events, the Public Works Department, and Chief Engineer Carlo Catani, established the Village Settlement Scheme on the Koo-Wee-Rup Swamp. The aim of the Village Settlement was to stop people drifting to the City, allow them to receive an income and become self sufficient on their small farms. Under this Scheme, men could obtain employment with the Public Works Department, if they were married, registered as unemployed and accept a block of land of twenty acres (8 hectares). They had to work for wages for two weeks and undertake improvements on their block on the alternate two weeks. By August 1893, 265 men were employed by the Public Works Department.

Was Joseph Hughes one of these settlers? Certainly the time frame fits. He was also a married man with children, so he fitted the demographic of the Village Settler. Two of his children were born in Village Settlements, which were at Koo-Wee-Rup, Five Mile, Yallock, Vervale and Iona. By 1899 the Village Settlement Scheme was abandoned, and at least one third of the settlers had left the area, including Joseph who was in Surrey Hills in 1900. The most common reasons for leaving were the fact that 20 acres was not a sufficient size of land to support a family, there was no alternative employment and many settlers had no previous farming experience, including Joseph Hughes, whose occupation is listed in the book as a painter. So I like to feel that Casey Cardinia has some small connection to the Boxer Uprising.

If you think one of your ancestors took part in the Boxer Uprising, then this book is worth a read. For more information on the drainage of the Koo-Wee-Rup Swamp, then read From Swampland to Farmland : a history of the Koo-Wee-Rup Flood Protection District by David Roberts. (Published by Rural Water Commission in 1985). For more information on Australia's involvement with the Boxer Unrising, visit the Australian War Memorial website at http://www.awm.gov.au/

Friday, 11 December 2009

Lord and Lady Casey and Edrington

We have spoken about Ancestry database in this blog before. One of my favourite databases in Ancestry is the Australian Electoral Rolls. Their coverage has now been extended, more years have been added and the coverage goes up to 1980. What sort of information can you get from the Rolls? They are useful to help track down ancestors if they have moved around a bit. Perhaps Great Uncle Bill may have left Victoria and moved to Western Australia after the Second World War, you may be able to trace his movements in the Electoral Rolls, and you could also find out if he has married by finding his wife listed at the same address.


Lord and Lady Casey on the front cover of the Bulletin magazine, November 2, 1968. 

Two of our more famous Casey Cardinia residents are Lord and Lady Casey of Edrington Berwick. Obviously much of their life is already on the public record, but we will see what we can discover about the Caseys in the Electoral Rolls and by using another of my favourite resources, the Australian Dictionary of Biography. Lord Casey, who was Governor General of Australia from September 1965 until April 1969,  was born just plain Richard Casey in 1890 (he wasn’t made a Life Peer, Baron Casey of Berwick and Westminister, until 1960) so we wouldn’t expect him on the Electoral Roll until around 1911 when he was 21. He was, however, then in England at Cambridge University and then spent 1914 until 1919 in the A.I.F. Casey was overseas again from 1924 until 1931 as Australia’s Liaison Officer for Prime Minister, Stanley Bruce. He married Ethel Marion Sumner Ryan (known as Maie) in London in 1926. In 1931 the Electoral Rolls list them at 91 Collins Street and his occupation is listed as an Engineer. At the end of 1931 he was elected as the Member of the House of Representatives for the seat of Corio and the Electoral roll in 1935 shows them at the Military Quarters in Duntroon in the A.C.T. His occupation is listed as M.H.R. Casey resigned from Parliament in 1940 and had a number of overseas postings and arrived back in Australia in 1946. We can then find them in the 1949 and 1954 Rolls at Edrington in Berwick, where his occupation is listed as a Politician, for he was now the member for La Trobe. Lady Casey’s occupation is listed in the Electoral Rolls as “home Duties” which seems a rather banal description for a woman who was an accomplished author, artist and historian, however this is just a reflection of the times.


Edrington in 1978.

If you don’t know Edrington, it is now the Community Centre for a Retirement Village, and it was built in 1906-07 by the West Australian pastoralist Samuel Peter McKay. Captain Robert Gardiner was the first European occupier of the land where Edrington is located and called the property Melville Park. It was sold to James Gibb and then to Samuel McKay. Edrington was designed by Rodney Alsop and is listed on the Victorian Heritage Register, where it is described as a two-storey red brick example of the English vernacular style with some reference to the Queen Anne style. It has also been described as being in the Arts and Crafts Style. Lady Casey and her brother, Colonel Rupert Ryan, inherited the property in 1934 from their aunt, Winifred Chirnside, who was the widow of Andrew Chirnside. The Chirnsides had purchased the property in 1912 and renamed it Edrington, after a family property in Scotland. Andrew and Winifred Chirnside died within three months of each other in 1934.

The Edrington garden in 1978. Lady Casey (centre) is pictured with two companions.

The house is surrounded by a Heritage Garden, part of which is shown above. Many of the trees were planted by James Gibb and during the early occupation of the Chirnsides. There is also a brick cottage on the site thought to have been built during the time of Captain Robert Gardiner.

Lady Casey outside the 1860s Cottage. T he photograph was taken in 1978.


Ancestry database is available, free, at all Casey Cardinia Libraries. The three black and white photographs are from a collection of Edrington photographs held in our Archive. The colour photograph is from the Bulletin magazine, dated November 2, 1968.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

The 1934 Flood

It is 75 years since the worst flood on record hit the Koo-Wee-Rup Swamp on December 1, 1934. The original Drainage works on the Swamp were completed in 1897 but later floods in 1901, 1911, 1923 and 1924 saw extra drainage work undertaken including the widening of the Main Drain and additional side drains. None of these works protected the Swamp against the big flood of 1934.

Cora Lynn in an early flood, perhaps in the 1910s. The building on the right is the E.S.& A bank and the building in the middle is Murdoch's General Store.

There had been above average rainfall in the October and November and more heavy rain fell across the State on December 1. This rainfall caused a flood of over 100,000 megalitres or 40,000 cusecs (cubic feet per second) across the Swamp and this was only an estimate because all the gauges were washed away. The entire Swamp was inundated; water was over six feet deep (1.8metres) in parts of the Koo-Wee-Rup township. At Cora Lynn, three feet of water (about a metre) went through my grandparent’s house in Murray Road. The family, including the four children aged 11, 5, 3 and nearly 1, had to retreat to the roof. This flood also affected other parts of the State, for instance, it was reported in The Argus that there was four feet (120 cm) of water over parts of the Princes Highway between Dandenong and Berwick. Over a thousand people were left homeless as a result. The Koo-Wee-Rup locals were just recovering from this flood when another flood of about 24 000 cusecs hit in April 1935.

Rossiter Road in Koo-Wee-Rup in the 1934 flood. The photograph was taken just near the Railway line, the building on the right is St George's Anglican Church.

As a result of the 1934 flood, the State Rivers and Water Supply Commission (SRWSC) worked on new drainage plans for the Swamp and these plans became known as the Lupson Report after the complier, E.J Lupson, an Engineer. A Royal Commission was also established in 1936. Its role was to investigate the operation of the SRWSC. The Royal Commission report was critical of the SRWSC’s operation in the Koo-Wee-Rup Flood Protection District in a number of areas. It ordered that new plans for drainage improvements needed to be established and presented to an independent authority. Mr E. G Richie was appointed as the independent authority. The Richie Report essentially considered that the Lupson Report was “sound and well considered” and should be implemented. Work had just begun on these recommendations when the 1937 flood hit the area. The 1937 flood hit Koo-Wee-Rup on October 18th and water was 60cm (2ft) deep in Rossiter Road and Station Street. The flood peaked at 20,000 cusecs (50,000 megalitres) about half the 1934 flood volume.

Station Street, Koo-Wee-Rup, during the 1934 flood.

The main recommendation of the Lupson / Ritchie report was the construction of the Yallock outfall drain from Cora Lynn, cutting across to Bayles and then essentially following the line of the existing Yallock Creek to Western Port Bay. The aim was to take any flood water directly to the sea so the Main Drain could cope with the remaining water. The Yallock outfall drain was started in 1939 but the works were put on hold during the Second World War and not completed until 1956-57. The Yallock outfall drain had been originally designed using the existing farm land as a spillway i.e the Main Drain would overflow onto existing farmland and then find its own way to the Yallock outfall drain. Local farmers were unhappy at this, as the total designated spillway area was 275 acres (110 hectares). They suggested a spillway or ford be constructed at Cora Lynn so the flood water would divert to the outfall drain over the spillway. The spillway was finally constructed in 1962, though ironically its opening was delayed by yet another flood, as we can see in the photograph below.

This photograph was taken by my Uncle, Jim Rouse, in October 1962, before the official opening of the Cora Lynn spillway. The building, with the brown coloured roof, is the Cora Lynn Hall. The other buildings you can see in the background are the same as the ones on the other Cora Lynn photograph at the top of this post - the E.S.& A Bank and the general store, then Dillon's store. The road at the top left is the newly constructed spillway and you can see where flood waters have broken through the Main Drain bank and are spilling across it.