Monday, 29 October 2012

Eumemmerring Run

Doveton, Hallam, Endeavour Hills and the modern day suburb of Eumemmerring  were originally part of the  Eumemmerring Run. This run was 14 square miles (10,240 acres or 4,100 hectares) and was taken up by Dr Farquhar McCrae (1807-1850) in 1839.  It was described as good sheep country. Dr McCrae was the brother-in-law of Georgiana McCrae (1804-1890) who was married to his brother Andrew. Georgiana kept a journal, later published as Georgiana's Journal.  Later the same year it was taken over by Leslie Foster (1818-1900) or to give him his full name -  John Vesey Fitzgerald Leslie Foster, apparently known as 'alphabetical Foster’. Foster is pictured left.  Foster was, amongst other things, a first cousin of Sir William Foster Stawell (1815-1889) who was appointed Victorian Attorney General in 1851 and became Chief Justice of Victoria in 1857. Stawell Street in Cranbourne was named after him, as well as the town of Stawell. Foster also, in 1843, challenged Dr McCrae to a pistol duel over a land sale, when McCrae refused Foster whipped him and his horse with a horse whip. He was later fined £10 and had to pay £250 in damages. He went on to help draft Victoria’s constitution, acted as the administrator of the Colony between the departure of Governor La Trobe and the arrival of Governor Hotham.

Foster held the run until 1842 when it was taken up by Edward Wilson and James Stewart Johnson until 1846 when Thomas Herbert Power (1801 to 1873)  took it on.  The property then went from around the Dandenong Creek/Power Road all the way to Berwick. Power was a member of the Legislative Council from 1856 until 1864 and had land in other areas including Hawthorn, and is the source of the name Power Road. When he died in 1873 the value of his Estate was over £40,000. He still owned, according to his Probate papers 1,848 acres (747 hectares) in the Parish of Eumemmerring  when he died. Part of his Probate papers are reproduced below. You can see some of alloments  in the Eumemmerring Parish Plan, further below.

Part of  Thomas Herber Power's Probate papers. listing his Eumemmerring land, valued at £6006.  Wills and Probates up to 1925 are digitised and available on the Public Records Office of Victoria website.

Eumemmerring Parish Plan (partial) showing some of the land owned by Thomas Herbert Power.
It was apparently Power (pictured right) who called his property Grassmere and the Doveton  area was known as Grassmere or Eumemmerring until it was named Doveton in September 1954. On October 30 1888 Munro & Baillieu Estate Agents offered for sale  the Grassmere property of 3,000 acres (1214 hectares) subdivided into lots of between 1 acre and 20 acres (up to 8 hectares), some of which  was land from the Power Estate. It was described as having  extensive views of both mountains and sea and only a few minutes walk from this happily situated and pretty township, so fast becoming a favourite residential estate. The pretty township was Dandenong, pretty it may have been but even Usain Bolt wouldn't have made it from Dandenong to Grassmere in a few minutes. 

This is the plan of Grassmere which appeared in The Argus of October 30, 1888.  Marked on the map is the proposed railway line to Fern Tree Gully, which never eventuated.

It is highly unlikely McCrae, Foster or Power ever lived in the area, however in  the 1850s there were other land sales, especially around the Eumemmerring Creek, of smaller sub-divided blocks and farmers arrived and created a community - the  Eumemmerring, Denominational School started in 1858 and two Inns and  a race course were established and of course, a bit further east was the Hallam Hotel which began as a general store run by William and Mary Hallam, in the 1860s. These settlers didn't (generally) have roads named after them nor are remembered in any other way but Jean Uhl has listed them, on page 97,  in her book, Call back Yesterday: Eumemmering Parish (published by Lowden Press, 1972)  and they deserve to be recognised here.

Sources: Call back yesterday: Eumemmering Parish by Jean Uhl (Lowden Press, 1972). The photographs of Foster and Power are from the Parliament of Victoria website www.parliament The Probate record of Thomas Power is from the Wills and Probate Papers digitised by the  Public Records Office of Victoria The Grassmere plan comes from The Argus, available on Trove
The information on Leslie Foster comes from the Australian Dictionary of Biography on-line at The original article was written by Betty Malone.

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