Thursday, 21 December 2017

Australian Jewish Land Settlement Trust at Berwick

There have been two religious based settlements in the Casey Cardinia region.  The best known settlement is Maryknoll which  was established in 1949 by Father Wilfred Pooley (1912-1969)  as a Catholic community based on the principals of faith, family life and co-operative enterprise.

Less well known was the Jewish Land Settlement Trust endeavour which was established at Berwick in 1927. A similar Jewish settlement had been established at Orrvale near Shepparton in 1913. Berwick was selected because it was close to Melbourne and the land could be used for market gardening or poultry which allowed a quick return for effort rather than having to wait for years for orchards to establish like the settlers did at Orrvale. The rationale behind the settlements was to give newly arrived Jewish immigrants an opportunity to become farmers and find employment outside the cities  but with ongoing support from the Land Settlement Trust.

The actual settlement was at the Closer Settlement Board Estate, Hallam Valley, Berwick.  This Estate was bordered by Narre Warren-Cranbourne Road on the west, Berwick-Clyde Road to the east, Golf Links Road to the north and  Greaves Road to the south.   The State Rivers and Water Supply Commission had purchased  land in the area in 1924 with 'a view of cutting up the land into blocks of 10 acres to 16 acres for market gardens and intense culture' as a report in The Age of November 8, 1924 said.  The report went on to say A portion of the area is at present subject to flooding by the tributaries of Eumemmerring creek, but steps are being taken to reclaim this portion by means of suitable drainage. The blocks are to be supplied with water pressure by means of a pipe system from the Berwick Dandenong main race. 

Work continued on the reclamation works and The Argus reported on August 18, 1927 that it was now practicable to establish permanent settlement on the land, a large proportion of which formerly carried a dense growth of tee tree scrub covering an undrained swamp. 


It would be interesting to see the slides of Berwick from this 1928 presentation.
Hebrew Standard of Australasia August 24 1928

We have a copy of a paper written by Jeffrey John Turnbull From ghettoes to Gardens*  and he lists the eight initial settlers at Berwick as H. Ash, D. Brown,  I. Eizenberg, A. Hayat Senior, Hayat Junior, M. Meshaloff, G. Rovkin, A. Sneid.

The Shire of Berwick Rate Books list a number of settlers in the 1928/29 year. The Rate books were not always accurate with the spelling of either given or family names, but here's the most likely matches from the Rate Books. You can find the exact location  of the blocks on the section of the Parish of Berwick plan, below.

Ash, Harry - 31 acres, Lots 30 & 31, Section 3 Hallam Valley
Brown, D - can't find him listed in the Rate Books - there is  a B. Braun, which is possibly him. He had 14 acres, Lot 19, Section 4.
Eizenberg, I - Mordeka  Eisenberg - 12.5acres, Lot 20, Section 4
Hayat, Abraham - 20 acres, Lot 32, Scction 4
Hatyat, Jacob - 13 acres , Lot 21, Section 4
Mishaloff, Nathan - 19.5 acres, Lot 10, Section 4
Rovkin, Gregory - 22 acres, Lot 14, Section 4
Sneid, Adolph - 25 acres, Lot 21, Section 3.

Jeffrey Turnbull  wrote that Jewish settlers were able to buy 11 blocks of the first 89 sold by the Closer Settlement Board, and this later increased to 17 blocks. It is hard to work out who the other settlers are as obviously  the religion of rate payers is not listed, so here are some other settlers who acquired land at the same time with non-Anglo, Eastern European sounding names, who may  have been part of this group of Jewish settlers -

Epstein, Boris - 15 acres, Lot 18, Section 3
Haber, Harry  - 20 acres, Lot 22, Section 3
Kapel, Judel - 20 acres Lot 15, Section 4
Rothfield, Jacob - 24 acres, Lot 12, Section 3
Silverstein, Abraham - 16 acres, Lot 3, Section 3
Sneider, Moses - 24.5 acres, Lot 17, Section 4
Sokolow, Abram  (also listed as Sholoff) - 12 acres, Lot 26, Section 3 and 12 acres, Lot 26, Section 3a.



The Hallam Valley Estate, from the  Berwick Parish Plan. You can click on the photo to enlarge it, but once enlarged it might be best to right click and save the image and you make it larger again. The Closer Settlement Board farms were on a lease and the land could eventually be purchased but because most of the Jewish settlers had to walk away from their farms due to economic circumstances (see below) they are not listed on the Parish Plan, it is the farmers who came after them that ended up buying the farms and it is their names that appear on the Plan.  Most of these farmers settled at Hallam Valley from 1934 and about half of these were returned soldiers, who had the land under the Soldier Settlement scheme. To give you some idea of the location of these properties, Lot 9, Section 4 C.M Hatton is the property where the Old Cheese Factory is located.

The settlement started off with high hopes as articles, such as those below, attest.


Newman H. Rosenthal, who was acting honorary Secretary of the Australian Jewish Land Settlement Trust is quoted in the Hebrew Standard of Australasia  August 24, 1928



Mr L. Morris, a member of the Australian Jewish Land Settlement Trust is quoted in the Hebrew Standard of Australasia  August 31, 1928


A meeting was held at the Maccabean Hall in Sydney in January 1929 to discuss the formation of a Land Settlement Trust along the lines  of the Victorian Trust. This meeting was reported in the Hebrew Standard of Australasia and there are two excerpts from the report, below, which talk about Berwick.



Hebrew Standard of Australasia  January 25, 1929



This is an excerpt of  a letter received by Mr Orwell Phillips from his nephew, Mr Archie Michaelis of Melbourne, describing the Berwick settlement. 
Hebrew Standard of Australasia  January 25, 1929

What went wrong? According to Jeffrey Turnbull's paper reports in the Australian Jewish Herald said that the settlement began to fail as early as 1929, due to the Great Depression and that only one settler remained in 1937, although according to the Rate Books most of them had left the area by 1934/1935. Adolph Sneid was listed in the Rate books until 1939/1940.  Clearly the Great Depression was a major factor and some settlers were inexperienced and many would not have had the buffer of finances, resources or family help that farmers who had been born in Australia or been in  Australia for many years would have had to help them through bad times. Another  reason for the failure of some of the Hallam Valley settlers was the incompetence of the State Rivers and Water Supply Commission according to Cr MacGregor at a Shire of Berwick meeting in October 1929 - he believed that the land was sold to the settlers at an inflated price and 'the manner in which they were treated constituted a scandal of the gravest nature' (see report below)


Dandenong Journal  October 29, 1929

A sign of things to come was this report (see below) in June 1931 where it appears that thirty per cent of the settlers had not 'made good'.Mr Kanevsky  mentioned in the article was Nisson Leonard-Kanevsky, who was born in Kiev in 1888 and arrived in Melbourne in 1910. He had a successful business in the clothing trade. He was an enthusiastic supporter of the Land Settlement Trust. Two other interesting facts -  in 1922, Kanevsky commissioned Walter Burley Griffin  to design a building at 44-46 Swanston Street and they continued their association -  this is one of the many resources on the Internet that talks about their ongoing association https://willoughbydhsociety.wordpress.com/willoughby-history-heritage/suburbs/castlecrag/   
The second interesting fact about Mr Kanevsky is that he and his wife Vera (nee Douglas) had a farm at Lardner, near Warragul (just outside the Casey Cardinia region!) 



Hebrew Standard of Australasia June 5, 1931

I have created a list of newspaper articles about the Jewish Land Settlement Trust at Hallam Valley on Trove, click here to access the list.

*presented at the Annual Conference of the Society of Architectural Historians in Brisbane in September 1994.

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Baby Health Centres in Victoria

It is 100 years since the Baby Health Care movement began in Victoria in June 1917 when Dr Isabella Younger Ross opened a centre in Richmond. Dr Younger Ross had studied medicine at Melbourne University and Glasgow University. She then worked at the Queen's Hospital for Children in London and this encouraged her interest in child welfare. This interest was reinforced by later study in Chicago.  The child health experts emphasised the importance of teaching women hygiene, nutrition etc with the ultimate aim of lowering the child mortality rates.

Dr Younger Ross was helped in her endeavours by Mrs J.J. Hemphill and Mrs W. Ramsay and they then went on to open centres in other areas. The Victorian Baby Health Centres Association was established in 1918 and the numbers of centres increased in the 1920s.  Isabella Younger was born in Warnambool in 1887 and married John Ross in April 1916. She died in July 1956. You can read Dr Younger Ross' biography on the Australian Dictionary of Biography here.

I came across, purely by chance, the digitised reports of the Victorian Baby Health Centres Association from 1918 onwards on the Queen Elizabeth Centre website   http://www.qec.org.au/professionals/corporate-documents



This is from the first Annual report and shows the progress made in establishing the centres in the first year. It was written by Ethel M. Hemphill (the Mrs J.J. Hemphill referred to above. Ethel Mary Hemphill, nee Scott, married James Johnson Hemphill in 1907 and died in 1939, aged 64)

From the second report lists of the Centres appear, as well as opening hours, the names of the Nursing Sisters in charge and the names of women on the local committees, so this gives us some indication as to when Centres were opened in each area. The Shire of Berwick and Shire of Canbourne were both relatively late in establishing Centres, later than many areas much further from Melbourne.  The first mention of  local towns I could find in the 1935/36 Annual report when both Garfield and Bunyip are listed. Garfield was open Fridays 10.30am to 12 noon and 12.30pm to 1.30pm; Bunyip was open Fridays 2.00pm to 4.30pm. I presume that there must have been local agitation to have these Centres opened in what were by no means the biggest towns in the Shire.


Office bearers of the Bunyip and Garfield branches from the 1936/37 report

In 1937/38 Annual report the Lang Lang, Emerald and Pakenham have Centres opened. The report has statistics for Pakenham (or Pakenham East as it was called) - 39 individual babies were treated, plus 13 children over 2 with a total visit of 300 babies and 48 children.  


Office bearers at Emerald from the 1937/38 report

It wasn't until the 1938/39 Annual report that the Shire of Cranbourne presented a report - they had Centres at Lang Lang and Pearcedale. The statistics for Lang Lang were 29 individual babies were treated, plus 21 children over 2 with a total visit of 354 babies and 68 children. Tynong Centre was listed in the 1942/43 report.


Tynong Office bearers from the 1943/44 report

In the 1944/45 report the Shire of Berwick could present statistics for seven towns - Berwick, Beaconsfield Upper, Bunyip, Garfield, Nar Nar Goon, Pakenham East and Tynong - as Berwick, Beaconsfield Upper and Nar Nar Goon had not been listed before we can assume that these Centres were established  during that time. The Berwick statistics were 41 individual babies were treated, plus 45 children over 2 with a total visit of 464 babies and 226 children - so there was clearly a need for this type of establishment in the town. Gembrook and Officer in the Shire of Berwick had Centres established in the 1945/46 year and the Shire of Cranbourne established a third Centre in the Shire at Cranbourne. In that year  Cranbourne saw 19 individual babies treated, plus 8 children over 2 with a total visit of 82 babies and 25 children. 

Koo Wee Rup was established in 1946/47 It is interesting to look at the statistics for that year for Cranbourne and Koo Wee Rup - they both had about the same number of individual babies treated (40 for Cranbourne and 42 for Koo Wee Rup) and yet Cranbourne's total baby attendance was 586 and Koo Wee Rup's was 276 - so Cranbourne mothers had an average of 14 visits per baby compared to Koo Wee Rup's 6 per baby - it's hard to know why - were Cranbourne babies more sickly or  did more of the mothers live in the town and not on farms and it was easier to attend or did the Infant Welfare Centre Sister encourage more visits - hard to know.  

Tooradin was established in 1947/48 and there were no other  local Centres established up to 1950, which is where we will finish. These reports are a fabulous resource tracing the history of the Infant Welfare Centres in Victoria and for local and family historians includes lots of names of the local Committee members, mainly women so it may help you discover the role your female relatives played in the town where they lived.  You can find the reports at   http://www.qec.org.au/professionals/corporate-documents

Friday, 1 December 2017

Harkaway Quarry - September 1988

These are photos of the Harkaway Quarry, on Noack Road, taken in September 1988. The quarry was a basalt mine (or bluestone mine - apparently Victorians call basalt bluestone) and was operated by Pioneer. Pioneer was taken over by Hanson in 2000 and the business was then rebranded. This area was home to many quarries - the most well known is Wilson Quarry at Berwick. You can see aerial photographs of some of the other quarries here.

As well as basalt other minerals have also been found at Harkaway and the neighbouring Narre Warren quarry. The Australian & New Zealand Micromineral News, Issue 9, June 2014 has an interesting article Minerals from the Narre Warren & Harkaway quarries by John Haupt and he writes - 
The Harkaway quarry was located in Noack road, Harkaway and was noted for the specimens of fluorapophyllite, now known as fluorapophyllite-(K), the only occurrence found in the Victorian basalts. It occurred as a druse of small equant crystals lining cavities up to 15cm across in the basalt. Natrolite, phillipsite and calcite occur with the apophyllite. The apophyllite was found in a small zone in fragmented basalt, 5 metres across and 10 metres high in the quarry and was quickly quarried out (Birch et al 1984). Calcite crystallised later than natrolite, forming attractive micros of calcite ‘teardrops’ on natrolite crystals.

My knowledge of minerals is very  sketchy, so I can't help with an explanation, however you can read Mr Haupt's article in full here.

The Quarry ceased operation at the end of 2009 or January 2010 - I have seen two dates listed. The January 2010 date comes from a blog, called 'Welcome to the house of Murray'  written by Jo Murray, who used to work at the Quarry. You can see some photos and read an account of her last day at work here. The site is currently unused and fenced off. There is a push from some locals to turn the quarry into a park. 


Breaking up the bluestone with a hydraulic hammer



Loading on to a truck



Another view of the loading process


A loaded truck going up, an unloaded truck going down


Unloading into the crusher plant


Another view of the quarry showing, what I presume is, the crushing plant


A view of the quarry. Easy to see why basalt is called bluestone when you look at the stratas at the top left of the photo.


This is the Harkaway Quarry, photo taken April 20, 1978. The A'Beckett Road quarry is top left. 


Dandenong Advertiser of September 23, 1915.    

This report was  received at the Berwick Shire Council meeting held September 18, 1915 and may refer to the opening of the Harkaway Quarry.