Tuesday, 8 January 2019

Owen family of 'Ivanhoe', Yannathan

There are some photos on Museums Victoria Biggest Family Album collection of the Owen family of  Ivanhoe, Yannathan.  These photos provide us with a lovely snapshot of the life of the family on their farm - from ploughing the paddocks, digging potatoes to the children at play and the family at their Sunday devotions. We are lucky to have access to these photos and they were contributed to the Biggest Family Album project by Mrs Wynne Jennings (nee Owen). I have done some research to find out a bit more about the Owen family.

Mrs Emma Owen and the children at Yannathan, feeding chickens.

George and Emma (nee Matthews) Owen moved to Yannathan in 1925.  George and Emma and their four children had migrated from England and were induced to come to Australia under a migration scheme promoted by the the British, Commonwealth and Victorian Governments.  The children, who all feature in the photos, were William Henry (born 1914), Eileen Mary (born 1915), Winifred Emma (known as Wynne, born 1920) and Catherine Marjorie (known as Marjorie or Marj, born 1922). They moved to 454 Sydney Road, Brunswick around 1934/1935 (according to the Cranbourne Shire Rate books) and in the 1935 Electoral Roll George was listed as being employed as a 'Dairy Produce merchant'.   They later moved to 9 Pickford Street in Armadale.

Mr George Owen and the children and the dog at Yannathan, building a trough.

The Owen farm was located on Games Road. It was part of the Waori Park CSB subdivision. Waori Park and was established in 1919 and had been owned by Percy Charles 'Paddy' Einsiedel - there were two sections - Section A adjoined the Monomeith railway Station and section B, where the Owen family were, adjoined Yallock. The Owen property was Allotment 9 according to the Cranbourne Shire Rate Books and Allotment 8 according to the Yallock Parish Plan (see image immediately below) The original allocation was 66 acres and the family later on (1932/1933 according to the Rate books) took on another 27 acres.

From the Yallock Parish Plan - the Owen property went from Games Road to Forrest Road at Yannathan.

The Owen's had a dairy farm - we know this from a letter young William wrote to the Weekly Times of June 23, 1928. In the letter he says they cows, pigs and poultry and he has a dog, a  cat and a bantam rooster as pets.

Weekly Times June 23, 1928

The family home at Yannathan

Why did the family move after only ten years on the farm at Yannathan? Evidence that George gave to a 'Royal Commission which is inquiring into the grievances of British settlers' held in 1931 gives some insight into the family and their situation - reported in The Argus May 8, 1931 (read article, here) You can read about the Royal Commission, here.
George Owen , farmer of Yannathan, said: Before coming to Australia I was a saddler and leather worker, earning £5/10/ a week. Early in 1925 I saw an advertisement of the Victorian Government offering land for farming. This attracted my attention I thought that it would be a good thing to come out to Australia on the terms shown for the sake of my children. At Australia House I was told that I could get a good mixed dairy farm at £10 an acre of a capital value of £1,500. Before I came to Australia I could plough and milk.  I went to Elcho [Government training farm near Geelong]  for a few weeks and then took up the block, at Yannathan.  The area of the block was 66 acres and the price was £33 an acre, without improvements I was told that I could make a living on the block. The land is unsuitable for cultivation because of the drainage. The debt should be wiped off and the valuation reduced. That is the only solution.  I have, since going on to the block received an increased acreage of 27 acres at £27/10/an acre. That shows that the board has admitted that the land should be revalued.

The Owen children collecting firewood

What happened to the family after they left Yannathan? I have created a list of newspaper articles about the Owen family on Trove, click here to access the list. The newspapers reported on Marjorie's wedding to William Edmund Hume-Spry in April 1950 and Wynne's marriage to John William Jennings in November 1950 - both girls were married at the  St Kilda  Methodist Church. George Owen died in 1954 at the age of 68 and Emma died in 1966 aged 80.  All the children served Australia in the Second World War - the three girls enlisted in the Citizen's Military Force, according to a listing at the National Archives of Australia (not sure what the Citizen's Military Force actually is  - was it like the Army Reserve?) and Bill enlisted in the Army in June 1942.

Digging potatoes at Yannathan

Eileen Owen

Ploughing the paddock

George and young Bill chopping wood

Wynne and Marjorie at the clothes line.

Sunday devotions on the farm at Yannathan

I have created a list of newspaper articles about the Owen family on Trove, click here to access the list.

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