Friday, 15 May 2020

Robert Preston and Robert Lyall

I recently acquired this postcard which I was interested in because it was addressed to Mr R. Preston, Koo Wee Rup from Lyall and Sons Produce Merchants, Victoria Market. It is dated June 10, 1909. I love the fact that they sent a postcard to tell Mr Preston that his order had been dispatched, these days we would get an email or text, so that's the 'olden days' version of tracking, which Australia Post offers. The delivery would have been sent to the Koo Wee Rup Railway Station.  

The postcard reads -  June 10 '09 -Sent your order today - 7 oats - seed - can't read the rest, is it 2 bags - 1 flour? 

The Prestons had arrived in Koo Wee Rup in 1905 and had a farm on the South Gippsland Highway, in the vicinity of Preston Road which is named for the family.  The family consisted of Robert and Martha (nee Dick) and their children - Jim, Jack, Henry, Jessie, Maggie and Bob. Robert died December 19, 1930, aged 81 and  Martha died August 31, 1937 at the age of 88 (1).  They are buried at the Pakenham Cemetery.

The Koo Wee Rup Sun of December 24, 1930 published this obituary of Robert Preston.
It is with deep regret that we announce the death of Mr Robert Preston, which took place on Friday last at his residence at Kooweerup. The deceased, who was 81 years of age, was very highly esteemed, being the possessor of a fine character and a disposition which made friends of all with whom he associated. Almost two months ago the deceased was driving home in a jinker, and when he arrived at the gate entrance to his property the animal plunged and he was thrown to the ground and sustained a broken leg. He was taken to the local Memorial Hospital, but his advanced age, coupled with the fact that he had not enjoyed the best of health for some time were factors which operated against his recovery. He expressed a desire to be taken home, and on Friday last his request was acceded to, but several hours later he passed "beyond these voices to where there is peace." The deceased was born in Scotland, and as a young man with a wife and family of four children he came out to Australia and took up work on the sugar plantations in Queensland. Later he came to Victoria and took up farming pursuits on land on which the township of Carrum is built. About 22 years ago he came to Kooweerup and bought land on the Main Coast Road. Deceased leaves a widow and six children - James, John, Harry, Robert, Mrs C. Child and Mrs F. Mummery - to whom general sympathy is extended in their irreparable loss. The remains were interred in the Pakenham Cemetery on Saturday afternoon, and there was a large attendance at the graveside to pay their last sad respect.

The Koo Wee Rup Sun also published an obituary for Mrs Preston on September 2, 1937

Koo Wee Rup Sun September 2, 1937

This is the front of the postcard with a colourised photograph of Lyall & Son Produce Store.

Robert Lyall was listed as a Produce Merchant at 308 Sydney Road, Brunswick in the 1900 Sands & McDougall Directory and by 1905 the business had become  Lyall & Son, Produce Merchants and was located at the Victoria Market (2).   Robert Lyall died at the age of 80 on July 12, 1943. His short obituary in The Argus said that he was associated with the grain trade in Melbourne for the past half century. He had also been Secretary of the Church of Christ, Swanston Street for fifty years. In Mr Lyall's death notice his wife was listed as Lillias, he was the father of three daughters Eadie, Elsie and Winifred and one son Harry, the '& Son' of Lyall & Son (3). Harry was elected to the Melbourne City Council in November 1937 and was still on the Council in 1955 (4)

I thought that Lyall & Son may have been connected to William Lyall of Harewood, at Koo Wee Rup and who was part of the influential partnership of early land owners, Mickle, Bakewell and Lyall, but although they may have been related, he was not a direct descendant. Robert's death notice lists his parents as Henry and Eleanor Lyall. 

How would Robert Preston of Koo Wee Rup have heard of Robert Lyall & Son, Produce Merchant of the Victoria Market? It was more than likely through an advertisement in the Lang Lang Guardian, perhaps even this very advertisement reproduced below, which came from the June 2, 1909 edition. The business advertised in the Lang Lang Guardian and its successor the Koo Wee Rup Sun up to 1924.

Is this the advertisement that prompted Mr Robert Preston to patronise the business Lyall & Son?
Lang Lang Guardian, June 2, 1909.

(1) Death notices for Robert and Martha Preston were in The Argus December 20, 1930 and The Age September 1, 1937. Both notices list their six children.
(2) Sands & McDougall Directories have been digitised by the State Library of Victoria, access them here
(3) Robert Lyall's death notices were published in The Argus July 13, 1943. His obituary was in The Argus on the same day, see here.
(4) The Herald November 9 1937 and The Argus, August 26, 1955.

Thursday, 16 April 2020

Cyrus Mason - the Buonarotti Club and 'Woodyats', Tynong

I was going through Trove combining various words with Koo Wee Rup as a search term to see what I could discover and came up with an article in The Argus of August 10, 1929 on the Buonarotti Club - it was titled Buonarotti Club: Bohemians of the 'Eighties - Memories of noted artists by L.T. Luxton (read it here). Before I tell you about the local connection I will tell you about the Buonarotti Club.

Stephen F. Mead, wrote a  history of the club, The Search for Artistic Professionalism in Melbourne: the activities of the Buonarotti Club, 1883 -1887 which was published in the State Library of Victoria's La Trobe Journal in December 2011, read it here. I have extracted a few paragraphs from his article.

Stephen Mead writes - The Buonarotti Club was instigated by the engraver, draughtsman and artist, Cyrus Mason in May 1883 at the Prince's Bridge Hotel (Young and Jackson's), on the corner of Swanston and Flinders Streets, in Melbourne.  It flourished for the next four years, eventually concluding its activities during September 1887. Mason was well acquainted with colonial literary, artistic and bohemian circles long before forming the Buonarotti Club, especially through his membership of Melbourne's Yorick Club. In the 1860s, he was one of the first illustrators of the Colonial Monthly edited by his friend Marcus Clarke, then the source of early Melbourne's Bohemian attitudes.

The Club was a professional artists' organisation that utilised literature and music to build the group into a more comprehensive artistic institution, distinct from other art and cultural societies of the period. Although it was divided into three 'sections' – 'Artistic', 'Literary' and 'Musical'- its membership consisted mainly of men and women who aspired to be professional painters. These included Frederick McCubbin, Louis Abrahams, Tom Roberts and Jane Sutherland. Admittedly literary clubs and societies were very popular in Melbourne during the 1880s, as demonstrated by the existence of the Shakespeare Society, the Shelley Society, the Burns Society and the Lamb Society. It must be stressed, however, that these groups were purely and proudly made up of amateurs, not professional writers. The Buonarotti Club differed from them in that it was artist-dominated, with members who possessed professional goals. These included painters who desired instruction, a cross fertilization of ideas and the opportunity to exhibit and receive critique from their peers to assist them in their participation in the commercial Melbourne art world.

The name of the Club 'Buonarotti' had been proposed by the founder, Cyrus Mason, to honour Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni (1475-1564), the great Italian sculptor, painter, draughtsman and architect.

Stephen Mead concludes his article with Despite its early demise, it must be recognised that significant achievements were made of the Buonarotti Club in building up a strong code of artistic professionalism to meet the needs and challenges faced by artists of the period in Melbourne, even fostering a strong sense of artistic bohemianism in the city, and played a pivotal role with that group of artists who formed the now-designated Heidelberg School of painters.

Richmond Road in 1883 by Cyrus Mason
State Library of Victoria Image H2012.271

One of the members of the Buonarotti Club was Elizabeth Parsons, landscape artist, who painted scenes of Berwick, read about her here.

Now we get to the local connection of the Club and it is through the founder, Cyrus Mason, who had a property at Tynong where he hosted artists who had painting expeditions to the shores of the Koo Wee Rup Swamp. The Koo Wee Rup Swamp, of 40,000 hectares, was drained between 1889 and 1893, you can read about it here. This means that when the members of the Buonarotti Club saw the swamp it was in its natural state and undrained. How wonderful it would be to see paintings and drawings of that.

The article in The Argus that I referred to at the start of this post had an interview with a Club member, Louis Lavater, a musician. Louis shared his memories which were of the out-of-doors excursions rather than the social activities of the Buonarotti; of finding a tiger snake as a bed companion on an excursion to Eaglemont and of killing it with a walking stick and nonchalantly turning over and going to sleep again; of happy-go-lucky painting camps on the shores of the Koo-wee-rup Swamp.

"Often we used to set out from Mr. Cyrus Mason's estate at Tynong for the old Koo-wee-rup swamp, with a loaf of bread, a bag of tomatoes, a bag of oysters, bottles of beer and plenty of cigarettes," said Mr. Lavater. "Painting was the first object of the expeditions, but the rough life had a zest all its own which appealed strongly to all of us and the humour! I wonder whether humour is gone from the bush roads when I think of the incidents of those excursions. I remember that there was a dear old couple who lived on an island in the swamp, who received a letter from a Melbourne solicitor stating that they had been left a small sum of money. The old woman, who was aged 84 years - four years older than her husband-was keenly conscious of her husband's youthfulness, and it was with the greatest reluctance that she allowed him to go to Melbourne to arrange a settlement with the solicitor. She used to tell us that every time she thought of her husband among 'those Melbourne hussies' she had a 'paroxum.' Her stern disapproval of our bathing in the swamp apparently caused her a few more 'paroxums,' for she used to come down and seize our clothes and stalk away with them in righteous indignation."

Map of the Colony of Victoria  designed, lithographed and printed by Cyrus Mason, 1854.
State Library of Victoria  click here to see a high resolution version

Cyrus Mason was born in London in 1829. He undertook an apprenticeship as a lithographer and in the June of 1853 arrived in Melbourne. In September 1856 he joined the Victorian Railways as a lithographic draughtsman and set up its lithographic printing branch. He left the Railways in 1864  had various jobs, was a member of different Artist's Societies, undertook freelance work, lectured and as we saw established the Buonarotti Club in 1883. You can read a  more extensive account of Cyrus Mason's life in an article by Thomas Darragh in Design and Art Australia Online here.

Camping on the road. Artist W.H.O., lithographed  and published by Cyrus Mason, 1855
State Library of Victoria Image H83.236/2

According to the Shire of Berwick Rate books, Cyrus Mason purchased 282 acres of land from the Crown in 1877/1878. He called the property Woodyats. He was listed in the Rate books up until the 1898/1899 book. Thomas Darragh says he returned to Melbourne about 1900, so this tallies with the entries in the Rate books. He then lived in Mentone. His occupation was initially listed as a Draughtsman, but later changed to Grazier and towards the end it changed to the more refined Gentleman.  Cyrus bred Romney Marsh sheep and was a breeder of some note and participated in Stud Sheep sales, as we see from the advertisement, below.

Annual stud sales including  Cyrus Mason's Woodyats stud at Tynong

I wanted to find the exact location of Woodyats. The Rate books list the property as Lots 16 & 17, Parish of Bunyip, however there are no Lots 16 & 17 on the Parish plan - I've checked my two maps that I own, the ones on-line at the State Library of Victoria and the Public Records Office and none of them have Allotments 16 and 17. Even though Cyrus Mason purchased the land from the Crown, his name does not appear on the plan under a different Allotment number and I also checked the neighbouring Parish plans of Nar Nar Goon and Koo Wee Rup East and he's not there either, so it is all a bit of a mystery.

I presume by the fact that the members of the Bunoarotti Club could walk to the Swamp that his property was between the railway line and the Gippsland Road (now called the Princes Highway) right on the edge of the Swamp. This is partially confirmed by something he mentioned in 1893 in a letter he wrote to the editor of the Leader newspaper essentially complaining about the Public Works Department and their Swamp drainage works, Cyrus writes inter alia - Altogether apart from the Bunyip River, there is another and far larger body of water, which enters below Garfield the Kooweerup country, spreads out in width for half a mile, having four deep channels flowing westward rapidly, gathers into a volume of faster running water 9 feet deep at the south west, corner of my property, and in a mile disappears in an immense reed bed about a mile and a half south of the 42 mile post on the Gippsland railway. It's an interesting letter which you can read in full here. Two years previously in 1891 Cyrus had  a letter published in The Age in which he gave a history of the Koo Wee Rup Swamp and talked about the current conditions on the Swamp, read it here.

Cyrus Mason also created a water lifting scheme - a method to transfer water from a creek into a tank and thus to be used for irrigation and stock water, so he was not only a talented artist but inventive as well.  The Australasian newspaper wrote about it - a simple and economical mode of lifting water, the system brought into use by Mr. Cyrus Mason, J.P., on his property, Woodyats, Tynong, is well worth the attention of anyone having the command of a running stream, and desirous of using it for irrigating green crops, small fruits, vegetables, or for watering stock. As Mr. Mason, when building his wheel, was only desirous of proving its capabilities for irrigating an orchard and perfume garden, also obtaining a head of water to work a hydraulic ram, he authorises us to say that he will have pleasure in communicating information to anyone desirous of constructing a similar wheel. All the details are in the article in The Australasian of December 24, 1892 if you want to make your own water lifter. Read the article, here.

Cyrus Mason's simple and economical mode of lifting water
The Australasian December 24, 1892.

There were two aspects of Cyrus Mason's life - the engraver and artist who sought the company of like minded people in the Buonarotti Club and the farmer of Woodyats at Tynong. It was his interest in his farm that was, in the end, one of the reasons for the demise of the Buonarotti Club.

L.T Luxton, the writer of the newspaper article I have referred to quotes an un-named female member of the club and she attributes the decline of the Club to Cyrus Mason's move to Tynong. He was elected president. From that point to the time when Cyrus Mason retired to live in the country and the club 'petered out,' three years elapsed-one year as a men's club and two years as a mixed club. A short life if you like, but a very merry one.

Louis Lavater, in the same article, also attributes the demise of the club to the resignation of key members - "The end of all clubs," replied Mr Lavater, extending his hands, "Chance carried away a few of the dominant personalities, such as Longstaff, Julian Gibb and Cyrus Mason, and soon there were not enough strong personalities left to carry the dead weight of that section which has to be carried in every club. A slow 'petering-out,' and in a year, or two years - gone!"

Family information
Cyrus married Jessy Montagu (nee Campbell) in 1853. They had, I believe, 10 children - I have listed them here with any details I can confirm.
Cyrus - born 1854, married Louise Scroggie in 1882 and died in 1931 in New South Wales.
Jessy Harriet - born 1855 and died in 1857.
Arthur John - born 1857.
Walter and Willie - born and died in April 1859.
Laura - born in 1860, married Richard MacDonnell in 1883 and died in 1935.
Herbert Reuben - born in 1862, died in 1885 in Queensland.
Valentine Frank - born 1864, died in 1944.
Constance - born 1866, married Frederick Kneebone in 1890 and died in 1952.
Theodore - born in 1867, died in 1947 in New South Wales.

Cyrus Mason died August 8, 1915 at the age of 86 and his wife Jessy died November 21, 1909 aged 84. They are buried at St Kilda Cemetery with the babies, Walter and Willie. Also on the headstone, which is shown below, is their grandson, Arthur Robert Mason, Killed in Action in France on August 28, 1918.  There is also the quite unusual smaller headstone on the same grave for Jessy's daughters from her first marriage to George Conway Montagu - Edith who died at the age of 63 in May 1911 and Jane who died in August 1938, aged 93.

The Mason family grave at the St Kilda Cemetery, with the rather unusual second headstone for the Montagu sisters, the step-daughters of Cyrus Mason.
Photo: Isaac Hermann.

We will finish off this post with this beautiful poem, Noon at Woodyats, Tynong, by Grace Elizabeth Jennings Carmichael (1867-1904) , a member of the Buonarotti Club, published in The Australasian on January 21, 1888, under the name of  Jennings Carmichael (see here). Grace died in London just before her 37th birthday. You can read more about her short life in her Australian Dictionary of Biography entry, written by Lyndsay Gardiner, here.

Noon at Woodyats, Tynong
It is a day to dream one dream,
And then in full content to die,
Bearing away in memory
The colours of that cloudless sky;
The odour of the fragrant green
As 'mid its seeded spears we lie,
The motion of those throbbing wings
That up the bluey distance fly.

It is a day to dream one dream
Of earthly peace, forgetting all
The bygone gleam of darker days -
The keen cold blast and sullen fall
Of slant grey rain, the leafless range
Of solemn poplars straight and tall.
The burial thoughts mid-year June,
That wrap the earth with sable pall.

A day to dream one dream of trust,
Untortured by foreboding fears,
To drink in joy the breezy gust
That round this spreading lightwood cheers.
To clasp dear Hope with eager arms.
And look with eyes undimmed by tears,
While memory blots away for once
The sorrow of the yesteryears.

In the broad march the colours glow,
Nut browns and blues and shading gold,
Deep purples fill the dimpling clefts
Between the wooded mountain folds.
On yonder gradual slope the clear
Transparent summer-sunlight holds
No wraith of shadow standing bright
Against the circle of the wolds.

A day to dream one dream of rest -
Oh friends, your happy voices ring
So freshly from the glowing lawn
That glistens through the sombre wing
Of yon old fir; sweet is the sound
The echoes to my senses bring.
Fainting soft pictures of content
That ever to the brain will cling.

I ween 'twere happy so to die.
To see this perfect world alight,
Just as the shadow of th' eclipse
Falls in irrevocable might;
To close loth eyes, their vision rich
With earth sweet largesse, full and bright;
Then in that view to sink away
Into the silence of the night.

Darragh,  Thomas  Cyrus Mason in Design and Art Australia Online, see here.

Mead, Stephen The Search for Artistic Professionalism in Melbourne: the activities of the Buonarotti Club, 1883 -1887 in the State Library of Victoria La Trobe Journal No. 88 December 2011, see here.

Trove list - list of newspaper articles referenced in this post, access it here.

Tuesday, 24 March 2020

Station Street in Berwick becomes Gloucester Avenue

Station Street in Berwick was changed to Gloucester Avenue after the visit of the Duke of Gloucester (1900 - 1974) to Victoria in 1934 for Victoria’s centenary. The celebrations were held between October 1934 and June 1935; the Centenary firstly commemorated Edward Henty's Portland settlement in November 1834 as Victoria's founding, then John Batman's pronouncement of Port Phillip as 'the place for a village', and thus the city's foundation, in June 1835.

The Duke of Gloucester in 1934. 
Photographer: Raphael Tuck & Sons, London.
State Library of Victoria Image H10577

The Duke of Gloucester was the brother of Edward VIII - the Duke of Windsor - and George VI, who is the Queen's father. In 1935 he married Lady Alice Christabel Montagu-Douglas-Scott (1901 - 2004, she was 102 when she died), daughter of the 7th Duke of Buccleuch. They had two children- Prince William (1941-1972) and Prince Richard (1944-), who is the current Duke of Gloucester.

The Duke arrived in Victoria on the H.M.S Sussex on October 18 and departed November 19, 1934. He travelled all over Victoria and called in on Berwick on  October 27. The original plan was for the Duke to attend the Berwick Show which was scheduled for that day, he would arrive at 5.20pm on the train, after having visited Yallourn. The Duke would be gracefully welcomed  (1) and he would view the exhibit of prize winning horses and cattle (2).

However, things did not go to plan as the show had to be postponed due to excessive flooding (3) of the grounds and the Duke was instead welcomed at the Railway Station. The Dandenong Journal reported on the occasion -
A large gathering assembled on Saturday at the Berwick railway station, to take part in the welcome to H.R.H. the Duke of Gloucester. The committee of the Agricultural Society, under the leadership of the president (Cr. D. N. McBride), who was ably assisted by Mr. C. F. Greaves, past president, and Mr. W. Gamble, parade superintendent; had made complete arrangements, and a suitable area adjoining the station ground had been allotted for various bodies, including shire councillors
from Berwick, Dandenong, Cranbourne and Ferntree Gully, Justices of the Peace, Returned Soldiers, Girl Guides, Boy Scouts, St. Margaret’s Girls’ School, Berwick, and all State schools within a radius of 10 miles.

Early visitors began to arrive, and prior to the arrival of the Royal train several hundred people were in waiting. The rain had ceased, and the sun shone brightly. The train, drawn by two engines, steamed in on time at 5.20, the Royal visitor immediately stepped out on to the platform, where he was received by the president of the Agricultural Society (Cr. D. N. McBride), and escorted into the Royal enclosure. Cr. McBride then conveyed the thanks of the Berwick Agricultural Society to H.R.H. for the honor conferred upon the society and the district for the Royal visit, and for the acceptance by the Duke of an honorary life membership of the society. He also assured the Royal visitor of the loyalty of all to His Majesty the King.

Cr. McBride then presented the President of the Berwick Shire (Cr. Kinsella) to His Royal Highness, who expressed the people’s loyalty to Throne and appreciation of the honor conferred by the Royal visitor, which were such as to cement the bonds of Empire. That welcome, his Royal Highness acknowledged, and expressed his pleasure at visiting Berwick.

Before departing the Duke was shown a wombat. He was delighted, and when he took his departure, amid great enthusiasm, all were delighted at the success which had attended his reception. (Dandenong Journal, November 1, 1934, see here)

Caption from The Age - At Berwick a small dog joined in the welcome to the Duke just as he began his inspection of the guard of honor of Girl Guides.

There was a less reverent account of the Duke's visit in Labour Call or to give its full title The Labor Call: the official organ of the Political Labor Council of Victoria. The head line was

Naturally, the National Anthem was the tune most heard on this tour. It has been played with the dignity and the color of the Grenadier Guards; it has been played melodiously, off the key, fast time and slow time. At Berwick it was played on a gramophone which was in a car and amplified through a box attached to a tree. This was the most unique representation of the anthem heard on the tour. Berwick's was a pretty welcome. In a rich paddock just outside the station an area was roped off. Some hundreds of people assembled outside the ropes, and beyond them were a score of girls on ponies. The crowd cheered when the Duke accepted life membership of the Berwick Agricultural Society. Founded in 1848, the society is the oldest in the State. The Duke is the eleventh life member.
A tame wombat was on exhibition here in a cage. (Labour Call November 8, 1934, see here)

At the Berwick Shire Council meeting held on August 21, 1936 a petition was presented asking that Station Street be renamed Gloucester Avenue as a memento of the Duke's visit. The Council agreed.

Dandenong Journal August 27, 1936

The Duke of Gloucester was the Governor General of Australia from January 1945 to January 1947 and visited Berwick privately during that time (4). He was invited to the 1945 Berwick Show, but was unable to attend but sent a message that  he well remembers his previous visit to Berwick in 1934, which he enjoyed very much (5).

Trove list - I have created a short list of  articles on Trove connected to the visit of the Duke of Gloucester to Berwick, access it here.

(1) Dandenong Journal October 25, 1934, see here.
(2) Dandenong Journal October 25, 1934, see here.
(3) Dandenong Journal  November 1, 1934, see here.
(4) Early Days of Berwick, 3rd edition, pages 63 and 64.
(5) Dandenong Journal November 21, 1945, see here.

Friday, 28 February 2020

Thomas Bourke - a wedding anniversary and an obituary

Thomas Bourke was the son of Michael Bourke (c. 1814 - 1877) and his wife Catherine (also known as Kitty, nee Kelly, 1819-1910). They arrived in Melbourne in 1839 and settled on Minton's Run,  a property of 12, 800 acres on the Toomuc Creek in Pakenham in 1843. Around 1850, they established the La Trobe Inn, more commonly known as Bourke's Hotel. Michael and Catherine had the following children* -  James (born 1839), John (1840), Thomas John (1843), Mary Anne (1844), Michael James (1845), Catherine Agnes (1846), Daniel (1848), Mary Lucy (1850), Ellen (1851), Milo Peter (1853), David Joseph (1859), Margaret Frances (1860), Cecelia (1862) and Agnes (1864).

Bourke's Hotel, the La Trobe Inn, photographed in 1909.

The Bourke family have made  a major contribution to the civic, sporting and community life of Pakenham and surrounding areas. I came across this obituary of Thomas Bourke in The Advocate, the Catholic newspaper published in Victoria from 1868 to 1990. The obituary was in issue of March 7, 1929, see it here.

On February 27, at his residence, "Snowview," Pakenham, Mr. Thomas Bourke, the eldest surviving member of one of the pioneer families of the Pakenham district, passed away. The parents of Mr. Bourke came to Australia from Shanagolden, in Limerick, in 1838, and Thomas, the third son, was born in Moonee Ponds in 1842. Later, the family took up land in Pakenham, and settled in the Toomuc Valley, transferring their residence after a while to an old landmark, still known as Bourke's Hotel, a typical village inn on the main Gippsland-road and a busy place of call on the old coaching and stock routes, long before the building of the Gippsland railway.

Thomas and Jane Bourke and family
Photo courtesy of Mary Garry
Back row – Milo Patrick (1882-1966)  John Stephen (1876-1969) Thomas (1842-1929)  Michael Francis (1878-1963)
Front Row - Joanna Agnes (1883 - 1935, married John Carney)  Jane Mary (1849 - 1931, nee Smith )  Bride (1881 - 1931, nee O’Callahgan, wife of Michael)
In 1875 Mr. Bourke was married to Miss Jane Mary Smith, of the Pakenham district, whose parents had also come from Shanagolden. The young couple settled down on land selected by Mr. Bourke some time previously. His brothers and sisters one by one moved away from Pakenham and he alone of the thirteen children who had  survived to adult life ended his days in the original home to which he had brought his young wife over fifty-three years before.

Snowview, Pakenham.  
The home of Thomas and Jame Bourke and their family.
Photo courtesy of Mary Garry

As a public man Mr Bourke will be best known for his association with the Berwick Shire Council, of which he was many times president, and a member for forty-five years. During most of that time he went on horseback from his home at "Snowview" to attend the meetings at Berwick, and it was only through advancing age that he resigned from the council some sixteen years ago.

For the past two years the deceased gentleman had, with but rare intervals, been practically confined to his room, but it was not until the last fortnight that it was realised his end could not be far off. He remained, however, perfectly free from pain, and conscious till the last. Fortified by the sacred rites of the Church, of which he was a simple childlike member, he gently passed away on the morning of February 27.

On Friday, March 1, a Requiem Mass for the repose of his soul was said in St. Patrick's Church, Pakenham, by his eldest son, Rev. J. S. Bourke, S.J. There were present the widow of the deceased, his daughter (Mrs J. Carney), and his sons (Messrs. Michael and Milo Bourke). Every family in the Pakenham and surrounding districts was represented at the obsequies, and many travelled from the city and elsewhere, to pay their last tribute of respect to an old friend.

Amongst the chief mourners were present also his surviving brother, Mr. D. Bourke, and Mrs. Bourke, and their sons, Messrs. William, Robert, George, and Daniel Bourke; his nephews Messrs. H. and M. Bourke, of Monomeith Park; Mr. Michael Bourke, of Kyabram: and Mr. R. Billings; his sisters. Mrs. Billings, Mrs. McKeone, Mrs. Coote, and Miss C. M. Bourke.

Amongst the clergy present were Very Rev. J. Lonergan (Adm.), Rev. F. Greenan, Rev. M. Beovich, Rev. W. Ebsworth, Very Rev. J. Sullivan, S.J.; Very Rev. E. Frost, S.J.; Very Rev. J. M. Murphy, S.J.; Very Rev. P. McGrath, S.J.; Rev. J. Egan, S.J.; Rev. V. de Francesco, S.J.; Rev. M. Keenan, Rev. J. Cusack, Rev. T. Little, Rev. D. Joyce, Rev. L. Curran, Rev. T. O'Mara, S.J.; Rev. V. Willis.

A touching and much-appreciated tribute to the deceased was paid by a party of children from Loreto Convent, Mandeville Hall, Toorak, who travelled to Pakenham under the care of Count Thomas O'Loughlin, and placed on the coffin, as it lay before the altar, a spiritual bouquet of Masses, Holy Communions, and prayers. At the conclusion of the Requiem, the funeral procession proceeded to the Pakenham Cemetery, where the interment took place by the side of a well-loved younger brother,  Mr. D. J. Bourke, of Monomeith Park, who had predeceased him by some ten years. The burial service was read by Rev. J. S. Bourke, S.J., assisted by Rev. T. Little and the clergy present. R.I.P. (The Advocate, March 7, 1929, see here.)

Wonderful photograph of Thomas and Jane Bourke
Photo courtesy of Mary Garry

Thomas and Jane Bourke celebrated their Golden Wedding anniversary in November 1925. That was also reported on in The Advocate  of November 19, 1925 (see here)

Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Bourke, of "Snow View," Pakenham, celebrated their golden wedding on Saturday, 14th inst., and on the following day a reunion of their relatives was held at their home, when the jubilarians were wished many happy returns of the day. Their four children are the Very Rev. J. S. Bourke, S.J., Rector of St. Patrick's College, East Melbourne; Mr. Michael Bourke, Mr Milo Bourke, and Mrs. John Carney. The reunion of parents and children was a most happy event, and in addition there were present Mrs. Michael Bourke, Mrs. Milo Bourke, Mr. John Carney, and six grandchildren. With the exception of the Very Rev. J. S. Bourke, S.J., all the members of the family reside at Pakenham.

The late Mr. Michael and Mrs. Catherine Bourke, parents of Mr. Thomas Bourke, came to Australia in 1838, and settled in the Pakenham district. Shortly afterwards Mr. and Mrs. John Smith also became residents of Pakenham, and a warm intimacy sprang up between them and Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Bourke. A closer link was established on November 14th. 1875, when Mr. Thomas Bourke, son of Mr. and Mrs. Michael Bourke, and Miss Jane Mary Smith, eldest daughter of Mr. and Mrs. John Smith, were married at the home of the bride's father. Toomuc Valley, Pakenham by the Rev. Fr. McCarthy. 

Mr Thomas Bourke was a member of the Berwick Shire Council for about 40 years, and filled the presidential chair on several occasions. With his keen business training and close knowledge of the requirements of the district he served the ratepayers faithfully and well in the council, and his
retirement from municipal life was generally regretted. Throughout the Pakenham district Mr. and Mrs. Bourke are held in the highest regard. Enjoying a well-earned rest in the evening of their life, the venerable jubilarians have received congratulations from far and near, but especially from their fellow-residents of the Pakenham district. (The Advocate, November 19, 1925 see here)

*  This information on Michael and Catherine Bourke comes from Early Settlers of the Casey-Cardinia District,  published by the Narre Warren & District Family History Group.

Thursday, 20 February 2020

Dutch Family - Van Benbroek family of Clyde

I came across this article about the Van Benbroek family of Clyde in The Advocate, the Catholic newspaper, of July 26, 1951. It's an interesting look at the life of one of the many families that migrated from Europe after the Second World War.  You can read the original on Trove, here, and it is transcribed below.  I believe the family was known as Van Den Broek, so either they changed the spelling or the Advocate had the spelling wrong, but I will leave the name as Van Benbroek in te transcription.

The Advocate July 26, 1951

Dutch Family

This introduces the Van Benbroek family, from Braband, Holland, who have settled in Berwick, some 30 miles from Melbourne. There's mum and dad and thirteen children. They have transferred their lives from a five-acre farm in Holland to one of 300 acres in Victoria. From hand-milking three or four cows in a little lean-to adjoining the 200-year-old house at Braband, they have taken to milking some 57 cows (later it will be 75) with modern machinery and in a well-lit and newly-renovated dairy, situated in close proximity to their neat weatherboard dwelling.

Although only a few weeks in Victoria the Van Benbroeks have really settled in and are working the farm to a well-set plan. Tractors, harvesters, reapers, chaff-cutters and other agricultural equipment were all new to them, but they are getting the best use out of them.

Last Sunday - strictly kept as a day of rest by Dutch Catholics - was a real family reunion, with relatives and friends visiting to attend Mass in the sitting-cum-bed room and to join in the family dinner. With Rev. L. Maas, S.V.D., chaplain to Dutch migrants in Victoria, our representative went to Berwick just to see how the Van Benbroeks spent the day. For Mass at 10, more than 24 men, women and children crowded into the little room. Two of the lads - Joseph (13) and Louis (14) acted as altar servers. The Gospel, the sermon and the prayers after Mass were all said in Dutch. The Van Benbroek family reached Victoria this July and they have just the barest smattering of English.

The Van Benbroek family. 
The Advocate July 26, 1951
The original caption of the photo is On this page is a picture of the Van Benbroek family—father, mother and thirteen children—who arrived from Holland on July 15 and are now settled in Berwick. From a five-acre farm in their native land they transferred to 300 acres in Victoria. Sunday was a real day of rest and a day of reunion. Mr. Van Benbroek came to Australia with his family because he was attracted by this great southern land, which, he considers, affords many opportunities for starting life anew.

During dinner - consisting mainly of food cooked in the Dutch manner - there were two sittings. Most of the elders (12, sat down at once) were accommodated at the first session and the youngsters at the latter. When the meal was over there was the usual after-dinner talk with guests and members of the family discussing crops and such everyday matters. Music was supplied by a harmonica and the male folk smoked their Dutch cigars about the fire.

What prompted Mr. Van Banbroek to come to Australia? His considered view, he told our representative, was that Australia was a young country and there were more chances of settling and starting life anew here. He had considered America, but the great southern land attracted him more. In his home at Braband, Mr. Van Benbroek found it extremely hard to get sufficient food for his large family. Work, too, was not plentiful and memories of the wars not pleasant. They sold everything they had and with their savings embarked on a Dutch ship last May and reached Melbourne on July 15. It cost Mr. Van Benbroek 20,000 guildens (£2200 Australian currency) to bring his family and their furniture and goods to the country. Happily they were fortunate in finding a home immediately on arrival. The Dutch chaplain had prepared in advance for them and there was no delay in transporting them by truck from the ship to Berwick.

The family has not visited Melbourne or Dandenong yet. Transportation costs would be tremendous. However, they hope to make a shopping excursion one of these days. The family brought seven bicycles with them, and on free days the youngsters ride about the countryside. When there is no Mass at the farm, they go to Cranbourne and Berwick Catholic churches in the utility truck made available for their use on Sundays by Col. Neill (owner of the property they are living on).

The article was embellished by these stereotypical illustrations of traditional Dutch life.

Four of the Van Benbroeks (including one who is studying carpentry) are working on the farm for wages. They hope later to have their own farm. Two other lads are working in the neighbourhood and a third has secured a position as gardener in Melbourne. The girls help mother about the house. The four youngest boys - Gerard (10), Leo (12), Joseph (13) and Louis (14) - are attending school at Clyde, some 10 minutes' walking distance from their home. Incidentally, most of the family attend at the Clyde school - two nights a week for English lessons with many other New Australians who are working in the neighbourhood.

The Catholic Migration authorities appeal to Catholics to nominate Dutch settlers who wish to settle in Victoria. Nominators are obliged to provide accommodation but not necessarily employment. Those wishing to come to this country include young married couples and families with three to ten children. Many wish to engage in farm work and some are tradesmen.

This is an excellent opportunity for farmers to obtain competent help. Parish migration committees can also assist in the work of welcoming and assimilating these New Australians. Some Dutch families are prepared to bring out their own pre-fabricated houses. For this scheme land is required, and suggestions and help in this regard will be most welcome. Applications from those willing to sponsor Catholic Dutch migrants can, in the first instance, be made with Rev. L. Maas, S.V.D., Dutch Hostel, 276 Cotham-road, Kew (WA 3391).

Sadly, the family met with tragedy a few years after their arrival in Australia when Mrs Van Den Broek died of burns received after an accident in the home.

The report of Mrs Van Den Broek's accident
Dandenong Journal July 7, 1954

Mrs Van Den Broek's death notice. She was buried at the Berwick cemetery.

Thursday, 6 February 2020

Maryknoll buildings designed by Smith, Tracey, Lyon and Brock.

Maryknoll 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. You can read more about the establishment of the town, here. I came across the following images of early buildings at Maryknoll (or St Mary's as it was originally called) designed by the architectural firm Smith, Tracey, Lyon and Brock. 

You can read about the firm on the website, Built Heritage in the Dictionary of Unsung Architects section -  This is the introduction to the article - Smith & Tracey was formed in 1949 by recent graduates Smith & Tracey was formed in 1949 by recent graduates Des Smith (1918-2003) and Dan Tracey (1916-1992).  Shortly afterwards, they were joined by Eric "Ric" Lyon (1918-2006) and Les Brock (1920-2006), and the firm re-branded as Smith, Tracey, Lyon & Brock.  It operated as such until Lyon and Brock both left around 1960, whereupon it reverted to its original name.  The article on the website also has a list of the firm's works. 

Smith, Tracey, Lyon and Brock worked on many projects for the Catholic Church including Christian Brothers College in Warnambool in 1950; St Joseph's School in Springvale in 1952; St Joseph's Benalla in 1953 and  St Vincent de Paul's Homeless Men's shelter on Flemington Road (Ozanam House) in 1954.  They also designed the Holy Family Church at Maryknoll.

 The Advocate, September 14 1950

This photo (above) and report of the opening of  Holy Family Church at Maryknoll appeared in The AdvocateThis is Holy Family Church-School, opened by Archbishop Mannix of St. Marys Rural Settlement, Tynong North, on September 3. The building was erected from a design by Smith and Tracey, architects, Sydney-road, Brunswick, who also prepared the large-scale map of the settlement which appeared last week. The erection of the first seven permanent homes is now being undertaken and these will be occupied by settlers, at present housed in temporary quarters in the vicinity. (The Advocate, September 14 1950, see here)  

This is the  large-scale map of the settlement prepared by Smith, Tracey, Lyon and Brock, referred to in the paragraph, above. It was in The Advocate of  September 7, 1950, see here.

Presentation Convent St Mary's North Convent at Maryknoll designed by Smith, Tracey, Lyon and Brock.
The Advocate, March 20, 1952.

In March 1952, The Advocate, published this image (above) of the proposed convent for the Presentation Sisters to be built at Maryknoll. It was never built.

Smith, Tracey, Lyon and Brock also designed houses for the Maryknoll settlement.  One of these designs was written up in The Argus of November 1, 1954.

House designed by Smith, Tracey, Lyon and Brock  for Maryknoll
Image: The Argus, November 1, 1954

This is the transcription of the article about the Maryknoll house - 

 Home for County - by Harry Perrott Argus Property Writer

Until comparatively recent years, it was not unusual to see a house, originally planned for a suburban allotment, built on a farm or in a rural setting. Many country people evidently thought they could not have the convenience of "town" living without using a "town" house plan. This, of course, is not so, and the small house illustrated here has all the conveniences of modern planning, but is essentially rural in character.

The plan is a simple rectangle in shape and has a low pitched roof, covered with corrugated asbestos
cement sheets. External walls are of 10in. Baltic weatherboards. Provision has been made for another bedroom and a verandah to be added. The door into the third bedroom will be in the space now used for a cupboard between the bathroom and bedroom. The two bedrooms are 11ft. x 10ft. and 13½ft. x 10ft. and both are fitted with built-in wardrobes.

The kitchen, 13½ x 10ft., is divided by a fitment so that one section can be used for meals or other purposes. For economy, the kitchen and living room fireplaces have been combined in a common chimney stack. The sun room, 10½ x 10ft., is another interesting and useful feature of this part of the house. The living room, 15 x 12ft., has deep windows and double doors opening on to a 6ft. wide verandah. There is a service hatch from this room into the kitchen.

The house is one of a series of low cost houses designed by Smith, Tracey, Lyon and Brock, architects, for a rural community at St. Mary's, via Nar Nar Goon, in Gippsland.  (The Argus, November 1, 1954, see here

Plan  of the house, described and shown above, designed by Smith, Tracey, Lyon and Brock  for Maryknoll
Image: The Argus, November 1, 1954

I have created a short list of newspaper articles from Trove that mention the firm of Smith, Tracey, Lyon and Brock, you can access it here.

Wednesday, 29 January 2020

Elizabeth Parsons (1831 - 1897) - artist

Elizabeth Parsons (1831 - 1897) was a professional artist, who created many delightful landscapes in water-colour, oil and drawings. The State Library of Victoria has around thirty of her works on-line, many of the St Kilda area (1) however Elizabeth also has a number of works of Berwick.

View from Wilson's Hill, Berwick, 1878 by Elizabeth Parsons.
Image: National Gallery of Victoria A35-1976

This is a very short history of her life and works, most of which I have summarised from the book More than a memory: the art of Elizabeth Parsons by Veronica Filmer.  This is the catalogue of an exhibition of Elizabeth Parson's work held at the Geelong Gallery in 2004. The exhibition was also curated by Veronica Filmer. It's a lovely book, I found a copy at an on-line second-hand book seller and it is well worth tracking down, however the Geelong Galley has recently digitised the book and it is available on their website, here

Elizabeth was born to William and Elizabeth (nee Keens) Warren on November 27, 1831.  The Keens were market gardeners and William and Elizabeth and their children lived on the family property after their marriage in 1820. Elizabeth (the younger) found employment as a governess and in the late 1850s began art lessons with instructors including Thomas Miles Richardson and James Duffield Harding.

Her mother, who died in March 1867, left Elizabeth an annuity as long as she remained unmarried and this gave her some freedom to travel around England on sketching trips. It was on one of these trips that she met George Parsons (1830 - 1920) who was the manager of the Lizard Serpentine Marble Works.  George had trained as a surveyor and was a widower with two sons, George and Cecil. Elizabeth and George married on October 28, 1868. Elizabeth gave birth to  a daughter, Adeline, in August 1869. 1869 was also significant for Elizabeth as she exhibited seven works in the Society of Female Artists exhibition, her first major exhibition. Elizabeth exhibited under the name of Mrs George Parsons.

In 1870 the family decided to migrate to Australia and they arrived in Melbourne on May 20, 1870 and their son Henry was born the same year. In 1872 another son, Warren, was born followed by two more sons, Noel in 1875, Jonathon in 1876 and a still-born baby in 1879.   Elizabeth lost no time in establishing herself as an artist in her new country and she exhibited in the Victorian Academy of Art exhibition in November 1870. The Argus had a two part review of this exhibition, which you can read here and here. The Argus said that there were three water-colour landscapes of conspicuous merit by Mrs G. Parsons.

Report on Elizabeth Parson's work at the Victorian Academy of Art exhibition
The Argus December 1, 1870

There was also a more detailed review of Elizabeth Parson's work in The Argus of  December 26, 1870, which Ms Filmer quoted in her book (2) and I have reproduced, below.

Praise for Elizabeth Parson's work.
The Argus December 26, 1870

Elizabeth commenced teaching in the early 1870s as well as continuing to exhibit works  depicting local landmarks such as the Carlton Gardens and Melbourne University. Around 1873, Elizabeth rented a studio in Flinders Lane and the next year the family moved to a house in Neptune Street, St Kilda. They later moved to Charnwood Road in the same suburb and then to 249 Carlisle Street in Balaclava.

The family also toured the State and scenes from areas such as Mornington, Geelong, Woodend and Berwick featured in Elizabeth's work. Ms Filmer writes that the family spent many summers in Berwick, where they had either leased or brought  a small holiday house. From here Elizabeth could make sketching trips into the surrounding district. (3)  The picture, below, shows  the back of the holiday house in Wilson lane (or Wilson Street as it was actually called). Ms Filmer also writes that from the Berwick house popular locations such as Harkaway and Koo Wee Rup were easily accessed (4) I checked the Shire of Berwick Rate books and neither George or Elizabeth are listed as owning property at Berwick,  so they must have rented a house in Berwick. 

Wilson lane, Berwick, c. 1876 by Elizabeth Parsons.
Image: More than a memory: the art of Elizabeth Parsons by Veronica Filmer (Geelong Gallery, 2004) 

Elizabeth's standing as an artist continued to grow and in December 1874, she was elected to the Victorian Academy of Art Council, which is all the more remarkable as there was much opposition to women taking up public positions of any kind and also that she had the responsibility of a  young family to care for and George was often away due to his job as inspector and auditor of the Seymour to Avenel section of the North Eastern railway line. Elizabeth also continued to exhibit and began painting in oils.

In the early 1880s, Elizabeth became more enterprising and published three books - the Drawing book of Australian Landscape - book one covered buildings, book two trees and book three landscapes. Books one and two have been disgitised by the State Library of Victoria, here and here and Ms Filmer writes that no trace has been found of the third book, Landscapes (5) 

At Berwick, 1882, by Elizabeth Parsons. This illustration was originally published in her book, Drawing book of Australian Landscape - Part 1 - buildings. 
Image: National Gallery of Australia Image NGA 86.1996. 

The 1880s saw Elizabeth continue to exhibit in the annual Victorian Academy of Arts shows, the Sydney Art Society exhibition, Victorian Jubilee Exhibition of 1884, amongst other shows. In 1886 she joined the newly formed Australian Artist's Association along with other artists such as Tom Roberts, Arthur Streeton and Charles Conder. The first exhibition of this group was reported on in the Melbourne newspapers, see below and you can read Elizabeth's review, below.

Praise for Elizabeth Parson's work at the inaugural Australian Artist's Association exhibition.
The Argus September 7, 1886

Elizabeth was also a member of two social clubs - the Buonarotti Club, whose members were mainly young artists (6) and the Stray Leaves Club, which was active from 1889 to 1892 and often met at the Parson's home in Balaclava. Emma Minnie Boyd (1858 - 1936) was also a member of the Stray Leaves Club. Emma was an A'Beckett from The Grange at Harkaway. Ms Filmer writes that Emma Minnie Boyd and Elizabeth Parsons, exhibited together from the mid 1870s, had stylistic similarities and that Elizabeth may have been something of  a mentor to Emma. (7) As Berwick and Harkaway are neighbouring towns, it is likely that they also socialised when the Parsons were at Berwick.

At Berwick, 1882, by Elizabeth Parsons. This illustration was originally published in her book, Drawing book of Australian Landscape - Part 1 - buildings. 
Image: National Gallery of Australia Image NGA 86.2250

From 1889 Elizabeth decided to retire and sold many of her works at a sale in 1890 and she held another sale in 1896. You can read the coverage of the 1896 sale in The Age of  July 17, 1896, here.  By this time Elizabeth was suffering from breast cancer and she died May 28, 1897. She is buried in the St Kilda Cemetery, as is her husband, George, who died January 19, 1920.

There were periodic exhibitions of Elizabeth Parson's works after her death, mainly instigated by her daughter Adeline, and also one in 1920, which Ms Filmer said reignited interest in Elizabeth and her art (8).  The Herald reviewed this exhibition - it is partly quoted by Ms Filmer in her book (9) and you can read it here and see it below.

The review of Elizabeth Parson's 1920 retrospective exhibition. 
The Herald, March 15, 1920

We will finish this post on Elizabeth Parsons once again quoting Veronica Filmer - Through persistence and hard work Elizabeth Parsons reached a prominent position in the Victorian art world and was an inspiration to many around her who aspired to do the same. (10)

Nearly all this post I have summarised from Veronica Filmer's essay on the life and work of Elizabeth  Parsons, which was published in More than a memory: the art of Elizabeth Parsons (Geelong Gallery, 2004). It is of course a much more comprehensive, scholarly and detailed study of  Elizabeth's life and work than what you read here. Here is the link to the  work again from the Geelong Gallery website  Even though you can view it on-line, as I said before, if you ever come across a copy of the book, it is still worth buying. I've scanned the cover, so you will recognise it if you see it. It has 40 of her works reproduced, it's just a delight.  I found out about Elizabeth Parsons, her connection to Berwick and  Veronica Filmer's book, from my fellow historian,  Isaac Hermann.

(1)  As well as the Elizabeth Parson works which are on-line at the State Library of Victoria, you can view some of her works on the Geelong Gallery website, The National Gallery of Victoria has three of her works, on-line, The National Gallery of Australia has ten of her works on-line
(2) Filmer, Veronica More than a memory: the art of Elizabeth Parsons (Geelong Gallery, 2004) page 15.
(3) Filmer, page 17
(4) Filmer, page 28
(5) Filmer, page 24
(6) Filmer, page 33
(7) Filmer, page 33. Ms Filmer was alerted to the possible connections between Elizabeth Parsons and  Emma Minnie Boyd by Jennifer Phipps on the National Gallery of Victoria (footnote 79, page 33)
(8) Filmer, page 35
(9) Filmer, page 35
(10) Filmer, page 37