Wednesday, 31 July 2013

More than just a death - Trove Tuesday

Drownings were a regular occurrence in the Hawkesbury district specifically in the early 19th century. In 1826 Isabella Stoodley drowned near the mouth of Mangrove Creek when the boat she was travelling in accidentally upset near the mouth of Mangrove Creek. An inquest was held at Gunderman at Hibbs' farm situated on the Hawkesbury River. The Windsor Coroner, John Howe was in attendance and the verdict confirmed the cause of death was drowning. It was not the first time Isabella had been in the news. She appeared in the Sydney Gazette in April 1818 when her husband at the time, John Suddis, a settler at Wilberforce, was murdered.

The report of Isabella's death appeared in the Sydney Gazette in August 1826. The significance of this article is not only the report of an unfortunate drowning but also that it reveals some insight into the arrangements made regarding the burial of bodies, in localities away from a town centre as well as the difficulties in performing a funeral. It records that a piece of land had “been made sacred by the burial of one or more persons, but what has not been consecrated” and also mentioned that people preferred to bury “their relatives on their own farms” despite Governor Macquarie's edict 15 or so years earlier, that the deceased were to buried in consecrated burial grounds.

Sydney Gazette 5 August 1826, p. 2

The Windsor Correspondent for the newspaper enlightened readers with additional information about burials. This paragraph has some interesting concepts, and states:

     "The funeral service is generally read by the best reader present; although he may be considered     objectionable in other respects "Can he read?" This affirmed "Then he will do" Certainly a resident Chaplain would be a most invaluable treasure in such a district; the advantages society would derive from such an appointment, in affording instruction to the rising generation, may be in some degree conceived, but where would its influence terminate? It is worthy of remark, that the youths of that district are to form the Juries of this country. Where is their baptism; and where the record of their christenings? Much could be said on this interesting subject; but we submit it to consideration in the proper quarter. Where no doubt it will be speedily be noticed when known."

Location of the mouth of Mangrove Creek where Isabella drowned in 1826.
© Google Maps 2013
The value of using newspapers can never be underestimated. The benefits of using Trove to not only find information about people and events but the advantages of also adding unique background details to transform your research and make it thought provoking and stimulating.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Breaker Morant in the Hawkesbury - Trove Tuesday

Much has been written over the years about the larrikin, Harry 'Breaker' Harbord Morant (1864-1902). A mischievous rogue, Harry was born in England and arrived in Australia and spent many years working in the Australian outback. A "charismatic roustabout made a name for himself as a hard-drinking, womanising bush poet and gained renown as a fearless and expert horseman." But a little known fact is that he spent several years in and about the Hawkesbury district.

His remarkable feats of horsemanship were well-known, like the excerpt from 1898, when the Windsor & Richmond Gazette reported a story from The Bulletin. "Harry Morant ("The Breaker") was last week jumping his horse Cavalier over a 4ft. rail filling a gap in the fence at the rear of the old Racecourse Hotel, Clarendon."  Apparently the "horse swerved and, going too fast to stop, cleared the 7ft palings!" The horse (a five-year-old gelding) was bred by Phillip Charley from an imported trotting mare which was originally "owned by the late Andrew Town, of Hobartville." It was noted that the jump was witnessed, "done in the presence of Mr. Kelly, of Clarendon, and some half-dozen others; and the measurement is well-authenticated." 

He was recorded as playing polo in Richmond and riding in the Hawkesbury Show. According to local newspaper reports he worked in various positions throughout the Hawkesbury.

His bush ballads, including Who’s riding the Old Horse, Now? appeared in various newspapers and magazines, as well as the Windsor & Richmond Gazette, 1 May 1897 p. 7, under his byline 'The Breaker' see the ballad in full below. One of the popular verses reads:

A demon to handle! A devil to ride!
Small wonder the surcingle burst;
You’d have thought that he’d buck himself out of his hide
On the morning we saddled him first.
I can mind how he cow-kicked the spur of my boot,
And though that’s long ago, still I vow
If they’re wheeling a piker no new chum galoot
Is a riding old Harlequin now!

One of his old friends, editor J. C. L. Fitzpatrick wrote a memorable piece for the local newspaper, his memories of Morant, when news of his death reached the Hawkesbury.

Vale Harry Morant. Windsor & Richmond Gazette, 5 April 1902 p. 6.  

The Breaker was executed 27 February 1902 at Pretoria in South Africa. The debate about his life and death continue, a century after his death. 


Who’s riding the Old Horse, Now?

Windsor & Richmond Gazette, 1 May 1897 p. 7

Tuesday, 16 July 2013


During the 1850s, Studebaker constructed horse-drawn wagons in the USA and by the 1880s some of these wagons found their way to Australia. In 1902 Studebaker constructed electric cars followed two years later with automobiles run by petrol. 

Studebaker’s were already in use in Australia by the 1920s.  In the 1930s they were quite popular. 

So what has the Studebaker got to do with the Hawkesbury? 

In 1928 Norman Smith drove a “Stock Model Studebaker Commander Sports Roadster” up Bells Line of Road to Kurrajong Heights. Norman was accompanied by an official observer from the Royal Automobile Club of Australia (RACA). The RACA commenced in 1903 to assist drivers with early regulations and expertise.

The above photo of the Studebaker “climbing Kurrajong Heights in Top Gear” appeared in The Land 22 June 1928 newspaper. It boasted the “Studebaker is the only car to have accomplished this feat with a passenger.” What a feat!! 

There were various models available but they didn't come cheap. Prices started at £420.

Advertisement from Gilgandra Weekly16 July 1925, p. 4.  

Today the Studebaker remains popular with vintage car enthusiasts.

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Richmond's Black Horse Inn

During the early days, the colony was teeming with hotels that provided meals, drinks and sometimes accommodation for travellers. Rum, followed later by beer, was the main drink in the colony. Operating hours varied and the hostelries usually had big wooden signs defining the name, hanging on hinges outside. A light burning outside was kept on until a late hour. A lamplighter went around and lit the lamps and kept them burning. Prices ranged from 6d for a glass of rum and 3d for beer. Shouting a drink or round, popular these days, was pretty much unheard of. Entertainment was also scarce. Sometimes dances were held in the tap room, someone would play a fiddle and fights were fairly popular.  

Located in Richmond, the first license was issued 15 Feb 1819 to Paul Randall and recorded in the Colonial Secretary's Papers, 1788-1825 and issued for the ‘Black Horse Prince.’ In later years it became known as the ‘Black Horse.’ A copy of the exact certificate was transcribed in the Windsor & Richmond Gazette in 1919.

Paul Randall was a convict who arrived in NSW in 1791 on board the “Admiral Barrington” Back in England, his brother William was involved in a robbery while his wife Mary was also implicated. Mary arrived on the “Bellona” in 1793. It appears their daughter Margaret (born in 1799) took over the operation of the Black Horse in the late 1820s leading the hotel into its heyday. Margaret had married in 1820 to Dr Henry Seymour, a convict who arrived in 1817. Following the death of her parents, Mary (1832) and Paul (1834) Margaret inherited the inn. Her parents are both buried at St. Peter’s, Richmond. It was during the 1830s that Margaret had constructed, in Windsor Street, a more established two-story building. It is thought that the original single-storey residence remained adjoining the new structure and certainly surviving photographs correspond with this theory. Margaret ran the Black Horse for forty years. 

As Henry and Margaret did not have any children they adopted Sophia Westbrook who was a daughter of James Westbrook and Eliza Phipps. Sophia married in Richmond in 1844, William Sly a convict who had arrived on the “Moffatt” in 1836. She inherited the Black Horse from the Seymour’s and the Sly’s operated it for many years. Sophia died in 1900 and son William became the licensee. Over the next twenty years or so, William Sly Jnr leased the hotel to a number of individuals including Sportsman O’Keefe who was a champion cross country rider. In the late 1920s the license was transferred to a newly established hotel at Kurrajong Heights. In the early 1930s the old inn site on the corner of Windsor and Bosworth Streets, was purchased Mr Grimwood and operated as a garage for many years.  

Black Horse Service Station, Windsor Street, Richmond, ca. 1935
Searle, E. W. (Edward William) 1887-1955
Courtesy of the National Library of Australia nla.pic-vn4655360

Years later, the building was modernised, and more contemporary alterations hid the significant historic hub. It functioned as service station until the 1960s. It was possibly in the 1970s when the service station business ceased and that the false fa├žade constructed. It was divided into commercial premises but the nucleus of the Black Horse remains, hidden.

Much romance is associated with the Black Horse and the newspapers of the 1890s and 1900s are filled with nostalgic recollections. Windsor & Richmond Gazette 16 May 1919.   It was also famous, according to the early newspapers, and many “journeyed from all parts of the colony.”  According to the Australian Town & Country Journal in 1906, the register apparently “recorded the names of many eminent people who have been identified with the wealth and progress of NSW…spent their honeymoon at the famous Black Horse Hotel."

The wooden sign that hung out the front of the hotel showing a running black horse, is now part of the collection of the Hawkesbury Historical Society. From the late 18th century, hotels were required to be licensed with some records surviving and held by State Records.

Other Sources:
Hawkesbury’s Black Horse Inn by Ken Moon (Research Publications, 1988)
Documentation of ‘The Black Horse Inn’ … prepared by Graham Edds & Associates (1994)
Hawkesbury Journey by D. G. Bowd (Library of Australian History, 1986)

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Charlotte Vindin's stained glass window at Richmond - Trove Tuesday

St. Peter’s Church of England, Richmond contains a number of exquisite examples of stained glass windows. One (according to an article in the Windsor & Richmond Gazette is in memory of Charlotte Vindin: 

"The subject of that in the south wall is Dorcas. 'This woman was full of good works,' Acts 9:34. It is    inscribed: 'To the Glory of God and in loving memory of Charlotte, the; wife of Frank J. Vindin and the youngest daughter of the late Rev. F. R. Kemp, of Port Macquarie." 

Charlotte Vindin's stained glass window in St. Peter's. Photo M. Nichols, 1988.

Charlotte Vindin was married to Francis ‘Frank’ J. Vindin. Charlotte gave birth to five children, sadly only one surviving infancy. According to her obituary Charlotte died 26 October 1897, aged only 33 years. She had given birth to a daughter Marie, a short time prior to her death. Marie died on the 15 November 1898 aged only one year.

Vindin was the manager of the Australian Joint Stock (AJS) Bank in Richmond. The Bank opened in Richmond in 1888 and according to the Windsor & Richmond Gazette 27 October 1900. At the time the article was published he was departing Richmond due to a promotion and taking up a new position in elswehere. The article states that:

 …during that time has taken a very prominent and keen interest in every movement that has had for its object the welfare of the town and district. He has filled every honorary office in connection with the Richmond School of Arts, being first a committee man, then auditor, vice-president, and for some time was president, from which position he resigned. He is a member of the H. D. A. Association's Council, and was an active and regular attendant at the Society's meetings; he has been elected auditor of the Richmond Borough Council (unopposed) for years; has been an energetic worker in the cause of the different churches, and a benefactor in St. Peter’s Church of England in which he has had placed a magnificent stained glass window, in memory of his late wife. Mr Vindin has also been an unobtrusive donor of pecuniary and other help to the poor of the town and district. He was treasurer to the recent successful Benevolent Society's ball, and has always been a most successful collector on behalf of the Hawkesbury Benevolent Society. We believe that Mr Vindin's sojourn among the people of Richmond has on the whole been pleasant, and that he will carry away many happy memories of people and places. But there is one very sad memory by which he will always remember Richmond— and in making this passing reference to it we have no desire to obtrude ourselves upon sacred things or the silent sorrows of one who sustained a sore affliction and an irreparable loss while with us. That Mr Vindin and his little daughter will have all the good things that this world affords, that they will live in the enjoyment of peace, happiness, and health, is the sincere wish of every soul in the Hawkesbury. 

Frank remarried in 1901, in the Lithgow district, to Isabella Wyatt. Unfortunately less than twelve months after the move south, he became ill and despite having a number of operations, he passed away on 28 August 1901 aged 39 in Albury. His informative obituary appeared in Windsor & Richmond Gazette 7 September 1901.  Both Charlotte and Frank, along with four of their children are buried at St. Peter’s Church of England Cemetery, Richmond.

Monday, 8 July 2013

Hawkesbury Settlers Address 1810

The following address was printed in the Sydney Gazette 8 Dec 1810, p. 1 from the settlers of Hawkesbury and presented to Governor Lachlan Macquarie in Windsor, by Thomas Arndell. Thomas, a prominent Hawkesbury resident, Magistrate was the Assistant Surgeon with the First Fleet in 1788. The address read:
"We, the undersigned settlers, residents of the Hawkesbury and its vicinity, beg leave respectfully to congratulate your Excellency on your arrival at this settlement, and earnestly hope your Excellency will be pleased with the agricultural improvements and industry that pervade here; and trust that the continuance of our exertions will ever merit your Excellency's approbation. We also beg leave to return our unfeigned thanks for your Excellency's recent appointment of William Cox, Esq., as a magistrate at this place - a gentleman who for many years has resided amongst us, possessing our esteem and confidence, who, from his local knowledge of this settlement, combined with his many other good qualities, will, we are convinced, promote your Excellency's benign intention of distributing justice and happiness to all." 

The settlers signing the address were as follows:

Thomas Appledore    William Etrel       John Merritt
Thomas Arkell           G.W. Evans        James Milaman
Thomas Arndell         William Ezzy        Patrick Murphy
Benjamin Baits          William Faithful    Henry Murray
William Baker           Daniel Fane         Richard Norris
Henry Baldwin          Robert Farlow     Charles Palmer
William Baxter          Edward Field       Thos. Matcham Pitt
John Baylis               R. Fitzgerald        James Portsmouth
David Bell                Thomas Gordon   Edward Pugh
John Benn                John Gregory       Paul Randall
Elias Bishop             Jonathan Griffiths  James Richards
James Blackman      Robert Guy           Jacob Russell
John Boulton           Thomas Hagger     John Ryan
John Bowman         George Hall           William Shaw
Paul Bushel             Thomas Hampson  William Simpson
William Carlisle       John Harris            William Small
Richard Carr          William Heydon      Robert Smith
Benjamin Carver     Thomas Hobby      Stephen Smith
Thomas Cheshire     John Jones            Benjamin South
Patrick Closhel        Donald Kennedy   Thomas Spencer
John Cobcroft         Henry Lamb          John Stevenson
Pierce Collett          Thomas Lambley   Owen Tierney
George Collis          John Leese            James Wall
Roger Connor         Matthew Lock       John Watts
Thomas Cowling     John Lyoner           James Welsh
Hugh Devlyn           Joseph McColding Thomas Weyham
John Dight              Daniel McKay        John Wild
William Dye           Thomas Markwell    Caleb Wilson
Elizabeth Earl         Robert Martin          Robert Wilson
William Eaton         Laurence May         Thomas Winston
Rowland Edwards   Martin Mentz          John Yoel
John Embrey        

Governor Macquarie responded:

"I beg you will make known to those respectable settlers of the Hawkesbury who signed the address presented by you to me, that I am much pleased with the sentiments it conveys, and to assure them that it will always be an object of the greatest interest to me to promote their prosperity by every means in my power. With this view I have fixed on ground for four(sic) different townships for the accommodation of the settlers who have suffered so severely by the floods of the river; and by a speedy removal to those situations of security, I hope they will enjoy the fruits of that labour, which, I am happy to observe, promises this season to be rewarded with one of the finest crops I ever beheld in any country. I hope on my return to this part of the colony to find the new habitations built on an improved and enlarged plan to those hitherto erected on the banks of the Hawkesbury. I am very glad to find that my appointment of Mr. Cox has met with the satisfaction of the settlers, and I have every reason to believe that he will fulfil the duties of his office so as to gain the good will of all."

Hawkesbury River at Windsor NSW.  M. Nichols 2013

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Hawkesbury Cornstalks - Trove Tuesday

Cornstalk was a term used in the early 1800s to describe an Australian born resident, in comparison to one that was born overseas.  It was often used to describe the physique particularly the young men born in the colony, who were recorded as being “taller and fairer than the European-born and had thus flourished like the Indian corn brought to Australia.” 

In 1831 the newspapers recorded that the Hawkesbury cornstalks were in regards to “size, strength and agility, the best in the colony.”

According to the The Australian 28 January 1831, p. 3 located on Trove  lists thirty-two cornstalks from the Hawkesbury district that all stood over 1.83m (6 feet) and up to 1.92m (6’3½”). Among the number was Jack Kable, the Hawkesbury born son of First Fleet convicts Henry & Susannah Kable. Jack was a champion boxer of his time, and stood 6’ 3½”

The Australian 28 January 1831, p. 3

Some of the names included are Gaudry, Dargin, Wiseman, Merrick, Howe, Dight, Rose, Turnbull, Stubbs, Cobcroft, Bailey and Farlow.

“It is remarkable that the Hawkesbury lads are for the most part, the leaders among the Australian youths. The following 'little boys,' as their mothers call them, would form a strong match at a trial of strength, if opposed to an equal number of lads from any other district.” 

The young men often stood six feet six inches high.The writer stated "We hope they nourish in their hearts that love of country, and that spirit of independence becoming their superior physical strength. Some hundred others may be enumerated.”