Women of the district

The topic for the one place study this month is looking at women in your study. So I sent out a post on Sorell Historical Society Facebook page asking for women you think I should write about and why. One person replied and I have her permission to copy direct from her:

Elizabeth ALLANBY nee CUMMING arrived in VDL with her husband and two day old daughter on 2 July 1824. Shortly after arrival the family purchased land on the Iron Creek at Pittwater and named it Flimby Park, after the town John ALLANBY grew up in. John and Elizabeth had 10 more children before John passed away in 1847.

John’s will gave Elizabeth the choice to sell everything and return to England or to remain in Tasmania. She decided to stay and raised the children on her own. The youngest was only 4 when John died.

Elizabeth completed a claim for the land grant that had been given to John, she ran both the Flimby Park farm and the Clifton Hill farm, the land grant, at Bream Creek and ensured all the children were well educated.

While Elizabeth did not make a mark directly on the world, her children did make an impact, a solicitor, bank manager, Arch Deacon of the Church of England, several JPs. All the ALLANBYs I know of in Tasmania can trace their line back to this strong caring woman.

Karlena Nagle – Elizabeth was my 2xgreat grandmother.

Here are a few links to things mentioned by Karlena – arrival in 1824, birth of daughter at sea, John’s will, John’s death, land grant gained in 1858

At the time of her husband’s death, Elizabeth was about 45 years old. She had given birth to the following children I could find using the Tasmanian Names Index:
1824 – Jane Georgina – born at sea on voyage to Van Diemens Land
1826 – John Walker – died at 5 days old
1827 – Mary Anne – died aged 4 months
1828 – John Walker
1830 – Thomas Walker
1834 – William Smeeton
1836 – Christopher Gibson
1838 – Alfred Wilkins
1839 – Barbara Elizabeth
1843 – Llewellyn Robert

At the 1842 census, the family were living at Clifton Hill property. The building was unfinished but built of both wood and stone. There were seventeen people on the property of which thirteen were free. One visitor was there that night Mr F Spotswood. Of the people there that night: 6 single males born in the colony, one single female born in the colony, 1 married male arrived free, 1 married and 1 single female arrived free as well as some convicts and servants. So according to the census, in my list above I am missing the birth of another male child prior to 1842.

The eldest daughter Jane married George Spotswood in 1846 so was not living at home when her father died in 1847.

So I then decided to check out how Elizabeth was represented in the newspapers of the day.
Looks like the local thieves or bushrangers decided to enter her house shortly after her husband had died.

In May 1855, she was seen donating one pound and one shilling to the Patriotic Fund.

In April 1864, Elizabeth was present with one of her sons, at the laying of the cornerstone of St Thomas’s Church in Sorell.

There was a lot of discussion in 1868 about a bridge or causeway to be built across the Iron Creek relating to part of Elizabeth’s property.

Also in 1868, Elizabeth closed the dairy at her farm.

In November 1868, Elizabeth and many of her children and their spouses attended a tea meeting regarding Reverend Brammall now becoming the incumbent at St Georges Church in Sorell. There was a very large writeup in the local paper.

Elizabeth and her daughter Barbara (Mrs Marshall) were often noted in the papers as travelling to and from Melbourne.

She was often in the advertising section whenever land grants were mentioned as she owned a lot of property that would border other land grants being settled.

At the time of her death in 1878, Elizabeth had at least 6 of her children married, and at least 33 grandchildren mainly living in Sorell. Her son William had married and moved to Launceston and her son Alfred had moved to New Zealand but had died five years before Elizabeth. Her son Thomas had also pre-deceased her in 1872. In her will she left her goods and chattels to both of her youngest children Barbara and Llewellyn. The properties had already been handed over to her sons.

Elizabeth was buried with her husband John William Allanby in the Henry Street Cemetery in Sorell.

 

Judy Hurst (3xg granddaughter of Elizabeth) on the Sorell Historical Society Facebook page  mentioned there was also quite a bit about Flimby Park and the Allanbys in “Home and a Range” by Leonard Dimmick which covered the Hean family who were related by marriage to the Allanbys. ISBN 0646338099  Dewey Number 929.209946

Readers: Have you any more stories about Elizabeth Allanby that you could share in the comments below?

Fire in the district

Here in Tasmania, our worst disaster is caused by bushfires or fires that have got out of control. When we have a wet winter and spring, then a dry summer and the lush grasses and undergrowth start dying and going brown, then we know we could be in for a terrible fire season. Much of our land is protected forest or used as farmland with crops and animals. Our forests are predominantly Eucalyptus species which catch alight quickly and the burning leaves and bark leap ahead of the main fire front especially if backed by heavy winds. This will cause lots of spot fires which then develop into larger fires.

pinterastudio / Pixabay

When I was 11 years old, I lived in Glenorchy on the western shore of Hobart and saw the effects of the 7 February 1967 bushfires on the slopes of Mt Wellington. In total, 64 people lost their lives, 900 were injured and about 7000 left homeless across the state. About 1400 homes were destroyed and a further 128 buildings included schools, halls, churches. There were 110 fire fronts burning over 652,000 acres of land within a five hour period. The local paper The Mercury put together a 50th anniversary booklet including memories from the south east of Tasmania. Just today I was shown a link to a Facebook post celebrating the 54th anniversary of the Black Tuesday bushfires. These fires also affected the municipality of Sorell. Read about some memories further down this post.

Another disastrous fire season was in January 2013 when the township of Dunalley in the southern section of the municipality was virtually burnt to the ground. There were 40 fires burning across the state and more than 49000 acres of bushland were burnt out. Dunalley had 65 buildings lost to the fire including the police station, primary school and bakery. People from the Tasman and Forestier Peninsulas had to evacuate as the fire was bearing down on them from the north.

History of bush fires in the district

Researching this topic, I found as early as 1804 (the year after Van Diemens Land was first settled) the Lieutenant Governor was warning people about burning the stubble on their land.

In 1841, one fire was thought to be started by a convict road party but when requested verbally to help fight the fire, the overseer refused as it was not a requisition in writing.

By 1844 many settlers were taking out fire insurance for their houses and property.

In March 1850, a fire in the district affected property owned by the following families: Kearney, Blyth, Glover and Zelly.

January 1854 another conflagration was mentioned in the local paper. Some of the surnames mentioned were: Morrison, Phipps, Wicks, Wright, White, Burslem, Bellett, Grimes and Blyth.

In March 1856, a fire at Carlton mentioned the extra undergrowth that caused the bushfire to burn quickly onto the local property.

 

Some people lost their lives while helping to fight fires. Mentioned in March 1886 is that of Mr B Reardon, an old resident of Forcett, who while fixing a fence, must have been overcome with smoke and heat, fainted and the fire then went over the body.

In February 1914, there must have been many fires in southern Tasmania, including around Kellevie and Carlton River. Many buildings destroyed and this was the second bushfire that season.

Council meetings such as this one in 1925, often mentioned the role council had in keeping drains, culverts and blocks of land clear in case of bushfires. Another meeting in 1930, discussed the availability of fire plugs in the town of Sorell. Councillor McDermott made an objection and a few comments from other members came straight to the point.

With the temperature reaching 98 degrees in Sorell in March 1940, some buildings on properties were again affected by bush fires.

 

By 1952, Sorell had its own fire brigade and only one day after being approved by the Rural Fires Board, it was out protecting property from a large fire in the Forcett area.

Memories about Black Tuesday around the Sorell district from members of the Sorell Historical Society

RN: people say the old man (Trakka Newitt) saved Sorell…he back burnt the racecourse before the fire front hit….well before back burning was in vogue…..he learned it from his time on Bathurst Island with an Aboriginal tribe….now that’s a story in itself…… I remember a lot about the ’67 fires……..

LR: my mum told me the circus was in town and the kids from the school were ushered down to the causeway to stand in the water with the circus animals

RN: I remember they took us out of school, we were put onto buses in Forcett street and taken down to the causeway…we got off the bus and sat on the rocks….it was like a movie scene right in front of us…..the smell of burning sheep I remember

LD: The smell is what lingers in my memory too and the mounds in the paddocks that lingered for years

  • LD: My dad was one of the Sorell residents that perished in the 67 fires . Fred Weil aged 39, he would have been 93 this month.
  • GB: Yes, Fred and Geoff Davis(father of Neil Davis) both perished together fighting the fires out Shark Point Road, Penna.
  • LD: I remember being told that dad and Geoff were found together dad facing the flames and Geoff facing away. Apparently dad went back to get Geoff after he had collapsed.
  • LL: Think you will find that Geoff Davis and Manfred Weil died fighting the fires on my father’s property at Penna which was called Preston

LR: My mum was in Hobart and on the bus on the way back, they were stopped at Mount Rumney and told that Sorell and Midway Point was gone. I was 2 months old, my sister was one and learnt to walk that day

KC: I remember the 67 fires like it was yesterday. From being down at Park Beach swimming and getting home at lunch time. After going to the causeway because it was so hot, my friend and I noticed ash falling from the sky, we decided to go to our homes. When I got to the Blue Bell Inn (which was our home, my father was Allan Newitt) I went up stairs to the kitchen and Dad had been eating lunch. You can see Reynolds Hill from the window and dad had seen the fire coming from that direction. So he and Len Tapp who was staying with us went down and lit the race course because the fire would have jumped Arthur St and the whole of Sorell would have gone. I went up to the primary school and found Dad, he could hardly see out of his eyes for the smoke. The fire had come up behind the primary school. Dad asked me to drive him and the local police man back near where the sale yards used to be. We went down Pelham St to the Arthur Highway. I was scared because I didn’t have a licence but when I said this to the policeman he just said that I had done a good job girlie. Then Dad wanted to go to Penna and when we got there, there was all these poor sheep all charred and burnt. There were some local lads hanging about so Dad got them to help him to put the sheep down. The only thing that Dad found was an old railway spike to use to put them down with. It was an awful sight but Dad did the only thing he could to put them out of their misery. That’s what I remember about the 67 fires.

Readers: What has been your memory of bushfires or a disaster in your area of the world?

Oldest headstones

After reading my post summarising the information about cemeteries in the district, Melinda who is a member of the Sorell Historical Society, asked if she could use the post in the Pitt Water Chronicles Book 3 which is being organized at the moment. Of course I said yes but said I would try to get some photos to go with the post.

So on Sunday I headed out to take photos of the headstones and learn a bit more about the person buried there.

Carlton River Congregational has very few headstones still visible. But checking on the Libraries Tasmania Family History Portal, then going to the Tasmanian Names Index I looked for the death of Henry Morriss in 1838. From research I know the first public service of worship at the church was in 1841 so maybe this burial was somewhere else. But the minister James Norman specifically mentions the corpse being the first to be interred at the Carlton burial ground. Click on the images or blue links to see original digitized records.

Henry and his older brother Robert were orphaned when he turned 14. Their father had been a constable at the Carlton but hanged himself.  Henry was not at school at age 14 but his brother could read and write. The boys were Protestants.

Copping General Cemetery has a lot of headstones still in good condition. Sarah Copping was the widow of a mariner and lived a very healthy 98 years before her death in 1884. The cause of death was old age and debility. The informant was C Brammall the incumbent of Sorell. A short biography of her life is mentioned in the newspaper of the day.

Dunalley General Cemetery has two old headstones from 1870. Just inside the cemetery gate, John Clark is mentioned on a huge grave along with many other members of the family while Emma Lester is in a child’s grave at the furthest corner of the cemetery.

John Clark was a farmer who died aged 70. The reason given on the death certificate was disease of the heart accelerated by excessive drinking. Some words in brackets underneath that but I could not read them. From my research I found that John had purchased the land where the Denison Canal is now and John and his son-in-law George Scrimger eventually built a small pub where the Dunalley Hotel is now.

Emma Lester at age 6, died of cachexia which is the weakness and wasting of the body often due to chronic illness. It can also be caused through lack of food. She was the only daughter of William Lester of Fulham, East Bay Neck.

Forcett-Lewisham cemetery has many headstones, the oldest of which is Charlotte Jones. She was the wife of James Jones, a licensed victualler, and she died of erysipelas which is a swelling of the limbs. Charlotte was only 42 years old when this happened. She had given birth to at least seven daughters. Some members of the family must have moved to New Zealand as this was mentioned in the death notice in the paper.

Marion Bay at Bream Creek has two headstones for 1852. They are about three headstones apart.

Ann Dunbabin’s death was not found in the Tasmanian Names Index until I searched with just the surname and there she was as Nancy Dunbabin. She was 33 years old, the wife of a farmer and the informant was Charles Kingston from Bream Creek.  There was no mention of her death on Trove newspapers. But searching for the Dunbabin family at Bream Creek, I find she was the wife of John Dunbabin; they had both been convicts and married in 1839. She was Ann Eccles and the couple had six children.

Louisa Ann Kingston died 7 April 1853 according to the death certificate on Tasmanian Names Index. The informant was Rev James Norman. Louisa was only 12 months old and the daughter of a farmer. She died of dysentery. Yet when we look at the headstone, it says she was 2 years old and died September 1852. There was a female child born to Charles and Elizabeth Kingston on 27 January 1851 – is this Louisa Ann mentioned on the headstone?

Henry Street, Sorell is the oldest cemetery in the district and many of the original settlers are buried here. The oldest is that of Charlotte McGinniss who died in 1828, of an unknown cause. She was the wife of Hugh McGinniss senior who donated the land for the Carlton Congregational Chapel in 1838.  From research of other family trees, it is noted that Charlotte was born Hall, married George Simpson, was then transported to Norfolk Island as a convict. While on the island had a relationship with William Dodge and had three children by him.  She then had a relationship with Hugh McGinniss. Hugh and his partner, with six children, arrived in Hobart Town aboard the ship Estramina from Norfolk Island in June 1808. Their daughter Elizabeth was born a month later. In 1810 Hugh and Charlotte Hall were married by Reverend Knopwood.

Scots Uniting, Sorell has the headstone of Hugh Taylor Denholm who died in 1847. Born in 1845, he was the 5th child of Alexander Denholm the Younger and Clementina Elizabeth Taylor who married in 1836. Hugh died of convulsions but I have not seen his death certificate in the Tasmanian Names Index. This information was found online on page 86 of a book written by Bernard Denholm.

St Thomas, Sorell is the burial place of Thomas Wright in 1865. I could find nothing about this family other than the death notice of his daughter Margaret in 1929. This might be because they were Catholic and those records are not openly available online. His wife was Julia Kennar Wright and she is also mentioned on her daughter’s death notice. There is mention though of a Julia Kennar having 21 acres of land at Bagot, Buckinghamshire in Tasmania in 1872. Is this the same Julia and where is Bagot located?

St Georges, Sorell has the burial of two Walker sisters in 1829, Susannah and Elizabeth. Susannah buried on 1st February aged 20 months, then less than three weeks later Elizabeth buried on 19 February aged 22 days. How the parents John and Nancy Walker (nee Ann Wiggins) must have suffered over those three short weeks with the deaths of their first two daughters.

Readers: Do you have any more information about these people buried in the district of Sorell? Please leave information in the comments area of this post.

 

 

Cemeteries in the district

The Tasmanian Family History Society Inc. has transcribed and photographed headstones of 800+ cemeteries in Tasmania and much of this information can be found in TAMIOT. Here is a list of the CDROMs available for purchase – I use mine on my desktop using Windows 10 without any problems.

Hobart Branch put together the series of three CDROMs of all the cemeteries in the Sorell District in 2004. The information on the CDROMs is not necessarily found on the internet. For each cemetery, they include a description, plan of the graves as well as names on the graves. Most also have images of the gravestones with a transcription and plot number. Many of these cemeteries have had further burials since 2004 when the CDROMs were created.

The One-Place Studies group often do statistical posts so I thought I might do one today about the local cemeteries with information gained from the CDROMs.

Name of Cemetery No. of graves Earliest grave Most common surnames
Carlton River Congregational 20 1838 Henry Morriss Dodge, Steele, Thorne
Copping General 359 1884 Sarah Copping Allanby, Alomes, Brown, Burdon, Copping, Dransfield, Franklin, Gillie, Jacobson, Kingston, Richardson, Swan, White, Woolley
Dunalley General 264

1870 John Clark

1870 Emma Lester

Bird, Button, Fazackerley, Hildyard, Hyatt, Murphy, Rattenbury, Spaulding, Wiggins
Forcett – Lewisham 199 1876 Charlotte Jones Alomes, Clark, Dodge, Gangell, Long, Reardon, Rollings, Young
Marion Bay at Bream Creek 55 1852 Ann Dunbabin  1852 Louisa Ann Kingston Dunbabin, Kingston
Henry Street, Sorell 446 ** 1828 Charlotte McGinniss Allanby, Bellette, Duncombe, Featherstone, Gatehouse, Hayton, Newitt
Scots Uniting, Sorell 89 ** 1847 Hugh Taylor Denholm Denholm, Hean
St Thomas, Sorell 124 ** 1865 Thomas Wright Bresnehan, Butterworth, French, Montgomery, Wells
St Georges, Sorell 718**  ## 1829 Elizabeth and Susannah Walker – sisters Bellette, Bidgood, Braithwaite, Davis, Featherstone, Jones, Kean, Newitt, Peacock, Phillips, Reardon, Schofield, Walker, Wiggins

** Some women mentioned twice with both maiden and married name.

## Also includes memorials

Many of the cemeteries also had plots with unknown names and dates due to deterioration of headstones.

Readers: Do you know of a relative buried in one of these cemeteries earlier than that mentioned on the CDROMs?

Sorell Saleyards

The Sorell Saleyards were first opened in 1876. Brohde’s great Grandparents Faye and Jabez Little with their four children who lived in Forcett attended the Sales for three decades and also in the Seventies with their grandson Jerry (my dad.) They spent many happy times at the Sorell Saleyards.

Everyone that attended the Sales (every second Monday) found it a time to catch up with family and friends. The day the Sales closed for good was in 1984 and everything was dismantled. The Sorell Sales were right in the centre of Sorell, and the purpose of the Sales was like a Market. At the Saleyards they sold things such as cattle, sheep, pigs, chickens, and vegetables.

The Auctioneer in the fifties, sixties and seventies and up to 1982 when the Sales were finally closed down was David Stringer. He was also accompanied by auctioneers John Denholm and Geoff Brown. Lots of people went to the Sales. About 300!

The Sales would get their animals transported in a cart. The Saleyards were set out in pens, there was a big shed for poultry sales and stock yards for cattle and sheep, there was also another big shed to keep vegetables in. Farmers used to bring their vegetables that they had grown and they sold the fresh produce to all residents of the local municipality and beyond. It was also very good for the local business people, the hotels would do a roaring trade and the local takeaway shops and bakeries also benefited. The Sales ran for about 50 years but now, there are know remains of the Sorell Saleyards. But then they wanted bigger and better that’s why they wanted to build Woolworths.

Tasmanian Archives, Libraries Tasmania, Arch Rollings Collection, NS1553-1-106

In our days these would be the costings of their products:

Sheep:25 pence
Pigs:80 pence
Cattle:20 cents
Chickens:5 cents
Vegetables:1 cent

Over time, many country saleyards have gone by the wayside, but many of the memories attached to them live on.

Dal Hyland was born at Sorell, but lived at Cambridge, and spent many happy times as a child at the Sorell saleyards in the late 1940’s. The saleyard was smack bang in the heart of Sorell, the post and rail fences are long gone and the site asphalted over, for a supermarket car park.

Dal Hyland can remember regular extended family gatherings on sale days with his grandparents, retired farmers who had moved to Sorell.

“The saleyards were all set out in pens, all post and rail fences; there was a big shed for poultry sales. Another shed for veggie sales and different farmers would bring in their vegetables for sale, market gardeners. I remember Mr Bresnehan from out the back of Forcett driving in with his vegetables with his horse and buggy.”

“There was a gentlemen from Bellerive that had a corner shop, he used to go down every sale day, he would stand up on a platform and he would cut the potatoes or the turnips in half and hold them up, so people could see what they were bidding for, the quality of them.”

Dal says the day was more than just a day to buy and sell; it was also a day to catch up on news and renew friendships.

“It was very good for the local business people; farmers wives would come in and buy their groceries, the hotels would do a roaring trade. I had a wag of a cousin he used to call it handshake day.”

Sources
We interviewed a couple of people: Mary Thornberry and my nan Zelda

Members of the Paynter and Green family gave us most of our information.

Sorell Council

Sorell was the eighth municipality created in Tasmania.

Sorell was lucky to have some important men with great ideas and good visions for the future. They believed they could do something with the place and had a pretty good view of it all and what it would be like. Some of these men were Mr. Alec Hean, Mr. William Dunbabin, Col. A. C. Blacklow and the president Warden, Mr. E. C. Iles.

The first council was elected on 30th June 1862 and they had their first meeting on the 1st of July 1862.
The first councillors were Messrs. John Dunbabin, Robert Blyth, Francis Allison, Edward Moore, Robert Doctor and Charles Hazell. Dr.Robert Blyth was elected warden and Mr.R.Fitzsimmins was the first council clerk. They were paid a salary of $150 a year.

Blue Bell Inn

In 1863 the Blue Bell opened up for the first time. The very first owner was Mr. William Gard.

It is a very popular place for tourists. It also has 5 bedrooms, 3 dining rooms and 1 ballroom.  The ballroom upstairs has now been changed it into a dining room.

The Blue Bell Inn restaurant has been open since the mid 1980s.

They have 2 cellars downstairs to store food and wine.

Please check comments for more up to date information.