Neil’s personal decades 17: 1895 – Whitfields again

Just thought I’d share some items about the branch of the family that went to Braidwood, even of this is not quite personal as I don’t know them, though my father in his youth did.

This is an amazing story: 1898

article98674732-5-001

Richard Leonard Whitfield (1870-1946), the son of Jacob 2, one of the brothers who went from Picton to Braidwood; Richard John Whitfield (1840-1929) and his son Richard John (1881-1979). See also Neil’s personal decades: 11 – 1875 – to Araluen and Braidwood, Stray stories of family and Australiana — 1 and Stray stories of family and Australiana — 2:

From William and Caroline’s 14 children the family spread from a start in Surry Hills to Picton and Braidwood and on to places such as Shellharbour, Wollongong, Coolah, Wellington, Gunnedah and heaven knows where! I am still not absolutely sure whether Picton or Braidwood came first*, or whether they were overlapping.  I did meet a number of the Picton Whitfields but have never been to Braidwood! I did however hear tales about Braidwood, and Araluen, and other places between the South Coast of NSW and Monaro.

I was interested to find this on the Millpond Farm site.

Australia’s Millpond Farm is located at Jembaicumbene, 10kms south of the New South Wales Southern Tablelands village of Braidwood. The property has a rich colonial history, and over the past two centuries has produced prize winning wheat, sheep & cattle. Gold was discovered at Jembaicumbene in 1851 and a variety of important historic gold mining sites and 19th century buildings survive  within our spectacular natural wetland in the middle Jembaicumbene valley.

Braidwood tray sulky by William Wentworth 1892

Description:

Dated 1892 Town Sulky by William Whitfield, Braidwood
$2,500        SOLD
My personal town sulky for the past three years, this was recovered from the original owner’s farm and restored by us three years ago. It is a beautifully balanced full size long tray sulky with dated axles, and has had new axle stubs and boxes, new Amish hickory wheels with iron tyres, new shafts, all new wood in Kauri pine, all original iron with reset springs, brass fittings and leather upholstery. Painted dark green with black, white and red fine lining, it is fitted with lamp irons, wingboards, stitched leather apron and boot. Very correct with every nut and bolt replaced using square nuts and all the right clips and straps. Stamped WW on many iron parts for William Whitfield, a Braidwood blacksmith shop operating 1860s to 1940s.

Seems a few in the family were highly skilled in trades such as this.

*Clearly Picton came first.

Advertisements

Neil’s personal decades: 16 – 1880s and 90s – Whitfields again

No Friday poem today as I want to follow up yesterday’s post which, you may recall, detailed the sad fate of William Whitfield (1812-1897) and the impact of the Depression of the 1890s on his son William Joseph John Whitfield (1836-1925), whose son in turn (Thomas Daniel Sweeney Whitfield 1866-1948) was my grandfather at whose knee I have sat. Just think: when William was born Napoleon was off to Russia, and William Joseph John lived through World War 1.

I was really moved by the extra detail about William’s death in Rushcutter’s Bay. Afterwards I wondered what happened to his wife, Caroline Philadelphia West. I also wondered just when William had returned to the inner Sydney he had left in the1840s. The second I don’t know yet, but the first is a sad story again.

Whitfield-680-1

William Whitfield and his wife Caroline Philadelphia

Screenshot - 29_01_2015 , 8_39_24 PM

1881: leaving a husband and 13 children

The following year William sold up:

article13516136-4-011

Location, location, location:

Once occupied by the Gundungura and Tharawal Aborigines, the first Europeans to investigate the area around Picton were the party of ex-convict John Wilson who passed through in 1798. They had been sent by Governor Hunter to accumulate data about the southlands to discourage convicts who were escaping and heading south in the belief that China was only 150 miles away.There was already a very small European presence to the north around present-day Camden, consisting of stockmen sent to tend the cattle on the Cowpastures, although all other settlement of that area had been forbidden in order to ensure the development of the herd (see entry on Camden for further information on the Cowpastures).

By 1819 Governor Macquarie had authorised the construction of a road from Picton through to the Goulburn Plains. The first land grant in the area was ‘Stargard’, a gift to Christian Carl Ludwig Rumker, Governor Brisbane’s astronomer, in honour of his rediscovery of Encke’s Comet. Nearby Major Henry Antill established a 2000-acre property in 1822 which he first named ‘Wilton’, subsequently renaming it ‘Jarvisfield’ after Jane Jarvis, the wife of his friend, Governor Macquarie. The station stretched from Stonequarry Creek to Razorback. The family home still stands although now it is used as the clubhouse for the Antill Park Golf Club….

article100827944-4-011

1865

nsw10317054_3big

Stargard Estate today

Moving now to the son, William Joseph John: I was struck by the details of that sad auction announcement. It really must have been quite a big concern, that Blue Gum Mill. One of the items listed is a 14hp Rushton Proctor Portable Engine. Imagine that!

A004

Casting forward to 1903 I note this:

article14541997-5-001

That is one of my father’s younger aunts, the daughter of William Joseph John. They settled in Wellington NSW where in the late 60s and early 70s I stayed in their house with their daughter Dorothy. They were deceased by then. The house however had quite a few treasures, including a Whitfield family Bible that may have been old William’s. The groom’s father long lived in Appin NSW, part of the district including Picton – just the other side of the escarpment I see from my window. There is a famous tale about Appin: Massacre at Appin in 1816.

When Europeans took up land grants, they cleared and fenced the land, irrecoverably changing the patterns of hunting and gathering that had been followed by the Dharawal people for tens of thousands of years.
Some European settlers formed a close rapport with Aborigines. Charles Throsby of Glenfield was accompanied by Dharawal men when he explored the southern highlands area. Throsby was a persistent critic of European treatment of the Aborigines. Hamilton Hume who, in 1814 with his brother John, made the first of a number of long exploratory trips southwards, did so in company with a young Aboriginal friend named Doual.
Whereas the “mountain natives” (probably Gandangara) had a reputation of being hostile in defence of their people and their land, the Dharawal were peaceful and had no history of aggression. Unfortunately few settlers could distinguish between the two groups.
In 1814, Macquarie issued an order in the Sydney Gazette, admonishing settlers in the Appin and Cowpastures area. “Any person who may be found to have treated them [natives] with inhumanity or cruelty, will be punished?.” This followed an atrocity when an Aboriginal woman and her children were murdered at Appin.
Two years later, in the drought of 1816, the Gandangara came again from the mountains in search of food. Europeans were killed and about 40 farmers armed themselves with muskets and pitchforks….

That becomes a very sad story. It is commemorated annually theses days: Annual Appin Massacre Memorial Ceremony.

On 17 April 1816, there was a massacre of Dharawal people near Appin. For over a decade now, the Winga Myamly (sit down and talk – Wiradjuri language) Reconciliation Group, which works towards Reconciliation by raising awareness of issues and promoting a partnership to bring about change for Indigenous people, has organised this Memorial Ceremony held on the Sunday afternoon closest to 17 April….

Just a reminder of the background behind the stories I have been telling and the places concerned.

Neil’s personal decades: 15 – 1895 — Whitfields

It is worth exploring the 1890s in Australia. See for example the My Place site. One aspect:

Depression

Between 1890 and1893, a severe economic depression caused the closure and collapse of many banks. The Federal Bank of Australia ran out of money and closed. In April 1893 the Commercial Bank of Australia, one of Australia’s largest banks, suspended operations. Twelve other banks soon followed. Those who had put their savings into building societies, as well as those who had borrowed heavily to fund their own speculative investments, found themselves in desperate straits. Businessmen, pastoralist farmers and land speculators weren’t able to pay their overdrafts, and thousands of small and large investors were ruined.

Is that why we have this from 18 August 1894?

article13964590-4-005

Sure looks like his business is going down the tubes. According to Australian biographical and genealogical record series 1, 1788-1841, with series 2 supplement, 1842-1899 / series 1 edited by John T. Spurway, assistant editor Allison Allen; series 2 edited by Kenneth J. Cable and Jane C. Marchant his Bluegum Saw Mill in the early 1890s employed 34 men. WJJ “during the Great Depression of 1893 … supplied timber for the building of Catholic Schools and piles for the construction of Sydney wharves.” I wonder, oh irony, if Bluegum Lifestyle Resort is anywhere near old William Joseph John’s mill?

Set amongst the shade of scattered eucalyptus trees, Bluegum Lifestyle Resort offers the convenience of retirement living with a touch of affordable luxury.

The resort is located in the beautiful country town of Thirlmere, Wollondilly Shire, nestled in the foothills of the Southern Highlands. In Thirlmere you will find everything you need for enjoyable and convenient day-to-day living, with nearby Picton and Tahmoor providing access to all major facilities.

Now more sadness, I’m afraid.

view-from-darling-pt-across-rushcutters-bay-to-elizabeth-bay

View from Darling Point across Rushcutters Bay to the Elizabeth Bay mansions 1879

Hat tip Debbie Robson

Remember my great-great-grandfather William who arrived via the “Thames” in 1826, just 14? The sad story that follows I noted some time ago – see Family stories 3 — About the Whitfields: from convict days.

William

William Whitfield 1812-1897

William Joseph John’s father William (who lived in the 1830s in Elizabeth Street Strawberry Hills) ended sadly, it seems.

On 11 October 1897 in the waters of Port Jackson, Rushcutter’s Bay William Whitfield carpenter, took his own life and drowned aged 86 years. The informant for the death notice was E Whitfield his daughter of 42 Norton Street Leichhardt. William was buried on 13 October 1897 in the Church of England section, Rookwood cemetery – section CCC grave No. 2149 (no headstone) after being 71 years in the Colony.

Given his age, his wandering into Rushcutters Bay could have all sorts of reasons… Good heavens, he was 86 after all!

Now I find more detail.

article126247396-4-001

So sad. I know Yurong Street. It runs from behind the Museum and St Mary’s Cathedral up to Darlinghurst.

39611

See Struggle Streets of Old Sydney

On quite another note see some doings from Shellharbour in 1897 where my grandfather Thomas Daniel Sweeney Whitfield had now settled.

I have found a nice court case from 1897. Henrietta II  is “Betty” there but that is obviously wrong. It concerns the proprietor of the Steam Packet Hotel, Abraham Winsor, who was accused of shooting at James Dennis Condon with intent to murder. Henrietta was a witness.

I now think that is “Hetty” (corrrect) rather than “Betty”…

Neil’s personal decades: 14 – 1885 — Christisons

311635_10150904132272997_1112557246_n

Me being atavistic…

roychristison

My grandfather, Roy H Christison (1886-1962) — late 1880s

I am not sure whether the marriage of his father John Hampton Christison to Sophia Jane Lillie on 24 May 1880 killed the minister, but…

article13479698-4-001

Yes, people also called her Sophia Jean. And I actually remember her as she died in 1952.

And here is Brechin, where John H came from:

brechin

That photo actually came with the Christisons from Scotland around 135 years ago!  Nearby in Arbroath is this magnificent ruin:

1024px-Abbey_Aberbrothock_4

In 1772, the famous English diarist, Dr Samuel Johnson, passed through the town, and noted: “The Monastery of Aberbrothock is of great renown in the history of Scotland. Its ruins afford ample testimony of its ancient magnificence. I should scarcely have regretted my journey had it afforded nothing more than a sight of Aberbrothock.”source

When in 1885 John H Christison had a vineyard at Hinton where my grandfather Roy was born he called his property Aberbrothock.

article18883070-4-007

Quite the Romantic was John H, and a noted Professor of Scottish Dancing (and etiquette).

article133858341-4-001

January 1880

You can read more about this rather amazing but tricky character in my post My great-grandfather: “morally dubious to say the least.”  My cousin Ray Christison is mentioned quite a bit on that post; he has written a book about John H: Shapeshifter – the strange life of John Hampton Christison, Professor of Dancing. Here is an interesting snippet by Ray from the comment thread on my post:

Neil, I have been trawling through my old notes and have begun writing a full biography of John Hampton Christison (currently about 5,000 words and growing). I will publish it as a small book. You asked about John dancing before Queen Victoria. John listed his major dancing awards in the 1882 Manual of Dancing & Etiquette. He stated this: “at Edzell Castle, 1873 I took first prize, a Highland dirk, at Balmoral Castle in 1875, second against thirty, most of them professional men”. Queen Victoria may or may not have been present when John danced at Balmoral Castle. Given John’s penchant for self-promotion I find it bizarre that he would not have specifically mentioned this in a work as important as his Manual of Dancing & Etiquette. I have a very vague memory of Kathleen Christison telling me that he danced there before one of the other royals, however I can’t find any notes to corroborate this.

article18885296-4-010

Neil’s personal decades: 13 – 1885 – Whitfields, Bursills

According to the older version of the Whitfield family tree prepared by Bob Starling that I have on my computer, my grandfather Thomas Daniel Sweeney Whitfield (1866-1948) married Henrietta Bursill (1874-1931) on 9 November 1892. Now that makes sense when you realise Henrietta must have been 18. But there is this curious item I just found on Trove:

article103774624-4-001

That is from the Kiama Independent of 15 November 1882. I know for sure that Henrietta Bursill was born in 1874:

The chances of her being the “Ettie Bursill” in that 1882 story are thus very remote: 8 years old?  That Henrietta’s mother was also Henrietta, as I note in this 2013 post. Yet an obituary for Henrietta Senior dated 1921 – reproduced in that post – states that she was survived by two sons (including Charles) and ONE daughter “Elizabeth, Mrs. Whitfield.”  That of course should be “Henrietta”.  There is another obituary for Henrietta Senior in the Kiama Reporter and Illawarra Journal 6 July 1921.

On 28th June, 1921, at the residence of her daughter, Mrs. Thos. Whitfield,of Shellharbour, one of our best beloved and most highly esteemed residents passed quietly away to her rest in her 85th year. Mrs. Bursill was born at Bradfeld, England, in 1837, and at the age of18 years took passage for Australia by the sailing ship “Asiatic,” and after sailing 97 days, entered Sydney Heads, 24th May, 1855. When 21 years of age she married Thomas Bursill, and they came to Illawarra in search of a new home. They settled on a small farm near Shellharbour over 62 years ago. Mr. Bursill passed away many years ago, leaving his partner the care of five children, three sons and two daughters. The two elder sons, Mr.E. Bursill, builder, of Robertson, and Mr. Chas. Bursill, builder, of Shellharbour, and are both highly esteemed and respected residents of both districts, the third son, George, passed away, from heart failure.It is safe to say we have never had  a resident more universally beloved and esteemed than was Mrs. Bursill,always bright and cheerful, and ready to help, going about doing good. The district is better for the lives and examples of such as she, and very much poorer for their loss.The Rev. Gallop, of Jamberoo, con-ducted the funeral service, at Shellharbour cemetery on 29th June, and spoke of the good she had done and of her kind way of doing, of a long life of usefulness, then entering into rest.

You may have noticed that the “two daughters” left when Thomas B died could not have included my grandmother Henrietta Jr. Do the Maths and study that birth certificate extract carefully.

George Bursill, by the way, died in the middle of a cricket match at Dunmore near Shellharbour in 1913.

So I am just puzzled. My initial thought that the wedding I was reading about was my grandfather’s (with a typo of F for T in his initial) can’t be right then, but Thirlmere is certainly family territory. Who were “F. Whitfield” and “Ettie Bursill” of that 1882 wedding? I am not sure.

thirlmere

I read in the Sydney Evening News for 10 November 1899:

The marriage of Mr. W. Whitfield, of Thirlmere, to Miss Eliza Wilkinson, of Bargo, was solemnised on Tuesday evening, 31st ultimo, at the residence tit. the bride’s mother, the Rev. D. H. Dillon officiating. The bride was attended by her two sisters as bridesmaids,and was given away by her brother, Mr. Geo. Wilkinson. Mr. Geo. Whitfield, brother to the bridegroom, acted as best man. A large gathering of friends assembled to witness the ceremony. After the wedding breakfast was partaken of, dancing was kept up with vigor until morning. Mr. and Mrs. Whitfield were the recipients of many congratulations.

That is my dad’s Uncle Bill, and I remember him well and their house in Upper Picton. Cheese and tomato on Sao biscuits in a gorgeous old country kitchen.

Hunt-HP81.106.214

Cedar Creek, Thirlmere, New South Wales, 18 September 1887, Robert Hunt, Albumen print.

UPDATE 28 January:

Mystery solved: the true date at the top of that Kiama Independent story (“Wedding Bells”) is 15 November 1892!  So it is an account of my grandfather’s wedding!