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PIONEERS OF TULLAMARINE, VICTORIA, AUSTRALIA - THE MANSFIELDS.

Journal by itellya

No genealogy will be found in this journal. I could not add one detail to that provided by Neil Mansfield in his extraordinary "The David Mansfield Story". See Neil's website.
Much biological information is also provided in Alexander Sutherland's "Victoria and Its Metropolis: Past and Present", in the West Bourke section if my memory serves me correctly, but there is an index at the end. Many libraries will have this work. My intention is to give detail of the various Mansfield properties and tell some of the anecdotes supplied to me by the late Wally Mansfield which inspired poems such as "Death at Bertram's Ford", The Wisdom of Solomon", "The Studebaker" and "Ritchie's Foe."

Wally's anecdote about two Mansfield brothers taking a dispute about boundaries to court and the judge instructing them to shake hands, share a beer and be friends, the subject of the second poem, has been confirmed by a discovery I made today. Everyone would be aware of the judge's name: A'Beckett. The fact that he refused to consider an affidavit about the two brothers discussing the case with a juror indicates that he knew exactly what that discussion was about. The fine imposed, a trifling shilling, shows that the jury was well aware that the brothers had shaken hands, shared a beer and become friends. See column 4 of page 5 of The Argus of 20-11-1890 to find out the brothers' names.
As Joseph Dubois has just returned my material, I can reproduce the poem inspired by this court case.
THE WISDOM OF SOLOMON.
The Mansfields' dividing fence
Provoked ill-feeling quite immmense .

John and David took the case to court;
A legal solution the two men sought.
With unclear surveys the judge couldn't decide,
So he called the wrangling brothers aside.

"The law can give no answer I fear,
So go, shake hands and share a beer!"
This stern advice removed their hates,
And from that day on, they were the best of mates.



The Studebaker is about the bachelor McNab brothers buying a car, and with a hint of "Mulga Bill's Bicycle", Wally Mansfield learning to drive the beast, which had the gear lever on the right hand running board. They were driven to Ascot Vale each day of the show but as soon as it concluded, Wally would put it up on blocks and cover it. The brothers would pick up a churn from Hogan's dairy at Queen St (Melway 28 E1) on horseback rather than use the horseless carriage! "Ritchie's Foe" is on Neil's website. The Studebaker poem will be included in the McNAB and GRANT journal.

Mansfields Rd at Melway 4 E3 bisected the Mansfield property; land on both sides of the road had been bought by John Pascoe Fawkner on behalf of his Co-operative and divided into 80 blocks, most of which passed into the ownership of the Mansfield family. Some of the early purchasers of interest were Donald Gray, William Trotman, William Spiers, D.Hill and of course, Samuel, John and Isaac Mansfield. (All of these details come from my 1999 Melway on which I transposed the subdivision lots.)

William Trotman's family became prominent Greenvale pioneers, Peter Spiers, by 1900, had (100 acres?) further east(5 C7), later occupied by Vaughan, and from 1927 by Bill Ellis until it was acquired for the airport.J.Spiers may have had this property in 1868. but I cannot be certain. Charles Nash was another purchaser. His lots 32 and 31 were, in 1999, the Broadacres Kennels and Cattery. Olive Nash, the widow of Harry Nash, told me that they used this paddock to spell their dry cows.

Somehow, I manage to delete the details about the blocks bought by Donald Gray and the other purchasers of interest named above, so here goes again. There were big blocks stretching from Mansfields Rd to Bassett Rd. I had earlier stated that these blocks were of 15 acres but I now believe that they were 20 acres; Charles Nash had two smaller blocks and he definitely had 20 acres in all Bulla Rate records transcribed.

repeat information gray's hill etc

I must mention two notes that I have made on map 3 of my 1999 Melway, obviously during one of the lengthy discussions st Keith McNab's kitchen table.

The first concerns a half sized block fronting McNabs Rd between Bassett Rd and the bottom of Melway 4G5, lot 63 bought by John Mansfield. A small square in the north west corner of this block is etched and nearby, in the nearest blank space, I have written, "The Pines, fire 1912, well." Soon after, John had leased 205 acres to Alf Wright (Bulla rates 1914-15) and moved onto Grandview (Broadmeadows rates-1920?)which was part of Edmund Dunn's old Viewpoint, so the etched square probably does represent a homestead on "The Pines". I CANNOT FIND A REFERENCE TO THE FIRE IN TROVE BUT I THINK I CAN REMEMBER AN ENTRY IN SAM MERRIFIELD'S "ANNALS OF ESSENDON".

The second bit of scribble is Farnes' Corner at the corner of McNabs Rd and Mansfields Rd. Charles Farnes was a Bulla ratepayer and I believe that he would have had the property, adjoining Gowrie Park, later occupied by J.D.McFarlane, Keilor and Arundel Closer Settlement pioneer and councillor (to whom the gates at the Keilor sports ground were dedicated), and Butler, from whom it was purchased for the airport if I remember the map correctly.

As detailed in Neil's book, David inherited Isaac's property. His house "Roseleigh" still stands on the south side of Mansfields Rd.During the late 1880's a railway to Bulla was proposed. The two suggested routes were along the east bank of the Maribyrnong River and along Bulla Rd. The Essendon Tramway and Land Investment Company bought much land along the first route and G.W.Taylor, a Prahran councillor,Tommy Bent and Marks Herman bought much land along Bulla Rd. By bought, I mean they paid a deposit and made progress payments. By 1892, these speculators would have handed over a considerable amount of money. Of course they had borrowed to make these payments. Then the boom burst. Banks closed. The Government was broke and a decade or more of cost-cutting measures started; as late as 1905 there were moves to close the Rye school and make its pupils walk to Rosebud. In such a climate, Tommy Bent's grand plans to extend the railway network were shelved; luckily for his mate Henry Gomm, the Somerville Station (inexplicably located right next to his "Glenhoya") was already operating.

Strangely the railway plans were revived after the Great War. Tullamarine and Keilor squabbled about
the route to Bulla and the 1919-20 Flinders Shire rates show that there was a Railway Estate at Dromana. And once again the plans were halted by a depression, that of the 1930's.This is the sort of thing that Michael Cannon's "Boom and Bust" is about. I think he discusses G.W.Taylor at some length.

However, back to the 1890's. Naturally, the speculators could not complete their payments so the farmers pocketed the money that had been paid as well as regaining their properties. David Mansfield and the Crottys of
"Broomfield used their windfalls to build new houses, the former almost on the course of the western end of the runway, and the Crottys on the Honda site in Sharps Rd, Tullamarine. David called his new house Glen Alice.After David's death, one son was given Roseleigh and the other Glenalice. The boundary between them was a little north of Mansfields Rd.

The Mansfields were related by marriage to a great number of pioneering families in Bulla, Tullamarine and Greenvale. David Mansfield's wife was a member of the Faithfull family, pioneers of Tullamarine Island. They will be discussed in my journal about TULLAMARINE ISLAND.Just to give you some idea of the connections, I will list some of the names mentioned in Neil's book: JOHNSON, MUSGROVE, WRIGHT, BETHELL, FAITHFULL, PARR, McRAE, TENNIEL, MILLAR and TROTMAN. The Johnsons, Greenvale pioneers, were associated with Glendewar, Cumberland (photo of the beautiful homestead in the book)and Spring Park in Keilor Rd. According to Bob Blackwell, James Musgrove was a famed implements manufacturer who was also a pioneer of photography and set up his own telephone; he insisted on being called James, not Jim. The Wrights, Parrs and Nash families were stalwarts of the Methodist Church. Willam Bethell ran the bluestone store at Bulla and his brother was a storekeeper at Broadmeadows (Westmeadows.) Farquhar McRae, in charge of the hunters at Glenara, organised the first event of the Oaklands Hunt Club in 1888. The Millars took over John McKerchar's Greenvale" and renamed it "The Elms". Family members also moved to Tullamarine in the early 1900's, occupying the Junction Hotel (711 site in 2011) and Maggie Millar married Ray Loft, son of Tom who also came from Greenvale. When Ray subdivided "Broombank" in 1952, he called its drive from Bulla Rd Millar Rd. Maggie came to the 1989 Back to Tullamarine, organised by myself and Winnie Lewis (nee Parr). James Tenniel ran the Beech Tree Hotel. See the "Hotels near Tullamarine" journal.
The Mansfields shared two things at least with the great man, and their neighbour, Alister Clark. Firstly the Box Forest on the airport. Secondly Armistace Day. On that happy day, Wally Mansfield and a couple of other youngsters walked around Tullamarine banging pots and pans to announce the glad tidings. When they reached "Glenara", Alister, regarded almost as Royalty by most Tullamarine residents (such as Lily Green who said that the highlight of her time at the former Junction Hotel was serving Alister at the pump and shop) , invited the boys into the ballroom for lemonade and biscuits.

Being open woodland, reasonably flat,largely devoid of the rocks that made the parish of Maribyrnong unsuitable for agriculture (William Taylor, James Robertson of Upper Keilor and Big Clarke who owned much of it, were graziers) and with just the right rainfall, Tullamarine was ideal for production of yesteryear's petrol, hay.
Wheat had been tried in the 1850's and a flour mill was even built on "Lochton" (Melway 176 C4) in 1856 by Bain, but wheat growing was not successful. Hay growing was not the only farming activity by any means. On "Arundel", Edward Wilson had his model farm and later Robert McDougall was a foremost Shorthorn breeder, the Grants and McNabs were the original Ayrshire breeders, with Tasmania's herds stocked from their studs and later, to a lesser extent, those of Buchanan from Berwick. The Mansfields and John Cock bred Clydesdales (yesteryear's tractors!)The Crottys were dairy farmers for almost 100 years. Some portions of farms were of course used for grazing, supplying milk, cheese, cream, fruit and vegetables for the table and so on but the chief source of income was hay. During Michael Reddan's three year stint on James Sharp's "Hillside" (later Joe Thomas's Carinya Park and the home of the Tullamarine Pony Club), the sheaves of hay were so thick on the ground that it was almost impossible to walk between them.

By the end of the 1930's, the common people were able to own cars and the market for hay virtually disappeared. Pig farming became more common. Harry Heaps'parents had started this trend in 1923 on Sunnyside, Wallis Wright's old property on the west side of Wright St near the Moonee Ponds Creek and, from 1927, Bill Ellis engaged in porky production on "Ecclesfield" on the south west corner of Bulla Rd and Grants Lane (part of which has been renamed Melrose Drive.) By the end of the war, they had been joined by other pig farmers such as Lacey (west of Harry Nash's Bayview) and the Paynes on "Scone" (with a long o as in the sacred coronation site in Scotland)which now houses the Melbourne Airport terminal buildings.

Thus it was that the Mansfields left Tullamarine in the 1940's.
I was told of the incident in the following poem by Wally Mansfield, but also, and quite independently, by Gordon Connor and Colin Williams, the latter present at S.S.2613 on the Conders Lane (Link Rd) corner the next morning when Miss Rowe informed him and the other pupils about the tragedy.
DEATH AT BERTRAM'S FORD.
They were leading a horse that they'd sold to McRae
Who lived near St Albans, over Keilor way;
Will Mansfield was driving, his son sitting near;
Stephen Hill,leading the horse, sat in the rear.

Will Mansfield and Stephen were mates at the school,
Spent their free time together as a general rule,
So Will's dad let him come on the trip o'er the river;
But his wife wasn't happy and spoke with a quiver.

With a look at the sky and the storm clouds that loomed
She pleaded, "Bill, don't go now or you'll all be doomed!"
But he reassured her as they clambered on board,
"I've been through deeper water than you get at Bertram's Ford."

Halfway there the sun vanished- came a curious silence-
Then the sky opened up with murderous violence;
The clouds, basalt black,turned day into night
As the three reached Arundel and turned to the right.

"Young Hilly, don't wind that rein round your arm;"
His friend's father said, "'twill bring you to harm!"
Then they ceased their descent, to the right they curved;
The roar of river the horses un-nerved.

But Bill urged them on and into the current;
Soon a horse lost its footing, so swift was the torrent
And the jinker was swept like a leaf in a gale;
Mansfield grabbed for his son who had started to wail.

By lightning above, the ghoulish scene shown,
The three from the overturned jinker were thrown.
Sounds of whinnies and screaming and, "Where are you son?"
And the Grim Reaper's harvest had already begun.

While the Mansfield lad to the murky depths sank
The towed horse's reins reins dragged his mate to the bank.
The father, now desperate, with a weakening yelp
Gasped, "Stevie, please Stevie, go and get help!"

At first, due to shock, comprehension he lacked
But his friend's father's plea soon made him react;
He mounted and thundered away up the slope,
And Bill dived again; he'd ne'er give up hope.

With the last of his strength, Mansfield surfaced again:
That would have been it- for lesser men.
But for Bill Mansfield, that would not suffice;
His son was worth any sacrifice.

By the time that help came it was far too late;
The son and the father had shared the same fate.
Miss Rowe and her pupils on the morrow
Would share the grieving widow's sorrow.

Note: the father's name was given to me by two informants as John, and while he may have been known by his second name, I have substituted Bill to conform with the name used in newspaper reports of the inquest. The brother's names have also been changed in "The Wisdom of Solomon" for the same reason. My apologies to the writers of "The Night Before Christmas" and "The Ballad of The Drover" for the leaf in a gale and never give up references.


THE MANY MANSFIELD PROPERTIES.----TO BE CONTINUED.

by itellya Profile | Research | Contact | Subscribe | Block this user
on 2011-12-03 07:19:36

Itellya is researching local history on the Mornington Peninsula and is willing to help family historians with information about the area between Somerville and Blairgowrie. He has extensive information about Henry Gomm of Somerville, Joseph Porta (Victoria's first bellows manufacturer) and Captain Adams of Rosebud.

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