janilye on Family Tree Circles
Journals and Posts
After the death of George Eather 1834-1912, his widow Dorothy (Dora),nee KINSELA 1839-1915 recalled her experience during the Hawkesbury flood of June 1867 in which 12 members of the EATHER family lost their lives:
" The waters crept up until only three rows of shingles were out. Then, the roof collapsed and twelve were drowned. It was a new slab house, just built at the time and when the waters began to rise they regarded it as the safest shelter. The water overflowed the flats and they were cut off. George CUPITT was taking some men away in a boat when one said to Mrs. EATHER, " You had better go up in the boat to your sister's and take the four children with you." At first she refused, saying she would have to bake some bread and get everything in the loft before morning. However, they prevailed upon her to go, her husband staying. When they were getting into the boat, Tom and Bill Eather came over with their families to take refuge in the new house. Mrs. Bill EATHER said. "You won't forget us if the water's come over the ridge?" she was asked to get into the boat too, but she refused. They pulled away at 4 in the afternoon.
That night the river rose fast. In the morning Mrs. SMITH and Mrs ? EATHER came from Clarendon into Richmond and tried in vain to get a boat sent over. At night they went back to Clarendon. About 1 o'clock they saw a signal light away over the water, in the direction of the house. It was the family still on the roof. They put rags and papers on the end of a fishing rod. Lit them and returned the signal.
They rushed down to a man with a boat and told him. A dozen men were standing around and none offered to go. It was dark and raining. Mr. DIGHT's coachman, named RILEY, came along and when he was told of the trouble, he went to Mr.DIGHT, who sent him galloping away to try and secure the public boat when it came to shore and offer the crew 50 pounds to go out at once , and save the Eathers. The boat was got about 10 o'clock. and three men offered to go out. To help them to steer across a fire was lit at DIGHT's. They reached the house about half an hour too late."
The Mr. DIGHT mentioned by Dora is Arthur DIGHT 1819-1895 to whom the Eather's will be forever grateful. Although it was too late by this time. He rallied when others turned their backs. When Thomas Eather 1828-1916 remarried Caroline MCKELLAR 1847-1915 he named his second son Arthur after the brave Mr. Dight.
MARGARET CATCHPOLE was born in Suffolk on the 14 March 1762 the daughter of Elizabeth Catchpole. She was transported for life and arrived in Sydney onboard the 'Nile' on the 14 December 1801. She worked at one time for a very good friend of the Eather's (my ancestors), Arthur DIGHT 1819-1895 at 'Mountain View' Richmond. She was a prolific letter writer and chronicler. paper, back in those days was not cheap and Margaret used every space on the paper first writing across the page and then down. There are several stories online about Margaret. For the interest of the members of Family Tree Circles I wanted to show you part of one of her letters, unfortunately I was not able to attach the whole page. All her letters have been transcribed. What a painstaking job that would have been.
For those interested, there are several stories about her online.
Some people believed that finding gold would be easy!
Indeed! The reality was hard work. Intense heat and dust in the summer, bringing clouds of flies and mosquitoes then very cold winters and of course there was the mud.
Wives and children had little choice but to accompany their men to the diggings and they were among the thousands of people who became ill with dysentery and typhoid.
Drinking water was polluted by panning and by sewage that escaped from the thousands of holes the miners dug to use as toilets. The diet was inadequate, the basic food was mutton, damper, tea and sugar and nobody escaped the inflated food prices. You truly had to find more than a few specks to afford fruit and vegetables. Most diggers didn't bother to wash and shared their beds with fleas. 'Cures" for just about every imaginable ailment were available from the 'quacks, Sunday was observed everywhere as a day of rest. On this day men repaired their equipment mended their clothes and wrote letters home. Some sought out the sly-grog shops and drank away their aches and pains and blot out the fact they had failed to find gold and relieve their homesickness. Overall, the diggings were not a very pleasant place to be for most people.
Even getting to the goldfields was a life and death struggle.
As news of Australian gold rushes swept the world all available ships were crammed with people hoping to make their fortunes. Up to half of the children on those ships died of contaminated food and water and diseases like Scarlet fever, measles and typhoid. On the diggings children continued to be at risk. In the first half of the 1850s 200 European and chinese children under two died at the Mt.Alexander diggings alone. Goldfields cemeteries are today resting places for thousands of children.
Official estimates have reckoned the total population on the Victorian goldfields in 1853 as 46,550 men, 10,747 women, and 11,590 children. Gold digging was an almost exclusively male activity.
Women on the goldfields have often been stereotyped as entertainers and prostitutes but most women were wives of miners or single women accompanying their families. Many women died in childbirth and had to cope with poor diet, the threat and fact of disease, the loneliness and the worries of trying to bring up a family on the goldfields. As towns developed , women played an active role in changing them into places where children could go to school and where the sick could be properly looked after.
A woman by the name of Ellen Clacy recorded her observations of life on the goldfields in Victoria in 1852:-
"But night at the diggings is the characteristic time: murder here-murder there- revolvers cracking-blunderbusses bombing-rifles going off-balls whistling-one man groaning with a broken leg.....Here is one man grumbling because he brought his wife with him, another ditto because he left his behind, or sold her for an ounce of gold or a bottle of rum. Donnybrook Fair is not to be compared to an evening at Bendigo. Success at the diggings is like drawing lottery tickets-the blanks far outnumber the prizes; still, with good health and strength, and above all perseverance, it is strange if a digger does not in the end reap a reward for his labour. Meanwhile he must endure almost incredible hardships. In the rainy season, he must not murmur if compelled to work up to his knees in water, and sleep on the wet ground, without a fire, in the pouring rain, and perhaps no shelter above him more waterproof than a blanket or a gum tree.....In the summer, he must work hard under a burning sun, tortured by the mosquito and the little stinging March flies....."
Some women were successful miners in their own right. Alice CORNWELL 1852-1932 known on the goldfields as "Princess Midas" or "Madam Midas" began mining on her father George CORNWELL's lease at Ballarat. She supervised miners who worked for her and instructed them where to dig for gold. She was so good at finding gold that she once paid 20,000 for a mine. The mine yielded her 100,000 in one year.
In 1887 she went to London and listed her Midas mine on the stock exchange. She also owned the London newspaper, The Sunday Times for five years.
She was enormously wealthy, with many financial and industrial enterprises.
Her financial operations were not less notable than her diamonds which were the talk of London. There is a book and a stage play based on her life.Also the National Gallery does own some biographical cuttings which may be viewed.
*The Photograph of Alice Ann Cornwell, below, was taken in 1900.
Lee Macdonald Cooke was born on 26 February 1890 at Patricks Plains New South Wales. The son of George B COOKE 1865-1925 and Mary May CLARK 1865-1951 and sister to Lyndall Dorothy COOKE who married Stanley Common CLARK.
Lee married Mary Edith Isabel MERRICK 1896-1976 in 1916
I have attached a photo of Lee Cooke's bullock team. This great photo shows the team crossing the creek at Milbrodale - a tributary of Parson's Creek. Lee's family home "Leeholme" is about a kilometre up over the hill and on the right hand side of the road. This is the Putty Road. Once again, I don't have a date for ths photo either. The older generation never named or dated photos unfortunatley. So it is always an educated guess as to what year it was. He may have been in his 20's or early 30's which makes the photo about 1910-1930.
Lee died on the 25 April 1936 aged 46 - not very old. Lee reared Berkshire pigs. He used to show them at the Royal Easter Show in Sydney. At the Easter Show in 1936, he got wet and developed pneumonia, and died soon after.
Lee's grave stands alone in St Mark's Church graveyard at Bulga as his widow Mary married Pat ARCHINAL in 1938 after Lee died, and she is buried at Whittingham with Pat.
John Thomas, the youngest child of John William EATHER 1845-191 and Harriet nee CLARK 1849-1928, was born on 3 October 1891.
At the age of 25 and still unmarried he enlisted in the Australian Army on 17 October 1916, approximately a year after his brother Ivo mack had enlisted. He was posted to the same Battalion as his brother, the 35th, and went overseas amongst reinforcements. He saw Ivo in England while he was convalescing after having been wounded at Villers-Bretonneux. Back in Australia in 1919 after having been discharged from the Army, he returned to life on the land.
On Sunday the 13th June 1920 John was in the paddock at Bulga threshing lucerne seed, when the drive belt on the machine snapped.
John put his arm in the air to ward off the whip of the belt and fell into the thresher. His cries brought nearby workers to a most horrific scene, but nothing could be done to save John.