<< Previous - Next >>


Journal by itellya

I am not writing this for Roma or her brother, because they probably already know most of the fascinating story. However the story will be of interest to descendants of the families named and former residents of the places named.

I administer a Facebook group related to the history of Tullamarine. Roma, already a member of the Tullamarine Primary School Past Students and Staff group asked to be admitted to my group. In her first post she stated that her family lived at Tullamarine for about thirty years and her father had served in W.W.1.

Her parents were Alfred and Marjorie (Peggy)Griffiths but a trove search for Griffiths, Tullamarine produced no results and my many Broadmeadows, Keilor and Bulla rates transcriptions had to be circular filed when I moved to Rosebud. Luckily some of these rate details had been recorded in my DICTIONARY HISTORY OF TULLAMARINE AND MILES AROUND (1989-1998) and TULLAMARINE BEFORE THE JETPORT* (1998).
* The file was sent to Roma and while she has contributed most of the story, there was something in my book that she lacked, a photo of the former Beech Tree Hotel.
We are so thrilled --- ---- having a Picture of our old Homestead! After we sold both homes & acres, never saw our Home/Hotel again! We could picture everything in our minds, but needed photo

Thank You so much, Appreciated xxx

In 1930, A.Gillis had been assessed on 27 acres in sections 6/7 of the parish of Tullamarine. In 1960, the same land had been acquired for the jetport from Griffiths, actually 26 acres, as shown by a c.1960 map showing acquisitions, supplied to me by the Federal Airports Corporation (or Department of Civil Aviation). This map was not circular-filed and should be at the Hume Global Learning Centre with much of my other material. The land had been purchased from John Pascoe Fawkner in 1851 by John Beech who built the Beech Tree Hotel almost opposite the current northern 20 metres of the Melrose Drive frontage of the Melrose Drive Reserve. Beech's original hotel was destroyed by fire but was soon replaced. The replacement operated until about 1913 when many hotels were being closed by the authorities. The closed hotel's billiard room served as a venue for farewells to the men heading off to W.W.1. It served as the homestead of Alfred Griffiths' land until he built another house next door and leased the former hotel on two and a half acres to Tomic and Barbakiw sometime before Keilor's 1956-7 assessment.

When Roma saw this information, she told me that A.Gillis was one of her ancestors and the Gillis family had been among the pioneers of Trentham. Aaaron Gillis was born at Blue Mountain which was the name given to the Diggings before the name Trentham was first used.

I'd confirmed that Roma's parents had been pioneers of Tullamarine but I couldn't identify Alfred's war record. With information supplied by Roma, I have now been able to do so.

Admin Β· 11 hrs
Roma Griffiths, has provided vital clues that now allow me to identify her father's W.W.1 service record. Alfred (living at Aspendale) had a son named Clem, a policeman, who was dating Marjorie Ewart's younger sister (one of the twins I have mentioned.) If I could find Clem's birth record, I might find the name of Alfred's first wife.
GRIFFITHS Clement Gordon, Birth
mother: Annie nee SHEPPARD, father: Alf
CARLTON, 1914, 29577/1914

I think the article* about Marjorie stated that Alfred died in 1960 but that was probably a guess. When I first tried to find Alfred's service record, I was not aware of his marital status, let alone the name of his wife (Clem's mother.)
Written in the Ballan Times in 2011 after Roma's mother celebrated her 100th birthday: scanned by Roma.

Regimental number241 Place of birthHaverfordwest Wales ReligionChurch of England OccupationJockey Marital statusMarried Age at embarkation22 Next of kinWife, Mrs Annie Emily Griffiths, 23 George Street, Fitzroy, Victoria Enlistment date27 January 1915 Rank on enlistmentPrivate Unit name13th Light Horse Regiment, Headquarters and Machine Gun Section Embarkation detailsUnit embarked from Melbourne, Victoria, on board A34 Persic on 28 May 1915 Rank from Nominal RollPrivate Unit from Nominal Roll13th Light Horse Regiment FateReturned to Australia 27 April 1919 Miscellaneous information from
cemetery recordsPlaque in Victorian Garden of Remembrance Date of death17 November 1961

GRIFFITHS.β€” On the 4th June, .at the Austin Hospital, Annie Emily, the dearly beloved wife of Alfred Griffiths, of Point Nepean-road, Aspendale, and loving mother of Clement G., aged 40 years. (P.1, The Age, 5-6-1933.)
GRIFFITHS Annie Emily, Death
mother: Emily nee LOVELL, father: SHEPPARD George
place of death:HEIDELBERG, 40, 1933, 4437/1933

EWART Marj Cath Marriage GRIFFITHS, Alfd 1936, 10298/1936

GRIFFITHS, Clement Gordon, Marriage
EWART, Nancy Lilian, 1937, 6661/1937

GRIFFITHS Alfred, Death
mother:Sarah nee CRABB, father: GRIFFITHS Richard place of death:FOOTSCRAY, 69, 1961, 23064/1961

As only one image can be attached to a journal, I am unable to attach the photo of the former Beech Tree Hotel mentioned above and scans that Roma has provided of the 2011 article about her mum's story and the historical society article about the Ewarts. I may be able to find a link for the latter, but if not I will write a summary of the information they contain.

The Mooroobool News, August 9, 2011.
(An attempt to access the article online via failed. Two errors have been found, Marjorie's birth place and the year of Alfred's death and will be explained at the end of the article.)

VALE Marjorie Catherine Griffiths 29 April 1910-15 June 2011.
Marjorie (Peggy)Griffiths nee Ewart achieved a great many things in her life. She was born in Trentham* although (sic) was proud of her Irish ancestry which included the Ewarts of Yarra Glen and originally of the Ewarts' Belfast Linen Company in Ireland.

Peggy was married to Alfred Griffiths who was a First World War veteran. He was often ill and a great deal of labour on the couple's Tullamarine farm was done by Peggy. Life must have been tough for Peggy as the main bread winner, wife and mother. She operated a chicken farm which also had a range of other animals. It was located in Bulla Road, Tullamarine for 30** years.

Later the Jetport bought out the farm and the family moved to the Footscray area. Peggy bought an old mansion at 24 Pickett Street, Footscray around 1959.She also ran a milk bar in Buckingham Street, Footscray. Daughter Roma said the stables and outbuildings of their home were demolished and her mother sub-contracted the construction of four units. Alfred Griffiths passed away in 1960***, leaving Peggy to raised Roma and her brother Peter, now Dr. Peter Griffiths of Riddell's**** Creek. (Roma explained)"We were only children as my mother gave birth to my brother and me towards 40; she was too busy working," she said.

In about 1961, Peggy demolished the family home and the astute business-woman again sub-contracted construction, this time building home units on the site. These buildings are still standing.

One of Peggy's main contacts in this era was Graeme Rayner*****, (now Rayner Real Estate, Bacchus Marsh.) Another contact was Alan Mance of Alan Mance Holden who remembered Peggy well. Roma said that Peggy bought a new car each year from Alan Mance. "I know mum was remembered fondly by Alan, as you only went to Alan Mance for cars. About eight years ago, Alan was astounded that I was Mum's daughter and asked for her phone number. He rang her for Christmas. He also said it was people like Mum who got him started years ago, much to my amazement."

Roma said her mother had a block of land at Blackwood***** which she considered to be the gateway to the local area. Roma said that the land is beautiful and had a special place in my Mum's heart.

"Many people are amazed at the achievements Mum accomplished on her own," Roma said, and pointed out that in the era of her prime, it was uncommon for women to lead a wheeling and dealing life. Peggy returned home to live with daughter Roma after a short illness but passed away peacefully only two days later.

Too often 50% of the pioneers are ignored when history is written but not so in Elizabeth McMcMeekin's THOSE COURAGOUS HARDY WOMEN, about her pioneering female relatives near Sorrento and it is good to see Roma following Elizabeth's example! Peggy was both courageous and hardy.

* Marjorie was not born in Trentham. It needs to be explained why she was born at Warburton* and how she and Albert became acquainted.

EWART Marjorie Catherine Gillis, Birth
mother:EWART, Margaret Isabel nee GILLIS
father: EWART, James,
place of birth:Warburton
1910, reg. no.15481/1910

Marjorie had two younger sisters, twins, Betty and Nancy Lillian, born in 1916.
EWART.β€”On the ??th January, at Nurse Basser's private hospital, 45 Drummond street, Carlton, to Mr. and Mrs. Ewart, Warburton, twins (daughters). (P.11, Argus, 12-2-1916.)

It was Marjorie's mother who was born at Trentham.

EWART Margaret Isobel, Death
mother: Mary Catherine nee MCALPINE
father: GILLIS Aaron
place of birth:Trentham*, place of death:Footscray
75, 1963, 22081/1963

* But the birth record states BLUE MOUNTAIN!

Registration number 860 / 1889
Family name:GILLIS, Given name(s) Margt Isabella
Place of event: BLUE MOUNTAIN, Australia
Personal detail
Mother's name Mary Kate
Mother's family name at birth MCALPINE
Father's Name: Aaron

Trentham | Victorian Places
The diggings were also known as Blue Mountain.

** Aaron Gillis (father of Peggy's mother as shown by the above records) was occupying part of John Beech's 1851 purchase (See lot 11 on the attached map) in 1930 so the 30 year occupancy would probably have that as the starting point.

***The reporter was probably told "about" 1960. Alfred's death record can be seen in BOLD ITALICS immediately before Peggy's obituary. That would explain why Peggy had subdivided the old mansion's stables and outbuildings soon after buying the property but did not demolish the home until "about" 1961, probably soon after Albert's death.

**** Riddell's Creek is named after John Carre Riddell (from whom the creek and town's names came)who was granted sections 15 and 6 whose eastern boundary was Broadmeadows Rd (now Mickleham Rd.)As Bulla Rd was proclaimed after the parish of Tullamarine was surveyed small portions of Riddell's grants were cut off as was the north east corner of Fawkner's section 7, so the two swapped these cut-off corners so that all of Fawkner's estate was on the Keilor side of the road and Riddell's Camiestown Estate was on the Broadmeadows side. John Beech's purchase and Alfred and Peggy's farm were at the south west corner of Riddell's section 6.

***** Graeme Rayner was probably related to Jack Rayner and his wife Grace, of Blackwood, old identities of the town with a great interest in its history, about whom Margot Hitchcock, Blackwood's historian, could tell you plenty.

information from Lilydale Historical Society (Roma's scan.)
John Ewart died in 1892. He was the son of William Ewart, founder of a famous linen manufacturing firm in Ireland. In 1837, he married Catherine Morrison in Belfast and in 1842 they arrived in Melbourne in 1842 with fellow passengers Lithgow and Blair. John explored some 40 miles up the Yarra where he built a home naming it Belfast Cottage. As more settlers arrived, he built a store, post office and the Home Hotel at today's Launching Place which was originally known as Ewart. Their son, David, the first to settle in the Don Valley, married Molly Landers.

Peggy's parents married in 1909.
EWART Jas Marriage GILLIS, Margt Isabel 1909 6501/1909
On the basis that most men were married in their mid to late 20's I searched for his birth record between 1870 and 1890, producing two results and this would most likely be it.

EWART James Birth, mother:Catherine nee MORISON, father: David
HEAL(ESVILLE), 1882, 3211/1882

As Don Road is at Healeville, I presume that the the father was the first settler in the Don Valley. I don't think that he married his mother! The above article states that he married Molly Landers so I think this would be the correct marriage record for the parents of Peggy's father.

Event: marriages Registration number 3484 / 1867 Family name:EWART Given name(s)David
Spouse's family name:LANDERS Spouse's given name(s)Annie

James may have died at the aged care home at Cheltenham (known as the Kingston Centre since the 1970's) in 1963. He might have become disabled by an injury or senile decay because Roma didn't remember him.

EWART James, Death, mother:Annie nee LAUNDER (LANDERS?), father:EWART David
born:Launching Place, died:Cheltenham, no spouse at death recorded, 82, 1963, 10414/1963
His spouse (from above). She may have been living with Peggy and Roma:
EWART Margaret Isobel, Death
mother: Mary Catherine nee MCALPINE
father: GILLIS Aaron
place of birth:Trentham*, place of death:Footscray
75, 1963, 22081/1963
No lollies for the Victorian BDM typists!

The Essendon Hotel was directly over Mt Alexander Rd from the east end of Keilor Rd, in Melway 28F1, immediately south of the old water reserve, Woodlands Park. Its most famous licensee was the famous John Coleman. By the 1970's it was renamed De Marco's after great sponsors of the Doutta Stars Football Club at that time. Later it was renamed The Grand as shown in my 1999 edition of Melway.

Roma Griffiths. If you want a photo of the hotel as it looked in 1931, scan page 67 of THE STOPOVER THAT STAYED: A HISTORY OF ESSENDON by Grant Aldous. The original hotel had stood for 83 years until plans to rebuild the hotel were lodged in 1936, by the owner, Hancock.

The McGaurans of Traralgon had bought the hotel in early 1927 but were soon sprung for having the bar open out of hours.

In November 1928, application was made to transfer the licence from Kathleen McGauran to Margaret I. Ewart.

The hotel was obviously sold (by the McGaurans?*) to Hancock by or at the start of 1936 and at the end of January 1936, Mary Kate Gillis applied to transfer the licence to Albert Richard Hancock.

No record of a sale of the hotel by John McGauran has been found but by November 1929 he was back at Traralgon and applying to modernise its Grand Junction Hotel, so it is likely that Aaron Gillis had bought the hotel from the McGaurans at the end of 1928 and sold it to Hancock in 1936.

I, Margaret Isabel Ewart the holder of a victualler's licence for the Essendon Hotel at Mt Alexander road, Essendon in the Essendon Licenslng District and I, Mary Kate Gillis, of the Essendon Hotel, Mt Alexander road Essendon, hereby give notice that we will APPLY to the Licensing Court of Melbourne on Monday the 21st
day of December 1931 for the TRANSFER of the LICENCE to the said Mary Kate Gillis.Dated the 10th day of December 1931
MARY KATE GILLIS (P.17, Argus, 12-12-1931, last column.)

We know that Margaret Ewart was the wife of James Ewart and the mother of Peggy Ewart. Margaret may have been in much the same position as Peggy, supporting herself by this time. Roma wouldn't believe me when I told her that James Ewart had died in 1963, the same year as Margaret, because she didn't even remember him. But soon afterwards, memories came flooding back and Roma wrote:
"Omg I'm starting to recall his passing! Family rushing to his bedside in Cheltenham 1963! Ancestry just asked me to sign in again! 😑😑 My mother never went near him*, as I previously said, lived most of her life with Aaron & Kate Gillis. Fancy me forgetting! Nan lived opposite us in Footscray, 17 Pickett street. We cared for her a lot. Lady of means, no pension, from Aaron Gillis xx
Margaret Isabel Ewart, 41 years, of
Mount Alexander-road, Essendon, sought
divorce from James Ewart: 47 years of
Merriwagga (N.S.W.); laborer, on the
ground of desertion. The parties were
married on 12th August, 1909, at Colling-
wood, and there were five children. A
decree, nisi was granted, with costs .
(P.7, The Age, 17-7-1930.)

Where does Mary Kate Gillis fit into the picture? McAlpine is already in the surnames list. I believe this is her death record. Gordon is a decent training run north of Ballan and linked to Blackwood by a very old track shown in Melway 527 CD3.

GILLIS Mary Catherine Death
mother: Isabella nee GARNER, father: MCALPINE James
born:GORDON, died:COBURG, 84, 1954, 8212/1954

Mary Kate was the wife of Aaron Gillis!

GILLIS Aaron Marriage MCALPINE, Mary Kate 1888 5386/1888

To be continued gillis/ cusack, roma named after a clydesdale champion but it could have been WEDDING GLIDE, aaron's last residence & probable reason, launching place originally called ewart etc


Viewed: 1483 times
Likes: 0
by itellya Profile | Research | Contact | Subscribe | Block this user
on 2020-07-04 14:51:26

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.

Do you know someone who can help? Share this:


by itellya on 2020-07-08 01:45:26

Email to Roma about Margaret Hawkes Beattie (1839-1883) who became the wife of John Gillis (1827-1916)and was the mother of Aaron Gillis who died at his residence in Racecourse Rd, Newmarket in 1944.

Aaron Gillis died in 1944 and his death record confirms the ancestry info regarding his father John's wife's name. Why the stupid registrar couldn't ascertain Aaron's wife's name is beyond me. (She died in 1963!)

Beatty/Beattie seemed to be almost interchangeable (as your link suggests.) What probably happened was that the name was originally Beatty when the Anglo-Irish aristocracy took up land in Ireland. Some Scots would have been needed to actually manage their estates, probably poor relatives who'd been doing the same thing in Scotland for estate owners who changed their name to Beattie to indicate their superior position.

When I was writing my DICTIONARY HISTORY OF BULLA journal and got led astray past the parish of Buttlejork (not Buttle jock as in Henry Beattie's biography) by rumours of Batman graves at Toolern Vale, I managed to access the online Holden and Yangardook parish maps showing blocks such as the Owen Connor and Patrick Phelan grant which William B. purchased, and the many grants acquired by Beattie/Beatty etc. It must have taken some perseverance because my attempt to find them for you just now failed utterly.

Aaron's mother's death record gives the names of her parents but omits her father's surname entirely.

, Margaret


, Mary
, Hawks William (No surname!)
GILLIS, John (name of spouse)

by itellya on 2020-07-08 03:40:52

Perhaps the registrars were not at fault. They can only go on what they are told. However Ancestry have a lot to answer for not spotting the inconsistency between the maiden name of John Gillis's wife in Ancestry's marriage details (same as in Aaron's death record except for the spelling of Beattie)and in her death record.

Aaron's birth record and death record (in the previous comment) disagree about his mother's birth surname. I would regard the informant for the birth record to be more reliable so I believe his mother was Margaret Hawkes, as below.

GILLIS Aaron,Birth
mother: Margaret HAWKES, father: John
AITK (Aitken's Hill or Aitken's Gap) 1863, 16175/1863

The only possible explanation for the contradiction in the marriage details supplied by Ancestry, Margaret Hawkes Beattie (1839-1883) who became the wife of John Gillis (1827-1916) would be that Margaret had previously married a member of the Beattie/Beatty family.

This is the marriage record.

GILLIS John, Marriage, HAWKES, Margaret, 1855, 2704/1855

POSTSCRIPT.Margaret was only 16, according to Roma, when she married John which makes it almost impossible that this was her second marriage.
Roma believes that Hawkes was her given name.

Was Hawkes the second GIVEN name of both Margaret and her father, William?

by WidgiewaDonnaRoma on 2020-07-09 05:33:00

Margaret Hawkes was a Neice of Gillis, not sure which Gillis in Ireland xx

by WidgiewaDonnaRoma on 2020-07-16 07:05:52

Register or Sign in to comment on this journal.