“Dear Friends” … Letter From an Emigrant in 1864...

So what was life like for those who emigrated to South Australia back in the 1800s? Generally you’re only likely to find this information from letters written to family or friends in the ‘old country’, or otherwise from diaries. So it was a surprise to find an article on Trove about an emigrant who not only came to South Australia, but actually settled in the tiny town of Gumeraka (note the alternate spelling of Gumeracha). Written in 1864 to some friends in England (or maybe Wales), it was produced as an article the Scotts Circular (Newport, Wales), and then in The Adelaide Express, 22 April 1865 (as reproduced below). The writer details what it was like for him and his family with housing food, work and wages, neighbours and other businesses all getting a mention. What we don’t know is who the author of the letter is. Still, it makes for an interesting read. In 1864 the town of Gumeracha was not very old, having only been laid out in the 1850s  (for more on that click here). The article starts off with “The following interesting letter has arrived from an emigrant who received a passage under Government, to South Australia.” —————————— The text below is a full transcript of the article. Note the paragraphs have been added in by me to make it easier to read. AN EMIGRANT’S LETTER. Gumeraka, Australia, September 18th, 1864. My Dear Friends, I am glad to tell you that I have got plenty of work the first day that I went on after landing, and the first master that I spoke to I  engaged to go with to go into the Bush a dray-making and waggon-making at the wheelwrighting trade, at the rate of wages I will give you, and...

Homeopathy and the Treasures Between the Pages!...

Homeopathy: “The study of natural therapy which stimulates the body’s immune system to restore health”. It was something that my great grandpa, J.B. Randell taught himself. Ever looked through an old book and found something slotted in the pages in between? I have. Regularly. I’ve mentioned before that my mum’s side of the family weren’t one’s to throw things out. Putting it nicely “hoarders”, and for that I’m eternally grateful, as it has meant that we have SO MANY family heirlooms dating back generations, it’s truly amazing. One thing that seems to have been a ‘thing’ that’s been passed down through the generations of Randell’s, was the habit of putting things in the middle of books. I’ve always known my grandma to do that, and have often discovered random newspaper cuttings, birthday cards, flattened Easter egg wrappers and more in the pages of books of hers. Now this book of her fathers, John Beavis “JB” Randell (to my surprise) has even more bits filed in between the pages. I found a total of 25 items in amongst the pages of the book, and I have scanned each one of them, and that’s what I wanted to share with you today. Some are interesting, others not. But from there there are clues which could lead to further research … As you will see there’s a collection of all sorts, from receipts, to newspaper cuttings, to bible verses, envelopes, hair, leaves, a bookmark and other printed items. I’ve noted them below, as the caption on the slider was so tiny it wasn’t readable. 1. Gumeracha Town Hall Concert, 9 August 1924 2. Receipt from Norsworthy’s store, Gumeracha, dated 9 September 1924 3. Dried leaves 4. Hair or fur 5. More dried...

There’s History in Those Walls!...

Let me tell you the incredible history of a small town pub in the Adelaide Hills that very few know of … The tiny town of Gumeracha is currently best known for being home to the World’s Biggest Rocking Horse, the place the Medieval Fair is held each year, and of course the local wines. However up until around the mid 1900s the local pub was a tourist attraction, and not just for the beer, it was for the thousands of names written on its walls. It was so well-known that it even gained the reputation of being Australia’s largest “visiting book” hotel in the process. The town, which was founded by William Beavis Randell in the 1850s, has had a pub there almost as long. The map below is a portion of a town plan of Gumeracha dated from 1860, and shows that the corner block (where the hotel is) was owned by A Vorwerk, who is also listed as the first owner of District Hotel from 1861. Here’s an extract from the Gumeracha 1839-1939 book: “The main front walls of the District Hotel are composed of a local chalkstone, and probably on no other walls of a building in any other part of Australia are engraved so many names and initials. From ground level up to the top of the balcony roof there are a thousand or more of them, many of them representing people who in later years became very prominent in the State. As is only natural, callers at this old hostelry scrutinise the names on its walls with the very greatest interest.” And from a newspaper article on the History of Hotels dated 2 June 1951: South Australia has a hotel with the largest...

Patriotic Day, Gumeracha, 1918...

Isn’t it funny how you learn history through ‘things’? My history lesson this week has been about Patriotic Day. I admit that I hadn’t heard of such a day, but thanks to a purchase of the badge (as shown above) on ebay, I was inspired to find out more. But what’s interesting is that I found very little on it. Wikipedia and Google both let me down, so I headed to Trove, but even they didn’t have much. It doesn’t seem to have been an Australia-wide thing, or even a South Australia-wide thing, but rather something the townsfolk have decided to do for themselves. Held in 1917 and in 1918 (at  least that’s all I could find), it seems that in 1917 it was used to raise fund for the war effort, and in 1918, was used to support the returned soldiers and the families of those who didn’t. If anyone has further information about Gumeracha’s Patriotic Day, please leave a comment below, as I’d love to know more about it. And don’t you just love the image of the Gum weir on the badge … how cool is that? And for those that are unfamiliar with the region, here is a actual pic of the weir...

Anecdotes, BDMs, Obits and Adverts – What Are These Records?...

I have come across an incredible source of information relevant to my research. One that includes local town news choc full of anecdotes relating to the locals, mentions of births, deaths, marriages and obituaries, and a heap of adverts from the local area. So just what are these records? Church Journals! Really? You bet. Let me give you some examples. Here is a page from the “Local News” section (also called “Editorial Notes”, “Miscellaneous” or “Church News” in various editions) … So you’ll see from this one page of Local News we learn of several people’s  health troubles, several people moving, the introduction of some of the new equipment in the district, election chances, local meetings, a new business venture, a prize a local business won, and a bunch more. And that’s just a page from ONE journal! You’ll also find some marriage and death notices (sorry no births afterall. But how do you write BDMs without births? DMs just doesn’t make sense) … And of course the obituaries which are just awesome! As well as anniversaries … And other newsworthy events, like town sports news and this brave deed! There’s also general history on the church, town and pioneers … And if all that wasn’t fabulous enough, then there’s the adverts. Many from local businesses – others from Adelaide. Here’s just a few examples of them. So you see, there is potentially so much you can find in Church Journals. And while my family were heavily involved in the church scene, many other researchers would say their family wasn’t, so wouldn’t think to look in Church Journals. So I hope this has opened your eyes to the possibilities of what could be out there. If you are fortunate...

Trove Tuesday: Gumeracha’s Annual Ploughing Match in 1860...

Oh how times have changed. I must say that the thought of going to a ploughing match really doesn’t excite me, but obviously it was a different time back in the mid-1800s when Gumeracha’s Annual Ploughing Match held, and it was certainly something to look forward to, as it brought out the whole town plus more! Browsing on Trove certainly brings up a bunch of articles relating to Gumeracha’s Annual Ploughing Match. This seems to have started in 1850 or there abouts, and continued at least until the 1890s. Anyway I’ve chosen to share the one from the South Australian Weekly Chronicle, dated 11 August 1860. As the article mentions it was held on land owned by William Beavis Randell, near the Gumeracha Mill (now Randell’s Mill B&B), and over 600 people attended! Even the Gumeracha Rifle Volunteers were there, and went through their drill. It must have been quite an event. There were 9 men competing, and 8 boys, and they were … And the winners were … The article is a long one, and goes on to discuss the dinner and speeches that were held afterwards. If you wish to read the full article you can find it here. After reading the article, I must say I’ve changed my mind, and I’d love to see what a ploughing match is like. But I mean one back then, not one now. It was truly a different way of life back...

Australia Day in the Gumeracha District in the Early 1900s...

Australia Day as we know it, is a day to have off work, and spend time with family and friends, often having a picnic or barbecue – just having a lazy day. But it wasn’t always like this. In fact it wasn’t even a public holiday in all states until 1994. To quote from the Australia Day website … The tradition of having Australia Day as a national holiday on 26 January is a recent one. Not until 1935 did all the Australian states and territories use that name to mark that date. Not until 1994 did they begin to celebrate Australia Day consistently as a public holiday on that date. So we find that in 1915 Australia Day was in fact held July 30th. Why that particular day I don’t know, but it was, and it was used not only to have a celebration,  but also commemorate those who went to war, and used as a means for fundraising for the war. The article from South Australia’s ‘Register’ newspaper, dated 2 August 1915 describes what the Gumeracha district (which covers the town of Gumeracaha, as well as the neighbouring towns of Forreston, Kenton Valley and Cudlee Creek) did on this day. Again, we have to thank Trove newspapers for being there when we need it, and for providing information that we otherwise wouldn’t have found. The photographs below are from a collection held by local historian, Alan Phillips. Grouped together in a box titled “Cudlee Creek”, it is believed that the following photographs are taken on Australia Day 1915 (or around then). Sadly not all are captioned, but those that are, have the captions noted...

“War Memorials of the Adelaide Hills” Book...

The Adelaide Hills Council was fortunate to obtain a grant through the South Australian Government’s “Anzac Day Commemoration Fund“. For this they nominated that the funds would be used towards “research and preservation of Honour Board Memorials of Adelaide Hills”, and to “engage with schools and local groups to locate and research honour boards for inclusion in the publication War Memorials of the Adelaide Hills”. To commemorate Anzac 2015, a publication “War Memorials of the Adelaide Hills” was produced which details information about the war memorials throughout the Adelaide Hills in the towns covered by the Council, giving town name with details of the monuments. A second edition of “War Memorials of the Adelaide Hills”, that will also include additional material and corrections that have been made by the community will also be produced, and released in due course. The Council also have a separate project to research, photograph and record details on all the honour boards in the Council area.  While the majority of the honour boards can be found in local RSLs, community halls and schools, others have found their way to more obscure locations. The lack of detail of honour boards made it difficult to provide a comprehensive account of the memorials within the Council area. The aim is for this one to be released as a book as well. The Adelaide Hills Council covers a large area in the Hills region, and includes the towns: Aldgate, Aldgate Valley, Ashton, Balhannah, Basket Range, Birdwood, Bradbury, Bridgewater, Carey Gully, Castambul, Chain of Ponds, Charleston, Cherryville, Crafers, Crafers West, Cudlee Creek, Dorset Vale, Eagle on the Hill, Forest Range, Forreston, Greenhill, Gumeracha, Heathfield, Houghton, Humbug Scrub, Inglewood, Inverbrackie, Ironbank, Kenton Valley, Kersbrook, Lenswood, Lobethal, Longwood, Lower Hermitage, Marble Hill, Millbrook, Montacute,...

28 December 1876, RIP William Beavis Randell...

Today is a special day. Maybe “special” isn’t the right word. Maybe “remembrance” would be more suitable. As it was on this day 138 years ago … (28 December 1876) that my great great grandpa William Beavis Randell passed away. He was not only my emigrating Randell ancestor, and the patriarch of the entire huge Randell clan in Australia, he was also an employee of the Adelaide Company, a miller, founder of the town of Gumeracha, JP, councillor and parliamentarian amongst other things … I’m going to share with you an entry from the diary of his second wife Phebe Randell (nee Robbins) about his passing, together with an obituary I found on Trove.                           I know Phebe’s handwriting is quite readable considering what some handwriting was like back then (and even many nowdays), but whatever she wrote this entry in, is really really faint, so I know you’ll have trouble reading it, even enlarged, so I’ll transcribe it for you … This entry is undated, but the entry prior to this was dated 2 July 1876, and she seemed to be writing details of a number of days or weeks happenings in one entry. Page 19 … What a changing world is this on the 17th of August 1876 I became a wife though in the Sight of God a wife before I fully believe we haveing Pledged ourselves each to other before God without the worldly form but the ceremony was by Mr Jacob Abbott on the day afore said and by my dear husband and I lived very happly together for four Short months after the ceremony and then failing health laid him aside. He...

Movember Ancestors #6: The Randell Brothers...

For today’s Movember picture we hit the jackpot with three of four Randell brothers having impressive moustaches. Anyone who had followed my blog for any length of time will know that I have written oodles of posts that relate to the Randell family from Berry Pomeroy in Devon and Gumeracha, South Australia. However I have tended to focus on my direct line, my great grandpa John Beavis “JB” Randell, and his father William Beavis Randell rather than branch off onto many of William’s other children – those from his first marriage (he had nine). Francis Henry “Frank” Randell was one of William Beavis’ sons, and these handsome boys are his sons. From left we have: Gerald, Allan, Horace, and Francis “Frank Jnr”. This photo isn’t dated, but Gerald was born in 1881, so I would say that this photo was taken early...