Tuesday, 17 January 2017

January bushfires in Victoria

There was a Friday the 13th in Victoria this year and also in January 1939, a horrendous time of bushfires now known as Black Friday.

Victoria had been through a prolonged drought so the fires, combined with extreme heat and strong winds, caused widespread destruction as it swept across nearly two million hectares.  Seventy-one people perished along with sheep, cattle, horses and other animals.
More detail can be found at the Victorian DEPI  webpage.

It seems like only a short time ago that even more lives (173) were lost in the tragedy of the Victorian 2009 Black Saturday bushfires.

In 1939 my Mum's cousin, Allan Percy Fleming, was a journalist for the Brisbane Courier Mail.  He wrote about Powelltown in Victoria where the fire had thankfully only claimed 2 lives this time compared to 31 lives lost in the Black Sunday fires of 1926.
He wrote about the bravery 15-year-old Florrie Hodges in saving her 3 younger sisters.


Courier-Mail (Brisbane, Qld. : 1933 - 1954), Wednesday 11 January 1939, page 6

Fire Over Victoria
Heroism In The Rugged Bush
IN the rugged mountains of north eastern Victoria the bush fire is again spreading devastation. The people of the sawmilling districts of
Erica, Noojee, and Powelltown have one small mercy to be thankful for— the fires have claimed only two lives. In 1926, in the same district, 31 men, women, and children were burnt to death on Victoria's Black Sunday — the worst bush fire disaster in the history of Australia It was on Black Sunday that Florrie Hodges, a girl of 15, became a national heroine. The scene of her heroism was near Monett's Mill, where nearly every family has already lost its life's savings this year. When the fire was at its height, raging through the timber to the mill, she set out with her three sisters and six other persons to go to Powelltown, five miles away. Her sisters, were aged seven years, four years, and 17 months respectively. She had the eldest sister on her back, and the other two under her arms. The fire trapped them. The eldest sister was taken by another member of the party, and Florrie flung her body over the other two while the fierce flames swept over them. They remained there until help arrived. Florrie, who was the most severely burned, spent many weeks in hospital recovering, and her bravery won her the bronze medal of the Royal Humane Society of Australasia. EVERY year the people of the district have had to do battle with bushfires, and occasionally tragedy is added to the destruction. After the disaster of 1926 many dugouts were built and equipped near the mills, but in the vast, forest areas it is impossible to create absolute safety. When the undergrowth becomes tall and dry a spark will start a blaze that leaps over fire-breaks in front of a strong wind and lights up miles ahead. A man riding hard on a horse could not escape it unless the wind changed.
Although the district is only a few hours' run from Melbourne it is as rugged as any part of Australia. Tall trees cover the steep mountainsides, timber tracks of wood or steel wind around narrow cuttings above wattle and scrub shrouded gullies. Wooden trestle bridges span the waters of rocky creeks. There is usually a small settlement of bark or wooden huts around, the outlying sawmills, but the forest encroaches upon them so closely that a raging fire will take them in its path. Wallabies, kangaroos, rabbits, and foxes join in the wild race to escape the flames. Even settlements like Powelltown are so deeply set among the frowning hills and thick forests that any big fire roaring before a wind is a constant menace. HEALESVILLE and Toolangi, which are being threatened also in the outbreak which began on Sunday, are not far away. They are in the same type of country. Their tourist attractions, however, have led to the building of many good roads winding round the sides of the mountains. . In the Powelltown district most of the tour- ists are hikers who follow rough paths or the tracks of the timber trains. Latest reports indicate that many homes have been burnt, and hundreds are threatened . further north in the Mansfield-Tatong- Whitlands districts — the Kelly country. It was in a gully not far from Tatong that Ned Kelly shot dead a mounted constable who had come to surprise and capture him. Some settlers there still remember seeing the bushranger in their childhood. The country has been opened up by a fine scenic road that gives a glorious view of Mount Buffalo and the Australian Alps as it winds round gorges and along a rough tableland. Most of the settlers on the tableland have been trying to grow potatoes on virgin country that they have sweated to clear. The fire will be a severe setback to them.

Friday, 30 December 2016

KELLAM family DNA match

I have to say again that this genetic genealogy is a huge learning curve!

I think I have been lost for several months in FTDNA and GEDmatch websites trying to work out how I am related to those I share DNA with and watching for new matches.

I wrote about my first lucky break on matches to my KNIGHT family HERE AND HERE.

A few weeks later I sent an email to Ron who I later found out lives in Canada.
Ron and I shared a total of 25.7 centimorgans with me, the longest block being 20.5 centimorgans.
GEDmatch calculated our "Estimated number of generations to MRCA (most common recent ancestor) at 4.7

I was overjoyed at Ron's reply to my email in which I included my surname list.
He said "Hello Kerryn, how nice to hear from you, distant cousin! We scored!
Quick response is, it's the Kelhams, of Waltham on the Wolds, in North Leicestershire.
My paternal grand father's ancestors were Kelhams from there.  My grandfather and great grandfather came to Canada in 1905 from the Nottingham area in England. "

Ron attached a relationship chart.
We shared common 5th great grandparents.
My 3rd great grandmother, Mary KELLAM married Mark BIRD (although I have found no record of the marriage) They both died in 1834.

Their daughter, my 2nd great grandmother Catherine BIRD, emigrated to New Zealand with her first husband Thomas MUNTON and their two daughters.  Thomas died soon after arrival and Catherine remarried to my 2nd great grandfather William MUSSON.

Interestingly, Ron's 4th great grandfather Charles KELHAM married an Ann MUSSON at Waltham on the Wolds, Leicestershire in 1790.  I haven't yet found a link for Ann to my MUSSON line though.  Perhaps Ron and I are "double cousins".

My earlier paper trail genealogy research had found two other descendants of Mary KELLAM and Mark BIRD, Cathy and Corrinne, who share my passion for family history.
We have shared some great discoveries.

I would like to thank Corrinne for making it possible for me to take the FTDNA family finder test. XX

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Kiely family of Edi Upper

My Mum's paternal grand-aunt Amelia Agnes "Millie" HART married Edmund Wills (or Wells) KIELY in Victoria in 1901.

Millie was born in 1879 at Echuca, the sister of my Mum's grandmother, Margaret HART.  They were daughters of Peter HART, originally from Huntingdonshire, England, and Agnes MASON.

Millie and Edmund KIELY had 7 children all born in the Wangaratta region, Victoria where they farmed for many years.

One of the boys in 1912 swallowed strychnine and luckily survived.

Edmund Kiely died in 1935.

Millie KIELY nee HART died in 1971 at the grand age of 92 years.
Longevity seems to run in the family as Mum's grandmother also lived to her 90s as did many of the HART sisters.