Thursday, 6 August 2015

52 Ancestors - Week 31 - Easy to research?

The theme for 52 ancestors week 31 is "Which ancestor has been pretty easy to research?"

I have written about him before but recently, thanks to Trove, some new articles have come to light.

These appear to echo information given in newspaper obituaries found for him in 1911.

My maternal great-great-grandfather, William Finlay FLEMING, left us quite a lot of information about himself in his interviews with journalists in the early 1900s.  In that respect he was easy to research.
Quite a few family researchers have gathered information - Mrs Jean Sharrad being the major compiler, we thank you Jean.
We are all in agreeance that the old chap was a story teller.

The recently found news articles:



Horsham Times, Tuesday 5 December 1911.






They agree with information in his Obituary transcript below.
Did the journalists just copy earlier articles, did family members retell the many stories he told or perhaps, before his death, the old chap sent in his own obituaries to the papers?

The North Eastern Despatch, Saturday, December 2 1911:

Death of Oldest resident of district, Mr. W.F. Fleming - Aged 101 years, 11 months.
The death occurred at Edi on Tuesday afternoon of a remarkable old man, Mr. William Finlay Fleming who, had he lived until January 12th next, would have reached his 102nd year.  The old man's great age was well attested, and he had marvellous vitality, retaining his faculties to a wonderful degree until four months ago, when gangrene developed in one of his legs, and his death then became a question to short time only.  His brain was very active almost to the last, his hearing perfect, and his sight but slightly impaired of late years.  He use to relate how second sight came to him some years ago, and after that his vision was so good that even a few months before his death he could distinguish the figure of a man half a mile away.  Twelve months ago when standing at the door of his house he could recognize a buggy passing along the road quite half a mile distant.  He attributed his long life to inherited vitality and took no special care of himself, eating and drinking anything, yet he could move about with comparative ease, and was able to come to Wangaratta by train last year.  He was a heavy smoker in his early years, but during an attack of illness, when he was about 80 - his first and only illness until four months ago - he gave up the habit, not because he believed it was doing him harm, but in order to show possession of will power.  " My earliest recollection was seeing my grandfather, who was a soldier, on his arrival home after the Battle of Waterloo in June 1815",  This is how the late Mr. Fleming answered a question put to him a year ago regarding his early memories and in that momentous year he was five and a half years old.  He had a mind full of reminiscences, but like many old people they were of personalities rather than of incidents, for he had lived a comparatively quiet life.  Lack of education was a great draw-back to him, for he was not born "in the purple" and in  his boy-hood days, schooling was for the well-to-do only.  But though he never learnt to write with any facility he acquired the knowledge to read in later years, and was possessed of much intelligence.  Blessed with a genial nature, he always took the best out of life, and even when past the century he was brisk in repartee and a capital conversationalist.  The late Mr. Fleming was born in Galloway, Scotland in January 1810, and was descendant from wonderful stock, his grandmother living to the age of 105, while his mother died in Victoria when in her 90th year.
The second ship to bring emigrants from England to Australia, was the sailing vessel " William Stewart"  and on May 15th, 1842, there was landed at Port Melbourne amongst the passengers on that initial voyage a family party comprising father, mother, three sons and three daughters.  William Finlay Fleming, then a man of 37 years, was one of those sons, who having no fixed occupation in Galloway had joined his parents and other members of the family in their expedition to Australia, which was then but slightly known in the Old country, Melbourne was only in its infancy, and while some of the family secured employment there, the son William set off for the country in search of work on some of the stations,  His first job was at Burnbank, or Lexton, as the place is now called, and Mr. Anderson gave him work as barman in his hotel.  The house was the rendezvous of men from the stations, and others, rough characters many of them, and Mr. Fleming's first insight into Colonial life was not pleasing to one who had been reared amongst the staid population of the town of Galloway.  The duties of a barman were not of the mild character associated with the position of to-day, and there was much drinking and consequent riotousness.  Three months sufficed for Mr. Fleming, but he had signed an agreement to remain for 12 months, and it was only by pretending drunkenness at the suggestion of a station overseer that he managed to get a discharge, for he was in need of him on the station of Mr. Allan Cameron, on the Wimmera, and Mr. Fleming remained there for three months during the shearing.   He had saved 90 pounds by this time, and decided on a trip to Melbourne to rejoin his relatives.  In company with two other station hands he started off and stayed for a night at a hotel at Fiery Creek, but in the morning he found that his companions had robbed him and hurried away, he followed them as fast as he could but they reached Geelong, 60 miles away, in advance and he never saw them again, though he had the satisfaction of learning that both were imprisoned, one of them for a big robbery.  The Lodden tribe of black fellows were wild in those early times and Mr. Fleming was an eye-witness of one startling incident during his walk to Geelong, a black fellow being engaged in roasting a lubra on a pile of burning wood.  This was a portion of Magill/s station and the process was being calmly watched by a couple of of dozen men of the tribe, the woman having been adjudged guilty of some serious offence.  His money gone, Mr. Fleming reached Melbourne from Geelong with difficulty, but he at once got to work again, being engaged with a gang of navvies cutting down the hill in Bourke Street, as the streets were only then being formed.  A few months later he secured the position of Town Herdsman, his duties being the care of cows and horses that were turned into the bush to graze.  They de pastured round about Footscray and Flemington mainly but those localities were not thus known in those days, and were covered with ti tree scrub.  The racecourse was on Batmans' Hill near where Spencer Street railway station is now situated.  Mr. Fleming did well as herdsman, and with his savings decided to start butchering but two years later he was compelled to abandon the business and went back to the Clunes district, where he got an engagement as shepherd on the station of Mr. Donald Cameron, a brother of a former employer.  Here he spent several years, and became a valued man, dealing with stock or droving them from the station to a depot at Footscray./  It was at Clunes in the year 1851 that Mr. Fleming's marriage and the discovery of gold synchronized, and in 1853, a team of bullocks was bought for the purpose of carrying goods from Melbourne to the gold fields at Castlemaine and other places,  The young wife accompanied her husband on several trips.  Later on they settled at Creswick, where Mr. Fleming went prospecting on his own account, but with poor results, though he secured a 36 ounce nugget on one occasion.  Engine diving at the Albion mine and butchering were other occupations he followed for several years, and altogether he spent 18 years at Creswick.  In 1870 Mr. Fleming received another call to the lonely life of the station, and he and his wife and three children went to Campbell's Willoora station, near Hay, where the husband was engaged as boundary rider.  Mrs. Fleming and the children returned to Castlemaine, but after a few months Mr. Fleming joined them, and eventually they removed to Kotupna, where Mr. Fleming selected a block of 173 acres of land.,  Here he and his wife reared a family of 13 children, but their thrift and industry were poorly rewarded, as floods caused them serious losses and robbed them of the independence which was surely the due of this fine old pair of pioneers,  The last remaining results of their many years of labour were sadly reduced by some dispensation, which was beyond their control, and eleven years ago they again changed their residence.  One of their sons, Mr. John Fleming had previously settled at Edi, and the old couple decided to make their last home near him, hence at Edi, came the end of this remarkable old man.  Of the Galloway family, who came to Melbourne in 1842, a daughter, Mrs Stokes, of Sydney, is now the only survivor, and she is 87 years of age,  She visited her distinguished old relative a few months ago.  Deceased's wife, who has cared for her husband with great affection and whose family testify to her excellent motherly instincts, survives at the age of 84 and is still well preserved.  The surviving members of the old couple's family are - Messrs William James (Morang), Donald ( Whitfield), Moses (Wyalong), John K (Edi), Mrs R. Thompson and Mrs T. Tuckett (Melbourne), Mrs, C, Worrall (Camperdown), Mrs, S.J. Lawrence (Whitfield).  Deceased had more than 70 grandchildren, and 16 great grand children,  The remains of deceased were interred in the Edi cemetery on Wednesday afternoon.  Mr. T Laidler conducted the funeral, and Mr. Donaldson, of the Presbyterian Church officiated at the grave.

From shipping records and other documents about his parents and siblings all our family researchers agree that his birth year would be around 1831 not 1810 as he so often stated.

If not so easy in the end to sort out the truth at least he was entertaining.


52 Ancestors Challenge 
  by Amy Johnson Crow at 
"No Story Too Small"


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