Hannah Mossop and the emigrants of Daylesford.
memory of Hannah Mossop is preserved on an unremarkable stone monument
above a rectangular plot of ground in the Daylesford Cemetery. Her
story is just one of many historical treasures secreted away in Victoria's alluring goldrush regions. The remote Dingle Peninsula on
Ireland's Kerry coast and the Galtee Mountains that nurtured my Cleary clan might fire the soul,
but a wander through the plains above Daylesford remains one of
the great 'inns and resting places of the human soul'.
The shipping records say 2-year-old Hannah, sister of John 13,
Henry 10, Isaac 5 and infant Jane, and daughter of 41-year-old Jane
and 39-year-old Henry Mossop, died of worms outside Geelong aboard
'The Blanche' in 1852. Having survived the horrors of the
journey from Cumberland, England, to Port Phillip, her parents must
have been devastated to lose her so close to the 'promised land'.
So too must have been the parents of the other seven children who
succumbed to the perils of 'The Blanche'. As the cemeteries around
Daylesford reveal, colonial Victoria was only marginally less precarious
for children than ndustrial Britain and rural Ireland.
Beneath the pines at the end of the path which stretches beyond
the Mossop grave stands a tall, cylindrical stone monument into
which are carved in gold the words '... William Graham - 6 years,
Thomas Graham - 4 years, Alfred Burman - 5 years ...' who wandered
from their homes at Table Hill on June 30th 1867. Their remains
were 'found by accident in a Hollow Tree near Musk Creek on September
14th 1867...'. So sad! The memory of the lost children is held in
perpetuity in a local school award.
A little way off is a solitary Chinese grave. Although the Chinese
were prominent in the district, there's hardly a Chinese grave to
be found between Daylesford and Creswick. When Ah Fat took a razor
to his neck in a tent at Portuguese Flat where he, Ah Hoe and Ah
Whan were mining in 1863 he went close to acquiring a patch of dirt in a local cemetery. Fortunately, Dr Steel came to the rescue and Ah Fat lived
to resume his struggle with the punt!
A peep in the rear vision mirror when climbing the hill beyond
Daylesford reminds the traveller how beautiful the town remains
all these years after gold brought it to life in the 1850s. Once past Tipperary Springs
and over the final hill the Midland Highway crosses the road to Shepherds Flat,
Hepburn Springs and the old Swiss-Italian village of Yandoit. From here the highway crosses Deep Creek, where in 1851
the Tipperay Catholic John Egan found gold. So much gold did the boy from Borrisoleigh find he would assume a place in the social hierarchy to rival that of the Presbyterian squatter, John Hepburn.
Five kilometres further and the old Catholic
bluestone church announces the arrival of Blampied.
It was here that John Clohesy married a Blampied girl with the exotic name, Giglia
La Franchi. Her parents, Andrea and Margherita La Franchi, ran the
Swiss Mountain Hotel, which Andrea had purchased in 1866. The Clearys
and Clohesys and their Catholic relatives, the La Franchis, are
buried in profusion in the Eganstown Cemetery above Deep
Creek that Egan bequeathed to the local
Catholic brethren. Old timers believed it straddled
a reef of gold.
Egan, who arrived in Port Phillip in 1841, carried an exotic
history. His grandfather Boyce and his uncle Dinny had both
been transported to Australia. Local historian Lucille
Quinlan described their crimes as 'political', with granddaughter May Cleary writing in 'A Short History of the Egan and Cleary Families' how Boyce was transported for being 'out of doors after curfew', adding that Dinny 'deliberately broke the Penal Laws to get to Australia' and that, 'maybe he carried a Sinn Fein Certificate'.
At the front of Eganstown Cemetery stands a commanding Celtic Cross in memory of the benefactor. Once a year, on 2 November
- All Souls Day - the small chapel springs to life. To the right of the chapel is the stately La Franchi grave; the only grave
to carry photographs of the interred. Protected behind glass
on a granite spire, Andrea's portrait reveals a fine featured man
with a waxed moustache and neat European style beard. A row away
is a less ostentatious grave bearing the inscription 'Florida La
Franchi, died 1966, Olympia La Franchi, died 1964, Margherita La
Franchi, died 1977.' The octogenarian La Franchi daughters had never
Beyond the Swiss Mountain Hotel is the Mount Prospect Cemetery. Founded by
local Presbyterians, it preserves the history of Scottish, English and Protestant Europe. There's not an Irish or Swiss-Italian name
to be found in this cemetery. Marriage between Catholics and Protestants was frowned upon! The Richardson family from whose ranks came politicians
and financiers, the Blains, the Yellands, Archibald Anderson from
Roxborough Shire, Scotland, and the Germans - Johan Hasenfuss, Henry
Haintz, and Friederike and Henry Zeis. All can be found in this unobtrusive cemetery just past the disused bluestone
bridge that runs past 'Cleary's paddock'. The Zeis family grave
is the only one that carries an inscription in a family's native tongue. Not far away lie
Adolf and Alexandrina Zeis, parents of William, who died while serving during the Great War.
|The Zeis men - Henry (37 years), Adolf (35)
and (Jacob 24) did not make old bones.
And of course, there's the proprietor of the Telegraph Hotel, William
Jones, who, in December 1863 had offered to repair John Heagney's
stirrup before the Clare man rode to his fate in Hepburn's Lagoon.
|William Jones' grave in Mount Prospect.
Buried here also are gunner Albert Yelland, who was killed in action
on 30 September 1917 as the Battle of Ypres raged, and 18-year-old,
Private S. Coutts, who went the same way on 29 August 1916 as news
of the slaughter at the Somme flooded Australia, and Howard Boustead
(Ypres). Surprisingly, there is one victim of the Great War, an
O'Neil, in the Eganstown Cemetery.
The Daylesford, Eganstown and Mount Prospect burial grounds mirror
the social and political patterns of colonial Victoria. Collectively
they tell a tale of optimism and hope against the spectre of unmerciful
fate. The larger Creswick Cemetery adds the final chapter of the
tale, for it catalogues the transition of the region from farming
and independent mining, to large-scale capitalist mining. In 1882
the Australasia No. 2 mine collapsed drowning 22 miners whose deaths
are commemorated by a large, sombre stone, centre-place in the Cemetery.
In 1982, eighty-five year old Harry Pearce described the Australasia
No. 2 disaster as a story of 'greed for gold, sacrifice of human
life, incompetence, ignorance, personal ambition, heroism, drama
and tragedy'. Michael Carmody, who was 20 when he warned his mates
of the impending disaster, said 'they should never have drowned'.
These were political times and the Miners' Union took a sophisticated
line on the social relations of production. When the inquest declared
that the flood was a result of 'an error of judgment which was
such as might have been committed by any mine manager' the locals
The inscription 'Dr George Roche - A native of Cork - Died 24th
January 1881 - Aged 51 - A true and warm hearted friend - A genial
companion beloved by the poor - [His death is] Regretted by all
who knew him .....' on a plain, unpretentious stone in the Catholic
section of the Creswick Cemetery is a poignant reminder of the status
afforded parish priests and local doctors in the old days.
There are bigger, more famous cemeteries, Beechworth for example,
than Daylesford, Eganstown, Mount Prospect and Creswick. Not one
can lay claim to being the last resting place for such a diverse
array of immigrant and Currency children. When I wander through them I hear a chorus of voices, Irish and
English, Scottish, Italian, German and Gaelic, and the sound of
pick and shovel. An oasis of concrete and weathered iron in a sea
of green, tilled soil, there's nothing better than a Daylesford
Cemetery for those desperate to escape the suffocating saccharine
monoculture that, as the year 2000 approaches, threatens to destroy
our sense of place and history.
Newspaper Melbourne 1997
Hannah was my great great grandfather's younger sister. She was
at sea 150m of the Cape of Good Hope. They lost another in Geelong
arrival.The thought of being remembered 150 years later is intriguing.By the way, there is a memorial stone in Lamplugh in Cumberland
remarkably similar to the Daylesford one. Pity the stonemason there
chiseled things like Dazlesford and Okotber!
Any chance you had relatives in Daylesford? Mum thinks she remembers
Clearys when she was a child. If you did, her number is 0263 867318.
Jean Mullett nee Peterson.
Thanks for the article.