Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature

Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature
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Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature
Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature
Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Home : Travel : Hannah Mossop Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature


Hannah Mossop and the emigrants of Daylesford.

The 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 married.

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 were outraged.

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.

 

Phil Cleary

Age Newspaper Melbourne 1997

 

 

Hi Phil

Hannah was my great great grandfather's younger sister. She was buried at sea 150m of the Cape of Good Hope. They lost another in Geelong after arrival.The thought of being remembered 150 years later is intriguing.By the way, there is a memorial stone in Lamplugh in Cumberland that is
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.

 



 
 

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