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The Rowland's become "Selectors"

 

After all the moving around it must have been a relief to finally settle in one place. Some sort of farming activity must have been set up, as much to provide food for the family as anything else. William and Frances would have had the experience needed to successfully run a farm. However the living conditions the family must have endured before they finally settled must have wreaked havoc on William's health as he finally succumbed to the effects of consumption which he had endured for some years, and died on 26 March 1855 and was buried at Avoca . He was only 47 years old and left Frances with 10 children and although the elder boys were obviously able to look after themselves, the youngest child would have been only two years old. Frances would have been only about 41 when she was widowed. However profits from the older boys mining ventures should have kept the family in a reasonable financial situation.

  Living in a small community, the Rowland’s involved themselves in local affairs. On 1 October 1861 State School No.316 opened at Homebush with Isabelle Reynard as head teacher. The local school becoming of greater importance to George, as he married in 1864 Mary Ann Smith on the 22nd April 1864 George Rowland and Henry Plowright were appointed to the Local Committee of Common School No. 316 at Homebush. (V.G.G. 22-4 186p p917). And in September that year James Clover, Thomas Shaw and Thomas Squires were gazetted members. Thomas Squires and his family became quite important to the Rowland family. Thomas was convicted of being a pickpocket in England and transported for life to Van Dieman’s Land on the convict ship “Mary” in 1830. He was granted his ticket of leave in 1838 and worked as a police constable until he became a free man in 1846. Thomas married Sarah Francis in St. Matthew’s Church New Norfolk on August 25, 1834.  Sarah herself also having been transported for seven years for the theft of a roll of ribbon. She arrived on the convict ship “Jane” in 1833. Sarah died in 1851 aged 43 and after this time Thomas with his sons George and John and daughter Elizabeth Sarah was lured to the Victorian gold fields, finally settling at Homebush.

              It was here in Homebush that the Squires made the acquaintance of the Rowland family. On October 29,1863 at Amherst, John Squires married Eliza Rowland (born September 9, 1843) and together the two of them produced a large family. The Avoca Mail on 5 November 1864 announced a tea meeting in aid of the Homebush Common School, to take place at “the new iron schoolhouse”. The Rev. T.B. Garlick (C of E) presided and a lecture on "Comic Literature" was delivered by John Cooke Esq. Tickets were 2s.6d. Obviously organized by the committee. On 19 November 1864 the Avoca Mail reported at length on the function at the Homebush School, mentioning Mesdames Rowland and Squires presiding over the appropriately named “Bachelors” table at one of the school functions. However all these “Bachelors” were not to be so for that much longer. George Rowland was married, and his sister Eliza to John Squires. Next to marry were Richmond Easto Rowland and Elizabeth Squires , John Squires` sister, in December of 1864. All of these couples settled on the land, taking up farming and producing large families.

  Two years after his successful land selection at Rathscar, on February 18, 1867 William Anderton Rowland married Elizabeth Shaw at the Wesleyan Parsonage at Amherst. According to the records, Elizabeth was 16 years old and most likely had just found out she was pregnant. She was born in London, England circa 1851, her parents being Thomas Henry Shaw, a blacksmith and Jane Copeland Webb. With the likelihood of another large family growing in the district, on 14 September 1867 J. F. Squires put an advertisement in the Avoca Mail looking for teachers for the Homebush Common School to look after the education of his and Eliza’s children as well as others in the area, and by 1873 school attendance averaged from 60-99 children. And I bet at least half of them were Frances Rowland’s grandchildren!

During these early years, the area was opening up to farming, as well as all the mining activity that was going on. Notices were quite often seen in the local newspapers from individuals applying to occupy crown land. Richmond had his turn and the Avoca Mail published in June 1865 his application to occupy 20 acres of land adjoining allotment 10, section 4, and parish of Glenmona, Homebush . This application was repeated on July 1,1865. Farming was obviously in the blood. A few months later on December 23,1865 the Avoca Mail listed the successful applicants in the land selections at Rathscar, which was 4 miles from Homebush. The number of selectors was 45 and only 13 were successful and William and Richmond Rowland were among those listed. Their properties became known as “Broadpark” and “Merrifields” respectively.

George also selected land at Rathscar, farming there for 40 years before retiring and transferring his land to his two surviving sons. In fact nearly all the Rowland boys turned to the land to make their living, although for some years mining still supplemented the income. By the 1860’s many would be miners were back on the land and people generally were much better off. Now running a farm at Rathscar, in November 1870, the Avoca Mail reported William A. Rowland, Cornelius Fitzgerald and William Graves as being appointed managers of the Rathscar Temporary Common by the Avoca Shire. It was at Rathscar that William's third child; George Arthur was born on September 27,1871. William’s mother Frances assisting at the birth. In fact Frances appears to have been in great demand with her midwifery skills, to attend the many of the births in the family. She certainly would have had ample opportunity to keep her skills up to date!   Frances was a busy and active member of the community. With her daughter-in-law Elizabeth, Frances was instrumental in establishing the Methodist Church in the area. Elizabeth was a staunch member of the Methodist Church and in fact had religious services held in her new home at Rathscar until her home became too small. With the consent of the Avoca minister Elizabeth and Frances collected a large amount of the money needed to establish a church. Elizabeth was also responsible for the establishment of the Sunday school. As the church had no organ Elizabeth, who had a good voice, lead the singing for over 15 years.

By 1867 the Avoca Mail reported Homebush growing in size. Mining still played a large part in the lives of the people. Every edition of the Avoca Mail had large parts of the paper devoted to mining news. Regular items listed the mining companies meeting and their decisions. At least two mining companies based in Homebush had the memorandums of their meetings published. Many people living in the area, if not actively mining themselves, took out shares in the various operating mining companies. Some names that may be of interest to us are, George Squires of Rathscar, brother of John and Elizabeth Squires , who held shares in the United No.2 Barnes Reef Gold Mining and Crushing Co. Ltd. in 1872. (George was also appointed amongst others as a trustee of the Rathscar Cemetery in October 1869). A William Shaw, Homebush, miner, held 6 shares in the Homebush Mining Co. in 1873. In Wrights` Australian and American Commercial Directory and Gazette published in New York in 1881 was the following description of Homebush. “124 miles north west of Melbourne, a post town, county of Gladstone, electoral district of Avoca, on the Avoca Maryborough line; State School and Wesleyan Chapel, population of district about 450.”

Frances would have seen many changes in the area during her lifetime. She died on January 3,1900 at Moores Flat near Avoca leaving behind a prodigious number of children and grandchildren. She was buried the next day at the Avoca cemetery. It is interesting to note on her death certificate that under rank or profession is written, “Widow” and underneath “Nurse”.

William Anderton and Elizabeth produced a family of 10 children in all. Eliza born in September 1867, followed by William, George Arthur, Ada May, Walter, Alice Frances Winifred (known as Winifred), Richard, Emily Frederick and last born Florence in 1877. While Richmond and Elizabeth had a family of 12 children born between 1865 and 1888. Sadly Theodore died at the age of 3 in 1875. All was well for several years until Richmond died of a painful cancer of the face and two years after their son Tasman Gordon died in 1895. Elizabeth then saw her daughter Mabel die in 1902 followed ten years later by her youngest child Irene died of typhoid fever in 1912. Disease, typhoid in particular was a big killer in those times. George and his wife Mary Ann lost four young children to typhoid, their last two Alfred and Cecil being the only children to survive. It would have been terrible for them loosing their children, especially as other family members were producing healthy children with monotonous regularity.

 

 

 

 

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SOURCES
Family Oral History - Norma Cornish nee Middleditch
Birth, Death, Marriage Certificates
Family Tree Information - Neilma Emanuel, Nan Middleditch
Family Bible held by Norma Cornish
International Genealogical Index - Family Search Computer Programme
Victorian Pioneer Index - microfiche
The Avoca Mail - State Library of Victoria
”Pioneers of the Pyrenees” - Margery and Betty Beavis

“Via the 19th hole” – Neville Rowland Taylor

“Our Pioneering Ancestors” – Vincent Ernest Squires
Maryborough a Social History 1854-1904 - Betty Osborne and Trenear Du Bourg
South Australian Land Returns 1843 - Andrew & Sandra Twining

The Sun Newspaper – Melbourne, Victoria.
Records held by Mrs. Jan Andrews.