Wool staplers and wool classers

Dunmore wool shed

The 1891 shearers’ strike is just one consequence of the many pressures applied to the wool industry which has been in decline since Hargreave’s invention of the spinning jenny. some of these pressures include:

  • the mechanisation of weaving through the use of power looms,
  • the mechanisation of shearing through the introduction of powered hand pieces and the introduction of wide combs,
  • the decline in the demand for wool to cloth armies against severe winters,
  • the introduction of alternative clothes made of cotton and synthetic fibres and
  • the periodic government regulations applicable to the selling of wool.

Continue reading “Wool staplers and wool classers”

Land – Laverton

At the corner of Landers Lane
At the corner of Landers Lane

My methodology for researching land ownership is not necessarily the only way to do land research.
Where and when we start with our research depends on the information we have or don’t have.
For our current home that is easy. We have the date. We have a place.
There is always an element of truth in family stories but often the truth is sufficiently different to make research difficult. Have I said that with enough feeling? For example, there is a story in our family that my great grandfather Samuel Baulch owned a hotel in Cavendish – some distance from his home in Kirkstall. A visit last year to the Hamilton History Centre confirmed Samuel was indeed a publican in Cavendish for a short while after the previous publican, his brother-in-law, had died. I found extra information recently when some of the Hamilton Spectator was added to Trove. Information I had missed when I visited the Spec office some thirty years ago!
If your family was here in Victoria very early on then another place to start may be at the Registrar of Titles General Law Library at Cherry Lane, Laverton. Susie Zada has written an excellent blog about using this resource. You will note, as I didn’t, that the indexes to the first series of vendor books are at the END of those books. Down the bottom.
Also, if you are going out to Laverton, think about taking the opportunity to look at aerial photographs. It may be worth looking at the University of Melbourne Map Collection first though.
I haven’t personally looked at aerial photographs. Because, until the hot rock geothermal pilot went in nearby, there was nothing to indicate that Landers’ block was hotly disputed over by the occupying squatter and the family of selectors when it was opened for selection under the 1869 Land Act.

Victoria Land Titles – Introduction

An old Broadwater home
An old Broadwater home

Almost always I have found family stories in Victorian land titles.
So where should one start looking?
Certainly not by searching current online databases for family historians. Most of the interesting family stories remain buried in files, memorials and research notes in either the Registrar General of Titles’ General Law Library of land titles at Laverton or at the Public Record Office of Victoria (PROV) in North Melbourne or maps at the State Library of Victoria.
In this blog I outline my personal methodology to search Victorian land titles for my family stories.

I generally start by purchasing the current land titles for the parcel of land I am researching. But before that I start finding what the current title may be with a Google search. But before I go further the following is a brief outline of my methodology:

  • Search for the address of the land on Google Maps (I am currently boycotting Bing Maps as they include Fitzroy North in their database but not the more important and relevant Fitzroy)
  • Using the Google Maps information, search for the address of the land on Landata’s Lassi map
  • Search the original parish map
  • Purchase the current computer title online
  • Purchase earlier computer titles back to the first computerised title
  • Search for earlier cancelled Torrens titles at the Public Record Office of Victoria
  • Search for the Application Note relating to the conversion of the old title to the Torrens Title at the General Law Library
  • Search for when and how the Crown Grant was acquired (remembering for some very early grants this information will be in NSW records)
  • Having started with the current title and worked backwards to the Crown Grant, start with the Crown Grant and work to the current title
  • Confirm information found by searching other sources alluded to in the land records. These may include probates, insolvencies and BMD information but may also include less common sources such as those for divorces, neighbouring landholders and dowers.

Now this methodology hasn’t been applicable for each piece of land I have ever searched but it is where I start out. Nevertheless, I shall use two parcels of land to illustrate how my methodology works.

GOOGLE MAPS

Not all land information is offline. Indeed the best place to start a Victorian land search is online with a Google search for the location of the property I am researching.
For example, one of my homes was at Broadwater in South West Victoria. Now, but not for a long time, I can see a Google Earth view of my old home.

Satellite View My Old Home
Satellite View My Old Home

A property in a town or city is a little simpler to locate on Google Maps. For example, the Genealogical Society of Victoria (GSV) is at 257 Collins Street, Melbourne.

Satellite GSV
Satellite GSV

LASSI MAPS

Finding my parcels land on Google Maps often makes it easier to find them on Landata’s Land & Survey Spatial Info (Lassi) map. This map can be accessed directly http://maps.land.vic.gov.au/lassi/ or from the link under Other Access at the bottom of Landata’s home page at https://www.landata.vic.gov.au/.
Now, be warned, this map pre existed Google Maps so behaves in its own manner and for its own peculiar requirements. That is, the Lassi map doesn’t always work in the same way as Google Maps do.
For my old home I first searched for Dunmore Lane, Broadwater and then refined this to 503 Dunmore Lane. By building, refining and refreshing the map I can display the parishes and allotments that are relevant to the parcel of land. The current title covers several allotments across three parishes

Lassi My Old Home
Lassi My Old Home

Similarly, I searched Lassi for 257 Collins Street, Melbourne. This time I built the map to include the Application Note numbers as well.

Lassi GSV
Lassi GSV

PARISH MAPS

There is another map collection that is always useful in my land research. This is a map of the parish that shows the parcel of land at the time the Crown Grant was granted. In this case I was able to download the parish maps from PROV by searching within VPRS 16171 for the name of the parishes concerned.

Search within VPRS 16171
Search within VPRS 16171

For my old home I downloaded Banangal, Broadwater and Clonleigh parishes.

Parish Plan My Old Home
Parish Plan My Old Home

For the GSV I downloaded Melbourne South parish.

Parish GSV
Parish GSV

Parish plans are also generally available online from the State Library of Victoria.
I now have two parcels of land for which I can order the current titles. How I do this I shall describe this is a further blog.

Genealogy Do Over – Week 2

In my interviews for Genealogy Do Over Week 2 I returned to when I started collecting my family stories.  I went back to my first official family history visit which, coincidentally, involved going back to my first home, Squattleseamere. For my second interview I went back to the time of big shearing teams at Dunmore. I looked again at the transcript of an interview about shearing at the Dunmore shed when the shed was run by my Grandpa Baulch.

In setting my research goals I have tried to select some goals which should be achievable in the time of the Do Over while, at the same time, giving me time to test my new research process as set out in my Genealogy Golden Rules.

CONDUCTING SELF INTERVIEW

For my self interview I reflected upon my first family interview. This interview marks the time when I changed from just listening and absorbing family stories to consciously setting out to answer the question I am always asked but could rarely answer before this visit – You’re a Baulch are you?

CONDUCTING FAMILY INTERVIEW

As a child I absorbed the atmosphere in the Dunmore shed at shearing time and listened, engrossed, to the many stories Grandpa Baulch told me about the men who shore there. This interview is not with my grandfather but with one of the shearers, Bill Meade. It was to be about Grandpa in the Dunmore shed. Or that is what I thought on my way to Port Fairy for an afternoon’s chat.

FAMILY GROUP SHEETS

I rarely use Family Group Sheets. Rather I use Legacy’s Family Group Report in the List Style format. Why I do so means I need to add another rule to my Genealogy Golden Rules:

Keep it simple. I have ONE place, my Legacy database, which contains ALL the information I have gathered about my family.

SETTING RESEARCH GOALS

In setting my research goals I have looked at what reports and/or output I hope to produce by the completion of the Genealogy Do Over, how I plan to go about this and the limitations that might prevent me achieving my research goals. Consequently, I have tried to keep my goals simple and achievable within the duration of the Do Over.

My focus on output will be confined to:

  • Reviewing a Family Group Report for my three greats grandfather Private George Watts (1792-1845).
  • Reviewing my Family Group Report for my four greats grandfather John Bourke Ryan Esquire (1760 – 1835).
  • Creating a timeline for Squattleseamere Pastoral Run.
  • Substantiating my connection to John Bourke Ryan and George Watts. After all, this is a genealogical Do Over.
  • Creating some charts as I go.
  • Maintaining a weekly blog for at least the duration of the Genealogy Do Over.

My research process, or how I am I going to achieve my research goals, is as follows:

  • I shall start each piece of research by creating a To-Do Item.
  • The completed To-Do Item will then become part of my Research Log.
  • To comply with my Golden Rule of Sources First Sources will be attached to my To-Do Item in the first instance.
  • I shall set aside some time each day in order to achieve my research goals.

Of course, because family history is my hobby there are many things that may prevent me from achieving my research goals. These are my boundary fences:

  • My research should be confined to producing the output given above. In particular my research goals will set aside for the duration of the Do Over for those Individuals who sparkle and say come hither. This applies in particular to two of my great grandfathers, Samuel Baulch and J R Learmonth.
  • I have a time limit. I plan to have completed my research by Congress 2015 (to be held in Canberra 26-30 March). This ties in quite nicely with the duration of the Do Over.
  • I shall remain involved and committed to my genealogical and computer groups.
  • I shall take time out. Often.

Family Interview – Shearing at Dunmore

Dunmore Tally Board 1917
Dunmore Tally Board 1917

For a few short years as a child I was able to observe and absorb the romance, the noise of the machines and the hustle and bustle of the shed hands in a big shed. And, if I believed Grandpa Baulch, everyone at some stage shore at Dunmore.

So it was, some 20 years after my grandfather died, I went to Port Fairy to have an afternoon’s chat with Bill Meade. Bill had started picking up wool in the sheds in 1923. As it still did when I was a child, shearing started in the Riverina in July and the teams worked their way south until Christmas. Then the work was processing the potato and onion harvest until it was time to head north again the following July.

My interview with Bill nearly came fell apart right at the beginning. Bill said that he hadn’t worked in the Dunmore shed. That’s confirmed by the records I have for Bill Meade isn’t listed.  Rather, Bill said, he worked in the Alanvale shed for Art Baulch. This can’t have happened until at least the 1925 shearing season as both Art at Alanvale and Stan Baulch at Rose Park and, to a lesser extent, Frank Baulch all used the Dunmore shed before then. This meant around 20,000 sheep a year were shorn at Dunmore.

Nevertheless, it was a most interesting afternoon with many insights into the shearing conditions at the time. Also Bill was able to mention many who had worked in the Dunmore Shed.

He also talked about the gun shearers – of Arthur Turner from Ararat and George Young of Orford as two men who could shear 200 sheep a day without much trouble. And of course Bill Edwards. Someone had said that it was impossible to shear that 200 sheep a day. Bill Edwards is reported to have said “Oh I don’t know whether it would be impossible or not but you can see them shorn tomorrow”.

It is certainly true that Bill Edwards shore more than 200 sheep in the Dunmore shed for I have been able to identify the following as his top tallies in the shed:

  • 211 shearing from Pen 8 on 14 Nov 1919
  • 185 shearing from Pen 7 on 20 Nov 1923
  • 183 shearing from Pen 9 on 16 Nov 1922
  • 182 shearing from Pen 2 on 4 Nov 1924
  • 182 shearing from Pen 2 on 3 Nov 1924

However, I haven’t, as yet, been able to identify who was shearing from Pen 9 in 1917. Perhaps Bill Edwards as he was shearing at Dunmore that year. Perhaps not. These are the top tallies for that pen that year:

  • 200 on 21 Nov 1917
  • 198 on 5 Dec 1917
  • 192 on 20 Nov 1917
  • 187 on 19 Nov 1917
  • 184 on 4 Dec 1917

Bill Meade was a life time member of the Australian Workers Union (AWU). Which reminds me of the shearer’s strike on 25 Nov 1887 when my great grandfather Samuel Baulch was at Glengleeson. But that’s a story for another day.

And of course the sheep were held in the Woolly Paddock before going into the shed and counted out on their way to the Shorn Paddock afterwards.