(16 June 2011)
John Shepherd lived and worked initially at Rich Avon Station and then as a shepherd on the adjoining Banyenong station near Cope Cope. On 23 August 1862, he married, in accordance with the rights of the Wesleyan Church, Johanna Mulcahy at the residence of a Mr William Miller of Cope Cope. Johanna, who was probably working as a domestic servant for Miller, was born in Loughrea in County Galway in Ireland. Her parents were said on the marriage certificate to be James Mulcahy, a game keeper, and Johanna Daly. She had emigrated to Australia in around 1857 when she was just seventeen years old. The newly weds lived initially on the Banyenong Station and then at Corack where John worked as a boundary rider on Samuel Craig's Bald Hills sheep station. The station had been established in the mid-1840s and was some 100,000 acres in size. According to Jenni Campbell (1997: 8-9) during this time:
...there was some conflict between the white pastoralists and the aborigines. As sheep numbers increased the native game disappeared and the aborigines were forced to spear sheep for food. They developed quite a liking for mutton chops, so boundary riders were hired to watch the flocks by day, and by night the sheep were driven into yards consisting of movable hurdle type fence panels where they were guarded by shepherds. As the boundary riders retaliated against these killings, bad feelings against the aborigines grew and the late Mrs Jane Cook (a daughter of the boundary rider John Shepherd) remembers the Richardson and Morton plains aborigines being rounded up and taken to the Ebernezer Mission at Antwerp.
In 1874, following the enactment of the Victorian Land Act, John Shepherd took out a lease on 307 acres of land at Corack East. Three years later, the couple lost three of their children - Susan Maria Shepherd (1870-77), Jessie Shepherd (1874-77) and their only son John William Shepherd (1875-77) - in the diptheria epidemic that swept through the area in 1877. According to some notes later written by their youngest daughter, Annie Florence Shepherd (pictured below with her sister Lucy), all three children were buried in the Donald Cemetery and a 'picket fence was erected around the graves'. Some time later, she added, 'the picket fence and all the records to that time were burnt in a bush fire [so that] the location of those graves could not be found'. Annie's notes also tell us that John and Johanna built their first house on land that 'was later gazetted as a reserve resulting in them having to shift to the present home site'.
In spite of their losses and trials, John and Johanna stayed on at Corack, continuing to transform their virgin bush block into a working farm. In 1889 they were able to enjoy the wedding of their eldest daughter, Mary Jane Shepherd, to Frederick Thomas Cook, the son of another local pioneering family (see below). Two years later, their next two girls, Fanny Johanna and Johanna Shepherd, married the Free brothers, Samuel and James, at the girls' parents residence at Corack East. The two couples and their growing families initially farmed land near their father's selection at Corack East but eventually moved to Lalbert.
Sent to us by Gloria Reilly, the photo on the left is of Lucy Catherine and Annie Florence Shepherd.
The one on the right shows Elizabeth Ann and Lucy Catherine Shepherd at the rear, their parents John and
Johanna Shepherd nee Mulchay in the centre, and Annie Florence Shepherd in the front.
On 26 November 1900 Johanna Shepherd nee Mulcahy died at Corack East from the effects of influenza and heart exhaustion. Her death certificate, which was informed by her daughter Lucy Catherine Shepherd, tells us that she had been in Victoria 43 years, she had married John Shepherd at Cope Cope in Victoria when she was 22 years old, and her issue at the time of her death were: Jane (36), Fanny (36), Johanna (34), Lizzie (32), Susan (deceased), Jessie (deceased), John (deceased), Lucy (22) and Annie (19). A brief obituary subsequently published in the Donald Times indicated that she had also died unexpectedly:
It is with regret that we announce the sudden and somewhat unexpected death of Mrs Shepherd, wife of Mr John Shepherd, of Corack East, on Monday last at the age of 61 years. The cause of death was heat apoplexy. The deceased was attended by Dr Lewis a few hours before her death. The funeral took place at the Corack East cemetery on Wednesday last, and was largely attended by residents of the district. The deceased lady, along with her husband, arrived at Corack nearly 30 years ago and has resided there ever since, and was greatly liked and respected by all who knew her. Great sympathy is expressed for Mr Shepherd and family in their sad bereavement.
After Fanny's death John continued to live at Corack East with his youngest daughters Elizabeth Ann, Lucy Catherine and, until her marriage in 1911, Annie Florence Shepherd (the three Shepherd girls are pictured in the photo below which was taken at 'Laurelville' at Corack East). He died at Corack of a heart attack on 28 February 1918 and was buried with his wife in the local cemetery. The headstone to their grave reads: 'Sacred to the memory of Johanna Shepherd beloved wife of John Shepherd who departed this life at Corack 26 November 1900 aged 60 years, 8 months. "Sleep on beloved/Sleep and take thy rest/We love thee well/But Jesus loves thee best". Also the above our dear father John Shepherd died 28 February 1918 aged 76 years. Ever loved and remembered, sadly missed'. The following obituary for the pioneer farmer subsequently appeared in the 5 March 1918 edition of the Donald Times
One of the oldest pioneers of this district in the person of Mr John Shepherd passed away on Thursday last, after an illness of only four days. Up to Sunday last the deceased gentleman was in his usual health, but on that day was attacked by illness, and Dr Calhoun (Donald) on being called out, diagnosed the case as paralysis. For several days the health ebbed and flowed, but at last the Dr pronounced the case hopeless and the end came on 28th Feb. Mr Shepherd had attained the ripe old age of 76 years, 66 years of which had been lived in the colony, the main part of which had been spent in the Donald and Corack districts. The deceased arrived in Victoria with his parents from Devonshire, England, in the year 1852, the name of the ship being the "Stebonheath" and landed at Geelong on 11th January in that year. Immediately thereafter Mr and Mrs Shepherd Senr. moved with their little family to Rich Avon station, where they remained for several years, from which place deceased was married, the young lady being Miss Mulcahy, the ceremony being conducted by an Anglican clergyman at Cope Cope. After being at Banyenong station for two years, Mr Shepherd in 1869 took employment with Mr Craig at the Bald Hills Station (Corack), and on selection being given to the people, he took up the usual 320 acres, in which he and his family have resided ever since. In the year 1877 bereavement came to the family by the ravages of diptheria which carried off the only boy (2 years old) and two of the girls. Further bereavement occurred in November 1900 when the wife of deceased died, leaving six daughters, four of whom are as follows: Mrs Cook, Thalia; Mrs S. and J. Free, Lalbert; and Mrs Reilly of Corack, and the two younger daughters Elizabeth and Lucy were with the father when he died. No fewer than 28 grandchildren and 9 great grandchildren survive the good old man - and he came to his end like a full stock of corn - loved and respected by all who knew him. Three brothers also survive the deceased gentleman, Mr Edward, 79 years, Wycheproof, Mr Robt, St Arnaud, and Mr William, Berrimal.
On 26 April 1918, the same paper informed its readers that 'John Shepherd, late of Corack East, farmer, widower, who died on 28th February, left by his will, of 27th March 1917, £63,706 real estate and £61,475 personally to his wife and daughters'. Such a legacy, combined no doubt with the generous nature of its donor enabled Lucy Catherine Shepherd to contribute £2/10/- to the Commonweath Button Fund, "Women's Day" collection, held in August 1919. The electoral rolls for the Wimmera Division of Victoria show that Lucy and her sister Elizabeth Ann Shepherd continued to live in the family home after their father's death. Gloria Reilly tells us that, sometime between 1924 and 1931, Lucy married the local blacksmith, John Myles (1866-1954). Their wedding photo is pictured below. The 1931 electoral roll shows John and Lucy registered as living at Corack and Corack East repectively. Lucy died the following year and was buried in the Corack Cemetery. John died at St Arnaud in 1954 and was buried with Lucy at Corack on 3 September. He was then 90 years old.
Elizabeth Ann Shepherd lived in the family home at Corack East for the rest of her life and, it seems, never married. She died at Corack East on 28 August 1940 and, according to the Melbourne Argus (24 September 1940), willed her possessions to her sister Annie Florence Reilly and Annie's husband Edmond, a farmer and grazier, both of whom were then living at Corack (see below). Elizabeth was buried behind her parents' grave at the Corack cemetery. Her headstone reads: 'In loving memory of Elizabeth Ann Shepherd beloved daughter of the late John and Johanna Shepherd. "A sterling good woman resting with God"'. The Donald Times published the following brief obituary on 2 September 1940:
There passed away on August 29 an old and widely known and highly respected pioneer, who has been for many years associated with the development of Corack East, in the person of Miss Elizabeth Shepherd, at the age of 73 years. Born at Banyenong Station where her father was engaged as boundary rider for Messrs Craig and Aitken, owners of a large portion of the Corack East district known as Banyenong and Corack stations, and had lived out her life in the surrounding neighbourhood.
Sent to us by Gloria Reilly, the photo on the left shows the three youngest Shepherd girls 'walking out'
at Corack East. The one on the right is of John Myles and Lucy Catherine Shepherd on their wedding day.
From Jenni Campbell's 1997 monograph. Cream of Corack, this photograph is of the female congregationists
of the Corack Methodist Church in 1929. It is said to include three of John Shepherd's daughters:
1) Elizabeth Ann Shepherd (back row, second from the left); 2) Mary Jane Cook nee Shepherd (front row, fourth from the left);
and 3) Joanna Free nee Shepherd (front row, sixth from the left). Seated on Joanna's left is her sister-in-law,
Alice Martha McCallum nee Free.
What of John and Johanna's other daughters? As mentioned above, their second and third daughters had married the Free brothers and by the time of John's death, were living on farms at Lalbert. Click here to read about their life, times and descendants.
Their eldest daughter, Mary Jane Shepherd (1863-1963) had married Frederick Thomas Cook (1858-1915), the son of Thomas Cook and Lucy Barnes, at Corack in 1889 (a photo of Frederick, said to be taken in 1874, is shown on the left). She and Frederick left the district after their marriage to farm land at Thalia where they had six children: Stephen (1889-1908), Frederick (1890-1963), Henry (1892-1959), Mary Jane (1894-1959), Ruby (1898-1926) and Herbert Cook (1901-63). Henry and Mary Jane (who was known as Polly) are shown in the photograph below. Frederick Thomas Cook died and was buried at Wycheproof in 1915. Mary Jane Cook nee Shepherd died there in 1933. The following obituary for Mary Jane was subsequently published in the Donald Times:
It is with sincere regret we have to announce the death of an old pioneer and highly esteemed resident of the Thalia district in the person of Mrs Mary Jane Cook, which sad event occurred with tragic suddenness on Sunday morning last at her homestead (says the Wycheproof Ensign). She attended the Wycheproof Show and took a keen interest in the progress, showing no sign of physical weakness. She was delighted to know that her daughter had been successful in winning honours in several sections and exchanged greetings with many old friends. She was faithful to duty to the last, for it was whilst performing her task as usual in the kitchen on Sunday morning that she dropped at her post and passed peacefully away, aged 70 years...Of a quiet, retiring, kindly disposition, she enjoyed the friendship of a large circle of district friends who held her in high esteem. Her husband, Mr Frederick Thomas Cook, died in 1915, whilst one son Stephen and a daughter Ruby are deceased. There are three surviving sons, Frederick, Henry and Herbert and one daughter, Mary Jane.
It appears that the Cook children lived all their lives in the Thalia/Wycheproof area. Stephen died young and Mary Ann and Ruby, who both died at Wycheproof, seem not to have married. Robert Shepherd's 'Shepherd Family Tree' on Ancestry.com tells us that Herbert Cook married Ruby Robertson (1903-2004), the daughter of Alexander Robertson and Annie Fraser, at Learmonth in Victoria in 1925. They had ten children, eight still living as well as Gwendoline Ruby Storer (nee Cook), who died in 2002, and Errol Keith Cook (1938-67). Ancestry's index of Australian bdms together with the Australian electoral rolls indicate that Henry Cook may have married Alice Elizabeth Maud Berryman in 1907 although this has still to be confirmed (especially as Henry would have only been fifteen at the time of the wedding). We have yet to determine whether Frederick Cook married and who to.
Taken from the archives of the Wycheproof Historical Society, this photograph is of the
teacher and pupils of the Thalia public school in 1902. Henry Cook is the tallest boy in the rear row.
His sister Polly is the third girl from the right. Also in the photo are three of their Ryan cousins
(the children of Martin and Jane Elizabeth Ryan nee Shepherd): Martin jnr and Edward (first and last
from the left in the rear row) and Margaret ('Maggie') Ryan (second girl from the left).
John and Johanna's youngest daughter, Annie Florence Shepherd, had married Edmond Reilly (1877-1945), the son of Richard Augustine Reilly and Mary Dodds, at Corack in 1911 (their wedding photo is shown on the left). A mimeograph on land selection at Corack East by R. P. Falla shows that Richard Reilly, described as a 'farmer of Gavoc, Mortlake', was one of the area's original settlers, leasing a 319-acre block of land at Corack East in 1873. Reilly's application was objected to by his future neighbour Samuel Craig 'on the grounds that it takes one of my last paddocks from me and if granted would render useless the wash that has cost me £500' (cited in Campbell, 1997:9). Craig's objections were unheeded and the Reilly family settled on their new block (the lease to which was eventually transferred to Henry Goldsmith in 1890).
Falla's document on land selection also shows that two of Richard's sons also selected land in the area. In 1881 Richard Reilly jnr leased a 300-acre block which he transferred to his father in 1905. The same year Richard's younger brother, Edmond Reilly, took over the lease of a 144-acre block of land belonging to a John Boorn jnr. In 1908 'E & A Reilly' assumed the lease to a 292-acre block that had also belonged to James Boorn. Edmond, described as a farmer of Corack East, was the executor for the last will and testament of his father, Richard Reilly, who died at Birchip in 1922. Edmond's mother, Mary Reilly nee Dodds, died at Birchip in Victoria on 22 January 1930. Her death notice published in the Melbourne Argus on 1 February indicated that she and her late husband had had eleven children (some of whom are pictured in the photo below): Richard (Leongatha), Jane (deceased), John (NSW), Joseph (deceased), Margaret (Mrs J. Bligh, Woodlord), Mary (Mrs J. Coombs, Birchip), Clara (deceased), Andrew (Queensland), Edmond (Corack), Augustine (Queensland) and Emily (Mrs Left, Queensland).
The district electoral rolls show that Edmond and Annie Florence Reilly lived at Corack after their marriage until around 1943 when they retired from farming and went to live at St Arnaud where Edmond died in 1945 (the joint executors to his will were his wife Annie and their son Edmond Lance Reilly). Annie Florence Reilly nee Shepherd died at nearby Bendigo two years later. Her death notice, published in the Argus newspaper on 29 August 1947, indicates she and Edmond had three children: Annie Florence, who married Ronald Morgan and went to live at Cavendish in the western district of Victoria; Daisy Alexandrina who married James Goldsmith Campbell, the son of Charles Frederick Campbell and Annie Grace Goldsmith, and went to live at Carron (located between Donald and Warracknabeal); and Lance Edmond Reilly who with his wife Catherine Dunn are the current owners of the land first selected by John Shepherd in 1874.
Supplied by Gloria Reilly, this photo shows Edmond and Annie Florence Reilly nee Shepherd with members of
Edmond's extended family. Rear row (L/R): Margaret Bligh nee Reilly, James Bligh, Lucy Haswell,
Susan Ellen Cockfield nee Haswell, Harry Cockfield, Grace Stakelum nee Cockfield and Richard Reilly.
Centre row: Charles Loft, Emma Loft nee Reilly, Richard Augustine Reilly, Mary Reilly nee Dodds, Edmond Reilly,
Annie Florence Reilly nee Shepherd, Janet Munro nee Haswell (nursing Alice Munro), 'Gus' Reilly and Jeanie Barkla.
Front Row: Oscar Cockfield (knealing), Annie Cockfield, Hilda Cockfield, Jean Munro, unknown, unknown,
Charlie Munro and Andrew Munro.
Also from Gloria Reilly, this photo shows Edmond and Annie Florence Reilly nee Shepherd and their three children:
Daisy Alexandrina Campbell nee Reilly, Edmond Lance Reilly and Annie Florence Morgan nee Reilly.
(16 June 2011)
'Johanna Shepherd's grave', 'Edmond and Annie's wedding, 1911' and 'Reilly family group', courtesy of Robert White and Gloria Reilly.
'Lucy and Annie Shepherd', 'John and Johanna Shepherd and their three girls', 'Shepherd sisters at Corack East', 'John Myles and Lucy Shepherd's wedding' and 'Edmond and Annie Reilly and family', courtesy of Gloria Reilly.
'1929 Methodist congregation' from Jenni Campbell's monograph, Cream of Corack: 1844-1997 (Red Cliffs, Sunnylands Press 1997).
Remainder from the photos section of Wycheproof Historical Society website.
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Go to John Shepherd's sisters Mary Lee and Ann Maria Allen
Go to John Shepherd's older brother Edward Shepherd
Go to Edward Shepherd's younger brothers William and Robert Shepherd
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