Mary Ann Free (1878-1948) and
John William Donnan (1869-1941)

(last updated 22 March 2020)

mary jane freeWilliam and Eliza's youngest daughter, Mary Ann ('Polly') Free (1878-1948) - pictured on the left - was born at Raglan in Victoria in 1878 but grew up on the family's farm at Corack East where they had settled the same year. After the farm was sold following William's death in 1890, she moved with her mother and siblings to the nearby township of Watchem where, on 7 June 1899, she married a local farmer, John William Donnan (1869-1941).

Margaret Donnan from Bunbury in Western Australia tells us that John was born in 1868 at Yeo, near Colac, in the Western District of Victoria. He was the oldest son of Hugh William Donnan (1832-85) and Susan Ardill (1840-1914). A carpenter by trade, Hugh Donnan was born in County Down in Ireland and emigrated to Australia from Portaferry in around 1853. Susan was born at Roscommon in Ireland in 1840. Together with her sister Jane, she sailed to Australia on the GREAT TASMANIAN, arriving in Melbourne in March 1863.

Margaret continues that Hugh and Susan were married in the Presbyterian Church at St Kilda in Melbourne on 20 May 1867. After their marriage they farmed at Yeo where their six children - John William, Jane, Eliza Ann (Minnie), Susan, James Robert and Margaret Ethel Donnan - were all born. In around 1881 the family moved onto a 320-acre block of land at Sammy's Lakes near Watchem. Hugh died there of pancreatic cancer in 1885. Susan lived for another 29 years, dying at Willangie near Woomelang (where she is buried) in 1914. The lives and times of the various family members are detailed in a book on the Donnans that was originally compiled by Mary Donnan of Highton in Melbourne in 1985 and subsequently revised and reprinted in 2001 by Jean Russell of Woomelang.

The wedding of Mary Ann Free and John William Donnan was said by the Donald Times to have involved 'a pleasant gathering of relatives and friends' which took place at the residence of Eliza Bruce (Polly's mother who had re-married in 1894). 'The bride, who was given away by her brother, was prettily attired in a gown of pale heliotrope cashmere, trimmed with satin and baby ribbon, and relieved with a frill of white lisse. The bridesmaids were Miss Maggie Donnan and Miss Ruby Johnson, sister and niece of the bridegroom'. At the wedding breakfast, the report continued, 'the usual toast of "Bride and Bridegroom" was honoured, and at its conclusion the party drove to the residence of the bridegroom's mother, where the wedding festivities were kept up during the evening'.

mary ann free and john william donnan

Mary Ann ('Polly') Free and her husband, John William Donnan, on the day of their wedding.

According to the Donnan family book, John and Mary Ann lived initially on a 250-acre block of land, known locally as Mooney's, at Sammy's Lake where John 'grew wheat and grazed sheep'. They had five boys there: Hugh William (1900-1986), Ernest John (1902-1965), James Samuel (1903-1979), Robert (1905-09) and Leonard Harold Donnan (1907-1971). 'In 1908 John bought a block of land ... [at Willangie which] he worked from Sammy's Lake, batching in a tent as the house [on the new block] was still occupied. Margaret, his youngest sister, used to go and cook for him at times'. The family moved to Willangie in 1910, travelling 'in an old double-seated horse-drawn buggy ... driven by Sam Collett [who was brought up by 'Granny Bruce']. Their new house

free family at Willangie... had two rooms made of pine logs standing upright with mud and cocky chaff mixed together to seal the cracks between them, and two bedrooms [made of] galvanised iron. All these rooms were lined with hessian and paper ... John bought another piece of land with a weatherboard hut on it ... [which was relocated to the] south of the house and the four eldest boys slept there. There was a big open fire in the kitchen and a wooden stove [in which were burnt the numerous mallee roots that were scattered across the property] ... In 1917 ... there was a bad mice plague, they ate the paper off the walls and Mother re-papered them with newspaper.

Over the ensuing decades John acquired a number of additional blocks of land in the area and, in 1919, built a new and more substantial family home on one of these (known as McClean's). In 1926 this was extended 'to include a verandah on three sides, a large kitchen, bathroom and outside spacious laundry'. John and Mary Ann's family also grew over this time to include Arthur Harold (1909-1981), George (1911-2000), Mary (1914-14) and Eliza Mary Donnan (1919-2004). The photo on the right shows John and Mary Ann and their boys leaving Willangie for the wedding of John's sister, Margaret, at Sammy's Lake in 1911 (see the photo below).

The Donnan children went to school at Willangie and Willangie East where they also attended the local Presbyterian-Methodist Church (of which John was an elder). The running of the home farm was taken over by the couple's eldest son, Hugh William Donnan, following his marriage to Dorothy Garrett at West Brunswick in Melbourne in 1930. John and Polly and their youngest daughter, Eliza Mary Donnan, moved to Ballarat where John died in 1941. The family placed the following death notice for John in the Melbourne Argus on 25 July:

'DONNAN - On July 24 at his residence 1146 Eyre Street Ballarat. John William Donnan, formerly of Watchupga, dearly beloved husband of Mary, and loving father of Hugh, Ernest James, Robert (deceased) Leonard, Arthur, George and Mary. Aged 72 years'.

The 1942 electoral roll shows Polly and Eliza Mary Donnan, who was working as a nurse, still at 1146 Eyre Street in Ballarat. Polly died there on 16 June 1948 and the following death notice was published in the Argus the following day:

'DONNAN - On June 16 (suddenly) at her residence, 1146 Eyre St Ballarat, Mary Ann, widow of John William Donnan (formerly of Watchupga) and loved mother of Hugh, James, Ernest, Leonard, Arthur, George and Mary, in her 70th year'.

margaret donnan wedding

Taken at the wedding of Margaret Ethel Donnan to John Cecil at Watchem in 1911. From (L/R): D. Elliott (best man),
Reverend Brodie, John Cecil, Margaret Ethel Cecil nee Donnan, Isobel Dickie (bridesmaid),
Susan Donnan nee Ardil and John William Donnan.

donnan family

Children of John and Polly Donnan (L/R): Hugh, Ernest, James, Arthur, George and Eliza.

What of their children? As we have seen, Mary and John had nine children in all. Two of these, Mary Donnan, born at Birchip in 1914, died as an infant and Robert Donnan, born at Watchem in 1905, died there when he was just four years old. It seems their second daughter, Eliza Mary Donnan (1919-2004), who was born at Donald, never married. The electoral rolls show she was a nurse all her working life, based at the Colac District Hospital in the late 1960s and early 1970s and then moving to the suburb of Highton in Geelong (where her brother Arthur Harold Donnan and his family also lived - see below). She died at the Geelong Hospital on 26 April 2004 and is buried in the Highton (Barrabool Hills) Cemetery (HIGH-LAWN-EH-808-11). The family's tribute to her, published in the Melbourne Herald Sun on 27 April 2004, reads: 'Last surviving child of the family; parents John and Mary Ann (Polly), brothers Hugh, Ernie, Jim, Robert, Leonard, Arthur, George. Aged 85 years'. We know nothing about John and Mary's son, Leonard or Leonard Harold Donnan beyond his dates of birth (1907 in Donald) and death (possibly 1971 in Ararat although this has not been confirmed). We have been able to discover a little more about their remaining five children who, as detailed below, provided their beloved parents with 15 grandchildren and at least 36 great- and 36 great-great grandchildren we are aware of:

phyllis and dorothy garrett1 & 2) Two of John and Polly's sons, Hugh William Donnan (1900-86) and James Samuel Donnan (1903-79), married two sisters, Dorothy Garrett (1903-71) and Phyllis Garrett (1904-82), at West Brunswick in Melbourne in 1930 and 1932 respectively (Phyllis, on the left, and Dorothy are shown in the photo on the left). According to the 'Drew' and other family trees on Ancestry, Dorothy's parents were David Garrett (1868-1946) and Eliza May Hayward (1877-1971) who were married in Victoria on 18 April 1901 and had two boys in addition to the two girls: John Garrett (1912-12) and Ronald Charles Garrett (1916-82). According to one of their descendants, Sue Garrett, David was the seventh of fourteen children born to John Garrett and his wife Sarah Craig. He and his brothers worked at different times in the mines in Tasmania and Kalgoorlie in Western Australia from where he and May, who was living in Victoria, exchanged letters and poems. After their marriage in 1901, they and their two daughters lived for a time in Tasmania before returning to Melbourne where they lived in the inner suburb of Brunswick. After David's death from cancer in 1946, May continued to live in Melbourne until her own death there in 1971. She was 74 years old and is buried with David in the Melbourne General Hospital.

The Australian electoral rolls show that Hugh and Dorothy farmed land at Watchupga, Willangie where Dorothy died in 1971. Hugh then moved to the suburb of Belmont in Geelong where he lived with his youngest daughter, Alison May Donnan, until his death there in 1986. He and Dorothy are buried in the Highton (Barrabool Hills) Cemetery (HGH-LAWN-AC-808-02) We believe that Hugh and Dorothy had three other children in addition to Alison: John, Joyce and Dorothy June Donnan.

After their marriage in 1932, James and Phyllis continued to farm land at Watchupga until the early 1970s when the family moved to the Geelong suburb of Belmont where James died in 1979 and Phyllis in 1982. They are also buried together in the Barrabool Hills Cemetery (HGH-LAWN-AQ-808-30). We believe they had three children: Robert James (1933-2004), Coral and Ian Graeme Donnan. The Australian electoral rolls show that both Robert James and Ian Graeme Donnan were farmers at Watchupga and Woomelang in Victoria respectively. According to the 'John Victor Slack' family tree on Ancestry, Robert James Donnan married Margaret Alice Slack (1936-c1994), the daughter of John Victor Slack (1898-1973) and Gertrude Louisa North who were married at Tynemouth in Northumberland in England in 1934 (Margaret was said to have been born at Wallsend in Northumberland in 1936). It adds that Margaret and Robert had six children including Philip Robert Donnan who was born at Birchip in Victoria in 1962 and died at Queanbeyan in New South Wales.

3) Born at Donald, Ernest John Donnan (1902-65) married Annie May Edwards (1896-1983), the youngest daughter of William Charles Edwards (1859-1924) and an Irish woman, Elizabeth Dournein (1857-96), at Watchupga in Victoria in 1925. Annie was born at Talbot in Victoria and had four older siblings: Elenia Elizabeth (1889-1981), Annabella Olive (1891-1966), William James (1893-1969) and Alice Grace. The Australian electoral rolls show that after their marriage Ernest and Annie farmed land at Willangie and then Yabba North near Numurkah in central Victoria. Sometime between 1954 and 1963 they retired from farming and moved to Shepparton where Ernest died in 1965. Annie remained at Shepparton (initially in the family home at 119 Archer Street and later at the Tarcoola Hostel) until her own death there in 1983. We believe they had four children: Albert James, Jean Elizabeth, Audrey May and Mary Anne Donnan.

3.1) Albert James Donnan (1925-2016) was farming with his father at Willangie when he probably met and married Yvonne Lillian Gill in 1954. The Australian electoral rolls show Albert and Yvonne farming at Invergordon south near Numurka in Victoria from at least the mid-1960s until 1980 (the 1977 and 1980 rolls have a Raymond William, John Robert and Pamela Lorraine Donnan living in the same area). After Albert's retirement, he and Yvonne moved to Swan Hill where Albert died in 2016. His tribute, posted in the Melbourne Herald Sun on 29 June 2016, reads: DONNAN - Albert. 5.1.1926 - 25.6.2016. Dearly loved husband of Yvonne. Loved father of Raymond, John, Pamela and Keith and Wendy. Loved grandfather of 13 and great grandfather of 2'.

3.2) Jean Elizabeth Donnan (1928-2018) married a farmer from Watchupga, William Clifford (Cliff) Russell (1926-2012). They continued farming at Watchupga after their marriage and, by the time of the 1977 election, were living at Woomelang. His tribute published in the Melbourne Herald Sun on 6 December 2012, tells us Cliff, aged 86 years and of Watchupga and Woomelang, died peacefully at the Mildura Private Hospital on 4 December 2012. He was the 'Loved husband of Jean, loved father of Joan (Pratt) and Ian. Fond father-in-law of Robert and friend of Cathy. Loved Pa of Corey, Aaron and Kate, Bianca, Renae; Nigel and Karen, Kate and Robbie, Rohan and Kerrie and Hyedi and Chris. Loved Great Granddad of 12. Loved and remembered always'. The Ryerson Index tells us Jean, 90 years old and late of Woomelang, died at Swan Hill on 13 February 2018.

audrey donnan3.3) Audrey May Donnan (1929-2005) - pictured on the right - married a farm hand from Donald East in Victoria, Norman Edward Trollop, in 1952. According to the 'Peachment Family Tree' on Ancestry, Norman's parents were Prince Albert Trollop and Gerde Lydia Ottine Fischmann who were married in Victoria in 1923. His mother, Gerde, was born at Copenhagen in 1892 and came to Australia from England in 1913. It adds that Normans great grandparents, William Barton Trollop(e) (1824-81) and Hannah Embling (1824-95) both came from Wiggenhall St Germans in Norfolk in England and had eleven children, two of whom were born at Wiggenhall and the remainder in Australia after they arrived in Adelaide in around 1853. The Australian electoral rolls show that Audrey and Norman lived at Donald East and later Wendouree near Ballarat where Norman worked as a labourer. The Ryerson Index informs us that Audrey May Trollop died on 14 June 2005 (Herald Sun, 14 June 2005). The Australian electoral rolls indicate they had at least four children: Christopher Norman, Lynnette Anne, Beverley Dawn and Paul David Trollop.

3.4) Mary Anne Donnan married Shepparton-born, Victor Erik Jondahl (1921-93), in Victoria in 1951 probably in Shepparton although that has still to be determined. According to the 'Jondahl Family Tree' on Ancestry, Victor's parents were a First World War veteran, Henry William Jondahl (1893-1964), and Frances Dixon (1889-1961) who had three children in addition to Victor: Myna, Lorna and Robert Jondahl. His military record in the Australian archives shows that Henry William, a driver aged 21 years, enlisted in the First AIF at Frankston in Melbourne on 14 October 1914. He had previously served for three years in the senior cadets and gave as his NOK a Mrs F. Honeyman of Irvine Parade Yarrawonga. Allocated to the 1st Reinforcements for the Australian Army Service Corps, he embarked for overseas service in December 1914 and worked as a driver at the 19th General Hospital at Alexandria in Egypt during the Gallipopi campaign. He later served in France with 3 and then 1 Company ASC from February 1917 until December 1918 when he returned, from Havre in France, direct to Australia under the special 1914 leave provisions. He died in the Melbourne suburb of Mentone in 1964. William's brother, Victor Robert Jondahl, enlisted in January 1915. Allocated to the 21st Battalion, he died of enteric fever and pneumonia in Malta on 2 November the same year and is buried in Malta's Pieta Military Cemetery.

Victor's paternal grandfather was a Nowegian sailor, Erik Jondahl (1862-1940) who arrived in Sydney in 1885 and married Annie May Dawson (1868-1936) in Victoria in 1889. An article entitled 'A Hardy Norseman', published in The Frankston and Somerville Standard on 18 October 1922, gives us a flavour of Erik's life:

Captain Eric Jondahl, a well known master mariner, who has seen a lifetime of service on the high seas, and who some years ago purchased an orchard at Langwarrin with the intention of settling down to enjoy the comforts of home life on shore, was induced some twelve months back to take command again. After completing several voyages to the Phillipines, Japan, and other South Sea Islands, he has declined any more service, even though his salary was £75 per month. During the war he made many voyages through the North Sea, and it was owing to the great strain on his nerves during this time that he now feels that his skill as a navigator in critical times is not what it used to be. Prior to the war, he was noted for his fine seamanship in guiding the boats he was in command of over the harbour bars in New Zealand ports.

The article finished with a possible insight into the cause of Victor Robert Jondahl'e death in Malta in 1915. Apparently when the troopship S S SOUTHLAND 'was torpedoed and was sinking with a lot of Australian soldiers on board, Capt. Jondahl's son, Victor, a member of the A.I.F., was one of the eight volunteers who went below and helped to stoke the ship to land. This was accomplished, but in the heroic efforts of the stokers, death claimed his toll, and one to pay the penalty of his great test of human endurance was Vic. Jondhal'.

victorjondahlLike his father and uncle, Victor (pictured on the left) also saw active service overseas. The DVA's WW2 nominal roll shows he enlisted in the Australian Army at Caulfield on 13 June 1940. His military file in the Australian Archives shows that Victor was then aged 21, single and working as a motor mechanic. His NOK was his father H.W. Jondahl of 292 Station Street Fairfield. He served in Australia until August 1941 when, as a member of the Australian 8th Division, he embarked for Singapore and was posted as missing in February 1942 and then as a prisoner of war. He was among the contingent of POWs who sailed on the Kyokko Maru from Singapore to Osaka in Japan in April 1943 where he lived in the Takefu POW Camp there and worked in a 'carbon-making' factory. In his deposition to a subsequent War Crimes Trial, Victor provided us with a sense of what his life as a prisoner of war was like:

Food consisted mainly of very weak vegetable soup, and a small quantity of rice per day. This ration was totally inadequate to maintain us in the physical condition necessary to carry out our work. Medical supplies were at all times short and only very small quantities were received from the Japanese, at this camp. We received a clothing issue of one set of cotton working dress, and for those who were without footwear, a pair of wooden clogs, per man. No provision was made for a change of clothing. [Our] Quarters consisted of a large converted wooden warehouse with a concrete floor. Four very thin blankets per man were provided. Working conditions were very bad. I was working in the carbon-making factory [where] the work consisted of making five carbons per day, averaging five men per pot, to complete the task. Dust and fumes made working conditions very unhealthy, and resulted in nostril and face sores.

The Australian electoral rolls show Victor living with his parents at the Melbourne suburb of Mentone in 1949. After their marriage he and Mary lived first at Shepparton, where Victor worked as a factory employee, then Rosedale and later Denison in the Gippslandregion of Victoria where they ran a farm. Victor died at Denison in 1993. Although still to be confirmed, we think they had four children: Neville Eric Jondahl, Denise Faye Jondahl and two others.

victor and mary jondahl

From the 'Mawson Cullen Family Tree' on Ancestry this photo is said to be of Victor and Mary Jondahl nee Donnan
in January 1987, presumably at their house in Denison in Victoria' Gippsland.

4) Born at Wirrum Birchip, Arthur Harold Donnan (1909-81) was working on the family farm at Willangie when he married another farmer's daughter, Reta Elizabeth Margaret Smith (1914-2012), in 1943. Some 14 years earlier, Reta had written to the young person's section of the Weekly Times telling them: 'I live on a farm in the north-west of Victoria, in the Mallee. We are nine and a half miles from Berriwillock, which is our nearest township. The farmers here grow wheat and oats, and also keep a few sheep. We have a Dodge motor car and also a Chevrolet motor truck, which we got last year. We cart all our wheat to Berriwillock. We have not got a very good garden, because we haven't got the water laid on, but we have a lot of tomatoes this year. We carted the water from the dam. We have two ponies one is black and the other one is a creamy color. Their names are Lady and Nellie. The name of our piano is "Lagonda." We also have the phone on. All the farmers around here are finished their harvest, and some are away on holidays' (2 March 1929).

Rita's parents were Warrnambool-born James Smith (1874-1952) and a South Australian girl, Nellie Olive Blanche Crouch (1887-1934), who were married at Berriwillock in 1906 and had four children in addition to Reta: William Albert (1908-2004), Sydney Samuel (1909-96), Frank James (1911-42) and Jessie Mabel Smith (1919-97). Reta's brother, Frank Smith, had enlisted in the Second AIF in June 1940 and was killed in action at El Alamein on 29 October 1942 while serving with the 2/23rd Infantry Battalion. 'Bob's South Australian Family Tree' tells us Nellies' parents were two South Australians, Samuel Crouch (1848-1924) and Elizabeth Collins (1852-1933), who were married at Gawler in SA in 1870 and had 12 children. It adds that James and Nellie Smith both died and are buried together in the Berriwillock Cemetery.

The Australian electoral rolls show that after their marriage in 1943, Harold and Reta lived and farmed initially at Willangie and later Mount Moriac in the South Barwon sub-district of the Corangamite District of western Victoria. Sometime in the early 1970s they retired to the Geelong suburb of Highton where Harold's sister Eliza Mary Donnan, also lived. Harold died there in 1981 and Reta in 2012. They are buried together in the Highton (Barrabool Hills) Cemetery (HGH-LAWN-DB-808-003). Tributes to Reta, published in the Geelong Advertiser on 11 August 2012, read: 'DONNAN, Reta Elizabeth Margaret - Peacefully passed away August 7, 2012. Loved wife of Arthur (dec). Loved and loving mother to Greg and daughter-in-law Mary. Beautiful Grandma to Ben, Jessie and Amy. 98 years of loving her family and serving her Lord'; 'DONNAN, Reta - Passed away peacefully on August 7, aged 98 years. Sister of Syd Smith (dec), sister-in-law of Olive (dec) and Kay. Dearly loved auntie of Brenda and Kevin (dec), Trevor and Julie, Graeme and Dawn, Kevin and Bev, Robert and Jean, Valerie and Ken, Lynton and Jill and their families. Many happy memories and loved by all'; and 'DONNAN, Reta - A much loved aunty - Joyce, Gale, Alison Donnan'. Reta and Harold's only child, Gregory Bruce Donnan, who died four years after his mother, is also buried in the Barrabool Hills Cemetery (HGH-LAWN-JP-808-01A). His tribute reads: 'DONNAN - GREG. Passed away 22nd of December 2019. A thoughtful, kind and respected cousin of Syd and Olive Smith, and Harry and Jessie Ackland Families. Love and condolences to Mary and Family (Geelong Advertiser, 31 December 2019).

5) Born at Wirrum Birchip, George Donnan (1911-2000), was working on his parents' farm at Watchupga Willangie when he married a girl from nearby Woomelang, Mavis Lorraine Barbary (1916-93), on 25 March 1936. Their 'pretty wedding', as it was described in the Ouyen Mail, took place at the Woomelang Methodist Church and was conducted by the Reverend J B Longthorn:

The bride, who was given away by her father, wore a charming gown of ivory lace mounted on magnolia tinted satin, fashioned with long scarf sleeves and skirt extending to a long train at the back . . . The little train-bearers, Phyliss and Betty Barbary twin nieces of tho bride were frocked in blue marocain. Miss Mary Donnan, sister of the bridegroom attended the bride as bridesmaid. She wore a dainty frock of pink georgette, with halo hat to match Mr. Arthur Donnan brother of the bridegroom, was best man. The church was attractively decorated by friends of the bride, and during the signing of the register Miss Beu Collins sang "Until". As the bridal couple were leaving the church, lucky horseshoes were presented to the bride by the following little folk: - Nola Barbary, Eric Neville. Lorna Barbary and Lancette Wilcox. After the ceremony a reception and wedding breakfast, to which over 100 guests were invited was held in the Public Hall where the tables were decorated to match the bridal group, white, pink and blue . . . The bridal couple who were the recipients of many valuable presents and cheques, left, amid showers of confetti and the good wishes of their many friends, by the midnight express for the Metropolis where the honeymoon will be spent. The bride's travel ensemble was of brown satin foulard. Mr and Mrs Donnan will make their future home at Willangie (18 April 1936)

Born at Sea Lake, Mavis was the youngest daughter of a local farmer, Joseph Ernest Barbary (1881-1948,) and Laura Caroline Symes (1881-1964) who were married at Beulah in Victoria in 1904. Mavis' paternal grandfather, Philip Barbary (1843-1917) was a Cornishman who emigrated to South Australia where he married Elizabeth Skipworth (1845-1927) at Salisbury in 1864. His obituary, published in the Warracknabeal Herald on 10 August 1917, tells us Philip followed farming pursuits at Paskeville (located midway between Kadina and Port Wakefield) in South Australia before settling near Beulah in around 1896. He was, the obituary continued, 'an upright, God-fearing man, whose blameless life was an inspiration to all . . . he took an active part in the work of the Methodist Church, and gave unstintedly of his time and talents in conducting divlne service. The work of the Sunday school and young peoples' classes, always claimed a large part of his Interest'. In addition to his widow, he left 'a family of seven daughters and three sons: Mrs A. W. Ramsey. Ninnis, S.A.; Mrs E. G. Lamming Paskeville, S.A.; Mrs G. H. Richardson Cameron, S.A.; Mrs AVJ. Collins 'Beulah; Mrs S. A. Collins, Beulah Messrs A. P. Barbary, P. D. Barbary J. E. Barbary, Mrs E. Blythman, and Mrs W. Pearce, Woomelang'. The 'Symes family Tree' on Ancestry tells us Mavis' mother, Laura Symes, was born at Erskine in South Australia and died at Bendigo in Victoria. Her parents were two South Australians, Henry Thomas james Symes (1849-1928) and his second wife, Sarah Hatcher (1850-1945) who were married at Angle Vale in South Australia in 1875 and had at least ten children in addition to Laura. Laura's paternal grandparents William and Lucinda Symes nee Higgins were married in Adelaide in 1847 and came respectively from Dorset and Gloucestershire in England.

After their marriage in 1936 George and Mavis Donnan lived and farmed at Willangie. A report in the Melbourne Age on 25 June 1937, informs us that 'while chopping mallee stumps Alfred Clealo and Herbert Leggett, both of Sea Lake, and George Donnan, of Watchupga, were each hit in the left eye by a piece of flying chip'. All were treated at Bendigo Base Hospital. Leggett lost his eye and Cleale the sight in his left eye. 'It Is thought that Donnan's eye can be saved'. After recovering in hospital, George continued to farm at Willangie until his retirement in the late 1980s when he and Mavis moved into Woomelang where Mavis died in 1992. The Ryerson Index shows George died, aged 89, at the Sea Lake Hospital on 9 July 2000. His tribute, published in the Herald Sun on 10 July 2000, reads: 'DONNAN - On July 9, 2000 George, at Sea Lake Hospital, of Woomelang. Peacefully, aged 89 years. Beloved husband of the late Mavis Lorraine. Dearly loved father of Ken, Val (Mrs B. Wardle) and Stan (dec). Fond and loved father-in-law of Pat, Brian and Jan. Loved Pop of Shane, Michelle, Tracey and Mandy; Karen, Tania and Rohan; Lynne, Andrew, Susan, Clare, Merryn and Kelvin. Loved great Old Pop of 19 great grandchildren. Mum and Dad together again'. George and Mavis are buried together in the Woomelang Cemetery. As noted, they had three children:

5.1) Kenneth George (Ken) Donnan (1936-2014) married Patricia Rose Holland (1940-2019) and had four children. A tribute to Ken, posted in the Melbourne Herald Sun, reads 'DONNAN - Ken. Loved brother, brother-in-law and uncle of Stan (dec.), Jan, Lynne, Andrew, Susan, Clare, Merryn, Kelvin, their spouses and families'.

5.2) Valerie Lorraine Donnan married a farmer from Brim in Victoria, Allen Brian Henman Wardle, and had three children.

5.3) Stanley Frank (Stan) Donnan (1940-2000). The Ryerson Index shows that Stan died at Willangie in Victoria on 20 June 2000 (Herald Sun, 21/2 June 2000). Although still to be confirmed, we think he married Janice Lorraine Hambling and had six children. One of these, Andrew Donnan, runs three sheep studs - White Suffolk, Suffolk and Poll Dorset - on the family farm at Willangie. An article in The Weekly Times in 2013 tells us that 'Andrew's grandfather, George Donnan, and his father, Stan, registered the Viewdale Poll Dorset stud in 1960 and an uncle, John Donnan, founded the Kerangie Suffolk stud in 1971. Both studs went into recess in the 1980s. John and Andrew founded Anden White Suffolk stud in 1989, using Suffolk ewes from the Kerangie and Stone Haven studs. Seven years ago Andrew and his wife, Denita, reactivated Viewdale, and then Kerangie in 2010'. The family is well known on the show circuit, which they use to publicise their stock with considerable success. In 2008, they sold a ram for $28,500 at an elite show in Adelaide, three years after selling another one for $25,000. As the photo below shows, in 2016, one of their rams was sold for a record $68,000. The newspaper article further informed us that Andrew and Denita have four sons and a daughter: Joel, Ashlee, Trent, Kane and Wade. In recent years Joel, who had been working as a landscape gardener in Swan Hill, and Trent, who is a qualified electrician, have returned to the farm to join their parents in its day-to-day running and management. The Donnan-Free farming legacy continues on.

anden stud

From Stock and Land, dated 10 October 2016, the photo shows Joel Donnan holding the $68,000 record priced White Suffolk meat sheep breed ram.
Standing behind them are (from L/R): Lauren Donnan, Leroy Hull (purchaser), John Donnan, Andrew Donnan,
Ross Milne (Elders stud stock auctioneer, Geoff Hull (purchaser) and Denita Donnan.

Image sources
Mary Ann ('Polly') Free, courtesy of Cheryl Kerr.
'John William and Mary Ann Donnan nee Free','John and Mary Ann Donnan and family', Margaret Donnan wedding and
'The children of John and Polly Donnan', all courtesy of Margaret Donnan and the Donnan family book.
The Garrett sisters and Audrey May Donnan, taken from the 'Drew Family Tree' on Ancestry.
Victor Eric Jondahl in uniform, from his military record in the Australian Archives.
Victor and Mary Anne Jondahl nee Donnan, taken from the 'Mawson/Cullen Family Tree' on Ancestry.
Andrew Donnan and family, from Stock and Land, 10 October 2016.

Rootsweb site for the Free, Flavell, Finkell, Coxall, Chaffe and Shepherd families William Free in Australia
Arrival in Melbourne 1853-1855
William Free in Australia
Mount Hesse to the Wimmera 1856-1878
William Free in Australia
Life and death at Corack 1878-1900
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