(last updated 7 February 2020)
Born at Teesdale in 1862, Phoebe Ann Free (1862-1927) travelled with her parents and siblings to Raglan and then Corack East in central Victoria where, according to the East Charlton Tribune, she was granted a licence to a block of land in the area in April 1881. On 15 October that same year, she married John Thomas Gilchrist (1857-1934), the son of William Gilchrist (1823-1903), a farmer who hailed from Yorkshire in England, and Sarah Anne Garner (1829-90). According to the 'Owen Gilchrist' family tree on Ancestry, William and Sarah were married at Pontefract in West Yorkshire on 9 February 1857 and had 12 children, five of whom were born in England with the rest, including John Thomas, born at Maryborough in central Victoria. Sarah died at nearby Donald in 1890 and William at Katanning, in Western Australia's wheat belt region, in 1903. William is buried in the Katanning cemetery with his son, Francis William Gilchrist (1864-1930) who with his wife, Susan, and their family, moved from Victoria to the West in 1894. There, Frank 'put in five years on the goldfields after which he settled at Katanning' (Southern District Advocate, 10 February 1930). Frank's younger sister, Mary Anne ('Polly') Blair (1868-1952), and her husband, Robert, and their family were also living at Katanning at the time.
After their marriage at Donald in Victoria in 1881, John Thomas and Phoebe Ann lived initially at Corack East and later on a farm at Watchem (the 1903 and subsequent electoral rolls show them at Watchem). They had 13 children between 1881 and 1906: Ethel Edith Besler (1881-1946), Alice Martha Berry (1883-1947), William John Gilchrist (1885-1948), Francis James Gilchrist (1886-1928), Walter Herbert Gilchrist (1889-1915), Beatrice Eliza McQienn (1890-1953), Annie Victoria Finn (1892-1966), Charles Bertie Gilchrist (1893-1975), Blanche Catrina Gilchrist (1896-7), Leslie Gordon Gilchrist (1899-1952), Theresa Lilian Berry (1901-82), Stanley Robert Gilchrist (1903-80) and Donald Edward Gilchrist (1906-77). Most of these are pictured in the family photo shown below.
Phoebe Ann Gilchrist nee Free died at Watchem in 1927. Her husband John Thomas Gilchrist died there in 1934. They are buried in the Watchem cemetery together with their son William John Gilchrist. The following obituary for Phoebe was published in the Donald Times on Tuesday 23 August 1927:
The death occurred at Watchem on August 16 of one of the old pioneers of the district in the person of Mrs John Gilchrist. The deceased lady was 65 years of age at the time of her death which took place after a very brief illness. When a girl she came to the district from Eurambeen with her late parents and was held in respect by all. She leaves the following sons and daughters to whom sympathy of all is extended: Ethel (Mrs Besler), Alice (Mrs Berry), Beatrice (Mrs McQuienn), Annie (Mrs Finn), Teresa (Mrs M. Berry), William, Walter (deceased), Bertram, Leslie, Robert, Frank, Donald and Blanche (deceased). Her sisters are Mrs E. McCallum, of Corack, Mrs Donnan of Woomelang, and her brothers Samuel (Lalbert), George (Mornington), Benjamin (Cowangie) and Ernie (Cowangie). The funeral took place on August 17 when a representative gathering assembled at the Watchem cemetery to do honour to the memory of the deceased. The following were the coffin bearers: Messes R. Ackland, J. F. McErvale, T. Robbins, Alex Blair, Isaac Zimmer, and Don McCallum. The Rev Sage read the service of the Church of England.
John and Phoebe Gilchrist (nee Free) at the time of their wedding and with members of their family in around 1912.
Back row (from L/R): Frank, Les, Annie, Walter and William Gilchrist. Middle row: Beatrice, Phoebe Ann,
Donald, John Thomas, Theresa, Ethel and Robert Gilchrist. Front row: Blanche and
Lindsay McQuienn and Dorrie and Ernest Beseler.
As mentioned above, Phoebe and John had seven sons and six daughters between 1881 and 1906. One of their daughters, Blanche Catrina Gilchrist (1896-7) died at Watchem as an infant. Detailed below is what we know of the lives, families and descendants of their other five daughters - Ethel, Alice, Theresa, Beatrice and Annie Gilchrist - who, between them, provided their beloved parents with 32 grandchildren and at least . . . great grandchildren we are aware of.
1. Ethel Edith Gilchrist (1881-1946) married Walter Adolf Beseler (1881-1956) in 1908. According to the 'Daniel, Tootell & Associated Trees' on Ancestry, Walter's father, Edward Beseler (1837-1918) came from Prussia and married Emma Fowler (1847-1882) in Victoria in 1865. They had nine children in addition to Walter: Caroline Augusta Eliza, Robert William, Edward Alfred, Eliza, Susan, Sarah Isabella, Henry Ernest, Edith Grace and John Edward Beseler.
The Australian electoral rolls show that Ethel and Walter, who worked all his life as a labourer, lived at Watchem in central Victoria from the time of their marriage until the late 1930s. As the following report in the Birchip Advertiser and Watchem Sentinel informs us, in April 1916 an inebriated Walter:
. . . was charged by Constable Fleming with using obscene language in the billiard room of the Watchem Hotel, on 11th inst. Constable Fleming stated that on the date mentioned he was passing the billiard room of the Watchem Hotel when 'he heard obscene language from within. The billiard room is on the street, and the windows were open. He went to the window and saw accused, who was under the influence of drink, attempting to play billiards. He missed shots on two occasions, and made use of the language complained of. There were others in the billiard room, and his remarks could be heard by anyone passing along the street. It was about 4:30 pm'. Accused pleaded guilty, but stated he had got drunk during the day while working at the wheat stacks on the Watchem station. He did not remember anything until the constable shook him up and told him to go home. The accused was lined £5, in default four weeks' imprisonment (5 April 1916).
At the beginning of the Second World War, Walter and Ethel and their family moved to Melbourne where they took up residence at Hodgson Terrace in the inner-city suburb of Richmond. Ethel died there on 20 February 1946, her death notice in the Melbourne Age telling us she was 'the loved wife of Walter Beseler . . . [and] dearly loved mother of Doris (Mrs. Connors), William, Grace (Mrs. Bourke) and Max (killed In action Tobruk). Late of Watchem' (27 February 1946). She was buried in the C of E section of the Melbourne Cemetery (Section RD Grave 146), the transcription on her grave reading: 'in loving memory of our dear mother Ethel Edith BESELER died 26 February 1946 aged 64 years'. After continuing to live and work in Melbourne for a few years, Walter moved to the Gippsland township of Yallourn where he died in 1956. He and Ethel had six children two of whom, twins Cyril Roderick and Alfred John Beseler, both died at Donald as infants in 1911. The other four, pictured in the photo below, are:
1.1) Born at East Ballarat, Doris Lilian Beseler (1908-97) - pictured on the left presumably with her younger sister Grace - married William Thomas Connors. The Australian electoral rolls show them living at Red Cliffs in northern Victoria in 1936 and on Murray Road Newborough near Yallourn, where William was working as a fitter's assistant, from the early 1950s until at least the 1980s. The 1963 roll includes a Thomas Albert, clerk, and Margaret Jean Connors at 3 Northway in Yallourn and the 1980 roll has Doris at 120 Mary Street Morwell along with a Kevin John Connors, slaughterman. Ancestry's Wills and Probate Records show that a Doris Lilian Connors died at Morwell in Victoria on 7 January 1997. Another Doris Lilian Connors died at Morwell on 30 December 2003. Both were cremated at the Gippsland Memorial Crematorium at Yallourn.
1.2) Born at Watchem, William Ernest Beseler (1910-90), who was a labourer and later a textile worker, lived with his parents at Watchem and, from the 1940s, at 25 Hodgson Terrace in the Melbourne suburb of Richmond. He married one of his Hodgson Terrace neighbours, Gabrielle Constance Bishop nee Kennedy (1914-92) in Melbourne in 1950. The 'Kennedy/Heckley Family Tree' on Ancestry tells us that Gabrielle was the eldest daughter of two Melbourne-ites, Francis John Kennedy (1886-1953) and Edith Ethel Mary Riley (1889-1965), who were married there in 1919 and had three boys in addition to Gabrielle. Gabrielle had earlier been married to George Alfred Bishop who had served in the Australian Army from June 1940 until September 1945. The electoral rolls show a Gabrielle Constance Bishop at 12 Hodgson Terrace in Richmond in 1949 and that she and Ernest continued to live there until at least the 1980s. The Australia and New Zealand, 'Find a Grave' Index on Ancestry tells us that Ernest died on 2 May 1990 and is buried with his wife 'Gabriella' Constance Beseler, who died on 27 April 1992, in the Cranbourne Cemetery. We don't think they had children although that has not been confirmed.
1.3) Grace Beatrice Beseler (1913-59) was born at Watchem and married Alfred John Bourke (1904-90) in Victoria in 1940. Cheryl Kerr tells us that Alfred was the youngest son of Edmund Thomas Bourke (1856-1909) and Mary Julia Horan (1863-1912) who she thinks were married in 1881, possibly at Minyip (Alfred's place of birth). Edmund was born at Limestone Ridge in Victoria and died at Minyip after being kicked in the stomach by a horse. Mary was born at Lake Bolac and also died at Minyip. They had seven children before Alfred: Edmond jnr, Cecily, John, Brian, Andrew John, Vincent Leo Patrick and Raymond Bourke. Edmund's parents were Andrew Bourke from Kilkenny in Ireland and Joanna or Judith Walsh or Welch who lived much of their married lives at Mount Gambier in South Australia. Mary's parents were John Horan, from County Offaly in Ireland, and Mary Ann Day who came from Dublin.
The Australian electoral roll shows that Alfred, who was then working as a labourer, living near Leitchville in Victoria in 1927. The DVA's WW2 nominal roll shows that an Alfred Bourke, born at Minyip in Victoria on 2 December 1904, enlisted in the RAAF at Melbourne on 10 December 1942. He was then living at Richmond and gave as his NOK Grace Bourke. He was discharged on 19 February 1946 at which time he was a Leading Aircraftman with 13 Aircraft Repair Depot. The Australian electoral rolls show that at war's end, they moved to Yallourn where Grace died in 1959. Alfred continued to live and work, as a greaser, at Yallourn. The rolls show a Byron Walter Bourke, trainee analyst and later a service officer, living with him in 1967 and 1968 and a Cherylette Bourke, retailer, living at the same address in 1972. The Gippsland Memorial Cemetery website shows that an Alfred John Bourke, born on 2 December 1905, died (probably at Moe) on 15 December 1990 and was cremated at the crematorium.
The 'McQuienn Family Tree' on Ancestry says Grace and Alfred had three children. Cheryl Kerr tells us they had four: Robert Bourke (1935-98), who died at Footscray in 1998, and three others. As mentioned above, these probably included a Byron Walter Bourke who, along with a Lynette Dawn Bourke, typist, was living on Church Street in Yallourn in 1972. The following tribute was posted in the Herald Sun on 3 April 2009: 'BOURKE (Pigdon) - Lynette Dawn 17.12.1946 - 31.03.2009. Passed away peacefully at Maryvale Hospital, Morwell. Dearly loved wife of Byron. Much loved mother of Lisa. Daughter of Marjorie and Maurice Pigdon (dec). Sister of Dot and Simon, Ivan and Pauline, Kevin and Denise. Sister-in-law of Maxine, Cheryl and John, Bob (dec), Ken and Lucky. Adored Aunty Lyn to their families. Friend to Chick, David and Frank. After life's joys and sorrows, the comfort and sweetness of peace. Loved sister-in-law and friend of Maxine. Sadly missed `Little Aunty Lynnie' of Ricky, James, Simon, Ika, Bianca, Chloe and friend of Asa and her Balinese family'.
1.4) Maxwell Walter Beseler (1915-41). The Australian War Memorial's Roll of Honour shows that VX28626 Pte Maxwell Walter Beseler (pictured in uniform on the right) of the 2/24th Battalion was killed in action at Tobruk on 1 May 1941. According to the DVa's WW2 nominal roll, VX28626 Pte Maxwell Walter Beseler, was born at Donald on 29 March 1915 and enlisted in the Australian Army at Caulfield on 19 June 1940 (NOK Walter Beseler). He died on 1 May 1941 while serving with the 2/24 Australian Infantry Battalion and is buried in the Tobruk Military Cemetery (Grave no 8.P.11). Melbourne Age (27 May 1941): 'Private Maxwell Beseler has been reported missing. He enlisted at Watchem in May 1940, and sailed in November of the same year. He is the youngest son of Mr and Mrs W. Beseler, of Watchem. Private Beseler was educated at the Watchem State school, and before enlistment was working in the district. He played football for the Watchem team'.
From the Australian War Memorial's database, this photo shows the Beseler family sometime before the Second World War.
Standing (L/R): Doris Lilian 'Dorrie' Beseler (later Connors); Maxwell Walter Beseler, William Ernest ('Ernie') Beseler
and Grace Beatrice Beseler. Seated: Walter Adolf Beseler, Bobby Unknown and Ethel Edith Beseler nee Gilchrist.
2. Alice Martha Gilchrist (1883-1947). The Australian electoral rolls shows that Alice was living with her parents and siblings at Watchem at the time of the 1906, 1909, 1912 - 19, 1921 and 1924 elections. Some have suggested she had a daughter during this period, Blanche Christina, who was born in 1906 and later married Walter Edward Harton, but I have found no evidence to support it. In 1923, Alice married an Englishman, James (Jim) Berry (1899-1958), probably at Watchem although this has still to be confirmed. According to the 'Seiler Family Tree' on Ancestry, Jim's parents were Mark Berry (1869-1940) and Mary Ann Elizabeth Giles (1871-1943) who were married at Sandwich in Kent in 1890. The 1911 UK census shows them living at Canterbury in Kent with six sons: [Frederick] Mark (17), John (16), Robert [Raymond] (13), James (11), Isaac (6) and George Berry (3). Mark snr was said to be a dealer in boots or books, the writing is unclear. The two eldest boys were working as farm labourers and the others were still at school. The census return tells us Mark and Ann had been married 21 years and had had ten children in all, four of whom were no longer living. Mark and Ann's three eldest boys travelled to Australia sometime between 1911 and 1914. John Berry (1895-1916) enlisted in the 1st AIF at Melbourne on 1 February 1915 and sailed from there on the HMAT EURIPODES on 8 May the same year. He died of illness (pneumonia) at the 2nd Australian General Hospital in Cairo in Egypt on 29 January 1916 while serving with the 23rd Battalion. His war pension was paid to his mother, Mary Ann Berry, who was then still living in England. The boys' father and brother Isaac came to Australia in December 1922. Mary Ann and the rest of their brood - now including Samuel Harold (1912-75) and Mary Ann Elizabeth Berry (1913-87) - emigrated the following year. The electoral rolls show they lived at North Melbourne where Mark died in 1940. His wife Mary Ann, who was born at Sittingbourne in Kent, died there in 1943. They are buried together in the Fawkner Memorial Park Cemetery.
Alice and Jim Berry, who worked as a labourer, lived most of their married lives at Watchem, along with Jim's brother, Frederick Mark Berry (1898-1968), who had married Alice's younger sister, Theresa Lillian Gilchrist (1901-82) there in 1918 (see below). Alice died in the Melbourne suburb of Abbotsford, in 1947. We are not sure whether she and Jim were then living there or were visiting relatives. Alice's death notice, published in the Melbourne Age on 9 May 1947. reads: 'BERRY - On May 6, at 57 Studley-street, Abbotsford, Alice, beloved wife of James, loved daughter of the late John and Elizabeth Gilchrist, loving sister of Will, Beatrice (Mrs. McQuienn), Annie (Mrs. Finn), Bert, Les, Theresa (Mrs. Berry), Bob, Don, Ethel (Mrs. Beseler, deceased), Frank (deceased), Wal (deceased) and Blanche (deceased), aged 63 years. Ever remembered'. The 'Pinker (kinnmed) Family Tree' on Ancestry tells us that Jim, who was born at Canterbury in Kent in England in 1900, died in the Melbourne suburb of Carlton on 7 July 1958. Ancestry's cemetery records and transcriptions for Victoria tells us he was buried in the Melbourne Cemetery (Section LL, Grave No 12). The transcription on his grave reads: 'In Memory of my dear husband & our dear father James BERRY died 7 Jul 1958 aged 58 years. Also his wife & our dear mother Grace BERRY who died 25 Jul 1984 aged 82'. According to the 'Seiler family Tree' on Ancestry, Grace is James' second wife, Tasmanian-born Grace Maude Cairns nee Henricks (1902-84), who he married at Carlton on 30 December 1950. They had two children: Beverley Elizabeth Anne Berry (1943-2005) and one other. We don't think Jim and Alice had any children.
3. Alice's younger sister, Theresa Lilian Gilchrist (1901-82) married James' older brother, Frederick Mark Berry (1898-1968) in 1918. Like his and James' older brother, John Berry (1895-1916), Mark came to Australia sometime between 1911 and the start of the First World War, and again like John, he also enlisted in the First AIF. His military record in the Australian Archives shows he was born at Canterbury in Kent, had earlier served as an officer's servant in the 9th Hussars - a British cavalry regiment - enlisted at Melbourne on 13 January 1915, and was allocated to the 13th Light Horse Regiment. He travelled with his unit to the Suez in Egypt in June the same year and began battle training. Not long after he arrived, he suffered an affliction which prevented him from either working or training. Together with a number of other sufferers, plus wounded soldiers from Gallipoli, he was returned on the SS PORT LINCOLN to Australia for treatment. Also in the file is a letter from England, written on 16 July 1916 by Mark's mother Mary Ann, asking the Australian Army's Records Office for assistance in finding her son. She believed he 'was either wounded or caught a disease in 'anzac' and was invalided back to Australia'. Their reply confirmed her son had been 'returned to Australia on 2/9/15, and was discharged from the Australian Imperial Force as medically unfit (flat foot and heart trouble) on 17/11/15 at Melbourne'. It added that 'His present whereabouts are unknown here, and it is regretted this branch cannot undertake the insertion of an advertisement in the Press on your account'.
Unknown to both the authorities and his mother, Mark had gone to Watchem where his brother James was living and working. Evidence for this is contained in the 27 September 1916 edition of the Birchip Advertiser and Watchem Sentinel and its report of a Court of Petty Sessions hearing into a number of locals charged with being drunk and disorderly, and using offensive language and aggressive behaviour. One of the targets of their abuse was a 'returned soldier named Mark Berry . . . who said he was in favour of conscription and thought all Britishers had a duty to fight for the Empire'. He also told one of the drunks that he should be 'doing his bit in the trenches' thereby provoking a further altercation that had to be broken up by a number of others in the hotel bar room. In August 1920, Mark wrote to the Army stating he had served in the 13th Light Horse and asked to be awarded the 1914-18 Star. His application was accepted and he was also granted the British War and Victory medals. Seventeen years after his first letter, Mark wrote again to the Base Records Office this time asking to be granted the Anzac medal for serving at Gallipoli. Given his unit was not deployed there until September 1915, it is likely he did not serve there although it can't be entirely ruled out. There is no copy on the file of the response to his request. A follow-up letter from Mark's wife, Theresa, which refers to their letter dated 24 April 1967, implies the authorities were sceptical of Mark's claim and that Theresa, perhaps, was tired of the whole business:
. . . my husband cannot remember what ship took him to and from Gallipoli. He has had two strokes and his memory has been affected since, and he is an invalid . . . I knew him before he went to the war but did not marry him till 1918. So I cannot help you there. The men that were with him that we know are dead. He has had a lot of illness since we have been married. One Major that was over him in Egypt was Major Aiken, how I know this my brother (dec) was under him too. We have only lived here in Bendigo for 18 months and don't know many people and he cannot go and make any declaration himself, and I am not well enough to bother. If he is not entitled to the medal, nothing more can be done about it.
Clearly also tired, Mark died the following year. The Bendigo Cemeteries Trust website shows he was buried in the Bendigo cemetery (Section Mon F7, grave 42229) on 18 November 1968. His wife, Theresa Lilian Berry nee Gilchrist, joined him on 8 June 1982. The Australian electoral rolls show that she and Mark had lived at Watchem until the mid-1960s when they moved to Forest Street in Bendigo. The 'McQuienn Family Tree' on Ancestry tells us they had as many as eleven children including: Lilian Theresa (1920-2007), Walter John (1922), Evelyn Mary (1925-2006), Donald William (1926-98), Francis John (Jack) (1928-94), Robert Stanley (1930-2004) and Valerie Beatrice Berry (1932-2016).
According to 'Nana's Veil Tree' on Ancestry, Valerie Beatrice Berry (1933-2016) married Raymond Walter McEwen (1933-2009), son of Leslie William McEwen (1903-78) and Hazel Norma Bennett (1906-71), who were married at Birchip in Victoria in 1929. Ray's tribute in the Herald Sun (published on 5 October 2009) reads: McEWEN - Raymond Walter. Suddenly at his home in Wedderburn on Oct. 5 2009. Aged 76 years. Loved father and father-in-law of Gaye and Marshall, Stephen and Jenny, and Rhonda (dec). The tribute for Valerie indicates that she re-married: 'LESTER (nee Berry) - (formerly McEwen) Valerie "Val" At Bendigo Hospital on Oct. 13, 2016 Aged 83 years. Loved Daughter of Mark and Teresa (both dec). Dearly loved Mother and Mother-in-law of Stephen and Jenny McEwen, Gaye and Marshall Willcock, and Rhonda (dec). Stepmother of Tony, Rod, Steven, Rachel, and families. Much loved Nanna and Old Nan of their families.
The 'Henry Family Tree' on Ancestry tells us that Valerie's older sister, Evelyn Mary Berry (1925-2006), was born at Birchip and died at Bendigo. She married Hugh Patrick Brennan (1918-2011) who was born at Donald and died at Bendigo. His tribute in the Herald Sun reads: 'BRENNAN - Hugh Patrick. 3.6.1918 - 30.12.2011. Words are few, thoughts are deep, Memories of you we will always keep. - Tricia, Stuart and Ron, grandchildren Di, Matt, Jacqui and Ian, Angela and Johann, Carrie-Anne and Scott, Rob and Belinda. A special person, a special face, A special someone we cannot replace. - Great grandchildren Tye, Ileena and Xavier, Bodie, Byron, Nate, Kyan, Keoni, Kaley, Arkie-Starr' (31 December 2011),
The photo on the left is from the 'Pinker (kimnned)' family tree on Ancestry and shows (L/R): Mark and Theresa Berry nee McQuienn, Beatrice McQuienn nee Gilchrist and
Beatrice's brother, William John Gilchrist. The one on the right is from Leanne Grogan's 'Nana's Veil Trail' family tree and shows Theresa and Mark's daughter,
Valerie Beatrice Berry and Raymond Walter McEwen on their wedding day.
4. Beatrice Eliza Gilchrist (1900-53) married Kenneth Roderick McQuienn (1881-1956) in 1910 probably at Watchem although that has not been confirmed. According to Darryl Brady's website, Ken's parents were Roderick McQuienn (1855-1912), who was born at Geelong and died at Granville in NSW, and Annie McLeod (1859-90), who was born in Geelong and died in the Melbourne suburb of Footscray. The 'McQuienn Family Tree' on Ancestry, tells us they were married at Creswick in Victoria in 1879 and had four children in addition to Ken: Jane (1880-99), John (1882-5), Murdoch McLeod (1884-1954) and John (Jack) McQuienn (1885-1925). It adds that all of Ken and his siblings' grandparents hailed from the Isle of Skye in Scotland. His military record in the Australian Archives shows that Murdoch McLeod McQuienn, then a 30 year-old labourer living at St Arnaud, first enlisted in the Australian Army in September 1914 and served with the 14th Battalion until his discharge in October the same year. He re-enlisted on 6 July 1915 and sailed from Melbourne on the HMAT NESTOR on 11 October destined for Egypt where he joined the 6th Battalion. In August 1916 he was transferred to HQ 1 Australian Division in France and later worked as a driver in the 1st Australian Divional Train. He returned to England in February 1919 and thence to Australia where he was discharged with a service pension in September 1919. The 'McQuienn Family Tree' tells us he married Margaret Dorothy (Dot) Nicholson (1891-1946) in 1920 and had two children: Gabrielle Evelyn and Roderick Robert McQuienn.
From the 'Pinker (Kimnned)' family tree on Ancestry, Beatrice Eliza Gilchrist and Kenneth Roderick McQuienn on their wedding day in 1910.
The Australian electoral rolls show that Ken and Beatrice lived all their married lives at Watchem in Victoria where Ken worked as a labourer. As detailed below, they had two girls and five boys there where all of the latter played for the local Australian rules football team. As an article published in the Weekly Times on 23 September 1933 reported, their second youngest son, Ronald, was thought to 'have the makings of a champion. This 16-year-old boy has played brilliant football on the forward line, and in the final against Laen he kicked 10-2 of his team's 11-13 - a great performance. It was the result of clever, elusive, and tricky play on the part of Ron. He makes position excellently and drives home every advantage'. The article added 'there are four McQuienn brothers in the Watchem team, but in the final Ron was the best'.
From the 'McQuienn Family Tree' on Ancestry, the Watchem Football Club in 1933. The marked players are the four McQuienn brothers.
Centre row (L/R): Lindsay (Lin), Clarrie and Rod McQuienn. In the front is Ron McQuienn. Seated on Rod's left is the boys' uncle, Stanley Robert Gilchrist.
Beatrice McQuienn nee Gilchrist died at St Arnaud in 1953, and Ken at Watchem in 1956. His obituary, contained on the 'McQuienn Family Tree' on Ancestry, reads:
We regret to learn of the death of Mr Kenneth Roderick McQuienn, which occurred at the residence of his son, Mr N. McQuinn, of Watchem, on January 13. The late Mr McQuienn had been spending a few weeks holiday with his son. He had not enjoyed the best of health for the past 12 months and it was found necessary for him to enter the Birchip Bush Nursing Hospital, where he had been a patient for several days, after which he returned to Watchem. The deepest sympathy is extended to members of the family, who are: Lindsay (Footscray), Blanche (Mrs A. Vincent, Camperdown), Rod (Moonee Ponds), Neil (Watchem), and Gwen (Mrs Vallance, Watchem). Two sons (Ron and Clarence) are deceased. The funeral took place from the residence of his son to the Watchem cemetery, where there was a large attendance of mourners.
Ken was buried with Beatrice in the Watchem cemetery, the transcription on their gravestone reading: 'Beatrice Eliza McQuienn nee Gilchrist (26-6-1890 to 27-6-1953) and Kenneth Roderick McQuienn (20-4-1881 to 13-1-1956). Loving parents of Lyn, Blanche, Rod, Neil, Clarrie and Gwen. Beloved grandparents of thirteen'. As mentioned above, they had sven children as follows:
4.1 Lindsay Gordon Gilchrist (Lin) McQuienn (1907-82) married Doris Helena Baird (1908-87) at Watchem in 1936 (their wedding photo is shown below). The 'McQuienn Family Tree' on Ancestry tells us that Doris was the eldest of three daughters of William (O.B.B.) Baird (1880-1967) and Annie Cannard (1883-1954) who were married at Watchem in 1906. Their other two daughters were Isabella Jean (1911-73) and Edna Mary Baird (1914-96). William, who was the eldest son of George Wallace Baird (1860-1926) and Geelong-born Helena Creswick (1858-98), was said to be one of the first to be born in the Watchem area.
The Australian electoral rolls show that Lindsay, who worked variously as a labourer, slaughterman, butcher and sheetmetal worker, and Doris lived at Watchem, Melbourne, St Arnaud and finally Bacchus Marsh in western Victoria where Lin died in 1982. Doris died at Bendigo five years later. The 'McQuienn Family Tree' on Ancestry tells us they had two children, Janice and Clarence McQuienn.
From the 'McQuienn Family Tree' on Ancestry, Lindsay Gordon McQuienn and Doris Helena Baird on the day
of their wedding at St Aiden's Church at Watchem on 26 September 1936.
4.2 Blanche Christina McQuienn (1911-2005) married Edward Alexander Vincent (1909-74), son of Joseph Edward Vincent (1883-1963) and Catherine Janet Cameron (1875-1960), in Victoria in 1933. The Australian electoral rolls show Edward, who worked as a laborer and railway ganger, and Blanche lived initially in the inner Melbourne suburb of Brunswick before, after Edward joined the Victorian Railways, moving to Cressy then Camperdown in western Victoria and then Rupanyup in the Victoria Wimmera. They returned to Melbourne in the late 1960s. Edward died in the inner Melbourne suburb of Northcote in 1974 and was cremated at the Springvale Botanical Cemetery. Blanche spent time in the Melbourne beach-side suburb of Rosebud before moving to Chevallum in Queensland's Sunshine Coast region. She died there in 2005, her tribute published in both the local newspaper and Melbourne's Herald Sun, tells us she: 'Passed away peacefully on 26th September 2005. AGED 93 YEARS. Dearly loved Wife of the late Edward Alexander and loving Mother of Keith, Gloria, Coral, Elaine and Grandmother of their Families. Loved Great-Nanna of 15 Great-Grandchildren'. The 'McQuienn Family Tree' on Ancestry tells us that Blanche and Edward's only son, Keith Alexander Vincent (1934-2011), died in the Moreton Bay region of Queensland and is buried in the Bribie Island Memorial Gardens cemetery.
4.3 Roderick John (Rod) McQuienn (1913-94) married Elizabeth Ellen Coughlan (1916-61) in 1935, we think at Quambatook although that has still to be confirmed. The Australian electoral rolls show that Rod and Elizabeth lived most of their married lives in the inner-Melbourne suburb of Moonee Ponds where Rod worked first as a butcher and later as a clerk for the Victorian Railways. Elizabeth died at Moonee Ponds in 1961 and is buried in Melbourne's Keilor Cemetery. Ancestry's Victorian Death Index tells us her father was Richard Dennis Coughlan and her mother's maiden name was O'Callaghan. Rod continued to live and work in Melbourne until the late 1970s when he retired to Quambatook where he died in 1994. The electoral rolls indicate he and Elizabeth had at least on son, John Dennis McQuienn, who worked as a driver and, with is wife Geraldine Frances and their family, lived in the Melbourne suburb of Carnegie until at least 1980.
4.4) Victor Neil McQuienn (1915-2014) married Myrie Joyce Johnson (1918-87) in Melbourne in 1943. Neil also worked for the Victorian Railways which resulted in he and Myrie living at Watchem, Dunolly, Ouyen and finally the Melbourne suburb of Sunshine. The Melbourne Cemeteries Trust website shows that Myrie died on 27 May 1987 and was interred in the Floral Lawn section of the Altona Memorial Park Cemetery. Sometime after this Neil returned to Watchem where he died in 2014. His tribute, published in the Herald Sun on 23 July 2014, reads: 'McQUIENN - Victor (Neil). Late of Watchem Aged 99 years Beloved husband of Myrie (dec) Loving father of Joyce, Kenneth and Julie. Respected father-in-law of Fay and Peter. Adored Pop of 18 grandchildren, 36 great grandchildren and 15 great great grandchildren. Much loved and dearly missed by all'.
The two individual photos are from the Australian War Memorial's collection and are of VX33201 Gunner Clarence Walter McQuienn and VX33202 Gunner Ronald William McQuienn.
The photo in the middle is from the 'McQuienn Family Tree' on Ancestry and shows Clarrie and Ron somewhere in the Middle East in 1941.
4.5 & 6) Ronald William McQuienn (1917-41) and his younger brother Clarence Walter McQuienn (1919-41) enlisted in the Australian Army together at Royal Park in Melbourne on 19 June 1940. They had travelled down from Watchem with their brother Lindsay - who for medical reasons was not taken - and a number of other friends and acquaintances. They were allocated to a new composite unit, the 2nd/3rd Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment RAA, which was raised in July 1940 and trained at the Werribee Racecourse before embarking for the Middle East in December the same year. In November 1940, Ron married Sarah May Blair (1914-80) - pictured on the right - who was born at Donald in Victoria, and was living at Watchem in the 1930s and Garden Vale in Melbourne at the time of their wedding.
Both Ron and Clarrie served in the 2/3rd LAA Regiment's 7th Battery which was commanded by a Major J.A. Hipworth from Kerang in central Victoria (John Alexander Hipworth who was born at Mathoura in NSW in 1898, finished the War as a Lieutenant-Colonel, and died at Kerang in 1979). In May 1941, the Battery was deployed to the island of Crete following the German advances through Greece. Two of the Battery's Troops (armed with 8 bofors anti-aircraft guns) were deployed at Heraklion, one at Maleme and the remainder of the unit at Suda Bay. Although their initial forays were repulsed, the sustained German air and ground attacks eventually threatened to overwhelm the allied forces on the island. Those units able to do so were ordered to withdraw to Heraklion where they would be picked up by British destroyers sent there to evacuate the remnants of the force. The official history tells us most of the Australian anti-aircraft gunners were on the destroyer HMS HEREWARD which was bombed and beached in the harbour on 29 May 1941. Those who had something to keep them afloat were able to swim back to the beach where they were captured by the Germans. Many, including the two McQuienn brothers, either drowned or were killed in the water by straffing stukas.
On 20 June 1941, the Melbourne Age informed its readers that 'Ronald William McQUIENN, 24 years, and Clarence Walter McQUIENN, 22 years (both missing) are sons of Mr and Mrs K. McQuienn of George-street Watchem. They both enlisted in June 1940, and were gunners attached to a light anti-aircraft regiment. The two gunners lived at Watchem, and participated in all classes of sport. Ronald was an exceptionally good footballer, and holds a record for goal kicking. Clarence was a member of the local team when it won the premiership of the North-Central League two years ago. Ronald is married and Clarence single'.
The DVA's WW2 nominal roll shows VF396260 Sarah May McQuienn, who was born at Donald on 5 April 1914, enlisted in the Australian Army in Melbourne on 27 November 1942. She was then living in the Melbourne suburb of Garden Vale and gave as her NOK M. Blair. She was discharged on 10 June 1947 while serving as a driver in the Australian Womens Army Service. The Australian electoral rolls show that after the War Sarah lived in the Melbourne suburb of Elsternwick where she worked as an x-ray attendant. The 'McQuienn Family Tree' tells us she died at Prahran on 30 July 1980 and is buried in the Watchem Cemetery.4.7) Born at Birchip, Gwenda Irene McQuienn (1929-83) married Victor Roland Vallance (1928-2012) in Victoria in 1952. According to the 'Mcquienn Family Tree' on Ancestry, Victor was the youngest son of Edward Leslie Vallance (1891-1967) and Louisa Jane Bicknell (1895-1986) who were married in Victoria in 1918 and had three additional children: Edward, born in 1917, Albert Francis (1920-90) and Ethel Louisa Vallance (1923-93). The Australian electoral rolls show Victor worked as a labourer and he and Gwenda lived at St Arnaud after their marriage and later at Watchem where Gwenda died in 1983. As his tribute, published in the Herald Sun on 26 November 2012 tells us, 'Victor Roland (5.10. 1928 - 25.11.2012) passed away in Donald surrounded by family. Loved husband of Gwenda Irene (McQuienn) (dec). Loved father and father-in-law of Peter (Soapy) and Julie; John and Colleen; Laurence (Nutty) and Brenda. Treasured Poppy to his grandchildren and great grandchildren'. The Ryerson Index shows that Peter Roderick (Soapy) Vallance, aged 64 years, died at Donald on 13 January 2013. His tribute in the Herald Sun on 24 January informs us he was the 'Loved husband of Julie. Loving father of Peter and Brett, father-in-law of Renee, friend of Vic. So loved `Soapy' to his beautiful grandchildren Ambrose, Bella, Emerson and Milly'.
5. Annie Victoria Gilchrist (1892-1966) married Edward Patrick Finn (1889-1943) in Victoria in 1911. The 'Ennis Family Tree' on Ancestry tells us that Edward was born at Mangalore (near Avenel) in central Victoria. He was the youngest son of Tasmanian-born John Finn (1858-1945) and Mary Ann Browne (1860-1937) who were married in Victoria in 1880 and had seven children is addition to Edward: Henry Joseph (1878-1917), Catherine (1881-1956), John Richard (1883-1930), William Peter (1886-1963), Thomas James (1890-1953), Mary Ellen (born in 1893) and James William (1894-1951).
His record in the Australian archives shows that Henry Joseph ('Harry') Finn, then a 37 year-old engine driver who was born in the Melbourne suburb of Carlton, enlsted in the First AIF at Melbourne on 26 June 1915. He gave as his NOK his mother Mary Ann Finn. Initially allocated to the 31st Battalion, Harry left on the HMAT WANDILLA and arrived at the Suez in Egypt in December 1915. He was transferred to the 5th Division Artillery in March 1916 and sailed from Alexandria to France three months later. After falling ill he was hospitalised for a time in England and then worked at Perham Downs before returning to France in August 1917. He was killed in action in Belgium on 23 September 1917 while serving with the 37th Battery of the 10th Field Artillery Brigade. Like so many others in that terrible conflict, Harry's body was never recovered. His name is inscribed on the Menin Gate Memorial at Ypres in Belgium. His service pension was awarded to his mother, Mary Ann Finn of Mangalore, on 20 December 1917. A report of his death, published in the Euroa Gazette on 23 October 1917, tells us that 'Gunner Finn was known by a wide circle of friends from Seymour to the Murray. He was a certified engine-driver and in that capacity worked for several well-known firms, among which is Batoy Bros, Katundra and Mr Jas Sandilands, Tallagaroopna'.
Edward's grandfather, William Finn (1811-59) was born in the coastal township of Hythe in southern Kent in England. In 1834 he and an accomplice, William Beer, were found guilty of stealing two fowls and transported to Tasmania where William married Catherine Shank (1834-1900) at Launceston in 1854. A native of County Clare in Ireland, Catherine had come to Tasmania with her sister, Mary, on the BEULAH in 1851. She and William had four children - Edward (1854-98), Ellen (1856-9), Mary (1857-85) and John Finn (1858-1945) - before William's death at Horton in Tasmania in 1859. In 1866 Catherine married Richard Ennis at Tasmania's Emu Bay and had five children with him. Sometime prior to 1885 the family went to live at Tallarook in central Victoria where Catherine died in 1900. Her son John, who worked as a sawyer, and Mary Ann Finn lived all their married lives at Mangalore where Mary Ann died in 1937. As the following notice in the Melbourne Argus informs us, John died in Melbourne in 1945: 'FINN - On March 19, at Alfred Hospital, Melbourne, John, the beloved husband of the late Mary Ann Finn of Mangalore, and loving father of Harry (deceased), Kate (Mrs. T. Smith), Jack (deceased), William, Edward (deceased), Tom, Mary (Mrs. Poyner), and Jim, aged 86 years, beloved father-in-law of Ellen, Anne and Doris.
As indicated in John's death notice, Edward Patrick Finn (1889-1943) pre-deceased his father, dying at St Arnaud in 1943. The Australian electoral rolls show he and Annie Victoria had lived all their married lives on Camp Street in Watchem where Edward worked as a labourer. Sometime after 1954 Annie moved to Ballarat where she died in 1966. The 'Brady' and other family trees on Ancestry tells us they had at least eight children all of whom were born at Watchem. One child, Jean Daphne Finn (1936-9), died young. We know little about their eldest daughter, Vera Elsie Finn (1913-68) beyond the fact she died as a pensioner at Beechworth in Victoria in 1968. As detailed below, we have discovered a little more about their other six children all of whom married and had children and grandchildren of their own.
5.1 Alma Victoria Finn (1912-91) married Percy Harold Pearce (1903-86) at Watchem in 1933. According to the 'Pearce Family Tree' on Ancestry, Percy's parents were Frederick William Pearce (1866-1948), who was born at Appsley and died at St Arnaud in Victoria, and Eliza Ann Agnes Renney (1874-1966), who was born at Bordertown in South Australia and died at Bendigo. Eliza's parents were John Dennis Renney (1846-1921) who came from Cambridge in England and Sarah Ann Watts (1846-1925) who was born at Wearham in Norfolk. They both died at Watchem, John in 1921 and Sarah in 1925. Her death notice, published in the Melbourne Argus on 27 June 1925, tells us she was the 'widow of the late John Renney, and loving mother of Frances (Mrs McNee), Agnes (Mrs Pearce), Emma (Mrs Litchfield), Edith (Mrs Prater), May (deceased), Edwin (deceased), Joseph, and John, aged 79 years'.
The Australian electoral rolls show that Percy, who worked as farmer and later a railway repairer, and Alma lived at Watchem until the mid-1950s when they moved to nearby Donald where Percy died in 1986 and Alma in 1991. We believe they had four children, Elsie Pearce who married Allen Young, and three others as follows:
5.1.1) Frederick Harold (Fred) Pearce (1935-98), who worked as a truck driver, married Hazel Eleanor Geddes (1935-2010) in 1955. The 'Pearce Family Tree' on Ancestry tells us Hazel's parents were Robert Geddes (1892-1943), who was born at Drainee in Morayshire in Scotland and died at St Arnaud, and Eleanor Anne Flett (1899-1963) who was born at Laen in Victoria and died at Donald. She and Robert, who served in the First AIF, were married in Victoria in 1925 and had four children in addition to Hazel: Edna Mary Neale (1926-2013), Robert (1928-2000) and two others.
The Australian electoral rolls show Fred and Hazel lived at Swan Hill where Fred died, after a short illness, on 18 September 1998. His tribute, published in the Melbourne Herald Sun on 19 September 1998, tells us he was the 'Dearly loved husband of Hazel, loving father and father-in-law of Kerry and Peter (Morpeth), Dale, Delwyn, Tracey and Ritchie (Merritt), Rohan and Sharon, Robyn (dec), Hayley and Chris (Bolton), special Poppy of Leigh, Holly and Darren, Brad and Dean; Stacey; Kara, Ryan and Luke; Josh and Cassie; Abbey, Brooke and Georgia, great grandfather of Damien and Jake'. The Ryerson Index shows that Hazel Eleanor Pearce nee Geddes died on 30 October 2010 aged 75 years. Her tribute in the Herald Sun, tells us she was the 'Much loved wife of Fred (dec). Precious mother of Kerry, Dale, Delwyn, Tracey, Rohan, Robyn (dec) and Hayley. Devoted Nana to 16 grandchildren and 6 great-grandchildren' (1 Novemeber 2010).
5.1.2) Norma Irene Pearce (1937-2008) married a farmer from Laen near Donald, Russell Cumming Hose (1933-2017), in 1955. The Ryerson Index shows that Norma, aged 71, died at Donald on 5 September 2008 and Russell, or Russ as he was known, died there in 2017. Their respective tributes published in the Melbourne Herald Sun, tell us they had four children - Wayne (dec), Des[mond Leigh], Dianne and Jillian Hose - plus grand children and great grand children. Ancestry's register of deaths in Victoria tell us that Wayne Russell Hose, born in around 1957, died at Donald in 1976.
According to the 'Rohan Hose Family Tree' on Ancestry, Russell's father was William James Richard Hose (1884-1954) who lived and farmed all his life at Laen near Donald and was twice married. His first wife was said to be Anne Cummings - probably Annie Clementine Cumming (1893-1944), daughter of Henry Cumming and Phoebe Bull, although that has still to be confirmed - who he married in 1913. She and William had at least one further child we are aware of, a daughter Jean Isobel Hose, who was born in 1915. William's second wife and mother of Russell and his older brother (and grandfather of Rohan Hose) Allan James Hose (1923-2007), is unknown. The 'Rohan Hose Family Tree' adds that Russell's paternal grandfather was another Donald stalwart, William Hose (1851-1925), who was born at Dalmellington in Ayr in Scotland and came to Victoria in around 1861. In 1883 he married Clunes-born Mary Ann Hancock (1863-91) with whom he had two daughters in addition to William Jnr: Alice Maud Mary (1886-1965) and Eva Jane Hose (1888-1906). After Mary Ann's death at Donald in 1891, William Snr married Abigail Emma Taylor (1854-1925) there in 1896.
5.1.3) Brian Edward Pearce, who worked as a shop assistant, and, with wife, Rosalie Jean Pearce, lived at Donald until at least the late 1970s. The Ryerson Index shows Brian, aged 60 and 'late of Donald', died on 7 November 1999 (Herald Sun, 9 November 1999). His newspaper tribute reads: PEARCE - Brian Edward. Of Donald, passed away suddenly on Nov. 7, 1999 aged 60 years. Loved son of the late Percival and Alma Pearce. Loving brother and brother-in-law of Elsie and Allen Young; Fred (dec) and Hazel; Norma and Russ Hose. Devoted and dearly loved husband of Rosalie. Adored father and father-in-law of Rod and Cheryl; Sheree and Peter; Sonia (dec); Briony and Scott. Much loved and treasured Pa of Tahlea and Mikaela; Ryan and Chelsea. Loving memories of a devoted and caring husband, father and Pa'.
5.2) William Edward Finn (1921-85) married Artrell Doleen Beasley (1921-84) in 1941. The 'Turnbull Family Tree' on Ancestry tells us that Artrell was the daughter of Arthur Charles Turnbull (1893-1921), who was born at Glenorchy and died at Birchip in Victoria, and Edith May (Sis) Beasley (1890-1964). Married at Birchip in 1912, Charles and Sis had four children in addition to Artrell: Doris Valetta (1912-96), Arthur John (1914-92), William Francis (1917-17) and Lorna May Turnbull (1918-23). The DVA's WW2 nominal roll shows V48960 William Edward Finn, born at Donald on 15 April 1921, enlisted in the Australian Army at Coburg on 12 June 1941. He was then living at Coburg and gave as his NOK Artrell Finn. He was discharged on 25 October 1944 while serving as a private soldier with AASC 3 Division. After the war they continued to live in Melbourne where William variously worked as a labourer, milk carter and 'newspaper hand'. Artrell died at Footscray in 1984 and William, then a pensioner, at Moonee Ponds the following year. They are buried together in the Fawkner Memorial Cemetery (Lawn of Tranquility grave 1064). The 'Brady Family Tree' on Ancestry tells us they had three children: Ronald William Finn, who was born in 1942, and two others.
Click here to read about the remainder of Phoebe and John Gilchrist's children, families and descendants.
John Thomas and Phoebe Ann Gilchrist nee Free and the Gilchrist family in around 1912, courtesy of Cheryl Kerr.
'The Beseler family', 'Bert Gilchrist and colleagues', 'Second World War soldiers from Watchem' and 'Walter Herbert Gilchrist' all from the Australian War Memorial database.
'Wedding of Charles Bertram Gilchrist and Doreen Grace Sheed', and the Beseler sisters from the 'Owen-Gilchrist Family Tree' and the 'Brady Family Tree' respectively on Ancestry.
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