Friday, December 21, 2012

The Treks 1875 - 1916

This is a story I am working up for our Cole family history newsletter, Colegium. I originally pubished it on FaceBook but had to overflow the map here, as FB could not handle that much html. It will be a wall feature at our reunion in March 2013.

Our 'base' person, our rock, is Charles Wilkins Cole, the father of my grandmother.

With his mother, and two siblings, CWC landed in Jamieson at the age of 6, to be with his own father who had migrated from Gloucestershire the previous year. Olive (my father called her OSA, so let's stay with that), told me in a note, that CWC and his mother were close, and having been away once, he did not go again until Hannah died, which was in 1878, when CWC was 22.

He then went off to western NSW (again??) where, in 1884 he was joined in holy shotgun wedlock to Sarah Annie (SAE). After the birth of Cyril, in January 1885, the small family journeyed back down to Jamieson, where George was born in 1886,and, OSA in 1888. In 1890, Stephen (CWC's father) died, and it is notable that Clarrie was born, not in Jamieson but in Mansfield, in 1891. By the time Valentine died in Jerilderie in Sept 1893 (aged 6 mos), they were back on their way to Gilgunnia.

So, at the end of 1893, CWC was 37, SAE was 26, and they had 5 children aged 8+, 7, 5, 2, and deceased. Look at the arc they traveled, there and back, there and back.

They had 4 more children, moved to Tamworth (where Cyril married and produced the first two grandchildren) before settling in Sydney.

And their mode of transport was not a choice between Virgin and Jetstar! The horse and cart is by way of illustration only. It is the closest I can find that was used in Australia in the second half of the 19th century, for people with very little money, indeed, with NO money. I just cannot imagine that they walked. Perhaps, CWC walked the first time, but not with a wife and 5 children.

View Larger Map
Some of these letters are 'hidden', because of the cyclical nature of their trekking:

A = Charles Wilkins Cole arrived in Jamieson in 1861, aged 6
B = CWC went north and west about 1875, aged 19
C = CWC was in Jamieson when his mother, Hannah, died in 1878
D = CWC married Sarah Annie Evans in Hillston, NSW late in 1884
E = Cyril was born in Hillston in January 1885
= George was born in Jamieson in 1886
= Olive Sylvia Annie was born in Jamieson in 1888
- Stephen, CWC's father died in 1890
= Clarence was born in Mansfield in 1891
F = Valentine died in Jerilderie in Sept 1893
G = Sylvia Irene Veronica was born in Gilgunnia in 1895
H = Vera Kathleen was born in Mount Hope in 1897
= Thelma was born in Nymagee in 1900
I = Athol Claude was born in Nymagee in 1906
J = Moved to Tamworth where Cyril made them grandparents in 1912
K = Moved to Sydney where, in 1916, Pa ran a cafe in Beamish Street in Campsie.
To travel from Jamieson, via Jerilderie, to Gilgunnia is about 620kms. Say a horse and cart with a couple and 4 or 5 young children could travel at about 5km/hour. This means the entire journey would take approximately 125 hours. If they traveled for 8 or 9 hours per day, then the journey from Jamieson to Gilgunnia might only take 2 weeks. But, of course, that is the ideal, and the ideal on paper. Reality intervenes, and the trek would have been much longer.

So what was the attraction of either Jamieson or the Hillston area? Jamieson is where CWC first settled upon arrival in Australia. It was where both his parents lived. Upon their death, what was there to keep him there. There was a land-holding, but they had few farming skills. Upon the death of Stephen in 1890, there remained CWC's siblings: Mary aged 32; Stephen aged 31; and, Emma aged 25.

Mary was already married to the newspaperman, Tom Still, with 5 of her 8 children. My guess is that the younger sister, Emma Kezia, lived with Mary as she eventually moved to Dandenong with her and they are buried together. This just leaves the younger brother, young Stivy as his mother called him. He lived on the farm until very close to his death in 1948.

So there was little in Jamieson to attract them, and perhaps CWC was NOT a farmer. Subsequently, he did many things, but notably lacking husbandry. There was another attraction in Hillston: Sarah Annie's mother, the indomitable Ma Faull - she of the three husbands!

In 1892, the year before the final trek, Ma Faull was undergoing trauma of her own. Three of her children died in the Wilcannia Base Hospital from diptheria which was then sweeping the state. Perhaps the pull of her own mother was too much for Sarah Annie, being the oldest of Ma Faull's many offspring. It is notable that when Richard Faull died in 1916, Ma Faull lived with Charles and Sarah until her death in Drummoyne in 1929.

So, there you have the mighty treks in the life of Charles and Sarah, and my best guess as to motivations.


Joan Elizabeth said...

I bet it took longer than that. My relies took 6 months with a family in tow to climb the southern alps to land in Omeo ... child dying on the way.

The trek has me interested. Red has provided a Royal Hotel from Mt Hope. It is on a road down the middle of NSW that I would like to travel one day.

Julie said...

I will go look at the Mt Hope Royal, Joan.

I have fleshed out this story a good deal, so that you have the fuller context. The first draft, which you have read, was simply an addendum to a FaceBook post. Now you have the fuller research.

Margaret said...

What an interesting story, they sure did it tough in those days.
Cyrils birth is noted as 1865 in the text, and 1885 in the lettered points
with the map,may be confusing.

Joan Elizabeth said...

I thought I would pop in here to wish you and your family a wonderful Christmas. I know it will be a day of joy and love.

diane b said...

You have done a lot of research here to piece together an interesting story. I always get inspired when I read stuff like this to do some more research on my once started family history but I seem to get easily distracted by other projects on the go.

Julie said...

Oops just found a bunch of comments in my 'awaiting moderation' folder. Sorry ...

Julie said...

Margaret, you do have eagle eyes. Thank you so much for that. I have made the correction. The correct year was 1885.

Julie said...


Thank you for your good wishes. I will endeavour to get over to 'Sweet Wandering' later today to check out your reaching 100 Towns.

Julie said...


This in the major item on my Bucket List: getting everything out of my head and down into somewhere where my relies can read it.

I have, on FB, set up a number of group pages, where I post interesting family snippets. Each of my cousins that are on FB are in the relevant group for them and they all keep updated that way. It is also a good way of publicising the upcoming Family Reunion. I now have uncovered Third Cousins from one line, living down in Bendigo. is a grand tool as well.