About this blog

This blog is about the history of the Koo-Wee-Rup Swamp and neighbouring areas, such as Pakenham, Cranbourne and Garfield, and any other historical subjects I feel like writing about. It's my own original research and writing and if you live in the area you may have read some of the stories before in the Koo-Wee-Rup Swamp Historical Society newsletter or the Koo-Wee-Rup township newsletter, The Blackfish, or the Garfield township newsletter, The Spectator.
Heather Arnold.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Who lived in Garfield in 1903?

Historic Electoral Rolls, from 1903 to the 1980s  are are available Ancestry Family History database, These old rolls are a valuable source of local and family information. The 1903 Commonwealth Rolls are listed by Polling Place and the Bunyip Roll covers Garfield, Bunyip and Tynong. What the list tells you is the name of the person enrolled; they had to be 21 to enroll, and their occupation. I have extracted the Garfield information and there are 174 people enrolled with Garfield as their address of which 76 are women and 98 are men. So, who did live in Garfield in 1903?


Garfield in 1925. Photograph taken by Frank Weatherhead.

As you would expect, most of the men were engaged in farming activities - there were 48 farmers. Some of these farming families are now remembered in the names of local roads such as Brownbill, Campbell, Archer and Brew. The farms ranged in size from 15 acres to over 400 acres with John Lamble having 454 acres and William Shreeve 434 acres. Other occupations listed included two farm hands, four orchardists - William Ellis, John James, Robert Weir Smith (Junior) and William Weir Smith. Albert and George Marshall are listed as being a Station Manager and a Grazier. According to the Shire of Berwick Rate Books they owned 318 acres which doesn’t seem large enough to qualify as a Station.

The occupations also give us some idea of the commercial structure of Garfield in 1903. There were three bakers - George Bird, Thomas Farrington and Charles Magnus; two Blacksmiths - George Park and William Ritchie; two butchers - Charles Routley and William Walker. Charles Lobb is listed as a Draper, George Archer, Russell Perl and Alfred Wild are storekeepers and William Campbell is listed as a Grocers Assistant. George and Thomas Ellis were Produce Merchants, Charles Regester was a Driver; Joseph Rutledge was a saddler, Phillip Knight was an Agent and James Towt was a Contractor. Reflecting the growth in the area at the time there was one builder, Robert Weir Smith (Senior) and three carpenters – Ingebert Gunnulson, Samuel Harvey and Phillip Leeson. Joseph Jefferson is listed as a brick maker and John Jefferson as a wood merchant. To satisfy the grooming needs of Garfield, Percy Malcolm was the hairdresser and John Daly, the School Teacher, took care of educational needs.

There were several unusual occupations – Thomas Chippindall is listed as Crown Lands Bailiff, Joseph Walker is described as being of Independent means, William Hewitt was an old age pensioner and David Brunt is described as a Maltster, which is a beer maker. There were two railway employees - Robert Brewer and Charles Mason.


Garfield State School. The School commenced in 1886 as the Cannibal Creek State School. It changed its name to Garfield in 1887. This building was moved to North Garfield in 1914 and became State School No.3489. 
This photograph is from the Berwick Pakenham Historical Society collection.

What about the women? Of the 76 women all had home duties listed as their occupation, except for Florence Mason, the wife of Charles, who is listed as the Post Mistress. This all purpose description of "Home Duties" would not reflect the real role women played in helping to run the family farm or business. Elizabeth Williamson, listed on the Roll, owned 299 acres so was a major landowner in the area, but her occupation was still listed as "home duties". The Electoral Rolls give us a interesting insight into our region, and we should also appreciate the fact that in 1903 women were eligible to enrol to vote. This didn't happen in England until 1918, when women over 30 got the right to vote (women over 21 got the right to vote in 1929). In the United States women couldn't vote until 1920 and there are still countries in the world where women cannot vote.

In the next post we will look at who lived in Koo-Wee-Rup in 1903.

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