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 Koo-Wee-Rup in 1903?

In the last post we looked how lived in Garfield in 1903, now we'll look at who lived in Koo-Wee-Rup. Once again this information is taken from the Commonwealth Rolls, which in 1903 are listed by Polling Place and the Koo-Wee-Rup Roll covers Koo-Wee-Rup and Yallock, the settlement which was based around Finck Road, School Road, Hall Road etc in what is now called Bayles. The rolls tell you the name of the person enrolled; they had to be 21 to enroll, and their occupation. From the roll we can tell who lived in Koo-Wee-Rup and Yallock in 1903.

In 1903 there were 284 people listed on the Roll – 212 from Koo-Wee-Rup and 72 from Yallock, there were 138 women and 146 men.  As you would expect the major occupation was farming – there were 109 farmers, including three women, Elizabeth Fraser of Koo-Wee-Rup and Annie Yeaman and Helen Reitchel both of Yallock. Many farms were only 20 acres, with over half being 40 acres or under. There were also five graziers listed - Charles and William Moody of Koo-Wee-Rup, Henry and John Lyall of Yallock and Henry Beattie also of Yallock. I don’t know what qualified a person to call themselves a grazier – if it was based on acres, then according to the Cranbourne Shire Rate Books, Beattie had 1,193 acres and Charles Moody had 647 acres, however Charles’ brother Christopher had over 1,800 acres and he called himself a farmer, so maybe one branch of the family thought they were more gentrified than the other.


Rossiter Road, 1923

The other occupations give us some insight into the commercial activities in the town at the time – Koo-Wee-Rup had Robert Laidlaw the blacksmith; Patrick Bergin the boot maker; Henry Woodman, the butcher; Michael O’Shea, a carrier; Abraham Choury, the draper; William Kilgour, a gardener; Alfred Wilkson, a saddler; George Dempster, the Station Master and Charles Barbour, a railway employee. There were 20 men who had Labourer listed as an occupation. We also had two teachers - Grace McKenzie and John Minahan. Mrs McKenzie started at the Koo-Wee-Rup State School No. 2629 (then called the Yallock school, out on Bethune’s Road) in 1888 and was there until 1911. Her husband George is listed on the roll as an Engineer. Koo-Wee-Rup had three grocers – Elizabeth O’Riordan, James Rundle and John Sykes.

Of the 138 women listed, 132 had their occupation listed as the all purpose “Home Duties” – including both Helen and Florence Lyall, the daughters of William and Annabella Lyall of Harewood, this is in spite of the fact that they both held land in their own names, Helen had at least 250 acres. The Cranbourne Rate Books has “Lady” as their occupation – which I presume means that they were of independent means and didn’t need to work. The other six women were the three farmers, the grocer Elizabeth O’Riordan, Mrs McKenzie and finally Clara May Allardyce, of Yallock, who was listed as a Governess.

The Electoral Rolls give us an interesting insight into our region and many of the names from 1903 are still remembered in the area by road names or some of their descendents are still around - Bethune, Burhop, Gilchrist, Johnston, Lineham, Lyall, Mickle, Moody, Rossiter, Ware, Woodman etc.

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