A short history of Aboriginal relations at the Swan River through the story of John Henry Monger and his closest associates.
Above: Gone to the grave. The name of John Henry Monger (the elder) has long been associated with the birth of Benil, also known as John Jack Mungar Bennell, patriarch of the well known Noongar Bennell and Garlett families of today. Image: taken from Classified Advertisements, The Perth Gazette and West Australian Times, Friday 3 September 1869.
Warning: This post is concerned with Indigenous family history and carries the names of many deceased persons. The intention is to neither prove nor disprove existing theories or beliefs, only to throw light upon a subject of interest to many indigenous and non-indigenous families alike. The View From Mount Clarence is the work of a non-indigenous writer and researcher on the subject of racial integration in South-West Western Australia.
For Aileen, Glenys and Darren Quartermaine-Garlett and all descendants of
John Henry Monger, the Elder, 1800-1867
In recent months I’ve been drawn back into family matters. When I say family, I mean extended family, and in this case the extention is wide and far. But that’s the beauty of it and one of the reasons I decided to get involved. The other is because the matter at hand is distressing and it’s not nice to find people in distress.
A relative of mine has been told she belongs to a family she doesn’t know. For the purposes of the Single Noongar Claim, a Perth woman through and through has been told by the South West Aboriginal Land and Sea Council (SWALSC) that she’s from the Avon Valley. She’s been told she belongs to an old and very well known Ballardong family with roots buried deep in the days of first settlement at York. She holds nothing against that family, of course, she just doesn’t understand or agree with the judgement. Her whole life she’s been told stories of her grandparents, great grandparents and beyond living along the Swan. My Aunt says her people were the 19th Century Perth personalities Tommy Dower and Fanny Balbuk, not the York patriarchs Benil, Mungarlit and Kikit.
This post is continued from Part 4 (a) previous:
John McKail and George Cheyne: Town, Sea or Land?
Above: John McKail arrived at Albany immediately prior to the 19th Century’s great off-shore whaling boom (1836-1842), a phenomena which should have resulted in much greater migration of moneyed settlers to the area despite world-wide economic recession. But King George’s Sound was already a hard-sell being neither farming country nor flush with Colonial resources and it’s chances were halved again as it was left to languish in the shadow of Sir James Stirling’s beloved but deeply troubled Swan River settlement, Perth. Image: King Georges Sound to Cape Riche Survey by F. Von-Summer, 1848.
At Albany, George Cheyne escaped the self-serving clutches of Richard Spencer’s local governance by removing himself eastwards up the coast in order to take advantage of the shipping traffic, but the ex-garrison’s tiny population still improved by way of labouring class and small-time investment level immigrants. After Cheyne, Spencer, Sherratt and Symers, only one other man was persuaded to take a big-time investment plunge at Albany. Captain John Hassell did so from 1839 with the most Machiavellian of land-based assaults, thereby commencing the highly competitive South Coast pastoralist era, subject of the In Search of Ngurabirding sub-series. In the meantime, McKail’s sea-based heritage, modest means and exploitative trader mentality, along with his sizable persona and penchant for social discourse (pub-going), kept him focused on the settlement’s immediate facilities and short to medium-term prospects, the result of which came to serve him well.
Resolving the identity of a man known as John Jack Maher helps tell the story of early European/Aboriginal integration inland from Albany. By following the threads we learn how Albany’s pioneer pastoralists merged with those from York in and around what later became the railway town of Katanning; most notably at a place called Eticup. Many shepherds and labourers employed by the pastoralists fathered children to Aboriginal women, angering their men, causing incidences of cross-cultural recrimination and violence. But what of those European men who engaged in this; mostly the convicts and Ticket-of-Leave men of the 1850’s and 1860’s? The story of their lives reveals backgrounds of deprivation and misery. What hope did they bring to their new opportunity and what chance of a fulfilling life did they and the result of their Indigenous unions really have?
Above: The controversial photograph of John Jack Maher. The man here is either Johnny Maher the cricketer with his Aboriginal-descent wife Emily Maggs and daughter Maria Louisa, or he is Ngurabirding, also known as John Jack Maher, husband to Waiman and father to Rachel as shown in the Bates genealogies. If the former, the photograph will have been taken around 1910 (as Maria Louisa was born 1901) putting Maher in his mid-40s. If the latter, the photo was probably taken in the 1890s when Maher was about thirty. Continue reading
Originally Published 26 July 2014:
Above: Woodburn Homestead and Farm in 1913. The original dwelling is front and centre of the picture. By 1913 Woodburn had been sold to the Moir family. Photograph donated to the Albany History Collection by Gordon Norman.
Following on from last week’s post I wanted to look into the circumstances of John Dunn’s killing, more particularly when it was reported and what happened once it was. I won’t go into great detail about the background because it will be dealt with in later posts, but because of the jump in time I’m making here (from 1850 to 1880) some summary is needed.
Originally Published 16 July 2014:
Down On His Luck by Frederick McCubbin; National Gallery of Victoria
I fell for Campbell Taylor’s history for a whole lot of reasons, not least because he was among a select group of sons to first Albany settlers. These sons will come to occupy slabs of space in future history books relating to settlement along the South Coast, but only when their endeavors are properly researched. Taylor was a contemporary of the Belches, Symers, Gillam, Dunn, Moir, Wellstead and Dempster families, between them pioneer settlers from Albany to Cape Arid. The Dunn family being of primary interest for now.
Originally Published 27 June 2014:
Other people who are relevant to these pages during the 1840’s and onwards include the ex naval Lieutenant Peter Belches and the former East India Company men John Laurence Morley and Thomas Lyell Symers. We’re also interested in what Captain John Hassell and his wife Ellen got up to, what developments George Cheyne was able to forge and the arrival of John McKail, Hugh & John McKenzie and Thomas Meadows Gillam. Also, the ever shifting fortunes of the ship’s carpenter James Dunn.
Above: This pencil and wash sketch of Albany dated February 1854 shows the village status of the town at that time. The jetty in the foreground, commenced by McKail and Dunn in the Spring of 1837, was 75 yards long and located where the Marina and Boatshed Markets are today. McKail had blocks at the foot of the jetty and along Stirling Terrace just east of the London Hotel where (probably) he and James Dunn lived during that time. The sketch is unattributed.