The Sad Tale of John Edge

 

John Gribben

Local Historian, John Gribben was guest speaker at the general meeting of the Murchison Historical Society this month. He spoke about his research into the life of a young boy called John Edge, who met a sad and lonely death while working on an isolated property near Molka, south east of Murchison in 1894.
During a tour of Euroa Cemetery recently, John became intrigued to know what had led to this child, supposedly an orphan, to be lying in an unmarked grave in the Euroa Cemetery.  There were many twists and turns and confusing information as John tried to find out the background to the life of this young boy who was found dead on the side of a nearby creek.
The sad circumstances of disjointed, violent family life, neglect and abandonment, were revealed through the research and this obviously affected the health and growth of John Edge. His father had handed the boy, who was in a filthy and ‘wasted’ condition, to Miss. Sutherland, who helped abandoned needy children on the streets of Melbourne. Her work was to eventually lead to the foundation of the Sutherland Homes for Neglected and Destitute Children in 1908.

Miss. Selina Sutherland, pictured with children at a Christmas party at Sutherland Homes in Carlton, 1908, courtesy of Diamond Valley Local History Digitisation Project, Yarra Plenty Regional Library. Selina Sutherland, pictured with children at a Christmas party at Sutherland Homes in Carlton

Miss. Sutherland had arranged for John Edge to be placed with a family near Euroa, and it seems his ‘cleanliness’ and health improved there, but he was described as partly deaf and “slow witted” no doubt due to malnourishment and many years of possible abuse. He was moved for employment to a farm nearby and according to an account of the inquest into his death, did not appear to receive the same care and attention there.
Following the inquest, and together with other similar cases, many questions were raised throughout the community, in the press, and also in the Victorian Parliament, about safeguards for vulnerable children. This led to the establishment of the Victorian Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children in 1896, to assist children that found themselves in dire circumstances like John Edge, a small undernourished child who sadly only lived to be 8 years old. So perhaps John Edge’s death was instrumental in bringing about significant protection for neglected and abandoned children and he did not die entirely in vain.
John Gribben plans to place a plaque on a sizable rock near where John Edge died, telling his story so that he is not forgotten and his short, sad life can have some recognition.
It was a tortuous journey trying to piece this tragedy together but John Gribben persisted, trawling through newspapers and official documents, til a clearer picture emerged and all this work will now have a positive outcome.

Marg Brown thanked John for his intriguing presentation and presented him with a gift of local produce.

Kay Ball, President, Murchison and District Historical Society Inc.

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Australia Day in Murchison

The Murchison Australia Day Committee do a really great job in organising a wonderful event every year and it just seems to get better and better!
This year we had Dr. Sharman Stone as our guest speaker. Sharman is now the
Ambassador for Women and Girls with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
In her address Sharman related the stories of two hard working ‘ordinary’ Australians who made an impact on many lives and received officially recognition of their achievements; Pastor Doug Nicholls who was knighted for his work to promote Aboriginal rights and Albert Borella, whose bravery earned him a Victoria Cross during WW1. Both men persevered against all odds to succeed.

We were entertained by Bec Hence firstly leading us in the National Anthem and then singing two great songs with very suitable themes following on from Sharman Stone’s address about the privileges of living in Australia, showing tolerance between many different cultures, valuing what our country provides, and that we can all achieve great things by good honest work, and mateship.

Denni Bathman was the Junior Speaker this year. Denni was one of the Murchison Primary School Captains for 2017 and counted it an honour to represent the school at many functions throughout the year. Denni said she had a great year in this role and learnt many leadership skills. She is passionate about her local community and all that the town offers. Denni will attend Notre Dame College this year.

Denni Bathman delivering her speech

It was delightful to see the littlest members of our town confidently walk up the dais steps to receive prizes and certificates for colouring and essay competitions. The photography competition had 54 entries this year – some wonderful images on show for the theme ‘3610 – Love Where You Live’. The judges had a tough time deciding the winners. First prize went to Sandy Sullivan for a photo entitled ‘Perfection’ – an image of relaxing by the river.

The Junior Soccer Team had a very good year with very few matches lost and also received recognition with the Sports Award.

Young Citizen of the Year of the Year was awarded to Sara Louise Niglia, a very talented 25 year old teacher with many qualifications and accomplishments associated with sport. Sara’s outstanding achievement in 2017 was coaching a local teenager to win the Under 20 Oceania Weight Lifting Championship. Sara is taking up a teaching position at a Secondary School in Kew this year.

Sara Niglia Young Citizen of the Year with Dr.Sharman Stone

A happy Una Stone with her Citizen of the Year Award

Citizen of the Year was our wonderful senior citizen, Una Stone who is indeed a deserving recipient of the honour. Una has been a caring supporter of people and every organisation in the town for many, many years. She is renowned for supplying superb food and baking when there is an occasion or fundraising event, without ever receiving any payment. Her jelly slices and ginger fluff sponges are mouth-watering! But more than this she is a quiet, behind the scenes supporter for those in need.

It was a very hot day and being at the swimming pool was a great location and of course the Duck Grand Prix was a suitable event to hold in the heat. The children in the water had a splashing good time!

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Lining up for the beginning of the Duck Grand Prix!

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OPEN HOURS DURING CHRISTMAS & NEW YEAR PERIOD

The Heritage Centre will not be open Saturday 23rd December or Saturday 30th December to allow our hard working volunteers to have a break.

However, anyone wishing to visit the Heritage Centre over the holiday period can telephone 0475 018 743 to arrange a suitable time.

Normal Saturday morning opening will commence again on January 6th from 10 am to  12.30 pm.

Apologies if this causes any inconvenience.

Enjoy the Festive Season.

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Successful History Week

The annual celebration of History Week was again a successful time at the Murchison Heritage Centre. We welcomed more than 150 visitors through the door.
A highlight of the week was the attendance of Ann and Fleur Marillier from New Zealand, daughter in-law and grand-daughter respectively, of Hans-Wolter von Gruenewaldt. Ann and Fleur came to attend the launch of a new book compiled by Kay Ball about von Gruenewaldt, a German Prisoner of War, who spent 5½ years in Camp 13.
The book, Art Captured, tells von Gruenewaldt’s own story of the hazardous journey to Australia and features over 130 images. These consist of photographs of life in the camp, aerial view and panorama of Camp 13 and a wide variety of his art. Included is supporting text about Camp 13 and the background to von Gruenewaldt’s circumstances. The book has been very well received and adds a different aspect to the history of the local World War 2 Camp. This colourful book, of 96 pages, can be purchased from Murchison Heritage Centre (open Saturday mornings 10 – 12.30pm) or Tatura Museum (open weekdays 1 – 3pm, Sat. Sun. 2-4pm) for $25.00, add $11.00 P/H if requiring it to be mailed. Will make a great Christmas present!
We also had a group visit during History Week from Fremantle WA, who were interested in Camp 13 from an Italian perspective. They were impressed with the Italian Ossario in the Murchison Cemetery, enjoyed looking around the Heritage Centre and hearing a talk about the Interment and POW camps in the area.
Sixty of the children from Murchison Primary School also visited during History Week and were very keen to hear about the history of their own town and district. Of course the Murchison Meteorite is always a favourite with children!
So, Historical Society members had a busy week but very satisfying when people give such positive feedback about the displays and the award winning Heritage Centre itself. We are grateful for the support of History Week by Greater Shepparton City Council.

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Cover of the book, Art Captured.

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Our Celebration of HISTORY WEEK

The third week in October is History Week and Murchison Heritage Centre will be open each day from Sunday 15th October to Sunday 22nd October from 11 am to 2 pm to celebrate this special time.
Our temporary display area will be featuring the art produced by Hans-Wolter von Gruenewaldt, a German Prisoner of War who was held in Camp 13 for 5½ years. His murals can be seen in DPJones Nursing Home and also the Community Centre in Murchison. His artistic talent was extensive and the murals are just one style of his work. A new book will be released during History Week that reveals many of his works produced during his captivity that are quite different to the style of the murals and showcases his broad range of skills.


Come along enjoy this new display and many other exhibits that promote the unique and varied history of Murchison and district.
Entry is by gold coin donation. We have books, tea-towels and other items for sale at very reasonable prices.
Kay Ball President Murchison & District Historical Society Inc.

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Open Hours For Heritage Centre

The Heritage Centre is again open each Saturday morning from 10 am to 12.30 pm following our winter recess. If you would like to come along at another time simply contact us to arrange your visit. Groups are very welcome.

There is a lot to see at the Murchison Heritage Centre as the local area has a rich and varied history. From the Aboriginal Protectorate, to early settlement and busy river crossing place, the beginning of irrigation just south of the town, Prisoner of War Camp 13 and the world famous Murchison Meteorite, you will enjoy many intriguing aspects of our local heritage.

 

Prisoners at Camp 13 building the Recreation Hall that became ANZAC HALL in the town after the war ended and the camp was closed.

 

 

 

 

Completed Recreation Hall at Camp 13 where many dances and concerts were held.

 

 

 

One of the murals painted on the walls of the Recreation Hall by German prisoner Hans-Wolter von Gruenewaldt now hanging in the Murchison Community Centre

 

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Russian Group Concert Party

A delightful visitor to Murchison Heritage Centre recently, was a sprightly 92 year old who had journeyed to Camp 13 Murchison during World War 2  to entertain the Australian Army personnel who were guarding the Prisoners of War held there.
Lillian was part of an entertainment troupe called “Russian Group” – a concert party that was long established, providing concerts of song and dance routines across Melbourne. During the War the group travelled extensively throughout Victoria to Military Camps to raise morale of the men and women of the Australian forces. Lillian remembers coming to Murchison and performing on the stage of the Garrison Recreation Hut.

The stage of the Garrison Recreation Hut Camp 13 where Lillian performed

Lillian, a sprightly 92 year old

That same building was relocated into the township of Murchison after the War and so we were able to show Lillian photos of the stage where she would have performed tap dancing and singing to the troops. Lillian also performed at one of the Tatura Internment Camps.
Accompanied by her daughter Lynn, Lillian enjoyed a visit to Tatura Museum as well on her trip down memory lane at the Murchison Heritage Centre.
Judging by Lillian’s agility and health in her nineties, tap dancing and stage performance must be good for longevity!

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