Chapter 9: Ann Elizabeth Crawford

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Reads: 113

Ann Elizabeth Neale

Ann Neale was born at Birmingham, Warwickshire in January,1852, and left for Victoria in 1853 at I year old.  Her parents were William and Ann Coles Neale.

By the time she was old enough to have memories, she was living in Carisbrook. She probably had a Warwickshire accent, picked up from her parents and the many other British immigrants on the goldfields, and her school teachers would have had an English accent.  For most of her childhood and probably into her twenties, she was an English woman, living primarily among English people; just not in England.

By the time she was 8 years old, she had witnessed the births and deaths of her brother William Fuller and sisters Sarah and Annie, and the birth of her brother William Levet Neale.

She lived in Carisbrook for 17 years, from 1858 to 1875 when she married and moved to Maryborough.

She gave birth to Mary Elizabeth in 1876 and Edith Helen in 1878, when they then moved to Durham Ox.

She lived at Durham Ox for five years, giving birth to James Miller and twins Catherine and Robert.

In 1884, she moved to Karang, where she lived for around 9 years and gave birth to John Hamilton, Hilda May and twins Harold and Percy.

In 1894, she moved to Box Hill in Melbourne.  By 1900, when living at Mont Albert, Ann had spent 25 years raising 9 children and the two youngest were still only 9 years old.  Another 16 years for the youngest boys to complete their tertiary education, and she was 64 years old.

 She died at Surry Hills, Melbourne in 1923 when 71 years old

In 1860, when she was 8 years old, Carisbrook was a significant town in the “Central Goldfields”.  Ann didn’t grow up on the diggings as such, so her life would have been more settled.  Children on the diggings often helped shovel rock and gravel, carry water, pan for gold and rock the wooden mining cradles.  Living in a town, she would have attended school and had plenty of friends to play with.  With a much younger brother, she may have had to help out around the house, however only being a family of four, she would have had a fairly comfortable childhood.

The Neals were a family who chose to make a living by supplying miners rather than mining themselves. The smart people realized that they could make more money providing goods and services to the miners than by mining themselves.

The price of flour soared during shortages and there were numerous times in the 50’s and 60’s that there were droughts and poor production of crops.  That’s why William Neale snr. became involved in the Tragowel Irrigation Scheme.


At times, it would cost more than 30 ounces of gold to pay for two weeks’ flour supply for individual miners, and it wasn’t unusual for it to be gritty, full of lumps and riddles with weevils.At least buying your bread from a baker, such as the Neales, guaranteed the quality.

Only those who struck it rich could afford to buy fancy foods, such as dried fruit, cheese and butter. The price of a biscuit could be 7d (pence), and a pint of water 2d.

With the exception of the Chenery family, all of our family started as bakers or carters and contractors, and it was only much later in Western Australia that Robert Crawford struck it rich with gold.

For most of the 1850’s and 60’s, gold mining was conducted by either individual men or small partnerships of three or four miners.  Some struck it lucky, however most earnt just enough to feed and entertain themselves.  As fast or as slow as they dug up and sold their gold, they spent it on food, clothes entertainment and alcohol.  The majority were single men.  Surprisingly, people at this time loved quality clothing and some historians believe they spent more on clothes than alcohol.

Adults worked every hour there was daylight, so they needed help with all the everyday jobs too, such as looking after younger siblings, washing clothes, collecting firewood and carrying water. Even in towns such as Maryborough, water had to be carried by the bucket to the family home.  The pollution of the rivers and creeks by the miners meant that fresh water was scarce.  The Crawfords in Maryborough would have purchased water by the bucketful, carted in barrels from Carisbrook where the water was cleaner.


Even with relatively clean water in Carisbrook, disease was as deadly there, as everywhere else on the gold fields. Ann Elizabeth’s brother, William Fuller Neale, was born in Alma in 1856.  It seems that the Neales tried their hand at gold prospecting, and were on the Maryborough fields at Alma from 1853 to 1855.  That was when the rush was at its peak with 50,000 people on the fields, and most of those single men.  By 1856 when he was born, the population had dropped to 30,000 as many speculators moved on to the next big thing. 


Unfortunately, William died at Carisbrook when he was 6 years old and Ann Elizabeth was just 10.  Ann Elizabeth had two sisters, Mary born in 1858 and Sarah in 1860 and they died when 4 years old and 2 years old.  She lost a brother and two sisters in less than two years, and it would seem that William Fully and Mary both died in 1862, when the newspapers reported that the chief causes of death amongst children were enteritis and scarlatina, and infantine cholera and dysentery.


Ann Elizabeth’s mother, Ann Coles Neale ne Levet, would have been burying her son William Fuller and daughter Mary and then giving birth to William Levet Neale within months of each other.


It was tough to learn to read and write. Not everyone’s parents had been to school and many couldn’t read and write themselves. William and Ann Coles Neale could, and living in a town district with around 70 children, there was a school for Ann Elizabeth and William. They paid the teacher 1s 6d a week.


Ann Elizabeth would have to help out around the house and the bakery quite a bit.  Her father would be up baking in the middle of the night to ensure there was plenty of bread and cakes for sale when the shop opened in the morning.  While he may have then served in the shop as well, it’s most likely that Anne Coles and Ann Elizabeth would have had to be looking after the shop and baby William as well.


Children didn’t have a lot of time to play, but when they did, they were used to making do with whatever they had. They spent their playtime: exploring the goldfields and the bush, building cubbies, climbing trees, sword-fighting with sticks, throwing stones at targets, skimming stones across the surface of water, hide and seek and chasey, spinning hula hoops made of cane, flying simple kites made with sticks and old bits of material, playing with animals and pretending to be grown-ups.


Travelling entertainers toured the goldfields with puppet shows and musical instruments. The luckiest kids had a simple toy, ball or cricket bat to play with, mostly handmade from spare bits and pieces around the goldfields. Knuckles: Sheep knucklebones from the butcher made a great game like jacks. There are lots of ways to play, but most games involve bouncing a ball and picking up knuckles while the ball is in the air, then catching the ball before it bounces again.


Quoits: Rings made of rope. Stand back behind a line and throw the rings onto a wooden peg in the ground. Get more onto the peg than your opponent. Marbles: So many variations of games with marbles! Many involve a circle on the ground and some of each person’s marbles in the ring. The aim is to use one of your big marbles to “shoot” your opponent’s marbles out of the ring.


Skipping ropes: We all know what a skipping rope is and they haven’t changed in hundreds of years. Just like kids at school today, goldfields kids sang chants or rhymes while they skipped to keep to a rhythm. A popular chant was:


Who are you going to marry?

Tinker, tailor, soldier, sailor,

Rich man, poor man, beggar man, thief …


Soldiers, dolls and stuffed toys, you could buy fancy versions in shops but many people in the goldfields were clever at making things. Even kids could carve toys from wood, sew rag dolls from old scraps of material and make fluffy stuffed toys from sheepskins and possum skins.


At 8 years of age, this was the community in which Ann Elizabeth lived:

Maryborough and Dunolly Advertiser, Monday 9 January 1860, page 2


The following are the Warden's returns for the fortnight ending 31st December, 1859. Population: Maryborough, 2,200; Alma, 1,880; Chinaman's Flat, 310; White Hills, 800; Waterloo, 240; Blackman's Lead, 350; Carisbrook, 875. Total, 6,845, classified as follows: —males, 3005; females, 850; children, 950; Chinese, 910 Revenue; —miners' rights, £I3; business licenses £15; Chinese residence tickets, £80. Machinery: 221 puddling machines, 5 steam quarts crushing machines, 7 horse power engines, 4 water pumps. 4 disputes adjudicated; 12 Chinese summoned for nonpossession of residence tickets, resulting in 9 convictions. The Warden, G, A. Thomson, Esq, in his accompanying remarks states, that 4 prospecting claims have been granted during the last fortnight; that a rush has taken plats at the Cumberland Gully, situated on the old Avoca road, and distant about three miles from any other diggings, in the neighbourhood of the Bet Bet Creek, and the prospectors state their belief that a large goldfield will be opened up in the locality. The number of the European portion of the population continues unchanged, while that of the Chinese has reduced by about 60. The conduct of the population continues very orderly, and their sanitary condition satisfactory.

By October 1860, the population of Carisbrook had grown from 875. To 1,200.

Maryborough and Dunolly Advertiser, Wednesday 11 April 1860, page 2


The picnic of the schools of Maryborough and Carisbrook took place on Monday. In the morning of that day the scholars, under the superintendence of Mr. and Mrs. John Gardiner, mustered in great numbers, and the procession through the streets was of the most lively description, being headed by two boys bearing a banner, on which was painted the Australian arms, with the words " Advance Maryborough" underneath. Numerous flags were borne by other boys, and as the procession defiled It was remarked, "There go the future men and women of Australia." The procession halted on the south side of the Main Lead, where carriages of every description were waiting to transport the children to the scene of the picnic.

Here a hitch occurred in the arrangements which rather afflicted the harmony of the after proceedings. The carriages would not contain all the passengers, and as they filled, they drove off with their freights, leaving Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner with a number of children to follow in other vehicles, which however, not arriving, the company proceeded on foot. A stray seat in a dog cart accommodated Mrs. Gardiner, and some of the boys got a lift in an empty return wagon, while the schoolmaster, really "abroad," after a long walk, was indebted to Mr. Gray, the dairyman, who was just starting with his family, for reaching the ground.

Arriving at Linton's paddock, the place appointed, no signs of preparation attracted attention, and the carriages drove on till close upon MeCullum's Creek, where, thinking they had gone far enough, a council of war was held, and some Intelligence having been gained as to the whereabouts of the selected spot, they all turned back, and ultimately were met by the Rev. Mr. Linskie on horseback, and conducted by him to the scene of the day's amusements.

After the first feelings of disappointment were overcome and the children numbering over 170 from both schools collected together, all present gave way to contribute their quota to the hilarity of the occasion. After a hearty discussion of the good things, ropes were thrown over the trees for swings, cricket matches formed on the beautiful plains at the foot of the hill. Racing, leaping, and every kind of healthy exercise were participated in by young and old, interrupted occasionally by calls to partake of the ample refreshments provided.

All pleasure must have an end, and as five o’clock approached the children were formed into a ring and sang under the direction of Mr, and Mrs. Gardiner, a new version of the National Anthem appropriate to the occasion.

The Rev. Mr. Linaki then in a brief address, presented two books as prizes to the two best behaved children of the Carisbrook School.  Mr. Call. P. M., not having any books with him, awarded instead, money prizes to the two best behaved children of the Maryborough School. Cake etc., were then distributed to the children, the horses were harnessed up, the passengers mounted, and amid much cheering the whole company started, homeward bound, pleased and happy with their day's amusements.

It is highly likely that much of the food and certainly the “Cake etc” was provided by the Neales bakery.

To celebrate the marriage of Queen Victoria son, and future King of England, Albert Edward (Edward V11) to Alexandra of Denmark, Carrisbrook organized a major celebration.  Still very much an English country, they sang the national anthem.  As an 11-year-old, Ann Elizabeth would have been dressed in her finery and joining in the games and celebrations. She would also have been very busy for several days before, as it is highly likely her father would have baked much of the bread and cakes served at the celebrations.

Maryborough and Dunolly Advertiser, Friday 22 May 1863, page 4



That the day of rejoicing at Carisbrook was very wet, it need scarcely to be told, nevertheless the morning commenced with a salute of twenty-one guns. At nine o'clock the capital ox was put to the fire, and the capacious Town Hall was thrown open for the children, and indoor games of many descriptions were merrily carried on, and fruit and cakes were supplied in abundance. At two o'clock, the ox was pronounced "done," and certainly it was admirably roasted; the whole of the meat being thoroughly cooked, and pronounced, as to flavor and tenderness, to be of the best order. Tables were laid in the market hall for the “jolly companions every one," who had met together. Potatoes, bread, and beer, ad libitum, were served with the "great roast" with a never-failing supply of good plum pudding. At four o'clock the skeleton or the ox which had supported such excellent food, was carried in procession through the town amid salvoes of firing. In the front of the Town Hall there were planted and named two beautiful oak trees, by the Chairman of the Council, at the conclusion of which ceremony, the Children sang in excellent time and tone, the national anthem, The words were of the new version, and included the names of the Prince and Princess. In spite of the rain, games of football were set going, and spiritedly carried on. After the planting of the trees, the children were liberally supplied with tea, coffee, and fruit. To some of the inhabitants of Carisbrook great praise is accorded the ox and over half a hundred weight of plum pudding were given by Mr. Henry Meadway. Mr. Samuel Attwood presented the oak trees, and superintended the planting of them.  Several ladies also gave plum pudding* of first-rate manufacture. The bonfire on the Bald Hill, lit in the evening, illuminated the country round, and fireworks and fire-balloons further illumined the dull leaden sky. At one time a curious effect was noticed by a cloud resting across the flame of the bonfire on the hill. It was remarkably strange and pretty. An abundant supply of Carrisbrook-brewed ale was given by Mr. Wheeler and Messrs. Mitchell and Hall, and heartily appreciated. All the inhabitants of the town united in one determined effort for the general enjoyment, and ladies, men, and children all turned out, regardless of the unpropitious weather, and not one semblance of disagreement marred the proceedings of the day, which wound up with a ball at the Town Hall, at which a goodly party of citizens, and a bevy of pretty women, married and single, kept it up through the night.

In 1869 however, it was even reported in the Melbourne press that “The people of Carisbrook appear to be much dissatisfied with the condition of their school. It is reported to be a common school, but the building is on Church of England land, the committee are nearly all Church of England men, and the structure itself is so ill-built as to be unsafe. At a recent meeting, which was largely attended, it was resolved to build a new school, and that it should be
in reality a common school.”

It was also reported that “A destructive fire broke out on Thursday last at Carisbrook, destroying the grass on several paddocks together with stacks of hay and other value, able property. Mr. Attwood is a loser to the extent of. £120, and Mr. Clarke about £10.”


Just over six months before her marriage to Robert Crawford, there was a horrific event in Carisbrook.  Ann Elizabeth, might very well have known Isabella Rodgers, and certainly would have known about what happened to her.

Riverine Herald, Saturday 31 October 1874, page 3


A horrible occurrence has taken place at Carisbrooke, which has shocked the whole community.

Dr. Laidman, the district coroner, commenced an inquest on Thursday on the body of a newly-born infant, the unnamed child of a laborer named Rodgers, which was born under the most distressing circumstances, as detailed in the dying depositions of the mother, who is not expected to recover. The inquest, the mother's deposition had been taken, was adjourned to Saturday next.

The deposition is as follows: —" I, Isabella Rodgers believing myself to be in a dying state, make this declaration. I am the 'mother of the deceased child, on which an inquest is being held. I was taken ill on Monday last, about midday, with labor pains; no one with me. My husband was at work. My three children were at home. When I say no one was with me, I mean that no woman or doctor was in the house. My oldest child is only six years old. I was bad until Tuesday, and on the night of that day—the early part the night—I, after being asleep for some time found that the child was partly born. I got up and walked about the kitchen. I fell over an iron tub in the kitchen. I hurt myself very much, and lost a good deal of blood. Next morning after this I went to Mrs. Medcraft and knocked at the. window. I spoke with her, and asked that Mr. Hill the chemist should come to me. Mr. Hill came to me twice and said he would take it upon himself to confine me. He said he was not at all frightened and would undertake my convenient. When he first came, he said he was qualified to undertake any case. He saw me after the arm was off the child's body, He examined me and said he could do nothing without his instrument, which I understood he went to fetch.  I never saw Mr. Hill after this but Dr. Howell came soon after and delivered me. I being in such agony, and the child being still partially born, took the knife and cut off my child's arm straight across. The knife I used was a small white-handled knife. I had but three knives in the house, and am certain that the white-handled one is that which I used. I bled freely after I fell, but not much after I cut the arm off. I was very poorly in health (weeks I might say) previous to being taken in labor. I am still under the care of Dr. Howell. I suffered very much in labor, and instruments were used by the doctor in confined me.

The following year on the 1st of May, “May Day”, 1875, Ann Elizabeth married Robert Crawford.  All of her family and their friends would have attended the wedding; however, Roberts parents James and Mary Ann and his two brothers, James and John Hamilton had left to move to Scotland and Ireland.  The newspaper reports of their wedding are included in the chapter about Robert and Ann Elizabeth Crawford. 

I can’t imagine that Ann Elizabeth was all too happy to be tin-kettled by a gang of youths when she returned from their honeymoon. It was fairly common throughout Victoria at the time, and the police were pretty vigilant.  Described as “when the peace and privacy of a wedding night is rudely interrupted by a group of noisy hooligans outside banging kerosene tins, pots and cans; hurling rocks onto the roof, and generally ruining the mood.”

Ann would have settled in to married life, reorganizing their home on High St. in Maryborough.  Having been her father and mother-in-laws home, and housing 5 people, she would have decorated it to her taste, and prepared a nursery.

At the same time, Robert was building brick and steel ovens at the back of the house.  To avoid fire burning down the house, most timber cottages in the day, had a brick or stone kitchen added on, either detached or beyond a brick walk at the back of the house.

We went in search of their house in 2010 and believe it was a café at the top of High St., just down from the Maryborough Highland Society.  Just beyond their house, High St becomes Elgin Road, so that must have struck a chord with Robert.  At the back of the café is a small courtyard, and 5 meters from the house a brick structure with ovens build into it.

Barely four weeks after she gave birth to Mary Elizabeth in 1876, there was drama right next door.  It was described as a “romantic attempt at suicide”.  Charlotte Williams was a 17-year-old girl, whose parents lived at Chinamans Flat (a gold field).  She had worked at several homes; however two weeks earlier, had come to work as a house maid with Mr. and Mrs. Mathews, who lived next door to the Crawfords on High St. 

Apparently, Charlotte and a younger girl friend had attended a performance by Madame Sibly at the School of Arts on the Thursday evening. 

Madame Sibly performed all over the goldfields with performances that involved Phrenology and Mesmerism.  Phrenology is the measurement of bumps on the head to predict mental traits.  She would even have mothers bring their babies to her show, and she would forecast their future and award trophies at the end of the evening.  Mesmerism was basically hypnotism, entertaining everyone at the expense of those hypnotized. 

After the performance, Charlotte approached a boy she was keen on, and he didn’t reciprocate her affections.  Some believed that he was her boyfriend and that they had had an argument.  The next morning, she sent a written note to the boy.  Unfortunately, the note wasn’t delivered and by early afternoon she had worked herself into a suicidal state.  She drank some diluted arsenic, and when one of the Mathews children realized what she had done, she ran in next door to tell Robert and Ann Crawford.  Charlotte was taken to the hospital just down the street, on horseback, by a local policeman where they pumped her stomach.

1878 was Ann’s last year in Maryborough, and she gave birth to her second daughter Edith, who would remain with her for the rest of her life.  It was a year in which the highlights were:

Old Maryborough. DOINGS IN THE SEVENTIES. EXTRACTS FROM "ADVERTISER" FILES CXXXVI. Vandalism.—Early on Sunday morning (October 13, 1878) it was discovered that some person or persons had mischievously and maliciously damaged and removed a quantity of borough and private property. In Napier street half a dozen of the circular tree guards had been torn from the ground and overthrown, while in Carlyle, Nolan and Cambridge streets no less than ten of the bowls holding up the kerosene were removed from the lamp pillars and carried away. The glass chimneys were smashed at the several lamp posts, while the lamps themselves were found totally destroyed in the main drain. Besides this destruction of the council's property the colored lamp hanging in front of Mr. Wigg's chemist shop in High street was removed, and this was afterwards discovered placed on the billiard table at the Freemason's Tavern, an entrance having been effected through one of the windows for that purpose. This lamp, strange to say, was found uninjured. Mr. E. Crawford's Monte de Piete was also visited, and two out of the three golden balls wrenched off and carried away. In order to effect that, it was necessary to climb the verandah and the spouting was bent and broken where the feet of the vandals had rested. One of the gilded globes was afterwards found in Mr. Marshall's garden in Napier street, while the other turned up in an enclosure at the back of Mr. Harris's butchering premises in Nolan street. Mr. Crawford placed a notice on his shutters offering a reward of £25 for the discovery of the perpetrators of the mischief, but it was re-moved during the afternoon—we do not know whether the worthy proprietor thought the reward might be claimed, or if some other reason was the cause. A still more disgraceful act was com-mitted in placing boards used as a bridge across the main drain in Napier street in such a way that any person stepping on them would be precipitated to the bottom. As it is about six feet deep and flagged with bluestone, a fall might have had very serious consequences. This treacherous act showed a desire to inflict severe, and possibly fatal injuries on pedestrians. During the night one of the windows of Mrs. McFarlane's house was raised, it is supposed, by the same parties but on the lady calling out they decamped. It is understood that the lady can identify the midnight disturbers. That such shameful outrages as these should be committed by presumably sane men is a disgrace to the community and it is sincerely hoped that their willful and malicious damage to property will be sheeted home and severely punished.

A Fine Nugget.-A large find has taken place at Milkmaid's, White Hills, in the shape of a 9lb. nugget. The discoverers were M. FitzHarris and party, and after dividing the nice little sum of £422 they will go to work with renewed energy in order to see if they cannot unearth a few more of these nice little lumps of the precious metal.

A Bolt. -On Tuesday afternoon (November 12. 1878) the driver of one of Mr. Smith's cabs, having occasion to leave the vehicle, handed the reins to a youth on the box, and by some means the horse became startled, and went off at a furious pace down High street. As there were two ladies and a baby in the cab, and the young man on the box was quite unable to stop the run away, a considerable amount of alarm and apprehension was felt as to the result. However, a young man named Robinson, who is engaged in Mr. D. Taylor's store, jumped in the cart and galloping down, succeeded in stopping the bolter in the vicinity of Prince's Park when greatly to the relief of those who had witnessed the affair it was discovered that no harm of any sort had happened to the occupants of the cab beyond the natural harm occasioned to the ladies by their involuntary rapid travelling.

It would seem that perhaps Robert and Ann struggled to make a success of the bakery.  Perhaps too much competition.  Either that, or William Neale convinced them that the future was in farming, and that there was an opportunity to secure land in the Durham Ox area.  In a history of Kerang, it is written that “Robert Crawford established himself as a baker in Kerang in 1884. having previously acquired a farm in "the plains" in 1879.”

In March 1878, the Kerang Times noted that at “DURHAM Ox. -A portion of the Pre-emptive Right of the Duck Swamp Station is at present being surveyed for sale. This will give the township of Durham Ox an opportunity of extending in a direction- it was` precluded from before.”

I cannot imagine that Ann Elizabeth, with two very young children just packed up and moved to Durham Ox without a house to move into.  As this was a district attracting “squatters”, there wouldn’t have been houses ready to purchase.  It is possible that her parents dismantled their house and moved it on a bullock cart from Carisbrook, however more likely that they sold the “Bakery” as a going concern.

I suspect that the Neales obtained land at Durham Ox and that William and his son-in-law, Robert went ahead of their wives and families and build a house for them all to move into.  Once settled at Durham Ox, Robert and Ann Elizabeth would have built their own house. As to the nature of their house, this might give us some idea:

Bendigo Advertiser, Saturday 8 February 1890, page 4


In the fifties Bendigonians lived in tents and were tolerably comfortable therein. Now they live in houses of brick or wood, and have lately been intolerably uncomfortable. And the lack of comfort has not been the worst result of the late heat. The high temperature that we have had by night and by day have told seriously on the health of many, and this evil result; is one which cannot be fully estimated by present loss, the effect is felt sometimes for years. While all admit that the heat has lasted unusually long, that our late experience is in fact quite abnormal, it must not be forgotten that long periods are frequent, that every summer, though with more or less frequent breaks, the temperature ranges from 85 to 100. It is the absence of those breaks that has made - the late heat felt so severely. Such breaks are to be expected in the colony. Lying between the cold Southern Ocean and the tropical interior, our colony can have only a variable temperature. And it is reasonable in the colonists to expect neither a long time of heat nor a long time of great cold. But it does not follow that it is reasonable in us not to make provision against them. And it cannot be said that our houses are built so as to guard against cold or heat. Neither in walls nor roofs, nor size of rooms, are our houses constructed to be comfortable abodes. We speak not of ventilation, for that is a matter seemingly beyond the reach of architects. But in style and structure our houses are so built as to be hot in summer, cold in winter, hot by day, cold by night. The great drop in temperature that often takes place during the night is well known. Travelers by coach on the early winter morn are familiar with the fact that oppossum rugs, etc., fail to keep them warm, while by ten or eleven o'clock every wrap is flung aside, and a light summer costume is found to be enough. The same fact may be easily found out by dwellers in our city if they look at a thermometer in their bedrooms when they go to bed, and at five o'clock in the morning, a fact too well known to persons easily liable to catarrh. It must be admitted however, that this has not been the case very frequently lately, the temperature varying very slightly during the night. Verandah blinds and creepers have some effect in warding off a glaring sun, but they have little effect on the general temperature of the house after a few days. Lately attention was drawn to house building in the old country by. one of' the leading journals devoted to architecture. It was pointed out that all through the country the old thatched roofs, impervious to sun, rain, or frost, keeping the house at an even temperature—were fast being replaced by slates—and that this change was hurtful to comfort and to health. Slates get very hot and very cold. Even when the roof has. not only its covering of slates, but a good lining of boards, and beneath that again a good lath and plaster wall, the cold in an attic room is often great, and the heat of course in summer is similarly great. The journal referred to was of opinion that slate roofs with all their precautions were the cause of many bronchial complaints. If attention is turned to our colonial houses, a worse state of things is found to exist. Our corrugated iron roofs—-convenient in many ways-—have the serious fault of becoming very hot and very cold. They are good absorbers and good radiators of heat—-the worst quality they could have when temperature is considered in a variable climate. And beneath this iron roof there is most commonly only one other lining—canvas and paper, or boards, or lath and plaster. If there were two such linings, one, suppose, of half inch boards nailed on the under aide of the rafters, and a second the ceiling of the room, the change of the temperature of the room would be greatly lessened. The brick walls of our houses have exactly the same fault. Brick does not heat so rapidly nor cool so rapidly as iron, but it does heat and does cool sufficiently to affect our com fort and our health. While many, if not most who build brick houses, go to the expense of plastering the brick, few ever think of going to the small extra expense of putting lath and piaster against the brick. The extra expense, of uprights and laths would be too trifling to affect the cost of the house and yet such a lining is sufficient to secure a current of air between the bricks and plaster, to cut off the heat of the brick in summer and its cold in winter, and to keep the room at a more even temperature.

This result is now frequently secured by builders having their brickwall double. Whether this plan is preferable to the, ordinary brick wall lined with lath and plaster, we are "unable to say. It is better for driving nails into and for keeping the plaster whole, but it does not seem so substantial, nor likely to resist heavy rains so well.  However, that is a matter for architects to decide, or for the public to find out. ' Of low ceilings, ' and of small rooms it is needless to speak. The point we wish to bring prominently before our readers is that in house-building much may be done to mitigate the effect of such heat as we have lately experienced, and that in so doing protection is afforded against the cold, to which our variable climate subjects us. It is true that many, perhaps the great majority of. houses here, have been built by men who did as they could, and not as they would—that the generation rapidly passing away have been pioneers. We freely grant that. But we would like it not to be forgotten that the permanency of the colony is not now a thing of doubt—that a good house is a good legacy to one's children and that a very little extra outlay at first means more comfort arid better health.

Ann Elizabeth had several years to settle into a new house, in a remote community, before giving birth to son James Miller Crawford, in January 1881.  At least she was now closer to her mother for support.  The girls were now 5 and 3, and her brother William Levet Neale,19.

Most of their social life revolved around the Wesleyan church.  It is most likely that it was here that the Crawford and Neale family became friends of the Street family.  Sarah Street’s maiden name was Chenery and her sister Mary Jane most likely visited on occasions from Dareel.

In March 1877 Thomas Street applied for a licence to lease land at Canary Island. His occupation was that of a farmer at Scarsdale. The Squatter would not allow Thomas onto the block until the notice to occupy had been received. He wanted to build dams to store water before summer. Their house had been carted 150 miles but could not be erected; the family was forced to camp off the block. Later bad seasons were experienced and they fell behind in their rent and despite the money raised the Post Master at Durham Ox would not receive it. A letter was sent to the Minister for Lands requesting that the Postmaster receive the rent. The land was eventually forfeited and taken over by a Samuel Vear in 1882.

Twins Robert and Catherine were born in 1883, so Ann Elizabeth now had 5 children under the age of 8. 

Struggling on their farm after a number of drought years, the Crawfords moved to Kerang in 1884, where Robert operated his father-in-law’s bakery, “Coventry Bakery”.  It was a going concern, so almost definitely included a residence, making it an easier move.

In Karang, without her mother to help with the children, and a shop to run, she gave birth to John Hamilton Crawford in 1885 at around the time that her mother Ann Coles Neale died at Durham Ox.

She then gave birth to Hilda May in 1887 and the twins Harold and Percival in 1891.  In January 1892, daughters Mary and Edith, the eldest girls were 15 and 13 years old and the other 6 children aged from several months old to 10 years old; 8 children under the age of 15.

We don’t know, but can only hope that Robert was doing well enough with the bakery to be able to afford to employ some help around the house. In 1878, they had applied for two acres of land on the Loddon River, which was additional to the 320 acres he already owned.  I assume it was closer to town and used for a residence.

Just doing the clothes washing for 10 people must have been an all-day effort.  It is most likely that Ann Elizabeth had a large metal tub heated by a wood fire.  Either that or a tub to which she would carry buckets of hot water. It is even likely that Robert would have built a washing shed and if they did live on the block of land beside the Loddon River, they would have carried buckets of water from the river.

The following description of washing day is probably accurate:

Monday morning, and the earlier the better (the morning sun drying and sweetening clothes better than the later), have the boiler full of clean warm suds. Soft soap may be used, or a bar of hard dissolved in hot water, and used like soft soap.

All the water in which the clothes have soaked should be drained off, and the hot suds poured on. Begin with the cleanest articles, which when washed carefully are wrung out, and put in a tub of warm water. Rinse out from this; rub soap on all the parts which are most soiled, these parts being bands and sleeves, and put them in the boiler with cold water enough to cover them. To boil up once will be sufficient for fine clothes. Then take them out into a tub of clean cold water; rinse them in this, and then in a tub of water made very slightly blue with the indigo-bag or liquid indigo. From this water they must be wrung out very dry, and hung out, always out of doors if possible. A wringer is much better than wringing by hand, as the latter is more unequal, and also often twists off buttons.

The lines must be perfectly clean. A galvanized-iron wire is best of all; as it never rusts, and needs only to be wiped off each week. If rope is used, never leave it exposed to weather, but bring it in after each washing. A dirty, weather-stained line will often ruin a nice garment. Leave clothes on the line till perfectly dry.

If any fruit-stains are on napkins or table-cloths, lay the stained part over a bowl, and pour on boiling water till they disappear. Ink can be taken out if the spot is washed while fresh, in cold water, or milk and water; and a little salt will help in taking out wine-stains. Machine-oil must have a little lard or butter rubbed on the spot, which is then to be washed in warm suds. Never rub soap directly on any stain, as it sets it. For iron-rust, spread the garment in the sun, and cover the spot with salt; then squeeze on lemon-juice enough to wet it. This is much safer and quite as sure as the acids sold for this purpose. In bright sunshine the spot will disappear in a few hours.

–from The Easiest Way in Housekeeping and Cooking,
by Helen Stuart Campbell, 1880

I suspect that it was even more difficult for Ann Elizabeth. There would have been dust blowing around and probably lines strung and propped up with a pole (clothes prop).  She would be constantly interrupted by the children and exhausted by very physical work.

With so many young children, I suspect that Ann Elizabeth followed the principle of early “toilet training” Basically sitting the child on the potty and waiting patiently … or not so patiently with an older sister keeping watch.

“A great advance in diapering was the invention of the safety pin, patented by Walter Hunt in 1849, but not widely used in place of the straight pin for securing diapers until the 1880s. By the late 1800s, infants in Europe and North America were wearing garments similar to the modern cloth diaper. A square of linen or cotton flannel was folded into a triangular or rectangular shape and held in place by safety pins. The diaper was covered with an absorbent pant called a "soaker" or "pilch," made of tightly knitted wool. In the late 1890s, rubberized pants were sometimes used to cover diapers. Diaper rash in the nineteenth century was commonly remedied with burnt flour or powdered vegetable sulfur.

One of the most common responses to the difficulties of diapering has been to toilet train early. At the end of the seventeenth century JOHN LOCKE recommended putting babies on a "pierced chair"–a chair with a hole in the bottom under which a chamber pot could be placed. Some of these chairs had a space for a hot brick to help keep infants warm for the time, sometimes considerable, in which they were strapped to the chair while their mothers waited for them to "produce." Throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, parenting manuals commonly recommended that TOILET TRAINING begin almost immediately after birth. Some manuals promised mothers that diapers could be dispensed with altogether within three or four months.”

The Sovereign Hill Education Blog has some good descriptions of the sort of housekeeping Ann Elizabeth would have experienced, even into the late 1800’ remote towns.  With the clothes washed and dried, the next task was ironing them.

In the 1850s irons were typically made of solid iron!  Isabella Beeton describes the different irons of the era in her book Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management (1982 Edition, Page 1011) as such:

The irons consist of the common flat-iron, which is of different sizes varying from 4 to 10 inches in length, triangular in form, and from 2.5 to 4.5 inches in width at the broad end; the oval iron, which is used for more delicate articles; and the box-iron, which is hollow, and heated by a red-hot iron inserted in to the box.  The Italian iron is a hollow tube, smooth on the outside, and raised on a slender pedestal with a footstalk.  Into the hollow cylinder a red-hot iron is pushed, which heats it; and the smooth outside of the latter is used, on which articles such as frills, and plaited articles, are drawn.

The irons (or inserts) were heated on a stove or fire grill and therefore had to be handled with extreme care so as not to cause burns.  It was also quite an art to correctly manage the temperature so that precious garments were not subjected to unsightly burn marks.  Most ladies would own multiple irons to suit different purposes and also for efficiency – so one could be heating while another is in use.

We’ve already established how the Crawford’s homes would have been difficult to keep cool in summer and warm in winter, and particularly at night at any time of the year.  They most likely had large rugs on their wooden floors.  The rugs would need to be taken outside to beat out the dust fairly regularly, at least every six months or so.  The children most likely helped to beat the rugs. They would hang them on the fence or on a line and beating them with a “rug beater” which was probably made out of cane.

The floors might be scrubbed every so often with a scrubbing brush and sand or salt and almost certainly daily with a broom.  If the floor was very dusty, they might scatter wet used tea leaves to sweep them clean.  By all accounts, most families put their children to work in doing housework and with so many young children, most of the work must have been done by Mary and Edith.

Most places the Crawfords lived, were on regular transport routes.  This meant that they would have had access to supplies and therefore weren’t dependent on food from the bush.  While many early colonists adapted British recipes for cooking kangaroo and birds etc., they would have had access to “mutton” (older sheep) and probably grew their own vegetables.  They would also have been able to buy canned fruit and other foods.

Ann Elizabeth probably didn’t have a stove.  They really only became more common around 1900.  They would have had Robert’s baking oven to use, however in winter, most likely ate stews cooked in a large pot sitting over a wood fire.  In summer, it was quite common to grill chops and eat salads or three vegetables.

Bendigo Advertiser, Friday 13 July 1888, page 2



Wednesday 11th July.

Last evening a tea and public meeting was held in the new Church, Kerang, to commemorate the opening. The whole of the edibles were supplied by Mr. Robert Crawford, baker and caterer, as his donation to the church.

I don’t propose to re-write all the details about Robert Crawford’s affair with Mary Jane Neale here.  It is covered in the chapters about William and Ann Coles Neale and Robert and Ann Elizabeth Crawford.  All that need to be said is that this must have been a very difficult time for Ann Elizabeth. 


Toward the end of 1893, the family prepared to sell up in Karang and move to Melbourne.

Kerang Time, Tuesday 6 February 1894, page 3

FRIDAY, 16th FEBRUARY, 1894. At the Cattle Yards, Kerang.

Important Sale of Agricultural and Grazing Land.

Richardson, Muir and Co.

HAVE been Favored with instructions from Mrs W Neale, to sell, by public auction, on the above date, at their Cattle Yards, immediately before the Cattle Sale- All that piece of land, being allotment 57 and 35b, containing 559 acres 0 roods 29 perches, parish Loddon county Gunblower.

 N.B. — The auctioneers wish to call special attention to the above property, which it recognised as one of the best fattening land in the district. The property is well improved and is subdivided by the Nine Mile Creek.  Also 320 acres adjoining the holdings of Messrs. J. Teasdale and J. Bear, parish of Loddon.

Also, at the same time and place, on account of Mr. Robert Crawford - All that price of land being allot 53, parish of Loddon, county of Gunbower, containing 320 acres more or less. 'N.B. -The above properly adjoins the late Mrs. Neale's holding. Title perfect. . Particulars on application to Messers. Connellly. Tatchell and Dunlop- Terms

This was the land that Robert had acquired in 1878 and the 559 acres of land had been acquired by William Neale in 1878, and the 320 acres acquired by William Neale in 1884.  There is also a record of William Neale jnr. being allocated this land when another farmer forfeited it in 1882.  Because Mary Jane Neale was the one selling the land, it’s a possibility that William Neale jnr. died shortly after his father.

In 1894, the Ann Elizabeth and her children moved to Box Hill on the outskirts of Melbourne.  According to the inscription dates on Percy Crawford’s books, they were living at Grove Road, Box Hill from 1894 to 1905, possibly only briefly at Laing St, Box Hill/Mont Albert  around 1906, while the new family home was being built in High Street, Mont Albert, just a block away.

In 1895, Robert Crawford left his family at Box Hill, and took his eldest son James Miller Crawford, who was just 15, Mary Jane Neale and their two sons Stanley and Ray, and set out for the West Australian goldfields.  Robert was 40 and Mary Jane 30.

This left Ann Elizabeth with Mary 19, Edith 17, Robert 13, John Hamilton 10, Hilda May 8 and Harold and Percy both 4.  She was 43 years old.

In 1871 Box Hill township's population was 154 and the district relied on orchards, vineyards and mixed farming. The extension of the railway from Camberwell to Lilydale in 1882, included a station at Box Hill but there were also stations at Canterbury, and Surrey Hills, to the west. They attracted subdivisions and development ahead of Box Hill. Growth came, though, with a school opening in Box Hill in 1887 and the town became the seat of the Nunawading shire council, which met at the Box Hill court house.

In 1895 a market was opened near Box Hill railway station, which improved Box Hill's commercial importance. Box Hill was also the starting point for a tramline to Doncaster, which ran from 1889 to 1896. This was the first electric tramline in the southern hemisphere. The 1890s also saw the opening of a gas works, several brickworks and a private girls' high school.

Unlike suburbs closer to Melbourne, Box Hill lacked the web of tramlines which promoted residential development beyond reach of the railway line. In 1916-17 tramlines reached the western edge of what in a short time would be the Box Hill municipality at Burwood, Mont Albert, and Wattle Park.

One of their neighbours wrote to the newspaper:

Leader (Melbourne, Saturday 27 August 1898, page 34



" Glenmarie," Grove Road, Box Hill, July 1 1 98.


Dear Cinderella, — Box Hill is a very pretty place about 9 miles from Melbourne. The tram runs through to Lilydale and Fern Tree Gully. We live about a mile and a half from the station and are on the Grove Road which runs into the Elgar Road. An electric tramway has been made to Doncaster which is two miles from Box Hill ; but it has been stopped from want of traffic.


The roads have been very bad since the late rains. We have an orchard of 9 acres and planted with new trees which when the blossom is on them look a really pretty sight. We have a nice house facing Doncaster, At the bottom of the orchard is the Koonung Creek which is very picturesque and full of ferns. We have two cows and a horse The cows are both milking and we have our own milk and make our own butter. They. have , a paddock of. about 5 acres to feed on. Past Doncaster It is very hilly, especially at Templestowe. The Athenium or Public Hall in the Main Road is the best building in Doncaster and has a very large library, ; We get books there, two every week. I have been reading a great many books and liked them very well. I have been going to Doncaster State School The teachers are Mr. Wm. Jack and Miss Laing. They were very nice to me. With kind regards from your loving friend RICHARD HENRY. Age 12.


1900 John Hamilton Crawford was Dux of the lower 5th class at New College.

1902 At the Matriculation examination held in May, only one pupil, J. H. Crawford, entered from the School, and he was successful.

In football, the School eighteen went through the season successfully, for out of seven games played, three were won, two drawn, and two lost.  John Hamilton played in the team as a forward.

While still living at Grove Road, the family appear to no longer we attending the local Wesleyan church, but the Box Hill Baptist church.

Reporter Box Hill, Friday 30 June 1905, page 4

Box Hill Baptist senior and junior Christian Endeavour societies 2nd anniversary.

A quartette was rendered by the Misses E. and H. Crawford and Messrs R. and J. Crawford, entitled "River of Light."

Horton Girls Grammar School, opened near Whitehorse Rd. Box Hill, in 1895, however Hilda May would have been 18 by then. Not surprisingly, I cannot find any records of the Crawford girls attending school.  They are mentioned in reports about Sunday school and church events, however I suspect they primarily learned to play musical instruments there and the other “domestic skills” from their mother and the women of the church.

Around 1910, Ann Elizabeth and the family moved into a new home on a very large block of land.  They named it, “Cambewarra”, 21 High St., Mont Albert.  For twelve years or so, she lived in a comfortable brick house which is still standing today.  It wasn’t a large house, however by this time, the children were growing up and leaving home;  Mary Elizabeth married Albert Smith in 1898, Edith Helen remained with Ann for life, James Miller went to W.A. with his father in 1885, Robert William married Mary Orton in 1913, John Hamilton married Annie McDonald in 1913, which left only the twins Harold and Percy still at home till Harold moved to Queensland and enlisted in 1917 and Percy married in 1920.

The current owners of “Cambewarra” still have a photograph of most of the family, taken on the lawn in front of the house in the 1920’s.  It hangs on the wall, just inside the front door.

Ann Elizabeth remained in contact with her nephew, William George Neale, who went by the name George Neale.  In fact, the Neales either lived nearby in Box Hill or one or both of the two boys lived with the Crawfords.

On May 5th 1898, both Hilda Crawford and George Neale were awarded a prize at the Box Hill Novelty Fair, raising money for the Wesleyan Church “Writing, small hand 1st Psalm”

In 1906, when he was 20 y.o. George wrote in her journal, quoting Deuteronomy 33:27 and the first verse of a hymn by Henry Francis Lyte

The eternal God is your refuge, and

underneath are the everlasting arms.


There is a safe and secret place, 
Beneath the wings Divine,
Reserved for all the heirs of grace;
O be that refuge mine!

GWNeale 25/3/06

Again in 1909, he wrote in her journal, quoting the American poet Helen Hunt Jackson:

"Not as I will."


" Not as I will "; the sound grows sweet

Each time my lips the words repeat,

" Not as I will "; the darkness feels

More safe than light when this thought steals

Like whispered voice to calm and bless

All unrest and all loneliness.

Copied Jan 25th 1909



George remained in the area and established an orchard.  In March 1910 and 1913, he exhibited at the Box Hill and Doncaster Agricultural Show and won awards for his Pears, grown at his Burwood orchard:

Mr. G.W. Neale was also a successful exhibitor, and has prizes to his credit in the following sections:-Best 10 best varieties pears, dish of winter Nelis pears, dish of culinary pears, dish of Marie Louise pears, dish of Beurre Bose pears, and best case dessert pears.

He was also active with the Rechabites, being manager of the “Doncaster Tent”

Reporter (Box Hill, Vic. : 1889 - 1925), Friday 9 February 1912, page 2

Orange Blossoms.

A very pretty wedding took place in the Baptist church, Box Hill, on Wednesday, January 31, when Mr. G. W. Neale, of Williamson's road, Doncaster, and Miss A. O. Stewart, of Watt street, Box Hill, were married, the pastor of the church, Rev. W. E. Crawford, officiating. The church had been prettily decorated for the occasion by members of the choir and Christian Endeavor society. The bride was beautifully attired in a white paillette silk dress, trimmed with silk point lace, and wore the usual wreath of orange blossoms and bridal veil whilst she carried a lovely shower bouquet of white flowers.

The bridesmaids (Misses M. and N. Stewart, sister and niece of the bride) were daintily dressed in white muslin dresses trimmed with muslin embroidery and lace, and carried shower bouquets of pink flowers. The bride was given away by her brother, Mr. A. T. Stewart. The bridegroom was supported by his cousins, Dr. J. H. Crawford (best man) and Mr. R. W. Crawford (groomsman). After the ceremony the guests adjourned to the residence of Mr. T. A. Stewart, where the wedding breakfast was partaken of. The usual toasts were honored and a most enjoyable evening spent, after which Mr. and Mrs. Neale left for their honeymoon. The bridegroom's gift to the bride was a gold cable bracelet; bride to bridegroom, gold watch chain; bridegroom to bridesmaids, gold pendants and chains. Many beautiful presents were received from relatives and friends..


Several years later, they moved to Wandin:


Australasian (Melbourne, Vic. : 1864 - 1946), Saturday 1 February 1919, page 7FRUITGROWING.  A WANDIN ORCHARD.  By PENANG.


The fact that local soil and climatic conditions must always receive dose attention orchard, cannot be too strongly urged upon those contemplating engaging in fruit pro-duction. It is for this reason that the orchards in a selected district should always be looked to to afford an indication of the trees that are making most headway and bearing remunerative yields. Quite recently I noticed & striking instance of this kind at Wandin in an orchard that bad been taken over by Mr. G. W, Neale, an orchardist who has had much experience of fruit growing in the Doncaster district.

This, grower took charge of a large property of 38 acres, of which 33 acres were planted with fruit trees. During the five years in which he has had charge of the orchard he has probably cut down ten acres of trees, and reworked them to other varieties, merely because local conditions were not congenial to their full development. Doncaster is one of the best pear growing districts in the State, and this branch of the industry is one with which Mr. Neale is particularly well acquainted. Although the Wandin orchard is scarcely 20 miles distant from Doncaster, this grower soon found that it was useless to attempt to grow the Williams pear satisfactorily. The moist, and perhaps slightly colder, conditions caused this variety to spot too badly, and by the time the trees had been under observation for a couple of years, it was determined to graft over, three and a half acres of trees. This was done because from the commercial aspect it was deemed un-wise to attempt to grow a variety that

could be brought to greater excellence in another district, and which naturally would be brought into competition on the market with cleaner and brighter fruit. 


George and Agnes had two sons, Allan Stewart Neale and Raymond Stanley Neale.  I believe Allan was killed in a road accident and the family moved to Sydney where they operated orchards and plant nurseries in the West Pennant Hills area from the 1940s. to the 60’s.  Raymond carried on the business into the 80’s, however his son Raymond William Neale was a public servant and in 1978 was living at 81 Beecroft Rd., Beecroft.


I have been unable to locate any information about  Ann Elizabeth’s brother William Neale jnr. and the second son, Robert Harold Neale.  I suspect this was him, however cannot locate on War Memorial or War Graves records. The Melbourne papers recorded him on Mon 25 Sep 1916, missing in action 2nd Lieut. R. H. Neale, West Footscray


James Miller Crawford or Jim Crawford did return to see his mother as an adult.  He didn’t date it, however he wrote in her journal:

May your life be an everlasting sunbeam

Jim Crawford

CRAWFORD.-In loving memory of our dear mother, Ann Elizbeth Crawford, who died at her residence, Cambewarra, 21 High street, Mont Albert, on the Sat July, 1923.

Until the day break, and the shadows flee away.

Inserted by her loving family. Mary, Edith, Hilda, James, Robert, John, Harold, and Percy.

Submitted: April 05, 2020

© Copyright 2021 Galgano. All rights reserved.


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