George Bird (1845-1920)

George Bird was born in England in 1845 and arrived in Australia in 1856 as a child of assisted migrants. Soon afterwards he came out to Eltham to live with his uncle George Stebbing, working for him as bricklayer’s assistant in building, amongst others, Shillinglaw Cottage and the Anglican and Methodist Churches in Eltham. He later purchased 72 acres at the eastern end of Pitt Street (bounded by Eucalyptus Road, Mount Pleasant Road and present-day Rockliffe Street) and established the property “View Hill”, which was worked as a mixed farm and orchard.

Bird family orchard, Pitt Street, Eltham, c.1980s. View looking northeast from near the junction of Wattle Grove and Mount Pleasant Road across to Eucalyptus Road on right and Pitt Street at top.

In 1878 he married Janet Kilpatrick, who had emigrated from Scotland. They had ten children, three of whom died in infancy. The wedding in 1904 of their eldest surviving daughter Sarah (“Sis”) to Edward Pepper appears to have been quite a society event.

Wedding of Sarah Ann Bird (b.1881) to Edward Ernest Pepper (b.1874) held at the Bird family home of “View Hill’, Eltham, 1904. Sarah Bird 4th from left (seated) and Edward Pepper on her left (standing). George Bird, 2nd from right (seated).
Digitised from original held in private collection

George was a staunch Methodist, a Church Steward and a Sunday School Superintendent in about 1890. Janet died in 1915 and George died in 1920 (though his gravestone says 1921). George’s will stated that his property was to be divided between all his children in equal shares. This necessitated subdivision of the ‘View Hill’ property, between 1922 and 1926. George, Janet and several descendants, are buried in a family plot in the cemetery.

One son, George Hugh Bird, operated a drapery store in Main Road (near Bridge Street) in around 1915.

George Hugh Bird’s Cash Drapery Mart on right, looking south along Maria Street (Main Road), Eltham near Bridge Street, c.1909. Post Office on left

Later, in the 1920s, he ran a greengrocer’s shop (also selling confectionery) in Main Road opposite Eltham Station. It was the first shop in Eltham to have plate glass windows. At the same time, his brother Reg had a grocery store on the station side of Main Road.

Bibliography:

Private Research, Bird family; copy held by EDHS

References:

1904 ‘ORANGE BLOSSOM.’, Evelyn Observer and Bourke East Record (Vic. : 1902 – 1917), 18 November, p. 3. (MORNING.), viewed 14 Mar 2018, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article60628991

 

 

 

 

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7 thoughts on “George Bird (1845-1920)”

  1. Found this very interesting as lived off Pitt St in the late 1970s and early 1980s – presumably “View Hill” Crescent is a reference to the property. Is the original farm house still there?

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  2. I remember the Bird family as part of the Methodist (now Uniting) Church congregation.
    My mum used to visit “grandma Bird”, up over the hill on Pit Street, to get flowers when mum was on “flower duty” at church. Wonderful flowers. Rambling garden.

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  3. I’m descended on my mother’s side from the Kilpatrick family, which intermarried with many of the pioneer families in Eltham. (Janet Kilpatrick’s brother John married a daughter of William Bravery Andrew.)
    I have intentions of writing something on the family when I complete another project, and I’d be keen to hear from anyone with overlapping research interests.

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  4. Thank you for this excellent article about George Bird and his family. I am descended from Georges youngest half-sister, Mary Ann Kidd. The Birds, Kidds and Stebbings all came from the same area near the villiage of Larling in Norfolk, England.

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