Tag Archives: Eltham Cemetery Stories

Richard Edward Gilsenan (1847-1920)

Richard Gilsenan was a retired schoolteacher living at “Rosebank” in Eltham, now the site of the Living and Learning Centre. In 1906, Eltham Primary School’s headmaster John Brown died, and Richard was brought out of retirement (briefly) to be acting headmaster. His son Harold was a junior teacher there at the time.

Thereafter, Richard was Secretary of the Eltham Progress League and more importantly was a magistrate at the Eltham Court of Petty Sessions. Cases commonly brought before him included not sending a child to school (typical fine 5/- or eight hours in the lock-up), not having a child vaccinated (fixed fine 40/-), stealing fruit from an orchard, selling liquor out of hours, and offensive language and behaviour. Other miscellaneous cases were allowing cattle to wander, selling cigarettes to a minor, carelessly burning off rubbish on a hot windy day, dumping a dead horse in the Diamond Creek, and youths throwing ripe fruit at passers-by.

Richard died in 1920 and is buried in Eltham Cemetery with his wife Harriet Eliza. In mourning his passing, his peers noted that his decisions had been given in a very fair way. Incidentally, his son Harold (the teacher) died in 1921 after being trampled by a horse while en route from Eltham to Cathkin (his then school).

Grave of Richard Edward Gilsenan and his wife, Harriet Eliza, Eltham Cemetery (Photo: P. Pidgeon 2021, Eltham District Historical Society)
Gilsenan family graves, Eltham Cemetery (Photo: P. Pidgeon 2021, Eltham District Historical Society)
Bibliography:

Private research by Harry Gilham, Eltham District Historical Society; proceedings of Eltham Court of Petty Sessions reported in Evelyn Observer 1908-1920.

Pinn, R. (2019). “Eltham Cemetery Stories” Newsletter No. 251 April 2020, Eltham, Victoria : Eltham District Historical Society Inc

Peter Glass (1917-1997)

Outside the Bald Headed Manor, John Street, Eltham, 1938. Jazz Song “Bald Headed Mama” Pee Wee Russell Band, L-R: Roger Bell (18). Peter Glass (19), Clive Purtan, Gordon Ford (18), Graeme Bell (22) (Photo courtesy Sue Begg, Eltham)

In 1938, Arthur William Glass (known as Peter Glass) was studying painting under Max Meldrum. Much of their inspiration came from the Eltham bush and the nearby Yarra River. With his friends jazz musicians Graeme and Roger Bell, Peter bought land at the top of John Street: enchanted by Montsalvat, he had the objective of building a mud-brick house. War intervened, but then in 1948 he began working for Alistair Knox as a carpenter and mudbrick builder. By then, Peter had married, necessitating a larger house, which he built with help from Alistair Knox. As a trained architectural draftsman, Peter later progressed to working for Alistair in that role, eventually running the drafting office during the 1960s.

He was deeply involved in the foundation of the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects, and went on to design many gardens, some in partnership with Alistair Knox and Gordon Ford. Peter died in 1997. His remains, with those of his wife Cecile, are interred beside the Ashes Walk at Eltham Cemetery.

Memorial plaque for Peter and Cecile Glass, Ashes Walk, Eltham Cemetery (Photo: H. Gilham c.2010, Eltham District Historical Society)
Bibliography:

Marshall, Alan (1971). Pioneers and painters : one hundred years of Eltham and its shire. Thomas Nelson (Australia), Melbourne

Knox, Alistair (1980). “Metamorphosis of The Middle Class”, We are what we stand on : a personal history of the Eltham community. Adobe Press, Eltham [Vic.] and http://alistairknox.org/chapters/40

Pinn, R. (2019). “Eltham Cemetery Stories” Newsletter No. 251 April 2020, Eltham, Victoria : Eltham District Historical Society Inc

Gordon Craig Ford (1918-1999)

Landscape designer Gordon Ford. (1965). (Photograher Unk., State Library of Victoria, http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/338342)

Gordon Ford was a conservationist and a pioneer of natural-style landscaping. He came to Eltham in 1948 and bought a block of land in John Street extending through to Pitt Street; artist Peter Glass lived opposite in John Street. Early on, Gordon worked for Alistair Knox on construction of the mud-brick Busst house amongst others. At the same time, with the help of friends including artist Clifton Pugh, he progressively built his own house “Fülling”, which “grew like Topsy” utilising a variety of second-hand materials.

But his main focus, which became his life-long occupation, was garden landscaping. Inspired by Edna Walling and Ellis Stones, he sought to reflect the bush settings of rural Victoria where he had grown up. Commissions included Monash University and countless industrial sites, but designing for the archetypal quarter-acre block gave him the most satisfaction. He had a huge impact on the look of gardens in Australia from the 1950s, creating seemingly natural bush environments by carefully integrating indigenous and exotic plantings.

Gordon died in 1999 and his remains are interred beside the Ashes Walk at Eltham Cemetery, marked by a plaque. A separate plaque notes his landscaping design work within the cemetery grounds and at Alistair Knox Park.

Outside the Bald Headed Manor, 1938. Jazz Song “Bald Headed Mama” Pee Wee Russell Band, L-R: Roger Bell (18). Peter Glass (19), Clive Purtan, Gordon Ford (18), Graeme Bell (22) (Photo courtesy Sue Begg, Eltham)
“Planted by a Pioneer 100 Years Ago”. Photocopy of an original image published in the Herald 2 Aug 1958 showing a group of Eltham residents protesting against tree felling undertaking a ceremonial tree planting L-R foreground (adults): Susan, Mavis and Laurel Gill; Hal Peck; Alistair Knox (centre); Tim Burstall; Jack Gill; Gordon Ford; Matcham Skipper” (EDHS Collection courtesy Lesley Martin)
Gordon Ford Corner, Eltham Cemetery (Photo: P. Pidgeon 2021, Eltham District Historical Society)
Bibliography:

Marshall, Marguerite. & King, Alan.  (2008).  Nillumbik now and then.  Research, Vic :  MPrint Publications

Folder: Gordon and Gwen Ford held by Eltham District Historical Society including article in Landscape Australia (1992)

Pinn, R. (2019). “Eltham Cemetery Stories” Newsletter No. 250 February 2020, Eltham, Victoria : Eltham District Historical Society Inc

Guido Quarto Fabbro (1891-1970)

Guildo Fabbro, Falkiner Street, Eltham with Clydesdale horse (Photo donated by Skipper family, EDHS Collection)

Guido Fabbro came to Eltham in 1933 and built a large Italianesque house on the western side of Falkiner Street, on a block extending to Ely and Porter Streets which had formerly been an orchard and dairy farm. The original 1860s cottage on the property was relocated to the back of the block and was rented out (once to Alistair and Margot Knox). Guido also purchased land extending to the Diamond Creek on the eastern side of Falkiner Street and on the eastern side of Bell Street (opposite Eltham High School). The riparian soil was suitable for market gardening: Guido grew mainly tomatoes, but also pumpkins, cauliflowers, cabbages, peas, beans, lettuce, beetroot and zucchinis. Even the land surrounding the house was used. The produce was carted to Melbourne overnight for sale at the market.

Guido died in 1970 and is buried with his wife Regina at Eltham Cemetery. His son Maurie continued in his father’s footsteps until 2007, principally growing artichokes in later years. The land on the eastern side of Falkiner Street now forms part of a Council reserve called “Barak Bushland”, the land on the western side having been sold off for residential subdivision. The Bell Street land is now public open space managed by Nillumbik Shire Council and called “Fabbro Fields”. There have been recent proposals to develop the site for sporting purposes or as a dog park or community garden.

Grave of Guido Fabbro, Eltham Cemetery (Photo: P. Pidgeon 2021, Eltham District Historical Society)
Bibliography:

Diamond Valley News 12th June 1984

Interview with Russell Yeoman 2019

Pinn, R. (2019). “Eltham Cemetery Stories” Newsletter No. 250 February 2020, Eltham, Victoria : Eltham District Historical Society Inc

William Crozier (1823-1909)

William J. Crozier was a pioneer settler in the Eltham area. Born in Ireland in 1823, he migrated to Australia in 1850 with his wife Mary Jane (nee Vance) and their baby daughter, Sarah. They came out on an “orphan immigrant ship”: on board were twelve married couples and 235 female orphans aged between 16 and 18 years old. The Croziers journeyed to Eltham on a bullock wagon and acquired a 24-acre block of land on the northern side of Mount Pleasant Road, about half a mile east of Main Road, extending through to Pitt Street. They used the land for cultivation and grazing. The house, called “Belmont”, was weatherboard with a rammed earth floor. Until the Wesleyan Church had its own building, services were conducted in the Croziers’ home (and elsewhere).

William and Mary had six more children, though their youngest son (Thomas Vance, age 17) drowned in a dam on the property and their eldest (John McCelland, age 42) was killed by a falling tree. Nevertheless, the farm prospered, enabling William to acquire a further 63-acre block in 1870, about half a mile east of the original 24-acre site. On the new block, he constructed a two-roomed dwelling of slats and bark, plus a store room of logs and bark.

William died in 1909 and is buried with Mary and their sons John and Thomas in the Eltham Cemetery.

Crozier family graves, Eltham Cemetery (Photo: P. Pidgeon 2021, Eltham District Historical Society)
Bibliography:

Eckersall, Kenneth Eric & Eltham Uniting Church (Eltham, Vic.) (2000). Eltham inhabitants : for most, the serious part : church in community 1850-2000. Eltham Uniting Church, Eltham, Vic

Pinn, R. (2019). “Eltham Cemetery Stories” Newsletter No. 249 December 2019, Eltham, Victoria : Eltham District Historical Society Inc

David George Clark (1829-1911)

5th Class, Eltham State School No. 209, Dalton St. Eltham. David Clark, Head Teacher, c.1886. (Shire of Eltham Pioneers Photograph Collection held jointly by Eltham District Historical Society and Yarra Plenty Regional Library)

David Clark was the first and longest-serving headmaster at Eltham Primary School, which began in 1855 as a private school held in the Wesleyan Chapel in Henry Street. The teachers were David (then aged 26) and his sister Catherine. Parents lobbied the Government to establish an official school, and a School Inspector came out to investigate. He found that the Clarks were of good moral and religious character (David taught Sunday School at St. Margaret’s later on) and gave them his endorsement despite some perceived technical shortcomings. The school moved to its present Dalton Street site in 1856, in a bark hut. Soon afterwards it was replaced by a small stone building, which for a time also served as the Clarks’ residence, but it fell down in about 1875. A larger and more substantial stone building was then constructed.

David was well respected by the local community and constantly battled with the authorities to have facilities (such as toilets) at the school improved. He married in 1863, and in 1866 bought a block of land in Metery Road next to the school. His house, later called “Shoestring”, still exists (albeit with significant modifications). David retired in 1889 after a period of ill health, Catherine having retired in 1887. He died in 1911 and is buried with his wife Elizabeth (nee Rosier 1845-1910) in the Eltham Cemetery.

Grave of David George Clark and his wife, Elizabeth (nee Rosier), Eltham Cemetery (Photo: P. Pidgeon 2021, Eltham District Historical Society)
Bibliography:

Anderson, I & Carozzi, B & Fellowes, T & Eltham Primary School (Vic) (2006). We did open a school in Little Eltham : Eltham Primary School 209, 1856-2006, a history. The Learning Team, [Eltham, Vic.]

Pinn, R. (2019). “Eltham Cemetery Stories” Newsletter No. 249 December 2019, Eltham, Victoria : Eltham District Historical Society Inc

Nina Mikhailovna Christesen (1911-2001)

Russian-born Nina Christesen (nee Maximoff) is regarded as the pioneer of Russian academic studies in Australia. In 1946 she became a lecturer in Russian at Melbourne University, and in 1947 established the Department of Russian Language and Literature, remaining its head until her retirement in 1977. In 1987 she was made a Member of the Order of Australia.

Nina was married to Clem Christesen, founder and editor of the respected (if left-leaning) literary magazine Meanjin. They lived at “Stanhope” in Peter Street, Eltham. Visitors included writers Patrick White and Xavier Herbert, painters Arthur Boyd and Clifton Pugh, and historians Manning Clark and Geoffrey Blainey. In 1955, both Nina and Clem were interrogated by the Petrov Royal Commission on suspicion of being Communist sympathisers, which they reputedly rebutted wittily.

Nina died in 2001 and Clem in 2003. They are buried together at Eltham Cemetery. There is also a memorial to Nina at the Eltham Living and Learning Centre, in the form of a bluestone amphitheatre with a floor of hand-painted tiles.

Book launch “Pioneers & Painters”; Cr. (Mrs.) C.M. Pelling, Mrs. Dreverman, Cr. G.C. Dreverman, Mrs. Nina Christesen, Mr. Clem Christesen, Editor of “Meanjin”, 7 July 1971 (Shire of Eltham Pioneers Photograph Collection held jointly by Eltham District Historical Society and Yarra Plenty Regional Library)
Bibliography:

Wikipedia contributors. (2020, December 15). Nina Christesen. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 05:50, April 6, 2021, from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Nina_Christesen&oldid=994470786

Obituaries in The Age and The Sunday Age.

Pinn, R. (2019). “Eltham Cemetery Stories” Newsletter No. 247 August 2019, Eltham, Victoria : Eltham District Historical Society Inc

Patrick Carrucan (1831-1894)

Patrick Carrucan and his wife Mary emigrated from Ireland to Australia in 1856, accompanied by Mary’s father. They came out to Eltham where Patrick’s sister Bridget Coleman had settled a few years earlier. Patrick and Mary purchased a farm at the corner of Dalton and Bible Streets, initially living in a hut. After a few years, a more substantial house was built with assistance from Mary’s father, who then returned to Ireland. The farm gradually prospered, with cattle, poultry and an orchard.

Patrick and Mary had ten children and lived in Eltham for the rest of their lives. Patrick died in 1894 aged 63, reputedly from a broken back after being run over by his own bullock cart. Mary died in 1927 aged 90. They, together with other family members, are buried in a family plot in Eltham Cemetery, though only Patrick is recorded on the gravestone.

Patrick’s eldest son Mick inherited the Carrucan properties, which by this time comprised not only the Dalton Street farm (20 acres) but also a paddock in Main Road near Bridge Street (15 acres) and a less fertile holding in Research (100 acres). Cows were regularly shuttled between the two Eltham properties to be milked; on one occasion a cow wandered into the Eltham Hotel en route! But by the late 1970s, following the death of Mick’s son Jack, all of the Carrucan land had been sold off for residential subdivision.

Grave of Patrick Carrucan, Eltham Cemetery (Photo: P. Pidgeon 2021, Eltham District Historical Society)
Bibliography:

Martin, James David & Erickson, Tim & Carrucan, Frank (2011). Dirt poor spirit rich : a history of the Carrucan family. Carrucan Family History Fellowship, Pascoe Vale, Vic

Pinn, R. (2019). “Eltham Cemetery Stories” Newsletter No. 247 August 2019, Eltham, Victoria : Eltham District Historical Society Inc

Beatrice Wanliss Morrison nee Irvine (1899-1989)

Beatrice Wanliss Irvine was the daughter of former Victorian Premier Sir William Irvine. From age 13 she lived at “Killeavey” off Laughing Waters Road (later accessed from Reynolds Road). In 1923 she married James Morrison and the couple received Killeavey as a wedding gift. The property supported fruit and vegetable growing as well as an impressive botanical garden. But James died in 1936 after a period of ill health, leaving Beatrice to support their six children. To make matters worse, the house was totally destroyed in the Black Friday bushfires in 1939, but was rebuilt.

Beatrice became involved in community issues. In particular, she was an active member of the Eltham Women’s Auxiliary, which was formed in 1945 to raise funds for the establishment of an Eltham War Memorial. From the outset, it was decided that this would take the form of a Baby Health Centre, a Pre-School and a Children’s Library, set in a garden of remembrance. Thanks to tireless fund raising, the project came to fruition in the 1950s when, one by one, the three children’s welfare buildings opened in Main Road (having previously been in temporary premises): they are collectively known as the Eltham War Memorial site.

Beatrice continued to live at Killeavey and became well regarded as a botanist and naturalist. She died in 1989 and is buried in Eltham Cemetery with her husband and one of their sons. The (rebuilt) house has since been demolished. All that remains is a fragment of the garden.

Grave of James Hans Morrison and Beatrice Wanliss Morrison (nee Irvine), Eltham Cemetery (Photo: P. Pidgeon 2021, Eltham District Historical Society)
Bibliography:

Woollard, Jane. & Nillumbik (Vic.). Council.  (2016).  Laughing Waters Road : art, landscape & memory in Eltham. Greensborough, Victoria :  Nillumbik Shire Council

Lemon, A. (2018). “An essay addressed to the Councillors of Nillumbik Shire, October 2018: About the Eltham War Memorial and the adjacent community-owned sites in Eltham that the Council threatens to sell”

Pinn, R. (2019). “Eltham Cemetery Stories” Newsletter No. 246 June 2019, Eltham, Victoria : Eltham District Historical Society Inc

Anton Brinkkotter (1866-1938)

German-born Anton Brinkkotter, a skilled metal-worker by trade, migrated to Australia in 1880. His initial job was to supervise the installation of ornamental ceilings in the Melbourne Exhibition Building. He moved to Research in about 1900, working first as a plumber and tank-maker. But he is best known for having established a poultry farm (on Main Road between Research Primary School and the Maroondah Aqueduct) in 1906, which steadily grew to become one of the largest in Victoria, supplying customers all over Australia. By 1935 it was a thriving business, with buildings housing 6,000 birds and incubators capable of hatching 8,000 eggs. He died suddenly from a heart attack in 1938 and is buried with his wife Anna in Eltham Cemetery.

The business was carried on by his son Anton William Brinkkotter. When electricity came to Research in 1940, the Brinkkotter Poultry Farm was the very first customer, enabling further expansion and modernisation. Two electric incubators were installed with a capacity of 10,000 eggs each. Anton William Brinkkotter became active in public affairs and was an Eltham Shire Councillor between 1941 and 1961. He died in 1970 and is buried with his wife Bridgene in Eltham Cemetery, alongside his parents.

Brinkkotter family graves, Eltham Cemetery (Photo: P. Pidgeon 2021, Eltham District Historical Society)
Bibliography:

OBITUARY (1938, June 10). Advertiser (Hurstbridge, Vic. : 1922 – 1939), p. 6. Retrieved April 6, 2021, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article56847543

Private research notes held in EDHS collection

Knoll, W.D. 2015; “B Names: Greater Dandenong Districts Cosmopolitan Pioneers,” Yarra Valley-Dandenongs-West Gippsland-Westernport Non-British Pioneers, Retrieved April 6, 2021, from http://yarradandenongsnon-britishpioneers.blogspot.com/2015/07/b-names-greater-dandenong-districts.html

Pinn, R. (2019). “Eltham Cemetery Stories” Newsletter No. 246 June 2019, Eltham, Victoria : Eltham District Historical Society Inc