When I started writing the story of my husband’s ancestors, I had no idea how much luck would play a part. Being contacted by Werribee Historical Society out of the blue to be told about a manuscript which had come to light about Jane’s brother, was amazing.
I was lucky that I had put all the family information on ancestry so they could contact me and I was lucky that they agreed to let me see the digital version of the manuscript.
I had just about finished writing the first draft of the book when it arrived. But reading it, I realised for the first time the similarities between Victorian settlement and the Wild West. All the elements are there; an indigenous population with enormous understanding of the land who are displaced and harried almost to extinction; lawlessness as demonstrated by bush rangers/outlaws; a goldrush attracting huge immigration with all the attendant problems and settlers who struggle to make a living in a harsh environment.
It also brought home how different Jane was from her brothers. I have recently found Jim Dugmore in a newspaper article for 1903. He is described as an excitable, old and pecunious pensioner, in trouble for assaulting a man who had slighted him. For all the gold that Jim says he discovered, none was saved or used to make his life easier. I believe he remained an itinerant sheep sheerer all his life and most likely never married.
We were very happy to be invited to visit Werribee to see the document before it goes to the State Library.