With kind permission


Compiled by Nola O'Connor and Kathy Jones


Our sincere thanks to all those who have shared their time, resources and memories and therefore preserved the histories of those who journeyed before us.

We would especially like to thank these people, in no particular order; Mr Claude Trenery for his assistance in the stories Robert and Mary Theresa, Arthur John and Robert Patrick Alexander, his recollections and sharing of photographs are very much appreciated.

Mr Arthur and Mrs Gray Trenery who spent so much time searching, providing research materials and sending photographs for us to use. We can not say how grateful we are for their help.

Mr Ken Howarth, Mrs Edith Sutherland and Mrs Eileen Price for their overwhelming offers of assistance, research, gathering of information and providing a number of photographs. Their generosity knew no bounds.

Mr Scott Egan for sharing his information on the Egan branch and writing the story about Ruth Ann Alexander and Mrs Eileen Woods for also assisting with the story on Ruth Ann, submitting the story of her father and kindly helped with research and shared her findings.

Mrs Robyn Ryan for her generosity in allowing us access to Max's research and photographs.

Mrs Jill Barry who has been of so much help in the writing of the story on Jessie Emma Alexander and allowing us to use a excerpt from her book.

Mrs Nardia Ryan-Taylor and Gail Hanger who provided so much information on the Robert Alexander (2nd generation) branch and the Pendergast family.

Mrs Doreen Membrey who generously shared many photographs from her collection and Mrs Ruth Farmer who gave so much of her time to gather information and copy photographs for our use.

Mr Allan Peisley and Mrs Anke de Geus for taking so much time to help verify facts and provide information on the families who lived in Genoa.


Writing a history such as this requires time, perseverance and often the assistance of many others who generously give of their time and resources. Even after hours of writing, crosschecking,letters etc... mistakes can still occur. We sincerely apologise for any errors or omissions that may be found within this book, but it is accurate to our knowledge at the time of printing.

Many months of research have been put in to compile this book and each story has had its own designated compiler.

Nola O'Connor has worked tirelessly to bring you the lives of Robert Alexander and Mary Theresa McCarthy; of the second generation: John, Sarah, William and Mary and of the third generation: Sarah, Arthur John, Robert Patrick, Adeline Barbara, Herman William Leo, Norman Harold, James Clarence (McNee) and Barbara Mary Ellen (McNee).

Kathy Jones has compiled the stories about, Robert, James and Barbara Alexander from the second generation and Elizabeth Mary, John Thomas, Barbara, Robert, Robert (Bo), Percy Vemon William, Florence Ada, Horace Eden, Sydney Eden, Alfred Ernest, Alfred Ernest (2), Veronie, Patience May, Mary Victoria, Johanna Amy, Maurice Walter, James Creighton, Mary May Amelia, Florence Ada (2), Jessie Emma and Isabella from the third generation.

The story of Ruth Ann has been especially written by Scott Egan. The story of Lance Egan has been written and submitted by Eileen Woods.

We hope that you enjoy reading about the lives of our ancestors and see them as more than just dates and places, but rather as people who lived during one of the more interesting eras of Australia's history.


Every person has a story to tell; no two are the same and yet everyone is important. Some people have tales of daring and adventure or of fame and fortune. Most however, work hard, find their love, raise a family and grow old telling their stories to the next generation.

Herein lie tales of hardship, of travel, of love and heartbreak, of success and failure, of laughter and tears and of the past and the present.
May you enjoy the journey and remember that those who journey after us will be just as fascinated with our stories as we are with those who have gone before us. Record those stories and label those photographs, so that future generations will be able to continue the Journey Through Time...................

Portraits from the Seahorse Inn believed to be from left to right:
John Alexander, Elizabeth Alexander and Robert Alexander.



The speeding motorist on the Princes Highway might hardly notice Genoa, the "last town in Victoria". There's not much to notice; a hotel, a closed store and school, a petrol station, some houses, a few farms and an old bridge.

You could pass history, pass a place rich in natural treasures, ... a place where people lived and worked and played, who had hopes and dreams successes and failures, laughter and tears.

Excerpt from "Border Tales"
Reproduced with the kind permission
of the Genoa Town Committee

1807 - 1864


It was 1807, the year that slavery was abolished in the British Empire, King George III was on the throne, Pall Mall became London's first street lit by gaslight and England's first railway passenger service began. On 9 April that year, at Braishfield, a small hamlet in the parish of Michelmersh, in Hampshire, England, Robert Alexander came into the world, in the scheme of things, this was a seemingly insignificant event,
however, none of the following stories would exist without this one event.

Robert was the seventh of eight children born to John Alexander, an agricultural labourer and his wife, Mary Ann, he was baptised on 17 May 1807 at St Mary's in Michelmersh. This church played a large part in the lives of the Alexander family, Roberts siblings - James 1792, Maria 1797, Barbara 1799, William 1801, Charles 1805 and Sarah 1809 were all baptised there and a number of them were also married at St Mary's, his parents, John 1762-1835 and Mary 1764-1836 are buried there.

Nothing is known of Robert's childhood, only that he did not receive an education, as his convict indent states that he could neither read nor write. He grew up in the important maritime and agricultural county of Hampshire on the south coast of England, which overlooks the English Channel towards the Isle of Wight. Hampshire is surrounded by counties Sussex and Surry to the east, Wiltshire and Dorset to the west and Berkshire on the northern side.

At the age of 20 Robert was working as a servant and ploughman at Hunt's Farm in the Romsey district, his wage would have been around 18 pence or 15 cents per twelve-hour day, a grand total of around 9/- or 90c for a six day week. Standards of living in the Hampstrire country side were poor, work was increasingly harder to come by with the advance of the agricultural and industrial revolution in England, men were being
replaced by machines.

On 27 October 1827 Robert was brought before Sir W Heathcote at the Romsey Quarter Sessions where it was alleged that he and another youth, Joseph Collins used force to rob a Mr George Scammel of silver coins totalling 19 shillings (around two weeks wages at that time - today (2003) this would be the equivalent of approximately AU$800). A written case was presented to a 'Grand Jury', which was effectively a selection of men of the upper classes, who found there were grounds for a trial.

Although both young men pleaded not guilty when brought to trial at the Winchester Assizes on the 5th March 1828, the evidence against them (including that of Mr Scammel) was seemingly conclusive and they were found guilty of highway robbery. The initial sentence was 'death' which was later changed to transportation to the new penal colony of New South Wales. Joseph received seven years and Robert was given a life sentence.

The Romsey Extra New Forest area was the ideal location for highway robbers, as there is a road junction for the cities of Winchester, Salisbury and Southampton. The penalties for what we would consider petty crime were high, so what would induce Robert to take such a risk? Well, family legend has it that Robert maintained his innocence right up until his death. He admitted that he and Joseph were in the New Forest that night on the retum journey from a night out, but they had no involvement in any robbery. If this were true, why would such a crime be fabricated? One possible scenario could be that Robert's sweetheart 'E.H.' (tattooed on his arm) was the daughter of Mr Hunt for whom Robert worked, maybe his attentions to the young lady were not exactly what Mr Hunt had in mind for his daughter, and here was a foolproof plan to get
young Robert out of the way permanently. Stranger things happened during this period of history.

For the next five months, while awaiting transportation, Robert was confined to the hulk 'York' in Portsmouth Harbour. These deplorable dungeons lay anchored bow to stern in rows on the grey heaving waters of southern England and had the appearance of slum tenements. Within these hell holes convicts lead a miserable existence, each felon had a 14lb (6kg) iron riveted to his right ankle and endured conditions such as inadequate clothing; putrid food and cramped, wet, dark, vile smelling quarters. At Portsmouth as at other places, the convicts worked for the Royal Navy in the government dockyards, they were taken off the hulk at dawn and rowed back to it at dusk. They became an object of public ridicule for people to heckle and stare at, this amplified their feelings of shame, self-debasement and loss of personal pride. Throughout his time in prison and on the hulks, Robert's records show only good behaviour. He was transferred to the 'Royal George' on the l6th August 1828, which was an 8yr old E1 class sailing ship weighiqg 486 tons. Aboard were a total of 159 convicts, a guard of thirty men from the 63rd Regiment, the Surgeon Superintendent, Dr Gregor R.N and Captain Embleton.

On 26 August 1828, the Royal George set sail from Spithead, the journey seems to have been uneventful, with the weather generally good and very hot at times. The Surgeon's Journal shows that Robert was treated for an ailment from 6-11 November, for which he was ".. .blistered and bleeded..." and given opium and laudanum at varying intervals. A note on the front page of this journal states, "As this surgeon is in a state of
derangement or imbecility of mind, let this journal be verified'
, perhaps he got into the laudanum?? On Christmas Eve 1828, after a passage of 120 days, the Royal George reached Sydney Cove.

We know from the Convict lndent records that Robert was five feet six inches tall, of ruddy complexion with brown hair and grey eyes. Other remarks pertaining to his appearance state that tattooed on his right arm there was a heart with the initials E.H. inside and the year 1828 and a woman underneath, on the underside of his left arm was tattooed another woman, he also had a scar on the front of his chin and another across
the middle fingers of his right hand. There has been a study conducted on the convict tattoos and they are considered a useful source of information, often giving insight into the lives they left behind. The "tattoos" were gouged into the skin with soot -ouch!!!

At the time of Robert Alexander's arrival in Sydney, the white population of the forty- year-old colony as recorded on the Census of 1828 was 36,598, of this number 15,728 were convicts. The authority in the colony was Lieutenant Ralph Darling as Governor, and Sir Thomas Mitchell, as the NSW Surveyor-General. A couple of weeks prior to Robert's arrival in Australia, Captain Charles Sturt along with Hamilton Hume set out
from Sydney to explore the inland river system and the colony was in the third year of a severe drought which was adversely affecting the economy.

At the tender age of 2l , Robert Alexander, Prisoner No 28/2267 had received a 'Life' sentence for a crime to which he pleaded innocent, been discarded by his native land and transported to an isolated penal colony on the other side of the world; and suffered the squalor and inhumanity of servitude in a prison hulk and convict transport. He would never see his native home or family again. His first day in this wild new land was Christmas Day 1828 ... what a grim Christmas that must have been.

While awaiting 'assignment', it is highly likely that Robert was confined to the rat infested Convict Barracks in Macquarie Street, where convicts slept in rows of hammocks less than an arms length apart. Sometime early in 1829, Robert was assigned to William Turney Morris, a free settler who arrived in the colony in July 1828 aboard 'Ship of Australia'. On 13 January 1829 Morris was granted a selection of land at Mooramoorang, which is located on the coast about 18 kilometres north of Bateman's Bay. Interestingly enough, Mr Morris had come from the same region as Robert; Romsey Marsh in Hampshire. He had emigrated from England because he suffered 'Marsh Fever' and hoped the change of climate would improve his health. This relationship would be one that would greatly affect the future of Robert; bringing changes to his status, firstly with a conditional pardon, and secondly in becoming a landowner at Genoa, Victoria.

Morris sold the Mooramoorang grant in 1835 and staked a claim in a squatting area across the river from Moruya, he named this station 'Gundary'. He and Robert were two of the minority of white folk who attempted to live in the then isolated wilds far from the colony's civilisation of Port Jackson and surrounding townships. Problems were evident in September 1830, when William Morris made a complaint to the
Colonial Secretary about the local aboriginal tribes spearing the cattle. His request to either shoot the ringleaders or have a guard of soldiers were both denied, although a patrol was sent to resolve the problem with mediation.

The Bungonia Bench recommended Robert's application for his first Ticket of Leave in November 1836 and TOL no 37/411 was issued on 28 February 1837 and stated he was "Allowed to remain in the District of St Vincent". Ticket of Leave no 41/734 was issued on 30 March 1841 with a notation stating "ln lieu 37/411 dated 28 February 1837, deposed to be lost".

Now that he had his TOL, Robert was in a position to marry, and wasting no time, in the following month of December 1836, he applied to the Principle Superintendent of Convicts for permission to marry, this was granted. The object of his affections was Mary Theresa McCarthy ..........



An entry in the family bible documents that Mary was born on 7 September 1812, she was the daughter of John McCarthy and Joharura Flanagan of Cork in Ireland. To date, no information on Mary's early life or her family has been located. l812 was a significant year in a literary sense with the births of both Charles Dickens and Robert Browning. On the continent, Napoleon Bonaparte was invading Russia and in America the US declared war against Great Britain. Meanwhile, the introduction of the Waltz in London ballrooms was causing a scandal.

According to family legend, Mary lived in a convent in Cork and had trained as a nursing sister. There were six different religious orders in Ireland around this time and they ran an ever-increasing number of convents catering to the poor with a network of schools, orphanages, reformatories, industrial schools, Magdalen asylums and homes for the elderly and the extent of their activities made them a powerful force in shaping Irish society. Nuns had a high social status in nineteenth-century Ireland and entering a convent was the ideal for Irish Catholic women of that time, becoming a wife and mother was considered a second best option. The major form of relief work carried out by nuns before 1850 was sick visitation and thousands of visits were made to the homes of the poor every year.

Following some 'trouble' with one of the priests, Mary left the convent, it was a very brave decision as she was leaving the relative security and protection of the convent to live in an overcrowded city where unemployment and crime were rife and there were not many options available for a young woman her age. Therefore, the free passages being offered to able-bodied women of good health and character to immigrate to Australia would have seemed preferable to a paupers existence in Ireland. Over the years, Mary was often to warn the women of the family not to trust clergymen and to ensure that they were never alone with one.

Mary had in her possession a large silver double barred cross about 8cm high, on one side is a figurine of Christ and on the other is the Holy Mother, both are coated in gold. The double barred cross is the 'Cross of Lorraine' associated with Joan of Arc. There are two theories regarding the origins of this cross, one is that it was a family heirloom passed down through the McCarthy family, dating from the 1500's when a number of Spanish galleons were sunk off the coast of Ireland by the McCarthy Clan and the loot was distributed among the family with the trinkets going to the women. The second theory is that this cross is a relict from her time in the convent.

Mary came to Australia as a free settler aboard the 'Duchess of Northumberland' which sailed from Cork in Ireland, there were two other McCarthy girls on board, Anna and Ellen, but no evidence has been found to establish their relationship, if any, to Mary.

Mary emigrated under the Women's Immigtation Scheme and, it was stated in a despatch to the Colonial Secretaryon 8 May 1835, that "...with regard to the young women by the Duchess of Northumberland that they have been represented ... to be most virtuous and best adapted for the colony that have hitherto arrived under similar circumstances ... In consequence the greatest care has been taken in selecting good situations for them." Previous to this, many of the women who had arrived in the colony were either convicts or women of ill repute, often the product of the appalling circumstances in England and Ireland at that time. In direct contrast to this poverty, 1835 was an eventful year in the Arts, Madame Tussaud opened her Wax Museum in London, Hans Christian Andersen published his first book of fairy tales and Chopin was busy composing his waltzes.

After arrival in Sydney on 27 February 1835, the 220 women from the Duchess of Northumberland were accommodated at the lumberyard buildings where interviews with prospective employers took place. Within three weeks, all the women had found employment. Following is an extract from the despatch of 8 May 1835 to the Colonial Secretary in response to complaints re the accommodation of the women.

"...I am further called on to reply to the observations ... on reports current in England regarding treatment of the emigrants on their arrival in this colony. It is said they were 'placed in the lumber-yard, at that time stated to be in very bad repair;' and it is added, 'that the provisions served out to them were of the worst description, and that no attention whatever was paid to their comforts.

.. I beg leave to remark that in this colony there are very few public buildings which are not constantly required for the purposes for which they have been appropriated; and that to find accommodation of any sort for between 200 and 300 women in Sydney is a matter of some difficulty. The lumber-yard buildings were those which offered the greatest conveniences for the reception of the emigrants..... The apartments, though out of order, were safe, and furnished with the most needful articles for taking food and rest, and generally, I believe, superior in such accommodation to the ship the women had just left, and to the dwellings of many of them in the countries of their birth.... The complaint of badness of provisions is wholly without foundation, and the ration, composed as is stated ... will probably be considered as furnishing not only what is required for mere sustenance, but for some degree of comfort. Military Bread1 1/4lbs; Fresh Beef 1 2oz; Vegetables 8oz; Tea 1/4oz; Sugar1 1/2 oz: Salt 1/2oz; Soap 1/4oz. Upon the whole, therefore, I cannot admit that the female emigrants have met with any neglect from this Government.'

At the time of Mary's arrival in the colony, a land route had just been opened between Sydney and Port Phillip, John Batman was exploring Port Phillip and the Yarra River, the Anti-Transportation League was founded in Sydney and Governor Bourke, Governor of New South Wales proclaimed that Aboriginal people "...do not own their land...".

Mary's first position in the colony was as housemaid to Mrs Cook of Castlereagh Street, Sydney, her yearly wage was £10 plus board and lodging or around 3/9½ a week (38cents). How long Mary stayed in Mrs Cook's employ is not known, but it must have been less than a year, as she was living on the south coast by December 1836 when Robert sought permission to marry her, and so begins their journey together.....

PART 111


On 14 April 1837 at the Church of England Chapel at Sutton Forest, Robert Alexander married Mary Theresa McCarthy, the witnesses to this marriage were Joseph Collins, Robert's partner in crime, and his wife Ellen Eliza Collins.

At the time of their marriage, Robert was living at Bateman's Bay, as was Mary, after their marriage they lived at Morris's new property 'Gundary' near Moruya. Their first child, John 1837, was born here and Robert's occupation is stated as 'servant'. Their second child, Sarah was born in 1839 and the place of residence when their third child Robert was born in 1840 is Yerrulla, on this registration, Robert's occupation is 'farmer'.

In November 1839, Robert's employer, William Morris expanded his interests to include property at Nungatta and he named this station 'Nangutta' (not a little confusing), on 14 August 1840 he obtained a further licence for land at Genoa River which he incorporated into 'Nangutta' as an outstation, this area became known as the 'Heifer Paddock'. Robert and Mary took up residence at the 'Heifer Paddock' where Robert was employed as the stock-keeper. Although the date is not certain, it was around 1841-42,making them the first white settlers in the district. It was here that their next four children, William 1842, James 1845, Barbara 1848 and Mary 1851 were born, we are not sure whether these children were actually born at Genoa, their baptism registrations clearly state 'Nangutta' as their father's 'place of abode'. As Nangutta was the name of the property on which Robert worked the Heifer Paddock at the Genoa end, and not the name of the locality of the main home station of the run which was Nungatta, it is likely that they were in fact born at Genoa -this would make William the first white child born at Genoa River.

The journey from Moruya to Genoa could be tackled in two ways, the easiest and fastest way being by coastal steamer, however, this was not the way Robert and Mary travelled; they took the far more arduous route travelling overland on foot with a pack bullock to transport their supplies and belongings. The coastal strip was rugged and heavily timbered, virtually all heavy forest, with a number of streams and rivers along the way that would have to be crossed, with the odd coastal settlement such as Twofold Bay to break the journey. Progress would have been exceedingly slow, bullocks travelling on a road could travel a distance of 5-6 kilometres an hour, but in this rugged terrain, 2 kilometres an hour would be considered 'good going'. The distance from Moruya to Genoa is approximately 350km, so the journey would have taken around 3-4 weeks. We can barely imagine the fortitude and perseverance required to endure such a journey, let alone with three young children in tow, Mary must truly have been a remarkable woman, as were many of our female pioneers.

Living conditions at Genoa were primitive their first residence was built on a 'cut and fill' site on the eastern side of Genoa Creek, to the south of the Genoa River and west of the present day township, not far from the old Princes Highway, pieces of cutlery and other household items can still be found in this vicinity even today. We can only wonder at the determination, ingenuity and selflessness that must have been required to raise a family under these conditions in an isolated corner of Australia with no amenities whatsoever, the supply of provisions would have been very meager -perhaps some tea, sugar and flour. Not to mention the lack of any form of help if one of the children became ill or incurred an injury, there was also the constant threat of trouble with the aborigines. Mary must have wondered at the predicament she now found herself in so far removed from life as she had once known it.

A house was later built on the river flats, to the east of the original dwelling. This building is still standing and is the second CRB cottage, and today it is owned by Mr John Peisley (2003). We are not certain of the date this new house came into use, or if Robert ever took up residence in this new abode.

The following are excerpts from "A Narrative of the Journey to and from New South Wales including Seven Years Residence in that Country" by Joseph Lingard, published 9 April 1846, the date of this journey is not stated but it is presumed it was circa 1843, it paints a vivid picture of the journey and deprivations endured by the Alexanders and other pioneers :

" ...Arriving at Liscome's property (Bondi) at the foot of the mountain, I met Capt. Stevenson who had formed a station near Cape Howe ... Stevenson and his family had been there about three months. He invited me to go down there, stating that it was the finest place he had ever seen ... for sea birds. We stayed at Liscome's for a month, then set out for Stevenson's following a marked tree line ....
About five miles from "Bundi" (Bondi,) we became lost and had to retrace our path, then with dfficulty got over Morris' Mountain. The timber was of almost incredible size ... We came to a cattle station which was managed by Weatherhead (Nangutta) ... I saw trees one hundred and twenty yards high (?) named by the natives Stingy Bark or Messmate.

Next morning with Weatherhead's man's assistance we were again put on the tree marked trail. There were seven miles through great forests ... between mountain ranges. Then we came down to the river, to hear the call of bell birds and whip birds, which were in great numbers. About an hour before sundown ... we saw two men ploughing with bullocks. This proved to be Wang-a-ra-bar (Wangrabell) owned by a Scot named Donald ... I asked if we might stay the night. ... after shooting a brace of ducks for Mrs Donald we set off again and were put on our way by one of the boys.

We had a river to cross, ... came to some heavily timbered ranges where parrots abounded, then came down to the river again and our tree marked trail ... Just before sundown ... we saw Genore station (Genoa). We had come some fifteen miles. There were two stations here on either side of the river (Allans north side, Alexanders south side) The river at this point was tidal."

Lingard then travels on to Mallacoota and following is his description of the circumstances in which he found Mrs Stevenson :

" ...Soon after a woman and three children made their appearance ... The woman was frightened, thinking we were bushrangers ....We all went towards the hut, I said have you any tea and sugar .. she said no ... we have had none of these for four months ... soon returned with about a pound of tea and eight pounds of sugar. This proved a very acceptable treat....I went bird shooting and drying skins until ten weeks had expired. ... Spring drawing on, the snakes began to make their appearance ... The Captain and his man had to go to Genore ... I stopped there two days, the stock keeper (Alexander) was going to Nan-gutty (Nangutta) for some calves .. . I bid the Captain farewell ... and we anived at Wong-a-ra-bar in the evening."

On 1 May 1843, Robert was granted a Conditional Pardon; his recommendation was signed by - N Oldrey JP, W T Morris, F C Walden, R Urquhart and Geo Macfee. George Macfee was a Presbyterian Minister and had been associated with Robert and Mary for a number of years, officiating at the baptism of their son Robert.

Over the next few years, the Nangutta property was sold on a number of occasions. First to Abercrombie & Co and then to Campbell & Co who in turn sold it to Peter Imlay, one of the three Imlay brothers who established the whaling operation at Twofold Bay. In 1853, Imlay sold the Nangutta portion of the Run to a Melbourne buyer but as a settlement for wages owed, he applied for a transfer of title for the Genoa portion to Robert Alexander, together with a number of cattle. The lease rights were £10 p.a. This holding became known as 'Genore Station' and is still referred to as 'Old Genore Station', the land is now owned by Mr Alan Peisley (2003).

By 1856, no longer a bondsman, Robert appears on the Gippsland Electoral Roll and was attempting to broaden his holdings from Genoa toward Cann River; his Stock Assessment for April 1856 was £10/13/-, based on 180 head of cattle and 15 horses. An opportunity for further land acquisition was provided in 1861 by the introduction of Sir John Robertson's Land Act. One of the areas available was the Parish of Pericoe, where land was offered for sale at auction in December 1861 but passed in. Robert Alexander of Genoa acquired two of these blocks on 28th May and 3rd August 1863 respectively at an 'upset price' after the attempted sale by Auction. It was said that Robert on one of his expeditions in the 1830's and 40's discovered Pericoe and as a way of distinguishing him from Robert his son, he was often referred to as 'Old Pericoe'.

Hence Robert became a legitimate landowner. It had been a long and eventful journey from that Christmas Eve in 1828 and in the ensuing twenty four years he had served his time, married, had a family of seven and received a Conditional Pardon. He had actively been involved in expeditions into unexplored country and in the expansion of white settlement of the far south coast.

The impression that has been passed down through the generations is that Robert Alexander was a hard man, and no doubt, given his experiences to date and those that follow, he would have needed strength of character not found in the ordinary man. As Robert expanded his cattle grazing into the Cann River district, problems with the aborigines escalated. The local tribes were said to be very savage and there are reports of shipwrecked survivors stumbling ashore only to be speared to death on the beach.

There is a local legend that tells the story of an aboriginal youth, Dough Boy, who went to work for the Alexanders, after a time he took himself a wife from another tribe -this was frowned upon by his tribe and the punishment for such a misdemeanor was death. A posse was sent out from his tribe to find him and carry out the punishment, they hid down in the cornfield for days awaiting an opportunity. Finally it came, and it is said that Dough Boy came to Robert with a hatchet buried in his skull, Robert pulled the axe from his head and he dropped down dead. Robert is then said to have followed the tribe back to Wingan and shot them all. This was no mean feat as the aborigines walked in single file in each other's footsteps to avoid detection and to make it appear as if only one person had travelled that path.

Through the years there was the continuing problem of native tribes spearing cattle, whether this occurred due to their belief in animals on the land being available to anyone who hunts them or whether it was a result of white settlement invading their hunting lands is something that will remain unknown.

Another massacre related in local folklore claims that .. ."an Alexander girl was taken by a local tribe and unable to cope, she died. Alexander is said to have found members of the tribe wearing her clothing as headbands and subsequently, arranged a posse and shot all of them. However, birth and death records of his children tend to dispel this version. It seems evident that the massacre did take place and it is claimed that by the time word reached the police at Orbost, the bodies had been hidden under the water or buried on an island in the river, the site was later accidentally uncovered while ploughing, however the remains were washed away in one of the large floods."...excerpt from "A Place called Pericoe".

Personal tragedy was also evident within the family, in 1858 Robert and Mary's first daughter; Sarah was admitted to the Gladesville Lunatic Asylum as a 'pauper patient', she was eighteen years old at the time. We could put two and two together and surmise that the story of the missing Albxander girl was not so outlandish, and may have been the story put about after Sarah mysteriously 'disappeared' and the rest of the legend grew from there.

It is also alleged that the aborigines killed one of Robert and Mary's sons, however, no birth or death registrations can be found to support this tale.

On a brighter note, Robert must have formed more friendly relationships with other aborigines, as he learned some useful insights into their way of life and how they managed the environment. It was claimed the old aboriginal Genore Jack taught Robert that the answer to bush fire prevention was to back-burn. This must be done every five years and must be carried out at the right time of year, February/ March after the longest day when the sap begins to go down. During that period there are westerly winds in the morning that change to the northeast in the afternoon, which provide natural burn back.

A softer side of Robert can be seen in his obvious affection for the family he left behind in Hampshire, this is evident in the naming of his children, John his first born was named for both his and Mary's fathers, Robert for himself, the next four children, Sarah, William, James and Barbara all bore the names of his siblings. Mary, their last child named after her mother.

Robert Alexander died at Genoa from cancer on25 January 1864, aged 56 years, he was buried in the Eden Cemetery on 27 January 1864. The inscription on his weathered headstone reads

Robert Alexander
Bom at Ramsey (sic) England
9th April 1807
Died at Genoa Victoria
25 January 1864

"My class is run my days are spent
My life is gone it was but lent,
and as I arn so must you be
therefore prepare to follow me"

Elsewhere in the world in 1864, Jules Vern was writing, "Journey to the Centre of the Earth" and Queen Victoria began the legendary friendship with her Scottish servant, John Brown.

Robert's estate was to be divided among the family with Mary's inheritance to be distributed evenly between Barbara and Mary with her passing. If one of the daughters then passed away, her portion was to go to the remaining sister. The Executors, Alexander Weatherhead, John and Robert Alexander, were to care for Robert's wife and become the guardians of the other children, James aged 19, Barbara aged l6 and Mary who was 13.

In her later years, Mary lived at the Catholic Settlement at Kiah, where she died on 31 August 1879 from bronchitis. 1879 was the year the world saw it's first chain store, when Mr Woolworth opened his first 'nothing over 5c store' in New York and that Australia's first national park, the Royal National Park was gazetted.

Because Mary had been married to a protestant, burial in the 'pure' catholic cemetery at Kiah was denied her, so the family requested that she be buried at Eden with Robert and other members of her family, but the catholic priest refused to bury her in the protestant section, this understandably caused outrage within the family. And thus, she is interred alone in the catholic section, apart from her family at the opposite end of the cemetery. Mary's monument is made of marble and has stood the ravages of wind and weather well, the inscription reads

The graves of Robert and Mary are almost symbolic, they stand at opposite ends of the cemetery, facing the sea across which they came from different worlds, on the coastline along which they made their separate voyages to New South Wales, where they would be united and begin the heritage for which each one of us is exceedingly grateful.


The story of John Alexander is taken almost in its entirety from "A Place Called Pericoe" by Max Ryan (1993) Variations have been made to the original document to reflect new research discoveries.


It was the year of our Lord 1837, the year that Queen Victoria then aged eighteen ascended the throne to begin her sixty three year reign, that John Alexander was born on 8 October at Gundary, a property near Moruya on the south coast of New South Wales. He was the first-born child of Robert and Mary Alexander, who were living on the property where Robert, a convict with a Ticket of Leave, was working as a 'government man' or bonded servant to Mr William Morris. 1837 was a year to remember for a number of reasons, three inventions which changed the course of our daily lives were, Samuel Morse perfected his Morse Code, Mr Pittman devised his system of steno shorthand and perhaps most notably and probably least well known is that the first flush model, valve operated 'loo' was invented by Sir Thomas Crapper, it was also the year that an Australian, Thomas Morris, entered the record books by skipping rope 22,806 times.

At the tender age of five in 1842, John made the overland trek by pack bullock from Moruya to Genoa with his parents; they became the first white settlers in the area and made their residence on the Genoa River at the 'Heifer Paddock' - the stock raising section of Morris's Nangutta Run. Not much detail is known of John's early life, but it would be assumed that from an early age he was involved in the day to day running of the heifer station working alongside his father, and keeping an eye on his mother and siblings while his father was away. He must have received some rudimentary form of education, as he was able to read and write. From a young age, John travelled the countryside alone, and on one occasion, at the age of twelve in 1849, while retuming to Genoa from Eden, he was nearly drowned. The story straight from Alexander Weatherhead's diary is as follows:

"Mr John Alexander, now of Pericoe who was then a boy of 12, was returning from Eden and the creek being up, he was washed off his horse. It was nearly night and very cold, with stormy weather, and our girl was outside getting wood for the morning's fire, thought she heard a coo-ee, and presently we saw a horse coming from the crossing place. I then ran to the creek and found that young Alexander was on the trunk of a tree, holding on to a large branch, and up to his waist in the water. I could not get him out on the side I was on, so I told him not to be afraid and I would soon rescue him. I got my horse from the stable and a light rope and went up the creek to where it was much wider, and got near him on the other side, I then threw him the end of the rope which he tied round his waist and pulled him out. We soon had him in the house where a change of dry clothes, and afterwards a warm bed, restored him."

John married Elizabeth Smith, eldest daughter of Thomas Smith and Mary Barclay, on 6 October 1859 at Pambula, John's younger brother Robert and Flora McPherson were the witnesses on the day. Elizabeth was born on 12 February 1843, the first white child born at Candelo, New South Wales. Her father, Thomas Smith was a well-known identity in the Pambula/Wolumla area, he was at various times the local Undertaker, a storekeeper and the proprietor of one of the local hotels, the 'Plough Inn'.

After their marriage, John and Elizabeth moved to an area just north of Cann River called 'The Island', conditions were primitive, and a bark hut, most likely made of 'wattle and daub' was constructed. Elizabeth, as was the custom in those days when your time for 'lying in' approached, travelled home to her parents at Pambula to give birth to their first three children - Sarah 1860, Elizabeth Mary 1862 and John Thomas 1863. It appears the family only remained in the Cann River locality for about four years until the constant problem of the local aboriginal tribes spearing the cattle forced John to look for a more viable alternative. This presented itself in the form of Sir John Robertson's Land Act of 1861, which made land available to settlers at an initial price that could be paid at an undetermined future date subject to the fulfilment of certain conditions regarding its use. Subsequently, on 14 May 1863, John purchased an initial block of 153 acres in the Parish of Pericoe. Pericoe is situated inland from Eden in the Towamba Valley, about 12km from the township of Towamba. The area is named after the creek running through it and is surrounded by well-covered hilly terrain. He abandoned his holdings at Cann River and it was eventually claimed by the Morgan family who moved to the district circa 1869, the old Morgan Homestead still stands.

It would appear that the family took up residence at Pericoe in late 1863, as John's recorded place of residence in November 1863 when he witnessed his father, Robert's Last Will and Testament is Pericoe. The birthplace of their fourth child, Barbara in 1864 is recorded as Pericoe. They were definitely residing at Pericoe by the time their fifth child Robert was born in 1866 as his birth and death were reported in the Bega Gazette with Pericoe as the location.

Over the ensuing years, John took up further allotments in his own name and the names of his children and toward the end of the century, the Alexander family owned over 6000 acres in the parish.

To begin with, John concentrated on breeding and selling cattle to the Melbourne cattle market, then diversified into the dairy industry. Pericoe became renowned on the South Coast as one of the most well run, state of the art enterprises of its time.

John and Elizabeth were to have another ten children in the following years - Robert (Bo) 1867, Ruth Ann 1870, Percy Vernon William 1872, Florence Ada 1875, Horatio (Horace) Eden 1876, Sydney Evan 1879, Alfred Ernest 1880-1881, Alfred Ernest 1881, Veronie Adelaide 1883 and Patience May 1885 a total of fifteen children in all, two of these, Robert born 1866 and Alfred Ernest born 1880 (not to be confused with their namesakes) died in infancy. In the isolated parish of Pericoe, this family of thirteen children grew up on property that could sustain most of their needs through crops, pigs, cattle, dairy and the vegetable garden. The girls helped their mother with younger siblings, while learning the skills required to run a large and for its time, modern household, they helped produce seasonal jams and preserves from the array of fruits available in the extensive orchard, as well as learning the refinements that any accomplished young lady should possess such as needlework, music and social graces. The girls were by no means confined to the house; they were involved with many outdoor activities as well.

All members of the Alexander family could ride well and were known to be exceptional horsemen and women and often raced from home to the top of Mount Imlay near Eden. Three of the notable riders were Alf, a master with horses and Veronie (Queenie) and Barbara who could not only ride well, but did it side saddle!

The boys were involved in the running of the property from quite an early age, there were cows to be milked, horses and bullocks to be trained, sheep and pigs to be cared for along with the beef cattle which once fattened, had to be overlanded to market. In addition, there were approximately 40 acres under cultivation with various crops, and also hay making.

On the whole, life was very busy, and the smooth running of the property depended on everyone pulling their weight and completing the chores they were responsible for, even (to the chagrin of many a school teacher) if it meant being late for or missing school, and there was certainly no time for homework, teachers at the school often felt they lacked the support of parents as demonstrated by Miss Armstrong's report to her Inspector in March 1889 expressing the following concerns:

..."no encouragententfrom the parents here to remain in Pericoe Public School as I can not induce them to allow their children to do any home lessons whatsoever... "

Another report complained about attendance times.

..."Most of the children come to school very late indeed as most of the people around Pericoe are dairy people. Therefore only 4 children that I can say come to school on time. The others come at 9.45, 10, 10.1 5, 10.20, 10.30, 11 and some very often after 11 O'clock. That I think with the poor attendance is quite sufficient to obtain low results "...

Pericoe School

As a result of these problems, the Pericoe Public School closed later in 1889. John must have considered the education of his children important as it was through his perseverance and donation of land that the school originally opened in September 1884 with the appointed teacher Miss Sercombe. The following Alexander children appeared on the roll - Ruth 13, Percy 11, Florence 9, Eden 7, Sydney 4 and Sarah Alexander's son, William Harmer aged 5. Although John and Elizabeth also provided lodgings, the teachers, mostly young women, did not stay in the district long due to the remoteness of the area and the frustration they encountered due to the problems reported above. After the school closed John employed a tutor for his children so they could continue their education. The school reopened in 1896.

Over the years many reports were printed in the local newspapers regarding Pericoe Station and the following paragraphs, from 'A Place Called Pericoe' outline the remarkable innovations of the time.

"The focal point of the Pericoe operation was the dairy, which produced large quantities of high quality butter and cheese. The milking cattle were largely Ayrshire and Shorthorns and at its peak up to 300 cows were being milked. An undated newspaper article makes the comment that the factory was - "the most complete and extensive to be found throughout the whole district, and eclipses many of the large factories around Bega and elsewhere"

The original dairy was destroyed by fire and is understood to have had a steam driven cream separator. The dairy was rebuilt and was located near the house, it utilised the most modern equipment available and made use of some unique innovations. A six horsepower Soho-Tangy engine, a separator producing 320 gallons per hour, a patent churn, and a revolving butter worker were installed. Up to five tons of butter per week was sent to Sydney in "kegs", marked with the "Pericoe Creamery" brand. The cheese factory was further down the creek and also despatched large quantities of cheese.

A unique feature referred to in most articles on the property was the system created to provide running water to the house and dairy. A small weir was built in a rocky part of the creek into which a 75mm (3 ") diameter pipe was placed. It had a fall of about 2m (6') to a hydraulic ram worked by the action of the water running into it. It in turn lifted the water 45 metres (150') upstream (on a one in five grade) into a tank on a 3m (10') high stand from which pipes were directed to several tanks. From these holding tanks, pipes were run to the kitchen, bathroom, garden, dairy and wherever necessary. In the kitchen pipes passed through the bread oven and stove to supply hot water on tap.

Bullock Team at Pericoe. Bill Harmer in front

Cattle breeding and fattening functions were also significant. Large Shorthorn bullocks in prime condition were often despatched by road to various sale points. They were driven very steadily to enable them to arrive in prime condition. One undated newspaper clipping c.1896 refers to a couple of prize bullock reared by the Alexanders that won first and second prizes at the Orbost and Bairnsdale shows.

The winner was estimated to weigh seventeen-hundredweight. The operation also included sheep and pigs; large numbers of pigs were regularly shipped from Eden to market.

Then there were horses. Contact with the world was basically dependent on the horse and as indicated, the Alexander's were known for their knowledge of and ability with horses. Pericoe had a reputation for producing fine horses -hacks, draughts and spring cart or buggy horses. It was suggested that the most fastidious horse purchaser could be thoroughly suited at the Alexander's, and that ..."When you went to Pericoe they asked what breed the horse was". It was also common knowledge that, if a horse could not be tamed elsewhere, the advice was :.."take it to the Alexander's".

The property produced a range of crops and hay in sizeable proportions. An area of about 40 acres was under cultivation growing excellent crops of corn, peas and potatoes. There were also wattles, an orchard and a large vegetable garden was laid out on the banks of Pericoe Creek"

Pericoe Station was a family business and although each person knew the general workings of the entire station, every individual had a speciality in the smooth running of the property. Alfred was in control of the dairy, Robert (Bo) was in charge of the horses, Eden did the droving and Percy was responsible for the secretarial and bookkeeping area.

With the exception of John Thomas, the boys settled into various homes on the Pericoe Estate, with each block known by its individual name. Bo called his home 'Hayfield', Percy named his 'Normanhurst' which was a mile from the homestead and near Pericoe creek, Sydney had 'Bonnie Doon', Eden called his 'Fairview' and Alf had the home dairy. Some of the girls married, continuing to live on or near the estate while others left.

Over the years, Pericoe was not immune to that great Australian catastrophe, the 'bushfire', being in a valley surrounded by timbered mountains and hilly terrain they were a real threat. Many buildings, notably the school (on a number of occasions), the dairy, a machine shed and Percy's home 'Normanhurst' were lost in various fires over the years.

Bushfires were only one of the hardships that affected those in the country during this era especially when the isolation from facilities made it impossible for help to arrive during a crisis, people had to acquire knowledge on many different fronts in order to care for their families and increase their chances of survival. Elizabeth Alexander was called upon throughout the district to help with various ailments and broken bones as well as delivering babies. In most cases, doctors were too far away to render any assistance in an emergency, so those involved had to deal with cases of snakebite, crush injuries from falling timber and other accidents as best they could.

Life at Pericoe Station was not all work and no play. In fact, social activities played an active role not only within the family but in the surrounding community. The 'Hare Drive', an Australian version of the English Foxhunt was not only a social occasion, but also allowed the participants to display their prowess at shooting and riding. Of course, the passion of the era was cricket and Pericoe had its own team. A photograph exists of eleven men (some of whom it is said are Alexanders) as well as a painting at the Eden Museum titled 'The Massacre at Towamba' about a cricket match between Pericoe and Towamba. When it was painted or even who won is still unknown.

The Alexander hospitality was legendary. From 'A Place Called Pericoe', comes a story of a woman who came to visit ... "A tale is told of a woman from Sydney, arriving to stay with the Alexander's. On her first day, she was handed a large box full of polished cutlery and asked to set the table using the enlire contents. She was then sent to the dairy for a bucket of cream, she complied with these instruclions even though, as the new girl, she was sure she was being set up. She was then asked to ring the bell - and people came from everywhere; from the farm, people passing down the road, from all over the place. When she looked around there was hardly an empty place. This was the protocol for lunch. There were always two joints on the table and two large steam puddings. Shearer's who worked at the property were provided with lunch as described and hot breakfasts of meat and vegetables, bread, butter and jam. This was in addition to the morning and afternoon teas with homemade biscuits and hot scones. No one ever went hungry at Pericoe."

Through his campaigning for local advancement, John became a highly esteemed and prominent man in the district. Among his achievements were the establishment of the Pericoe Public School and the appointment of a policeman at Towamba in 1891. Over the years John and Elizabeth Alexander saw many changes to the region, with the development of communications, transport (such as the coach run by the Strickland family from Eden to Yambulla via Towamba and Pericoe) the establishment of Eden as a major port and of course the gold rush at Yambulla in the early 1890's which broke down the walls of isolation that had surrounded those at Pericoe.

In 1886, the year after the birth of his last child, John's health began to fail; he developed pleurisy from a severe cold, which weakened his constitution. In 1896, he travelled to Sydney to consult with health professionals regarding a heart condition. John displayed symptoms of 'dropsy' and his health gradually deteriorated culminating in his death at The Great Southern Hotel Eden on 20th April 1898.

John's passing was reported at length in the local newspapers, giving us some idea of the esteem with which this man and his family were held in the community.

"I deeply regret having to record the sad death of Mr Jno Alexander, the well-known proprietor of Pericoe station, which occurred at the Great Southern Hotel Eden during last night. Mr Alexander was very widely known and respected and his many acts of kindness and generosity to those in deed will not soon be forgotten. He was one of the pioneers of the district, and did a great deal for its advancement.
His loss will be keenly felt. The funeral takes place tomorrow, Thursday."
Pambula Voice -22 April 1898


"The death of Mr John Alexander will be felt throughout the length and breadth of the district. He was regarded as one of the pioneers of the south coast district, and resided at Pericoe for a period of 38 years. Born at Moruya, his parents soon after removed across the border into Victoria, and he passed his early years on his father's stations at Genoa. At the age of 22 he married a Miss Smith, and made his home at Pericoe, selecting and buying a large tract of land, which he utilised for dairying, pig rearing and grazing purposes. Mr Alexander was perhaps the largest dairyman in the surrounding district, and also supplied a lot of cattle to the Melbourne market. He took an active interest in public affairs, being for a long time a trustee of the Towamba Eden road, and was also twice elected on the directorate of the late Freezing Company. The deceased gentleman leaves a widow and large family, for whom widespread sympathy is felt. The funeral on Thursday at the C E cemetery, Eden, was well attended, the Rev G Jennings conducting the burial service. A large number of wreaths and floral tributes were sent, as well as telegrams and letters of sympathy from friends in all parts of the colony."

Pambula Voice -29 April, 1898

"The news of Mr John Alexander's death was received in this locality with expressions of the deepest regret. The cause of his death was heart disease, supervening on dropsy. Mr Alexander was a native of the colony, having been born at Moruya. He was the first selector to take up land at Pericoe, and resided here for 34 years. He was about 60 years of age. By his clear foresight and sound judgement he got together a fine estate at Pericoe, consisting of over 6000 acres of fair pastoral and some agricultural land. The deceased gentleman leaves a wife and 13 children (most of whom are grown up) to mourn their loss, and they have the sympathy of the whole cornmunity. The funeral took place on Thursday, the remains being interred in the Eden cemetery in the presence of a large concourse of relatives and friends."
Pambula Voice, 29 April 1898

"Mr John Alexander was a gentleman... of exemplary habits, just, upright and liberal disposition, and essentially temperate mode of life. Although of a distinctly domestic temperament he yet took a keen interest in public affairs, and particularly in the welfare of the district in which he lived. He was besides, well known as a dispenser of genuine hospitality and won the respect and esteem of all who knew him.. "
Bega Standard

"Mrs Alexander and family desire to express their thanks to all who so kindly sent floral tributes, letters and telegrams in their late bereavement."
Pambula Voice 29 April 1898

John was buried in the Church of England Cemetery at Eden on Thursday, 21st April, 1898.
The inscription on his granite headstone reads

Born in Moruya
October 8th 1837
Died at Eden
April 20th 1898

"My class is run, my days are spent
My life is gone It was but lent
And as I am, So you must be
Therefore prepare
To follow me"

Elizabeth's devotion to her beloved John is expressed in the following memorial:

In affectionate remembrance of John Alexander, who died at the Great Southern Hotel, Eden, 20th April, 1898.
One year today, ah, who could tell how anxiously I stood
Beside my darling husband's bed to keep him if I could.
Friends and physicians gently tried to soothe, but all in vain;
Ah; as the morning hours drew on,God eased him of his pain'.

Inserted by his loving wife and children

John lived during one of the most fascinating eras of Australian history. Born during a time when the colony was in its infancy, saw the development of towns, roads and bridges, the end of convict transportation, experienced the days when bushrangers were common and feared and not considered heroes and heard years of debate about the federating of the colonies, only to pass away a couple of years before seeing Federation become a reality.

In his will dated 8th February 1898 John appointed sons Robert, Percy and Eden as trustees of the Estate. Elizabeth received £50 p.a. and the residue of the Estate for life. If she remarried or passed away, the estate was to be divided between sons Percy, Eden, Syd and Alf (John Thomas and Bo had been provided for previously). Upon the death of their mother, the girls (excluding Sarah) were to receive any money remaining from the insurance payout as well as £400 in £80 instalments. The total value of the estate was £7630 less £6358 representing loans from the Australian Joint Stock Bank taken out by John in 1876 and money owed to the Crown under the Conditional Purchase System, leaving a net worth of £1272.

Even after the death of their patriarch, the smooth running of the property continued as it had done over many years, under the direction of Elizabeth who it has been said stood firm at the helm overseeing the operation of the station.

In the years that followed, Elizabeth continued to be a revered citizen in the Pericoe Towamba district and played host to many social and community functions as well as family weddings and one notable occasion, the extended visit of her eldest son John Thomas who had settled in Queensland, was celebrated with parties, sporting events and a farewell dance held in his honour.

By 1906 another great change had occurred in the valley with the establishment of a telephone line from Towamba to Yambulla, this occasion was celebrated with a function at the Pericoe Post Office. The first message was sent from the Postmaster General, The Hon. Austin Chapman, MP to Elizabeth Alexander, it read:

"Kindly convey my hearty congratulations all residents on establishment Telephone communication with Pericoe. I trust it will be of much convenience and advantage to the district. " 10 August 1906

Towards the end of the first decade of the new century however, problems were beginning to emerge, the Eden branch of the Bank of New South Wales had taken over the debt on Pericoe and were applying pressure for settlement after becoming aware of conflict concerning the administration of the estate (the National Mutual Life Assurance Company eventually cleared this debt in 1911). The combination of the debt, the drought of 1910 which impacted on the local dairying and crop industries, the rabbit menace and the growing disharmony among the family eventually lead to the dissipation of the empire.

Around 1913, Elizabeth now in her 70's, left Pericoe and moved in with her daughter Veronie (Queenie) and her husband Austin O'Hara at Adaminaby. By this time only a handful of family members were still residing at Pericoe.

Elizabeth passed away at the home of her daughter Queenie O'Hara at Adaminaby on 3 June 1918 her death flagged the passing of a dynasty, she had given birth to fifteen children, dealt with all the subsequent hardships that life threw her way, as well as coping with the stress of the various dramas within the family over the years, mourned the death of her beloved John, and then seen the gradual demise of all they had worked so hard to achieve.

Elizabeth's death was reported in the Twofold Bay Magnet and the Bombala Times as follows:

"Mrs Alexander, relict of the late Mr Alexander, of Pericoe, died at the residence of her son-in-law, Mr A.B. O'Hara, aged 77 years. Born at Candelo, it is believed she was the first white child to be born there."
Bombala Times 14 June, l918

"From the Adaminaby "Advocate" we take the following particulars of Mrs Alexander formerly of
Pericoe. Deceased had been living at Adaminaby for the past 6½ (?) years with her son-in-law Mr A.B. O'Hara. A month back she took ill while on a visit to Nimitybelle, and only returned to Adaminaby the Saturday before her death. Deceased was 77 years of age and a native of Candelo, so she was not only the first white child born at Candelo, but in this district. She married early, and with her husband assisted in opening up the Cann River district in Victoria. Later on they settled at Pericoe, and acquired considerable property. The "Advocate" says that during her stay up there Mrs Alexander made friends of all by her kindness and practical sympathy in sickness and distress. The funeral took place on 5th instant, the remains being conveyed to St. John's Church, where after a short service they were conveyed to her last resting place in the C.E. portion of Adaminaby cemetery. The Rev. H.J. Gedney officiating at the graveside. "

Bay Magnet 15 June1918

Elizabeth was buried in the St John's Church of England Cemetery at Adaminaby, one would think that she would have chosen to be interred at Eden with her beloved husband and those of her children that had preceded her, but this may not have been possible, as it was near the end of the Great War, a time when things were pretty grim on the home front.

Standing: Bo, Ruth Ann, William Harmer, Barbara, Percy, Horace, Elizabeth Mary, Florence, Walter Harmer
Seated: Alf, Syd, Patience, John and Elizabeth, Verance.

Elizabeth Alexander (nee Smith)

1839 - 1901

It was the winter of 1839, when Robert and Mary Alexander welcomed their second child, a daughter, into this world on June 5, at Gundary, a property near Moruya where Robert was an assigned man to Mr. Morris. They named their little daughter Sarah after Robert's sister back in the old country.

Unfortunately, little sarah was not the healthy child we all pray for, she was afflicted with a cleft palate and was developmentally delayed - the latter may have been brought on by a difficult labour and lack of oxygen to the baby's brain - or it may have been part of her genetic condition.

When Sarah was only a little mite, she made the long journey from Moruya to Genoa with her parents and two brothers John 5 and Robert 2. It seems that older brother John may have had a special affection for his little sister as he named his first born after her. Sarah was brought up on the Genoa River at the 'Heifer Station' where her father was at first the head stockkeeper before later acquiring the land in lieu of wages.

The lifestyle was simplistic by today's standards and the family made do with a bush hut cut into the side of a hill overlooking Genoa Creek. It appears that by her late teens, for reasons unknown, the family decided they could no longer care for Sarah.

Tragically, in February 1858 at the age of 18, she was admitted to the Gladesville Lunatic Asylum, then known as 'Tarban Creek' as a 'pauper patient.'

A letter of Application for Admission was made to the Colonial secretary, it was signed by her father, Robert Alexander and Sarah's unstable state of mind was verified by two doctors and a judge; the report written on admission states...

February 18, 1858
"This young person is a native of this colony, a spinster admitted from her father's home at Wide Bay for chronic mania. She is tall, strong, symmetrical, with a graceful figure were her movements under the power of reason and her habits regulated by taste. The temperament is bilious, irises dark and glowing with complexion of the lightest swarthy. She has fine salient features and under happier conditions would be an attractive and interesting woman.
It is a year since she became affected with lunacy and is supposed by her father to be in some measure the offspring of disappointed affections.... Her soft palate is destroyed; and she speaks indistinctly through her nose. She is well conducted; her moral habits have always been blameless and her father states that she is inoffensive but playful and occasionally a little mischievous. I fear the case is both more inveterate and constitutional than her father cares to confess. The brain appears to be collapsed and the bony covering contracting around it; the head is small and the epicranium loose and dense. Below the head, the organization is sound; she eats and sleeps well."

February 28, 1858
"It has just been reported by persons who have known this girl since her birth that she has been little better than an idiot all her life and that her present state is only and exaggerated condition of her usual phrenopathy."

Sarah's stay at Tarban Creek was only short, in May that year; she was transferred to Parramatta Asylum for the Chronically Insane, which was housed in what was originally the Female factory at Parramatta.

Sarah was to outlive all her siblings, and although she is included on her father's death certificate, she is not mentioned in his Last Will and Testament. By the time of her mother's death in 1879 it seems that 'out of sight - out of mind' was the rule and she is therefore not recorded on the death certificate. Sarah's condition progressively deteriorated over the years until late January 1901, just as the new Commonwealth of Australia was being born, Sarah, now 61, contracted pneumonia and died on 7 February 1901 at the Hospital for the Insane, Parramatta, NSW. She was buried the next day at Sydney's Rookwood Cemeterty in the Roman Catholic section.

It is interesting to note, that on her death certificate, she is a virtual 'unknown', this being the stated answer to the relevant questions regarding her indentity, ie place of birth and names of parents. A sad testament to the existence of a woman who was once loved and cherished as both a sister and a daughter.


In the third year of the reign of Queen Victoria of England, on the 25th September 1840, Mary Theresa Alexander gave birth to her third child, Robert Alexander, who was named after his father. At this time the Alexander family was living at Yerrulla (Moruya) in New South Wales, a colony only fifty-two years old and compared with today's standards probably quite primitive. Elsewhere in the world, the first postage stamp had been introduced, the telegraph was a new invention and the popular author of the era was Charles Dickens.

ln 1842 the Alexander family travelled the long journey by pack bullock to Nangutta which is part of the Genoa region of Victoria, to make their home at "Heifer Paddock". It is perhaps because of the move, which in those days was a long and arduous task, that Robert (the son) was not baptised until the 29th June 1842 which, according to the baptism certificate, was held in the Presbyterian Church of the Broulee District. Little is known of the family's life in the early days in Genoa. It is assumed that Robert grew up learning about farming and working on the family property during the years that his father was first head stockman and later a farmer in his own right. Since later certificates have his writing or signatures on them, it is also assumed that Robert (the son) received at least rudimentary schooling.

Catherine Pendergast was born on the 5th July 1846 in the district of Delegate NSW. She was the eldest of l3 children of Patrick Pendergast and Johanna Ryan of Kiah River Station NSW and was raised in the Roman Catholic faith. She was baptised in the district of Manaroo NSW on the 1st November 1846 and grew up at Kiah River Station, probably helping on the station and assisting with the younger children. Her siblings continued to have a close relationship with Catherine as they were often witnesses at weddings and sponsors at the baptisms of her children. Catherine's sister Johanna Pendergast married Thomas Greer and two of their daughters married descendants of John Alexander. During either the late 1860's or early 1870's, Robert met Catherine Pendergast. Theirs seems to have been a rocky romance. According to family stories, Robert was deemed an unsuitable husband for Catherine in the eyes of her family, due to the fact he was raised a Protestant and she a Catholic. (Another tale states that a second reason was that the prospective groom was the son of a convict. This however seems unlikely as Catherine's father was a convict himself.) The religious difference was obviously such a problem, that according to their descendants, Robert and Catherine eloped, marrying on the 4th January 1872 in the Bombala Church of England, NSW, Robert's occupation at this time is listed as a squatter and his usual residence being Genoa Station, Catherine's being Kiah River Station.

Robert and Catherine made their home in Genoa, south of the Genoa River on part of the Alexander property that had belonged to his father (also Robert) which had been transferred from Peter Imlay in lieu of wages. Adjoining land was owned by his brothers John and James Alexander, so perhaps the original property had been divided between the sons at the time of Robert senior's death. It is believed the house Robert and Catherine lived in was built in the early 1870's, possibly 1872, the year they married which was also the year Robert's youngest sister Mary passed away and probably the year his mother left to live at Kiah River Catholic Settlement.

Their home was later known as 'Alexander's Hotel' and was used as a boarding house and one room was used as a hotel. This home still stands and is second in the row of CRB cottages and is currently owned by Mr John Peisley (2003).

From early on Catherine took on the roll of doctor and nurse to both the aboriginal and white families in the district when it came to birth of babies, and it is believed she continued to do so until advanced in years as was often the case for experienced women in rural regions. Their first child, born not long after their marriage, was sadly still born. The following year, a son, Arthur John, was born in Genoa in 1873 soon to be followed by Robert Patrick in 1877. Although both boys were bom in Genoa, their birth registrations were made in the town of Bendoc. The family continued to grow in the town of Genoa with Catherine giving birth to their first daughter, Mary Victoria (1878) followed by Robert and Catherine's other children, Johanna Amy (1880), Adeline Barbara (1882), Herman William Leo (1885) and Norman Harold (1887). Robert continued to work the land, concentrating on farming and the cattle run, although he did take a vested interest in events affecting the local community. In 1885, he wrote to the Education Department requesting a State School for the local children who were, "totally destitute of educational training for the want of a school".
Attached was a list of names and ages of children and a rough map of the homes in the area and suitable sites for a school. The reply stated that there were not enough children to build a school, but if the locals erected a building then the department would provide furniture and a teacher. Several months later in February 1886 Robert wrote that a simple building with windows and a chimney could be built but the site could not be agreed upon. Due to arguments over the site among the locals, the school was not built. In the meantime, a neighbour, William Allan employed a tutor to teach the Allan, Curtis and Alexander children privately even though other families could not afford the tuition. (The school was eventually opened in 1891, after more letters by the local families and the repeated offer by the Education Department in 1888.) 1888 was a year that made headlines in the colonies as well as the motherland, for two very different reasons. It was the year the colony recognised 100 years of white settlement since the arrival of the First Fleet, the up and coming young author of the day was Henry Lawson (who incidentally spent a lot of time at Mallacoota and Gypsy Point as they were two of his favourite haunts) and the Cream Separator which was to be of huge benefit to John Alexander was invented. In England, the capital, London was in the grip of terror with the horrific slayings of 5 women in the East End by the notorious Jack the Ripper. On the 17th August 1888, in Peisley's Commercial Hotel on Imlay Street in Eden, Robert died of Malignant Disease of the lungs, a similar condition had resulted in the death of his father 24yrs earlier. His brother John, who lived at Pericoe, was listed as the informant.

His death was sadly reported in the "Candelo & Eden lJnion" as well as the "Bega Standard''...

Death of Mr Robert Alexander
" Mr Robert Alexander of Genoa River quietly passed away on the morning of the 17th inst. at Peisley's Hotel, after a long and painful illness, and his remains were interred in the Eden Cemetery in the presence of a large number of sorrowing relatives and friends, many of whom came over 40 miles to pay their last tribute of respect. The funeral is said to be the largest ever known in Eden. The deceased leaves a widow and seven children well provided for, having in early days secured a considerable quantity of the rich flats on the Genoa River, besides being insured for a large sum. His illness was brought on by repeated colds, which at last settled on his lungs. For some time past he was under Dr Tarrant's care in Sydney, but, in spite of all that medical skill could devise, he gradually passed away.
His medical adviser recommended him to return to Eden, as he had no hopes of his recovery. His wife and his brother, Mr John Alexander, have been in constant atlendance during his illness, and have done all that love and sympathy could suggest to sooth and comfort the short time left, until his spirit took its flight from this world of pain and sorrow. Mr Alexander 's father I am informed was one of the earliest pioneers of the Twofold Bay district coming here with Mr Morris in charge of Nangatta and Genoa Stations. His son Mr J. Alexander, crossed the border into NSW and secured a large area of land at Pericoe, under the Land Act of '6l while his sons James and the deceased continued to live at Genoa.During his youth Mr Alexander applied his time chiefly to grazing purposes, as he had a large run for cattle, but, for the last few years, he turned his attention to growing maize and pig farming, a purpose for which the alluvial flats on the Genoa River are specially adapted. The deceased was only 48 years at the time of his death, and never knew what sickness was until he took what only seemed to be an ordinary cold of too trifling a nature to need nursing."

Candelo & Eden Union -20 August, 1888

"On Friday 17 August at the Commercial Hotel, Eden, Robert Alexander of Genoa, Victoria, a native of Moruya NSW 47 years".
Bega Standard -29 August, 1888

Robert was buried the following day in the Church of England Cemetery, Eden with his father Robert and sisters Barbara and Mary. His headstone reads :

In Loving Memory of
Robert Alexander
Born at Moruya NSW
Died at Eden
17th August 1888
Aged 47 years

"He was..................................
Words are wanting to say what
Say what is just and kind
and he was that."

Robert's brother John placed the following thank you in the Bega Standard:

"I hereby tender my sincere and heartfelt thanks to the inhabitants of Eden and District for their great kindness to my late brother, Robert Alexander during his severe illness. John Alexander Perico 27 August, 1888" .
Bega Standard -29 August, 1888

Catherine Alexander lived for another 32yrs after the death of her husband. She
continued to live at Genoa, and helped look after the next generation of Alexander children. She ran the Alexander Hotel as part of her home and later; as one of the respected members of the community, Catherine opened the new Genoa Bridge when she was an elderly lady. The bridge stood only two years before being washed away during the huge floods of 1919.

The family story has it that Catherine traveled to Pambula to care for her daughter Adeline Barbara who had pneumonia and caught the disease herself. Catherine passed away one week after the death of her daughter Adeline, on the 5 November 1920 in Eden and was buried the following day in the Eden Cemetery.


William Alexander, the fourth child of Robert and Mary Alexander was the first white child born to them after they took up residence at Genoa River. He was born on 29 October 1842 and the baptism register states his father's place of abode as Nangutta - this being the name of the property upon which Robert was employed as a stock keeper at the Genoa portion of the 'run', alternatively known as 'Heifer Paddock'. As the actual place of birth was not required on baptism registers, it is possible that William was the first white child bom at Genoa. He was baptised along with his brother James on 4 July 1845.

A number of other notable events occurred in 1842, in December of that year Benjamin Boyd arrived at Twofold Bay aboard his steamship 'Seahorse' which was operating a service from Sydney to Melboume and Launceston. He remained in Twofold Bay while the 'Seahorse' returned to Sydney for repairs and recognising the potential of the area, Boyd immediately set to work in planning a self-sufficient township. Also that year, Sydney was "incorporated" as a city and Melbourne as a town. It was also the birth year of Mary McKillop who started the order of the "Sisters of St Joseph". In 1994, she was canonised as Australia's first saint.

We can assume that William grew up helping his father and older brothers John and Robert with the cattle at the heifer station. If he had an education, it was home based and administered by his mother. One can only imagine the delights of life as a young boy growing up in the wilderness of the far south coast with a creek and river at the doorstep, an abundance of wildlife not to mention the excitement a young boy would derive from the conflict with the aborigines.

William who it seems never married, met a sad end; his death registration has been located at Bourke. His certificate states that he died on 22 May 1869 at Mooronoa Station, Cuttaburra in the District of Bourke, where it seems he was working on one of "Hungry" Tyson's holdings. Tyson had acquired a holding at Heyfield in south west Gippsland in 1866, and this may have been where William started his association with the Tyson dynasty.

His certificate also states that he was about 28 years of age - he was in fact 26, and that he was from the Bega district. The cause of death was suicide.

An inquest was held into William's death and the finding was "Fels-de-se by shooting himself with a revolver."

He is mentioned in the book "History of Bourke", Volume IX, pge 159 where it says :
"01/07/1869 -Cunnamulla. Wm Alexander shot himself on a Tyson property on the Warrego."

William was buried at Mooranoa Station, Cuttaburra on 28 May 1869.

'Tyson' was an eccentric squatter who owned large tracts of land throughout western NSW. His stations provided a chain of supply that stretched from North Queensland to Gippsland, Victoria and fed beef to the Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane markets. They included Mooroonowa in New South Wales and Heyfield in Victoria. He had a reputation for dropping in unannounced dressed in the garb of a 'swaggie' to check on his managers and staff.

At the time of his death in 1898, Tyson's estate comprised around 5,329,214 acres and realized £2.36 million, (well over a billion dollars today -2003) as he died unmarried and intestate, this sum was divided among his next of kin.

His generosity to a wide range of charities was legendary; a very frugal man, he was never known to drink, smoke or swear. A byword for wealth and a legend in his own lifetime, Tyson was nicknamed 'Hungry' by the Bulletin and was commemorated by A.B. Patterson in 'T.Y.S.O.N.'.


In l845 Queen Victoria was ruling the British Empire and Ireland was in the fierce grip of famine as the potato crop completely failed leading many people to immigrate to various countries, one of these being Australia. In the colony, expeditions were being conducted by many, one man in particular, Ludwig Leichhardt was well known for his exploration and in 1845 was in Queensland travelling from the Moreton Bay District to the Gulf of Carpentaria. The travelling party returned in December 1845, eight months late and given up for lost. In the centre of the country, Charles Sturt spent the entire year searching for the inland sea he believed existed, only to retum to Adelaide bitterly disappointed in January 1846.

On the l2th January 1845 in the family's Nangutta home, James Alexander was born. He was the 5th child of Robert and Mary Theresa Alexander. James was baptised on the 4th of July 1845 with his brother William at a time when his father was still the overseer of Nangutta. Although little is known of his early years in the Genoa region, it is believed that like his other siblings, he learnt about farming from working on the family property and received basic education.

Jessie Allan, the eldest daughter of James Allan and Amelia Stevenson was bom on the 22nd August 1845 in Brogo, NSW. Both the Allan and Stevenson families had settled in the East Gippsland District earlier taking up stations at Bondi (Rockton) and Wangrabelle. Amelia Stevenson was the daughter of Captain John Stevenson who around 1842, took up land near the entrance to Captains Flat, calling the station 'Mallagoota' which has been credited with the founding of the town now known as Mallacoota.

Around 1870, the Allan family was living at Maramingo Station, Genoa River which was opposite the Alexander property. James Alexander and Jessie Allan were married on the 29th August 1871 in the District of Eden. We are not sure where James and Jessie lived after their marriage and no birth records can be found for their first two children, both sons, Maurice Walter (1871) and James Creighton (1873), whom we know of from the family bible, although, the death certificate of Maurice Walter states that his place of birth was Eden.

After the birth of their second son the family was certainly living in the Eden district where James is listed on the Eden electoral roll in 1875 as living at Pericoe and having Freehold land. In the 1875-76 Post Office Directory (Eden) James is listed as living at Genoa with the occupation of squatter. It was here that their remaining children were bom, Mary May Amelia (1876), Florence Ada (1877), Jessie Emma (1881) and Isabella (1884).

In 1885 James is listed as living in Eden with the occupation of carter. It is known that at this time James had his own property at Genoa, which bordered the land owned by his brother Robert, as well as owning land in Pambula NSW. James next appears in the Eden electoral roll in 1888-89 as having a residence at Yowaka, in the Eden District.

1890 had been a fascinating year for the colony. After at least 60 years breeders finally bred the perfect working dog....the blue heeler, a cross between the blue-mottled Scotch collie, dingo (for tireless workers), a dalmation (to give a love of horses) and a kelpie (for intelligence). This was also the year that Westem Australia gained it's independence, Dr Constance Stone became the first woman doctor to be registered by the medical board in Victoria (after studying in the United States) and Carbine won the Melbourne Cup.

It seems that James lived at Yowaka, near Pambula for several years before suffering from heart problems on the morning of the 4th July 1890, when he died aged 45yrs. The inquest into his death was reported in the "Bega Standard"...

"An inquest was held at Pambula on Saturday last by Mr John Davis, J.P., coroner, regarding the death of James Alexander. From the evidence taken it appears that the deceased, who was about 44 years of age, had resided in Pambula for sorne time, and was in treaty for the purchase of the Roan Horse Hotel.
On Thursday night he complained of feeling poorly, with pains about the region of the heart. He walked about the room for some time, and eventually threw himself on a sofa and expired in two or three minutes, about 8 o'clock on Friday morning. Medical evidence was given by Dr. R.E. Kane, a medical gentleman who recently took up his abode in Pambula, and he gave it as his opinion that death ensued from aneurism of the heart. Sergeant Woods gave evidence that he had known deceased for some time, and that he had been suffering from severe cold and a most distressing cough. A verdict of death from natural causes was recorded. "

Bega Standard -1 1 July, 1890

James left behind a wife and six children and was buried in the Eden cemetery along with other members of his family. How difficult those years must have been for Jessie. She was 45yrs old with six children under 18yrs. The eldest two boys were probably working around this time to support their mother and younger sisters as it was still a time when women didn't have the vote, let alone have the right to own property.

Six years after the death of her husband, on the 28th November 1896 in the Wyndham Church of England, Jessie Alexander married Thomas Leech Day, a bachelor with the occupation stated as miner. Little is known of her years as Mrs Day, but it seems the famiiy moved to Sydney as she died in Paddington on the 29th August 1925 aged 80years. At least two of her daughters and their families lived nearby and all of her children, except Maurice Walter were still living at that time. Jessie was buried two days later in the Church of England Cemetery, Woronora.


It was the year that the young colony turned 60, the Melbourne Hospital opened in March, chloroform was used for the first time in Australia and it is the generally accepted year that Ludwig Leichhardt, the explorer, died while attempting to cross Australia from Sydney to Perth.

Barbara, the sixth child of Robert and Mary Theresa Alexander was born on the 19th April 1848 in the family's home at Nangutta, Victoria and was baptised into the Roman Catholic Church in the District of Twofold Bay by Reverend Michael Kavanagh on the l2th September 1848. She grew up in the Genoa region and unlike her brothers she probably did not help with the cattle, but more likely helped her mother in the house. Her eldest sister is believed to have been retarded since birth and her younger sister suffered severe asthma and bronchitis all her life. No doubt her mother (who suffered from asthma herself) relied on Barbara to help with the household chores as well as looking after her sisters. James McNee was the third son of Donald McNee and Mary Cameron born on the 3rd June 1848 at Mt Cooper Station, Monaro. In the 1872 Post Office Directory both father and son were listed as living at Black Lake, Bibbenluke with the occupation of shepherds.

Barbara and James married in the district of Bombala on the 26th February 1877 and lived in the Eden district during the late 1870's and early 1880's. This era was one of unrest due to bushrangers, especially the Kelly Gang who were making a name for themselves in the border regions of New South Wales and Victoria. James Clarence, the first born of James and Barbara was born in 1880 in the district of Eden the same year that Ned Kelly was hung in the Melboume Gaol and Andrew George Scott alias Captain Moonlight went to the scaffold. This was also the year that the University of Melboume finally admitted female students, although not to study medicine, the city of Melbourne held its grand exhibition in the well known Exhibition Building in the suburb of Carlton and the telephone (only 4yrs old, patented by Alexander Graham Bell) became a reality to those living in parts of Melboume, Sydney and Brisbane.

During these interesting times, the McNee family continued living in the Eden district where their second child, a daughter, Barbara Mary Ellen was bom in 1882.

It is believed that Barbara (the mother) had a hard time with the birth of her daughter, suffering complications and she died one week later on the l8th July 1882.

Barbara is buried alongside her father, Robert and sister, Mary in the Eden Church of England Cemetery.

The inscription on her headstone reads...

In Loving Memory
Barbara McNee
Who died 18th July 1882
Aged 34yrs

A few short years of evil past
We reach the happy shore
Where death divided friends at last
ShaII meet and part no more.

Barbara left behind her husband, two year old son and one week old daughter. Instead of staying in the Eden district to be supported by the Alexanders, it seems James (the father) took the children to live in the Bombala district to be near his family after the death of his wife and little is known of their lives after that time. We are unsure if he remarried or had more children, although there is a marriage record for a James McNee and Margaret McDonald in the Bombala district in l893 (who had five children), at this stage it is only speculation. James died in 1912 while still living in the Bombala district.


The last child born to Robert and Mary Alexander, a daughter, arrived on 29 April 1851 in the small hamlet of Genoa, where her parents were the first white settlers. Although she was named Mary after her mother, she was known within the family as May. Only months before Mary was born, bushfires ravaged the state of Victoria and February 6 became known as 'Black Thursday'. Australia received its first Governor- General, Sir Charles Fitzroy and later that year gold was discovered at Ballarat, Bendigo, Bunninyong and Mt Alexander in Victoria.

Mary was baptised at St Mary's Roman Catholic Church in Moruya on 23 October 1854, her sponsors were Patrick and Mary Whalen.

Young May spent her youth on the family property at Genoa River; she was not a robust child and suffered all her life from asthma and bronchitis. Being the baby of the family, and sickly, she was most likely cosseted and encouraged not to over exert herself, possibly confining her activities to helping her mother around the home.

May suffered a severe attack of asthma and bronchitis on 27 August 1872 that resulted in her death; she was just twenty-one years and four months of age. It is noted on her death certificate that she had suffered from the condition since infancy. William Charles Wentworth also died in 1872 and only days before Mary's death, Mt Vesuvius erupted.

Other notable events were the discovery of the worlds largest recorded single mass of gold, the 'Beyers & Holtermann Specimen' found at Hill
End in NSW, it weighed 215kg. Also that year, Levi Strauss patented a garment that changed the fashion world forever denim jeans.

Sacred to the memory of
Mary Alexander
Born at Genoa Victoria
Departed this life at Eden New South Wales
on the 27 Day of August 1872
Aged 2I years 4 months

Shes dead alas forever gone
O God our souls prepare
That we may enter heavens -----gate
In hopes to meet her there.

Mary was buried on 28 August 1872 in the family plot at Eden Cemetery alongside her father. The headstone inscription reads :