A home for hints, tips and interesting bits.
The title suggests perhaps a nice bottle of red wine - but unless you get the same kick out of land correspondence files as you do from a nice shiraz, you may be left disappointed.
VPRS 242 - Crown Reserve Correspondence contains records relating to the proclamation and management of Crown reserves. Legislation passed in 1860 (Sale of Crown Lands Act) allowed the government to reserve land for public purposes eg. churches, schools, abattoirs, markets, cricket grounds, racecourses and cemeteries.
This gave the land in question protection in that it could not be sold, leased or used for mining or other purposes. Though, these proclamations were changed over time, with PROV's catalogue entry for this set of records stating 'many of these files are those for reserves whose status has since been revoked by legislation or by Order-in-Council'.
What can be found in these files? The content does vary depending on the site - I have seen some very brief files of only a few pages and some much larger. In general, the files contain correspondence relating to the administration of the reserve, maps or plans of the site and items relating to any changes or revocation of the reserve.
I'll be looking into this series shortly as I've been tasked with researching the history of the recreation reserve in Yackandandah.
The microfiche series VPRS 7312 is required to track down the details of these Crown Reserve files - fortunately, I made a copy of this extensive fiche collection a couple of years ago so the task ahead is made much easier (and if you have your own query about this type of record I can get back to you right away with an answer!).
The fiche shows five different files available for the racecourse and recreation reserve and tells me exactly where to look to find the files.
Among the other listing of Crown Reserve files for the area include:
• Telegraph Office
• Roman Catholic Church
• Manure Depot
• Various Camp Sites
The Point Henry Coffins
The Point Henry Coffins
While reading through some inquest files I came across one of the more unusual tales I've read in a record from PROV. The document detailed the proceedings of an inquest held at the house of Mr George Coveney of Point Henry, just East of Geelong in May of 1853.
On Monday the 2nd of May 1853, William Roberts, a labourer, was out shooting duck at Point Henry. As he walked along the beach he came across two coffins lying on a bed of seaweed at the waters edge - one small, which he believed to be that of a child and the other large. On his way home he mentioned his discovery to local farmer Patrick Mahoney, who accompanied him back to the coffins.
Strangely, neither Roberts nor Mahoney notified the authorities of their discovery - it wasn't until John Lowther, an employee of George Coveneys was taking a walk on the beach the day after that he came across the same scene. Having ascertained there was a corpse in the larger coffin, Lowther left immediately for Geelong to notify the Coroner.
On examination of the coffins at the inquest a few days later it was determined that due to the type of wood used and the construction of the coffins, they were no doubt made on board a ship. The bodies themselves were too decomposed for any cause of death to be determined, believed to have been in the water for at least two months.
Other than being from a ship, no theory is given as to where the coffins may have originated. Did they fall from a ship as it sailed into Port Phillip or Corio Bay? Were they haphazardly buried at sea?
I went looking for answers in the marine births, deaths and marriages index - but just my luck those records only start in May of 1853!
The origin and identities of the occupants of those coffins looks to remain a mystery - but, I wonder if it is possible to find out where they may have been buried?
Municipal Contract Registers
Municipal Contract Registers
Rate records and council minutes make up the majority of municipal records available at PROV, providing some very useful information for tracking down your ancestors, finding where they lived and if they interacted with their local government. Some municipalities have other records at PROV, including financial statements, foot path and private street registers (metropolitan), outward letter books and contract registers. It’s the contract registers I’ve been focusing on this week.
In line with the Local Government Act 1874 (and subsequent legislation), a local council could enter into contracts with individuals for the execution of any municipal works – the details of which would be recorded in a contracts register. The details recorded in these register include:
• contract number
• name of the contract
• description of work and account
• successful tender
• details of payments
• extra, deduction and deposits made
I’ve been through the catalogue and put together a list of municipalities that have contract registers at PROV (North Melbourne) – please note there are also a number of contracts registers for shires in the Ballarat region, but these are kept at the Ballarat Regional Archives Centre.
Blackburn & Mitcham 1927-1985
Frankston and Hastings 1915-1961
Heidelberg 1895-1915 & 1946-1964
Korumburra (Poowong and Jeetho) 1981-1994
South Gippsland 1894-1994