History Mystery Monday: Mysterious Captain Buckley

If you have anything more than a passing interest in Melbourne history you’ve probably heard of a man named William Buckley: an escaped convict who lived for years with the Wurundjeri people in what would become the Port Phillip District before reintegrating into white society once Melbourne was established. That William Buckley is a fascinating fellow – but this post is all about a different William Buckley, a man known as “Captain William Buckley” who moved to the Moonee Moonee Ponds District back in 1840.
If you look into the origins of the names of Buckley Street and Buckley Park you’ll find they both took their names from Captain William Henry Buckley, a prosperous and prominent early resident of the area who earned enough to fund building a mansion in Ascot Vale by working as a government administrator. So far so dull.  But wait… if he was an administrator – Chief Clerk of the Survey Department at the peak of his career – why is he called Captain? And also, can Chief Clerks of go…

Things to do Thursday: Stay at Home Festival

Lots of things are looking quite different this year, and in particular, festivals and events that we’d usually attend in person have had to make a giant leap from the physical world to the virtual.
The folks at Royal Historical Society of Victoria have put together a fun and varied virtual history festival that you can take part in without leaving your home- festivals have never looked like this before!Welcome to the Stay at Home Festival. In the wise words of the Royal Historical Society- Have. Some. Fun.The festival happens all the time, any time, in your own time (for as long as we’re all spending most of our time at home). And there are events and activities for home historians of all ages! Ever wanted to try creative writing with a historical theme? Join the History Writer’s Group and get a new writing task each month. Interested in learning about the experiences of those who went through WWI and WWII? Read through some articles on the subject available through the festival. Thin…

History Mystery Monday: who was Sam Merrifield?

The public library in Moonee Ponds has been known as “Sam Merrifield Library” since the early 1980s, but who was Sam Merrifield?Sam Merrifield, a man dedicated to ideals of fairness, a history fanatic, and a voracious reader, was a very appropriate person to give his name to a public library. Born in 1904 in Moonee Ponds, young Sam struggled with hearing difficulties, but used reading as a way to compensate in his education. 
Sam Merrifield worked as a surveyor early in his career, but eventually – influenced both by his experiences during the Depression and the radical politics of his family – he turned to politics. First elected in 1943, when he won the seat of Essendon for the ALP, Merrifield finally retired from politics in 1970. In politics, he is remembered for his quiet tenacity, always representing “the underdog”.Sam Merrifield is also remembered for his enduring commitment to history, especially local history. In the 1960s Merrifield helped establish the Melbourne branch of th…

Things to do Thursday: Get to know Cole of the Book Arcade

E W Cole is definitely a contender for most colourful historical personality from Moonee Valley. 
Never heard of E W Cole? Perhaps the cover of one of his books might jog your memory? Cole compiled and published a series of Funny Picture Books. The first one launched on Christmas Eve 1879 and they remained incredibly popular for decades. 
Remember this? 
If you remember the Funny Picture Books you’ll probably remember that Cole loved absurd humour. The first of the series has been made available for free online thanks to the Gutenberg Project – so one of your suggested things to do this Thursday is to re/discover Cole’s Funny Picture Book #1.  Be warned though: what was considered funny and family appropriate then is not necessarily still considered funny – or appropriate for anyone – today, but the book is certainly interesting, has a few gems, and even the bits we cringe at now say a lot about the culture of the time and place in which the book was published.
E W Cole, by Henry William,…

History Mystery Monday: Where did Rosemary go?

If you’ve ever visited Victory Park in Ascot Vale, you've probably noticed a bronze statue of a smartly dressed lady on the corner of Epsom and Langs roads, keeping watch over the intersection. She’s mostly known as Rosemary, or Rosie to her friends.Of the Australian soldiers who returned from the First World War, tens of thousands had suffered physical or psychological injuries which required much care and support. Once they were back home, this role mostly rested with the supportive the women in their lives- mothers, wives and sisters. The Rosemary monument is a life-sized representation of such a lady, dressed in the fashion of 1918. She was erected in honour of these caring women in August of 2015, commissioned by the wonderful organisation Women Caring for Veterans of War after 18 months of fundraising.Devastatingly, just 6 months later, the statue was stolen by thieves- leaving behind only Rosemary’s bronze shoes. Where did Rosemary go?Moonee Valley Council stepped in to rep…

Things to do Thursday: Listen to an interview with a Melbournian WWII Sub Lieutenant

James “Jim” Paizis was born in 1924, the son of Greek immigrants, in West Melbourne, and grew up in Carlton, learning English when he began at school. As soon as he turned eighteen, he enlisted in the Royal Australian Navy, serving on corvettes. Before long he was found to have “OLQ”: officer-like qualities. He became a Sub Lieutenant.
As part of the commemorative website created in honour of the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War in the Pacific, 95 year old Jim Paizis has been interviewed about his memories of WWII and the much shorter, smaller Melbourne that he grew up in. It’s a fascinating interview:

History Mystery Monday: Who drove the first buses from Essendon Station?

From as early as 1912, buses have been an efficient way for Melburnians to get from A to B. Who were the Moonee Valley locals who drove the first buses from Essendon Station?From what we can tell, it was very much a local family affair! Which perfectly fits August's theme of National Family History Month.The story begins in 1915 with a marriage between a young man from Moonee Ponds and a young lady from Essendon. Sergeant Herbert Vivian Memery, of the 29th Infantry Battalion, married Mona Grant on the 20th of November, 1915. Shortly afterwards, Sergeant Memery embarked for war in February 1916, along with his brothers John and Samuel, and brother-in-law Edward. Mona was pregnant with their first child, and was living with her father James Grant at his property on Mount Alexander Road while her husband was deployed. Herbert and Mona’s first daughter was born there in 1916. Sadly, Sergeant Memery was injured in battle, but returned home to Mona in 1917. They welcomed a second daught…