Earthquake around Encounter Bay

Were any of your relatives living in the district in 1897?

From Trove Newspapers

comes the following…..

Chronicle (Adelaide, SA : 1895 – 1954) Saturday 15 May 1897


A correspondent writing from Victor Harbor says :— “On Monday afternoon, at about half past 2 o’clock, the inhabitants of Port Victor were startled by a rumbling report and an accompanying ”dance” of the earth and buildings. At first the disturbance resembled the noise caused by a lot of empty tanks being carted over a rough road, and everyone rushed out to see the supposed huge load that was making such a row and causing the buildings to shake. All along the streets people hurried out, and the scene was not devoid of amusement. The sound developed wonderfully, and so did the tremor. I am staying with my wife at Mr. Humberstone’s magnificent Grosvenor Hotel, a new structure of 60 rooms, and we were just preparing to leave for a walk along the jetty when the noise attracted our attention. Curious to know the cause of it I walked out on to the balcony, and by this time the whole building was literally swinging to and fro perceptibly. My wife immediately came out, as things were getting a bit exciting ; what with the loud rattling of doors and windows, the report, and the rolling of the massive edifice. No sooner had she left the room than the plaster on the walls of the bedroom and adjoining sitting-room fell with a crash on to the floor. We were terrified for the few moments, and expected the building to collapse, but there is not a crack in the walls from end to end. Fifteen of the rooms upstairs were damaged by portions of the wall plaster giving way and the repairs will involve considerable expenditure; otherwise the hotel is not at all damaged. There is a shop in course of erection near the hotel, and the mason who was at work on the scaffolding says the whole building shook so much that he felt certain it would be wrecked, and so he slid down the ladder and moved to the roadway like a sheet of greased lightning. Several other new buildings were slightly damaged. Only those who were here can appreciate the severity of the shock. One visitor, who did not realise the cause of it at the time, says he was sitting on the rocks at the sea side of Granite Island; and they shook so much that he rushed off in a state of fright, thinking the water or something else had induced the boulders to slide. Later on, when asked if he noticed the shock, he realised that he certainly had done so. I hope to have timely warning when the next tremor is to visit Victor Harbor.”

2015 Obituaries project

Thanks to the hard work and long hours of effort by a number of members of our group, History Month in May saw the publication of the 2015 Obituaries Project, which covered more areas in the Encounter Bay district. An Index of surnames can be found under the Obituaries Project tab on this website.

Copies of the book Obituaries and Reports of Deaths Encounter Bay Inman Valley Waitpinga Port Victor Hindmarsh Valley are now in the Victor Harbor Library, and in a database on the library computers. Copies may also be purchased from the Encounter Bay Family History Group for a very reasonable cost.

The display put up in the library during History Month attracted considerable interest.


History month 2015 - Joan & Colleen cropped sm.jpg

Project underway for 2015

We can report that our Obituaries & Reports of Death Project for History Week, 2015 is well under way. Our plan is to have a collection of as many as possible obituaries and reports of death containing the search terms as follows…..

  • Port Victor
  • Encounter Bay
  • Waitpinga
  • Hindmarsh Valley
  • Inman Valley

When complete, they will be added to the computers in the Victor Harbor Library, and also published in booklets that will be on the shelves of the library.

Missing obituaries

We’re pleased to say we have been contacted by a reader and notified of an obituary for Victor “Harbour” that has been missed in our collection. The obituary has been noted and filed and will eventually be added to our collection.  In the meantime, if any readers come across any other obituaries for Victor Harbor/Victor Harbour that we have missed, we’d be very pleased to hear from you.

History Month project 2014

The Obituaries Database information has been gathered by members of the Encounter Bay Family History Group from the Trove Digitised Newspaper Collection (National Library of Australia). This year we have tackled collecting the obituaries for Victor Harbor/Victor Harbour (using both spellings). We do not claim to have found every obituary — errors and omissions are inevitable. This is an ongoing project and we plan to cover other places in our region in due course.

Below is the Index of surnames contained in our database, with the number of individuals in brackets. We are prepared to do lookups, and would appreciate a small donation to our group in return. Use the Contact Us link at the top right of this page.


Recollections of a veteran

The following newspaper article has been found by one of our members as a result of her research into the BALD family in South Australia, of which she is a descendant.

(By a special Reporter: “The Observer”. Saturday July 14 1917)

What Mr George Bald has not seen or heard of life on the ocean is hardly worth recording. He has seen it in all its pleasantness; he has seen it with all its excitement and danger; but withal he has been enabled, despite numerable vicissitudes and privations, to view portions of the world and participate in events which fall to the lot of few men. Mr Bald, who resides with his wife and daughter on Glen Osmond Rd, Eastwood, was born at Dunfermline. Fifeshire, Scotland, on December 27th 1835, has had an eventful career. He was a weaver by occupation, but that life did not appeal to him, and at an early age he ran off to sea. After many years spent before the mast, he permanently settled in Adelaide in 1860, and for the past 35 years has lived at Parkside.

Crimean memories

 After serving on a collier trading between Newcastle and London, Mr Bald joined the brig “Her Majesty”, of Whitby, and at this period the Crimean War broke out. The vessel was commissioned by the French Government to transfer a load of coal from Cardiff to Constantinople, but she went ashore in the Bristol Channel. This ship was the first vessel to tie up at the new dock at Cardiff in 1855. Discharging her coal, “Her Majesty” of Whitby, was chartered to convey troops and material for the fighting forces at the Crimea, and duly landed them at Commish Bay, about seven miles from Sevastopol. Mr Bald was in that port when the news of Lord Raglan’s death came through. There were scores of troopships lying at Commish Bay, and the injured were brought from Sevastopol, and thence transferred to Constantinople. Florence Nightingale had gained great prominence at this stage, and she had organised a hospital on the opposite side of the Bosporus, where the wounded received every attention. Mr Bald recalled a terrific gale in 1855 at Balaklava, in the Black Sea, when the “Granite City”, of Aberdeen, was the only vessel to successfully ride it out.

Marooned on an island

Another vessel in which Mr Bald sailed was the Ship “Port Jackson” of Port Jackson, belonging to Bobby Towns – ‘as pretty a vessel as ever left port’. While making a narrow passage at the Philippines, the little vessel struck a submerged rock and went down almost instantly and the crew of 20 had barely time to escape. They reached a small island in the ship’s boats, and had to remain there three months until they were taken back to Shanghai by a French ship. After a few days on shore the skipper proposed that he should make for Manila, ostensibly for assistance, and a special deck was constructed on what was known as the “long boat”. The second mate, the carpenter, and two coolies accompanied him, but no further tidings were heard of the party. As the Chinese pirates were prevalent just then, Mr Bald is of opinion that they were massacred. While trading between the Coorymurry Islands, in the Arabian Sea, for the Arabian Government on the “Caractacus”, of Liverpool, the veteran, with other Europeans, assisted to quell a mutiny among the coolies from their ships, when a conspiracy of massacre was frustrated. Mr Bald arrived in Australia in the “Granite City”, and his last connection with the sea was on a trading vessel named the “Uncle Tom”, plying between Sydney and Queensland.

An earlier account concerning George BALD was recorded in the South Australian Register on October 24 1855 and can be read here……



Believe everything you read on a census?

Not necessarily, as the example brought to our February 2013 meeting by one of our members proved.

One resident of the UK home as filled in by the head of the household read…..

Name and surname: Tobit Crackit  age 8

Relation to head of family: Tom Cat

Marriage Particulars: Married with 16 children born alive; 16 children still living

Occupation: Mouse catcher, soloist and thief

Birthplace: Birkenhead

Nationality: Cheshire cat

Infirmity: Speechless

The head of the family had also added a postscript to his form.

It reads “ All the above mentioned have breakfast, tea and supper, eat standard bread, drink sterilised milk, sleep with windows open, and wash our sheets once a week. Etc.

God save the King.

R.S.V.P.   Rest in Peace.”

I wonder if Tobit Crackit’s information made the statistics!


Family history area, Victor Harbor library

Monday 3 September 2012 saw the official opening of the revamped History Area of the Victor Harbor Library in a very informal ceremony with a gathering of staff and members of the Friends of the Victor Harbor Library and the Encounter Bay Family History Group.

History section opening 3

Scones and jam and cream were enjoyed after which Head Librarian, Ben Footner, spoke briefly and thanked all those involved in contributing to the provision of the new glass display cabinets and display boards and the current displays.

scones and jam and cream History section opening 2

Plaques are displayed acknowledging the contributions, with that of EBFHG being in memory of John Chance, Chairman of the group who was responsible for organising the group’s move to the library and subsequent involvement in volunteer sessions.

Plaque local history

Plaque John Chance
Ben made particular mention of the fantastic carved timber and metal work wall sculpture created by Will Hendrik for a local bank, and donated to the library when the bank renovated.  It has given the History area such a wonderful and appropriate atmosphere.

Library sculpture

The dangers of online trees

I’ve been researching my children’s family tree, in particular their great grandmother’s line, the Tuckwells. I already knew that their great grandmother’s parents were Edward Thomas Tuckwell and Martha Matilda Joy, but I was ready to take the research further back.

From Edward Thomas Tuckwell and Martha Matilda Joy’s marriage certificate, I knew that Edward’s father was also Edward Tuckwell.  From the death index I knew that Edward Thomas, or Thomas as he was usually known, died in 1924, and his age was given as 67. That meant a birth of around 1857.

Birth Indexes revealed two Edward Tuckwells born in South Australia between 1851 and 1860, and just to make life difficult, both had their father given as Edward! They had different mothers, the child born in 1851 having Ann Lee for his mother, and the child born in 1860 having Eliza Hemmings as mother. So which child was the Edward Tuckwell that I wanted?

I decided to see if there were any online trees for Edward Tuckwell. Whilst I don’t put a lot of trust in online trees for very good reasons, they can sometimes point you in the right direction. However, this proved to be another case that demonstrated clearly the need to always go back to original sources of information.  On one subscription website, I found 9 trees for Edward Tuckwell and Martha Joy. One tree had Edward Thomas Tuckwell who married Martha Joy as the child born in 1851 with mother Ann Lee, while 8 trees had the 1860 birth with mother as Eliza Hemmings.

Things certainly needed checking out

Trove newspapers revealed two very interesting but very different stories about the two Tuckwell families, one of which ended up in Palmerston in the Northern Territory and the other at McLaren Vale in South Australia. Unfortunately nothing proved which Edward was my children’s great great grandfather. It was time to venture down to the Alexandrina Library, where the original books of Birth, Marriage and Death Registers for the Encounter Bay district are held. A check of the death certificate of (Edward) Thomas Tuckwell gave me the information I needed. A note on the registration told that Thomas was born at Mclaren Vale!

So one tree on the subscription site seems to be correct…..the other 8  wrong. Obviously 7 copies were made of the incorrect tree!

A further check of the subscription site led to the discovery of a tree for the Tuckwell family who went to Palmerston. That revealed that their son Edward born 1860 married a Mary Jane Wright in 1885 in NSW and died in 1937 in NSW.  I’ll order a transcription of the marriage certificate to further confirm the correctness of this information.

So…..don’t totally ignore family trees online…..but do take them with extreme caution.


Post Script….. The marriage certificate for Edward Tuckwell and Mary Jane Wright absolutely confirmed that I’d sorted the two Edward Tuckwells correctly.


An amusing mistranscription

Recently, while researching articles from old SA newspapers in Trove, I found a piece about a one-eyed shearer who had been found drowned in a swamp near Penola in 1866. The jury’s verdict at the end of the inquest was “Found Prawned”.