The first burial in the Victor Harbor Cemetery was that of six-year-old Alice Gangell of Hindmarsh Valley on 25 May, 1860. Her parents were John and Minnie Gangell of Hindmarsh Valley.
John was born in Tasmania in 1819. His father was the third white child born in Tasmania, and from the first marriage in Tasmania, of Corporal Gangell of the Royal Marines and Mrs Ann Skelton. They were wed on 18 March 1804 at Lieutenant-Governor Collins’ residence. John left Tasmania on 18 March 1845 aboard the brig Henry out of Launceston.
Later, the family moved from Encounter Bay. John and Mina’s youngest child, Samuel was born in 1872 at North Gumeracha. Around 1879 John Gangell, labourer, of Chain of Ponds, was before the Insolvency Courts. By then John’s sights may have already been set even further north. According to his accountant at the insolvency final hearing, he ‘went to the North in June, 1876, with a team of bullocks, value £100’.
After that it seems that the family moved north to the Oladdie Plains area, between Carrieton and Orroroo, about 250 km northeast of Adelaide.
John died at Cobham Lake, near Milparinka, in South Australia’s northeast corner country, on 5 February 1883, in his 64th year, leaving a wife and ten children to mourn their loss. (That is, all offspring except Alice.)
Presumably, Mina and at least some of the sons, lived on at the Oladdie property. Wilhelmina (Mona) died on ’15 August 1895 at Johnsburgh (sic) the relict of the late John Gangell, of Carrieton, aged 69 years, leaving seven sons and three daughters to mourn their loss.…A colonist of 58 years.’
In 2008 the descendants of John and Wilhelmine erected a monument to their parents at Johnburg Cemetery, east of Carrieton, northeast of Orroroo.
Not all cemetery memorials have associated burials. At the very edge of the cemetery, we have two memorials. The people whose names appear on these stones are not buried in the Victor Harbor cemetery, but the very existence of these memorials speaks for the high regard in which they were held in the community.
The first residents of the Encounter Bay area were the Ramindjeri people. There was plenty of food and water so the Ramindjeri did not need to move about. Instead they made permanent settlements around the Encounter Bay coast. By all accounts, they were an industrious and happy people.
Ephraim Tripp (sometimes spelt Ephriam) was a member of one of these ancient families. He was born around 1866. Unlike many of those who had been forcibly moved, the Tripp family moved back to their homelands and lived in a wooden house supplied by the government, and located in what is now Kent Reserve, by the mouth of the Inman River. Both Ephraim and his brother Walter Mansell Tripp excelled at football and cricket. Ephraim played until he was well into his 40s. He was also very musical and according to oral history “played the organ beautifully”.
Ephraim Tripp was also an excellent swimmer and would dive for crayfish, holding his breath for an exceptionally long period of time. On one occasion he rescued another Ramindjeri man, Wagner from drowning. Fittingly, their memorials are here side by side.
Charlotte McLean, Ephraim Tripp’s mother is also buried close by. She was a very well regarded local citizen and one of the last Ramindjeri who had known life before Europeans arrived, to live in the area. Her first husband, who had assumed the name Tripp, would signal the whalers from his elevated camp at Port Elliot when one of the great sea creatures was spotted. He was also the first indigenous man to be buried in the Victor Harbor Cemetery, but the position of his grave is unknown.
Ephraim Tripp married Mary Ann Smith and they had five children together. He became a member of the Bahá’i faith and travelled to Sydney to witness the opening of the first Bahá’i temple in Australia. He died in 1944, at about age 77, and was buried in the West Terrace Cemetery. It wasn’t until 1951 that the Encounter Bay community and Council raised the funds to pay for this memorial, which was thoughtfully placed here beside the memorial for Wagner, his contemporary and friend.
John Wagner, another Ramindjeri man, was born around 1833. He was well known around Victor Harbor in the latter half of the 19th century. Wag, as he was locally known, was the local bellman for Victor Harbor. Whenever there was any form of entertainment in the Institute Hall, Wag could be seen wearing his white waistcoat, long-tail coat with a flower in the buttonhole, and distinctive top hat, promenading the streets, ringing his bell and encouraging all to attend the entertainment.
Like Ephraim Tripp, John Wagner had been a great diver, even into his early 60s. While diving for crayfish at Kings Head one of the creatures attached itself to Wag’s hand. In an effort to free himself from the painful grip, Wagner hit his head on a rock and became unconscious. Ephraim Tripp, seeing the older man floating in the water, pulled him to shore and saved his life.
It’s unknown if the friendly and jovial Wagner had any children. He was a married man however, and was known for the tender care he gave his wife who was deaf and unable to speak.
Although he died of heart failure in 1897 at the age of about 64, John Wagner’s memorial wasn’t erected until 1948, using funds raised by the Encounter Bay community and Council.
Rows 1 and 2 – top
Thomas Parsons, James Stranger and Henry Crispin
Sadly, not all graves are marked with a memorial. At the end of Row 1 a monumental tree is growing on the site where Thomas Parsons, aged 33, was buried. Just five plots down is his workmate James Henry Stranger, a boy really, aged just 14. Directly behind Thomas Parsons in Row 2 is another of his workmates, Henry Crispin, aged 61. None of these graves is marked except by the tree but all three were buried on 21 July 1880 after being killed in a dynamite explosion at the Granite Island breakwater works. Local papers at the time reported the shed they were working in had been ‘blown to atoms’.
Henry Crispin and young James Henry Stranger had both come from Victoria to work on the Granite Island breakwater project. Both James Henry Stranger’s father, also named James Henry Stranger, and his uncle Thomas Stranger, were employed as foremen at the works. At the inquest, Thomas Stranger stated that young James often helped Parsons with preparing the explosive charges and was very used to the work. The Stranger families remained in the area until the breakwater works were completed.
Henry Crispin, a qualified engineer, was described as a ‘very cautious man’. His children were grown, but his second wife Sarah was on her way from Victoria to join him. Unfortunately, the accident happened while she was still on the journey. Sarah didn’t stay in the town that had claimed her husband’s life but moved back to Melbourne where her stepchildren were living.
Thomas Parsons was apparently a local man, a widower, who was to be married the week after the explosion. It’s thought he left a young daughter, but it’s not known what happened to her. There were a number of Parsons families in the area at the time and no conclusive information has so far been found about this man’s identity or family.
The inquest held at the Crown Hotel, Victor Harbor, was reported in the local papers 21 August 1880. The jury returned a verdict of ‘accidental death through an explosion of dynamite while preparing a shot.’
The funeral took place at 4 o’clock on the afternoon of 21 August 1880. James Stranger’s body was carried through the township by some of the men and a very large concourse of people made their way to the Port Victor Cemetery where the three men were buried.
Edward Henry George Henderson was born in Maida Vale, London in 1812, the eldest of ten children of Edward George Henderson and Mary Arkell. His parents certainly defied the notion that our ancestors didn’t move around a lot. Edward senior was a nurseryman born in Norfolk. Mary Arkell was born in Worcestershire. They married in Gloucestershire and had their children in Middlesex.
Edward II continued his parents’ wandering ways and went to sea. By 1838 he’d been appointed Second Officer on the ship Canton. On what was to be Edward’s final voyage, the ship left England in February 1838 and arrived in South Australia on 2 May, carrying over a hundred emigrants from England.
During the voyage the Canton’s commander, Captain Mordaunt, ordered Edward to flog a sailor. Edward refused and as a result, was himself bound and ordered to be flogged. The story continues that being a popular officer, the crew refused to flog him and instead mutinied. Edward assumed command and brought the ship into port.
No evidence has so far been found to substantiate this story. In fact, a letter written in May 1838 to Captain Mordaunt from many of the Canton’s passengers, and published in the South Australian Gazette, refutes it. There is no mention of a mutiny or that anyone other than Captain Mordaunt was in command of the Canton at all times.
This event could have ended in Edward being court martialled, but he did cause a different sort of ripple. Just six weeks after their arrival he married another Canton passenger, Sarah Georgianna Watson in June 1838. She was aged just 14. Sarah was born in 1824 in Calcutta, India, several months after the death of her father, an Irish soldier. She came to South Australia in 1838 aboard the Canton with her widowed mother, a brother and a sister.
Following their marriage, Edward and Sarah settled in Adelaide. Edward became well known as a teamster between Adelaide and Burra. However, their life was severely disrupted after a terrible accident when Edward was thrown from his horse and received such serious injuries that he became partially paralysed. He eventually recovered some movement but decided to give up the northern business and became a farmer in the Yankalilla district. He later moved to Waitpinga, and finally in the 1870s to Victor Harbor.
Edward and Sarah had eight children in Adelaide between 1840 and 1855, and two more children were born after their move to Encounter Bay in about 1856. The family regularly worshipped in the newly-built (1870) St Augustine’s Church of England. Their eldest son was the first to be married in the church. Edward and Sarah remained in the area until their deaths.
Edward died of a stroke in February 1899, aged 86 years. He had been fortunate to receive a naval pension in his latter years. Sarah died in 1907, aged 83 years.
Matthew Jagger married Mary Senior on 8 March 1826 in Yorkshire and they had six children, two girls and four boys. The daughters, Amelia aged 10 and baby Ellen only five months old, both died before their parents emigrated. Holmfirth in the West Riding of Yorkshire was the birthplace of Matthew Jagger Hirst, known as Jagger. He was born there on 14 February 1803, three months before his mother Susannah married John Jagger. He was baptised with his mother’s maiden name.
It’s believed that Matthew had been recommended as a farmer, shepherd and labourer to surgeon Matthew Moorhouse who in turn put his name forward as a suitable person to join the party of emigrants. Matthew and Mary, and their sons John, William, Robert and Jim, were part of the group of settlers organised by the Reverend Newland who left Liverpool on the Sir Charles Forbes in January 1839 bound for South Australia. These became the first permanent white settlers in Encounter Bay. Moorhouse himself later became a pastoralist, politician, and Protector of Aborigines in South Australia.
The ship dropped anchor at Holdfast Bay on 7 June 1839 and Matthew Jagger and four others set out on foot to Encounter Bay driving the stock they had brought with them. This was too gruelling a journey for Mary and the boys, so they set sail on the ship Lord Hobart, and arrived in the lee of Granite Island. They landed on the spit of land then known as Police Point, near the beginning of what is now the Causeway, in early July 1839.
Until then, the Ramindjeri tribe were the only permanent residents in the area. However, two whaling stations had been established and a few white men lived there for just a few months of each year.
With the decision to settle at Encounter Bay, the Jagger family’s long and continuing association with the district began. In 1840, within a year of their arrival, their oldest son John, aged nine, died, and was the first recorded burial at Tabernacle Grounds where the Reverend Ridgway William Newland had established his church and Mrs Newland taught school.
By 1842 Matthew had planted two acres of wheat and owned 16 cattle which he grazed on Crown land. By 1847 he had built a permanent home for his family.
In March 1852 Mary died and was buried in the grounds of the Tabernacle.
Matthew returned to Yorkshire in 1854 and recruited more settlers for Encounter Bay. Among these was the Battye family, another very well known name in this area. While in Yorkshire he met Jane Depledge and they married in 18 January 1855. Jane already had two sons; William and James. Matthew, Jane and the boys accompanied the new settlers back to Melbourne on the Mermaid.
In Melbourne they boarded the steamer Havilah to take them on to South Australia. They encountered a terrific gale on the journey which forced them ashore. They headed for Encounter Bay on foot and were met at Hindmarsh Valley by members of Matthew’s family driving a bullock wagon.
Matthew died in April 1876 aged 74 and in his will left 29 sections of land in Encounter Bay, Waitpinga, Inman Valley and beyond, about 3,000 acres in total, quite an achievement in 40 years for a man who began his working life as a humble shepherd.
Jane died in 1891 aged 77 and is buried here too. Also buried here is Amelia Jagger. She was Matthew’s granddaughter, the eldest child of his son Robert and wife Martha nee Shannon.
Harry and David Sheridan
Brothers Harry and David Sheridan were dairy farmers and graziers from the Hindmarsh Tiers.
On Saturday 6 July 1957 the clothes of 31-year-old, Owen Jack McDouglas Copley, of Camden Park, were found near Waitpinga beach. It was believed that he had been washed off the rocks or drowned while swimming, or had committed suicide. Francis James (Jim) Sheridan, aged 18, heard this news on the Sunday in Victor Harbor, and raced home to tell his parents Harry and Ina Sheridan. Harry, aged 42, owned a Tiger Moth aeroplane and felt he could assist in the search for Mr Copley. For five days, Harry and Jim, flew the Tiger Moth over the sea between Victor Harbor and Waitpinga in unsuccessful attempts to find the missing man.
Thinking that the body may have washed ashore with the full-moon tide on Friday night, Harry set out again early on Saturday morning for another search, this time with his brother David John Sheridan, aged 37. The plane had enough fuel for three hours’ flying. When the party hadn’t returned in due course, a search was started for the missing aeroplane.
A married couple, and a nursing sister from the local hospital, both reported that they had heard a loud explosion near the Bluff at Victor Harbor shortly after 10 am, and it was thought that the plane might have disintegrated and crashed into the sea between Encounter Bay and The Bluff. Bands of volunteers worked throughout Saturday night, searching thick scrub, cliffs and beaches for any sign of the Tiger Moth. Two cutters, using powerful spotlights, were at sea until after daybreak. Over the next couple of days, hundreds of local people participated in the search, including locals, bushmen, police, and members of the armed services including the RAAF.
At about 10 am on Monday 15 July, Lionel Thomas Puckridge, a local fisherman in a cutter, sighted the wreckage of the aircraft at the base of cliffs about one mile on the Victor Harbour side of Newland Head. News of the discovery of the wreckage was sent to the hundreds of searchers by radio from an emergency station established at Victor Harbor, and brought to an end one of the biggest land, air, and sea searches in the history of the State. The cliffs made recovery of the bodies extremely difficult and dangerous, and the police rescue squad from Adelaide was called in to assist.
The inquest provided no conclusion as to the cause of the crash, but a logical theory was that the plane was flying low along the base of the rugged cliffs when it was suddenly caught in a down-draught.
This tragedy was the catalyst for the beginnings of the SES (State Emergency Service), a volunteer emergency service organisation which gives immediate assistance during emergencies and disasters, and which had not existed previously.
More than 500 people attended the funeral, and over the next six months, funds were raised in the community to support the two Sheridan widows and their 10 children, five from each family, ranging in ages from one to 18 years.
On the 13 July, 2002 (45 years after the tragedy) a memorial to Harry and David Sheridan was placed in the top carpark on Rosetta Head by the Victor Harbor Council.
You may be wondering if the body of Owen Ronald Jack McDouglas Copley was ever found. In a manner of speaking it was — in Queensland. Unhappy in his marriage, Copley wanted to start a new life with another woman, and had concocted an elaborate plan to disappear. Two months after the death of the Sheridan brothers, Copley was sentenced in Adelaide Criminal Court to 15 months’ gaol, on a charge of creating a public mischief.
Garden opposite Row 17
The second burial in the Victor Harbor Cemetery was that of Mary Gibson on 10 June 1860, aged almost five years. She was the eldest daughter of Joshua Gibson and Helene (nee Dormer) who lived in Bald Hills.
Helene Dormer was born on 9 September 1832, in Lille, France, and sailed to South Australia with her parents, Judith and George Dormer, aboard the Hartley, arriving in 1848. She had just turned 16 years of age on her arrival in Adelaide. After a short stay in Adelaide the family moved to the Encounter Bay area where her father, a younger son of Lord Dormer of Ireland, had purchased land at Bald Hills, between Victor Harbor and Inman Valley.
Joshua Gibson, son of James and Prudence Gibson, lived a few miles away in Inman Valley. Joshua aged 23 years married Helene Dormer on her 18th birthday in 1850. By this time Joshua had purchased his own farm at Waitpinga, some 15 miles west of Inman Valley and here they raised their first six of their 11 children.
Sadly, their eldest daughter, Mary, who was born at Bald Hills on 29 June 1855, died in 1860 of colonial disease (probably typhoid). Helen Dormer Gibson died of croup (bronchitis) on 4 October 1870 aged 4 years.
In 1863 the family moved to Port Victor where Joshua built a two-storey stone dwelling on land where the Hotel Victor now stands, with a butcher shop on the ground floor and a residence upstairs.
Joshua owned grazing near the outlet of the Inman River near the present day hospital. He also leased land on Granite Island and would swim his stock over at low tide with the help of his two older sons, George and Matthew. Gibson Street is named after Joshua.
He died suddenly at Port Victor on 12 October 1874, aged 49 years. The butcher shop was then taken over by the two older boys, George and Matthew. Helene passed away on 14 February 1881 at the same age as her husband, 49 years. The cause of her death was given as alcoholism.
George James Gibson was the first child of Joshua and Helene (nee Dormer) Gibson. He was born in 1851 in Adelaide. In 1878 George married Catherine Mary Davies who was born in 1851 in Swansea, Wales. They had four daughters: Sarah Helene Gibson 1879, Esther Julienne (Etty) 1880, Eva Lillian May (May) 1882 and Annie Catherine Gibson 1884.
Sadly George died suddenly on 4 May 1884 of enteric fever, barely two months after the youngest daughter’s birth.
Catherine was left with four daughters under five years of age. In 1891 she remarried William Joseph Barratt, a farmer of Torrens Vale and they had a son, William Henry (Harry) Barratt whose name is also on this memorial. Catherine was 80 years old when she died in 1931 at Torrens Vale.
Matthew Jagger Gibson born in 1854 in Adelaide, was the second child of Joshua and Helene Gibson, brother to George James. He was named Matthew Jagger after their neighbour Matthew Jagger, an early pioneer to the Encounter Bay district who had been of great help and an adviser in Joshua’s early farming efforts.
Matthew met and married Christina McBeath, daughter of David McBeath, in 1878. Christina was six years older than Matthew. Later in 1878 Matthew and Christina’s first child, Joshua Henry Gibson, was born at Port Victor but sadly he died four days later. No cause was given for his death.
Their second child, Katy Helene Gibson was born in 1880 at Encounter Bay. She was just seven months old when her father was stricken with typhoid fever and died at Middleton in 1880 aged 27 years. Matthew was buried here with his son, Joshua Henry Gibson.
After the death of her husband Christina moved to Strathalbyn with her daughter Katy. Two and half years later, in 1883 Katy also died, aged three years and three months. Christina had lost her entire family in the space of five years.