52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks

52 Ancestors (2015) #5 Alexander Alexander Harley

This week’s theme in the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge is “Ploughing through”.  I’ve decided to use my great grandfather Alexander Alexander Harley.

Alexander Alexander Harley was born 22 October 1866 in Rochford, Victoria, Australia.  He was given the double name Alexander Alexander to distinguish him from his cousin, who was also named Alexander.

The Victorian Post Office Directories show that Alexander’s father Robert was a farmer at Hesket and Rochford from 1868 to 1875.  By 1880, Robert had sold the farm, and the family had moved to Melbourne, where Robert worked as a produce merchant in Emerald Hill (South Melbourne).   Around 1880, when he was about 14 years old, Alexander was apprenticed to the trade of French Polisher.  He was still practising this trade when he married Henrietta Louisa Russell, on 25 July 1888 at the Methodist Church in Cecil Street, South Melbourne.

Alexander and Henrietta’s first two children were born while they were still living in South Melbourne.  In the 1890s, Alexander left his occupation of French polisher, and returned to farming.  He was advised to apply for farming land which was being opened up to selectors in the Kilcunda district of West Gippsland.   Alex and Henrietta had moved by 1896, when their son Cecil was born at San Remo.

In order to become the owner of the land selected, Alexander had to comply with certain requirements laid down by law under the Selection Acts.  He had to reside on the land, erect a house and farm buildings, clear the land of scrub and trees, fence it into paddocks, plough the soil and sow pastures and, in due course, pay off the land to the government in instalments.  The amount he had to pay was £1 per acre.  He possibly selected a “half-section” of 320 acres.  All the above was real pioneering hard work and it would be some years before the new farm would be able to pay its way.

Alex and Henrietta “ploughed through” the difficulties, and the farm remained within the family after their deaths.  The property was left in equal shares to their surviving children, and their son Cecil and daughter Dorothy bought out the shares of the other siblings.

Alex died 7 September 1939 at Woolamai.  At the time of his death he was a dairy farmer. He died from coronary heart disease and coronary occlusion.  He was buried at the Kilcunda Cemetery on 8 September 1939.

This decision to settle in the Kilcunda district provided me with my fondest memories.  As a child my father was taken by his parents, who had moved to Melbourne after the First World War, to visit the farm during the holidays, and dad had such good memories of these visits that he took us there during our holidays, particularly the Christmas (summer) holidays.  As our brood were too large for the farmhouse (there were 7 of us girls), we stayed at the Kilcunda Caravan Park, and often visited Dorothy and Cecil on the farm. As my grandparents had all died before I was born, Dorothy (my great aunt) became a surrogate grandmother to me, until her death in 1976.  After Cecil’s death in 1977, the farm continued to remain in the family, as a grandson, William Alexander Gordon Harley, bought it.

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