Recently, I posted on Facebook a photograph of my great-grandparents’ house on their property Mons, Rannes, in Central Queensland. To my surprise, the photograph generated a huge response, especially when I posted it on Vintage Queensland and Central Queensland Old Pictures and Yarns Facebook pages.
As a result, I decided to tell this story of the grand old house and its owners, Thomas Bloomfield Beaumont and Elizabeth Mary Ann (Ellen) Beaumont (nee Tancred).
If you would like to provide feedback on any aspect of this story, and contribute to the Beaumont family history, you are welcome to add your comments on my website at the end of this story or on my Facebook page: Love in a little black diary.
Thomas Bloomfield Beaumont was born on 20 January 1853, near the Cape of Good Hope, on the ship “Bussorah Merchant” en route from England to Australia. His parents named him “Bloomfield” after the ship’s Superintendent Surgeon, D. Bloomfield. [References (1) and (2)]
Thomas was the first child of Alfred Beaumont (28) and his wife Emma Marion (nee Collins, 21). Along with Susannah, Alfred’s 2-year-old daughter from a previous marriage, they were bound for Australia as “assisted immigrants”. Alfred and Emma came from Colchester, which is 83 kilometres (about 50 miles) north-east of London, in Essex. According to the ship’s register, Alfred’s calling was “shepherd”. [References (1) and (2)]
The family arrived in Sydney on 19 March 1853, 4 months after leaving England. Thomas spent the first 6 years of his life in Sydney, where his parents had two more children, William and Emma. Towards the end of 1858, Alfred joined up to 15,000 prospectors who flocked to Canoona, at Port Curtis near Rockhampton, in search of gold. Before the rush, Rockhampton consisted of just two buildings and a Native Police Camp. It was “hundreds of miles” north of Sydney, in a remote and practically unknown part of the (then) New South Wales colony. Emma and the children joined Alfred in Rockhampton in 1859. [References (3) and (4)]
The Canoona Rush was a furphy, so Thomas’ father Alfred sought employment in the local area. In 1860, Alfred and Emma and family relocated to Calliungal Station, about 50 miles south-west of Rockhampton. Calliungal was a huge pastoral lease, extending from Mount Morgan in the north to Rannes in the south, east to the Don River and west almost to Westwood. Alfred was employed first as a general station hand, later as a carrier. Here, in 1861, Emma gave birth to twin daughters, Caroline and Sarah, possibly the first twins to be born to any of the new settlers in the district.
In 1863, Thomas’ family settled in Dundee, where Alfred purchased a couple of blocks of land. Dundee (later called Deeford) was located on the banks of the Dee River, 5 kilometres (3 miles) south-east of Wowan, which is about 80 kilometres (50 miles) south-west of Rockhampton. [Reference (5)]
Thomas Bloomfield Beaumont had nine siblings. Alfred and Emma had 10 children in all, five of whom were born in the family home at Dundee. A daughter, Ellen, was born in 1864. Two more sons, Alfred and Alexander John, were born in 1866 and 1868 respectively and the couple had two more daughters: Anna Maria (1871) and Lily Edith (1874).
Like his father Alfred and brothers Alfred Junior and Alexander, Thomas was a teamster. He started working with a team of bullocks out of Gladstone at the age of 9. His working life was spent with teams (mainly horses) and he mustered in the Mount Morgan area before gold was discovered there. In 1875, Thomas was head stockman at Calliungal Station.
On 9 November 1878, Thomas Bloomfield Beaumont married Elizabeth Mary Ann (Ellen) Tancred.
Thomas was 25, Elizabeth 19. Both came from Dundee. Prior to their marriage Elizabeth resided with her father, John Deas Tancred, the schoolteacher at Dundee.
Thomas and Elizabeth (“Liz”) had a long and fruitful marriage. On 9 November 1938, they celebrated their diamond (60th) wedding anniversary. Their marriage produced 10 children, six sons and four daughters. At the time of their their 60th wedding anniversary, they had 18 grandchildren and one great-grandchild. Elizabeth died in 1940, aged 81, and Thomas four years later in 1944, aged 91. In all Thomas and Elizabeth had 61 years of marriage. [Reference (6)]
- Emma Quinn Beaumont, born 30 September 1879, Dundee.
- Charles Frederick Thomas Beaumont, born 1 April 1881, Dundee.
- Thomas (“Tommy”) Beaumont, born 18 November 1882, Dundee.
- Donald William Beaumont, born 17 November 1884, Dundee.
- Elizabeth Ellen (“Bessie”) Beaumont, born 3 April 1887, Dundee.
- James John Beaumont, born 4 February 1890, Rockhampton.
- Arthur Alfred Bloomfield Alexander (“Alec”) Beaumont, born 8 June 1892, Westwood.
- Hannah Jane Beaumont, born 28 October 1894, Westwood.
- Herbert Walter (“Bert”) Beaumont, born 1897, place not known.
- Beatrice Maude Caroline (“Beattie”) Beaumont, born 31 October 1900, Mount Morgan.
• • • • •
Over the years, along with their ever-expanding family, Thomas and Elizabeth dwelt in several locations in Central Queensland.
They resided first in Dundee, then Westwood, Barcaldine, Greenmount (Westwood), Mons (Rannes) and, finally, Yeppoon. Clearly, they made their home in at least 5 different houses.
Around 1890, Thomas, Elizabeth and their (then) six children moved from Westwood to Barcaldine. That’s about 320 miles (520 kilometres) west of Rockhampton. At that time, Thomas operated his teams of horses out of Barcaldine. After a few years there Thomas was able to purchase a small cottage, of iron and timber construction, comprising four rooms and skillion. It was one of numerous cottages in Barcaldine located on the northern side of the railway line.
Not long after the family moved into their new home, in February 1894, disaster struck. Elizabeth was home alone with the children; Thomas was away with his teams. Around 11.00 pm, when Elizabeth went to light a candle in one of the bedrooms, “the blazing head of the match she was striking broke off and struck a mosquito net”. The net caught fire, which rapidly spread to the calico lining of the room. Elizabeth frantically tried to stop the fire, but the flames were too much for her. Emma (14) awoke on hearing her mother’s screams and helped rescue the other children. In just a few minutes the whole house was engulfed in flames, and in 10 minutes the roof fell in and the iron and wooden walls collapsed. The family escaped with their lives, but lost all their material possessions, bar a rocking chair. The house and contents (including a piano, sewing machine and all their furniture) were uninsured. It was a terrible setback. [Reference (7)]
The eldest girl, who is lame, and aged about 12 [sic.], hearing her mother’s cries, hopped into the children’s room, and after some delay in forcing the bolt, as the key had fallen from her grasp in her hurry, heroically dragged out several sleeping children, and barely saved them. A lad named “Jimmy” was found to be still in the burning building, and the noble girl hopped into the house and dragged out her brother, her efforts resulting in several bad burns to herself.”
Quoted from “Another fire at Barcaldine”. In Western Champion and General Advertiser for the Central-Western Districts (Barcaldine, Qld. : 1892 – 1922), Tuesday 27 February, 1894, page 7.
• • • • •
Soon after the fire, Thomas and Elizabeth moved back to Westwood. Here they purchased land 2 miles (about 3 km) from Westwood and started again. They called their property “Greenmount”. Thomas (and helpers) built a house on the property, where the family lived until about 1912. Some of the children went to the Westwood State School. During this period, Thomas, along with five of his sons, ran teams of horses carrying goods from Rockhampton to stations in the Banana and Clermont areas.
On 26 April 1911, Donald William (26), the third son of Thomas and Elizabeth, married Flora Jane Balchin (24). The wedding ceremony was conducted by Reverend Joseph Addison White (of the Church of England) in the Beaumont family home at Greenmount. Donald was the first of his siblings to marry. (Donald and Flora were my grandparents.)
In 1912, Thomas (father), Donald (son) and A. J. Beaumont (Thomas’ brother, I believe) purchased land at Rannes. Thomas and Donald purchased adjacent blocks, each a “prickly pear selection” of 640 acres. A. J. Beaumont purchased two portions, a much larger homestead grazing property of 5160 acres. [Reference (8)]
Thomas, Elizabeth and family, and son Donald and new wife Flora, moved to Rannes soon after. Thomas and Elizabeth later named their property “Mons” and Donald and Flora called theirs “Woolein View”. When they arrived, the properties were undeveloped, and they built their own houses on their respective properties, using local timber as the main building material.
Thomas and Elizabeth eventually named their property Mons, after the first major battle of World War I, which occurred at Mons (France) in August 1914. Three of their adult sons, Charles, Thomas (“Tommy”) and Alexander (“Alec”), later enlisted as soldiers in support of Australia’s war effort in Europe during World War I.
Donald and Flora chose the name Woolein View because of the property’s proximity to Woolein Creek.
• • • • •
The house Thomas built on Mons, Rannes, was the Beaumont family home for about 25 years. Thomas and Elizabeth lived there from 1912 (or thereabouts) until 1937 and various members of their family for some or all of this time. In 1937, Thomas and Elizabeth sold Monsand retired to Yeppoon.
The house Donald (my grandfather) built on Woolein View was similar in style to the Mons house, but not so grand. I remember it well, as I often visited my grandparents there when I was a little girl. It sat on high roughly-hewn stumps, had a wide mostly open verandah on three sides, a kitchen at the end of one verandah, a bathroom at the end of another verandah, a central living room, two bedrooms, front and back stairs leading downstairs to the laundry, car accommodation and storage areas underneath the house. There was no sewerage, so the family had an outhouse dunny. They had several water tanks on high stands, which supplied the family with rain water for drinking and household use.
During their 61 years of marriage, Thomas and Elizabeth were greatly blessed.
They had 10 children after all, and they had many happy times with their large family. They witnessed the marriages of six of their ten children, commencing with Donald’s in 1911.
Elizabeth Ellen (“Bessie”) married Herbert Walter Brown, on 14 April 1913.
Hannah Jane married Thomas Swetenham Lewis, in Brisbane, on 17 April 1916.
Herbert Walter married Lillian Elizabeth White, on 16 February 1922.
Beatrice Maude Caroline (“Beattie”) married Josiah Hindmarsh Elms, in Rockhampton, on 17 June 1925.
Arthur Alfred Bloomfield Alexander (“Alec”) married Ivy Wallis, on 5 January, 1926.
• • • • •
Like many folk of their era, Thomas and Elizabeth actively participated in community, social and sporting events, and encouraged their children to do the same. The adults and children alike played various sports: tennis and cricket were among their favourites. They loved horses, horse-riding and gymkhana events. Fishing in the local streams was also a popular pastime. In the following photograph, Thomas is seated, far left; Elizabeth is seated, second from the right. Donald is standing, far left; Flora is seated in the middle, holding her daughter Evelyn (my mother), with Evelyn’s brother Harold seated next to Flora (at right).
Both Thomas and Elizabeth were musical. The family had a piano, and their children (and grandchildren) learnt to play the piano, piano-accordion or mouth organ, and sing. My mother, Evelyn, who lived on Woolein View with her parents, used to ride her pony one mile each way, or call in as she rode home from school, to practise the piano at Granny’s place (Mons). Evelyn’s family didn’t own a piano, but Elizabeth (“Granny”) did. Evelyn took piano lessons from a lady called Mrs Puddyfoot, the wife of a railway night officer, who lived in Rannes.
At Mons, sing-a-longs around the piano and social evenings were a common occurrence. Thomas and Elizabeth opened their home on many a happy occasion.The following report, in The Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton) on 5 May 1931 [Reference (9)], supports this claim:
“A coin evening was held in aid of the Church of England at “Mons”, the home of Mr and Mrs L [sic.] Beaumont, on Saturday night last. There were over 50 people present, including the tennis players (The Hornets) from Rockhampton. Dancing, singing, games and competitions were indulged in until midnight. Supper was provided, the tables being decorated with chrysanthemums and ferns. The takings were fair and an enjoyable time was spent by all present.”
However, Thomas and Elizabeth did not have easy lives: they experienced many hardships and times of great sorrow.
Thomas and Elizabeth led a pioneering life. They moved several times, and started afresh, from scratch. In the Rannes area, they were among the early settlers. They must have lived roughly, in make-do accommodation, while they waited for their houses to be built.
Three of Thomas’ and Elizabeth’s children predeceased them, two under tragic circumstances.
Thomas (“Tommy”) was the first. Thomas enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force on 11 January 1916, but was discharged medically unfit for service on 6 December that same year. Weak and depressed, he returned home on 15 December 1916. He committed suicide 3 days later. His mother Elizabeth found him.
I wrote about Thomas (Junior) in the postscript to my story Henry’s World War I postcards to Flora. Click the link if you would like to read more about Thomas.
The second untimely death was that of Beatrice (“Beattie”). As the youngest child, sophisticated and beautiful, she was much cherished by her parents. Beattie is the woman pictured on the horse in front of the Mons homestead. She lived there with her parents until her marriage in June 1925.
Beattie married Josiah Hindmarsh Elms, of Brisbane, at St Paul’s Cathedral, Rockhampton, on 17 June 1925. It was a joyous occasion for the whole family, especially Thomas and Elizabeth. Beattie’s oldest sister, Emma, was bridesmaid, and Josiah was attended by Beattie’s brothers James (best man) and Alexander (groomsman). Two nieces of the bride, Evelyn Beaumont (9) and Dawn Lewis (7) were flowergirls. [Reference (10)]
“Two small nieces of the bride, Misses Evelyn Beaumont and Dawn Lewis, were also in attendance. They wore dainty frocks of pink and blue net respectively, and tulle caps trimmed with tiny roses and forget-me-nots, from which streamers of black bebe velvet hung down and were caught on the wrist. They each carried a basket of gerberas and roses tied with blue streamers, and each wore a gold armlet, the bridegroom’s gift.”
Quoted from the Capricornian (Rockhampton, Qld. : 1875 – 1929), Saturday 11 July 1925, page 23. [Reference (10)]
• • • • •
Josiah and Beattie made their home in Lithgow, where Josiah was later head surveyor of the Lithgow colliery. A son, Colin, was born in April 1926. It was a happy marriage. In 1929, on her way home after a visit to her parents at Rannes, Beattie contracted influenza, which rapidly developed into typhoid fever. She died in hospital in Brisbane on 7 September 1929. She was just 28 years old. Her entire family was devastated.
The third of Thomas’ and Elizabeth’s children to predecease them was Charles Frederick. He died in June 1932. Charles never married. I am not aware of the circumstances of Charles’ death.
In 1937, after they sold Mons, Thomas and Elizabeth bought a house in Spring Street, Yeppoon. Here they lived out the rest of their days. Their Yeppoon home was a low-set timber cottage, with enclosed verandas, not nearly as grand as the elegant house they left behind in Rannes.
After Elizabeth’s death, Thomas lived with his daughter Emma. Emma never married. “Aunt Emma”, as my mother called her, was an amazing woman. She was a talented seamstress, the one who gave my mother much of her early instruction in dressmaking. Emma was the little girl described previously in the Barcaldine fire article as “lame”. It is true, Emma had part of her leg amputated as a little girl. My mother told me that Emma fell on the stairs, and injured her leg on a nail. Most of her life Emma had a prosthetic leg. My mother always spoke of Aunt Emma having “a wooden leg”.
I visited Aunt Emma on a number of occasions, and I remember her well. She was tall and stately, a gracious, noble-looking woman. Like many other members of the Beaumont family, she lived to an old age. Thomas bequeathed the Spring Street home to Emma, where she lived until a few years before her death in 1974, at 94. She spent the last few years of her life at the Eventide Aged Persons’ Home, Rockhampton.
Thomas and Emma are pictured in the following photograph, taken in January 1941, at the entrance to their Yeppoon home. A friend, Mrs Goree (centre) and others unknown are standing on the veranda.
Thomas Bloomfield Beaumont and Elizabeth Mary Ann (Ellen) Beaumont are buried in the North Rockhampton Cemetery.
My great-grandparents died long before I was born. I never knew them personally. What I do know is what my mother told me, and what others have written about them. Here is a brief summary.
Like so many of the Beaumont men, Thomas had a retiring personality. Today, we might say he was an “introvert”. One of his grandsons and a cousin of my mother (Ken Lewis), described Thomas in this way:
“Grandad was small in stature, wore a ‘General Smut’s Beard’ in later life. He was a very quiet, modest man. Always a gentleman, he scarcely fitted the image of a teamster. I remember him well at ‘Mons’ and he was my hero as a young lad. He had great patience. He plaited me my first whip at the age of 4, then taught me the ‘Sydney Flash’ and I can still do it.”
Elizabeth (“Granny” to my mother) was a strong, capable and upright woman. To raise 10 children, a lot of the time on her own, she had to be extremely resourceful and resilient. She was sensitive and refined, but tough. Elizabeth would have been the main disciplinarian, to be sure. In fact, I think my mother, as a child, was a little afraid of Granny at times. Nevertheless, Elizabeth was hospitable and kind, and sought to raise her children in the knowledge and way of the Lord.
HELP ME COMPLETE THE STORY
What became of the house on Mons?
I do not know. It was not there when I first visited Rannes in the 1950s. Do you know what happened to it? Do you know someone who might know?
“Alf and Emma Beaumont: A Pioneer Family”. Unpublished article by J. E. Langford.
“Thomas Beaumont, Elizabeth Beaumont (nee Lizzie Tancred) and their Family”. Unpublished article by Ivy Halberstater (niece). Note: Ivy Lorraine Halberstater (nee Beaumont) died on 19 June 1998, aged 83. She is buried in the Rockhampton Memorial Gardens.
Photographs and anecdotal information from the Beaumont and Proposch Family archives.
(1) State Records Authority of New South Wales. “Assisted immigrants (digital) shipping lists”. http://indexes.records.nsw.gov.au/ebook/list.aspx?series=NRS5316&item=4_4790&ship=Bussorah%20Merchan
(2) State Records Authority of New South Wales. “Mariners and Ships in Australian Waters: Bussorah Merchant”. http://marinersandships.com.au/1853/03/043bus.htm
(3) “Westwood”. In Capricornian (Rockhampton, Qld. : 1875 – 1929), Saturday 24 August 1907, page 38. National Library of Australia. http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/68892753
(4) “The Rockhampton Delusion”. A Brief History of the Canoona Rush by Lorna McDonald. https://espace.library.uq.edu.au/view/UQ:246264/Qld_heritage_v3_no10_1979_p28_p35.pdf
(5) “Land Sale”. In Rockhampton Bulletin and Central Queensland Advertiser (Qld. : 1861 – 1871), Tuesday 20 October 1863, p 2. National Library of Australia. http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/51559629
(6) “Diamond Wedding”. In Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Qld. : 1878 – 1954), Tuesday 15 November 1938, page 5. National Library of Australia. http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/56001037
(7) “Another fire at Barcaldine”. In Western Champion and General Advertiser for the Central-Western Districts (Barcaldine, Qld. : 1892 – 1922), Tuesday 27 February, 1894, page 7. National Library of Australia. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article79731715
(8) “Land Commissioner’s Court”. In Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Qld. : 1878 – 1954), Saturday 2 November 1912, page 10. National Library of Australia. http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/53283422/5146588
(9) “Rannes”. In Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Qld. : 1878 – 1954), Thursday 7 May 1931, page 5. National Library of Australia. http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/55386019
(10) “Personal News”. In Capricornian (Rockhampton, Qld. : 1875 – 1929), Saturday 11 July 1925, page 23. National Library of Australia. http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/69763429
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