PYENGANA- ABORIGINAL FOR ‘LAND OF TWO RIVERS’
The following information is taken from the book “Pyengana A New Country” by the writer’s aunt, the late Gwen Webb who was born at Pyengana and was the granddaughter of Ola Nicklason
Had been farming near St. Helens when he selected land and moved his family to Pyengana and called the property “Blandfordia”. One of the sons, George, became a prominent member of Parliament. (http://www.parliament.tas.gov.au/history/tasparl/beckerg322.htm)
Came to Pyengana from the “Anchor” and built his hut on a small selection opposite where the factory now stands. He was a renowned horsebreaker as well as a champion paling splitter
William Binns was convicted of the minor crime of stealing 3 turnips in Yorkshire and transported on the “Mayflower” After arriving in Tasmania he was assigned to John Steele of “Enstone Park” Falmouth. A son, Joss decided to settle at Pyengana and in 1896 the family walked the 40 miles to their new home. Mrs. Binns became the local midwife and was usually consulted for all ailments as the doctor was at St. Helen’s, a day’s walk away. Mrs. Binns treated her patients with many “old time” remedies from her garden. At one time she was called in to act as midwife to a woman whose husband lay in another room with diphtheria of which there was an epidemic at the time. She cared for all three and didn’t lose one. As well as this she had to walk over a mile from her own home and was expecting her tenth child at the time.
George Brown was a Scotsman who migrated from Yorkshire to Tasmania in 1859 with his wife, children and a nephew Henry Handley. He eventually selected 160 acres of land at Pyengana, built a hut of split palings and saplings and it was to this he brought his family in 1883. The Browns named their selection “Ballo” meaning beside a stream. George Brown is said to have been the first man to bring a dairy herd to Pyengana. Although the herd was small they were Ayrshires and he never changed to any other breed and in later years imported an Ayshire bull from Scotland. From this herd he later exported Ayrshires to New Zealand.
Selected 320 acres for himself and brother Bill. Bill was accidentally drowned when he slipped off a log while crossing the South George River. Tom married Anna Cotton in 1885 but later moved to St. Helens.
Francis and Anna Cotton sailed from England with their five children, close friend Dr. Storey and an Irish nursemaid, Margaret Connell. After arriving on the East coast of Tasmania they received a grant of 5,000 acres of land on which they settled and named the property “Kelvedon” (See entry Australian Dictionary of Biography). One of the sons George was later to marry the nursemaid Margaret and it was this couple who were to become the first family to settle in the area. It was two of the Cotton sons, Charles and Gus who were trekking to Mathinna when they discovered beautiful waterfalls later named St. Columba Falls by their mother. (St. Columba Falls are the highest in Tasmania with water spilling 90 metres in a series of steps) Margaret Cotton has the distinction of being the first person to export apples to the mainland.
George and Margaret went on to have 9 children. Pearlie Cotton conducted the first private school in Pyengana whilst brothers Charles and Gus were runners of note
Was born at St. Mary’s and after marrying worked for James Wardlaw where he learned the art of cheese making. Wishing to settle on the land he moved to Pyengana where he managed August Becker’s property before renting “Glenview from Charles Terry. He returned to St. Mary’s in 1912 after retirement.
Alfred Dobson moved his family to their selection “Hilldrop” by packhorse in 1886. There were 11 children to the marriage with two of the sons seeing service in World War 1. Three of the sons, Charles, Hector and Howard selected land at West Pyengana but it was Hector who went on to become a well known cheesemaker
Little is known of Carl Grenda and his wife Adeline (nee Totenhofer) he stayed only a few years before selling out to Jestrimski. All five sons excelled at sport football, running, woodchopping and cricket. Albert Grenda, one of the sons, became a famous cyclist who went to America where he rode with considerable success before turning professional (See Australian Dictionary of Biography entry)
The Healey family came from Ireland and lived at Gould’s Country for some time before moving to Pyengana. They named their property “Craigdon”. Father John later moved to Launceston and had charge of prisoners at the Launceston gaol with the property being passed to son Jack. His wife took charge of the Post Office in 1896 from James Lefevre and served the settlers for many years.
A great grandson, John Healey opened the Pyengana Cheese Factory in 1992 when he was 23 years of age and now sells about 3 tonnes of cheese a year
For more information go to
Peter Haley had been given title to a block at Pyengana for the sum of 25 pounds by Bill Kirwin who had decided to try his luck in New Zealand. When the V.D.L closed Peter moved into the selection where he could at least grow food for his farmily. He had married Maria Woolley from Lottah and they had a family of ten children. They were a hardworking family and were soon very successful at everything they did.
Peter’s father, J. Haley Snr. Had a business at Triabunna but died at a very young age leaving a wife and three sons, William Thomas and Peter. Mrs. Haley moved to Hobart where she conducted a business before moving to St. Helens. In 1876 Mrs. Haley and the boys opened a business at the Blue Tier in the name of Haley Brothers.
As well as having the store, they were also contractors and to them goes the credit of constructing the link road from Lottah to the Little Plains.
Selected a block of 50 acres near the fork of the rivers, remained a batchelor and in his will left the property to John Healy who had the block adjoining his.
Came to Tasmania with his wife and family from Danzig in Germany. Jacob was a shipwright by trade as well as being a diver. One of their sons Hugo was the first man to own a car in the area, a Hupmobile. The family had always been cheese makers. During their eighty years of production their cheeses have found their way to many parts of the world, even to Casey in Antarctica.
The Jestrimskis celebrated their Golden Anniversary in 1919, but two years later Jacob was killed when his horse bolted and he was thrown from his cart.
Came from Weldborough and selected 320 acres of good river flats where he built a house he called “Latarah”. He is believed to be the first man to bring cattle to Pyengana bringing them from Oatlands.
Franz Kohl, a cabinet maker by trade, was a native of Freidesburg in Germany. On his arrival in Tasmania he went to work for a Mr. Page at Plenty before moving to Pyengana in 1888. He selected on the head waters of a creek which bears his name – Kohl’s Rivulet. Here he worked and cleared the land before building a hut to which he brought his bride in 1896. Later, when a road was made to the “Anchor” mine Franz built himself a bullock cart, previously everything had to be carried. The wheels of the cart were “rounds” sawn off logs, shaped and reinforced. In this cart his children were taken for outings and produce was conveyed to St. Helens and Gould County where it was sold or exchanged for food and clothing.
With a real sense of humour he named his selection “Starvation Gully” even though he raised a large family there and certainly none of them starved.
James Le Fevre
Arrived in Tasmania with his parents from the Channel Islands and first settled on Maria Island before moving to Falmouth. James later married Jessie Pratt at Christ Church Cullenswood. In 1887 James moved to Pyengana to begin farming and rented a selection from B.H.Wright. Here he built a house and planted an orchard. In 1894 he moved to “Latarah” which he purchased from Wright. James eventually opened the first store at Pyengana which was known as the “Tin Hut” as it was constructed of corrugated iron. “Latarah” was recently listed for sale after being held in the family for over 127 years.
A descendant Vernon Mackenzie Le Fevre also served as a member for Bass
Sven Mansson and his family arrived in the Colony from Sweden and originally settled on Maria Island but towards the 1880’s found their way to Pyengana where they rented a block of 50 acres. This land had a river frontage but most of the level gound was swamp. In the middle of the swamp there was a small island of solid ground and it was here they built. They had a small flower and vegetable garden as well as running pigs which had a ready market at Weldborough.
Alfred Weedon Nicholls was born in 1860 and after living at Queenstown moved to Castra where his wife died. His family consisted of five boys and a girl. Taking two of the boys, Phil and George, he moved to Ringarooma in 1907 where he working clearing land while he looked around for a suitable place to select. In 1908 they set out for Pyengana guided only by compass. After Alfred made his selection he built a hut in which to live with the two boys. He then brought the three other children Alf, May and Bert to Pyengana where they lived with the Beckers at “Blandfordia”
George Nicholls married Lillian Oldham and Phil married Isabel Oldham and both men built homes at West Pyengana where they raised their families. The eldest son Allan never came to Pyengana, he remained at Ulverstone and became the Hon. A.H. Nicholls, M.L.C. (http://www.parliament.tas.gov.au/history/tasparl/nicholsh273.htm)
Arrived in Tasmania from Fjalkinge in Sweden with his wife and three children (two others died in Sweden) Ola first went to St. Mary’s where he worked for nearly a year. It was during this time that another son Francis was born (Gwen Webb’s father). He later rented a block at Pyengana from T.W.H. Clarke of “Quorn Hall” to which he would walk the twenty four miles from St. Helens until he cleared the small block and erected a hut.
In the spring of 1887 the Nicklason’s left St. Helens with the two older children Matilda and Alfred walking all the way. The two roomed cabin was home for many years with Ola finally buying the block which he passed on to his son Alfred who named it “Lynbrook”
Edwin Oldham was the eldest of seven children and was sent out from England by his father at the age of 16 years to learn farming from a family friend, a Mr. Burbury at “Park Farm” Jericho. When Edwin’s sister and brother arrived from England he left farming and travelled to Wattle Grove in the Huon. The first year orcharding their profit was one shilling and sixpence to Edwin decided to return to farming. It was in 1881 that he and his wife, the former Emily Campbell, made their selection and built a hut amid enormous tree ferns and heavy forest which he named “Lillian Vale”
Edwin and Emily were to have seven children all of whom married ‘local’ except Oscar who gave his life at Gallipoli.
Edwin’s brother Nat became the founder of O.B.M’s in Hobart.
Mr. and Mrs. Karl Peterson were already married and had two children, one born in Sweden and one in Germany. They lived for a time on Maria Island, moved to Collinsvale and then on to Pyengana. They named their selection “Greendale”, built a home with a big brick oven outside in which Mrs. Peterson did all her cooking, including the bread for all the family which had now increased to eleven children. They were to stay at Pyengana for 35 years before moving to Hobart with only son Vince remaining on his selection at West Pyengana.
Bill Rattray came from Ballarat in Victoria where his father had been a tanner and married Rebecca Chapple at Cullenswood Church. In 1896 the family came to Pyengana and settled at “Myrtle Vale” and it was here they raised seven boys and three girls. As they expanded a block at West Pyengana named “Sea View” was purchased. It was Bill Rattray who was responsible for the formation of the Pyengana Racing Club in 1917 and was secretary until his death in 1914. Bill Rattray’s sons were all lovers of horses. They bred them, trained them and raced them.
Rattrays had many well known horses over the years with which they won races at all local meetings as well as at registered trots. They were real sportsmen, they never flogged their horses to victory, nor did they lay bets at the races, racing was truly a sport to them.
The name Rattray is still well known in racing circles today.
Mr. Terry arrived from London with three sons and a daughter and settled first at Falmouth where son Richard, a contractor, put the first bridge across the Scamander River in 1865. (lasted until it collapsed under the weight of a herd of cattle) In 1876 the three Terry brothers followed the Cotton family and settled at Pyengana. Richard Terry was to marry and have 15 children, William Terry married Fanny Treloggen who was to become the first postmistress in 1890 and Charles settled on “Glenview” the block he had chosen on his first visit with George Cotton. Descendents of the Terry brothers are well known in athletic circles, one Ted Terry won the Burnie Gift, the Sheffield Mile. Brother W.J.Terry is also recognized as a world champion axeman.
John Treloggen arrived in the colony as an assisted passenger from Cornwall in 1842 on the “Corsair” and settled at St. Helens. Son Thomas was an early selector at Pyengana but only as an investment, he did not live there but employed George Sutton as Manager. After his death the land passed to his son Tom Junior who had just been married. Tom, like his father made frequent trips to Pyengana and it was on one trip that he had the misfortune to be killed by a tree which fell the wrong way, pinning him underneath it. The selection was later purchased by Tas Treloggen who built a house and lived in it for some years before selling it to Joseph Rattray.
Selected his block in the vicinity of what was later to become Kohl’s Rivulet. His block was small and he remained a batchelor eventually leaving his land to the Jestrimski”s who had cared for him in his old age.
When W. D. Wilson came to Pyengana as Headmaster of the school his brother Charles came with him. During his term at the school he married Lottie Lefevre and Charles selected land far up the River and eventually took residence in a hut he built of manfern logs where he lived out his life as a hermit. He had an old grey horse which he would ride down into Pyengana for provisions which would be carried on the horse’s back while Charles would walk for the 7 mile return journey.
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