John Stewart was born in Elizabeth Town, Tasmania on 13 Aug 1867. He was a second generation Tasmanian, the third of four surviving children born to Robert Stewart and Margaret Smith. Robert and Margaret Stewart had emigrated from Lanarkshire, Scotland five years before John’s birth.
Charlotte Walker was born in 1870 in Parkham, Tasmania. She was also a second generation Tasmanian, the twelfth of fourteen children born to William Walker and Mary Anne Bessant. William and Mary Anne had emigrated from Portishead, Somerset, England some fifteen years earlier. Parkham is located approximately 10 kilometres north-east of Elizabeth Town near the current day Reedy Marsh Forest Reserve.
John (27) and Charlotte (25) were married on June 6, 1895 at the St. Mark’s Church of England in Deloraine, Tasmania. The church building still stands to this day and is located at 7 E Westbury Place, Deloraine.
When they were married, John had been working for the railway at Dunorlan. His job title was listed as a “Railway Repairer.” While they were living at Dunorlan, their first two children were born: Arthur was born on 27 Mar 1896 in Dunorlan and Marion Martha was born on 22 Nov 1897 at the “Keanfield” homestead in Deloraine.
The family later moved back to Parkham, and worked a small farm which included a couple of milking cows and chickens. Charlotte would churn butter from their milk, which she would carry along with their eggs about three miles (4.8 km) along the unsealed road (mud track) to the shop. By trading the butter and eggs, Charlotte used the revenue to purchase groceries for the family.
Four more children were born to them while living at Parkham: Ada May was born in on 29 Mar 1900 at Dunorlan, Albert Robert was born on 14 Nov 1902 at Dunorlan, William John “Bill” was born on 21 Sep 1904 at Parkham, and Grace Maud was born on 13 Dec 1906. The first five children attended school in Parkham, which required them to traverse the three mile unsealed road (mud track) as well through all types of weather.
In 1912, John’s asthma caused him to consider a sea-change and the family relocated to Henrietta. According to Grace’s memoirs, the journey to Henrietta took three days to complete. The eldest son, Arthur (16), had already moved from Parkham and was working in Henrietta and living in a hut. The rest of the family travelled via horse and buggy, which consisted of a hood and two seats. On the first day, they travelled from Parkham to Elizabeth Town and stayed with John’s sister, “Aunt Maggie” Lunson and her family. It is most likely that they spent most of this day packing and putting the state of the house in order for the new occupants. On the second day, they were very weary from the travel and stayed at the Penguin Coffee Palace. When they arrived in Henrietta on the third day, the boys, Albert and Bill, stayed in the hut with Arthur, while John, Charlotte and the girls, Marion, Ada and Grace stayed at a boarding house, which was managed by a German woman, Mrs. Graue.
At Henrietta, the family settled on Mr. Harnett’s farm house on the Waratah Highway (Now Murchison Highway) while John worked on the farm. At the farm, there were about 30 milking cows, which were milked by hand, as well as potato crops and hay. John’s health improved as the family had hoped. Four of John and Charlotte’s children were at school attending age at this time, however, they were delayed to commence schooling because the school building was not yet complete. The Henrietta school finally commenced midway through 1913.
John purchased the property across the road from Mr. Harnett’s farm, which he cleared himself. The property was known as “Spring Vale” due to the presence of many springs. The family remained at Mr. Harnett’s farm house for a just a few weeks more four years until they moved into a house that had been constructed by Mr. J.C. Diprose on John’s property.
John and Charlotte’s daughter, Ada, worked for Mrs. Ibbott at the Henrietta Post Office which was then about one mile down the highway towards Yolla. When the Ibbotts left Henrietta in 1919, the Post Office business was moved to John and Charlotte’s residence. The post office was operated from the back veranda of the house, which had been converted into a room and sanctioned off from the home. Ada took over as postmistress, but the business remained in John’s name for security reasons.
When Ada was married in 1925, her sister, Grace, took over as post-mistress. On 4 Apr 1934, Grace married Mervyn Richardson. Grace continued as post mistress and Mervyn purchased the “Spring Vale” property from John and Charlotte, which he paid off over twelve months by working long hours at various farms in the region. John and Charlotte remained at Spring Vale for twelve months, before relocating to 78 Nicholls St, Devonport in mid 1935.
John and Charlotte remained at the Nicholls St property until their deaths. John and Charlotte owned a few blocks in this part of the street and had one of the blocks dedicated to their vegetable garden and also maintained a milking cow on the property. Many Christmas gatherings were held at the property with their children and grand-children. Mavis and Arthur Gracie and Marion and Bill Gracie each lived nearby on 54 & 56 Nicholls St which was good company for them.
John (87) died on 22 Jan 1955 and was buried in the Devonport General Cemetery. Charlotte (88) died on 20 Jan 1959 and was buried with her late husband.
Arthur Stewart (1896-1986). Their son, fought in World War I as a private of the 12th Infantry Battalion. Service No. 7337.
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