Mervyn Charles Richardson was born on 21 Oct 1902 in Exton, Tasmania. “Merv” was the second of ten children born to Norman and Nellie Richardson. Merv’ family relocated to Somerset when he was about four years old. He grew up living in the four-room cottage that his father built on Cam Road (Now Murchison Highway), Somerset. Merv attended both the old school on Village Lane, Somerset and the old Somerset Primary School on Simpson-Athol-Wragg Streets (Currently being demolished in 2017). In these days, the school building only consisted of two rooms. Merv used to walk from his home to school with his siblings each day. At this time, the highway through Somerset crossed the Cam River from Scarfe St, Camdale over to Wragg St, Somerset and through the town centre, re-joining the current day highway at the culd-dee-sac end of present day Wragg St (Near the old hardware store). The school taught until Grade 6, so after achieving this, Merv and his siblings worked on the farm for their father, Norman.
Grace Maud Stewart was born on 13 Dec 1906 in Parkham, Tasmania. Her family relocated to Henrietta in 1912. The family eventually settled on a property “Spring Vale” on the Waratah Highway. The house was constructed by J.C. Diprose. Grace commenced studying at the old Henrietta school under the tutelage of Miss Atkinson when she was six and a half. The school was under construction when the family had arrived, and was not completed until mid-way through 1913, which caused her to commence study a few months later than was the norm. In 1919, the house was altered to accommodate the Henrietta Post Office. Grace’s sister, Ada, was the postmistress and Grace worked under her and eventually took over as postmistress when Ada married in 1925.
During the 1920s, Norman Richardson purchased a property “Egmont,” in Henrietta. The property was located approximately one mile southward from the Stewart’s property “Spring Vale.” Merv would leave early on Monday morning, often on his bike, and travel to Egmont, where he and his brothers maintained the farm and grew crops, primarily potatoes. The potato crops and later, swedes, were delivered to the Burnie port, where they were exported to Sydney, NSW.
While working at Egmont, the Richardson brothers would stay in a two room extension of the original house of the property, as the original house was let to tenants. Merv would return to Cam Road on the weekends and attend the Cam Road Methodist Church, where he also volunteered as a Sunday School teacher.
Mervyn met Grace to while working in Henrietta. They were married on 4 Apr 1934 in the Yolla Baptist Church by Rev. Heaven.
Merv purchased the Spring Vale property from his father-in-law, John Stewart, and paid it off in only twelve months, which is a testament to his work ethic and integrity. He made the extra money by working on other farms in the region, and worked long hours, rising at 4am to milk his own cows before leaving to work on other farms.
While maintaining the two farms of Spring Vale and Egmont, Merv found time to develop his skills as a blacksmith. In his blacksmith shop on Spring Vale, he designed and manufactured many tools and various household items. Some of these included: A gardening hoe for his wife, pokers and tongs for the open fire place, horse shoes for the local drovers and his own unique toasting apparatus which consisted of a slot for the toast and a long handle and a hinge to flip the toast to cook the other side. Merv also repaired other people’s farming equipment and machinery.
Grace maintained the post office during the hours from 9am to 5pm and also the telephone from 9am to 8pm. She had an assistant work for her during day hours, which allowed her to successfully maintain a large vegetable garden and flower patch. From the house to the road, there was a patch of flowers and the remainder was all kinds of available vegetables except for potatoes, swedes, pumpkins and tomatoes. Potatoes and swedes were grown out in the paddock and the summer wasn’t long enough to produce good enough pumpkins or tomatoes. Merv’s brother, Earle Richardson produced enough tomatoes for the family on his Cam Road farm.
Merv used to ride his motorbike in the early days, but he purchased a brand-new utility to allow him to transport his young family to places and also to cart produce to and from the farm. This was claimed by the government to assist the War efforts, however, and Merv used the compensation money to purchase a second-hand International utility. Later, Merv purchased a truck to better his capacity in his work. No longer required on the farm, the utility became less desirable for transport as opposed to an automobile. Merv initially sought a Holden, but was not impressed was the lack of size in the vehicle. Merv initially purchased a second-hand Wolseley, but soon found out after a trip to Hobart, that the car was faulty. The steering locked on a corner on the Mersey Main Road in Tarleton and they were fortunate to not be involved in an accident. Merv returned the vehicle to the salesman as he realized that the car had been previously damaged in an accident. Merv finally decided to order a brand-new ’54 Ford Custom-Line. The car was pale-green and spacious. He was quite pleased with his purchase and kept the car for a long time.
Merv and Grace remained at Spring Valley and maintained the post office and phone line for many years. The phone eventually became automatic and after this, mail was the only responsibility in the post office. In 1972, Merv and Grace sold the farms and relocated to 75 Murchison Highway, Somerset. Merv (79) died on 15 Mar 1982. He was buried in the Wynyard Lawn Cemetery.
Grace later moved into Unit 2 at the Myrtle Park Retirement Village in Yolla. Grace lived to see the births of her first eight great-grandchildren, to whom she was known as “Nan Rich.” The older children believed that she was “Rich” because she often gave them lollies when they came to visit.
Grace (86) died 10 Aug 1993 in the Burnie Hospital after a short illness. She was buried with her late husband at the Wynyard Cemetery.
The children of Merv and Grace Richardson went on to have many descendants spanning over four-plus generations.
In 1988, John Walker and a committee of other family members who descended from Michael and Sarah Walker published the book: A goodly heritage : the growth and achievements of a Tasmanian family. which describes the family history as well as some of their descendants.
In 2009, Beverly Richardson (1935-) published the book: A family remembers : the story of Isaac and Matilda Richardson and their descendants. which includes a CD-ROM of the family tree, bibliographical references and index. This book is available to be borrowed at the LINC Library in Hobart, Tasmania.
J. Edwards, I grew up in North-West Tasmania in the 1990s and I have a passion for learning about history and how it ties to my family. Roughly half of my family is from New South Wales, and the other half is from Tasmania, which makes this all the more interesting for me. Stay tuned, as I plan on writing short biographies on all of my known Australian ancestors (Great-Grandparents and beyond).
If you are a relative to me (distant or close), I am interested in hearing from you. You can contact me on: firstname.lastname@example.org