Sunday, 13 November 2016


Statue of Benjamin Singleton. Singleton.

Various family members were early European settlers in Australia, largely in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria. Here are some of the place names that bear their names:

Paternal Side

Geary's Gap - Near Canberra. Named after my great, great, great grandfather, Daniel Geary, who used to run a pub there.

Mount Clark - A mountain in North Queensland. Named after my great grandfather, John Clark.

Lornesleigh Street - Townsville. Named after an old family cattle station.

Packer Street - Canberra. Named after a great, great uncle.

Maternal Side

Singleton - A town in the Hunter Valley. Named after Benjamin Singleton, a fifth great uncle.

Kingaroy - Named after two Markwell brothers who first settled the area.

Brisbane - There are six Markwell streets in various suburbs including Hamilton, Daisy Hill, Auchenflower.

Surfers Paradise - Markwell Street  is named after my great grandfather, William Markwell, who was one of the first settlers. Right near the beach.


Australia, my family and many others, gave everything to defeat tyranny. It wasn't just the "big" countries that did everything.

From my maternal family, twenty Markwell cousins served including my grandfather and his brother. Seven were killed. 
The Markwell cousins won; two Military Medals, one Distinguished Service Order, one Croix de Guerre, one Military Cross. Two were promoted to the rank of Major.
In World War Two, twenty-eight Markwell family served, including my mother who was in the Signals Corps. One of the Markwell cousins had already served in World War One. A Markwell cousin won the George Cross ( second only to the Victoria Cross). 

Another Markwell became a Major. Only my great uncle, Lenny, was killed out of those who served. He was killed in New Guinea. Lenny was also a Rat of Tobruk. When his fiance received the terrible news, she committed suicide.
Not finished yet. That's only the Markwell side. Two Bells, cousins of my grandfather, served in the Light Horse in World War One. 
In World War Two, my two uncles were both severely wounded at El Alamein which was one of the most crucial battles in history. My Uncle Jack later took his life due to the severe injuries he had received.Uncle Dick had severe PTSD.
 " I always smell blood and lime."
 Dick was in bitter hand to hand fighting against the Afrika Korps. He saw a close mate's head blown off. He bayoneted to death a German.

And not to forget my Grandmother Bell's massive monetary contribution to the war effort. Probably around a small fortune in today's money. Her large family residence, Mornington, was turned into a hospital during the war, run by Irish nuns. 

Countries like Australia, Greece, Canada, New Zealand gave everything and more.

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

John Clark: Forged Steel.

My great, grandfather, John Clark in the centre with grandfather Bell and my grandmother. Circa, 1915.

In this picture, John Clark is an old man; a very old man in those times. Clark was ninety-five when he died in 1917. At this time of his life in 1915, Clark was blind and was cared for by his daughters. I wonder as he poses for the camera, if he is reflecting on his life; a life forged by hardship and heart break but also blessed with huge monetary reward.

From humble and tragic beginnings in Scotland, Clark was placed in the care of a tyrannical uncle at a young age. Unable to bear the harsh treatment any longer, he ran away at the age of twelve to make his own way in life.
 Clark never received a formal education and  he remained illiterate throughout his life. Clark's education instead, came from the school of 'you have to fight for everything'.  From humble beginnings, John Henry Clark would become one of the largest land owners in Australia. His land holdings were so vast that they would have covered nearly seven per cent of his former homeland, Scotland.
But it all came at a huge price; his first wife and their child died tragically of disease as did two of his children by his second marriage.
He was renowned a tough and wily man; he had to be. But when a lot of European settlers were taking Aboriginal land with acts of genocide, Clark worked in with the local Aborigines. I also think, he was a man ahead of his time.
Clark would kill cattle for the local Aborigines to eat and he employed them on the cattle stations. One of Clark's most trusted employees was an Aboriginal man named Roddy Clark. Roddy is apparently buried next to Clark. One of his grandchildren was even delivered by Aboriginal mid-wives at Lornesleigh Station.

 As for vices and dislikes? Clark did like whiskey but he was never a heavy drinker. He did have an immense dislike of Catholics. Why, I do not know. Clark disliked Catholics so much that he refused to attend my grandmother's wedding to my grandfather, Richard Bell.

As John Clark had only two surviving daughters, he left all of his land holdings to them. No son in laws were put in charge which caused friction within the family. I haven't found any other women of that time operating a large pastoral company in Australia. Yes, he was a man ahead of his time.

A mountain is named after him on one of the former family properties but I think John Clark should be memorialised more; after all, if it hadn't have been for people like him busting their guts, Australia would not have become the prosperous country it is today.