personal accounts of relatives still living; memories of stories heard by those same living relatives passed on to them by forebears; newspaper items; other family histories.
Whilst the historical accuracy of these anecdotes cannot be vouched for, never-the-less, their contribution gives colour and flesh to our forebears, their day to day lives, and the struggles they contended with in their new land.
Malcolm Ritchie Malcolm Ritchie and David Mansfield, neighbouring farmers in Tullamarine, were bitter rivals. David once disguised himself as a swaggie and outbid Ritchie for some prime river frontage land that came up for sale. As long as David Mansfield didn't outbid him for the land, Ritchie was content to concede the bid to a derelict stranger. He was furious however when the true identity of this derelict was revealed.
The poem below commemorates this incident and was composed by Ray Gibb. It is featured in his book “Before the Jetport”, written in 1998. Ray has compiled several histories of the Tullamarine and Bulla districts. He is connected to the Mansfield family through the Cock name, Ray’s great grandfather being John Cock, whose fifth wife was Mary Jane Musgrove, the sister of John Albert Musgrove, the father-in-law of Edith Norma Mansfield, the daughter of Henry David Mansfield. Here is Ray’s poem:
A river frontage came up for sale
Near Aucholzie’s in Deep Creek’s vale.
Malcolm Ritchie determined this prize to win;
“I’ll outbid Mansfield!” he swore with a grin.
When the auction began, the bidding was keen
But David Mansfield was nowhere seen;
Soon Ritchie had all his opponents licked
Apart from a swagman most derelict.
Ritchie bid with cunning stealth.
“This ragged fool can’t have much wealth,”
He thought, “It won’t be long,
And I’ll snap this land up for a song!”
The question then came, “Are you all done?
Has Malcolm Ritchie this prize land won?”
But the stranger’s hand was raised again
And a hush came over the assembled men.
The swaggie’s bids, forever higher,
Saw Ritchie’s iron resolve expire;
From the stranger then, the last bid came.
“The property’s yours sir! Now what’s your name?”
All faces turned to this ill-clad bloke,
Waiting expectantly until he spoke.
Ritchie’s anger was scarce concealed,
His blood flow stopped, he almost keeled,
As a lift of the hat, the stranger’s face revealed
And everyone gasped, “It’s David Mansfield!”
Ray Gibb, 1998.
David Mansfield had his large marble tombstone made some time before he died. He carted it by waggon from Melbourne along Mount Alexander Road, reaching Kensington where the axle of the waggon broke under the considerable load. David unloaded the tombstone, leaving it at the roadside overnight whilst he went and procured a new axle. The next day he reloaded the tombstone on the mended waggon and proceeded on home to "Glen Alice" at Tullamarine, placing the stone in storage in readiness for when he died.
David was very proud of his draught horses that he bred himself. With his team hauling a heavy load of supplies for the farm, he would often wager bets at the bottom of the Kensington hill on Mount Alexander Road, placing his head under the back wheel of the waggon before releasing the brake and trusting his team to haul the waggon forward up the hill without allowing it to roll backwards. He would also challenge other teams to a race to the top of the hill.