SHIRE OF CORIO ORAL HISTORY
NAME OF INTERVIEWEE : Miss F.L. Smith
The following interview is reproduced on this website with the kind permission of the Geelong Heritage Centre whose reference is GRS 1437.
ADDRESS 6 Somerville Road YARRAVILLE 3013
AREA OF SHIRE COVERED IN STORY North Shore
ADDITIONAL COMMENTS Miss Smith is the great granddaughter of Thomas Walsh who was a Shire President.
According to the Historical Society, James Walsh, the father, arrived in Geelong in 1841 with his son, Thomas and at least one other child, Bridgette. I have since discovered that he was a widower and that his wife died back in Ireland in 1837. James Walsh was an original grantee of land at North Shore, but he died shortly after in 1851.
Then the land grant was given to his son, Thomas. The land survey map shows Thomas owned one block and had a pre‑emptive right to another block. I don't know exactly but the blocks were at North Shore near to where Geelong Grammar is now.
In 1852, according to the Geelong Advertiser, Thomas married Fanny Mathews. She was the daughter of William Mathews of Saddle Place, Dublin. She apparently came to Australia because her cousins were running a hotel in Geelong. The family name was Tracey. He (Thomas) apparently met her through the Tracey family. They had ten children in all, seven girls and three boys. I don't think they worked until later in life. The girls went to the Gordon Institute and a couple eventually ran a shop somewhere in Geelong. They did millinery and dressmaking; another one taught the piano.
The eldest of the three boys, Tom, became a policeman. He is actually the one who signed his father’s death certificate. The second son Jim was a wool classer. Thomas Walsh lived until the age of seventy‑two. His wife lived into this century. The third son, John, seemed to live on the farm. I get the impression that he was retarded after a fall from a cart. He eventually went to live in Werribee with his sister, the eldest, Mary.
Thomas Walsh had a small farm but his main income seemed to have come from a quarry he owned. Today it is Mountain View quarry but it’s still known as Walsh's in the area. It seems that a lot of the bluestone quarried there was used for fortifications around Queenscliff and although I don't have proof I think some went into the construction of the Fort at Queenscliff.
My impression is that the eldest daughter, Kate, and the son, Tom, seem to have been the brains of the family. They seemed to have had business heads. When they died the place was sold off and the family got little out of it, only bits and pieces. Very few of them married and those that did had mainly daughters so the Walsh name has died out.
My grandmother was the fourth daughter. She met my grandfather when he came to work at the Quarry, where he was the foreman. They moved to Yarrville.
The rest of the family details are not too clear. There are still some descendants in the Geelong area whose name is Windsor. They are distant cousins of mine. I am continuing to research the family but it is a long process and sometimes you don't get anywhere.