Holdsworthy was selected in
1878 as part of the breakup of the squatter's runs.
There have been five houses built on tthe Rowley property. The
general property was called Holdsworthy, but the name later became
associated with the second house.
The houses are discussed below. In order they were: The Glen, Holdsworthy, The
Cottage, Joe Rowleys House, Glenworthy.
Then follows a section on when the houses might have been built
Then follows a discussion of a family that may have rented the Glen
in the 1920s
The Squatter's Runs
The following map originated in the Port Phillip Gazatte in 1848. It
shows part only of the map.
It has obviously been modified as it shows the boundaries of the
Hume Reservoir built in the 1930s
Also the railway to Tallangatta is shown, obviously built later
Gundowring Station where John Clarkson Rowley wae overseer is
rightish at the bottom
Beechworth is bottom left corner. Holdsworthy is approximately where
Beethanga is in small print
In the 1950s there were traces of a house in a valley up near the
base of the big hill on the property.
In 1879 Johm Clarkson Rowley applied for the lease of the property,
which he eventually converted to purchase in 1901
I suspect that early in this period he built the house at the Glen.
The site is located near the most reliable water on the property
The house was located at the base of the hill just to the left of
Claude Rowley in the picture (1957 photo)
Is located further down the slope near the river flats. I suspect it
was built for John's son Joe, probably prior to his marriage in 1909
The leftmost family group looks like Joe, Avis, Dorothy and June,
which would place the photo in the late twenties.
That is also consistent with 2nd right being Claude. This house was
flooded by the Hume Weir extension in the late fifties.
There was a big occasion at Holdsworthy in 1903 when John's
daughter Ettie married Herbert Nichols
(Link to newspaper report)
The report makes interesting reading. After the wedding the party
drove to Holdsworthy where a "sumptious breakfast" was served,
after which the couple departed by train from Wodonga.
The remaining party then drove back to Holdsworthy for "tennis
&c and dancing to the small hours".
The wedding presents were described as "numerous and costly". The
report then gives a list of guests and their presents. So we have at
least a partial guest list.
The wedding was Catholic. This is in line with the reported
agreement between John Rowley (Protestant) and Sarah Smart that boys
would be raised protestant and girls Catholic.
An interesting compromise in those days in country Victoria when the
split in society was very real.
The agreement was varied when their fifth child (a boy) died at 18
months. The last child Simon was raised Catholic.
Presents were received from the Brigidene Nuns (Beechworth). They
are probably where Sarah was raise as a child. (her mother had died)
Flossie and Adelaide Mitchell were present. They were about 20 and
living in Bethanga, as Ellen and Tom White were then living at
Whiteford. Ellen and Tom were there also
There was a tennis match at Holdsworthy against Kiewa in 1914. Link to newspaper report for
players and scores. 7 Matches were played and Holdsworthy won
by 15 games
This is John Clarkson and Sarah Rowley on the front
verandah. It was a small cottage built on the flats
below where Joe Rowley would later build his house. Probably
buily for John in retirement, He would have been 73 in 1920
The house was located near the stump just right
of the middle of the picture. Joe Rowley's house is on the
top of the ridge, at the very left of the picture. You can
see sheds at the back, and some of the back
Photo taken 2005
Photo taken 2005
This is the fourth house, built for Joe and Avis probably
in the thirties. When Claude and Elsie married, they went
to live in the Holdsworthy house.
Photo taken 1967
This is the fifth house, built by Claude and Elsie in the
mid-50s when the Hume Weir was about to flood their home
When were the houses built?
The following Chronology is relevant
1874 John Rowley and Sarah Smart married Beechworth
1879 Butcher in Bethanga, applies for lease on Holdsworthy land
1884 Describes himself as farmer on lease extension application
1985 Joseph Smart dies
1887 Holdsworthy property well established (house, kitchen, shed,
cowshed, 4 dams, well, orchard)
1888 The Rowley family now have five children
1901 Land lease converted to purchase
1903 Wedding breakfast at Holdsworthy house
1909 Joe Rowley marries Eircell Broome
1910-20 John Rowley moves to The Cottage and Joe to Holdsworthy.
1935-8 Joe Rowley's house built
1939 Claude Rowley and Elsie Mitchell marry and move into
Holdsworthy. Joe and Avis move into their new house
1953 Glenworthy built and Holdsworthy demolished due to the
encroaching Hume Weir waters
The Glen house was probably built around 1880 to satisfy lease
rules. This might have been a stopgap until Holdsworthy could be
Holdsworthy seems to have been built before 1887. Support would have
come from Joseph Smart and his estate as Sarah was his only child
When Joe Rowley married in 1909, John Rowley was 62, Perhaps this
triggered The Cottage, and then Joe moved into Holdsworthy
The Glen was then available to rent and was let. The Glen house had
gone by the late 1940s
Who lived in The Glen in the 1920s?
John Rowley was 73 by 1920, so it looks as if by then he was living
in the Cottage (see photo above). So who was living in the Glen.
Claude and Elsie Rowley told me of a family living there but I can't
remember their names.
It could have been the Michell family. Elsie Rowley (nee Mitchell)
was born in 1914 and lived at Whiteford (about a mile from The Glen)
She became very good friends with the two Michell girls (Mary and
Joyce) who were the same age
The father Henry lived in Bethanga in 1911 when he was declared
insolvent due to mining losses. He is listed as a baker
The Michells were away for a while (1913 Mary born Newport Vic, 1915
Henry butter tester Gunbower, 1915 Joyce born Cootamundra)
From 1920-27 Henry is listed as grocer, Bethanga. In 1936 Mary and
Joyce are living in Bethanga (home duties, hairdresser)
Elsie Mitchell's family moved to Tallangatta in 1926 when she was
12, and abandoned school for domestic dutied.
It would have then been much harder to strike up a friendship with
the Michell girls
The Michells look as if they would be renting, and if they were
neighbours of Elsie's, that would explain the close friendship
The Glen was vacated by John Rowley 1910-20.
The following photo shows the good friends together on a trip to
central Australia in 1970. From left to right -
Mary Sommers (nee Michell) Elsie Rowley (nee Mitchell) and Joyce
Parsons (nee Michell)
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Page last updated - 14 Feb 2021