William Mitchell and Ellen Cubit

Bones in the Belfry home page

Parents   :    William Burton Mitchell and Margaret Hawton           John Cubit ans Mary Chilcott                           Whiteford

William Mitchell  (b 1850 Tregorrick St Austel Cornwall, m Ellen Adelaide Cubit 1880 Sandridge Melb, d 1889 Bethanga, Vic )
Ellen (b 1856 Westbury Tas, also m Thomas Mills White 1894 Springvale, d 1937 Wodonga Vic)
       Lillian May (Lily) Mitchell (b 1881 Whiteford Vic, m 1902 Mark Park, d 1920 Ringwood)
       Florence Jane (Flossie) Mitchell (b 1882 Whiteford, m 1913 Tom Martin,  d 1970)
       Adelaide Luceill Mitchell (b 1884 Whiteford, m Bert Hutchings 1914 Raio, Pukenui, Northland. NZ, d 1968 Whenuapai Auckland)
       Leonard William Mitchell (b 1886 Whiteford, m Thirza May Clough 1912 Bethanga, d 1960)
                                                                             m Olive Hanna Hunt 1932 Wodonga) 
       Ernest Harold Mitchell (b 1887 Whiteford, m  Leila Muriel Roach 1914 Kew, d 1960 Wodonga)
Ellen (m Thomas Mills White 1894 Springdale)
       Robert (Bob) Mills White (b 1894 Bethanga, m Dorothy smith 1931, d 1965 Ballarat)

Some sources have William (b 1850) as William Hawton Mitchell, but I have not seen that second name on any documents. It is not in his will or death certificate.

General Comments from Les Rowley

There are comments on William on his father's page. After William died, the issue is certainly, what do we make of Tom White? One thing is obvious - he would have been a fish out of water in the churchgoing temperance society Mitchells (Later generations we know were in the Rechabite lodge).  You also get the impression that he was unaware of the farm ownership situation until after he married. Beyond that, reports vary - but the years after William's death were obviously difficult for everyone.

  Comments from Alma Dillon      Victoria Hotel      Poem by William    William's Diaries     Notes by Fred Mitchell         Origins of the Cubit Name  (PDF)    Summary

William and Ellen Mitchell
On their marriage in 1880
Ellen and Family
This sad photo shows Ellen and her family  in 1890, a year after William died. (Florence Len Lillian Ellen Ernest Adelaide)
William Mitchell
This image is a`tintype', a cheaper version sion of a daguerreotype as used for the photo of  William Burton Mitchell
Link to better resolution images 


1850 William was born in Stoke Climsland Cornwal
1856 Ellen was born in northern Tasmania near Deloraine
1861 William (aged 11) came to Australia with the family, and they settled near Yackandandah in north east Victoria. .
187x Ellen came from Tas .It is believed the family moved to South Melbourne in the 1870s, due to bad economic conditions in Tasmania.
1876 William found the  “Welcome” mine on the edge of Bethanga.
1879 William sells the "Welcome" mine for £3,000 and buys the Whiteford property , after a trip to Queensland looking for suitable land
1880 William and Ellen marry. Five children are born between 1881 and 1887
1889 William dies of diabetes, leaving Ellen with five young children, the eldest being Lilly who was eight. Williams will and associated documents give a good picture of  the family situation at the time and of the property Whiteford. William's early death drastically changed Ellen and the children's circumstances. Notes on William's willSection (1) is a must read to understand what follows
1894 Ellen marries Tom White
1908* Ellen and Tom leave Whiteford  and the children take over
1912 Partnership of the children  running Whiteford is dissolved. Ern remained  (This presumably occurred on Ern's 25th birthday, as provided by the will)
19xx   Ellen and Tom White lived at Dickson's Creek,  Healesville.
1930* Ellen and Tom White moved to Wodonga and lived in a house belonging to Len Mitchell
1936  When TW died (Leneva) Ellen moved to the back of Uncle Len's at Wodonga
1937 Ellen died in Wodonga
    * estimated dates.

The Victoria Hotel

    Ellen was working here at the time she met William. The Victoria was a popular hotel for country people visiting Melbourne. It was a temperance hotel, which would have suited Methodist/Rechabite William fine. For information on the hotel,  http://www.victoriahotel.com.au/history.htm


    William Mitchell established a farm in the Mitta valley, more or less opposte the town of Huon. William built 2 rooms originally, and added on. It went to 8 or 9 rooms. It had beautiful embossed walpapering with gold and roses, and dado boards 3 ft up the wall  William Burton Mitchell's brother James Mitchell's 1901 census entry provides the origin of the name Whiteford. James is living in Stoke Climsland Cornwall. Two houses down the road, the road name entered changes  from Stoke Village to Whiteford.  William Mitchell's Will provides a good picture of the Mitta farm Whiteford at the time he died.  Link to informaton about the Whiteford near Stoke Climsland

Poem Written By William Mitchell   13/4/1879

A sabbath day away from home
From all that's near and dear to me.
By choice I've chosen far to roam,
The wild New England bush to see. And how my heart doth wander back
Wherat I live, content to dwell,
Where they life's blessings sweet enjoy
And time in praising God employ.
And here we are beside a creek, Upon a little stoney knob,
No place to go and nought to see,
But stock that here are running wild.
My Sabbaths now seem thrown away,
No House of God in which to meetWith those who meet at Jesus' feet and tell of His love by the way.
Oh! How I miss the Sabbath school
That used to be my greatest care.
I miss the children. They miss me.
Oh, when again shall I be there?
Is just a life that's spent in vain
We miss the higher, brighter joys, And nothing after all remain.
And shall I spend my life to gain
Money for someone else to spend
That lives a Godless, reckless life
When all my labours have an end?
         (Written in the tent at John's Creek while feeling wishful)

William Mitchell's Diaries

    William Mitchell kept diaries over the period April 1879 to January 1889. He died in July 1889. Six of his diaries have survived. The diaries record his trip by horseback with Brad, looking for a property to purchase. Tha last diary records his struggle with diabetes. He used shorthand symbols in these diaries. Gillian Moore has generously produced an analysis of the use of these symbols in the diary. Link to Gillian's analysis.
    Fred Mitchell has produced a PDF of the diaries showing side by side page images and text with comment. He is also producing a map of their trip north. Both tasks are difficult. The diaries are often faded, and sometimes in code. Their trip description is often not precise, place names have changed, and they occasionally got lost. The PDF files are too big to post on the web, so if you are intereded, contact us or Fred. However Fred is also producing text only versions of the diaries - William's entries without  images annotations or cross links. These will be posted when available. Link for Text only diaries
Further Comment  from Gillian
1.  The reference in the notes on William's will to the payment to Dr Mueller for treatment and wine is interesting. There is no mention of wine in the diary, only horehound beer, which William started drinking immediately after visiting Dr Mueller on 28 November 1888, so the doctor must have recommended it. He may have had some sort of wine later (for medicinal purposes only!), in the months after the diary ends. Which brings me to the next point:
2.  It does strike me now as very probable that there was in fact another diary after this one, since William was reasonably well at the end of this one - enjoying a Christmas dinner of sucking pig and turkey and then heading off somewhere by train (Sydney? Melbourne?) to see an exhibition. He was certainly not fading out at that stage, and when the notebook was full he would surely have continued on in another one.  Perhaps Ellen destroyed it.

    The comments that follow are a bit disorganised but  are organised to attribute the source - relationships are in the Acknowledgements. In reading this, it should be born in mind that there are no living descendants of Ellen's second marriage to Tom White. So his side of the story is perhaps under-represented.

Notes from Fred Mitchell

    William Mitchell seemed interested, in his diary, in having his picture taken during his trip north to near Queensland with his brother Brad. There is however no statement as to what type of image that was made by the people who took his image. He had a dozen taken at George Street in Sydney for 10/6. The `tintype' is believed to have been taken some time in the 1870's, presumable when he was mining. This could have been either at Hillsborough or Bethanga. There were good photographers at Beechworth, but they did not leave any images in our family's possession which are tintypes.
    As a result of his mining at Bethanga and the trip north he decided to purchase land at Bethanga. In his diary for 5" December 1879 he notes: `left Hillsborough 6 am ... went to Bethanga to peg out the river bend that I applied for last year. I put the first peg by the river at one o'clock pm ... I crossed over to the fence to put in the other peg and saw a peg on the other side of the fence ... had a look, that of Archibald Lobban.' On 9th December `he went to Beechworth and applied for the river bend of 200 acres' . On 12th December he was at Finley's sale: `Father bought 418 acres between the three of us [William B, William, & Brad] at 92/6 per acre. I bought 325 for myself at 86/- per acre'.
    The minute books of the Bethanga Wesleyan Church show William as an inaugural member of the committee set up in 1878 to build the church. He kicked in £10 of the £100 they estimated they needed (to start the project?). In May 78 he accepted responsibility for a £50 overdraft. In August 78  he became secretary. In Apr 1882 he became Secretary and Treasurer. In 1883 his pursuit of a former minister to account for church monies provoked the reverend to produce a reply which ended "I only reply to your letter because silence might give you importance & I hold you in well deserved & unutterable contempt." William was replaced on the committee by Fred Mitchell after William's death.. Fred resigned in 1905. Len Mitchell joined in 1908. He became secretary in 1919. In 1921 Ern and Len Mitchell  became Trustees. The second minute book ends in 1922

Recollections from Alma Dillon in 1970s

    William initially built two rooms at Whiteford, then later added rooms to total eight and at one stage nine. He had "beautiful embossed wall—papering — gold and roses" and dado boards extending three feet up the wall (Le.., flash, I think). William was "dying to get married." He went to Melbourne and stayed at The Victoria Coffee Palace (now the Victoria Hotel) where he met Ellen Cubitt, wo worked there.. He told them at home that ~she was smart - - carry as many plates! . Ellen's sister became engaged to Fred and he gave her a ring but she jilted him and went to Sydney. She sent the ring back and it was given to Minnie.
    Tom White thought Ellen owned the farm, but she didn’t. Tom was very harsh to the kids when he found their interest in the farm, but was very good to Ellen later. Fred and Brad ordered him off the farm (to bush creek). They let them have the cattle and they sold them and got money for farm at Moyhu near Wangaratta. Ellen Tom and their son Bob moved to Moyhu , and later lived at Leneva near Wodonga.  He treated her real bad. She had to stop with him. She had very bad arthritis. Fred was Executor. They rented out land till kids came of age.
    By the time Ern (the youngest) was 16 all children had left home. Flossie left when she finished school at about 16 to go and help Lily. Pushed out by Tom White. She then had Hydatids caught by drinking from a creek where dogs also drank, there was a great deal of concern. She went to Melbourne for some time. Adelaide worked as a housemaid for Jaggers in Bethanga. Ern lived with Bill Mitchells (friend) and worked for him (the two of them rode to Queensland stock moving) (Bill Mitchell unrelated : LR)
Around 1908 when Ern turned 21,  F, L, A and E returned to Whiteford.
In 1913 Ern and Len bought the girls out and took over management.. Adelaide went to NZ to look after the Stratton family (related through the Cubitts). Len and Ern both married, and there were extensions made to the house so that there were two separate areas. Ern came out to see us. Said I'm going to tie the knot. Came out in morning of marriage (staying with Flentjes) put ring in palm of hand. There's the ring  Pretty good ring, Think it'll last her all her life. Well if a fellow didn't turn up, it'd put her in a hole. Spose I'd better go. Not a person in Bethanga who didn't like him (also Grandfather). Ernie looks like Hawtons, same nature.
    In 1918  Ern bought Len out. (Len went to Climsland).After buying Len out, Ern let Whiteford for three years and moved to a rented home in Bethanga. Ern stayed at Whiteford till about 1930. 
Full text of Alma's notes

Recollections from Norm Martin (2004)

    Jim Mitchell son of Brad Mitchell says there are notes in a Canberra library left there made by his father Brad Mitchell about Brad & Williams trip to Queensland.  They went 858 miles on foot or horse, 713 miles by rail, 169 miles by coach, and 1000 miles by steamer.  The total cost each them was £39/6/8.
    The Bethanga mine was registered 13th April 1876 and they worked it for a year getting gold to the value of £2860/6/1.  The mine was sold for £3000.
    Flossie and Adelaide would often go by gig to balls at Springdale Hall, which was sold in 1910 for removal for £91/10/-
    This partnership of the children was dissolved about 1913.  Lily, Flossie and Adelaide each received £1000 and Ern and Len each got £3000. .
    Norm Martin was born at sister Connors in Wodonga, as were many of the Mitchell children.  In 1917 Leila & Ern were living in the Bethanga house near the church. Prior to 1917 Flossie had been very sick with Hydatids caught by drinking from a creek where dogs also drank..

Recollections from Elsie Rowley (1970s)

    I think our family got on best with Tom White. Ern, being the youngest, perhaps the bitterness in him didn't hold as much as the others, who might have realised more at the time. Flossie did not get on with Grandma White - perhaps she had more resentment about days at Whiteford . "They never knew where he came from or anything about his earlier life"  He was a rough sort of person. but became more peaceful as he got older. Ellen was a strong person. In her old age she had arthritis, but never complained. Elsie really admired her

Recollections from Muriel Clarnette (about 1975)

William was "a very good man" and "very attractive".

Recollections from Violet Coulson (1970s)

    Tom White born in England. no school, but could read, knew a lot. Uncle (Bob) Mitchell + Violet and May liked him. He was a very good Bricklayer. When kid (14 yrs) his father had given him half crown,. and said go buy yourself a trowel and go to work. TW did the brickwork (base)of the second Bethanga school (the one demolished mid 60s).. He also built a shop on the corner of High St and Jack Hore Place Wodonga (now demolished). Started working on Macquarie Worsted(?) bricklaying, but left because he said the job was v scungy, and  place would not stand up to machinery in it
    When Lily was married, TW drove them to Ebden to catch the train. He had been drinking in day and drank more at Ebden. On the way home, picked up a swaggy. Was whipping at the two horses, careering along the road . Swaggie petrified went to grab the reins and TW's hat and wig got knocked off. Guy thought it was the devil. TW had no hair due to former illness (no eyebrows or eyelashes).
    When Grandpa and Grandma White left Whiteford, thry had a sale. Ern came with a handful of notes to give to TW for Fairy (horse). TW said put it back in your pocket, you can have the horse.
    The children in general had to work very hard when they were running the farm on their own


    We have extensive notes from the New Zealand branch of the family. Extracts follow. Link to full text.   Ref 118 has Adelade's Descendants
There are extensive notes in FTM for Adelaide's family. Suggestions in FTM that Iris married Jack Stratton are wrong?
    Adelaide came to  New Zealand to help look after one of her cousins children and ended up in Houhora, where  she must have met her future husband, as that is where they were married.  She married Herbert Henry Hutchings in 1914, presumably she arrived in New Zealand in about 1913 at the age of 29 Years .He was a gum digger/carpenter

Notes from Norm Martin (2004)
    In the early days of the partnership it was Adelaide's task to drive in a spring cart with the previous nights and that mornings milking to the Holdsen & Nielson butter factory on the edge of the Murray river beside the bridge from Albury (this factory finished work many years ago, but the building is now part of the information centre).  The milk was separated, the cream bought by the factory and the skim milk carried back to Whiteford for the feeding of the pigs and poddy calves.  Each days run had to be done with a different horse to the previous day.
Notes from Gladys Barnes (Adelaide's daughter)   
    Gladys had Jane Mitchell's Bible. "When I was in my teens and going to Bible Class, I was very proud of my Bible, and showed it to one of the chaps, saying it was over seventy years old at the time. He said, looking down his nose, and much to my chagrin, "No Bible should last more than TWO years". Meaning of course, it wasn't used." Gladys intended to pass it on. Perhaps Jodie now has it? 
    Emily Cubitt married a Stratton. Jack Stratton, a son married Margaret Wray of Tallangatta ......Mum came to NZ to care for Jack Stratton (her cousin)'s family when Margaret died in childbirth. There is an older brother and sister
    Glady's Eulogy is Ref 120

Tom White's Obituary and Picture


Bob White

Ellen and Thom had a son Bob in 1984. Bob went with Ellen when they left Whiteford in 1908. However he seems to have been on good terms with the other children as Flossie's postcard collection contains numerous postcards from Bob during this period. He enlisted in the AIF in January 1916, listig his occupation as a farmer. He served in the middle east (Port Said) as a driver. In Sept 1918 he went to hospital with various serious priblems. His record states 20 bouts of malaria. He was eventually discharged at the end of 1919, still not well. He married Dorothy Smith in 1931. They had no children, Bob died in 1965 in Ballarat.


Particularly Fred Mitchell (Ernest and Leila's son) and Jenny (Fred's daughter), but also Bob Mitchell (Ernest and Leila's son) and Norm Martin (Florence's daughter).
Jenny supplied most of the material from Elsie Rowley  (Ernest and Leila's daughter), Alma Dillon (Minnie's Daughter), Muriel Clarnette (Brad Mitchell's Grandaughter) and Violet Coulson (Lily Mitchell's Daughter)
Also thanks to Peter Cubit for his help on early Cubits. Thanks to Gillian Moore for her analysis of William's shorthand

Research Notes

  NB Ellen Cubit's death certificate is all wrong on her parents It says they are Arthur Cubit and Adelaide (maiden name Brumby)

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