This blog provides information, stories, links and events relating to and promoting the history of the Wimmera district.
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Monday, 17 October 2016

Morton Plains' Madonna

Rewriting this post, as it was corrupted in draft, so hoping I remember the details. When conducting the first 'Wimmera in Photographs' Collection Day, I was told to look out for the Madonna of Morton Plains.  
The Madonna's tree
The Madonna of Morton Plains
The 'Madonna of Morton Plains' is a framed print which was placed on the trunk of a box tree near the Morton Plains homestead. Over the years the bark of the tree has slowly grown over the frame embedding it in the tree.
At the Birchip Collection Day, I asked about the story behind the Madonna, and received 3 very different versions.
The first version was that a lady had seen a vision of Our Lady, and then placed the picture in remembrance.
The second was that there had been a murder in the vicinity, and in an act of compassion, a sympathiser of the victim erected the frame.
And finally, that a child was buried nearby, and when the road was diverted to over the spot, the picture was placed near the new verge.

Not sure how one would go about validating the claims of version one.
Investigating the claims of the second version - the murder, the only reference I could find in Trove was from 14th September 1875:
An inquest was held to-day (in St Arnaud) on the body of Davie, an aboriginal, who is supposed to have been murdered on the Morton Plains by being thrown into a fire. The inquiry resulted very unsatisfactorily as the aboriginal witnesses denied the statements previously made by them to Europeans. The natives now stated that the deceased fell into the fire while in a fit. The deceased, prior to his death had made a similar statement to Mr. Miller, a publican in the district, who was a witness at the inquest. A verdict was returned that death was caused by congestion of the lungs and injuries received from burns, but it was not known how the injuries had been caused.  

The third version - the burial of the child, the road (where the Warracknabeal-Birchip Rd meets the Sunraysia Hwy) was diverted, as shown by the yellow road on the Warmur Parish map, which was gazetted in May 1956. The Madonna tree is on Allotment 90A, and the Morton Plains homestead is to the south of the Warracknabeal-Birchip Rd in the Watchem Parish.
The third version appears to have the most legs (1875 seems too long in the past, and was it truly a murder?), but then again if the burial was a marked grave would a road be constructed over it
 Leasees of Morton Plains were William Lockhart Morton and Joseph Raleigh 1846-1847, Raleigh 1846-1847, Thomas Pyke 1847-1853, Charles Lyon and Compton Ferrers 1853-1864, George Cunningham Macredie 1864-1870, Charles Mills & Co 1870-1873, Walter, George & Edward Simmons 1873-1876.
From that possibles are:
Eliza Kate Morton born 1847 died 1848, father "W"
Robert Pyke born 1847 Werribee died 1854, father Thomas Henry Pyke, mother Sarah (1405) 
Clare Mills born 1870 died 1873, mother Kate
Baby Simmons born 1873 one day, father George Lewis Simmons, mother Mary McGuire (2920)
William Simmons born 1872 died 1875, father Edward Joseph Simmons, mother Jane Brown (13296)
I don't know, maybe it is just a curiosity!

1 comment:

  1. Hi, seeing this has me curious to wonder if this could also be of relevance to the deaths of Edward and Jane Simmons 3 children who passed within days of each other at Morton Plains Station most likely due to diphtheria ; Walter George Simmons aged 4yo 20th July 1874; John Alfred Simmons aged 9 months 21st July 1874 and James Morrison Simmons aged 2years 10 months 23rd July 1874