Discussions on the history and historiography of Australia's New England

Saturday, April 24, 2010

New England soldier settlers

On Archives Outside,  Selena Williams' post Hidden Stories: Acknowledging World War One Nurses as Soldier Settlers focused on something that I knew nothing about, female soldier settlers.

Selena is now working as a research assistant for A Land fit for Heroes, a new web site recording the experiences of NSW soldier settlers. I think that I mentioned the site when it first came up, but its content then was very low. I revisited, and spent some time clicking through the case studies.

I am especially interested in New England soldier settlement. Of course, this was a sub-set of a broader program, but I am interested in local impacts.

Kentucky south of Armidale is the soldier settlement area that I know best at a personal level because my Aunt and Uncle (Ron and Kath Vickers) had a property there.Cousin Jamie Glenroy 1960

I am not sure that it was ever a soldier settlement block, but certainly it was in the soldier settlement area.

I looked around for a photo to illustrate this post. This one is from cousin Jamie's collection. Taken in 1960, it shows a very young Jamie (the grass seems huge) looking up towards the woolshed. Planted as wind breaks, the pine trees on the top left were typical of Kentucky. Sadly, the trees had a limited life, so many of them have died and have not been replanted, changing the visual landscape that I knew.

I have written several posts on Kentucky. 

One, New England Story - The life and death of the mysterious Harry Freame, records the story of a remarkable man who after an adventurous early life came to Kentucky Estate as government storekeeper following its subdivision as a soldier settlement scheme, then acquiring a block and establishing an orchard. This was not the end of the story, for he was to become one of, if not the first, Australian spies.

For those who are interested, there is a display about the life of past Kentuckians in the Kentucky Hall including Freame. Visitors can get the key from the Kentucky store.

Returning to Selena's work, for someone like me who is interested in the texture of New England life, her work and the A Land fit for Heroes web site are very important. Even now, just clicking through the still limited case studies on the site I can start to see patterns and questions.     

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