Early Families

The Brennan Family

Michael Brennan and his wife Mary were among the first settlers of Sedgwick to take up freehold grants in 1854, after an unsuccessful attempt at mining on the Bendigo Goldfields.

This generation of Brennans produced thirteen children most of whom sought careers in Melbourne. Two continued to live in Sedgwick. Today direct descendants as taken up by Michael occupy the original property.

The Broadbent Family

James Broadbent married his first wife Jane Steen in 1868 and had one daughter Jane. They lived in Emu Creek at that time. Before the death of his wife in 1883 they moved to Sedgwick. In 1889 James married Mary Ewing. From this marriage there were six children:- Irene, Ewing, John, Elizabeth, Nettie and William.

Ewing married Rebecca Story in 1927 and remained in the district, taking over as water bailiff from her father George Story in 1927. After 1935 he was transferred to Elphingstone area and on retirement moved to Nth. Harcourt. John who did not marry, continued to live in the family home until his death in 1975. The rest of them married and moved out of the district, but only the daughters had any children. Nettie died some time time ago in Brisbane.

The Cavagna Family

Guiseppi (Joseph) Cavagna from Locarno Switzerland arrived in Victoria in 1854. At first, he worked on the gold fields in Bendigo.     He was naturalized in 1858. He married  Caterina Balemi also from Locarno, at St. Francis Church in Melbourne in 1860. They took up land in Upper Emu Creek now known as Sedgwick.

As the years went by, they acquired adjoining properties until they had a comfortable fare where they lived until they died. The stone house on the property was built by Guiseppi and some of his countrymen, with stone taken from land near the creek on their property.

They reared eight children:- Vincent, Mary (Maranta), Joe, John, Jim, Kate, Elizabeth (Cahill) and Martin. Guiseppi died in 1886 aged 60. Caterina died in 1910 aged 73.

In the early days, their main source of income came from vineyards and wine making. After that, orchards and dairy produce became their main source of income.

The Conway Family

Thomas Conway came from County Clare in Ireland. In 1871 he bought the land along the Emu Creek where he lived and later acquired more land across the road.

Thomas married Catherine McMahon of Sutton Grange at Castlemaine in 1875. They had six children and his descendants live on the farm to the present time.

The Costa Family

Joseph Costa came to Australia and bought the property in 1862, when the area was known as Upper Emu Creek. He married Mrs Sarah James, a widow with three children. Joseph and Sarah had five children four boys and a girl.

After Joseph’s death in 1879 Sarah carried on the property, and also ran the Post Office. After Sarah’s death the farm passed on to her son Lou who lived there till his death in 1964, the farm was sold in 1974 ending the Costa descendants ownership.

The Costa home was built from bricks burnt on the property.

The Drechsler Family

Wilhelm Drechsler was born in Hanover, Germany, on 15th. August, 1837. When 22 years of age he left for Australia, reaching Port Phillip Bay in 1859. Immediately after his arrival he came to Bendigo and worked in the Axedale and Eaglehawk districts.       In 1861 Wilhelm commenced farming at (Upper Emu Creek) Sedgwick.

He had the misfortune to have his little home and practically all his buildings and fencing destroyed by a disastrous fire, which swept the district in the summer of 1865. He later built a fine home on the property, and acquired more land at Upper Axe Creek.

He married Miss Ann Flood, sister of the one-time well-known coach-builder of that name, in Bendigo. They had two sons Joseph and Patrick Drechsler of Sedgwick, and six daughters, Mrs. J. Clark, of Moonee Ponds; Mrs. M. Tobin, Sedgwick; Mrs. G. Clark, of Colbinabbin; Mrs. Paterson, of Goulburn Valley.

The other two daughters entered the Convent in Armidale, N.S.W. Wilhelm died at the age of 86. A direct descendant is still farming the original property. There are a number of Wilhelm’s descendants living in the Sedgwick district today.

The Montgomery Family

William Montgomery married Janet Mc Quaig in Glasgow Scotland and had two sons William and Don. He arrived in Victoria with his family in the early 1850’s. Leaving his family behind he walked to Bendigo and staked a claim at the gold fields. Then buying a horse and dray he collected his family and brought them to Sedgwick.

Their family increased to eleven, two girls and nine boys. Most of the family were educated at the Black Eagle School. Only two sons and the two girls married. John, who worked the farm in Sedgwick, had five children, one dying in infancy. Dougal married Mary Marshall and lived in the de-licensed hotel called The Great Eastern. Maggie moved to N.S.W. married and had a big family.       Mary married Peter Charlesworth and lived at Mandurang. She had one child,

Thomas. James the last surviving son remained single and lived in the old home till his death in 1957.

The Osborne Family

Henry Osborne was born on 14th Jan. 1825 at St.Enoder, Cornwall. Henry married Keziah Symons on 10th April 1851 at St.Enoder and arrived in Australia on 28th July that same year. They arrived in the Bendigo area in late 1852.

He filed a claim on a gold mine at Spring Gully but later sold it and purchased the Cornish Store at Spring GPlly: (Now under Spring Gully Reservoir). He was among the first to receive freehold grants at Sedgwick and his property is still occupied by his direct descendants.

The Semmens Family

The Semmens family, although not actually pioneers of Sedgwick, have been closely associated with the school, social and sporting activities of the district for many years. In 1909 Josiah Semmens was appointed Chief Forester for Bendigo district and with his wife Agnes and a family of five daughters and four sons settled on land purchased from G. Kofeod.

The four youngest children, Bertha, Alice, Herbert and Allen attended the school. As time passed four of the daughters and three sons married and lived in Sedgwick, and over the years 27 of their offspring, spanning 4 generations have learnt their A B C at No. 935.

At the present time, a granddaughter and her husband, Robyn and Rick Gillet, and little daughter, Jessica, live on the property, making 5 generations to have lived there.

The Steen Family

John Steen settled in Sedgwick in the late 1860’s. He married Matha Cail (a Welsh girl) and they raised one son and four daughters. Originally they lived in a timber cottage  near the creek. After about fifteen years they built a house on the present site.

They farmed the land, growing oats, milking a few cows and sold wood. They planted orchards that produced apples and pears for export, as well as the domestic market.

Albert (the son) married Gertrude Down in 1903 and with their family (Beatrice, Adela, Norman and Alan) operated the Post Office that had been transferred from Sosta’s across the road in 1922.

Norman with his wife Ethel (nee Henderson) and family continued farming.

The Story Family

Anne and George Story came from England to the Goldfields with two children Mary and Robert. Five more were born in Australia:- Rebecca, George, Annie, then William and John when they moved to Emu Creek in 1864.

Mary married John Young in 1868 and settled in Sedgwick. In 1885 Anne bought a Sedgwick property that was handed down to Andy Story.

George was the Water Bailiff in Sedgwick from 1880’s to 1927, he retired to South. Mandurang. His three children Essie, Rebecca and Ray grew up in Sedgwick. Rebecca married Ewing Broadbent, who became the next Water Bailiff.

William married the daughter of a hotelkeeper Catherine Strauss and lived in Sedgwick for a few years in the 1890’s. He had four children:- Herman, Jim, Ethel and Bill.

John had four children:- Jack, Andy, Tom and Jean. He remained in Emu Creek but his son Tom moved to Sedgwick after his marriage in 1933, onto property they bought in 1920’s. (The Pay family had originally settled this property.) They had two daughters Margaret and Elma. He remained in the district all his life having contracts for a fresh milk run and the School Bus Run.

The Tobin Family

Pierce Tobin came to Australia from Kerry, Ireland and settled in Sedgwick presumably in 1864.  He first lived on  land opposite to where he finally settled, and carried on farming activities until his death.

His son Matthew Tobin continued to farm on the family holding, which then passed to his son William Tobin. He continued to live on and work the property until his death in 1965. His death ended an association with the area of 102 years, when family members sold the property in October 1966.

The John Young Family

John Young was one of the pioneers of Upper Emu Creek arriving in the early 1860’s. He selected land in the southern end of the Emu Creek Valley, and in 1868 he married Mary Story, whose family were also early pioneers of the district. Their thirteen children were all born at their home on Upper Emu Creek, as it was known until 1901. John Young, who represented the Mandurang Riding in the Strathfieldsaye Shire Council from 1884 to 1898, died at his home, “Preston Vale”, Sedgwick in 1914 aged 71.

The family gradually became scattered to points as far apart as Western Australia and Tasmania, but the three sons remained at home, Thomas, Albert and Walter carried on the farms, and under the name of Young Bros. became