In the last post I talked about The Good Country : Cranbourne Shire by Niel Gunson. In this post I will look at another of my well used resources Early days of Berwick and its surrounding districts - Beaconsfield, Upper Beaconsfield, Harkaway, Narre Warren and Narre Warren North, complied by Norman Beaumont, James Curran and R.H Hughes. It was first published in 1948, revised in 1959 and 1979 and finally republished with an index in 2005. I know it is a bit dated, especially in its attitudes to Aboriginals, and some people say it has a number of errors, however it is still one of my favourite resources.
The joy of this book is that it was written by locals, with long term connections to the towns which they write about, so it is very good on the early European settlers and early properties. For example the section on Berwick, which looks at early residents of the town and surrounding areas, tells us that Two Crimean War veterans, Mr Drummond and Mr Adams, resided in High Street, Berwick. These two old gentlemen, wearing their Crimean War medals, could often be observed sitting in the Boulevard, enjoying the sunshine. It was said that Mrs Drummond was a contemporary with and associated with Florence Nightingale, nursing at the Crimea. It's this type of information which makes this book such a great resource for people with family connections to the area.
You can buy the revised 2005 edition from the Berwick Pakenham Historical Society.They operate a Museum at the Old Shire Offices, corner Main Street and McGregor Road, Pakenham. (enter via service road off James Street). It is open Sunday afternoons.