BEYOND THE TREE | The rush for gold at Beechworth!

This exhibition at Liverpool Regional Museum includes a growing community tree and you can add your own family story. Bring in photos of your family moments to be scanned, printed and mounted. In conjunction with Liverpool Genealogy Society. Volunteers help with research and family enquiries Tuesdays to Saturdays. The Champion is running a series of family stories tying in with it. Margaret's husband's great-great-great-grandfather Fred prospected for gold on the Beechworth goldfields.

1851 brought many changes to the colony of NSW. In July the newly independent colony of Victoria, named after Queen Victoria, was born after separating from NSW.

In August, gold was discovered at Clunes, near Ballarat, and thus began the Victorian gold rush. In early 1852, gold was discovered at Spring Creek, in Victoria, by a local shepherd named Howell.

My husband's great-great-great-grandfather, Frederick Warr, arrived with thousands of others who flocked to the new goldfields of Spring Creek, where he lived in a tent and, like so many others, found gold. In the first few months of 1853, the Victorian Government Gold Escort transported 123,000 ounces of gold from Beechworth to Melbourne. As a boy in England, Fred, like his dad before him, trained to be a carpenter and these skills came in handy when he built his home in 1854. He married Eliza Boyd at home, by the local Church of England minister in 1855. Next year their firstborn son, Fredric, died at two weeks but they were ultimately blessed with seven healthy children over the next 12 years. Eliza stayed home while Fred prospected along Spring and Reid's creeks.

He did well and in 1857 bought six acres near Beechworth, built a home and applied for a 15-year license, which included sluicing above and below ground, a minimum of three men on the lease at a time, a race and daily allowance of 500,000 gallons of water.

By 1860, he applied for another gold lease for another 15 acres. He extracted gold from his land by sluicing, which uses a race and running water.

He applied for water permits with the warden and paid for it monthly. Disputes with diggers on the goldfields were dealt with by the Beechworth Warden's Court.

Beechworth's population had grown to 20,000 by 1857 with many buildings established; churches, schools, shops, banks, hotels, hospital, police barracks, courthouse and gaol. There are 32 buildings listed with the Victorian Heritage Council.

Fred was our family's only goldminer. He was still working his claim into the 1880s.

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