Saturday, March 17, 2012

Davis descendants just won't go away!

In my previous post Rebutting comment re-Davis family I wrote (and I quote):

"Had a note from one, Garry Poole, who commented on my articles on the Davis Family - Gounyan Creek, Murrumbateman - an updated post – and  Gounyan Creek Murrumbateman . Now Mr Poole claims to be third generation Davis family and says that all my information is so wrong that it is just pure sh*t and that if I want the correct information I should ask the members of the Davis Family."

To which I replied:

  1. "Mr Poole, firstly I do not post abusive comments under a topic banner. I deal with them in an open forum. 
  2. Secondly, I did say in my article, Gounyan Creek, Murrumbateman - an updated post::One must also appreciate that the records of the early days of settlement were poorly kept and often misreported, so one must draw their own conclusions from such records on the evidence before them:” 
  3. Thirdly, Mr Poole, much of my material comes from the Davis Family’s own history and research, or, from official documents of the day.
  4. As far as my “…… asking the Davis family for the truth about their history ……”, that would be a bit like asking a politician if he was honest – the answer is sure to be a self-fulfilling statement of assertion rather than fact.
  5. I did speak to members of the Ngunnawal indigenous group in this area – notably members of the Bell, Brown, Bulgar, Merritt, Monaghan and Phillips families, all  descendants of the seven clans who lived in fairly specific localities. "

Today, I received the following (lengthy) email from one, Beryl M Pittman, extolling the virtues of the Davis family and demanding that I delete my blog,

"Dear JohnD,
My name is Beryl Pittman, and I am proud to be a 3 x great granddaughter of George and Mary Granny Davis of Gounyan near Yass.
I have only just been made aware of your blog and wish to answer your statements.
 I have been researching and chronicling this family and its activities for over 40 years, in company with a large band of cousins, and believe that I have seen just about every bit of paper that has either George or Mary Davis's name on it. A book written in 1989, From a Little Acorn is available for purchase at the Yass Valley Visitor Centre. AND by the way - the cemetery at Gounyan is not a remnant, is still active and is a vital record of family history, not just the Davis's, but also of other local families. Another well researched book I could recommend is Far Away days - A History of the Murrumbateman, Jeir and Nanima Districts by Dorothy Mulholland - also at the Visitor Centre or The Yass Historical Society.
 Flogging of convicts - you are writing of a time when the convict era was well over - transportation to the colony of NSW ended in 1841. Besides that, there would have been no need to send anyone to Queanbeyan for a flogging - Yass had its own resident scourger from the early 1830's. Any flogging had to be done under the order of a Magistrate - and there would be a paper trail to trace, if there was even a remnant of truth in what you write. Yes the Davis family did have a small number of assigned convicts, but most of them stayed in the district, and in the employ of the family long after they served their sentences - which indicates no bad feelings.
Land acquisition - George Davis - not Mary, was granted 60 acres of land which they named Gounyan and maybe I should point out here that it is a native word - meaning child born here, honouring the other families who had also lived there. The other land that came into their possession later was purchased by them - they did not just take it over. You could spend a couple of years going over papers in the NSW Land Title Office (I have) to see that. All land was taken up under the various Government schemes of Pre-Emptive or Conditional Purchase etc., and yes, some of it would have been paid for by the family's involvement in gold mining - even fossicking in Gounyan Creek. Most was paid for from the profits of their farming activities. As far as dumping convicts on a vacant block of land - believe me, when George and Mary Davis walked into the Yass district in 1827, there was no grand mansion awaiting them. The humble home they did build is still there, albeit now almost in ruins.
You have cast nasty aspersions on a woman who rose from an unfortunate background to a position of distinction within her community. Do you really believe that a woman, aged almost 70 years of age at the time of her husband's death, had an unnamed boy friend John living at Queanbeyan - 40 odd miles away. The charge of poisoning is just scurrilous gossip. There is no evidence of anything of this nature taking place - if it had I am quite sure one of the researchers would have found something about it.  I might add that Mary Davis, with her Mediterranean complexion, would have felt great empathy with the aboriginal women in particular. For some time she was the only European woman in the district, and probably was helped by her friends when she gave birth to her last child in 1829 and in turn she, as a midwife, would have been present for some of their births. The women learnt from each other, the use of herbs - good medicine, and the gathering of certain berries etc., for food.
The Sawyers Arms was not only an inn for the supply of grog - it was a home, church, school, and home-away-from home for travellers on the road from Sydney to Melbourne - as well as the locals - and fully licensed and inspected by authorities.
As for bad blood between the Ngunnawal and the Davis's - I don't believe that either. Fact - I was engaged (gratis) by members of the Merritt clan, living in Penrith and Warren, to write up their family tree. The first tenet of family research is similar to the Doctors Creed - first do no harm - and your article has caused a lot of harm and distress to family members. We were alerted to its existence after one family member was greeted in the street with a comment So much for your Mary Davis, the truth is coming out now. Well it is not truth, and I would ask, in the name of all that is decent, that you please take this blog down, or alter considerably what you have written. How would you feel if someone wrote something similar about one of your loved ones?
You cite no sources - hearsay is not good enough.

Ms Pittman - you are entitled your opinion and because you were not as personally abusive as Mr Poole I gave you "fair hearing", in that I posted your email without any alteration or abbreviation. I also looked up your extensive work on chronicling any facet of the Davis Family History - Truly, a marvelous effort at establishing the self-aggrandisement of a family group.

Perhaps I've been a tad unfair, as it may appear that I have 'singled out' the Davis family for it is common knowledge that many other family groups in the early years of settlement were scoundrels and rogues who were, like "Granny" and her husband, William, ex-convicts deported from England, who went on to create empires and huge family dynasties - and many of the descendants were a marked improvement on the source of their origins, no doubt by the process of introducing new blood to the bloodlines..

I am curious about your reference to the Merritt clan - wasn't one of them "done" for bank robbery - a comic performance where they walked unmasked into a bank and demanded money with menace, even though they were a well recognised sports-person in the region??

You would also be aware of "The Jeir Tragedy", where Sidney Davis and others were called upon to give evidence to the local magistrate under subpoena as to the curious fatal shooting of a Mr McFeeter, with Sergt. Jeffries of the Constabulary sitting in on the proceeding but finding no evidence to proceed upon as the magistrate was left to rule the wound as 'self-inflicted'?

Ms Pittman, as I told Mr Poole:
"I am happy for you to have your say and if it is reasonable I am willing to post your version of the Davis family history. Alternatively you may start your own blog and write what you like to see in print."

As to my "accuracy", you stated "You cite no sources - hearsay is not good enough." - I suggest you follow my links (above) and go and read my blogs and stop 'over-reacting' when your pet fancy is shown with what is possibly another light!

 May I also point out that the following historians felt about history:

"History will be kind to me for I intend to write it." 
Sir Winston Churchill (1874 - 1965)


"Indeed, history is nothing more than a tableau of crimes and misfortunes."
Voltaire (1694 - 1778)


LindaG said...

Nothing like a good argument. :^)
Have a great weekend, John!

North of Wiarton & South of the Checkerboard said...

"Touche" John !!! & a huge "hug" from way over here in Canada, as I do admire your political tactfulness.

"Just Me"