Friday, February 09, 2007

Veteran Hall

Ferry trip to Veteran Hall Cemetery Saratoga

Take the ferry, the Saratoga or the Codock II, from Woy Woy Wharf to the first ferry stop in Lintern Channel, Veterans Hall. When you get off you're on Henderson Road Saratoga. Head right along the waterfront. There's a nice new path there. The road will curve then come to a corner and right there at that corner is a tiny cemetery. It's my very favourite cemetery in the area, topping even St Paul's, Kincumber South and Point Clare.

Veteran Hall Cemetery Henderson Road Saratoga

Veteran Hall and Veterans Hall are the same place. Locals tend to say Veterans Hall. It was the name of Robert and Catherine Henderson's house and the ferry wharf nearby still has the name. The house was on the slope above the wharf as far as I can tell, maybe 300 yards from the cemetery and to the right of the photo above. It was a sandstone place and probably quite pleasant but it was knocked down in 1909. A newspaper article of 1909 described it as:

"...a very old homestead of the farmhouse type, with shingled roof and attics, deep verandas and wide stone hall".

Sounds very similar to Rock Davis's old place in Orange Grove Road. That's still standing.

Robert Henderson was one of the local movers and shakers. His parents came out from Ireland on the Sugar Cane as convicts in 1793. He was born at Parramatta (now a suburb of Sydney) in 1796 and married Catherine Geary there in 1817. Robert got a land grant at Pittwater near Palm Beach. His father-in-law had a land grant at Brisbane Water, a short boat trip away. Robert and Catherine moved there in the first few years of white settlement. They named their house Veteran Hall in honour of her father's time as a private in the New South Wales Corps (early colonial army-cum-police-cum-prison guards).

Veteran Hall Cemetery Henderson Road Saratoga

Robert had several careers. In 1824 he was appointed District Constable. This was something like the job of sheriff in the Hollywood movies I gather. He and Catherine cleared their land and began to farm. They bought more local land and Robert left the police in 1829. The farm was still running and the 1828 Census has it at 500 acres and 14 male employees. He went into shipbuilding and nearly got done for rum smuggling. He popped back to Sydney for a bit then came back and was appointed to the District Council in 1850 or 1854. Around 1842 there was a school at Veteran Hall. Not in the house itself by the look of it. He popped off for good in November 1869, of cancer of the face, and is buried in this wee cemetery.

(Info from Six Brisbane Water Cemeteries: A heritage tour, by Jillian Baxter (1992), Historical Records of the Central Coast of NSW: Bench Books & Court Cases: 1826-74, published by the Gosfrod District Local History Study Group (1990) & The Shipbuilders of Brisbane Water NSW by Gwen Dundon (1997).)

Veteran Hall Cemetery Henderson Road Saratoga

The stone set against the wall reads:

"This land enclosed by wall of stone is bequeathed and willed by me to the dead who sleep within its walls during eternity
Robert Henderson Brisbane Water September 1869".

As you can see, the cemetery's not set apart from the houses in any way now. In 1869 it would've been a different matter. I'm not sure how many houses would've been in Saratoga but I'm guessing less than five on this side of the hill.

The houses you can see in the background are on Henderson Road, Fernview Avenue and Treeview Place, Saratoga. Fernview and Treeview have views across to Woy Woy with Rileys Island, St Huberts Island and the unnamed isles in between. Not the very best views on Brisbane Water but well worth the dosh.

Veteran Hall Cemetery Henderson Road Saratoga

The closest headstone reads:

to the memory of
Elizabeth Catherine
the dearly beloved wife of
Robert Henderson
who departed this life

30th [?] of August 1884 [?]
aged [?] years

[then the quote, possibly biblical]"

To Elizabeth Catherine's right are Letitia Catherine Henderson and Florence [Madeline?] Henderson. The rest are illegible.

Bakewell's Index of Combined Central Coast Cemeteries has a list of the occupants:

Patrick Geary, died 7th of January 1827 aged 63. (One of the earliest white burials in the area.
John Jacob Pester [Pister in some books], died 10th of July 1832 aged 52.
Thomas Daily, died 22nd of August 1837 aged 85.
Catherine Hargraves, died 3rd of August 1866 aged 18.
Annie Cox, died 7th of May 1867 aged 5.
Robert Cox, died 26th of February 1868 aged 2 years and 6 months.
Florence Henderson, died 23rd of April 1868 aged 8 years 11 days.
Letitia Henderson, died 26th of April 1868 aged 5 years 1 month.
Hannah Henderson, died 16th of July 1868 aged 39.
Michael Cox, died 17th of November 1868 aged 65.
Catherine Henderson, died 29th of November 1868 aged 68.
Robert Henderson, died 11th of November 1869 aged 73.
Thomas Henderson, died 29th of May 1870 aged 32.
Elizabeth Henderson, died 30th of August 1885 aged 43.
Madeline Ward, died 2nd of May 1934 aged 80.

A lovely little cemetery.

I'm glad I got out and walked today. The weather was iffy but there were sunny patches as you can see.

I've been cooped up indoors too much lately. Lots of indoor stuff to do before the end of February. It's the ideal time to do it. February heat is crap. I walked bugger-all this time last year as well. Bring on winter, for fuck's sake.

Mystery solved

Umina Rampart says Wednesday's fire was in the tip (garbage dump) which is off the end of Nagari Road. Ta, mate.


Greg said...

Thanks for this lovely tour Spike. I'll be doing this walk when I return to Australia. Robert and Catherine are my great(x4) grandparents.

- Greg.

Spike said...

Yer welcome.

Love hearing about local connections. Do you have a photo of Robert and Catherine or their house I can post?

Greg said...

I'm sorry Spike, I don't have a photo. I only found out about Robert and Catherine a few moments before visiting this blog.

It turns out that Robert Henderson and Catherine Geary were direct ancestors of media magnate Rupert Albert Geary Henderson who was CEO of the John Fairfax Group in the 60's and 70's, and also my father's uncle. There is much information about the family history here:

I hope this may be of interest to you. :-)

Once again thank you, and keep up the good walk!

Greg said...

Actually, if you find all that history confusing (I did!) there's some information about the people buried at Veteran Hall here:



Spike said...

Great links ta.

Terrible thing that one about the wee girl drowning in her sleep but always good to find out more about the local people.

loubear said...

Great information. I live across the road from this graveyard. I love finding out about the history behind it!

Jenelle said...

I too am the (x4) great grand daughter of Robert Henderson & Catherine Geary.I was wondering if you could send me copies of your cemetery photos please as my Great grandmother Elizabeth Catherine Henderson's headstone is a great clear shot on your flicker page.I plan to also come and visit my now found family's resting place.
Kindest regards
Jenelle Elizabeth Henderson

Ian said...

Brings back memories. I'm 55 now, still living on the coast (Terrigal), but back in mid 60's I lived in view Parade, and along with pals, the cemetery site was like my playground. I seem to remember in those days the cemetery was also enshrouded with masses of blackberry. This inspired us to hollow the middle and create the perfect hide-away.....umm.. snakes
what snakes!

We also used to dare each other to ride up the font door of the Henderson's....Ghosts..what ghosts.

If I wasn't down by the cemetery we were usualy up on Mt Pleasnant...or going from one "lolly shop" to another in Sara or Davo (there seemed to heaps of them in those days).