Sarah and William Edlington, and daughter Harriet and family.

Pioneers of Blackwood – Sarah and William Edlington, and daughter Harriet and granddaughter Susanah Edlington. 

By Margot Hitchcock, Historian for the Blackwood & District Historical Society.  © 

Research has sometimes a strange way of adding more information to a story on the history of Blackwood  –  such is the case after the great granddaughter  of Sarah Edlington contacted the author.

The Ballan Shire Rate book in 1876 noted William Edlington as a publican of a hotel on the tenement at Red Hill, the hotel being valued at £25 ($50).  This hotel was the Prince of Wales and Edlington was to be its hotelkeeper for about the next thirty years.  (This hotel was where the kiosk used to be on the road above the Mineral Springs)

Edlington’s Hotel was the scene where Dr. Francis Long committed suicide after having breakfast with Sarah Edlington.  (But this is another story in my book – “The History and Pioneers of Blackwood” – yet to be published.)

where-kiosk-was Click on photo to enlarge

This photo above shows where Edlington’s Hotel was before the Blackwood kiosk used to be there on the road above the Mineral Springs (Photo by Margot Hitchcock)

kiosk mineral springs

The old Blackwood kiosk in the 1950’s opposite the Mineral springs, when it was run by Ma Bailey with petrol, Swallows Ice Cream, Kodak film, hot water, sweets, drinks, milk, bread and some food items. From a post card.   (State Library of Victoria Image H32492/6688)

Sarah and William Edlington had a daughter, Harriet Edlington born in Sheffield, England in 1851, and the family came out to Australia early to mid 1850’s.

When Harriet Edlington was 15-16 yrs if age she had a daughter who was born in 1866 as an unnamed female in Blackwood and listed as an illegitimate child to Harriet, and fathers name not recorded.  This child was later named Susanah Edlington.  She was born at Amelia Reef (Garlicks Lead) which is north of Blackwood now on a road marked Amelia Track.  amelia-mine-sml click on photo to enlarge


Amelia Mine and remains of Mullock heap from mine situated on right side of Amelia Track, which is on right hand side of the road going from Blackwood to Trentham.   There is what looks like a log hut or timber dwelling on the property.  (photo by Margot Hitchcock 2008)

In 1868 when Susanah was aged about 2 yrs, her mother, Harriet Edlington, then aged about  18 yrs  married Oto/Otto Wilson.  On Otto’s marriage records he was listed as being born in America. Some records show Otto was named as Oto James or Otto Thomas.  Harriet married Otto Wilson at the Methodist Church in Blackwood, now the Uniting Church.  Otto worked as a miner at Blackwood.

uniting-church-2    click on photo to enlarge.     Uniting Church, Red Hill, Blackwood.  (Photo by Margot Hitchcock 2012.)

Harriet and Otto Wilson had 9 children listed as being born in Blackwood  –

Fanny Wilson born in Blackwood in 1869.

Elsie Batrisa ((Beatrice) Wilson born in Blackwood in 1871

Elsie Batrisa Wilson died in 1957 at Heidelberg age 85 – father listed as James Wilson not Otto.

Sarah Ann Wilson born in Blackwood in 1874. – died age 16 months in 1875.

Hannah Bella Wilson born in Barrys Reef in 1876.

Alice Wilson born in Barrys Reef in 1878.

William James Wilson born in Barrys Reef in 1880.

Frederick Henry Wilson, born in Barrys Reef in 1883.

George Oliver Wilson born in Barrys Reef in 1885. (father listed as James Wilson.

George Oliver Wilson died in 1960 at Camberwell age 75 yrs – father listed as James Henry Wilson not Otto.

James Arthur Wilson born in Blackwood in 1890. Died in Blackwood in 1892 age 1 year.

A record of what looks like S.A. (or James Arthur) Wilson is buried in the Blackwood cemetery on 11.11.1892 in the Church of England section F54.  There is no headstone.

Otto Wilson was Swedish, and so had anglicised his name, and his family suspect he was trying to pass as American, as he listed Boston as his birthplace on his marriage certificate, but they don’t think this is true.

Harriett and Otto Wilson lived in Barrys Reef where their children were born, and it is presumed Harriett’s illegitimate child, Susanah was brought up as one of the children.

Otto managed a gold mine for an American company, and it may have been in Barry’s Reef, or possibly the Yankee mine north of Blackwood.  There is an American mine in Blackwood situated on Yankee Reef called the Yankee Mine, this was more likely the mine that Otto Wilson  managed.  It is on a Yankee road on the left , between Blackwood and Trentham and before  Amelia Track.

yankee-mine-2   Click on photo to enlarge.    Yankee Mine, Yankee Road Blackwood.    (Courtesy Bruce McKenzie) 


Remains of Yankee mine taken by Margot Hitchcock in 2008.

Otto’s eldest daughter had a drawer full of photos, taken at the height of Blackwood’s gold rush days, with many more Hotels and photos of miners etc. plus letters to their father from Sweden. Unfortunately, after they died, a younger sister of theirs destroyed everything, she referred to it all as rubbish, and so the family lost all that valuable early history.

Fanny Wilson, the eldest daughter,  was obviously intelligent, and was said by the relative  to have been the Post Mistress at the Barrys Reef Post Office.

Harriet Wilson (nee Edlington) died in 1926 at South Melbourne, age 76 yrs. (born 1851) – father listed as William Edlington and mother as Sarah Fillingham.

Harriet and Otto Wilson lived in Blackwood, in the Barry’s reef, area, and moved it is thought, between 1905/6, between Sarah and William’s burials, because Sarah was buried in Blackwood, William was buried in Springvale.

Susanah Edlington married Alexander Davidson Raitt (born abt 1863 in Eassie, Scotland). They were married at All saints Church of England, Red Hill, Blackwood on 6th October 1885.  all-saints_0 click on photo to enlarge – All saints Church of England, Red Hill, Blackwood. (photo by Margot Hitchcock 2009)

Sarah Edlington died 13.2.1905, and was buried in the C of E section, P 49. in the Blackwood cemetery.  Records reveals her  father was James Holmes and mother was Ann Fellingham.  Sarah died age 84 yrs in Kyneton.

Harriet Wilson, after Otto’s death, lived with her unmarried daughters in Barry’s Reef, Blackwood  until they sold in 1905/6, and she died in Albert Park in 1926, aged 75. .

Susanah Edlington and Alexander Davidson Raitt and their children born in Blackwood were recorded as –

Charles Raitt born in 1890.

Allan Raitt born in 1894.

Elsie May Raitt born in 1896.     ©

Some information courtesy of the granddaughter of Harriet Edlington – Elaine Mancell, Rosebud.