Alice Martha Free (1866-1949) and
Edward Angus McCallum (1863-1943)

(last updated 25 August 2013)

corack north schoolWilliam and Eliza's second eldest daughter, Alice Martha Free, was born at Raglan in Victoria in 1866 while William was working as a shepherd at Mount Cole. In 1878 she moved with her parents and siblings to Corack East where she was one of the inaugural students at the area's first state school located at Corack North (pictured on the left).

In 1886 she married Edward Angus McCallum at the nearby township of Donald. Although still to be confirmed, we think that Edward Angus was the son of John and Mary McCallum nee McKay who, according to the electoral rolls, also farmed in the Corack area in the early 1900s. The Corack Cemetery Headstone and Burial Index maintained by Leanne Grogan, shows that John and Mary died in 1910 and 1904 respectively and are both buried at Corack. It adds that Edward Angus' paternal grandparents were Edward McCallum and Barbara McHay who had 'immigrated from Scotland [and] settled at Balnachiel' (the name given to their property at Corack East).

The Australian electoral rolls show that Edward Angus and Alice Martha also lived all of their married lives at 'Balnachiel'. Over this time Alice gave birth to eleven children while all the while helping her husband run the family farm and, as her obituary below records, contributing to the life of the local community. Two of her children - Alice Muriel and George Mitchell McCallum - died at Corack as infants. As described below, most of their remaining nine children also lived and worked in and around Corack and produced numerous grandchildren to be enjoyed and boasted of by their proud grandparents. Edward Angus McCallum died at Birchip on 26 May 1943 and the following notice was placed in the Melbourne Argus:

'McCALLUM - On May 26, at Birchip, Edward Angus, beloved husband of Alice McCallum, of Corack East, and loving father of Johanna (Mrs Lee), Donald, Norman, Eileen (Mrs Green), Lilian (Mrs Cousins), Robert, Daisy (Mrs Madden), Morris and Eric, aged 80 years.'

After Edward's death, Alice continued to live at 'Balnachiel' at Corack East until she entered the Birchip Nursing Home where she died on 10 June 1949. The following death notice was published by the family in the Argus on 15 June: 'McCALLUM - on June 10, at Birchip B.N.H., dearly beloved wife of the late Edward Angus McCallum, of Corack, loving mother of Johanna (Mrs O. Lee), Donald Edward, Samuel Norman, Eileen Mary (Mrs J. Green), George Mitchell (deceased), Blanche (deceased), Lilian Sarah (Mrs Cousens), Robert Grenville, Daisy Constance (Mrs S. Madder), Morris Wilfred, Eric John - Reunited.' On 29 July the following obituary for Alice appeared in the Donald Times:

Born at Mount Cole near Beaufort 83 years ago, the late Mrs McCallum (relict of the late Mr E. A. McCallum) was, prior to her marriage, Miss Alice Free, daughter of Mr and Mrs John Free [sic]. Her early school days were spent at Mount Cole and Corack North, she having come north at the age of twelve with her parents, who selected an area of land now held by Mr E. L. Reilly. She was married at Donald about 43 years ago, the ceremony being performed by the Rev. Donald Cameron. Mr and Mrs McCallum went to live at 'Balnekiel', Corack East, and continued to live on the property through their long married life. Mr McCallum pre-deceased his wife by seven years, but they had wrested a living from the soil during all sorts of vicissitudes, had brought up a large family and had established themselves as among the district's most estimable citizens.

Mrs McCallum had always been of a quiet, gentle and loving disposition and had earned the respect and esteem of all those who knew her. She had always been interested in church work and was a foundation member of the Birchip Presbyterian Womens Missionary Union. She was also a valued member of the Guild and during World War I was vice-president of the Red Cross in her district. She was also a member of the CWA at Watchem and in her younger days found time to exhibit cookery with success at many shows. Her Christianity was demonstrated in many ways, and particularly in her practical charity to all in need. Her health had not been good for some time and she passed away in hospital in Birchip on June 10, leaving many beautiful memories to remain with her friends and family, the members of which are: Mrs Lee (Maryborough), Don (Corack East), Norman (Corack), Mrs J. H. Green (Lilydale), Mrs E. Cousins (Wychitella), Bob (Corack East), Mrs N. K. Madder (Corack East), Maurice (Watchem), and Eric (Corack East). One son (George) and one daughter (Alice) are deceased. Brothers are Will (Perth), Ben (Adelaide) and Ern (Cowangie). The funeral took place to the Corack cemetery, over 100 cars constituting one of the longest corteges ever seen in the district.

cream of corack

This photograph shows the female congregationists of the Corack Methodist Church in 1929. Alice Martha McCallum nee Free
is second from the right in the front row. On Alice's right is her sister-in-law Joanna Free nee Shepherd.
The photo also includes two of Johanna's sisters: Elizabeth Shepherd (second from the left in the rear row), and
Mary Jane Cook nee Shepherd (fourth from the left in the front row).

corack old timers

Taken on the same day, this photograph shows some of Corack's original settlers including Alice Martha McCallum
and the Shepherd sisters. We think that the man second from the left at the back may be Alice's older brother, Samuel Free.
It is likely that Edward Angus Mccallum is also present although, as yet, we have been unable to identify him.

Alice and Edward's married children

Born at Corack East in 1887, Alice and Edward's eldest daughter, Johanna Victoria McCallum (1887-1987), married a farmer from Narraport, Mathew Osborne Lee, in 1910. We think they had at least one child - Margaret Jean Lee - before separating in around 1920. The Australian electoral rolls indicate that Johanna spent most of her subsequent life in the central Victorian country town of Maryborough where she died in 1977. Their daughter, Margaret, married William Lawrence Kell (1908-78) and lived initially in the Melbourne suburb of Auburn before moving to Maryborough in the mid-1970s.

mathew osborn lee

Jack Lowry and Os Lee carting bags of wheat in the early 1930s.

Alice and Edward's eldest son, Donald Edward McCallum (1889-1980) was born at Corack and spent all of his working life on his parents' farm. He seems to have retired in the early 1960s and lived in the township of Donald with his wife Ivy Gertrude McCallum until his death there in 1980. Both he and Ivy are buried in the Donald Cemetery. We don't know if they had any children.

According the the 'Tryhorn Family Tree' on Ancestry.com, Robert Grenville McCallum (1891-1976) married Grace Alice Pearce (1903-83), the daughter of Herbert and Elizabeth Pearce (Ancestry's index of Australian bdms shows that a Grace Alice Pearce, the daughter of Herbert Watts Pearce and Elizabeth Sands, was born at Springfield in Victoria in 1902). The 'Tryhorn Family Tree' also says that Robert died in Donald in 1976 and Grace at Ballarat in 1983. The Australian electoral rolls and other sources indicate that Robert spent his working life farming in the Watchem area. According to a report in the Melbourne Argus, he and his brother, Morris Wilfred McCullum, who were then trading as 'McCallum Brothers, share farmers of Watchem', were, in 1935, forced into bankruptcy by 'unseasonable wheatgrowing conditions and the drought in 1929, encumbrances on land and high rates of interest'. In spite of this misfortune, Robert again farmed land at Watchem, before retiring in the mid-1960s and, with Grace, living in the township of Donald where both are buried.

The following report in the Bendigo Advertiser on 6 June 1912, indicates that Alice and Edward's third son, Samuel Norman McCallum (1891-1951), may have had a near death experience as a youth: 'A young man named Norman McCallum, 18 years of age and residing at Corack, was accidently shot with a pea-rifle. The injured youth was removed to Birchip for examination by the X-rays. His condition is considered to be critical'. Norman survived and, in 1918, married Alice May Blyth, the daughter of Daniel Blyth and Helena Rischmiller. The Australian electoral rolls show that he and Alice farmed land first at Corack and later at Wilkur South where Norman was also for a time president of the local football club (which played in the East Borung League). The electoral rolls and other sources show that Norman and Alice had at least four children while they were at Corack East: 1) John McCallum who married Mary Young at Birchip in 1947; 2) Heather McCallum who married Robert Stanley Sands at Corack East in 1949 and farmed land at Gowangardie near Nalinga; 3) Jean McCallum and 4) Gillian McCallum.

Edleen Mary McCallum was born at Corack East in 1893 and married a Litchfield farmer, James Henry Green (1884-1951), at Donald in Victoria in 1914. The Australian electoral rolls show that after their marriage James and Edleen farmed land at Massey until the mid-1930s when they moved to Watchem to live. In 1950 they re-located to the Melbourne suburb of Lilydale where James died the following year. Edleen remained at Lilydale until her own death there sometime after 1972. We don't know if they had any children.

Born in 1899, Lilian Sarah McCallum married Cyril Cousins, the son of George Cousins and Beatrice Smith, and lived much of her life at Wychitella where Cyril worked as a grocer's assistant and, later, storekeeper. Cyril died at Wychitella in 1975 and was buried at Wedderburn. Lilian died at Bendigo in 1989 and is buried in the White Hills cemetery. They had two children we are aware of: Edward George Cousins and Norma Alice Cousins, who married George David Head and had at least two children.

Daisy Constance McCallum (1903-87) married Norval Keith Madder, a farmer from East Corack, at Donald in 1930. Born at Corack in 1902, Norval was the son of Samuel Madder (1873-1932) and Annie Marion Coxon (1877-1968). According to R. P. Falla's mimeo, 'The Selectors in the Parish of Corack East', Norval's grandfather, Arthur S. Madder, an engineer from Ballarat, settled at Corack East in 1876 and, in 1895, took over the lease to a block originally belonging to one of Daisy's uncles, James Free. Ancestry's 'Smith family tree', whose author is one of their descendants, tells us that Daisy and Norval had four children: Wilma Madder (1933-65) and three others still living. It adds that Norval died in 1977 and Daisy ten years later. Both are buried in the Donald cemetery.

Morris Wilfred McCallum (1906-79) was also a farmer at Corack East although the electoral rolls show that he and his wife, Dorothy Ellen Crompton, lived at nearby Watchem.

Eric John McCallum (1909-83) married Gwendoline Gladys Mereweather, the daughter of William Mereweather and Jane Mcintyre, at Kyneton in 1938. The happy occasion, which would have been attended by Eric's parents and siblings, was reported in the Argus newspaper as follows:

WEDDING AT KYNETON. Sunday. A bridal gown of magnolia windswept satin was chosen by Miss Gwendoline Mereweather, eldest daughter of Mrs and the late Mr W. Mereweather of Dunkeld, for her marriage on Saturday at the Taradale Methodist Church to Eric John McCallum, youngest son of Mr and Mrs E. A. McCallum, of Balnachiel, Corack East. The bridegroom was supported by his brother, Mr M. McCallum and Mr R. Lee, and the bride was given away by her brother-in-law, Mr W. Funk. The Rev. A Bligh, of the Kynrton Methodist Church officiated.

The electoral rolls indicate that Eric and Gwendoline continued to live at Corack after their marriage. The 'Tryhorn Family Tree' on Ancestry.com has Eric dying at Donald in 1983. Carol Judkin's Watchem Headstone Photos indicate that Eric John and Gwendoline Gladys McCallum are buried together in the Watchem cemetery.

Rootsweb site for the Free, Flavell, Finkell, Coxall, Chaffe and Shepherd families William Free in Australia
Arrival in Melbourne 1853-1855
William Free in Australia
Mount Hesse to the Wimmera 1856-1878
William Free in Australia
Life and death at Corack 1878-1900
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