Well, who would have thought that I’ve missed telling the story about one of my very important ancestors? My great grandfather on my paternal side of the family. I need to make amends and fit Charles Harry Norman Lymburner into the prompt for the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks. I had gotten a little ahead of myself and with Christmas pending, I thought why not email Amy Johnson Crow who set out these challenges and ask if I can have a sneak peek at the prompts for the next four weeks. Yes, there’s only four to go!!
The prompts for December came through almost immediately and the first one was Winter!! Oh, now that’s interesting, winter here in Australia is in July, so I’d have to start thinking winter in November when it’s starting to warm up to our normal hot summers.
I wonder how Norman (we’ll call him Norman as that’s the name he went by) managed in the winter? He was a surveyor, which meant he didn’t always have accommodation with a roof over his head and often times spent several nights, possibly weeks in a tent.
Charles Harry Norman Lymburner was born the youngest son of Adam Lymburn Delisser [Adam Lymburner Lymburner see other stories on this site] and Elizabeth Jeffs on the 24th April 1864 at Dashwoods Gully, in the District of Strathalbyn, South Australia.
Norman moved with his family to Queensland and took up a 4-acre parcel of land in 1885 in the Southern District, County of Gladstone, Parish of Mulgrave, Queensland. Source: findmypast.com.au (Crown Land Sales in Queensland Vol 536, Page 67
On the 21st September 1889, Norman is appointed a Field Assistant for the Southern and Central Division of the Queensland Railway.
(Source: Queensland Railway Appointments and Removals 1890 Transcription – findmypast.com.au)
In January 1893, he joined the Department of Lands and Surveys in Western Australia and surveyed much of the area around Ogilvie, Yuba, Northampton and Southern Cross. His working career in this State spanned the years 1892 to 1927.
On the 28th August 1893, Norman married Zenobia Alice Campbell in Adelaide, South Australia. From this marriage, two children were born; Annie Norma Lymburner, (my grandmother) 10th March 1894, in Melbourne, Victoria and Frederick Lymburner, 21st March 1897, in Broken Hill, New South Wales. Frederick died a couple of weeks after his first birthday on the 10th April 1898, in Broken Hill of Enterocolitis or coloenteritis which is an inflammation of the digestive tract, involving enteritis of the small intestine and colitis of the colon. (Source: Wikipedia(http://en.wikipedia.org/)
On Frederick’s birth and death certificate, no father was listed and on a trip to Broken Hill in 2014, I was unable to locate Frederick’s grave, although the burial did occur as his death certificate was signed by the undertaker and 2 witnesses. This newsletter that I wrote about Alice Zenobia, gives the details of the information we found about Frederick and I’ve already covered quite a bit about the marriage problems between Alice and Charles in that post.
Norman was located in Norseman, Western Australia, in 1897 and 1898 and in Kalgoorlie in 1900. In 1901 he resigned and was thereafter a contract surveyor for the department. In 1901 he was listed in the Post Office Directories as living in Geraldton, West Australia.
In 1904, Norman was surveying at Mt Erin station and lost his Gunter’s chain on one of the blocks selected by Mr Michael McDonnell of Nanson. When the work was completed on the block, Mr Lymburner asked Mr McDonnell to send the chain to their next camp at Fig Tree if it was found within the next month. Years passed before the chain was found on a small hill near the homestead and it remained in the possession of the McDonnell family.
This article from the Midwest Times, 8th August 1991 tells more of the story of the Gunter’s chain.
Link with the past to leave Mid-West
A small piece of Mid-West history – with something of a history itself – is set to leave the region.
But the old link chain will remain a much-loved relic when it returns to the hands of its owners.
Once the common tool with which to measure long distances, the link or “Gunter’s” chain measured 20 metres and dates back to the turn of the century.
The Chapman Valley Historical Society had possession of the link chain which had been originally used by a surveyor in the Chapman Valley area in 1904.
The link chain was used at Mt Erin station (now Chapman Valley area) which was divided into smaller farming blocks.
The land department surveyor, a Mr Charles Lymburner, and his partners lost the Gunter’s chain on one of the blocks selected by Mr Michael McDonnell of Nanson.
When work was completed on the block Mr Lymburner asked Mr McDonnell to send the chain to their next camp at Fig Tree if it was found within the next month.
Years passed before the chain was found on a small hill near the homestead and it remained in the possession of the McDonnell family.
According to one member of the Chapman Valley Historical Society, the chain was often used to measure paddocks for local farmers and remained in use until 1978.
The chain was given to the historical society several years ago until the McDonnell family, now living in Perth, asked for the chain to be returned to them.
The chain was given back to the Chapman Valley Historical Society and is now in the museum at Nanson. Interestingly, I didn’t know this until I started volunteering at the museum in 2014!
Geraldton Express, 1908: Mr Norman Lymburner has written us to the effect that he has been under ophthalmic treatment in a private hospital, Perth for the past fortnight, and that the doctor who is treating him expects that ten days must yet elapse before his eyes are cured. He desires the fact to be mentioned in order that selectors whose blocks he had arranged to survey may not be disappointed.
Source: “LOCAL and GENERAL” Geraldton Express (WA : 1906 – 1919) 24 April 1908
In 1910 when an Act was passed to license surveyors and keep a register of names, Charles H Lymburner was number 62 on that register. During the period when he was active, he surveyed mainly in the South West Corner of Western Australia, but survey books have been lodged showing surveys as far north as Northampton and east into the central Wheatbelt.
Maps of Northampton, show he surveyed many properties in the area. The survey of the Frankland River in the south-west, which was by no means an easy job in those days, was probably his major contribution to mapping in this state.
Unfortunately, Norman was away surveying in the Kalgoorlie district when my grandmother, Norma Lymburner married Tom Cripps in 1916 and Pres Crothers, a builder living in Northampton at the time, gave her away. The write-up about their wedding is in the newspapers on Trove, the National Library of Australia website. “Northampton” The W.A. Record (Perth, WA : 1888 – 1922) 25 November 1916
I mentioned early in this newsletter that I wondered how Norman faired in the winter time living in a tent. Then we have the opposite extremity of our hot summers and especially out at Southern Cross. It wasn’t too bad though when Bob and I were travelling around in our caravan in 2014 and heading home via Southern Cross. I was playing on the iPad (as you do) and on Trove, when I found an article about Norman being injured in a fire. I’d never seen this story before and we were only a few klms out of Southern Cross by this time, so we called into the museum (as you do!!!) and one of the volunteers there knew all about the fire that occurred in February 1927. Norman had been working out of Southern Cross and found himself caught up in a tent fire. The newspapers of the day describes the weather as “exceptionally hot!”
The West Australian, Wednesday 23 February 1927, page 8 describes how C H Lymburner was badly burned in a tent fire four miles south of Southern Cross at Greenmount. He was asleep at the time and after being conveyed to the Southern Cross Hospital, was put on the danger list. The article describes him as being one of the oldest surveyors in the employ of the Lands Department.
He would have been 63 years of age at the time although later articles have his age as 70.
12 months later the “The West Australian” of March 9, 1928 reads: Early this morning Constable Lyons of the Guildford police station, reported that Norman Lymburner (70) surveyor, who was reported missing from Newcastle-street last week, had been located at Redcliffe where he had been camping for several days.
13 March 1928 another article in “Kalgoorlie’s Western Argus” reads: On February 1 Norman Lymburner (70), described as a surveyor had his camp at Southern Cross destroyed by fire. Lymburner sustained burns on the arms and body and came to Perth for treatment. After being discharged from hospital he went to live with a friend in the city. On February 28 he left this place to go to the Lands Survey Office and has not been seen since. His disappearance has been reported to the police.
Source: Trove newspapers online – The West Australian 23 Feb 1927; Western Argus 13 March 1928; The West Australian 9 March 1928
A letter written in 1974 to the Lymburner Primary School from the Nomenclature Advisory Committee a Department of the Lands and Surveys wrote: “Surveyor Lymburner was a close friend of the father of an officer in this Department and from this source we have learned that he was a sturdy character, typical of the tough hardy surveyors who worked around the beginning of the last century. He used to take a tin of ‘bully beef’ in his coat pocket and if at nightfall he found himself 5 or 6 miles from his base camp he would sleep beside his theodolite in the bush, after dining that night on a tinned meal.
Periodically he [Lymburner] would take himself and any of his friends who happened to be around at the time and walk often as much as 20 or 30 miles to the nearest hotel, where for several days they would attempt to annihilate the publican’s liquor supply.”
Charles Harry Norman Lymburner [had] the honour of having a school named after him in Hilarys, a suburb of Perth, Western Australia. The school has been renamed to Hillarys Primary School and recent information has been passed on to me by the staff at the school that the mural in the front foyer of the office has been removed. Destroyed! when the new extensions were made to the school. Unfortunately, I’d never been to see it as most of my visits coincided with school holidays.
A street in Geraldton was also to bear his name, however, the Geraldton Grammar School is built over this location. So it’s only our history and the repeating of it, that will keep the memory of Charles Harry Norman Lymburner’s name alive. He died on the 2nd August 1938 and is buried at Karrakata Cemetery but that also could come to an end in the not too distant future with the cemetery renewal plans. If you want to know more about that, then read here.
Information was gathered from family stories, newspapers, certificates and letters from the Department of Lands and Surveys.