Major-General TULLOCH opened the United Service Home at Drysdale on Wednesday 2 July 1891. When he arrived in Victoria as commander of the Victorian military forces in 1890, he was appalled to discover that a number of old soldiers and sailors of the Imperial forces were homeless and destitute in Melbourne. Funds were raised to build the Home which was to be used for two classes of pensioners: those requiring a little financial assistance [sustenance] and those requiring somewhere to live.
To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the United Service Home, Eric Hourn published “A Drysdale Romance” featuring “United Services [sic] Home”.
This publication is still available from the Bellarine Historical Society and includes lists of residents and sustenance recipients. Since this list was compiled, further research has enabled the Society to update some details of names and dates. A research project commenced to properly identify these men from the updated alphabetical list. (List compiled with information from the Eric Hourn publication A Drysdale Romance” featuring “United Services [sic] Home )
The first soldier selected was Jeremiah BROWN – one of the first eight residents of the Home. We certainly didn’t expect to uncover the details that emerged from this research! The story of Jeremiah appears in the June 2013 issue of Ancestor, the quarterly journal of the Genealogical Society of Victoria. This edition of Ancestor is on its way to members and subscribing libraries and will shortly be available for purchase through the GSV Online Shop.
Jeremiah may not have been what he said he was, but you just can’t help developing a soft spot for him! And the old saying “you learn something new every day” was so relevant for Jeremiah BROWN. The Waterloo Cyclorama in Melbourne was as fascinating as the story of Jeremiah.
What will we find when we research some of the other residents of the United Service Home? Perhaps one of your ancestors or relatives appears in the list – why not check and see? (List compiled with information from the Eric Hourn publication A Drysdale Romance” featuring “United Services [sic] Home )
In December 2019, Laurette MacWhirter contacted me with information on James McKillop Macwhirter – her husband’s great grandfather – information from primary records which was quite different to that in Eric Hourn’s book for both Macwhirter and Hicks:
My source of information is the records of the United Service Home (Baillieu Library, University of Melbourne).
JA Hicks had been Superintendent from July 1, 1891 to February 1896 from which time because of illness he was unable to properly perform the duties (source: Minutes of Meeting of Executive Committee 26/2/1896).
Harry C Powell was appointed in his place.
Shortly thereafter Powell was dismissed due to his drinking and it was the desire of the President Holled Smith that Captain J McK Macwhirter be appointed from 9 July 1896. Hicks was appointed Deputy Superintendent (source: Minutes of Meeting of Executive Committee 29/7/1896)
By letter of resignation dated 3 February 1899 J McK Macwhirter resigned. Deputy Hicks was temporarily placed in charge but asked to be relieved in April 1899 in consequence of ill-health. John Jeffery was appointed (source: Meeting of Executive Committee 26 July 1899)
On the Record of Inmates (14 rooms) dated 1st January 1897, JA Hicks is recorded as an inmate (Macwhirter is not).