Amazing new photos found

These photos were found in the another of Lizzie Parkinson’s family albums.

They have all come up a treat. The photo of the Dawn was picked up in a 2007 Examiner clipping and where to find this photo of the Dawn. This will be a treasure for the families of the Willett’s (James (commissioned the build), Holt’s (were the key family on board when she was lost) and Jacks (shipbuilder) & Cutt’s (owner when she was lost)

William Holt with son Claude another on to scan up incredibly well/

The Dawn in the Tamar River<br /> Photo in the weekly courier 1909 April 29 insert 4 just after she sank. Picture donated by Jacks ship yards, builder of the Dawn.

John Holt, brother to William and James

The back end of the Coogee and Pearl on Little Dog William Robinson Holt with son Claude...

Alfred Collis: Burwood NSW 1889

Alfred Collis; not our ‘Uncle’ Fred Collis of Sawyer’s Bay but his Fathers brother.

Great Great Grandfather Henry Collis (DOB 1826) had a younger brother, Alfred (DOB 1827) in Burwood NSW, occupation was Blacksmith. Henry and Hannah lived a short time in NSW (daughter Clara Dora born at Concorde) before returning to live in Hobart. Henry had two sisters and two brothers in NSW while its significant information – no real clues to further these connections: until now.

Am still pinching myself about the information picked up on the weekend. Being able to scan a letter written 26 May 1889, by Alfred Collis 62 to his brother Henry 63 on Flinders. Alfred had visited Henry on Flinders Island, the letter describes the return journey to NSW, interesting reading – Alfred mentions the following family names, James and Fan Willett’s also Dan Wright, it’s these bits and bobs giving a glimpse of a close family – and how the mainland families supported the Island families.

Dad’s been interested in using technology to store this type of information as a type of insurance.  Using this electronic diary allows linking of history information located without breaching copyrights………a great way to keep track, with ease of recall.

I have transcribed the letter as follows and scans of the original at the end of the post. Curious about the name ‘Eva’, who is Eva??

Dear Brother and Sister

We arrived in Launceston about ….. on Sunday and had to remain there to the Monday week following has the Corrina came into unload coal and we had to get a pass to Formby by rail has  the other boats did not take passengers and we were homeward bound on the 7th May and arrived on the 10th and they were all on the look out for us thinking we were never coming and I found two of my houses empty the tenants had left we found both Families all well and Henry wife about the same as when I left but the work in the Blacksmith shop is falling off very much and everything is very dull.

Just now we made enquiry about the skins at Goldbrough Mort and Co. and they would be very pleased to do business of you anytime you like to consign your skins to them and I have enclosed a list of his prices by auction. Tell Fred that the Canadian Doctors is charging 10 pound for advice his Aunt has seen Dr Flamich and he says he can cure him if he was on the spot as he treats the ear alone. Tell Mr J Willett we can send him a Glass if the price will suit him they run from 2.10.0 to 3.10.0. and they will guarantee a range of Ten Miles if he will let me know I will forward it on and I hope you and Fanny have received the things safe from Dan Wright. I remembered you kindly to the MacDonald Family and Mr Moore would like to see Mr C very much and Bill Ford is still about the same but Mr Neich is not expected to last long as he is very ill. I enclose you a photo of Ted Stone so you can see some of George’s work and I will send you the other photo next time.

I hope your sons will come up according to promise. I managed to get two Joeys home but my bird died at Dan’s.

I send you two papers The Bulletin and the Town and Country Journal so you can let John have them after has I promised to send him some and let me know if he got alright again.

I now conclude with Kind Love to all George and Family send their Kind Love also.

P.S. Eva has sent you a letter in regard to her own Family.

Aunt sends a kiss for Fan and Nell

I remain your Affectionate Brother Alfred Collis

Letter written by Alfred Collis who was Henry Collis Brother from NSWLetter written by Alfred 2Collis who was Henry Collis Brother from NSWLetter written by Alfred Collis who was Henry Collis Brother from NSW1 Wow he was keen with Joeys, I wonder what breed the bird was? Cape Barren Goose perhaps.
Niece Clara Dora’s husband was Dan Wright, she died the following May aged 26.
Niece Fan’s husband was James Willett. Nell would have been their daughter.

Nephews Fred 30 and Henry 25 would have been the ones he hoped to have visit in NSW. I wonder if they did.

The Ketch ‘Dawn’ – built by J Willett


Photo of the Dawn in the Weekly Courier April 29 insert 4 and donated by Jacks Ship builder shortly after the Dawn was wrecked of George Town.

Last year discovering Fanny and James Willett and how they fitted into our family history along with Dad’s recalling of the Dawn handed down to him thought it a good story to research. Dad said his father and uncles had many boating stories they often shared as he and his cousins were learning their boating skills in the Strait’s, naturally many lessons from their own father – Jimmy Holt.

Dad recalls the Dawn was wrecked of a notorious reef just outside Georgetown, all on board were his father (Horace) first cousins including female cousins, referred to as the ‘girls’ and the Dawn was returning to Launceston from Flinders. He remembers hearing the girls suffered terribly from this experience, he thought they were strapped to the mast to keep safe whilst bedding and other flammable gathered then set on fire, alerting the rescue from the Low Head Pilot Station.

James Willett’s wife Fanny was elder sister to Jimmy Holt or James Robinson’s wife Emily.

Alfred (Fred) and Henry Collis – Fanny’s younger brothers also lived at Settlement Point. The Collis family settled in the Straits in 1873

The following is a blend of research about the Dawn the night she was wrecked from Dad, the Willett and Collis history (Museum at Emita), TROVE newspaper articles and Walch’s Tasmanian Almanac.

The  Ketch Dawn was built at Jack’s shipyard on the Tamar River, Launceston. Owner and Master, James Willett. Application of load line to the Launceston Marine Board registered on 24 March 1906, James Willett paid 10 pound to register the Dawn with at tonnage of 33.7.

The Dawn’s maiden trip to Settlement Point was 20/5/1906 with cargo and four passengers: Mr and Mrs Jimmy Woods with children Iola and Landon.

The Willett’s lived on Flinders Island for many years and in these articles James tells us 109 years later (his words) about his boating history. Examiner article 1. Examiner article 2.

Trying to find when James and Fanny moved from Flinders to Launceston remains elusive. The 1904 Walch’s Almanac has James listed as the Post and Telegraph Officer at Settlement Point (also licensed to deal money orders and the savings Bank). In the 1905 edition, his brother-in-law Henry was listed as the registered Post and Telegraph Officer.

Fred Collis noted in his 1908 diary this entry: ‘May 3 F Boyes called going home he brought us a bottle of magnesia from Mr H Walker I went to my snares and got one kangaroo took a bag of skins out and put them in the shed cut three pieces of oak for J Willett and went along the line’ 

August 29 Sabbath Done nothing The Dawn came into Whitemark F Boyes Emily Huitfeld and Mrs Ferguson called in on her way home Bubs got a Doll and ball from her Aunt Fan……….Fred notes in his diaries the arrival and departures of the trading boats to Settlement Point, the Dawn was a regular trader.

As we were not sure of the year she was wrecked I decided to see if I could find any hints on TROVE. I found more than  I bargained for. I was gob smacked when reading the articles, ah ha here was the history twist. It was not Emily’s (Willett) family on board, instead it was her husband’s family, his Nephew Alf Holt – still Horace’s first cousin but on his father’s side. Horace would have been about 14 when the Dawn was wrecked.

A young Alf Holt


Captain Alfred John Holt, is he in the first photo? perhaps a few years and pounds lighter. Alf 'Mate on the Loongoona around 1911 and then Captain of the Agnes 1918. The first photo was around the vicinity of 1896 - 1905.


Alf Holt was Master and Mr Cutts the owner of the Dawn when wrecked in April 1909. Alf and his crew were transporting cargo (barrels of mutton birds), also Alf’s four youngest sisters back to Launceston from Little Dog Island. The girls were returning home from their annual migration to Little Dog Island as late April signals the end of birding season. Little Dog Island was owned/leased by the three original Robinson (Holt) brothers – every year at the start of birding season Jimmy, William and John and families would move to Little Dog to work the 12 weeks or so. The three families had a combined total of 30+ children. Every year Little Dog would become a small community of extended family and tells us a little more of why these cousins were all so close.

EXTRACT from Fred Collis  1909 diary; ‘May 2 I sowed Melotte clearing about home J Woods called coming from Whitemark. Heard sad news The Dawn being wrecked I felt sorry for Alf Holt.’

Alf Holt in the Examiner indicates had they abandoned the ‘Dawn’ in the dingy they surely would have perished. Reading the articles gives perspective of the trauma the girls must have endured. I wonder if they ever went back to Little Dog. What an ordeal for parents John and Mary, involving 5 of their 13 children having already lost son Albert Holt a few years earlier in 1906 aged 25. 

Dad was spot on with the story.

Henry and Hannah Collis, on returning to Tasmania.

At the Furneaux Museum (Emita) last week, discovered on reading the Collis/Willett history recently donated to the Museum by Faye Lowe, descendant of Henry and Hannah Collis, more information.

Faye’s information filled in a few gaps about Henry and Hannah’s migration to Canterbury NZ,  telling us the times were unsettled and being peace loving people they chose to relocate to the Colony of VDL.

After some time in VDL – they returned home to the UK, you can follow these course of events on Henry and Hannah’s page.

Faye explains why they then returned to live in the Colony of NSW from the UK…….. Henry had 2 brothers and 2 sisters living in the colony of NSW and explains the reason they ended up back in Tasmania via NSW, which always seem odd when first investigating. Apparently one brother was a butcher the other a saddler, his sisters started a school for young ladies. Maybe the Dean connection lies here!!

Apparently Henry was not able to tolerate the heat, hence the move back to Tasmania from NSW.

Hannah whilst in the UK undertook her teachers training thus explaining why she had written on her teachers application trained at Westminster…….funny how the pieces start to fall into place. I certainly understand the heat issue, I made the move back to Tassie after living in central Vic for 20 years, glad to see the back of those hot summers.

James Willett

April 20 Insert 4

James Willett – son of James and Fanny Willett or ‘Aunt Fan’ Emily’s older sister.

The Willett surname was not familiar on first reading ‘Mapping our Anzacs’…. ANZAC day 2011, of course I recognised all the familiar Island names. Last week when I re checked the list…. suitably surprised when I realised the name James Willett, now a name connected to our family history.  ‘Aunt Fan’ was a beautiful discovery entwined in Great Aunt Edie’s history just a few months ago, captivating and intriguing, twists and turns….. gazing back over our history. Reading James file I could see he signed up a few months before my Grandfather and George.   I decided to visit the library ‘again’ to cast my eye over the Weekly Courier, indexed by Wendy Knowles, as I suspected Fanny probably placed James picture in the paper. I had a quiet bet with myself…… because George’s picture was in the paper – highly probable James would be as well, based on how close Emily and Fanny were. Initially looking over the index, couldn’t see his name, when about to give up saw “Willitt’ as per the AWM indexes.

Once home –  exciting to find James in the Weekly Courier. go to 1916 – April 20 – insert 4. Here was ‘Aunt Fan’s  handsome son, occupation,  stone mason. I wonder if he had anything to do with his parents beautiful headstone, also Uncle, James Robinson, as they are quite similar.

Dad wasn’t really up with James going to war, he knew about Harold J Holt but not James – actually he did say ‘Jimmy Willett’, would love to hear more from his family. His mother Fan plays a very special part in the Robinson family history. Dad did say that his parents were best friends with the Willett’s and they used to visit them when over here in Launceston – they were his cousins and remembers the house was on a hill, maybe the top end of Brisbane St near the Gorge.

July 1916: Answering the call.

Horace 1894 and George 1896  Emily and James’ youngest children, possibly born on Long Island under the care of Mrs Burgess as elder sister Dolly was born there.

August 1914 the start of WWI, a few months earlier Horace was George were celebrating St Barnabas Day.

20 May 1915 – Jimmy Holt’s nephew Harold John Holt 22, son of William, joins the AIF, a Gunner 14th Field Artillery Brigade and honourably discharged 10/11/1919, reading Harold’s file tells us he spent time in Gallipoli, Lemnos, Dardanelles………..amazing!!! Harold John Holt

5 January 1916 – Emily Holt’s nephew James Willett 22 son of James and Fanny joins the AIF – having only recently discovered the Willett’s and the connection to the Collis and Robinson family when linking to mapping our ANZAC did James Willett click. I recall reading the list in 2011, recognising other old Island names, Willett didn’t mean anything at the time, it sure does now. April 20 Insert 4

21 July 1916 –  Horace 22 and George almost 20 sign up to join the Australian Imperial Force  in the footsteps of other lads from Flinders and Cape Barren Island.

With them is close family friend Daniel Thomas Bowman – Dan’s sister Tot, and George were sweethearts. scan0069

Emily and James handsome sons!! IMG_5578 These photo’s taken in Launceston by Burrows and Co. This photo of George is from the family collection but you can also see it in the in the Weekly Courier 1917  link 25 April 2011 the day I was introduced to the Mapping our ANZAC website (courtesy of my son in-law Chris his ANZAC day address at the end) and so inspired this history journey. Firstly I noticed – Horace and George’s physical characteristics on enlistment were same, I read to Dad, George was the same height as his father 5 feet 10 inches, Horace was 10 pounds heavier, his chest measurement slightly larger, both had fair complexion, blue eyes and sandy hair,  Dad said  ‘Dad and my Uncles always said George was the tallest in the family, he was 6 ft tall’,  for a brief minute I wished I hadn’t mentioned. I didn’t want to be responsible challenging family history about this……… then if I hadn’t we wouldn’t have known this particular story. I finally concluded after a little reflection, this was exactly the sort of history we needed to know, guiding us to understand how the Robinson family revered George, the baby of the family, their hero. Hopefully Dad still believes his Father and Uncles were correct, somehow the medico misread the measurements, and that suits me too!! 14 August 1916 – Horace was discharged on the grounds of being medically unfit. He would have returned home to his family after an emotional farewell with his baby brother, and so begins our George’s journey!