History of Thomas Fasham



My Sledge and Hammer lye's declined, My Bellows too have lost their wind. My Fire's extinct; my Forge decaid; And in the dust my Vice is laid. My Coal is spent, my Iron's gone; My Nails are drove, my Work is done.

1745, Kent

FAS'HAM: From English Surnames, the name Fasham - from Faversham, Kent. A local noun, generally known as the "Smiths-Ham".

History written by Glenys J. Rasmussen, 4ggdaughter (copyright)>

Thomas Fasham was born 23 Jun 1823 at St. John the Baptist, Northdown, Kent, England:

It's usually always green in England, and the County of Kent is no exception, with it's green meadows and sandy beaches. The rainfall is adequate and the climate tolerable to say the least. Kent adjoins Essex on the Northeast, Middlesex on the Northwest, Surrey on the West and Sussex on the South. It enjoys an enviable position - along the coastline of Kent are many successful fishing villages and lovely beaches, covered in the season by holiday-makers. It's proximity to London makes it an ideal spot to relax away from the bustle and noise of such a large city as London. Of course Kent can boast of it's own large and very beautiful cities. Canterbury - the ecclesiastical capital of the English speaking world, dates back to Roman origin. It's original name was Durovernum and it was a fine, developed Roman city, with wonderful architectural adornments, relics of which still remain.

Bounded on the North by the North Sea and on the East and South by the English Channel, Kent has been a landing spot for eons of time by ancient and modern tribes. It is the renowned "White Cliffs of Dover" that give British homecomers the same feeling of pride and satisfaction as American travellers receive when they see the Statue of Liberty, or of Australian travellers when they see the stately bridge in Sydney Harbour. The first tribes to set foot on British soil were nomadic by nature and remained nowhere for very long. They saw those White Cliffs of Dover too. Many a song and story has been written of those famous cliffs and Kentish folk are justly proud of their natural and scenic wonder.

This then, is the setting in which we see the FASHAM family emerge.

North of Dover approximately 40 miles, is the port town of Margate, Kent. It is situated on the North point of the Isle of Thanet (so named because of its juxtaposition into the seas, surrounded on three sides by ocean). Within the Isle of Thanet are several parishes and it is one of these, Northdown, St. John the Baptist, that we begin our story.

On a mild early summer day, 29 June 1823, at home, THOMAS FASHAM (known throughout his life as "Tom") came into the world, the fifth child and fourth son of JOHN FASHAM, a blacksmith, and his wife, MARY BOWLES. Tom's father was about 40 years of age and Mary approximately 38. They were delighted at Tom's arrival and eager to introduce him to his older brothers and sister: John, William, George and Mary. King George IV was ruling England and would die seven years later in 1830. Tom came from a strong heritage of Fashams. They had lived, worked and died in Margate for over 200 years before him, and many of them were part of the strong nucleus of gentry and yeoman of their times. In 1875 a restoration of the Parish Church of St. John the Baptist took place and among other additions, new stained glass windows were installed which commemorated the gentry families of the town through its time.

Parish Church

Tom grew up in Sandwich and Northdown and his life as the son of a blacksmith was one of busy days, filled with helping his father in his trade, and at the same time learning what would become his own chosen profession. Thomas' father must have been a man of vision for his children were educated as well as the day and the income would permit. Tom learned to read and write quickly and well. Perhaps it was during a history lesson when the page falls open on a new country. Although the pictures are mostly of convicts and the horror of life they were forced to lead, Tom's mind's eye sees beyond the misery in front of him. He thought he saw a broad land - one of beauty, one of wide open spaces, here and there dotted with a rolling hill. Sparkling streams meander through wooded areas and now and then a strange animal would appear and disappear just as quickly. He saw ships, large majestic sailing ships, riding the waves or gently rocking at anchor. An excitement grew in Tom and he felt a strange new stirring - without seeing, other than in his imagination, without knowing, other than this new feeling inside him, without comprehending, other than in his heart, Tom Fasham had begun a long journey, and it would cover a lot of ground and many years. But that was the future and with effort Tom brought his mind back to events at hand.

A blacksmith's shop was one of wonder for children and many would come and watch Tom and his father work together among hot, steamy iron and coals. To watch as the shoe was shaped and beaten, white hot on the anvil was an experience not quickly forgotten. Tom was not spared the hard, hot work of "smith" while he gained an education and he had not time to romp and play as much as his modern counterpart would have. But Tom did not mind - he was an honest, hardworking frugal youth, and he was unknowingly blazing his own trails and heading for a life full of experiences and wonderment and example. His life as a youngster and as a young man was to put him in good stead for that which lay ahead.

When Tom was 18 years old, he was listed in the 1841 Census of Margate, where he lived on Bath Collager, St. John the Baptist Parish, Northdown, Kent. He listed his profession as that of a blacksmith. His parents were living at that time in Sandwich, probably St. Mary's Parish, his older brother George had moved to London where he had met and married Elizabeth ROBINSON in 1837 and was working as a coffee house keeper.

William had married Mary or Marie in 1840 and was also a blacksmith in Margate, John was married in 1833 to Charlotte Constable of Hull, Yorkshire and worked and lived in Margate. Tom's sister Mary had married Paul Joseph Heritage in Margate about 1840. Tom went to London at least twice to visit with his brother George and wife Elizabeth, and although family tradition claims that he joined the Royal Navy, no evidence can be found to support the declaration, at this point, other than his grandson George F. Fasham noted that Tom was in the Navy on a windjammer during the time the family lived in Buninyong, leaving when son Thomas Fasham was a young boy living in Buninyong and probably returning before the end of 1856.

In St. Clements, Sandwich, Kent, some 7 miles south of Margate, Tom met and fell in love with pretty EMMA EASTER and on the 4th day of April,1847, they were married by the Vicar Ed. N. Braddon, Vicar of the Church of England in the Parish of St. Clements Sandwich, Registration District of Eastry, County of Kent. Their marriage was witnessed by John Sole Burnap and Elizabeth Burnap, probably Emma's sister and her husband. Thomas signed his own name of the marriage certificate and Emma made her mark (X), indicating to us that she was unable to write. It is interesting to note that neither Emma's parents or Thomas' parents were witnesses at the marriage. Family tradition holds that the Fashams were annoyed with Tom in his choice of Emma, whose father, JOHN (JACK) EASTER, a brickmaker by trade, had the not-so-popular-with-the-Fashams habit of bare-knuckle fist fighting, and indeed had been champion of England when Emma was younger. However, at the time of his marriage, Tom was almost 24 years of age, and in fact, would be two months later, and he felt capable of following his own choices, regardless of disfavour in the family. Thomas listed his profession on the marriage entry as blacksmith and his residence as St. Clements Sandwich. Both his and Emma's fathers names appear on the certificate along with their respective professions. The photo of Emma Easter to the right, courtesy of Betty Woff and Randal Young.

>Thomas Fasham Marriage Certificate

Shortly after their marriage, Tom and Emma decided to see how life would treat them in the large and bustling city of Canterbury and so removed themselves from Sandwich and Margate and travelled the several miles east to Canterbury. It was not long and the sound of a baby's sweet cry was to be heard at the Fasham home. THOMAS FASHAM, (pictured on the left)the son of Thomas and Emma Easter FASHAM, was christened the 31st day of October 1847 at St. Alphege, Canterbury, Kent. Baptisms were very important to both families,so it can be safely assumed that notwithstanding any family division, the branches of the family residing in Margate and Sandwich attended the baptism of young Thomas. He grew and learned at a very young age to be obedient to his parents and the meaning of honesty and courage. Tom was a very demanding parent and very strict - the children would come to understand very quickly that compliance with his wishes was the intelligent move. Apparently, life in Canterbury was not what Tom and Emma wanted and so they moved back to Sandwich. When young Thomas was 18 months old, his brother, EDWARD FASHAM was born on the 22nd day of April 1849 at Jail Street, St. Peters Sandwich, in the Registration District of Eastry, Kent. It was with great rejoicing that the Fasham family welcomed baby Edward into their home and hearts.

Sometime between the birth of Edward and the year 1851, Tom and Emma once more pulled up stakes and moved their little family to the pretty village of Folkestone in Kent, where Tom set up his blacksmith business and Emma set about making a house into a home. And more of a home it became when JOHN FASHAM, (pictured on the right) third child and son of Tom and Emma entered the world and family on the 29th day of April 1851.

The 1851 Census of Folkestone shows us the family living on Fancy Street. Family and friends gathered at the baby John's baptism and it was a happy occasion for them to be together. However, sadness was to come into their lives when little Edward became ill and could not recover. He died at home on the 4th day of October 1851 aged 2 years and 5 months. His parents buried him in the village cemetery at Folkestone.

Tom was a tower of strength at this time of trial and he watched over and cared for Emma and his now two little sons in the most tender of fashions. He may have been strict and stern, but he loved his family dearly and gave them that love unstintingly. However, even in times of bereavement life must go on and Tom became very involved and busy with his wheelwright and blacksmith business. He continued hearing about the great land of opportunity - Australia. Why, there was gold to be had and land as far as the eye could see, just for the staking. Sheep grew like weeds and for a man who was willing to work hard and long and honestly, there was the guarantee of a good life. Tom's feet grew itchy and his long suppressed desire to be off became urgent. Tom knew that his destiny and that of his family lie in that so-far imagined great land at the bottom of the world, surrounded by oceans.

Plans began to form in his mind, plans that for the moment needed to be suspended for he had a family to feed and take care of in England and Australia was very far away. Work for Tom continued but soon he could contain his desire to go to Australia no longer. He and Emma talked it over at great length. Sometimes the discussions grew heated, but finally Emma could see that Tom was set in his decision to go and try this land and all that it could offer.

When little John was about 2 years old, Tom and his companion William Fasham, boarded the "Walmer Castle" in London and on the 23rd day of May 1853, Tom left England forever. The Walmer Castle was skippered by Captain Pryer and she was a sailing ship of some 656 tons. Tom was noted on the Captain's list as 30 years of age and William Fasham as his brother, age 20. (This information cannot be correct, Tom's brother William was born in 1815 and therefore would have been 38 years of age). Tom and William signed themselves on as English Miners, undoubtedly with dreams of riches made from the goldfields for which they were heading.

As the ship pulled away from the docks in London, realization came over Tom that he was not only leaving England, he was leaving Emma and his sons. He doubted his decision and emotion shook his huge frame. All around him the great city of London receded and was replaced by the unending expanse of ocean meeting the horizon.

William tactfully left Tom to his own thoughts. He had thoughts enough of his own. He too had left a wife and children in England. His health was failing and his spirits sagged, he too needed time apart for thoughts and reflection.

Tom gazed across the water. He could no longer see England, no longer see where he had left his precious wife and children standing lonely on the road to London. He knew Emma had been fighting back the tears, but she was as brave as always. Years ago he had seen that courage in her eyes, lying deep and dormant most of the time, yet streaming forth when needed. And it had been needed during the period they prepared for his journey. On the day he left Kent she held his hand and stood close by his side. They were not especially demonstrative people, but the love they shared was deep. She allowed not one tear to fall, they would wait, she vowed until Tom was gone. She did not want him to remember her crying as he left, the tears would wait until they were together again and then they would be tears of joy and happiness.

Tom continued to look for a few minutes more towards England, then he turned around and faced a new adventure.

The journey to Melbourne was rough, the ocean crossing sometimes a nightmare. The ship was crowded and hot and foul smelling. Third class passengers did not have the luxury of private accommodations or the captain's table at dinner. But Tom and William buoyed themselves up with stories of the gold they were headed for, of the money they would send home so families could join them in this land of "sunshine and opportunity". The crossing took three months and seemed at times to be never-ending. The weather grew hotter and more uncomfortable. A Kentish blacksmith was not used to tropical sun and broiling temperatures caused by such incessant weather. Finally the "Walmer Castle" docked at Melbourne, Victoria, Australia on the 27th day of August 1853. It was cooler and more comfortable. His first view of Australia did nothing to lift Tom's spirits. He was tired, dirty and missing Emma and his sons. However, with the determination that set him upon his course and the desire to take a bath, Tom, with William in tow, set out to find a respectable boarding house. Australia was no longer a dream.

Melbourne 1853

It is natural to assume that Tom would have written to Emma and his children as often as he could, but there is no evidence that Emma learned to write and so it was sure to be a lonely time for both of them. They were at opposite ends of the earth and time would not go fast enough. Tom often gave thought to why he was in Australia, why he had left those he loved in England, although if pressed he could not give an exact reason. It was more of a feeling really, that he belonged in Australia. He recalled the talks he and Emma had over the subject. She may have been small in stature, he fondly recalled, but her spirit more than made up for that! She could be indomitable! The family who knew her remember that she would drag an old orange crate over to her great husband and climbing nimbly upon it beat his chest with her two tiny fists to drive home her point! It felt like the beating of butterfly wings, but Tom loved the feeling and Emma almost always won her argument. What he wouldn't give now to feel those little hands folding around his huge ones, to look down at the gentle face and touch her hair.

Three more years would separate them - their love was to be tested as never before.

Tom first went to the goldfields of Ballarat. There he panned and mined for the shining golden nuggets, that for some just lay on the surface of the ground, waiting to be found. He mined enough gold to pay for the costs associated in bringing his beloved Emma and little sons to him in Australia. But the environment of the goldfields was not what Tom wanted for himself or his family. It was rough, dishonest and cruel, however wherever Tom went he earned the respect and admiration of his fellow man. He was well-known for his forthright character, his honesty and as time would tell, his deep religious feelings.

When he was 33 years old Tom travelled back to Melbourne to pick up Emma and his sons Thomas now 8 and John now 5. They were arriving on the "True Briton" docking in Melbourne on 31 July 1856. His feelings were in turmoil - would they know him? Would they be at the dock,what if Emma had changed her mind and decided to stay in England? This was foolish Tom decided and resolutely headed for another adventure.

What a change he noticed in all of them! Emma had grown more beautiful in his eyes and had developed a patient, sweet character. Thomas was fast becoming a young man, although only eight, and John was a sight to behold. The youngsters were a little hesitant of this stranger called father. For three years they had known only their mother and relatives in England, this was to be a period of adjustment for all.

Thomas had heard while in Ballarat, of a not too distant town by the name of Buninyong. It was a pleasant town, small, friendly and badly in need of a good wheelwright and blacksmith, and a somewhat firm hand to direct some of its recalcitrant inhabitants. So Tom took his family to Buninyong, moved them into a small but comfortable home and settled down to work.

Tom was not content to sit back and watch the world go by and so became very involved in both the religious and civic community. As he did so a remarkable change came over him, his language softened and so did the volume, his level of tolerance increased and his always-held religious beliefs influenced his somewhat stern and often severe actions, as well as lessening somewhat his taste for alcohol. In the words of his grandson, George Fasham, "the alteration in that man was terrific". He became a Life Deacon of the Baptist Church (Buninyong's first), which used to stand at the top of Learmonth Street. He was a member of the old Road Board, before there was a borough; he was twice elected a member of the Borough Council and one source states he served as Mayor during his second term of service, although this cannot be substantiated with surviving records. It was during this time (1863) that Prince Edward was married, and to celebrate the event a bullock was roasted. Tom supervised the cooking and carving. He shod a horse in Ballarat and received a sum of two pounds, a princely sum in those days and probably the first to receive such high remuneration. He was a prominent member of Sir Francis Murphy's Committee on Education and one of the foremost advocates for free education. Any proposal for the good of the community found in Thomas an able and ardent supporter.

He served on the Board of Trustees of the Baptist Church and on the Board for the Buninyong Cemetery and his name is listed under that heading between 1859 through 1864. In religious and temperance circles he was always a prominent figure in both example and precept. He served his community well, his strong spirit and mind overcoming obstacles and roadblocks. He wasn't always popular, he was strong willed and often spoke his mind, a fact that didn't always sit too well with some folks! He worked hard and met often with other founders of the small town; he meant to have a place where a man could bring his family, a respectable, quiet, and progressive little city. He kept his own business buzzing and made it possible for others to have successful lives as he continued to work tirelessly for reform and education. His reputation for honesty and fairness preceded him on every front and Tom was often sought out for advice and direction in sticky situations, including advice on what to do with sick animals.

On one occasion a farmer summoned Tom to his farm, concerned over the condition of a valuable work horse. Tom looked the situation over and recommended that the farmer give the horse a certain pill which he would bring over the next day. The farmer complied and then decided that if the pill could help his horse, perhaps it could help him with a health problem he was experiencing. Tom gravely advised against such use, but the next time he was in the area, he decided to check on the horse to see if it had recovered. He was surprised to find the farmer looking rather pale and thin and when Tom questioned him, the reply was, "Oh, the horse is alright, but I haven't had me braces over me shoulders in a week!" The horse got better and so did the man, but he didn't have much left inside him for a while. We can only imagine the berating that farmer received from Tom!

Not long after their arrival in Buninyong, Emma announced the exciting news to her husband that another baby was on the way and on the 23 May 1857 when Tom was 34, EMMA JANE FASHAM arrived, pretty and petite and wonderfully healthy. It was a joyous time for the little family, together again, a new baby, new home, new country and what promised to be a bright future. Now and then however, their mind's eye would turn toward England and a little grave in Folkestone, but Tom understood that life must go on even amid heartache and with his typical courage and enthusiasm he met each of life's encounters and carried his family along with him through them all.

"Children are a blessing to you in your old age" was the adage, and Tom and Emma were sure of blessings when another son was born to them: FREDERICK CHARLES FASHAM (on the left) on the 20th day of August, 1859, at Buninyong. He was their third living son and fourth child and was made much of. Tom was growing more and more justly proud of his family.

Yet another son was to grace their home, and on the 25th day of February 1862 on a hot summer day in Buninyong, WILLIAM FASHAM, the last of Tom and Emma's children was born. Now Tom had four sons to whom he could pass on the work of wheelwright and general smithing. He taught his sons and daughter the necessity of a good life and hard work; the value of honest and upright living and he instilled into them a love for each other, for God and for his teachings.

One of Tom's favourite religious subjects was the Second Coming of Christ and he would talk for hours on his feelings and beliefs. He became very well known in the district in religious circles and could draw a large crowd who would listen with respect and interest to his topics. "It was nothing for him to ride more than 15 miles on a Sunday to preach the Gospel, he knew the Bible, he was a clever man and could quote a passage including scripture and verse." (Memories of George Fasham).

In his lively, interested way he undertook to discover points of interest in his area. He would have learned that Buninyong is an aboriginal word meaning "Bent-Knee"; and that close to the township is a small hill where the name was first applied by the natives. Had he stayed in the area he would have experienced one of the extremely rare snowstorms, which happened approximately 35 years after he left. He had great civic pride and patriotism and desired others to feel the same way about their town and country.

A couple of years before Tom and his family left Buninyong, he would have been saddened to learn of the death of his father in Kent on the 2nd of May 1865. His father left a will and the fact that Tom is mentioned in that will indicates that any division which may have occurred when Tom and Emma had married had long healed over and been forgotten.

In approximately 1867 Tom moved his family to a farm in Echuca, about 200 miles north of Melbourne. Also in that year he would once again be reminded of the distance between loved ones when the news of another death in his family reached him; his mother had died on the 12th day of January 1867 in Kent. It was during these times that England seemed so very far away.

While on their farm in Echuca, Tom's sons John and Thomas met and married. Thomas was married about 1870 in Victoria to Cathryn Esther WINNETT and they and their nine children lived in Buninyong, Echuca, Moorabbin (suburb of Melbourne), Koondrook, Bendigo and back to Melbourne between 1872 and 1895.

Celebrating George Frederick Fasham's 100th birthday

In the words of Thomas' son George, "my father was a greater traveler than Haley's Comet! Oh fair dinkum he was!" Eventually they moved to Swan Hill, after spending several years in Echuca and making an impression for good on that community, but that is another story ... . Next married was son John, who on the 26 Sep 1876 in Echuca, married Mary Ann Norris Fasham (on the right)the daughter of Leonard Patterson NORRIS and Bridget McNAMARA (later WOODROW). John and Mary Ann spent the first few years in Echuca before moving to Bendigo where they raised their family of nine children. (See Family History Group Sheets.)

In Echuca, Tom and Emma lived and farmed on a portion of the Wharparilla Homestead until 1883 when they once more pulled up their roots and went another 60 or so miles northwest to Koondrook.

They were pleased with this small village of 150 people. It was situated on the banks of the mighty Murray River which divides the states of Victoria and New South Wales. It was only 15 miles from the larger township of Kerang with a coach that ran daily there and back. A punt crossed the river right in the centre of the village to the New South Wales side (almost at the same sight where now stands the Koondrook-Barham Bridge). And stock were crossed over at almost the same place from the New South Wales side. It even boasted a Customs officer, a telegraph station, post and money-order office and a savings bank. Yes, here was the place for the Thomas Fasham family. They would sink their roots deep into the rich Australian soil. They would farm and run a good blacksmith and wheelwright business, and add to the history of the early pioneer stock in a solid country town. This was Australia and Tom was a part of it!

He was now 50 years old. Tom immediately took up his interest in civic affairs, and during the early agitation for the tramway connecting Koondrook and Kerang, he was to the fore and was for a long time the chairman of the Koondrook Committee. He became a Life Deacon of the fledgling Baptist Church in Koondrook and during its centennial celebration his name and efforts were listed in honour of his memory of the service he gave to the infant Church and the community it served.

In the Post Office Directory of Victoria, 1888-1889 issue, Tom was listed as "Thomas Fasham, Wheelwright, Koondrook". By 1890 when Tom was 67, Koondrook had experienced a real growing spurt. It sported two sawmills in full work, a brewery in the process of construction, the Koondrook Irrigation and Water Supply Trust had constructed their main channel (about ten miles long), and about ten miles of distributories. Headworks had also been constructed, consisting of a well and tunnel cut underneath the Murray frontage; the engine and pumps were in course of erection at Koondrook. The cost was 1,500 pounds. The scheme embraced an area of about 7,600 acres. The water rate was about two shillings per acre of irrigated land. It is easy to imagine Tom willing and able to work aptly with these different committees, giving of his expertise and well- practiced principles.

The Koondrook Pumping Plant, built 1894 - Tom and one of his sons, Frederick Charles were influential in acquiring consent to build this plant and helped in the actual construction. Tom's grandson, Harold Ernest Fasham, (left) worked at the plant. It was his first job.

The Koondrook and Barham Bridge which crosses the Murray River almost at the same point as the old Punt crossed. The bridge was built in 1904.

Tom's efforts in the agitation for the tramway, the campaigning for the pumping plant and waterways and his encouragement to other businesses to set up shop in Koondrook, resulted in the town growing from 150 people on his arrival to several hundred by the time the pumping plant was complete. His energetic zeal helped to bring to fruition a beautiful, useful town, filled with people willing to continue its legacy and heritage. Always holding fast to his belief in God, he gave unstintingly of himself to improve the spiritual lives of those who made Koondrook their home. He was severe, but not unjust or unfair and people were drawn to him because of his integrity. Tom loved Koondrook, he loved Australia, though never outwardly emotional; he worked hard and did not complain. He did not gossip and wish away poor government or leadership, instead he worked to change it and encouraged others to do the same. He did not sit idly by watching others work, but led the way and contributed his own effort and direction. He instilled honor and worth into the souls of men and women and required of them determination in the face of any struggle, to "get up and go another round" no matter how difficult the situation. He abhorred bludgers or do-nothings and gave them the alternative to either work for an honest day's pay or go on their way, with a narrative they would never forget ringing in their ears.

From his own experiences, Tom knew that life could be anything but fair. He had only the memory of a bright, hopeful little son left in a graveyard back in England; he knew disappointment, poverty, heartache, misery, loneliness, hardship and brutality, yet it did not dim his outlook on life. He continued on tirelessly and doggedly. There was no fanfare and noise, just day-to-day living, marking out not only his own path, but the path of those who would follow, and it was a path that was clear and unmistakable.

Tom had, in between all these comings and goings, committees and church meetings, been involved with the marriages of his children. Frederick Charles and William both chose 1882 as the year to be married. Frederick married Bessie Sarah Adams on the 12 Oct 1882 at Melbourne where Bessie had moved with her family from Castlemaine. They returned to Koondrook after their marriage where they resided the remainder of their lives and raised their seven children. William married Mary Ann McDONALD, "one of the McDonald sisters of Koondrook, formerly of Kingower" at the Koondrook Baptist Church and they also remained at Koondrook the rest of their lives, having two children and raising one to adulthood. (See respective Family Group Sheets on Glenys Genealogy page).

Tom's only daughter, Emma Jane took her turn at marriage in 1889 when she married at Koondrook, a local fellow by the name of Samuel John WARE. They had two children whom they raised in Koondrook. (See individual Family Group Sheets). It was hard for Tom to see his little Emma all grown up, beautiful and sweet-spirited. He was immensely proud of his family and Emma Jane especially. Little girls have a way with their fathers and Emma was no exception. It gave him great joy, albeit a little hesitantly, to give away such a radiant bride.

Emma Jane Fasham WARE, (centre) with her two daughters, Beatrice, on the left, and Elsie on the right.

Grandchildren were coming quickly to Tom and Emma, and are listed below under the parents names:

Thomas William1872 at Buninyong
Eliza Jane (Lyle) 1873 at Echuca
Emma Elizabeth 1875 at Echuca
Ann Amelia Mary 1878 at Echuca
Edward James 1881 at Moorabbin
William Richard 1884 at Koondrook
George Frederick1888 at Bendigo (Sandhurst)
Florence Lydia Catheryn 1892 at Koondrook
Ivy Preston 1895 at Preston

John Edward Leonard Paterson (Jack) 1877 at Echuca
Frederick William 1879 at Echuca
Herbert Henry 1881 at Echuca
Ethel Elizabeth H. 1883 at Bendigo (Sandhurst)
Albert Hector 1885 at Bendigo (Sandhurst)
Alfred Edgar Wilson1888 at Bendigo (Sandhurst)
Charles Stanley (Billy) 1890 at Bendigo (Sandhurst)
Leslie Easter (Tom)1892 at Bendigo (Sandhurst)
Myrtle 1897 at Bendigo

William Earlsford (Milky Bill) 1884 at Koondrook
Arthur Hillier 1885 at Koondrook
Hilda Leah May1887 at Koondrook
Frederick Albert 1888 at Koondrook
Harold Ernest1893 at Koondrook
Horace Easter Fasham1896 at Koondrook
Amy Avis1900 at Koondrook

Elsie 1890 at Koondrook
Beatrice 1892 at Koondrook

Margaret Florence 1892 at Koondrook
Jane 1911 at Koondrook

Grandchildren were a special blessing to Tom and Emma and they enjoyed and loved them all. Tom would bounce them on his knee and tell of his life as a young man in England and what Australia looked like those many years before when he had arrived. The youngsters would always want Grandfather to "tell us about the olden days" and grandfather was only too willing.

The family business of blacksmith, wheelwright and farming was going well and Tom was kept very busy with horses, wagons and farming implements to shoe, construct and repair. The grandchildren found the same fascination with a blacksmith's forge and works as children always have and would anxiously await the opportunity to go and see grandfather Fasham hard at work among the bellows and heat. Smith and wheelwright was soon to become a dying trade and a good one was to be prized and so it was that Tom was kept busy and his name and fame as the best around spread quickly. But it was being surrounded by loving little arms and chattering, cheerful little voices that thrilled Tom more than work, name or fame, and he enjoyed immensely the time he spent with his growing family.

In approximately 1891 Tom's grandchildren began marrying and he was about to be blessed with the great opportunity of seeing great-grandchildren come into his life. It was indeed a long time ago that, as a young man, he had ventured across the vast ocean to a land that would offer so much and would instill in him a deep and enduring love of country and future. He and Emma would sit often at night, together in the comfort of their home and reminisce of the early struggles, of joys and sorrows and of laughter and tears they had shared together and apart. It was so long ago, now in 1893, Tom was 70 and it had been 40 years since he had landed on Australian soil, he and Emma had been married 46 years.

Some of those years had been memorable to say the least. When Tom was serving on the Buninyong Council he was still a little rough around the edges. He came home very late one night from a council meeting, Emma was in bed and said that there was a note for him "from one set of devils to another". Emma liked to have the last word and would have it if possible. As Tom picked up the note he said, "Look old woman, a little word from you and out you go." Well, Emma being Emma had the last word and Tom being Tom, just picked up the feather tick, Emma and all, rolled her up in it, took her and the tick outside and put her over the fence! Sons Thomas and John had to get up out of bed and bring her in and put her in one of their beds. Oh, it was lively around the old homestead that night!

Tom was as tough as they come, he stood well over 6 feet tall and weighed 18 stone (approximately 270 lbs). The muscle in his arm, developed from years of swinging a hammer, was tremendous. He used to cut all of the family's hair and was doctor to the family too. On one occasion on the farm Tom was standing behind a steam engine used for thrashing when the belt broke and flew toward him cutting his thigh severely, the cut was over six inches long and right to the bone. Tom walked up to the house and asked his daughter-in-law Kate (Cathryn Winnett Fasham) if she had a needle with strong white thread. She got him what he asked for and then he sat down on the back step outside on the verandah and proceeded to stitch up his leg. He did a fine job too, it healed well and never had any infection. If a family member (or anyone else for that matter) went out on the river in a boat and didn't know how to swim and fell out of the boat, Tom would yell that they either learn to swim or walk ashore along the bottom!

During the evening hours, Tom would require that his grandson Thomas read to him from the newspaper. He considered Thomas a pretty smart boy and he was made the official reader to the family. If anyone spoke during the nightly reading ritual, grandfather Tom would put up his hand for the person or persons talking to stop and leave the room. Knowing what was best for them, they left without hesitation. The reading would then continue.

Age was beginning to catch up with Tom and three and a half months after his 73rd birthday, he was able to sit down and enjoy his grandchildren. He especially kept a wily eye on two of his grandsons from Fred and Bessy's union - Harold (Hal) and Horace (Horrie). Those two had developed a friendship almost from the moment Horrie was born in 1896 and it would stand them in good stead through thick and thin. (See also, History of Horace Easter Fasham, Rasmussen, 1986). It was a good thing Tom kept an eye on them too, they were active and mischievous. When playing in the yard one day with a tomahawk, Horrie bet Hal he wouldn't dare chop off his finger. Horrie had placed the little finger of his right hand on the chopping block. Hal immediately took up the dare and whacked with the tomahawk. Fortunately for Horrie he saw it coming and moved his hand, albeit not quickly enough, for he lost the top quarter inch of his finger to the tomahawk. No doubt Tom gave them a good hiding and then a lecture on the evils of betting and daring.

Tom enjoyed these longer days of the autumn of his life, where he and Emma might take a stroll together in the cool of the evening, visit with their family and friends and spend time frolicking or bouncing with one of his numerous grandchildren or great grandchildren. The family was very sacred and special to Tom and he endeavoured to keep them close and unified. He would always stress the importance of keeping the family closeknit and full of love and loyalty to each other. He imparted to all he knew, family and friends alike, of his honestly, integrity, and his stalwart character, his impeccable reputation. Without really trying, Tom Fasham had the uncanny ability to influence for good all with whom he came in contact. His life was full to overflowing of the value and victories of the human soul over all that was evil or downgrading.

On the 18th day of March, 1900, just three months before Tom would turn 77 years of age he was presented with Amy Avis Fasham the last of Fred and Bessy's children and his second to last grandchild. He would sit and rock her gently to sleep, time had mellowed Tom and he was more able to relax and enjoy moments such as these with his grandchildren.

1905 had barely begun when Emma began to fail. Tom would sit hour after hour at her bedside and when she was well enough to move around, he would hover about her like a guardian angel. The tenderness and love to which she was well accustomed, was doubled along with effort by her devoted Tom. Her illness, incident to age of 80 years, continued and grew worse. Finally after about 12 months of ailing health, Emma died at the "ripe age of 81 years", on the 10th day of January 1906 at Koondrook. Her doctor, James F. Merrillees, signed her death certificate and comforted Tom, his friend of many years. The doctor wrote as the cause of death "senility" from which she had suffered for 12 months. He had not seen her since the 19th of November 1905, there being little he could do for her and her state of health. Tom buried Emma in the Koondrook Cemetery on the 11th day of January 1906.

Death Cert of Emma

Tom was destitute without Emma. Loneliness set in, his family spread about him like protecting arms, but life without his closest and dearest companion was empty. Tom's tremendous religious faith kept him from serious depression. Time and time again he drew upon it to buoy him and help him through the rough spots. When loneliness became too much for him to bear he would turn to the One he knew would strengthen him and give him courage to continue on. His faith in God increased a great deal at this time.

About 21 months after Emma's death, Tom decided to visit some of the places they had lived together. He visited with many of their friends in Koondrook before undertaking a trip to Echuca and Buninyong, and on October 4, a Friday, in 1907, it is reported in the Buninyong Telegraph the following:

A very old identity of the district, in the person of Mr. Thomas Fasham is at present on a visit to the town. Mr. Fasham was a member of the Buninyong Road Board, before a borough was in existence and afterwards was elected a member of the first Borough Council. He was present at last Monday's meeting of the Council and occupied a seat at the table. It is about 40 years since Mr. Fasham left Buninyong. In the old days he was very well known as "The Village Blacksmith", and was a prominent figure in municipal affairs. Among the younger generation he is unknown but he had met many old friends among the more elderly inhabitants.

During his sojourn in Buninyong, the weather became very cold and damp and Tom caught a cold from which he could not properly recover. He returned to Koondrook to his home and simply could not shake off the melancholy which overcame him. His thoughts returned again and again to Emma and she seemed to be very close to him. On a Wednesday night Dr. Merrillees was once again summoned to the Fasham home, this time by Tom's son Frederick Fasham. However, by the time he arrived it was very clear that there was very little chance for Tom's recovery and at 10:00 p.m. on Wednesday the 27th of November, 1907, Thomas Fasham returned from whence he had come. Reunion with Emma had come at last.

Dr. Merrillees filled out the death certificate and listed as the cause of death "senility and heart failure". The funeral was held at the Baptist Church in Koondrook and was preached by Pastor J. Hoad. Geo. Adams & Sons, Funeral Directors of Koondrook were in charge of the funeral and burial in the Koondrook Cemetery, where Tom was laid to rest beside his beloved Emma. He was at the advanced age of 84 years at the time of his death. He had spent 55 of those years in his beloved Australia, all of them in the State of Victoria, 24 of them in the town he loved most and gave his most - Koondrook. His funeral was large and people who had ever felt of his sterling character and influence came to pay their last respects to a gentleman and an honest and thorough human being.

Death Cert of Thomas Fasham

Tom and Emma had been married for 60 eventful, wonderful years, and at the time of Tom's death he left four sons and one daughter, twenty-five living grandchildren and four who had preceded him in death, and 14 great grandchildren. Each of whom would carry onto posterity his fine name and reputation. Surely it can be said that Thomas Fasham lived by example and precept the scripture from Proverbs 3:5-6 "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths".

THOMAS FASHAM - born 29 June 1823 - died 27 November 1907. A blacksmith from Kent who gave to all who knew him, before and after death, a firmer belief in mankind, in God and in the goodness and blessings of a righteous life. May his memory live forever.

Family History Library, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah (GS,FHL)

GSF#528,219 - Index to Births, England - Thomas Fasham, Reg. District of Canterbury, Vol V. Page 65, 1847, 4th Qtr. Also baptismal record - St. Alphege Canterbury Parish Register, courtesy of Canterbury Cathedral Archives and Library

GSF#528,244 - Index to Births, England - Edward Fasham, Reg. District of Eastry, Vol. V, page 151, 1849, 2nd Qtr.

Superintendent Registrar of Folkestone District, Birth Certificate of John Fasham, Folkestone, 1851 and Death Certificate of Edward Fasham, Folkestone, Kent, 1852

GS Marriage Index, England - Marriage Certificate of Thomas Fasham and Emma Easter, Sandwich, Kent, England, 1847

Bureau of Vital Statistics of Victoria, Australia - Birth Certificates of Emma Jane Fasham, 1857; Frederick Charles Fasham, 1859; William Fasham, 1862; Harold Ernest Fasham, 1893, Horace Easter Fasham, 1896. Marriage Certificates of John Fasham, 1876, and Frederick Charles Fasham, 1882. Death certificates of Thomas Fasham, 1907, Emma Fasham, 1906, and John Fasham 1916.

GSF#306,863 - 1841 Census of Margate, Kent, England
GSF - 1851 Census of Folkestone, Kent, England
1851 Census of Sandwich, Kent, England
1861 Census of Sandwich, Kent, England

Public Record Office, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia - Shipping Records of H.M.S. "Walmer Castle" 1853 and H.M.S. "True Briton" 1856.

Remembrances of Leslie Easter ("Tom") Fasham, Queensland, Australia, by taped interview by his son Alwyn Fasham.

Memories of George F. Fasham, 1988 - personal interview by author, Melbourne.

Photographs courtesy of Joyce Muriel Fasham Trimmer, Leslie Easter Fasham, Rosa Russell Fasham, Alleyne Hockley, Alwyn Fasham and Randal Young.

Photograph of Tom Fasham (1823-1907) courtesy of Randal Young.

Pictures and information on the Margate, St. John the Baptist Parish Church courtesy of Mr. A.S. Harcourt, Churchwarden of the Parish Church, Margate, Kent, England. Much of this history could not have been undertaken without the exceptional and kind help of Mr. A.S. Harcourt who untiringly searched Parish Records for me for over eight years and ultimately, before his retirement in 1981, put together an 11-generation "find" of Fashams. My deep appreciation goes out to him.

It seems that families pull together when the cause is just. I need here to give my heartfelt thanks and deep love to my mother, Joyce Muriel Fasham Trimmer, my great aunt Rosa Elizabeth Russell Fasham, Uncle Ern Fasham and wife Aunty Ethel, my new-found cousins from several states of Australia, including Alwyn ("Al") Fasham of Queensland, his father Leslie Easter ("Tom") Fasham, Leonard John ("Jack") Fasham of South Australia, Wendy Parsons, Muriel ("Nin") Fasham Smith, Betty Fasham Stirton, Alleyne Hockley, and Randal Young, all of Victoria. A very special note of gratitude to Wendy Wallace and her grandfather, George Frederick Fasham. Without hesitation their insights, memory of Tom and Emma Fasham and their willingness to open up their hearts gave me much needed assistance. I thank them. (As this last rewrite of the history goes to print, it is with much sadness that I must report the death of George Frederick Fasham on the 26th day of July 1990 at Melbourne, just four weeks away from his 102nd birthday.)

The Staff and Librarian at the Canterbury Cathedral Archives and Library, Canterbury, Kent, England must be mentioned with honour too. They have searched out each of my requests and even added "extras" they thought may help me in my quest. They gave much information on baptisms and marriages in Kent.

The State Library of Victoria, LaTrobe Library, Melbourne, Australia - staff and librarians, have too given freely of their time and talents on my behalf for the research behind this history. They researched historical events of the towns mentioned, newspapers by the hour and other biographical records. I am very grateful to them for their endeavors and assistance.

The Echuca Historical Society, particularly Mr. Trevor Williams gave generous amounts of time to the project and assisted me in finding references to the property owned by the Fashams in Echuca.

The Shire Clerk of Wakool, New South Wales, Australia and Mr. Ron Plant, Trustee of the Koondrook Cemetery, were invaluable assistants as they made searches on my behalf of the cemeteries of Barham and Koondrook.

And so to the various government, historical, genealogical and family organizations, and newspapers of Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia and West Australia, I give my sincere thanks for all each of these agencies did to facilitate my work.

I would like briefly here to give a little insight into how this history came about and how it was eventually written.

Because of the importance of each family member, ancestor or descendant, I wanted all of Thomas' family to know of his life. However, information was scarce and difficult to come by. I have mentioned those who helped and the sources for other information, however, I need to tell more -

When I decided to write a history of Thomas Fasham, I collected what I did have on him and tried to place it in chronological order. I decided some knowledge of Kent would be appropriate and went to Our British Heritage a book describing areas and work in late 19th and early 20th century England. With all the data collected and in some semblance of order, I began. As I was writing, I could feel the presence of someone in the chair beside me, and when I felt frustrated and couldn't think of what to say next, the thoughts seemed to flow from that presence into my mind. I looked over to the chair several times during the next few hours, and once or twice I thought I saw a faint outline of a man sitting there. I know for a surety that Tom helped me with his own history. There is no possible way I could discover so much about an individual who died 40 years before my birth, when records were not kept as diligently as now and whose descendants are scattered hither and fro, many of whom had passed away. Of course, it must be understood, some of this history is merely fiction, ideas I had from reading books of the period during which Tom lived, but insofar as the love and unity of the family, the goodness of the man himself and the struggles and joys they (he and Emma) experienced, they came not from me.

So, I am most grateful to Thomas Fasham, for all that he was and all that he now is, and for the honour I have of being his great, great, granddaughter.

Glenys Joy Trimmer Rasmussen
Santa Rosa, California, U.S.A.
8 July 1990

History written in 1978. Updated with certificates, photographs and further information in 1981, 1986, 1990,1999 and 2001.

Copyright © 2010 Glenys J. Rasmussen. All rights reserved [Return to Top]