Joseph William Evans & Mary Vance

Joseph was born at Dudley in Worcestershire England on 29 December 1839, the third child of Joseph Evans and Anne Eliza Biddle. He was apprenticed to Samuel Rose Chemist in Oldbury, Worcestershire over the period of 1855 to 1860. Samuel Rose had the contract to supply paupers; Joseph was very smart and often a ship’s druggist. These ships were built before the introduction of the Plimsoll Line. He could sit on the side of the boat and touch water and then go to the other side and touch water there. 

He spent the next two years in the United States, being there at the commencement of the Civil War, 1861 to 1865. He was detained as a suspected spy and jailed. After a court appearance in which he swore that he was not a citizen of either the United States or the Confederate States, and had never abandoned England as his home, he was absolved from serving in the Confederate Forces and released. Until that stage it is possible that he had had thoughts of settling in America. He sailed from America on a boat fired with cotton seed oil and the safety valve tied down to force blockade. On his return to England, he worked as a Chemist at Blackheath near Birmingham for two years. He married his cousin Emma Evans, daughter of Francis and Mary Evans in 1865. Their first daughter, Mary Jane, was born at Brookfield House on 28 January 1866. A second daughter was born at Brookfield House, Minnie Loruhamah on 30 May 1868. Joseph and Emma farmed Brookfield House for about three years, buying and fattening ducklings. In 1869, Joseph’s adventurous spirit took hold again, and he sailed for Queensland. It is not known if he intended bringing out his family later; probably his intention was to establish a home and then send for them. However, Emma died in 1872, and the girls remained in England. 

Joseph paid for his own passage and was therefore entitled to a grant of land. Before making a selection, he first picked cotton at Churchill and carried a swag in his search for a place to settle. Joseph then took up his selection which was at Walloon. To his dismay, his name was entered as ‘Joseph Dudley’ based on an incorrect entry in his shipping record, but as he had no other relatives here, he let it remain. On going out to inspect his land, he found it was a disappointment and subsequently sold it for the proverbial ‘song’. After an unsuccessful try at mining at the Gympie goldfield, Joseph headed for Jimbour on the Darling Downs to gain some “Colonial experience”. He heard that good scrub land was available at Rosewood and moved there. For a time, he worked for L. Smallbone in the Rosewood district. He then made his second selection on the 16 March 1871; the purchase price for the 91 acres was 13 pounds and five shillings. By some mischance, the name of his hometown was entered according to the ship’s records in place of his surname and his grant was registered in the name of ‘Joseph Dudley’. This grant was to be known as “Pinegrove”.

In the early pioneering days, there was no permanent water supply and Joseph had to carry two drums of water on his shoulders from the Bremer River to his hut, a distance of some seven miles. In 1876, he married Mary Vance and took out a new deed for Portion 425 in the Parish of Walloon under his correct name of Joseph William Evans. On the night of the wedding, their house on the property was burnt down. His daughter Delia believed that the cause of the fire was due to burning off the scrub by road workers near the home. A brief item in the Queensland Times, on Saturday 8 April 1876, simply states:

We are sorry to learn that a dwelling house belonging to Joseph Dudley at the Rosewood Scrub was burnt to the ground on Wednesday night last. The house contained a valuable assortment of books, chemicals etc. which were entirely consumed. No clue to the origin of the fire has yet been discovered.

The newlyweds headed for Brisbane as Joseph hoped to find work as a chemist. He was offered work in Toowoomba, and so they went to Toowoomba, where for two and a half years Joseph worked as dispenser to Dr Roberts. Then, for a further two and a half years, he worked as assistant to Mr Hodgson, the Chemist. Three children were born while they lived in Toowoomba, Olivia (Dot) 18 June 1877; Joseph was born 17 January 1879 and was the first boy in Rosewood to pass the Scholarship Examination. He later went on to become a Master of Arts; and Anne Eliza born 29 October 1880, became a school teacher and subsequently married into the well-known Drynan family of Beaudesert.

In 1881, they returned to Rosewood and on 7 October 1881, Joseph W Evans bought portion 406, a selection of 90 acres from Mr Lot Latcham paying four pounds and 4 shillings per acre. The family returned to the farm, and it was there that John William was born 7 September 1882. The Evans family built a new pioneering ‘humpy’ and cleared more land and began to farm the land. Frank Evans was born on the 14 August 1884; he married Bertha Richter of a well-known pioneer family which has provided prominent men in public life; and Sarah Evans born the 19 January 1887. She was to marry Frederick Heiner of an old West Moreton pioneer family.

Joseph then built a two-storey chemist shop and dwelling in John St, Rosewood in 1886. The family was connected with the Congregational Church just over the street, and Joseph later went in for beekeeping. He had 80 hives as well as being the local chemist. He was elected Secretary of the Rosewood Farmers Club. Here his three youngest children were born: Delia 14 September 1889; Gerald Vance 5 August 1893, a winner the military medal in World War One and a manual training teacher; and Pitt on 5 January 1896, who exported the first cows to New Guinea and bred Scottish Pit Ponies. Joseph W Evans was not only the first chemist in Rosewood, but also acted as a doctor and dentist to the pioneers of the district. He is also remembered for helping the Aborigines, even to the extent of setting broken bones. He would often charge no fee as money was very scarce being paid with a foul or leg of home cured pork. Following an injury sustained from unloading a wagon of pumpkins, Joseph developed secondary complications. It was the time of the Great Flu Epidemic, brought to the country by returning servicemen. Weakened as he was, Joseph succumbed to the Flu and died 18 July 1919 and left a widow, four daughters and five sons in Queensland. In the Queensland Times, the same day there was an announcement that:

The clerk of the Rosewood Shire Council received notification today from the Health Department repealing the restrictions in connection with the influenza epidemic in Rosewood. As this has only just been received, the schools in the shire will probably open during the coming week. The epidemic hospital has now been closed.

Joseph was most likely one of the last victims of the Epidemic. His funeral notice in the Queensland Times of Saturday the 19th reads:

Our Rosewood correspondent writes under yesterday’s date: The death took place today of Mr Joseph W Evans a well-known resident of Rosewood for many years. The deceased, who was 79 years of age only became ill on Monday. His son, Private Gerald Evans M.M., returned from the front line last week. The deceased leaves a widow and a grown-up family of sons and daughters. The funeral will take place to the Tallegalla Cemetery tomorrow (Saturday) morning.

It was therefore on the joyful day of Peace Celebrations in Australia that Joseph was laid to rest. It was also the day that Genuine Ashes of Roses were again available after a considerable period. A dainty toilet preparation in the form of a solidified face powder, from the firm of Bourjois of Paris, the price was 2/3 a box.

Source: A Family United – 348 Years. (1997). Andrew R. Evans Publisher.

Contributed by Darryl Heiner


One comment

  1. I loved reading this article on the Evans/Vance/Heiner family going back many generations. Your family has done some great research.

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