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Callion Graves
Western Australia

CALDER William Leslie:- died 12.10.1896 aged 3 yrs 3 mths at Speaksman Find (now Callion Mine) in the Menzies district. Buried at Speaksman Find. He died from convilsions. Born: Dunnolly, VIC. He was the child of Alexander and Annie (nee Speakman) CALDER, he had only been in WA for 3 months.

The following information was supplied by Rodney SAMSON:- William Leslie Calder (one of the child graves) was the older brother of my maternal Grandmother Elsie Jeffs (nee Calder) and the son of Alexander Calder & Annie Calder (nee Speakman).  The owner of the CALLION claim (Speakmans Find) was James Speakman, the brother of Annie Calder.  James Speakman was born in DUNOLLY, VICTORIA in 1857. His parents both emigrated to AUSTRALIA in 1854 from LANCASHIRE  and settled in DUNOLLY, they were miners and hoteliers.  James found the CALLION claim in 1891 and requested family members to join him & help work the claim. They had a number of mines and successful businesses & no doubt this bankrolled the family expedition to WESTERN AUSTRALIA. CALLION was extremely profitable and it allowed members of my family, including my Great Grandparents to buy a number of homes, dairy’s and other businesses on their return to MELBOURNE. There were a number of gold nuggets retained and each child born after 1898 was given a nugget, my mother was the last to get one.

James Speakman sold the CALLION Mine to a publican from FREMANTLE around 1899 but the mine had no gold deposit to be worthwhile, this led to a court case.  I found an article that offered the theory that ‘CALLION’ was a duffer and that much of the gold came from somewhere else.  What is interesting is that after CALLION was sold & the family returned to VICTORIA, James stayed in the area for another 18 months and sent home to VICTORIA over 470 oz of gold nuggets. My Great Grandfather (Alexander Calder) made a number of trips back there to bring the gold home.  Where that gold came from we have no idea but CALLION gold was essentially reef gold. James had returned home to VICTORIA in 1899 prior to returning to WA and during that stay he purchased ‘CALLION LODGE’, later to be taken over by Dame Nellie Melba after James had lost the property in a card game, it was subsequently renamed ‘COOMBE COTTAGE’.  James died in WEST BRUNSWICK, MELBOURNE in 1921.

I was fortunate to be able to listen to my grandmothers accounts of her time at CALLION and her brother Mark Callion Calder. There was some ‘confusion’ , secrecy might be a better term about the source of much of the gold but the children apparently only knew so much. Uncle Mark would only offer tidbits of information, some I assume from talking to his father Alexander. Anyway, the living conditions out there were very harsh, milk was from goats, water was in short supply & fresh food was rare and of course travelling to KALGOORLIE or COOLGARDIE for supplies was a five day horseback ride.  Homes were tents. My Grandmother & her brother recounted a number of conflicts with local aborigines and the men were apparently always armed.

KENNEY Thomas d. March 1899 age 12yrs (Occ Miner)  10mths -North Coolgardie death cert 15/1899 Cause of death:- Heridetary Consumption. Father:- James KENNY, Sawyer, Mother:- Kate Donnelly Place of Birth:- Gravestown, Huon Tasmania. He had only been in WA for 5 months. His death was certified by his Aunt May KENNY.

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