The Robison family reunion at Congupna was larger than expected after Norma Porritt and Melissa Graham tracked down relatives no-one knew existed.By Riahn Smith
It may have taken almost 100 letters, scores of phone calls and dozens of personal visits, but all the hard work put into this month’s Robison family reunion was more than worth it for Norma Porritt and Melissa Graham.
The mother and daughter spent more than 18 months researching the Robison history and tracking down long-lost relatives to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the family’s arrival in Australia.
The family tree of close to 1400 names began with James and Agnes Robison, who emigrated from Scotland in 1863.
The pair and its seven children spent several years near Mt Egerton and Echuca before James settled in Shepparton after his wife’s death in 1880.
This month, more than 100 people from across Australia gathered at Congupna Hall to catch up with — or meet — others who shared the Robison history.
‘‘We started firstly by writing letters to every Robison we saw in the phone book and out of 90-odd letters we only had one response from someone who was actually related to the family,’’ Ms Graham said.
‘‘The most amazing one was John Robison (one of James and Agnes’ sons). We didn’t even know he had any children, but we found his death certificate which showed he had a daughter.’’
After some more sleuthing through the archives, the pair discovered the daughter’s son-in-law was from Wangaratta and made a list of everyone in the area with his surname.
On the third call, Ms Porritt found someone who knew the missing branch of Robisons.
‘‘It was amazing. They hadn’t done any family history, so we were able to share so much with them,’’ Ms Porritt said. ‘‘It was so exciting to find a part of the family we never knew existed.’’
Ms Graham said a little bit of digging on her part found her family’s history was full of joy, but also tragedy.
An inquest published in the Riverine Herald on January 9, 1880 told how Agnes was travelling in a ‘‘spring cart’’ when her dress caught fire. She died several hours later of ‘‘nervous shock to the system’’ and is believed to have been buried at Echuca cemetery, although no mention of the burial has been found in their records.
Her husband lived another 18 years and was buried in an unmarked grave in Shepparton Cemetery with his son Hugh.
Ms Graham said her dedication to the event was grounded in a desire to ensure her children knew where they came from.
‘‘My dad’s family, we had a great aunt and she had the most amazing stories, but we didn’t think to write them down before she passed away and now they’re all lost,’’ Ms Graham said.
‘‘We want to grab the old stories, and the old photos while people of my grandmother’s generation are still around so that the next generation know who their ancestors are.’’
Shepparton Lawn player Olivia Quigley will represent Country Victoria in the Foundation Cup Interstate Challenge.
It’s been a long journey for Tim Roadley but his dream of creating a multi-sport endurance event on the Murray River is now going to be a reality.
It was a big day for Jye McNeil on Sunday, not only celebrating his 19th birthday, but riding a double at the Tatura and Shepparton Racing Club’s meeting, including the big one, the Vraca and Varapodio Italian Plate (1600 m), on the Gerald Egan-trained Jetconi.
Echuca Football Club has signed Joel Magnabosco and Kane Morris for next season.
Rochester’s old Courthouse is undergoing a facelift thanks to a restoration grant.
Waste collection in Campaspe Shire will change for two weeks during the festive season.
Valley Park Farms' egg production facility is expected to increase production and staff after a $100 000 Victorian Government grant.
Murchison’s Jane Spencer’s first exhibition It Just Dawned On Me will be on show in Shepparton in the first half of next year.
Lisa Milligan has started a new dog grooming business in Heathcote to help fund her Wild ABout Wildlife centre in Kilmore.
Former Moira Shire pound dog Lazlo was rehomed in Bendigo after being arrested by Victorian Dog Rescue.
Deniliquin South School teacher's aid Christine Henson will cut her long locks to raise money for cancer reasearch.
New Transport Accident Commission research has revealed why some young country drivers habitually take risks on regional roads.
State Member for Benalla Bill Sykes has thrown his support behind the government’s proposed new domestic animal ownership laws.
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