Stephen Whelan 1837-1929
Margaret Whelan 1842-1917
John Whelan 1870-1882
Ann Whelan 1882-1883
Edmond Whelan 1865-1886
Ellen Whelan 1886-1887
Lorraine Johnson nee Whelan has provided the following information: ‘The Whelan family were pioneer settlers from Upper Dunhill, Co Waterford, Ireland. Stephen was the first in the family to arrive in Australia and settled in Parwan. His siblings – William, Patrick and Elizabeth Whelan followed.
Stephen was a stone mason and built many of the homesteads of the early settlers including Brooklyn, Eynesbury and Nerowie, all for the Staughton family. Miles and miles of dry stone walls were also erected on these properties by Stephen. Greystones was another property where he built stone walls. Stephen laid the foundation for St Bernard’s Church, of which he was a staunch adherent. Many bridges in the shire as well as many of the buildings in the town had their foundations laid by Stephen.
Stephen selected 325 acres of the Eynesbury estate where he built his own home and later, when Nerowie was cut up, he purchased a further 522 acres.’
Stephen, the son of Edmond Whelan, married Margaret McGrath in 1865. Their twelve children were all born at Bacchus Marsh. They were Edmond, Catherine, John, Stephen, Mary, Patrick, Jeremiah, Bridget and James (twins), Ann, Maurice and Ellen. John died when he was twelve years old, Ann when she was ten weeks old, Edmond when he was twenty-one and Ellen when she was four months old. Stephen’s wife, Margaret, was the daughter of Patrick McGrath and Margaret Condon of Limerick. She is remembered on the Pioneer Women’s Memorial.
Stephen’s obituary in ‘The Bacchus Marsh Express’ 21.09.1929 read: ‘Slowly but surely, the pioneers of Australia, are leaving the land of their adoption. The last to go from this district is Mr Stephen Whelan of Parwan (a few miles out of Bacchus Marsh). It can be said that Mr Whelan helped to lay the foundations of this country in more senses than one – as not only was he one of the pioneer settlers but he was a stone mason as well and helped to build many of the homes of the early squatters.’ It tells of the homes and buildings he was responsible for and continues ‘and they stand today as monuments of his careful workmanship. One local resident, has recalled the fact that, whilst Mr Whelan was building a store in the town, he used to walk to his work in the morning and home again at night, some five or six miles each way. How different from the present day, when motor cars are requisitioned for this transport!
Mr Whelan was a native of Co Waterford, having been born there 92 years ago. He came to Australia as a young man and obtained work in the Parwan district almost immediately, and has resided there ever since……… Mr Whelan was married at Bacchus Marsh and the pair of these worthy pioneers lived and died on their first selection – Mrs Whelan died some ten years ago, whilst Mr Whelan lived on till Saturday last, when he passed away without ever having any serious illness throughout his long life. He leaves a grown-up family of sons and daughters. The late Mr Patrick Whelan of Darley was a brother; and the late Mrs James Ryan was a sister. Therefore, numerous relatives still reside in the district.
The funeral took place on Sunday last, the interment taking place in the old Hopetoun Cemetery, in the eastern valley of the Marsh, where many other pioneers are resting. Rev Father J P Bailey officiated at the graveside.’
Thank you to Helen Holmquest for death certificate information. Helen is one of several Whelan descendants still residing in the town.