Topic: Gen - St - Vic
The Fay Family of Creighton's Creek
Elizabeth Fay wearing a silk shirt, the material for which was sent from Egypt.
The Fays Early Selectors at Creighton's Creek
George Fay, senr., and his wife Frances (nee Wakeford) took up land near the Creighton's Creek in the very early days of selection activities. The couple died when their children were young.
They had three children - George, Frances and John (Jack).
George married Elizabeth Sharp, of Longwood, and they reared six children, namely Reginald, Bernard, Harold, Laura, Edward and George. They built a home and lived on the Creighton's Creek property.
George was a member of the Rifle Club, the range being in one of his paddocks. He was a member of the Light Horse and served in World War 1. He attained the rank of captain and was killed in action. (I have seen a pair of cuff links sent from. Cairo to Joe Fay by his uncle, Captain George Fay).
Jack Fay married Edith Sharp, of Longwood, in 1908. They also built a house on their property at Creighton's Creek. They had four children - Martha, Veronica, Joseph and Frances. He was also a member of the Light Horse (known earlier as the Mounted Rifles) and enlisted with the forces which went to the South African War. (1 have been shown a South African war medal bearing the following words: South Africa - Transvaal, Orange Free State, Cape Colony and also a likeness of Queen Victoria; also a South African War medal presented to Jack Fay in appreciation of his war services by the residents of Longwood).
Jack was a keen rifle shot and won many prizes and trophies. He was a good runner and high jumper and won numerous events at district picnics. He was a member of the school committee for several years and he and his wife helped in all district organisations. Edith helped with knitting, etc., during two World Wars.
Jack and Edith carried on the farming activities until advancing age made it necessary for them to retire to Euroa.
Frances Fay married Robert Gray, of Rochester. They farmed a property on the Campaspe River which is still being run by their son and daughter. They had the following children - Edith, Betty, Francis and Robert.
The senior Fay couple, George and Frances, died when Jack was eight years of age. The property was then put into the hands of trustees until Jack was 21 years of age.
George and Jack then farmed the property as partners. In the early days there was a lot of clearing to be done. The partnership continued until George was killed in action. The partnership was then dissolved and George's wife, Elizabeth, sold her share to Lawrence and Nellie Barns. She then lived in Euroa in order to obtain employment for her children.
This property was later bought by Joe Fay who also acquired Jack's share. It is all still retained by Joe's widow, Thelma and son Gary who live on the properties at Creighton's Creek. Other members of Joe and Thelma's family are Joseph and Denyce.
The above article was extracted from the Euroa Gazette, p. 62.
Reminiscences about Elizabeth Fay
Elizabeth Jane Fay (neé Sharpe)
Born at Longwood, Victoria, in 16/9/1881
Eldest of thirteen children.
Married George Fay, at Longwood, Victoria, 13 May 1903
Elizabeth (Babs) had 6 children, five sons and one daughter and subsequently 20 grandchildren.
Widowed, 1 December 1917
Moved to Euroa, 1918
Died aged 86 years, Melbourne, 22 November 1967.
Elizabeth was a tall, slim woman, with a carriage described as stately. She never wore make-up, her hair was worn simply, in a tidy bun, her clothes were always clean and neat. A quite and unassuming woman who had a profound effect on all who met her; a remarkable woman.
Elizabeth was an industrious woman as one would need to have been, being the eldest of 13 children growing up on a farm. Her early responsibilities and training throughout those years of caring for her mother and siblings, carried her steadfastly through the lives of so many people, until she died at the age of 86 years.
A warm, caring woman, with a great inner strength, not to be a leader, but to be there by someone’s side; to see what needed to be done; what problem needed to be resolved. Capable always, she created order out of chaos, briskly yet quietly; her pace never seemed to falter.
As a young woman she had a strong ambition to train as a nurse, but her family would not allow her to do so; their reasons are now unknown. Perhaps, the loss of such a capable young woman to the growing family would have been too great. Her cleaning, nursing and cooking skills would have been a great loss to her mother. At the age of eleven she was cooking not only for the expanding family but also the harvesters or whoever else came to the farm. Whatever the reason for their denial of her aspirations, she carried the disappointment throughout her life, although this was rarely mentioned.
She was 22 years of age when she married George Fay at Longwood, Victoria.
Her husband was the son of a soldier of the same name, who had been returning to Ireland from army duty in India. George Snr., and his friend (who’s sister he later married) visited Australia on their way home and had decided to stay. Later, he and his wife (Frances Wakeford) took up land at Creighton’s Creek in the early days of Soldier’s selection land, coming available.
When Elizabeth and George married they built a home on his family’s property ‘Cluny Farm’ Creighton’s Creek, 10 miles out of Euroa, which is situated 160 kilometres from Melbourne via the Hume Highway.
Elizabeth, with a husband and eventually, six children to wash and iron for, had a lean-to down near the creek from which she carried water to boil for washing. She had to build a fire to boil the clothes. All washing was rubbed on a board to clean it, then rinsed and in those days blued and starched. She used to throw a fishing line into the creek while she was there and keep watch on the younger children. Getting so much wet washing back to the farm would have been quite a feat. (How would she have managed that? Perhaps she took a horse and cart.)
Her cooking skills were renowned, her flaky pastry to dream of, and her scones always took first place in shows. She was an excellent needle woman, a good horse woman and excellent driver. (Horse and Jig) In other words: A capable country woman.
The local rifle range was situated on their property, where her husband and others trained. When World War 1 started he went to Melbourne to train the young men signing up. Perhaps it was, sending 16 & 17 year olds off to war with little experience, which eventually saw him make the difficult decision to leave, with his horse, for Egypt to join the 8th Australian Light horse.
(Left to right) Elizabeth ("Bab"), Bernard, Harold, George Jnr (seated), and Edward between George Snr's legs.
Navigating by the stars, he led his men through the inhospitable deserts of Africa, beneath which he was destined to remain, forever, with other fallen sons and fathers.
Elizabeth, with six children, the youngest newly born, had taken over the running of the farm, from which she also operated the local post office.
She received constant flow of letters from a loving husband, a man with whom she always claimed, she had never had a cross word.
Her husband was with the Light horse at El Burj Hills in Egypt, when she knew without any doubt, that he had died. She waited some time before the knock on the door came with conformation, and the day of his death, was as she knew it, 1 December 1917.
Over time, so many of his men wrote to her, and others travelled great distances to see her and to talk of what he meant to them. It was well established that he was wounded, but refused to leave his men while he could still sit a horse, for which he paid the ultimate price.
Did knowing this comfort her? We never thought to asked her, but knowing her, we do know, she would never have asked him to do otherwise.
Fay family pension details
She continued, through the following 50 years to feel his presence close to her, supporting and loving her. This feeling was very real to her. She would not consider having another partner.
Elizabeth sold the farm and bought a house in Euroa in 1918 to be close to schooling and work for the older boys. Here she raised the children and worked with the local doctors, taking into her home women who needed to come into town when a birth was imminent.
These women and their babies, stayed with her to recuperate after birthing, or operations, until they were strong enough to travel back to their homes. For so many of these hard working country women, it was the only rest they ever had.
Elizabeth was a natural nurse and a woman with much common sense. Perhaps, one secret for her success in nursing her patients, her children and grandchildren, was her lifetime conviction of the necessity for cleanliness. Tables tops and floors were scrubbed, linen boiled and utensils sterilised.
Fresh air, sunlight, clean water, fresh food and scrubbed hands for its preparation, were all considered essential to maintain good health.
As the childre grew up to adulthood, the need to find work for them all saw her shift the family unit to West Coburg on the outskirts of Melbourne.
Two of her sons became policemen. During the depression years, because she had two young sons working, she received no pension. Despite this she saw that no one she knew went hungry, including neighbours deserted by fathers, who left in search of work, or because they couldn’t cope through those dreadful years.
Her home was always full of people, talking, laughing, eating. No doubt it was her cooking abilities which enabled her to feed so many hungry people. Certainly, living most of her life without access to shops would have resulted in her becoming quite resourceful.
With the coming of the second World War, two of her sons joined up. Edward joined the RAAF and her youngest the AIF. George, named for his father, travelled and fought through the same areas of the Middle East as his father had, which appeared to his mother like an omen. Her fear he would not come back either, was something she had to live with till the end of that war. Return he did, and with photo’s of his fathers grave at Ramleh Grove Military Cemetery, in Palestine.
Elizabeth was always available to support anyone in need, and one particular case was a young neighbour who was sent home with new born twins, her first children, having been told they could not survive. Elizabeth nursed these babies, her faith never allowed her to be daunted when faced with the impossible, and survive they did, growing into strong healthy children.
She sewed and mended and turned sheets with an small Singer sewing machine which was worked by hand. Her fingers flew, as they spun the handle on the side of that machine. She was always available when anyone was ill, work to be done, or when a whole family needed to move in with her. Christmas Days at her home with the ever increasing numbers of people were just wonderful. The old wood stove produced miracles and the gas stove needed to be used as well on those occasions.
We seldom saw Grandma without an apron on, as she kept herself busy and always had a smile and warm welcome for anyone who came to her door.
Her grandchildren’s most precious memories, are of the times when the old tan tin trunk was pulled out from under the bed, and one by one the feathers, materials, silk scarfs, presents and mementoes her husband had sent her from Egypt, were lifted out with much reverence.
We knew the stories surrounding each one but waited, and were filled with awe as images of the mysterious East cast a spell. As they were placed back into the safety of the old tin trunk it was all over....till next time, but those precious memories of Grandma Fay, sharing her treasures and memories will last with us all forever.
Her deeds we learned from others, we wonder what she could have told us had she been so inclined. We found, when people spoke of her it was not only with great respect but coupled with a warmth of feeling.
Her step was firm and measured as she moved with great dignity through her life, and those of others.
A song sent to the family in 1920
A mother sat in silent grief
her head bowed in her hands
She thought of soldiers coming home
from far off foreign lands
A friend whose son would soon return
Had told the news with pride
The mother wiped her tear filled eyes
and to her friend replied
My bonny lads will not return
From far across the sea
One died on France’s Battlefield
and one on Gallipoli
The last on of all was blue eyed Jack
That fair haired babe of mine
He sleeps beneath a palm tree
Somewhere in Palestine.
Nicolette Caggiati-Shortell for generously making available the Fay family records, including letters, photographs and newspaper clippings, and through her kind permission, these are published on this site.
Citation: The Fay Family of Creighton's Creek, Elizabeth Fay