WESTERN AUSTRALIAN REUNION HELD IN PERTH
by Peter Bandy
I live in Melbourne, but for Christmas and New Year I flew to my birth place, Perth, to spend time with my mother, family and friends. The highlight was the first ever Western Australian "Bandy Reunion" which I organised with the help of some friends and a few relatives I had yet to meet. There are many of us here in Australia descended from Thomas and Sarah Bandy [see Peter's genealogy on the genealogies pages - Ed.] who arrived in the young colony of Western Australia in 1850. Perth was only 21 years old at that time and some of these early Bandy's were real pioneers who opened up much of the land, particularly to the north of Perth. Thomas was a Pensioner Guard and he and his family came out to Australia on board the HMS "Hashemy", one of the first convict ships to arrive here.
Perth is a city of 1.2 million people on the banks of the Swan River, 13 miles upstream from the port of Fremantle. We chose the picturesque Women's Memorial in Kings Park for our reunion because it is central and ideal for a picnic. Kings Park is an area of 1,000 acres of natural bush land very close to the city itself.
Invitations were sent to as many as possible, but for the first attempt, I could only just scratch the surface. It was impossible to predict how many would show up. To our amazement, over 50 came, and some from as far away as rural Geraldton (300 miles north), Darkan (130 miles south), Donnybrook (150 miles south) and Gingin (70 miles north).
Daniel Bandy of the Fremantle Dockers
who was present at the reunion
There were so many Bandy's I had never met, it was a great thrill to see them all. Thomas and Sarah had 7 children and there were representatives of 6 out of the 7 families, including descendants of Elizabeth Bandy (Habekosts) who left Perth for Singapore with her mother in 1861, married and raised a family there. The other daughter to accompany her mother and sister to Singapore was Maria who was not represented this time. This latter relative married Juan Parke de Basagoiti, and we are having a little trouble locating these people at the moment.
Also present was our most famous relative, Daniel Bandy, who is an accomplished Australian Rules Football player who plays for one of the Western Australian teams in the national competition, the Fremantle Dockers.
We started to arrive at Kings Park at about 10.00 am and the last ones left at 5.00 pm. As you all know, it is summer out here at the moment and the temperature that day was a warm 34 degrees Celsius. It was most pleasant having a picnic lunch under some large, shady gum trees, talking about relatives past and present and looking at the family tree which I had laid out on the grass. There was no format, although around noon, we did assemble those present to give them a little talk. Many did not know details of our ancestry and myself, Mollie Holst and Sue White (both descended from Jane Bandy who married a ticket of leave ex-convict called Thomas Drage), provided some anecdotes.
It was a very successful day, and most wanted to repeat the event next year. This year, I will spend some time establishing a database of our descendants and this will include those from the female line who are naturally no longer called Bandy.
vivid memories of
The Journey to Texas
retold by Virginia Jackson
From Vernon County, Missouri, the Westbrooks, and many of their allied families, loaded up their covered wagons and plodded through Indian Territory toward Texas.
At a family reunion in 1975, James (Jim) Westbrook, then 96 years old, related vivid memories of the hardships his family, which included his grandparents Thomas T. and Nancy (Bandy) Westbrook, encountered as they traveled across the Oklahoma Indian Territory to Texas. Jim said that the Westbrooks were very musical and played a variety of instruments: banjos, harmonicas, and fiddles. Thomas D. Clark, in Rampaging Frontiers, wrote that “Fiddles in the hands of the masters ... were as much instruments of construction in the West as were the axes which girdle the trees, the paddles which propelled the boats and the rifles which fetched down the meat and the Redskins.” This must have been true for the Westbrook clan, for their musical talents were always in demand, and when they camped at night they relaxed and entertained themselves by playing instruments and singing.
When their wagon train was almost across Indian Territory, Jim Westbrook said that a band of Indians began following them, always at a respectful distance, but nevertheless within well within sight of the Westbrook wagons. At night when the Westbrooks camped, the Indians also camped, again at a distance, but within sight. This went on for several days and nights. Jim said that Nancy (Bandy) Westbrook and the other women were terrified and cried and cried. Out of fear that the Indians would kill them, the women didn't want to come out of the wagons when they stopped at night, but the men convinced them that with the Indians so near, it would be best not to alarm them by varying established routines; therefore, the Westbrooks kept up their nightly musical concerts. Jim related that although he was a small child at the time, he was so frightened that when the wagons stopped, he stole up under the wagon and hid on the axle.
Then on the last evening before they crossed out of Indian territory into Texas, to the horror of the travelers, the Indians finally approached the wagons, but with them they brought parting gifts: two deer and five wild turkeys. It seems that the Indians had been following the Westbrooks in order to hear the nightly musicals. So, around 1880, the wagon train safely crossed over the Texas border, and the Indians turned and went back into Indian Territory.( Oklahoma became the 46th state in 1907)
please send us your family news, anecdotes and historical stories
Ancestors and relatives of Rose Eveline Condley
(m. Charles C. Bandy..1903)
ALL COUSINS ARE INVITED!
DATE: 7 Oct 2000
PLACE: Hector, Arkansas
For futher information, copy of Reunion Newsletter,
or any questions, please contact Debra K Walker
Western Australian Settlers
by Peter Bandy
The week before the reunion (see main story above), I drove the 70 miles from Perth up to Gingin and spent the day with Doris Harris (nee Bandy) and her lovely family. Her grandfather was Thomas Amos Bandy, the eldest son, who was 10 in 1850 when his parents sailed out here. He and his wife Martha Dora built a farmhouse/homestead called "Woodbine" in 1868 about 25 miles north of Gingin on the banks of the Moore River.
We drove up to see it as it is still there - the original mud bricks are evident, but some of the woodwork is rotting. We met the current owner of "Woodbine" and he is in the process of restoration and, thankfully, is very conscious of the history of this place. Even now, it is in the middle of nowhere, so it was easy to imagine the hardships these people had to endure in those days. Thomas Amos and Martha Dora had 13 children, all of whom survived in an environment where the nearest medical help was 70 miles away in the Perth suburb of Guildford.
Martha was a resourceful lady. Doris Harris (now 80) remembers her grandmother as a stubborn and determined old woman in her 90's. She was only a girl of 15 at the time, but nursed her crusty old grandmother and knew she could never be crossed. There is a famous story of Martha, who, discovering her youngest son Joseph to be very ill, saddled up a horse and with the baby in a basket in front of her, rode the 70 odd miles to Guildford so that the boy could be seen by a doctor. This journey took three days one way, with 2 nights sleeping by the roadside. (It is extremely doubtful whether there was a road in those days).
When the baby had received the necessary attention she returned to "Woodbine" on horseback. Joseph obviously responded well to whatever treatment he received, as he survived until 1976, when he died peacefully in his 91st year.