Patton’s Move To Longwood (1942)
It’s funny to think that a family that moved to a small town, so closely aligned to the life of Napoleon Bonaparte, were themselves descendants of those that fought against Napoleon in the Napoleonic Wars.
Douglas William Arthur Patton was the G-G-Grandson of Warrant Officer John Scott (descended through his mother, Caroline Mary Alice (nee Scott)), personal secretary to Lord Admiral Horatio Nelson. John was killed when struck by chain-shot and literally ripped in half as he stood next to Nelson on the deck of the HMS Victory at the commencement to the Battle of Trafalgar.
The blood stains on Nelson’s jacket (that is now on display at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, U.K.) are the blood stains of John Scott, as when Nelson himself was struck, he fell into the not-so-insignificant pool of blood left by Scott, before they unceremoniously threw Scott’s body overboard.
Douglas William Arthur Patton, son of Charles Douglas & Caroline Mary Alice Patton, he was born in a house just out from Wallan near the turn-off to Wandong & Whittlesea, the house was called Shaldon Cottage.
When he was young he was playing at a creek near his home, whilst attempting to jump the Merri Creek when he landed awkwardly, breaking his right hip.
He was to undergo numerous operations in an attempt to rectify the damage which manifested itself in him having one leg shorter than the other.
During the years following his accident his brother Arthur would loyally carry him to school, this was no insignificant feat as the boys used to go to the Upper Plenty School. Arthur would have to cart his brother all the way down the Gap Road to get to school, and home again.
Douglas was subsequently fitted with an elevated shoe to compensate for the difference in his leg length.
Douglas later married a Heathcote girl, Ina Moorabbee Cocks.
In 1913, living at Upper Plenty, fire saw them lose everything. Whilst Douglas was away with 5 year old Douglas Jnr, an exploding lamp engulfed the house with Ina and her 2 year old Grace and 6 month old Carrie escaping with their lives and literally the clothes on their backs.
As a young man, Douglas worked with his father and brothers in the sawmill at the Wallan railyards that he had purchased in 1922. In 1926 fire was once again going to have a detrimental affect on the family when flames engulfed the sawmill, the cause apparently, an engine exhaust igniting the sawdust and timber nearby. Seeing the loss of their livelihood, they had some difficult decisions to make.
Douglas, with his wife Ina, and family moved to Merlyston in Melbourne, where he and his two sons Douglas (Doug) and Ernest (Ernie) opened and operated a wood yard at 41 Boundary Road, Merlynston.
Their home was situated on the same block of land. It was to here that Doug Jnr would cart timber in the back of an old Dodge car from Wallan to Merlynston, where it would be cut at the wood yard and sold as firewood in and around Melbourne.
They then moved to 172 O’Hea’s Road in Coburg, it was at this home that they were living when Douglas’ beloved wife, Ina died.
Douglas, his daughter Carrie (Caroline) and elder son Doug Jnr, went to live at Longwood for a very brief period of time for the purpose of obtaining work cutting timber. Following this they then returned to their home in Melbourne.
Whilst cutting timber in a large shed at 1044 Sydney Road, Coburg, Douglas was involved in an accident. As he was pushing the timber through the saw he had all four fingers on his right hand ripped off by the blades (His son Ernie, was years later, to lose his right thumb in much the same way).
Following surgical intervention they were able to successfully reattach his index finger by wiring it to the joint. It was at this time that his doctor ‘jokingly’ remarked that if he wanted to remove the index finger to ‘come back and see him as he could do a cleaner job of it’. This was obviously in reference to the condition of Douglas’ other amputated fingers.
To protect the stubs of the fingers of his right hand Douglas wore a leather shield.
Almost 6 weeks following the original accident Douglas was to again suffer an injury at the hands of a saw blade, and in deference to his doctors advice, he cut off his right index finger.
It was in 1942 that Douglas again returned to Longwood, this time with Carrie, Ernie and his wife Mavis and their two young children. This was again, supposedly, intended as a short term 12 month stay.
Douglas and Ernie were to be employed by a Mr Dudley, only for a period of 12 months.
The purpose of this arrangement was for Douglas, Ernie and Doug Jnr (he arrived approximately 6 months after the rest of the family with his wife Molly and young daughter), to ‘cut-out’ a stack of timber for Mr Dudley.
Douglas, Carrie, Ernie and his family first moved in with the family of Jack Houston in the old hotel (turned residence & boarding house) at the corner of Hill & Hurley Streets in Longwood. And just across the road from Ben Evans’ store.
Ernie, Mavis and the two children, moved to a house in Hill Street at the entrance to Carrachers Timber Mill (south end entrance). This home was owned by the sister of Mr Steve Moore (a long time resident of the area).
In 1948 Ernie, Mavis and the children were living in a house at the Northern end of Maxfield Street. This is was later to be owned by Robert (“Red”) Breen.
Douglas & Carrie were still living at the Houston’s at this time.
Ernie was approached by his father, about purchasing a converted dual residence, (this was formerly the old Creamery building, later Billiard Rooms and even later Post Office & Telephone Exchange before the Post Office moved to Hurley Street) at the corner of Withers & Maxfield Streets. And next door to the Mechanics Institute.
The vendors were asking for £1000 however they were able to purchase it for £800 . Ernie and his father were able to arrange finance for the property through a Mr Jack Clinnick for the princely sum of £1 a week.
The Old Creamery, Billiards Hall, Post Office & Telephone Exchange
After extensive renovations, as it is today
Ernie went on to operate a successful truck business, E.A.Patton & Sons. Carting everything from Lemons, Timber, Wool, Spreading Superphosphate and whatever else the local farmers and businesses needed to be transported around the area and into Melbourne.
E.A.Patton & Sons, General Carriers
During the early years at Longwood, Ernie used to cut timber out of an area near Ruffy called ‘Good Morning Billy’. On one occasion Ernie, Frank Carracher and Jimmy Grant were carting 7 feet lengths of timber to Howlitt’s at Coburg. Howlitt’s was situated next door to 172 O’Hayes Road in Coburg where Ernie used to live.
It was on this trip, and with about a 20 Ton of timber remaining to be cut into shorter lengths, that a billet was placed on the ‘rocker’ saw bench. Attempting to stop the billet from slamming into the saw blade, Ernie grabbed at the bench. In his rush to steady the bench, he had hold of the saw guard, just as the saw protruded into this area slicing his left thumb down it’s length. From here he was taken straight into the Melbourne Hospital where he was immediately operated on by a surgeon by the name of ‘Weary” Dunlop. ‘Weary’ grafted skin from Ernie’s left upper thigh over the wound down the inside of his thumb. Following the initial surgery ‘Weary” indicated to Ernie that he wanted to attach his thumb to his ribs, under the skin, for about 6 weeks to aid in the healing process. Not too keen on this idea, Ernie asked ‘Weary” whether he would suffer from stiffness of the thumb and not retain full use, to which ‘Weary” replied that was likely to occur.
Hearing this Ernie discharged himself from the Melbourne hospital and travelled back to Euroa where he approached the local G.P., Dr Waterhouse to surgically remove the thumb, knowing that it would be of little use due to it’s lack of dexterity. Dr Waterhouse wouldn’t touch the thumb, knowing that ‘Weary’ was the surgeon on the case, and told Ernie to get permission from Melbourne before he would even touch it.
Ernie obtained the required permission, following which Dr Waterhouse removed the affected thumb.
To aid in the toughening of the stub, Ernie used to pour pepper onto the area.
Douglas became known by his grandchildren and great granchildren as Dar. It was by this name that Dar is fondly remembered in his role as patriarch of the Patton family and his skill and handiwork at carpentry in which he produced a number of items of furniture for his family.
Calling him Dar also created a link to our Scottish roots that many children in the family were unaware of at the time.
A cabinet which he created following the birth of his great grandson Gary, as a baby wardrobe, is still a proud possession for Gary to this day.
As it turned out, Douglas lived in Longwood until his death, and in 1996 Ernie was still joking about the original 12 months that turned into more than half a century.
And Patton descendants are still there in 2017.