SELLERS, William George & Henry Ernest

SELLERS, William George (1836 – 1889)

SELLERS, Henry Ernest (1873 – 1954)

Despite much research very little is known about William George Sellers. He was apparently born in London in 1836 but definitely married Ellen Myles (a Bendoc resident born at Eden in 1855) in the Delegate church in 1872.

At this time he had taken over the Bendoc Store, Post Office and school after the death of John Stockdale. Delegate Public School records show his signature (in copperplate handwriting) when he enrolled his eldest son Henry Ernest there in 1877. No record is available as to when William and Ellen moved to Delegate but their second child, a daughter, was recorded as being born there rather than at Bendoc.

The Bombala Times, in an article printed in 1877 states that: “Mr Sellers, well and favourably known in the district” had built and opened the Commercial Hotel in Delegate. This was demolished in 1926 to make way for the present building. Local knowledge handed down says that he was well known for his advice on matters of law as he had apparently been well educated at a “Bluecoat” school in England. There is also evidence to suggest that he was involved in gold mining in the Bendoc area.

William and Ellen had five surviving children – Henry Ernest born in 1873, Clara Bertha, born 1876, Albert and Alfred (twins) born 1884 and William George Jnr (Bill) Sellers born 1887. It is thought that the family returned to Bendoc in 1878. In 1884 William selected land on the Bendoc River – 330 acres “Hillgrange” and built a house there. The main road from Lower Bendoc to Delegate passed the front door. Ellen died in 1888 at the age of 32. Her youngest child was only 6 months old at the time. Six months after that William George also died leaving 5 orphan children. Ellen’s parents came to the rescue and Henry Ernest at the age of 16 became head of the family and took over the running of the farm with the help of his grandfather, George Myles.

As the years went by each of the other boys left the district – Albert to the Bungarby area, Alfred to the Combienbar area and the youngest, Bill, to Peak Hill. Clara Bertha stayed in the Delegate district and married firstly John Eppelstun. She was a young widow aged 31 with 5 children when he died in 1906. In 1908 she married Edward Pleydell and had 3 more children.

Henry Ernest married Ada Alexandra Miles (nee Lock) (a widow with 2 children) in 1895 and they had four children – George William Sellers, Henry Ernest (Harry) Sellers, Edward Alexander (Ned) Sellers and Arthur McKenzie Sellers.

Henry and Ada lived firstly at the original “Hillgrange” house then moved to Bendoc where he owned and ran a butcher’s shop. Early in the 1900’s he bought land and built a new house “Leura” at Haydens Bog. In the 1920’s he bought Bendoc Park and he and Ada shifted to the two-story house built by Underwood in the 1850’s. “Leura” was then handed over to George and Edie. Later on he bought the old White place where Ned and Lillian lived until they built a new house on what became “Glencairne”.

Henry Ernest was known as a keen cattleman and between 1896 and his death in 1954 leased 80,000 acres of crown land to the south of Bendoc where he ran up to 1,000 head of cattle. He was fortunate to have the guidance of Tonghi, a local aboriginal to show him where the clearings and watering places were on the bush lease. As they grew old enough his sons, George, Harry, Ned and Arthur helped with the annual muster, as did his grandson Henry Alexande, (eldest of Ned’s chidren).

There were three sets of cattleyards on the bush lease. One set were at the hut (near present Sellers road) where two huge Manna Gums formed the posts for the gate. The second set was situated at Cobb’s Hill and the third at Rooty Break. The Rooty Break yards were interesting because they consisted of an island in a swamp that had a narrow access of less swampy land.

Henry Sellers recalls pushing the cattle on to the island through a railed “race” because his pony was too short to enter the water of the swamp, while his father and uncles taller horses could handle the swampy conditions. When the cattle were mustered from the bush, “bush dogs” played a crucial role. The dogs could smell the cattle and would take off through the bush to find them, barking and alerting the stockmen to the cattle’s presence. When the cattle were mustered they were pushed into the back paddocks at Bendoc Park to be handled and quietened. If anyone spooked them they would run straight through the fence and disappear back into the hills. Henry Ernest and his sons burnt the bush each year to ensure green feed for the cattle. When the forestry stopped this burning the family gave up the lease as it was useless unless fresh growth was available.

Henry Ernest’s four sons – except for Arthur, remained in the area all their lives. Harry Sellers was not married but George married Edith Bruce and they had two daughters, Leila and Elvie.

Ned married a schoolteacher who came to Bendoc from Creswick in Victoria – Lillian Cunning – and they had four children Henry Alexander, Shirley Adele, James McKenzie and Edward Slater.

Arthur married Alice Parsons (nee McNee) late in life and they had no family.

Henry and Edward (Eddie) remain in the area and their children and grandchildren keep the name alive locally. Shirley now lives at South Pambula after retiring from a property at Craigie and James (Jim) has been in Perth for some time after re-training as a teacher.

A Sellers family reunion in April 2004 brought most of the Sellers descendants from all over Australia, New Zealand and Canada to where it all began – at Bendoc with William George – the mystery Englishman.