Henry John Mapleson – early Traralgon pioneer in 1873

Henry John Mapleson

Buried in the Old Bluff Cemetery- Pioneers of Traralgon

Henry and brother Joe travelled to Traralgon in 1873 to look for land to farm.

Henry is buried with his wife and family, notably Patience (Liddiard) and with a memorial to Frederick Ralph Mapleson a Lieutenant with the 13th Light Horse Regiment (in WB-A007)

Joe Mapleson (Henry’s brother) was on the original Trust of the Traralgon Cemetery. He died aged 27 in 1879 and as yet there is no record found confirming where he is buried.

In 1875, three years after the death of John Salmon of Traralgon, the drowning of the little son of another neighbour in the old township, Henry Smith, occurred. The boy went down to the creek accompanied by a younger brother, to get some water at the bend behind Mrs. Newman’s home (near where the Prices Hwy Bridge stands today). He ventured in for a bath, the time being a hot December day, and most children bathed in the same area. Henry got into a deep hole, and was soon struggling for his life. His little brother gave the alarm and the distracted mother was first on the spot, Mr. Henry Mapleson soon arrived and was the one who helped to get the body of the unfortunate child to land, but every effort for resuscitation failed. Mr. Mapleson attended the funeral of Henry Smith in the Bluff cemetery where several burials had already occurred before this. Mr. Mapleson helped to clear the track to the cemetery from Mr. Marsh’s slaughter yards for the next funeral at the Bluff.

From Trove 1927 Traralgon Record 5th July 1927: “Old Pioneer Passes. DEATH OF MR H. J. MAPLESON. We much regret to chronicle the death of one of the pioneers of Traralgon and a personal friend (of the new paper writer) in Mr H.J. Mapleson who passed away at his residence, ‘May Banks’ on Saturday night last. Deceased was born at Braybrook, his father being Francis J. Mapleson, so that he had spent his whole life in Victoria. The late Mr Mapleson was 71 years of age and was well known and highly respected throughout the length and breadth of the Province of Gippsland.”

The following facts regarding the late Mr Mapleson are interesting:

In December 1873 when the deceased and his brother (Mr J Mapleson) were boot-making at Braybook (which is now named Sunshine) a lot of people were talking of Gippsland and taking up land, the railway line was being surveyed at this time. The brothers became interested in the talk of this wonderful place of fertile soil and thought they would like to see it. They had two horses but only one saddle. The late Mr Mapleson procured two old saddles that had been sent to the rubbish tip and made one for himself. The brothers then made a start for Gippsland, passing through Footscray into Melbourne, they crossed Princes Bridge to St Kilda, where they took the Gippsland Road and arrived at Dandenong on the evening of Dec 23 1873. They started again the next morning and arrived at Cannibal Creek at the back of Bunyip township and camped for the night. On Dec 25th 1873, after passing through a lot of poor land thick with tea tree scrub and bogs, they came across a mob of prime fat cattle being driven to the Melbourne market and concluded there must be good land ahead. Proceeding on the journey they came to Brandy Creek country, then called Glue Pots, where a new track had been cut through the 10-50 foot high dense scrub. After a tedious ride they arrived at Shady Creek and next morning made another start, arriving at Moe Swamp on Dec 26th. They then went onto Morwell and Traralgon. The township of Traralgon, then consisted of nine places in all, a Hotel, Police Station, a few houses and a school made of slabs and bark. In the township of Traralgon (which occupied a square mile). The whole male population was 16 men. Rosedale was the place all had to go for stores and supplies. Leaving Traralgon the brothers came to Sheepwash Creek about four miles from town and camped there. They then went onto Rosedale, Sale, Maffra and Heyfield and were surprised at the extent of the open country. Returning to Traralgon, they made a call on Mr James Flinn (who kept the hotel) and inquired what he thought of the place. Mr Flinn considered it would be a good place when the railway line was made and offered to rent them a bark hut near the creek. The brothers then resolved to start boot-making in Traralgon and look for land to select. They returned home to Braybrook and, in March 1874 with two horses and a dray, returned to Traralgon, commencing business in April of the same year. A few months later Mr Mapleson’s brother (Mr Joe Mapleson) who came with him to Gippsland passed away. The late Mr Henry Mapleson was very successful in his selection of land and for many years on grazing pursuits. At Henry’s passing Mrs Mapleson (nee Liddiard) who survived him, his son Mr F. Mapleson and two daughters mourned his loss. The remains of the deceased were interred in the Traralgon Cemetery. The Gippsland Journal reported “The funeral cortege left at 2.30pm, many old friends being present to pay their last tribute of respect to his memory. The burial service was conducted by the Rev H.C. Kent and the mortuary arrangements were carried out by Mr Armstrong amongst the floral tributes was a handsome wreath from the Methodist Trust.”

Note: Patience Mapleson (nee Liddiard) kept a diary that was later used as a basis for a local history book she wrote “A coach Trip to Gippsland in 1869” being her recollection of an overnight Cobb and Co. coach trip from Melbourne at that time.