BEEJAPORE 12 JAN 1853What a journey – 85 days at sea and that was the shortest on record!  Benjamin Yarham, my first cousin 4 times removed arrived in New South Wales, Australia in January 1853.

Younger brother William, less than one year old was one of the 56 children who lost their lives from scarlet fever or measles during the voyage on the Beejapore.

Benjamin, named after his grandfather, born 1838, at Themelthorpe, Norfolk, the son of Sarah Yarham made the long and arduous journey with step-father, James Oldman, cordwainer (and according to the 1851 Census, also a beer housekeeper), his mother Sarah, some ten years older than her husband and little sister Hannah Oldman.

Sarah and James settled in “Sofala located on the Turon River 45kms north of Bathurst, Australia’s oldest surviving gold town. The village came into existence in mid 1851 when gold was discovered on the Turon River, not long after the initial discovery at Ophir. In the early days the township is reputed to have had a population of 30,000 Europeans and 10,000 Chinese. By 1868 there were 51 licensed hotels and numerous other businesses catering for the needs of the prospectors.”.

Twenty-three years later Sarah, passed away on 2nd February 1876 at the age of 65 and was buried at Sofala Anglican Cemetery.  A snippet appearing in the The Sydney Morning Herald on Wednesday 1 April 1903, page 8 “Mr. James Oldman, 78, died on Monday at Sofala, where he had resided for 50 years”.

It’s not clear whGippsland Times, January 1924ether Benjamin left his family after arriving in Australia.

Sadly, the next piece of information relates to his demise – let’s hope death was swift.

Reported in The Argus on Thursday 27 September 1923 (pg 18) under the heading: Search for Missing Man:

“OMEO, Wednesday – Mr Benjamin Yarham, an old resident of the district, who lived at Dry Gully, four miles from Omeo, has been missing for three weeks.  A search has been in progress for three days by aborigines under the direction of Constable Baker.  His hat was found in his hut so the police believe that he has met his death.  It is surmised that he collapsed in one of the gullies surrounding his home and that his body was washed away in the flood waters after the recent rains or has become entangled in the bed of the Livingstone Creek”.

Benjamin’s body was found in January 1924 not far from where the search was abandoned last August.  Gippsland Times, January 1924

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