Gwenith Marjorie Stephens





 
 BORN 
 DIED 
 
 FATHER Henry Lyal Lister Stephens (1897-1969)
 MOTHER Gladys Victoria Randall (1901-1970)
 
 MARRIED Allen James Ogilvie (1932-) in 1954
 Data 

NSW Marriage Record 27287/1954

OGILVIE ALLEN JAMES
& STEPHES GWENITH MARJORIE
@ BLAYNEY
 
 CHILDREN   Suzanne Francis Ogilvie
 Peter Allan Ogilvie
 
Gwen is the caretaker of the Milthorpe Historical Museum.

The history of mining in the Central West is rich and varied.

Australia’s first payable gold was found in Ophir in 1851 and more than 140 years later, the alluring metal is still being mined in the area. The history is not simply locked in the past — it is alive in the living descendants of Ophir’s original diggers.

One of those is Milthorpe’s Gwen Ogilvie. She is the great granddaughter of John Hardman Australia Lister, the man who along with William Tom, was the true discoverer of Australia’s first payable gold. For years the common perception was that Edward Hammond Hargraves was the man who found this first strike. The fact that Hargraves, having been led to Ophir by Lister and Tom and having shown them how to look for gold, had taken off with a few tiny specks he had panned out of Lewis Ponds Creek, later deemed insufficient to claim the reward. In April of 1851, while Hardgraves was pressing his suit more than 100 miles away, Lister and Tom extracted some four ounces of gold from the junction of Lewis Ponds and Summer Hill Creeks — a truly payable amount. They contacted Hargraves and, with the understanding that they would receive equal credit, handed the gold over to him. Instead Hargraves gave himself the credit, receiving the £10,000 reward and practically all the public acclaim. Lister and Tom were understandably bitter about this and agitated for proper recognition for the rest of their lives. This came in 1890 when select committee of the NSW Legislative Assembly ruled that they were indeed the ones to whom credit was due. Lister never lived to be vindicated — he died on the day he was to give evidence, aged 65.

Gwen Ogilivie is the holder of many photos, letters, documents and articles chronicling the Lister family tree. Much of it, understandably, relates to the life of John Hardman Australia Lister. I got it from my aunt Geita Bowen, who was the daughter of Fanny Stephens, who was John Lister’s daughter and my grandmother, Mrs Ogilivie said last week. Mrs Ogilivie remembers her grandmother who was born in 1868, and remembers how important Lister's place in history was to her. She was really interested in it and used to tell us all about it when we were children. When you consider that Lister had been fighting for due recognition throughout Fanny Stephens young life — she would have been in her early twenties when he died — you can appreciate the impact it had on her.

I remember her as a little, old, thin, grey-haired lady who had a good memory, Mr Ogilvie said.

She kept all these bits and pieces and passed them down when she died; now I have them.

The information has been a font of primary knowledge foe many historians researching that part of Australia's history and has been invaluable to members of the extended family in tracing their lineage. While not every member of the family is interested, or even knows about Lister, there is always at least one in each generation to carry the torch.

I’ll hand it on to my son Peter; he's the most interested in it all.

When he was just a boy the Governor of NSW, Sir Roden Cutler, was visiting the school and was telling them how Hargraves had been the one to find gold.

Peter got up and started to lecture him about how it wasn’t Hargraves at all, but Lister, Ms Ogilvie laughed.

Lister’s tenacity it seems, still flows strong in the blood of his descendants.
 — Mark Muller
 


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