Stella McCoy

Ann Fagan tells this story.

I remembered reading a newspaper article about Stella McCoy and her friends, lost near Anglers Rest (28km north west of Omeo, on the road to Glen Valley and beyond).

The Border Mail (Albury Wodonga), on January 30 1998, featured the reopening of The Blue Duck Inn. The reporter was fascinated by all the memorabilia at the hotel, including a visitors’ book in which Stella wrote on January 3 1915 about getting lost with Millie (Winnie?) Payne and Nellie Swinbourne, saying “but we had a jolly time”. Here’s a photo of Stella and Winnie Payne.

Stella McCoy and Winnie Payne

Various articles in newspapers – the Omeo Standard and others – as well as stories from her niece Beth McCoy, tell more about Stella.

She was an accomplished musician who taught piano and singing in Omeo from about 1905 to 1917, and was called upon to perform on many occasions. With her students, she organised concerts in 1915 -16 to raise funds for the wounded soldiers, and in 1917 featured in various items at a grand concert as part of the Queen Carnival in aid of the Omeo Hospital. Her brother William and her mother also performed. Over 800 people attended that concert, too many for the Shire Hall so it was held in a temporary “marquee” erected on one of the tennis courts in the park opposite the Hilltop Hotel.

Stella’s musical talents must have been missed in Omeo, when she married Arthur James  (c 1918) and settled in Colac, before later moving to the Ballarat area.

She died too young, aged 52, and is buried in the Learmonth Cemetery near Ballarat.


Jewellery: Aunty Stella – Aunt Beth


The bracelets below were a 21st Birthday gift to Aunt Beth from Aunty Stella and, judging by the letter, they seem to have been heirlooms already. In family-tree terms, Stella was the only daughter of William and Elizabeth McCoy; Beth was the eldest daughter of William and Ellen McCoy – although unlikely there’s anyone who didn’t know Aunt Beth.

I hold these items but have no idea when Aunt Beth gave them into my keeping. One day we might locate Stella’s gr-grandchildren and I’ll pass them on. Some photos with annotations.

Update comments by Neil Bolitho.   Omeo Hospital. Photo by W.H Kracke

Omeo Hospital. Photo by W.A. Kracke

A little trivial observation is that the spot that photographs were taken, perhaps with some frequency, was what looks like a corner part of the hospital building.

This is one my grandfather took, date unknown, but it is the same spot the Stella and co., photo was taken (above).

Every dog has its day

Soartefacts2_250x122me cousins have been asking what sort of things count as artefacts. So here’s another example – a quaint family custom that actually linked Kracke’s to the McCoy’s, again.

Neil Bolitho tells this story.

I was prompted to do a bit of thinking about ye olde antiques, and remembered a small ceramic dog that at one time was perennially stored in a glass cabinet – one of those never opened.

I went on a seek and find mission, with an “I wonder if…” element, and Bingo!

The custom with the little dog was that whenever anyone, particularly Kracke family members and friends visited the home (attached to the Benambra House shop), often from Melbourne and beyond, they would write their name and date inside it.

Consequently there are a number of the Kracke siblings, some friends and relatives, and would you believe it, the signature of Marg McCoy! The date is possibly 1936 or 1937.

But Wow! The earliest date written is 1911. The Kracke’s arrived in Omeo in 1909, not sure whether with the dog or not. My mother was born 1912. 

I noted that even I had signed it in 1961 as a twelve year old.

Now can you set out on a ‘seek and find mission’ and possibly come up with an artefact – with a story attached? These stories make family histories come alive.

Create your own artefact


Once upon a time, we lived in Omeo, way out on a cold and windy point, with superb views over the town and towards Mt Hotham to the west and way back down the valley to the east.

This old house had been built in 1891, the walls lined with hessian. Dad had wall-papered over the hessian at one time, but the walls moved in the wind as it blew down from Hotham, through the walls and chimneys, seeped under the doors and through window cracks, through our very bones.

So in 1954 or ’55, Dad decided to line the place with plasterboard. Now, I was 8 or 9 years old and brim-full of fantastical ideas, so when Dad started on the lounge I remember writing a secret message in a matchbox, which Dad dropped into the gaping wall space beside the chimney. I can imagine his comment to Mum later, a common response: “Guess what Jen’s come up with now!”

Next, fast-foward 64 years to 2016. That old house has been bought by people who want to actually to restore it, and by chance we spoke. The moment the word ‘renovate’ was spoken, I thought of that matchbox. Emails and pictures clarified the room and the position, and then one day:

The matchbox, and hopefully its secret message, had survived 64 Omeo winters of bitter cold, clinging dampness – and mice.

And the secret message? The new owners kindly said they didn’t want to break into a little girl’s message, so here it is.

These new owners swear they’ve pulled down the old chimney; that Ali Baba and his Forty Thieves must have been there first and grabbed the ’emaralds’.

Come on now! I ‘m awaiting a postcard, very soon, from an exotic resort where they’re spending their ill-gotten gains.

Have any readers created their own artefact?


A toothy artefact idea

If you’re one of the Omeo McCoys descended from Gran (Elizabeth Fraser) McCoy and William McCoy, a son of James and Charlotte, we can claim kinship with Clan Fraser.
Now that clan is currently entertaining millions via Outlanders on TV and drawing millions of tourism pounds into Scotland. More about this below.


But what does this have to do with McCoid artefacts? Teeth no less! And just an idea!

False teeth of Simon Lord Lovat

The false teeth of 11th Lord Lovat, passed down through his family

One of the most infamous characters of the Fraser Clan is Simon, Lord Lovatt, known as The Old Fox, who was beheaded for treason in the Tower of London in 1747, after the Jacobite Rebellion at Culloden.

If you’ve watched Outlanders, he was Jamie Fraser’s grandfather. See this video clip:

Read more at:

The Fraser clan believes his body was buried in Wardlaw Mausoleum near Inverness – and there was some thought that his head might also have been secretly taken back there. This month, October 2017,  the bones have been removed for DNA testing to see it they really do belong to The Old Fox.

Although The Old Fox might be just a clanship connection, we have an outrageous aunt, who should the tests be made, might well establish our genetic connections to the old villain. She’s certainly given us many a toothy story.

Is anyone willing to persuade her to donate a similar artefact? A photo only!


By Ann Fagan

As yet we don’t know a great deal about Charlotte. However, we have one item held that is priceless and very fragile: a portrait of Charlotte painted on a flat, thin porcelain plaque, a bit larger than A4 size, that has obviously been framed in an oval frame in the past.

I consulted a Conservator for advice about storage and preservation. She said that the portrait may have been photographed first then hand painted /coloured.  Restoration of the actual picture is likely to be expensive and maybe impossible because the porcelain is fractured and very fragile. At some stage, it has been glued on to a backing paper which is all that holds it together, so the Conservator suggested digital restoration of a photograph would be a much cheaper and more useful option.

Neil Bolitho has now restored the photograph that I took of the original painting..

The plate is now packed in special paper for posterity.

What have we been able to find out about its history?

My siblings and I discovered it in January 2013 when we packed up Aunty Marian’s home when she went into a nursing home.

We decided that it may have been given to Marian by Aunty Una Reid, as it was packed the same way Aunty Una had packed other items and the writing on the box we are fairly sure is Aunty Una’s.  Perhaps it was at Scotsburn in Swifts Creek at some stage; or perhaps it was always at the Hinnomunjie property, Strathalbyn where Aunty Una grew up and lived until her retirement.

Charlotte looks fairly young, maybe 45-55 years in this photo, certainly younger than when her family-matriarch status would suggest such a portrait. The only label on the box read ‘Great Grandma McCoy’.

  • Does anyone know any more about this photo?
  • Have you got any family photos you could share with us? Not the originals please, just copies and we’ll acknowledge you.