My First Australian Edgars

Mostly Dinky-di

I am cheating a bit here because although Halbert James, son of Halbert, was born in Moffat, he was only one year old when he arrived in Australia. He is pictured here with his eldest son, Halbert Richard (my grandfather), at Deniliquin, NSW (about 1887). Thank you Mike Dennis and Ida Kavanaugh.

Halbert James Edgar was born on December 6,1852, in Moffat, Scotland. He was part of the migration of many Edgar family members from western Victoria to western New South Wales. Like most of the others, he took up farming and grazing but also, like his father, became a hotel owner and licensee. First at Deniliquin, NSW, where Halbert James Edgar, Squatter, of Errebendery* Station, Euabalong,  married Elizabeth Ann Rundle of The Willows, Deniliquin, on April 21, 1881 according to the Rites of the Presbyterian Church (the Rev. James Macarthur of the Scotch Church presided). She was the daughter of Richard Rundle, Grazier, and Elizabeth Williams. Born in Adelaide, she went to what was later called Victoria when she was 5 years old. Halbert later had hotels at Cobar in NSW.  

Left: Elizabeth Ann in her "travelling frock", although on this occasion only as far as the photographer's studio (Thank you Kate McCarthy).   She died on September 17,1919 at Croydon, Sydney in what must have been a painful death in those days:- venous thrombosis and gangrene of the lower extremities lasting 12 days.  Her husband died in the State Hospital and Home, Lidcombe, Sydney on June 14, 1936 at the age of 83 (a ripe old age in those days) suffering  "senility" and  complications from a fractured femur. 

He must have fallen on hard times towards the end. The Death Certificate lists his last occupation as a Station Hand but, given the many inaccuracies in this document, this may also be incorrect. There is some evidence that he was living in Ashfield, Sydney, in 1918-19 and working as a woolclasser. After his wife died in 1919, he lived with his daughter, Margaret, for a least part of the time until his death.

"Erribenderie" * as at January 1, 1885:

Post Town: Euabalong;  Name of Occupier: Edgar Bros;

Acreage: 20,000;  No. of horses: 10;  No. of cattle: 12;   No. of sheep: 4,150.  (Thank you, Marlene.)

Edgar Brothers: Children of Halbert Edgar and Margaret Burgess.

Left to Right: William, David, Halbert (my great-grandfather) and John. Most of them would have been involved with Errebenderie.

In Cobar, he was licensee of the Cobar Hotel from 1893 to 1894. This was the original official hotel in Cobar built of wood and bark about 1873, a run down establishment by the time he took it on. There is an 1875 photograph of it on page 47 of Cobar Founding Fathers but it does not reproduce well enough to include here. His time there was not trouble free as the following item shows:- 

"Burglars in Cobar.
Mr H. J. Edgar of the Cobar Hotel has been singularly unfortunate of late. On Sunday morning last he......found a small safe containing money and papers had been stolen..... It was only last week that Mr Edgar's till was rifled, and he is inclined to connect the two thefts with the same persons."
( Western Herald and Darling River Advocate, May 15, 1893.)

 He left to take up the licence for the Commercial Hotel (right) in 1896. Built of "German" bricks plastered with whitewashed mud, it was the main "watering hole" and provider of superior accommodation in Cobar at this time. Many local business meetings took place there.

Below is the really grand Grand Hotel in Cobar built in the late 1890s of which Halbert James Edgar was the first  licensee in July, 1898. He also had a Billiards Licence for the premises which expired  on December 31, 1900. 

For a publican, he must have been fairly respectable as he was appointed a Trustee of the Presbyterian section of the Cemetery at Cobar on May 17, 1900 (Thank you Rusheen Craig). However, he was declared bankrupt on June 14, 1901 and his life changed considerably until the bankruptcy was discharged on July 24, 1906. His bankruptcy hearing is detailed on page 4 of  The Cobar Herald, Saturday July 20, 1901.

 According to Cobar: Founding Fathers by William Clelland (No. 7 in the Western Heritage Series, published by Macquarie Publications Pty Ltd in 1984) "the balcony became a popular focal point for political and topical speechmaking.."(p.135). Politicians spoke there and an Inspector of Pastoral Holdings for the Union Bank fell to his death from it. Today, the verandah has been removed and the large windows filled in.  It is painted in garish colours and is nothing like the original. It is also currently home to "The Largest Beer Can in the World".                                                                                                     

Halbert and Elizabeth had 6 children: Halbert Richard, 1882; Rennick H., 1884; Leslie R., 1886; Llewellyn J., 1888; Margaret E., 1890 and Lynn A., 1893. Interesting thing about old documents: on her mother's death certificate Margaret's age is given correctly; on her father's DC she is shown as younger than Lynn at 40yo. Is this a mistake or vanity at work?

Margaret Elizabeth married William McBeatty in 1924. They later ran a hotel in the gold mining town of Granya, near Albury. She died in Albury in 1970. There is a photo of her taken a few years before her marriage in the section on Leslie Rain Edgar.

Halbert Richard Edgar, their first child, was my paternal grandfather. He was born in Euabalong or Hillston in NSW in 1882 and died at home in Cobar on November 7, 1956. To my knowledge he was only ever known as Richard. Perhaps he didn't want to be called "Albert" or "Herbert" all the time (see Acknowledgements Page) but he did name his eldest, my father, Halbert Emil.

Variously described as a  clerk, accountant and, later, an office manager, he worked for mining companies in Cobar, NSW.

He married  Frieda Emelia Marie Gerlach in 1905. She was born in Hamburg in 1883 or 1884 although I can remember her showing me a picture of a house in a village in Schleswig Holstein which was where she said she came from. She was the daughter of Johann Emil Gerlach, carpenter, and his wife, Anna Wilhelmina  Arp, who arrived in Australia in 1884 on the "Proceda". Frieda arrived in Australia with her parents when she was 1or 2 years old. 

Richard and Frieda had at least 7 children of whom 5 survived to adulthood: my father, Halbert Emil 1906-1935, Frieda Wilhelmina (O'Leary) 1913-2003 see her son, Richard's site at, Ida Valerie (Kavanaugh) 1915-2009, Rita Gwendoline (Craig) 1917-1996, and  Lachlan Richard 1921-. 

After her husband died on November 7, 1956 Frieda left Cobar to live with her eldest daughter at Dundas, in Sydney, until she died of a heart attack in an ambulance en route to hospital on July 30, 1970. She is next to her husband in Cobar Cemetery.

Left: My Grandmother, Frieda Emelia Marie Edgar (Nee Gerlach) and her daughters Frieda Wilhelmina, Ida Valerie, and Rita Gwendolyne at Narrabeen on 10th January 1965.

(Thank you Michelle Kavanaugh                                                                                   and Mike Dennis)

Left and Right:

My Gerlach great-grandparents, Johann Emil Gerlach, 1855-1941 (in his Prussian Army Uniform) and his first wife,  Anna Wilhelmina Arp. They were married in 1883 or 1884 and arrived in Australia in 1884 on the Proceda. After the death of his wife, he married Catherine McRae. They had 2 children to add to the original seven. He became an Australian citizen in 1903.

His parents were  Julius Gunthram Gerlach 1830-? and Federicka Petain ?-1915. Her's were  Charles Arp 1884-? and Ida Shellahorn.


 Click here for more about this generation

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