Monday, 12 October 2015

Tasmania #2

Last week we looked at nineteenth century arrivals in Tasmania.  Here are a few from the first half of the twentieth century; in contrast to the earlier arrivals who were primarily mariners or convicts, the later arrivals were a more diverse group.

William KALIN/KALINOVSKY/KALINAUSKAS), a Lithuanian Anzac who had been born in Žagarė and trained as a tailor, enlisted in Queensland in 1916.  After the war, he led an itinerant life for a few years which including working as a court translator in Tasmania for a short while.  I doubt that the translating involved the Lithuanian language given the extremely small numbers of Lithuanians in Tasmania at any one time; most likely he was utilising his knowledge of other European languages developed during his service as as a interpreter in France 1917-1919.  He later established a tailoring business in Brisbane (see my post of 23 April 2015  and Elena Govor's Russian Anzacs blog post at for more details on William Kalin).

William SUSCAVAGE, born in Vilkaviškis in Lithuania, submitted a notice of intention to seek naturalisation which was published in The Mercury (Hobart) on 4 August 1927.  He stated that he was a Lithuanian national living at Catamaran, southern Tasmania, and had been resident in Australia for 13 years.  On the other hand, the UK outward bound passenger lists on show a William Suscavage bound for Australia in November 1925 on the Jervis Bay; he was listed as aged 40, retired, with an address in London at the 'Jews Temporary Shelter' in Whitechapel.  One explanation for this apparent discrepancy could be that he had been already resident for 13 years in the British Commonwealth as opposed the Australia.  

Stanislaus Paul SURVILLO, born in Kaunas, submitted his notice of intention to seek naturalisation in The Advocate (Burnie) on 28 September 1933.  He stated that he was a Lithuanian national living in Burnie and had been resident in Australia for 8 years.  In that same year his name also appears in The Advocate in relation to proceedings in the Launceston Divorce Court; records on show that he had first married in Queensland in 1928 and had remarried in Tasmania by 1936.  The electoral rolls show that he was an electrical engineer; by the early 1940s he was living in Sydney and a partner in a business manufacturing thermostatic expansion valves.  His later years appear to have been spent in Queensland.

Juozas and Balys RUZGAS: Metraštis No.1 (p11) records that a post World War 2 migrant had encountered this father and son living at Gretna, Tasmania, operating a sawmilling business; the report noted that Juozas had arrived in 1927 followed by his son Balys 1937, and that they were known by the surname ROSS.  The current records on suggest a slightly different story:

  • Juozas Ruzgas [born 1 February 1890 in Lithuania, location unknown] arrived in Fremantle, Western Australia, in June 1930.  The passenger list for the Oronsay listed him as a farmer from Lithuania, aged 40, and bound for Inglehope Siding, via Pinjarrah, Western Australia. That area was known for its timber industry and it seems possible he was on his way there to obtain work in the timber industry. Unfortunately for him the Great Depression was well under way and competition for jobs would have been stiff.  Interestingly, Juozas travelled with three other Lithuanians aboard the Oronsay - K Zakas, J Vainilavičius and I Levinas - but these three men continued on towards the east coast.  After some time in Western Australia, Juozas also made his way to the east coast and made arrangements to allow his son to join him in Australia;
  • Balys Ruzgas [born 6 February 1914 in Lithuania, location unknown] arrived in Melbourne, Victoria, in February 1938 on the Orion.  Both he and his father appear to have lived in Victoria for the next several years; Balys is recorded as having resided in Abbotsford (a suburb of Melbourne) and also having been associated with the timber industry in northern Victoria.  By the late 1940s he is in Tasmania, known as William Ross, and operating the Ross and Triffitt Sawmill at Rosegarland (near Gretna); that business partnership was dissolved in 1949 and the business subsequently was renamed the Derwent Valley Timber Company.  
  • Both father and son appear to have remained in Tasmania.  The 1954 electoral roll shows William Ross and his wife Lena still living at Rosegarland, with William employed as a sawmiller.  Juozas (Joseph) Ruzgas, who continued to use his Lithuanian surname, had a house at nearby New Norfolk.    

1 comment:

  1. Hi Jonas, so many stories and so many brave and courageous individuals - thanks for sharing.