Taungerong Story

Mrs Glenys Merry is a Taungerong Elder. Her story is drawn from two sources: an interview with Glenys on the 27th July 2000 (indented) and an earlier paper (unpublished) written by Glenys Merry.

My name is Glenys Merry and I am a Taungerong Elder who was born and raised in Yea with our mother and I have three other sisters and one brother. I currently live here in Lilydale in the outer eastern suburbs of Melbourne.

My great-uncle years ago heard that the Protection Board was gathering up half-caste children as part of Government policy, and he made the decision to move his entire family to New Zealand, where that branch of the family still live today. He stopped all contact with his family to make sure that his children were safe. The fear was constant and it remained through the generations.

My mother was always saying you don't get anything, got nothing', and was always working to make sure we had what we needed. I can now see this happening within the life of my own daughter. I am a mother of two and grandmother of five and my family is very important to me. I have also completed a four-year Koorie Art and Design course at Swinburne TAFE.

Kinship - Family - Identity

After many years of research into the Franklin-Hamilton families, it has been even harder as some generations denied their Aboriginality. But it was something that I was proud of, and always knew from an early age, told by my mother and grandfather. So after thirty years this is where I am today.

Not very much was know about the first John Franklin. Through research it showed that John Franklin had a name change from Hamilton to Franklin, but still we don't know why. Through my many years of research it showed that John Franklin is the eldest of five children, his mother being Mary 'Ligomunning' of 'Tigomunning'. Father's name is unknown but is noted that he was White.

My great-grandfather was born at Sugarloaf Creek in the Kilmore area in Victoria. John Franklin later lived on Doogalook Station where he met his wife Harriet Tull. They were married at Kilmore (Vic.) and went on to have twelve children. They have always lived in the Yea area. Harriet and John both died in the town of Yea. John Franklin, a brother Willie Hamilton and three sisters - Hannah, Lilly and Jessie - went on to live on the Coranderrk Mission at Healesville (just north-east of Melbourne), where some died and are buried with descendants at Coranderrk. Later years, the siblings of these families left Coranderrk and went to Cummeragunga. As of now, I don't know what happened to May 'Ligomunning' or 'Tigomunning'. Maybe in the future this information will come forward.

During my search, I have established the tribe to which they belong to, which is the Taunarung, which is in Central Victoria. Every bit of new information is of great pride, even if it is only me alone. I have a lot of information on my grandfathers' brothers, sisters and families, but further information on the Franklins and Hamiltons came from Elders. Many of these people are also descendants of the Hamiltons themselves.

After speaking to these people, my family has certainly extended to lots of aunties, uncles and cousins. Because of the lost generations I am unable to write on the tribal life of Aboriginal people, but always willing to learn. Over the past few years there has been a couple of cousins asking for information on the Franklin family. But this is the easy way, what they don't realise is the hours, days of researching, talking and being accepted by the Aboriginal community, to gather information and to re-establish the links with the Franklin family.

Role as an Elder

I have the role as an Elder with the Kulin Nations Cultural Heritage Trust and I am a board member of the Mirimbiak Nations Aboriginal Corporation (Native Title). I was acknowledged as an Elder for the work I have done in genealogy. I have a great love of genealogy. I am the contact person for the Franklin family from Taungerong land around the Yea area. My family is also linked to the Coranderrk Mission at Healesville. My work with Mirimbiak enables me to go out to significant sites within our area and I quite enjoy this.

The community has accepted me as the Elder for the Franklin family for which I am very proud. Being an Elder is not because of my age, but for the knowledge of eight generations of the family that has been established. The time will come that I would like to pass the family tree, old photos and information on too. But it will only go to someone that will continue with this work, so that future generations will not have to become another lost generation.

At this present stage of my research I have become aware of my great grandmother's name. I have been involved with the Mirimbiak Nations Aboriginal Corporation which has helped me with research and I hope to be one of the many to establish families belonging to the Taunerong to once again be strong like other tribes and clans in Victoria. Needless to say, my research is still ongoing.

Thoughts on Reconciliation

Aboriginal people need to unite with each other before looking at reconciling with other Australians.

For the future, there is one thing I would like for the Taungerong and other Aboriginal groups and that is recognition that we are here. Before you start on any journey, know who you are, that's why I love genealogy, it helps me get that knowledge I need from the past to help me go forward.

The dreams I have for my children and grandchildren are that they are healthy, and that any dreams they may have are fulfilled. I am a giver not a taker and my dream is to continue my work with genealogy with the aim of passing this on to my children and so forth.

My biggest achievement happened 16 years ago when I organised a family reunion at Yea and over 200 people turned up. The first reunion took place in New Zealand with the branch of my great uncle's descendants who left so long ago. They were the ones who 'challenged' me to go one better. Well, what could I say?