The story of Giovanni Baptiste Ferrari

From David Boyle, Australia

Giovanni Baptiste Ferrari or Baptista (as he was known) was born at Somes, Canton Ticino, Switzerland in 1834 and arrived in the colony of Victoria in 1856 with his brother Peter Ferrari.

They mined for gold at Jim Crow diggings, Daylesford for fifteen years prior to selection of land at lower Moira in 1876. Peter selected allot 9 and Baptista allot 10 where they carried out general farming. These blocks were back to back and went from the Barmah – Shepparton road, back to the Broken creek.

In 1871, Baptista married Janet Murray. Janet’s father was George Murray (born 1827) married Mary Ann Heskitt in 1853 before moving to Daylesford where he earned a living as a miner at Deep Creek, Daylesford.

They had five children Robert, Janet Little, Isabella, Walter George and William John. In November 1876, George together with sons Robert and Walter moved north to select land in the parish of Moira (allot 7 section A). This land was next door to that of his dau ghter Janet and her husband Baptiste Ferrari.

He also selected a further 164 acres on arrival (allot 18 section A parish of Moira. George returned to Daylesford where he had left his wife and remaining family. He left his two sons Robert and Walter working at clearing, fencing and sowing crop and came back to live permanently in June 1877.

After a long battle with cancer Mary Ann was only fifty years of age when she died at Sandhurst (Bendigo) in March 1882. George only survived for another twelve months, dying at Moira in June 1883, at the age of fifty-six. Baptista and Janet’s’ children born at Daylesford were Catherine, Madeline, Baptista and then at Lower Moira were George, Robert, Peter, Marianne, Nellie, Lillian, Rekella, Janet and William.

Baptista’s ambition was to have his own vineyard, having trained as a Vigneron before coming to Australia. This ambition was never realised, though he did have a small vineyard for many years on the banks of the Broken creek, where in the late 1800’s he harvested a record crop of wine grapes per acre for Victoria at that time. Later he had a small block of grapes on the Wakiti Creek near the Church of England.

Baptista died at Barmah in 1918.

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