Appeal for information from Kangaroo Island's pioneer families, descendants

Jo-anne Overton is well known for researching Kangaroo Island's living and dead people for more than 30 years.

Now she is calling for help from Island families and descendants of the original pioneers to confirm and expand on her research.

"I know details of many of our historical and pieces of current families who are and have lived on the Island. I am asking for your help with two areas," Ms Overton said.

"Family members to contact me so I can make sure what I have about them is correct. Also, I would like to have any photos and stories that you are willing to share about your family.

"All completed information is kept at my home office and a copy is given to the Hope Cottage Museum for their archives and I try and make sure the family has a copy as well.

Ms Overton is also writing mini stories about each of KI's deceased Islanders, complete with photos, newspaper clippings and whatever she has been able to locate about them.

"What many of you would not realise is that our earliest known death for the Island was in 1810 at Scotts Cove - a sealer who fell to his death," she said.

"We have several men and women who died in this era between discovery 1806 and official settlement in 1836 - these are part of my records.

"There were also several who died after settlement in July 1836 to when the South Australian Company departed the Island in 1838

"This includes people like Lucy Ann Beare nee Loose who died in 1837 of childbirth complications and is buried in the Pioneer Cemetery.

"Her daughter Elizabeth was the first settler to set foot in the new colony. Even though the SA Company left people still lived here. Some were German settlers who all had left by the 1850s.

"Others were both white settlers and the original sealers and their Aboriginal women. We still have people who live on the Island who descend from these people.

"The Pioneer Cemetery was used between 1836 and 1882, before the Kingscote Cemetery opened.

Penneshaw Cemetery opened in 1868. The township has several people who were buried in different locations prior to this date.

"Other cemeteries existed on the Island - Snelling Family Cemetery (1866-1875), Harveys Return Cemetery (1858-1903), Emu Bay Cemetery (1884-1913), American River (1945-current).

"During the above era's many of our deceased were not buried in cemeteries but on the property where they died or in the location where their remains were located. These I am also trying to make sure are remembered.

"Any help the families of people who live and worked on the Island would be extremely helpful. By the way that means everyone of you (even though you are still living) I would like to here from you as well. All of us have contributed in some way through the ages and currently in what makes this Island what it is. Whether you were born here or have only been here a short time - you are and have contributed in some way. I would like to hear form you."

Contact Jo-Anne Overton on 0409 613 611 or at

Island originals

The Kingscote Cemetery is the final resting place of many of the Island's pioneers, including John Boxer and Samuel Buck.

John Boxer is the father of all of the Boxers on the Island and Samuel Buck is the son of the first Buck on the Island and all who have that surname are descended from him.

John Boxer settled on the North Coast and married Marianne Laker nee Hamilton. He arrived on the Island in 1870. John and Marianne had five children, four sons and a daughter.

The daughter died as an infant. All four men lived long lives and married with many descendants between them. John was the second burial in the new Kingscote Cemetery, he died in 1883.

The first burial was of Isabella Johnson Thomson nee Reeves in 1882. She was a sister to Augustus Reeves. Her husband was Henry Octavius Thomson and he arrived in c1847. They had eight children.

Samuel William James Buck arrived on KI 1872, he married Elizabeth Chapman. Elizabeth was the daughter of William Henry Chapman and Jane Haulkerston nee Blyth.

Her brother was Richard Chapman, the father of all of the KI Chapmans.

The Chapmans arrived on KI 1855. They settled at North Cape. Bucks still reside at this area

William Henry Chapman and Jane Chapman both died with George Granger in 1881 when their whale boat capsized. Jane would have sunk very quickly as her clothing would have made it impossible to swim. Their dogs were found drowned on the spit.

William and the whale boat washed up at Penneshaw. George Granger was found many months later at Red Banks - his remains were interred in the Pioneer Cemetery.

All three have descendants still on the Island.

The Calnan family arrived on the Africaine in 1836. Mary with her four children were dropped off on the beach with only an umberella to protect them and all of their belongings.

The family was Mary her children John, Michael, Charles and Mary Ann. Her husband Jereimah was part of the Free Passage to SA and as such was conscripted to the South Australian Company.

He departed with the Africaine to Encounter Bay where he died in Feb 1837. Mary remarried Charles Thompson a sealer who already resided on the Island. Her sons were the builders of Faith, Hope and Charity.

Hope is the Kingscote Museum, Charity a private home and unfortunately Faith was demolished many years ago. Michael lived on the Island until he moved to the Yorke Peninsula. Descendants of this family still reside on the Island.

Joe Seymour is the grandson of Nathaniel Thomas (Antechamber Bay) and his Tasmanian Aboriginal wife Black Betty. They had three children Sam, Mary and Hannah.

Mary married William (Joe) Seymour and Hannah married Thomas Simpson. Nat Thomas arrived on KI in 1822 and Black Betty arrived in 1819.

Betty was part of the Nuennone people of Tasmania, she was one of many. All of the Tasmanian Aboriginal girls who remained on the Island died after the official death of the last Tasmanian Aboriginal (Tru.ger.nan.ner in 1876).

Due to the desecration of Tru.ger.nan.ner's and William Lannes' remains all of our Tasmanian girls made sure the exact locations of their burials was not known - they did not want their graves to be desecrated nor their remains to be dismembered like William Lannes'.

Sidney and Ken Pitt both settled KI in the mid 1930s. They were brothers. Ken Pitt still has descendants living on the Island. He was Jo-anne Overton's grandfather.

Ken arrived with his father-in-law Jack Austin. A year later Ken's wife (Lucy Olive May Pitt nee Austin - she later married Jack Elsegood and his mother Amelia Cousins formerly Pitt nee Eldridge) arrived.

They all lived bush in tents where Ken and Jack worked, living off the land. Later Ken and May moved to Kingscote where they lived with Amelia Cousins and Jack Austin.

May and Ken's five children were all born in Kingscote. About this time Sidney arrived with his wife Mavis Irene nee Coley. Mavis although known on the mainland as May was known as Mavis on the Island. Their two daughters were born on the Island. Mavis left with her daughters after Sid's death in 1951.

Jack Charles Austin is more commonly known as Yacca Jack Austin on the Island. He came over here with his son-in-law Ken Pitt and worked for the Kelly family harvesting Yacca in the mid 1930s.

Later he took up work at the Parndana Soldier Settlement as the 'night cart man'. Jack was given a vehicle to do this job - he never had a driver's licence and had never driven a vehicle prior to this, so he operated the vehicle by day only travelling in first gear.

The day he found second gear was a day of great excitement. Many Soldier Settlers remember Jack fondly. A road is named out near Parndana honouring this man.

Frank May connects to several KI families and died during WW2. His grandfather (Charles James May) settled KI in the 1887; his great grandfather John Bates settled at Stunsail Boom from 1866

John Bates was a brother to the Bates men who settled at Penneshaw and Cygnet River around the same time. Descendants of John and his brother Ephriam still reside on the Island.

Augustus Reeves and his parents Samuel and Charlotte moved to KI in 1847. Charlotte Reeves was post mistress for the Post Office at Reeves Point, then Kingscote, for many years.

Augustus owned the property where the Winery overlooking the Bay of Shoals now sits.