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Dadswell Family History

Generation 8
Alfred Otto Dadswell (1860-1946) and Emma Lewin

On this page:
Ancestors of Alfred Otto Dadswell
Alfred Otto's story
Key family dates
Further information

Ancestors of Alfred Otto Dadswell

Robert Doudeswell 1560 > Robert Doudeswell 1606 > Edward Dodswell 1659 > Alexander Dodswell 1686 > Thomas Dadswell 1732 > James Dadswell 1786 > Thomas William Dadswell 1828 > Alfred Otto Dadswell 1860

Alfred Otto's story

Alfred Otto Dadswell

Alfred Otto Dadswell was the second child and first son of Thomas William and Helena Aurora (Scheer) Dadswell. He was born at Moorabool (near Geelong), Victoria, on 28 February 1860 where it is believed his father was working on construction of the new railway.

Family stories suggest that Otto was initially educated by a private tutor and that he later attended the school conducted in his parent's hotel at Ledcourt Crossing, later known as Dadswells Bridge.

Otto loved horses and was known as a 'Christmas jockey' (someone who raced in the December events) but around the age of 14 he fell heavily while racing a horse in rough country and almost lost his life although after his eventual recovery he continued to ride. After his convalescence, he led a wandering life for many years, travelling much of Victoria and New South Wales, carrying his belongings on a packhorse.

Otto eventually moved to the Mt Cole area in the central west of Victoria and while working on district saw mills also helped run social events, again participating in horse racing and playing cricket. He was working at Lewin's timber mill when he met Emma Lewin, born 7 March 1862, the second of eight children, and the first daughter, of the sawmill owner Francis Henry (1830-1907) and Margaret (Johnstone) Lewin (1830-1899). Otto and Emma married on 25 April 1894.

Otto had a reputation for working with the steam engines used in sawmilling and his sons used to pass on stories about this part of his life. He had limited schooling and he had no formal qualifications to operate the engines but his skill in operating and maintaining the engines was known around the district.

After a safely inspector watched his work one day, he was given an operator's certificate despite his lack of formal training. Stories also tell of a time when he was pressured to raise the pressure in a sawmill engine so the mill could increase its output. On safety grounds he refused, was sacked and replaced by another who raised the steam pressure which apparently led to an explosion and the deaths of several workers.

Emma (Lewin) Dadswell photo

The couple settled on a small farm at Warrak near Mt Cole around 1883 (the lease was in the name of Emma Dadswell, and may well have been a gift from her parents). Otto built a family home for the couple and their two sons (born in 1894 and 1896) and a daughter (1897).

By the early 1900s, Otto had left the milling business and had become not just a farmer but also a carpenter and builder, constructing many farm buildings around the district.

His son Henry William Dadswell could remember Otto working in 1908 on renovations at a Tarnagulla hotel which at the time was operated by Otto's sister Helena and her husband Sidney Norwood. In the early 1920s, Otto travelled to Red Cliffs to help his son Henry build a family home which was occupied by the family for the following 50 years.

Otto and Emma lived to see their two sons both fighting in Europe during World War One, with one, Stanley Alfred Dadswell, badly wounded before war's end. After they sailed overseas for the war, neither son saw their mother again, as Emma died on 12 June 1918 at the age of 56. Otto continue to live with family members at Warrak.

In his sawmill days, Otto showed unusual woodworking skills. Family members could remember hearing about the time when the main bearing on a timber mill steam engine broke, and it appeared the mill would be out of action for a week while a replacement bearing was sent from Melbourne. Otto set to work with woodworking tools and from a piece of red gum timber fashioned a replica bearing. The mill returned to operation the next day. Later in life, he made many of the tools for the Warrak farm and constructed two windmills by fashioning the components himself.

He continued to be active in a number of community groups up until his death at the age of 86, on 18 June 1946. Both he and Emma are buried in the Mt Cole Cemetery. According to an obituary in the Ararat Advertiser, Otto "closely identified himself with the various activities of the Mt Cole Cemetery, a position he held for the past 50 years right up to the time of his death."

Grave headstone of Otto and Emma Dadswell

Key family dates

Alfred Otto Dadswell
born 28 Feb 1860 -
died 18 June 1946
25 April 1894
at Ararat, Vic
Emma Lewin
born 7 March 1862 -
died 12 June 1918
Children -

1. Henry William Dadswell born 20 July 1894 - [married Jessie Isabel Smiley] - died 7 Aug 1978

2. Stanley Alfred Dadswell born 23 April 1896 - [married Ethel Evelyn Mary Pilgrim] - died 19 Nov 1957

3. Ethel May Dadswell born 13 Aug 1897 - [married Charles Lawrence Mitting] - died 2 Feb 1943


Click on any picture to see a larger size photograph.

Alfred Otto Dadswell Emma (Lewin) Dadswell Alfred Otto Dadswell Alfred Otto Dadswell
Alfred Otto Dadswell Alfred Otto Dadswell Dadswell home at Warrak

Another early photograph of Otto and Emma Dadswell is on this website - see:
   Dadswell/Lewin Family Photograph, 1904 or 1905.

Further information

Henry William Dadswell (1894-1978, generation 9, first son of Otto and Emma Dadswell)
Stanley Alfred Dadswell (1896-1957, generation 9, second son)
Ethel May Dadswell (1897-1943, generation 9, third child)
Brothers/sisters of Alfred Otto Dadswell
Thomas William Dadswell (generation 7, father of Alfred Otto)
Brothers/sisters of Emma Lewin

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