Gibbs Arthur Lacey

Reseach by Gordon Freegard 2018

The very first people to settle and take up land in our area were generally former workers from Mason & Bird Sawmill. Just before and after it closed, areas of land were taken up and clearing commenced to start their new life as orchardists and growers in the district. Some of the earliest recorded settlers were the following; Henry & Anna Mottram who settled in Carmel 1874, Richard & Mary Weston who settled in Pickering Brook 1875, John & Emma Wallis who settled in Walliston 1880, Arthur & Annie Gibbs who settled in Bickley 1891. These are the stories of those early pioneering families.

Arthur Lacey Gibbs was the only son of Edward & Mary Jane Gibbs (nee Pearce) of Canning was born 1868.

On Wednesday morning, the 15th July 1891, Miss Annie Burton, second daughter of Mr. W. H. Burton, of Woodloes Park, was married to Mr. Arthur Lacey Gibbs, only son of Mr. Edward Gibbs and Mary Jane Pearce, of the Canning, late of Rugby, England. The ceremony was performed at Cannington Hall, the Rev. E. Tremayne Dunstan officiating. Miss Lilly and Miss Daisy Burton were the bridesmaids, the father gave the bride away, and Mr. Holmes acted as best man. The ceremony was over at 11o’clock, after which the wedding party (which numbered between 30 and 40), drove to Woodloes Park to breakfast, which was of a very sumptuous character. The usual toasts having been proposed and responded to, the happy pair drove off to Perth, en route to York, to spend the honeymoon, amidst showers of rice. A most enjoyable evening followed at Woodloes, both in concert and dance.

The Gibbs family had a house on Lot 323 (yet to be confirmed) and the Mottram family possibly lived on Lot 2976/55 Location 488 (yet to be confirmed) or maybe Lot 81 (yet to be confirmed).


They settled on a property in the Bickley Valley, they called “Anniedale” at Lot 8, 550 Canning Road Carmel, not far from the Mason & Bird Sawmill, where they built a comfortable four roomed house. Their first child a daughter named Muriel Myrtle Grace (later known as Myrtle) was born in 1892. A year later, on the 28th June another daughter, named Daisy, was born but sadly she died two days later of convulsions.

On Sunday 4th March 1894 Arthur Gibbs had just engaged a new gardener, Francis Bortelsmeier, a recent arrival from the eastern colonies. He seemed to be a quiet, inoffensive young fellow, of about thirty years old. Earlier that day the family including their only child, 2 year old Myrtle, had been on a visit to some friends at the Lower Canning. After the evening meal, between six and seven, Arthur showed Francis Bortelsmeier where his quarters were for him to sleep, which was about 100 yards from their house. They felt somewhat tired they retired to rest, shortly after eight O’clock. Up to this time they had noticed nothing of an extraordinary character in the demeanour of the newly engaged gardener, but immediately the light had been extinguished in their bedroom, they were aroused by Bortelsmeier’s screams and yells. He sounded almost mad. On opening the door Arthur saw him coming towards the house so he stepped back inside and locked the door. Bortelsmeier started kicking and thumping on the door asking to be let in and to give him a drink.

The family became alarmed as he then smashed the window of the bedroom in which they were. They fled to another room but were fearful of the loaded rifle they knew was in the quarters of the gardener. Then a second window was smashed. The threats of the man and the hysterical condition of his heavily pregnant wife, so un-nerved Arthur Gibbs that he decided to flee the house and obtain assistance of a neighbour named Mottram, who lived about a quarter of a mile away. Wearing nothing but night clothes, they rushed from their home towards the Mottram’s, where they found everything in darkness, and their neighbours away from the home. In a terribly frightened state, fearing Bortelsmeier was in pursuit of them with the loaded gun, they journeyed towards another neighbour, the Wallis’ who were two mile further away.

Here the weary travellers were hospitably cared for, and after relating their mournful tale they were advised to remain with their friends for the night. Next morning at about 6 O’clock Arthur Gibbs accompanied by Wallis and Mottram returned to his house. There he found the house and contents had been burnt to the ground. Everything was burnt including a nearly new piano they had only recently purchased for 75 pounds and a fine collection of garden seeds that Arthur had carefully gathered together. They found Bortelsmeier seated near the debris with a blanket wrapped around him. On interrogating him he explained he had caught a chill and had to burn the house down in order to keep himself warm.

Arthur Gibbs then communicated with the police, who were quickly on the scene and arrested Bortelsmeier. He was trialled and declared insane and to be kept in the Government’s Asylum at Her Majesty’s pleasure.

Unfortunately, a month later their third daughter, May, was born but died after only two hours, on the 7th April 1894.

A fourth daughter, Amelia was born on the 9th April 1895 but died 1 day later. She was buried with her two younger sisters between two fig trees at Lot 8, 550 Canning Road, Carmel. The location of the graves was marked for many years by the two large trees on a slope near the former homestead. These trees have been removed but the site is still known by local residents although there is now no evidence of the graves. The property is now the Carmel Rose Farm (2010), Masonmill Reception Centre (2018).

The fifth daughter was born in 1896 named Violet Ruby and a sixth daughter born on the 6th January 1898 named Arthurena

Arthur ran the “Forest Inn” at Canning Mills for his uncle, Stephen Gibbs, for some time. However he died a month after the birth of his sixth daughter on the 2nd February 1898 aged 30 years. He is buried at the Kenwick Pioneer Cemetery next to his father Edward Gibbs. After Arthur died, Annie and her three surviving daughters – Myrtle (Muriel), Violet and Arthurena (later known as Ena) moved to Cannington where she became postmistress.

At a fund raising function in April 1917, ran by the Ugly Men’s Association where voting was conducted for the ugliest man and the prettiest lady. Violet Gibbs won the prettiest lady section with 6692 votes.

The second eldest daughter, Violet Ruby married Otho L. Yandell of Hawksburn, Victoria, on the 13th September 1919 at St. Michael’s Church in Cannington. And on the 11th February 1928 the eldest daughter, Myrtle Muriel Grace Gibbs married Charles Kruse, son of the late A. Kruse of Fremantle at St. George’s Cathedral, Perth by the Rev. Elphick.


In April 1934 a surprise gathering was organised by her daughter Myrtle, to celebrate Annie’s 30 years as Postmistress at Cannington. She later became the Kellerberrin Postmistress and died on the 13th August 1952 aged 78 years and is buried in the Kellerberrin cemetery.

Every endeavour has been made to accurately record the details however if you would like to provide additional images and/or newer information we are pleased to update the details on this site. Please click here to email us at We appreciate your involvement in recording the history of our area.

References: Article: Pickering Brook Heritage Group

Images: 1 Internet
2 Gosnells History Society
3 Kalamunda & Districts Historical Society
4 National Library of Australia