top of page
  • Writer's pictureValentine Smith

"Who is Charlie Blevin?" A Native American buried in the Australian bush

Updated: Jan 27, 2023


Contemplation

‘Without memory there was no yesterday and there will be no tomorrow, for without the knowledge of the past we cannot imagine the future.

We all rely on memory. It provides us with the emotive and physical recollections of joy and sadness we have experienced in our lifetime, no matter how long or short that might be.

But, what happens when we are physically gone? We pass on into the very ground upon which we were created. From that poignant, sometimes accepting moment, our memories only survive with the living and their recollection of who we were and how we lived.

As time travels on even the memories of those that knew us have gone and the recollections of those of us who passed before them have dissipated into the mist’.i

The Story of Charlie Blevin

Way up in the mountains of Victoria, Australia, in the middle of a vast wilderness, is a hidden cairn. It was erected by good people to celebrate the lives of a few pioneering souls left behind long after the gold had gone and the bush had rightfully reclaimed its natural territory.

Only a few locals and a handful of intrepid adventurers know where this cairn is and even if you were told where it was, it would likely take you a week of luck and hard work to find it.

On this cairn are a handful of names, five men, one woman and a child, the tragic conclusion of a mother and her infant.

We know a little about the lives of some of the people named, but of others we know nothing. There is one name that hints a little more, revealing in any thinker a rapid flurry of questions.

‘Charlie Blevin, an American Red Indian’, is all it says. That is enough to start a quest.

Who was Charlie Blevin and what was his life’s journey? What brought him from the strain and tragedy of an expanding north American continent, to the quiet yet hard solitude of the Australian bush.

There are only one or two old-timers in the mountains that remember talk of ‘Old Indian Charlie’ or ‘Old Mr Blevin’, as he was respectfully known. We know that he was a gold-miner and who his working mate was. We know that he worked the mines for some time between 1851 and 1900. Given that he was referred to as ‘Old’ it is most likely he was a character on the earlier Victorian ‘rushes’ of the 1850’s, maybe moving on to work the ‘rushes’ in the high mountains in the 1870’s and 1880’s. The internment dates of the six people at the gravesite date from 1869 to 1896, and by 1905 only a few intrepid ‘bushies’ still worked the creeks and rivers of the Victorian north east.

So who was Charlie Blevin, or is it meant to be Blevins? Was he a native American? If so, what is the back-story of this forgotten sleeper in the bush?

We can only imagine the life journey this old miner had taken. Perhaps he was a young hunting man or maybe even quietly farming somewhere in the vast wilderness of North America. How did he become an old man living amongst kangaroos and kookaburras down-under, in a much different land far across the great blue waters of the Pacific?

The United States and its continental territories in the mid to late 1800’s were not quite the powerbase of neon democracy that it is today. During less than forty years, from 1850 to 1890, the Americans would fight one of the bloodiest civil wars in human history. The plains Indians and their south western counterparts would win and lose great battles against white expansion. The vast herds of wandering bison would become almost extinct as pioneers and emigrants pushed westward across the Missouri river to Oregon and California.

So, if this so-called ‘taming of America’ was well underway as tribal societies gave way to Christianity and democracy, how could a native American with a British name find his way by steamer or sailing ship to search for gold in Australia?

Maybe Charlie Blevin was Cherokee, Creek or Choctaw. We know the Cherokee were some of the most skilled gold-miners in the 1849 California Gold Rush and we know the name Blevin features in the area around Yuba City and Cherokee California. Is it possible that Charlie Blevin worked his way from the mines of Georgia, set on the very land taken from his people during the forced removal of the Cherokee, via Oklahoma, to the hills of California and Colorado? Is it then that the call of ‘gold-rush’ in Australia reached him and for whatever reason he took the ultimate western journey to Australian shores?

We know a little about what Charlie’s life would have been like in Australia. We can imagine and re-construct those Australian memories, but before that time we have little to go on and understand.

We invite you to share this little story with others, so that maybe from any information we receive, we can re-create Charlie’s probable life journey for all to remember. Just maybe we can re-connect him with living family and link his lost branches to the familial tree of life from where he came.

MiPerNet has produced a 12-minute background video on where Charlie Blevin lived and worked: https://youtu.be/1p9ndZ_Om3w

i Written by Valentine Smith and photographic images by Bob Grieve - MiPerNet © 2019

Investigations into the life story of Charlie Blevin is being conducted by MiPerNet (Missing Persons Network) a private company of investigative, media and communications specialists focussing on identifying investigative gaps in cold case missing persons in the wilderness and missing person abductions/homicides.


MiPerNet can be contacted via valentinesmith@mipernet.com or bobgrieve@mipernet.com


9 views0 comments

Comments


bottom of page