Mandurah author Keith Devenish started questioning his family history from a very young age.
Growing up on his grandfather’s farm in Cunderdin as a boy, Devenish always wondered how the farm started and who his ancestors were.
He never expected to be flooded with so much interesting history when he started to look into it – enough to write a book about.
So he did exactly that.
The Halls Head author discovered his ancestors first left England back in 1829 with Thomas Peel’s ill-fated group of free settlers, who had to be saved by Governor Stirling.
The more he searched and delved into his family history, the more he found – including several negatives of photographs that his grandfather, Arthur Devenish, took during World War I in France and England.
The book, Arthur’s Story, follows Arthur Devenish’s life from his motherless childhood to being a soldier in the first World War and then a pioneer farmer in Cunderdin.
Born in 1895, Arthur Devenish lost his mother when he was just two-years-old. His alcoholic father was incapable of taking care of him.
He was sent to an orphanage to be raised by the Salvation Army at their Boys School farm in Collie but left when he was 14 to work on the farms in Cunderdin.
He bought his own piece of land when he was just 18 but lost the rights to the land just months later when he joined the army.
Arthur Devenish was wounded while fighting on the Western Front at the start of the Battle of Messines in 1917.
But this was only the beginning of his life of hardship and perseverance.
Putting pen to pages
The book includes details about Arthur’s return to the front line after his recovery, his tough work on the farms in outback Australia and his devoted family life.
Tragedy struck in 1947 when he died suddenly, leaving his family farm to his two young sons to finish developing it.
The book also follows the lives of a number of his other relatives who settled in Fremantle and Guildford and eventually went on to start the Devenish Inn hotel.
There are a number of linkages to other pioneer names associated with the history of Perth and Cunderdin.
The self-published Arthur’s Story is available for purchase by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.