Local Identities

Ken Gibsone

One of the most well known and loved persons in Harvey is amiable, 73-year-old Ken Gibsone. A pioneer of the town for over half a century he is well content with his share of life and if he had a chance to live his life over again, he’d do it willingly. People who see him gaily riding his push-bike wonder how, at his age, he is so agile. But this is nothing to his earlier days when he used to ride good old Dobin to Burekup to play one of his favourite sports, tennis. Born in Scotland, he went to England at the tender age of five. He was educated at Leamington College, and then worked in a bank for five years when his health gave way and he was advised to come to a drier climate. So in 1898, just after the railway line had been laid, Ken arrived in Harvey and stayed with his cousin, Major Palmer, for 12 months. He then procured the holding in Government-road, where he still lives and has passed so many jewel-studded memories. Ken Gibsone decided he would take up mixed farming, an occupation he has remained at all his life practically.

Mr. Gibsone was the first secretary of the Old Citrus Society which started in 1904 and he remained in this office for ten years. He was also secretary of the Agricultural Society for four summers.

NAILED FLOOR OF CITRUS SOCIETY Ken recalled the day when he and Walter [sic, Waller] Clifton, a leading man of the town, nailed down the first floor of the Old Citrus Society’s Hall. “You see a dance was to be held in the hall, but the contractor couldn’t get the job finished in time, so we did not want to disappoint the lady folk and did the job ourselves.” “In 1916 the Government brought in irrigation, and Harvey just fairly leapt ahead,” said Mr. Gibsone.

FATHER A MAJOR IN BRITISH ARMY Ken’s father was a major in the 17th Lancers in England, and fought through the Indian Mutiny and Crimean War.

Reminiscently he tells of how he and his wife had to come through the settlement on wooden sledge pulled by two horses and the hardships involved in doing so. Ken Gibsone also remembers the first hotel built in Harvey; it was a shed owned by Aubrey Smith’s brother and only served strong beer and whisky.

Mr. Gibsone married in 1900 and reared a family of eleven, five boys and six girls, all of whom are married with families which make him a grandfather thirty times over. Throughout his life Ken has gained a considerable knowledge of the South-West, which he thinks is one of the richest lands in the world.

HELD MANY OFFICES Founder of the Harvey Bowling Club, secretary of the old Harvey Tennis Club, Cricket Club, Trotting Club and Racing Club are only some of the varied positions he has held, as he puts it, “I was in every darn thing about the place.”

Ken and Mr. R. O. Hayward are the only two life members of the Harvey Agricultural Society alive today. “I’ve always taken an interest in the township and am indeed proud of the now flourishing district it is,” he says. The pioneer’s love now is playing bowls with his old cobbers and having a game or two of billiards.

In 1900 Ken joined the local South-West Mounted Infantry and from 1911 to 1914 was in command of troops in Harvey, His eyesight robbed him of the chance of going on active service in the World War I.

His biggest kick, as he puts it, was when he was elected to the presidency of the Harvey Bowling Club, a sports body he helped to founder many years before This is a fleeting glimpse of a life filled with hard work, adventure and gaiety that most people only read about.

From ‘Know Your Neighbour’ series in the Harvey Murray Times on 22 October 1948 by BJF.