b. 2 July 1855, d. 11 August 1937
Philip Steer
FatherEdward Steer b. 1819, d. 5 Jan 1898
MotherAnn Dutnall b. 1827, d. 25 Jul 1864

Birth, Death, Marriage

Philip Steer was born on 2 July 1855 in Langhorne Creek, South Australia.1 
He married Euphemia Forrest, daughter of Alexander Forrest and Annie (?), in 1879 in Wellington, South Australia.2 
He died on 11 August 1937 in Kerang, Victoria, at age 82.3 


Euphemia Forrest b. 1859, d. 13 Mar 1914
ChartsMcDonald, Irene, pedigree chart
Steer, Edward, descendant chart


Philip was the second of his family born in Australia. He was was a farmer in Langhorne Creek and Wolseley in South Australia, and in Lake Boga in Victoria. At different times, he has then been described as a commission agent, contractor, stationer, newsagent and baker. Philip and his wife Euphemia had six children, though only four reached adulthood. He later moved from Lake Boga to Nyah and then to Kerang where he died aged 83.4
Early Life
Philip was the second of his family to be born in Australia. His parents came from Kent in England, arriving in South Australia in October 1852. With them were four children, Maria aged six, Anne aged four, Caroline aged two and George less than a year old. Philip was born three years later in the Langhorn Creek and Lake Plains area of South Australia. While we know nothing of Philip's childhood, we know he had extended Steer family living in the area.5,1
Family Life near Kaniva
Philip and Euphemia married in Bordertown in South Australia in 1879. It seems the couple chose the Victorian side of the border to live and work, with all six children born in Victoria.

Within a year of their marriage, the first child Alice Euphemia was born, in Dinyarrak, near Lillimur. A Mrs Forrest, probably Euphemia's mother, helped with the birth. The next two children, Margaret and Helen were born in Lillimur in 1883 and 1885. Robert was born in nearby Kaniva in 1889. Sadly, the same year, Robert died aged just three months and Helen died aged three years. There was an outbreak of typhoid in the area in 1889. The last to be born in the area was Albert, born 1890 in Yearinga; Mrs Forrest also helped with this birth.

Alice and Margaret most likely attended school at nearby Lillimur.6,7
Philip and Euphemia Steer (Forrest)
Wagon Trip to Lake Boga
Whether to leave behind the tragic deaths of the two young children, or with the hope of better farming prospects elsewhere, Philip and Euphemia decided to move from near Lillimur. The three children were loaded into horse-drawn wagons and they headed to Lake Boga, south of Swan Hill. This was around 1890, so Alice would have been about ten, Maggie about seven and Albert still a baby.8
Family Life in Lake Boga
When the family first moved to Lake Boga, Philip built a four-roomed cottage on his ten acre property. This is where Beatrice was born. The cottage was to be the family home for the next 15 years, and so is where the children did most of their growing up. They all attended school in Lake Boga.8
Food consisted of whatever was available at the time, and was quite dependant on the weather and economic conditions. The Federation drought of 1902 and the Great Depression of the late 1920s and early 30s were particularly tough times. On a good day it might be lamb that was part of Philip's pay, or Murray cod caught in the nearby Little Murray river. At other times, they might catch a rabbit or two to eat. The water in the nearby lakes was of poor quality, usually too salty. This would cause fruit crops to fail in some years and was known to wipe out whole seasons of many different vegetables. In leaner times, they would have to live on potatoes and onions.
In the big drought of 1902 times were very hard, Grandfather [Philip]found work at a big Station called Murray Downs. Once a fortnight he would walk the 10-12 miles home carrying half a sheep on his back, this was part of his pay. Most of the time they lived on potatoes and onions.9

Philip was a farmer in South Australia, around Langhorne Creek and Wolseley. After getting married, he continued farming in Victoria in Dinyarrak and Yearinga, near Lillimur. When he moved around 1890 to Lake Boga in Victoria, he initially farmed there too.1,6,7
From 1903 to 1909, Philip gave his occupation as 'contractor' in the electoral rolls. As late as June and July 1914, there are references to Steer & Baker contractors, though we don't know for certain whether this is Philip Steer. One of Steer and Baker's contracts was for the formation, gravelling and clearing Swan Hill-Moulamein road near the 16 mile peg.10,11
Lake Boga News Agency and Fancy Goods Depot
Philip Steer, proprietor.
Around 1908, Philip and Euphemia ran a newsagency and 'fancy goods' depot. His granddaughters, Nene Courtie (Doris McDonald) and Bub Williams (Violet McDonald), remember him growing peanuts just up the road from the shop. When Euphemia died in 1914, their daughter Beatrice helped her father look after the shop.12,13,14
The Lake Boga News Agency and Fancy Goods Depot, Philip Steer, proprietor 1912
Lake Boga Properties
At the time of her death, Euphemia had two properties in her name. This may have been to separate them from Philip's other current and planned business interests.

One was the newsagency and bakery, and described as 'half an acre of land with a weatherboard shop and dwelling of four rooms, a baker's oven and house and stables, enclosed by a picket and post and wire fence'.

The other was described as 'ten acres with a five roomed weatherboard house, enclosed by a post and wire fence'. One of the grandchildren, Nene (McDonald), once said that grandpa grew peanuts up the road from the newsagency, surely this second property.15,16
Commission Agent
According to his daughter Alice's 1910 marriage certificate, Philip was a commission agent, someone who provides goods and services on behalf of others, taking a commission with each transaction. Another meaning of the term 'commission agent' is bookmaker, but according to his granddaughter, Bub Williams, he was far too righteous to ever be a bookie.17,13
Grocer and Baker in Nyah
In February 1916, Philip moved to Nyah and took over the grocery and drapery business from Mr Judd. This would have made him closer to his daughter Alice (now McDonald) and her family. Unfortunately things didn't quite go according to plan, and within 18 months he was insolvent. At this time, late 1917, Philip was described as a storekeeper and baker.
Later Years
In his later years, Philip lived with his daughter Maggie Cook in Kerang. He died in Kerang in 1937 aged 83.

At the time of his death, Philip had about 13 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren. The grandchildren were Doris, Irene, Donald and Violet McDonald, Philip, Alan and Albert Steer, and Philip, Henry, Euphemia, Albert, Frank and Margaret Lee. Some of the great-grandchildren were Jack, Reg, Laurie, Rene, Don and Brian Phillips, Pauline Stuart, Donald McDonald and Graeme Williams.


  1. [S99] Biographical Index of South Australians 1836-1885, South Australian Genealogy and Heraldry Society Inc., May 1986, p. 1539.
  2. [S368] Genealogy SA online database search, index, Philip Steer and Euphemia Forrest entry, marriage registration no. 120/872, 1879.
  3. [S367] Phillip Steer, death registration no. 16516, 11 August 1937.
  4. [S99] Biographical Index of South Australians 1836-1885, South Australian Genealogy and Heraldry Society Inc., May 1986.
  5. [S364] South Australia, passenger lists 1847-1886.
  6. [S362] Alice Euphemia Steer, birth registration no. 15067, 17 August 1880.
  7. [S378] Albert Edward Steer, birth registration no. 24344, 16 August 1890.
  8. [S376] From the Memories of the Life of Beatrice Lee, unpublished, 1987, p. 1.
  9. [S376] From the Memories of the Life of Beatrice Lee, unpublished, 1987, p. 2.
  10. [S392] Australia, Electoral Rolls 1903-1980, online, division of Wimmera, polling place Lake Boga, 1903.
  11. [S392] Australia, Electoral Rolls 1903-1980, online, division of Wimmera, subdivision of Swan Hill, 1909.
  12. [S333] The Progress of Swan Hill and District: Introducing Ultima, Lake Boga, Nyah, etc., self published, 1912.
  13. [S58] Violet 'Bub' Williams, personal communication.
  14. [S52] Doris 'Nene' Courtie, personal communication.
  15. [S363] 'Euphemia Steer', VPRS 28 Probate and Administration Files, no. 143955, probate, 1915.
  16. [S52] Doris 'Nene' Courtie, personal communication, 10 November 2001.
  17. [S53] Donald Glenorchy McDonald and Alice Euphemia Steer, marriage registration no. 4052, 12 May 1910.