'Black' Jack Ramsay
Jack 'Black Jack' Ramsay
Lived: 24 Ramsay Street
Children: Daniel [Dan] and Maud
Family Tree: Ramsay
Occupation: Orchard owner, Pioneer, Councillor and Mayor of Erinsborough
One of the founding father's of Erinsborough, "Black" Jack Ramsay became a legend within his own lifetime - to his family at least. Jack began his illustrious career with an orchard bearing his name, not far from the fast growing city of Melbourne. The land had, until recent years, been farmed by the McKeller family, but in the optimistic early twentieth century, the go-getting Ramsay family were now making their mark.
Jack ensured his name would live on with the birth of a son; Daniel, and a daughter, Maud. He also began developing his land by building houses, and he became involved with local politics as a councillor. He eventually served as Mayor of Erinsborough from 1922 to 1923 and then again from 1930 to 1933. Daniel was always very proud of his father's legacy and considered half of Erinsborough to be in his debt. A memorial fountain was erected for Ramsay in the council gardens, but by 1990 it had fallen into disrepair and was considered dangerous when Lochy McLachlan fell in it. Jack’s granddaughter Madge was inspired to run for council to try and save his fountain but after a swift vote, it was decided it should be demolished and replaced by a plaque and a tree. Fortunately Madge agreed with this decision and she was delighted when asked by the mayor to unveil the new memorial as her first official political duty.
Despite his huge success in the area, Ramsay was not popular with everyone. Another prominent family in the suburb were the Robinsons. The two dynasties became connected in a constant state of competitiveness, and would remain so until nearly the end of the century. When the time came to choose a name for the new street built on "Ramsay Orchards", Jack and his Robinson rival decided to make a game of it. They decided to play cards; Black Jack, with the winner getting to name the street after themselves. What happened during the course of that game may never be known but has been reported from various points of view, with very different stories. The Ramsays will tell you it was nothing but a triumphant win for that "wonderful man", "Black" Jack Ramsay. The Robinsons however, describe Jack as a "liar and a cheat", and that he didn't play fair in winning the street’s name. Sadly this rumour persisted long after Jack's death, and Robinson descendents were even moved to rename the street themselves. Perhaps even more shocking, Erinsborough council decided, in 2001, to rename the street "Ramsbottom Street". "Black" Jack would probably have been spinning in his grave had he known. The street name was quickly changed back after complaints from residents - lead by Jack's grandson-in-law, Harold Bishop.
Jack was able to watch his family grow when Dan married his childhood sweetheart Edna Wilkins. They soon produced three grandchildren for Jack; Max, Tom and Madge. The children were all schooled in Erinsborough, Max even became mates with young Jim Robinson. But sadly Dan lost his job and had to move north to Brisbane for work. In spite of the distance, Madge would often make the long trip back to visit her grandfather at 24 Ramsay Street.
When "Black" Jack Ramsay died, he left his name on “his” street, and his house to his three beloved grandchildren, but he also left an indelible mark on the psyche of all his descendents to follow. His achievements, his sense of adventure, and his pioneer spirit, has provided an ingrained sense of pride and has often been the fuel to the Ramsay's fiery temperament.
Biography by David