FELIX & FLORENCE ROSSER
FELIX & FLORENCE ROSSER – Felix (1854-1919) Florence (1871-1928)
Felix Rosser was the son of British convicts, Isabella and Frederick, who were transported to Hobart in the 1840s. They married in Hobart after receiving their “free certificate”, then moved to Victoria, settling in Geelong where Felix was born in 1852. He had two siblings, William and John. Felix married Florence Klemke in 1889 and they had six children: Alice, Myrtle, Arthur, Victor, Harold and Joseph.
Felix is known for being the first person to sight the floundering ship, the Joseph H. Scammell, on the night of 7 May 1891. He saw the red and green lights of a ship approaching Point Danger when checking his cray pots. He attempted to row his boat toward the ship, but due to the wild seas was unable to reach it. Felix and two mates lit a fire on the front beach to let the ship’s captain know help was coming and dispatched a rider to Geelong. After two attempts, he was still unable to reach the stricken ship. He tried again at dawn after noticing a life boat drop from the ship with three men in it. He managed to navigate them to Zeally Bay and then he went back and saved the Captain, his wife, his daughter Hattie with her Persian cat, and the Stewardess. Eventually all on board were saved.
The Rosser Family were among the earliest settlers in Torquay, and Florence was active in community affairs. In 1896 Florence joined the lobby petitioning for a school for the Torquay children. In 1900 the school was housed in the Torquay Improvement Association, a local hall and then the Church Hall. Finally, in 1910 the Torquay Primary School building was constructed in Bristol Road. Florence was on the first Committee. Her children were among the first to attend the new school.
Two sons, Harold and Victor, enlisted for service in the AIF during World War 1. Victor was discharged on medical grounds, but Harold was killed in France in 1918. Florence grieved his loss for the remainder of her life. Felix went missing in the bush in late July 1919. Sadly, his body was found on August 9th, 1919. Known for his acts of bravery, fishing skills and his resourcefulness he was a true character in Torquay history, Felix Crescent is named after him.
(Our thanks go to Richard Greenhough for his assistance in compiling the History of Felix and Florence Rosser)