The first Europeans to becomes residents on Churchill Island were Samuel and Winifred Pickersgills. Winifred was an orphan from the Irish famine and Samuel was originally transported to Van Diemen’s land as a convict. Samuel escaped 5 years later and was thought to be dead by the government. He changed his name several times. They lived on Churchill Island from 1860-1866 after which it was purchased by John Rogers for £210
In 1866. It is thought that Samuel did not contest the purchase of the land so not to become noticed by the government. They continued to live there with the Rogers family before moving onto San Remo. John Rogers was Married to Sarah Jane who worked hard on the Island. They built cottages and started the garden. Two of the cottages still stand there today. In 1972, the Island was sold to John McHaffie, who then sold it to Samuel Amess. He was a stonemason who had many buildings, railway stations and bridges to his name. He was the Mayor of Melbourne. He was also known to import many foreign animals to Churchill Island including pheasants and skylarks. In 1872 he built Amess house which still stands there today. The homestead walls are lined with insulating gravel, then covered with boards and hessian, followed by wallpaper and ceiling paper. All of the rooms in the house have wallpaper reproduced based on the original samples which were found during the restoration of the house in 2000.
The property was later passed down to his son Samuel and again to his son. The property was sold in 1929 in Gerald Buckley and employed Bob and Ted Jeffery to run the Island as a dairy farm. The dug a large dam, built a dairy and worked hard to improve and maintain the Island. Buckley was so impressed he was going to leave the Island to the brothers. Sadly he passed away before his will was changed and the Island was left to his English relatives. They sold the island to Dr Harry Jenkins in 1936. Ted had an antenna constructed where a room of the house was used for his amateur radio station. He died in 1960 and left the property to his sister who in 1973, auctioned the Island off due to illness. It was sold to Alex Classou who 3 years later was convinced to sell the property to the Government. It remains open now as a an operational heritage farm and is protected by the National Trust of Victoria.