A family ANZAC: Pte Hugh Moran Part II

After Pte Hugh Moran enlisted in 1940 he was sent first to Darwin then north Africa where he was captured and taken as a Prisoner of War to Italy from 1941 to 1943. You can read about his experience in Part I.

Stalag VIIIB P10003.002

Some of the AIF POWs at Stalag VIIIB/344. http://www.awm.gov.au/collections/P100003.02

As the Italians signed the Armistice of Cassibile in September 1943, the Germans took over the prisoners of war and promptly relocated them north. There is a website, drawn on the NZ Official History of WWII, which reveals the reality of this transfer and what it means to POWs like Hugh[i]:

From those camps that were taken over by German troops in September 1943, all except the few who succeeded in hiding were marched to the nearest railway station. The Germans took what precautions they could to prevent escapes-a strong guard along the route, threats before setting out of the dire consequences that would follow any attempted breaks, even a demonstration with a flame-thrower at Campo PG 57.

Most of the trains went north via Verona, through the Brenner Pass to Innsbruck, though a few took the more easterly Tarvisio Pass to Villach…They were almost entirely made up of cattle-trucks and closed goods-wagons with a very few third-class carriages… Into these trucks the prisoners were packed, as many as fifty in each…The sliding doors were closed and bolted, and prisoners were left for the journey with at most two small openings in the sides of the truck for air and light, no provision for latrines, and only such food and water as they had been able to carry with them….There were occasional halts on the journey north, often not long enough for every truckload to be allowed out. On the longer journeys there were considerable halts at stations and sometimes meals from the German Red Cross.[ii]

POW route Moran

An as-the-crow-flies map of Hugh’s “travels” starting from near Derna where he was captured.

Those from Campo 57 were the first large party from Italy to reach Stalag XVIIIC at Markt Pongau in Austria, a transit camp …roughly 25 miles south of Salzburg, the camp was very dirty and the barracks infested with vermin… For the first time they tasted the typical German stalag fare – vegetable soup and ‘black’ bread, boiled potatoes and mint tea. After a fortnight or so most went north to Stalag VIIIA at Görlitz in Saxony.

Hugh was among those transferred to Stalag VIIIA on 24 September 1943 thence to Stalag VIIIB on 2 November 1943 and in June 1944 to Stalag 344 (my understanding is the latter two were essentially the same).  These prisons were in Lamsdorf in then-Upper Silesia, and now called Łambinowice in Poland.[iii]

This huge camp (VIIIB/Lamsdorf) which had started to show improvement since the appointment of a new German commandant, now became still larger through the sudden influx from Italy and numbered well over 30,000, 10,000 of them in the stalag itself … Those who had come from Italy, more especially those from Campo PG 57, wondered at the comparative lack of discipline in this camp and at the activities that could go on inside it unknown to the enemy… Sooner or later the newcomers, who had all been graded by German doctors according to the type of labour they were medically fit for left for coal mines or other places of work in Silesia.MORAN Hugh pic c1943

It is Hugh’s German Prisoner of War record, included with his AIF personnel file, that reveals more details about his experience. He has plainly completed the basic details, as the rest is written in German. The photograph included shows the impact of the preceding years as he is plainly gaunt and has acquired the typical McSherry baldness (inherited through his mother). It also tells us he blond (really?) and 177cms tall (70 inches), approximately the same height as me – which makes him short for a male with McSherry genes.

MORAN Hugh work record Stalag 344

This extract from Hugh’s German record seems to document his work allocation.

Brit POW Stalag 344 mid_000000

http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205184697. German photograph of British POWs working in a quarry at Lambard. Free of copyright.

However, in his debriefing on return to the United Kingdom in 1944, Hugh describes the Stalag/prison rations, accommodation, bathing and hygiene as “bad” and the recreational facilities as “poor”.  While he had not been required to work while in Italy at Campo 57, Hugh states that in Germany he did hard manual labour, pick and shovel work, for 12-14 hours a day. All of which no doubt contributed to his gaunt frame in the photograph taken in Germany, or exacerbated it.

His troubles were far from over, however. As the war ground towards its conclusion, and the arrival of Russian troops became imminent, the German forces made the decision to move their prisoners west. And so started what was to become known as the Long March[iv], The Black March, The Bread March or the Lamsdorf Death March but most survivors just called it “The March”.  In the depths of winter under freezing conditions, with minimal food, the men walked hundreds of kilometres, between January and March 1945[v] with the Lamsdorf men heading north via Dresden. (You can see a map here of POW movements). It was an exhausting, hazardous and debilitating experience for the men, drawing on reserves of strength both physical and mental.

Lamsdorf death march 2 P10548.009

A photograph taken during the Lamsdorf Death March gives a glimpse of the conditions the men had to march. https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/P10548.009

With the surrender of Germany, on 4 May 1945 RAF Bomber Command implemented Operation Exodus, and the first prisoners of war were repatriated by air in aircraft. Bomber Command flew 2,900 sorties over the next 23 days, carrying 72,500 prisoners of war.[vi]

Moran recovery to UK

Extract from Hugh Moran’s service record. NAA series B883, QX7775

Private Hugh Augustine Moran was one of the prisoners recovered by Bomber Command, and for me it’s interesting to ponder whether a friend of ours, Don Curnow, was part of this relief effort. Hugh’s personnel file records that on 19 May 1945, he was deplaned UK as recovered PW (Prisoner of War) M/I and taken on holding strength at 1AIF Transit Camp. This is presumably where his debriefing took place. In this statement, he records that he had been captured on 7 April 1941, with a portion of HQ and including Lt Col Marlan and Major Barton as well as Private L Milne (2/15Bn).

MORAN POW sment

Extract from Pte Moran’s service record at naa.gov.au

Officers missing 15th Bn

Hugh’s report aligns with the official war diary for the 15th Battalion February-April 1941, AWM52 8/3/15/12

After capture, Hugh had been held at Campo 57 from 15 May 1941 to 15 September 1943 then Stalag VIIIA from September to November 1943 before transfer to Stalag VIIIB/344 from May to November 1944. There are a number of photos of the camp on the Imperial War Museum site, but many are copyrighted. While in Germany he was given “reasonable” treatment for stomach pains and bronchitis. He states he had not received Red Cross parcels or mail during his time there.  Had his parcels or mail been blocked or did his family not know where he was?

MORAN POW camps

Extracted from Pte Moran’s Repatriation statement.

On 7 June 1945, Hugh once again had a stint AWOL…for a whole three hours. Who could blame him after being confined for four years? Apparently the Army didn’t feel the same as he was docked a total of 12 days pay…I suppose they didn’t want these men to get delusions of independence, or insubordination. It’s ironic that he told the Germans his former occupation was “timekeeper” which is pretty odd for someone who seemed to miss returning to barracks by mere hours on most occasions.

On 19 June Hugh was repatriated to Australia on the ship “J12” and on 24 August, he was taken on strength in Queensland. Apparently while in Sydney he was taken to the Camp Hospital with scabies. I imagine it was quite some time before his health returned to normal, if ever. He was discharged from the Army on 13 September 1945, leaving him to continue life as a civilian. I can’t help wondering if he wished he’d joined the railway, a reserved occupation, and one held by most of the McSherry men over some generations.

Moran retd fm active service

Hugh died on 8 February 1995, when he was 88 years old, which is amazing considering what he’d gone through. He is buried in the Martyn St Cemetery in Cairns.

It was a revelation to me to unearth this story of my first cousin once removed, Hugh Augustine McSherry[vii]. I hope this post serves as a memorial to his contribution to Australia’s military history.

LEST WE FORGET

Thanks to my cousin Bev for sending this photo of Hughie in later life at his cousin’s birthday. Isn’t it lovely to see him looking happy and healthy? If I’m not mistaken, he’s wearing his RSL pin.  Thanks Bev.

PhyllisRoy and HughMoran1988 IMG

Previous Anzac Day posts are:

2016 and 2012: Villers-Brettoneux and James Paterson

2015: A Gallipoli Everyman: Victor Joseph Sanders

2014: Postcards to the Front 1917

2013: Valiant Indigenous Anzacs

2011: Honouring the Australian-born Diggers with German ancestry

Wealth for Toil on the Railway includes the story of my grandfather’s war service.

[i] http://nzetc.victoria.ac.nz/tm/scholarly/tei-GreLong-t1-body-d8.html extract from the NZ Official History

[ii] Ibid

[iii] http://www.lamsdorf.com/history.html

[iv] http://nzetc.victoria.ac.nz/tm/scholarly/tei-GreLong-t1-body-d9.html

[v] http://www.lamsdorf.com/the-long-march.html. DO READ THIS IF POSSIBLE.

[vi] ibid

[vii] B503, Q2334 Prisoner of War Record and B883 QX7775. http://naa.gov.au

 

A family ANZAC: Pte Hugh Moran (Part I)

Gallipoli magnet 2015It has become a tradition among Australian and New Zealand genealogy bloggers to remember our ANZAC family members and others on Anzac Day each year. This is my contribution for 2017 – a man I knew nothing about until this week.

Hugh Augustine Moran was my mother’s first cousin, born in Ingham, Queensland on 6 April 1906[i] to James Hugh Moran and Bridget McSherry.

MORAN Hugh Augustine small

Pte Hugh Moran, QX7775 Service file naa.gov.au

On 11 June 1940, Hugh enlisted to join the Australian Imperial Forces (AIF) in Cairns, Far North Queensland. His age is given on enlistment as 33 years 11 months, though he had only recently celebrated his 34th birthday[ii], had brown hair, blue eyes and a scar on his forehead. Hugh had been working as a labourer in Kirrima, Cardwell and had served 7 years with the citizen military forces (CMF). He was taken on strength with 2/15th Battalion.

The importance of reading the war diaries becomes apparent when we find that the 15th served garrison duty in Darwin for three months which is not noted on his file…you need to look at the big picture of the unit to discover the overall action plan.

15th Bn DRW 1940 AWM P00092.037

Australian War Memorial Image ID P00092.037. 15th Battalion march past Colonel Marlan prior to leaving Darwin, December 1941. They were stationed at Vestey’s Beach near the current day Sailing Club.

Hugh’s file notes that he was marched out to East Command in December 1940, embarking for overseas on Boxing Day 1940. Meanwhile Hugh had treated himself to a pre-Christmas excursion without leave from Redbank on 22nd-23rd December for 28 hrs. He was duly fined, which probably didn’t bother him much if he had someone he wanted to see, or even if he wanted to have a drink or two, or more, to calm his jitters before heading overseas to battle.

AWM Queen Mary Dec 1940 P00527.003

Troops boarding the Queen Mary on 26 December 1941 en route to the Middle East.

The Australian War Memorial’s (AWM) brief history of the 2/15th tells us they sailed “aboard the Queen Mary with the 20th Brigade to Palestine via India, transhipping to the Rohna at Bombay. (OIC of the 15th, Lt Col R F Marlan was Officer Commanding Troops on the voyage).

The 20th Brigade transferred from the 7th to the 9th Division en route to the Middle East. It arrived at El Kantara in Egypt at the start of February 1941 and moved to Kilo 89 in Palestine for desert training.”[iii]

In March 1941 Hugh was attached briefly to the 2/23rd Battalion, 9th Division, for a month between 2 and 29 March when he returned to the 2/15th.

The 2/15th moved to Gabel El Gira on 27 March and then Barce. German forces had landed at Tripoli and were advancing east. It was involved in the withdrawal of British forces to Tobruk, referred to as the “Benghazi handicap”. The withdrawal cost the battalion heavily: the commanding officer (Lt Col Marlan), second in command (Major Barton), and 154 men were captured at El Gazala.

It was during this dash to take and hold Tobruk that Hugh was taken prisoner of war, between Derna and Barce in the Cyrenaica region of Libya. He was one of the 154 mentioned above. They had been caught in the aggressive attack by the great German soldier, Field Marshal Erwin Rommel aka the Desert Rat.

Rommel launched his assault on March 24, 1941, sending three mechanized columns rumbling northward and eastward. The fast-moving Germans chased the retreating British along the coast road, rolled into Benghazi, and swept on to Barce and Derna. One panzer column captured inland fuel dumps and burst out onto the coastal plain at Gazala. Another column executed a wide flanking movement to try to capture British units evacuating from Cyrenaica. The Allies were in full retreat, and it seemed as if nothing could halt Rommel’s advance[iv]. However Rommel was to later get his come-uppance at El Alamein at the hands of the British forces.

MORAN Hugh POW Italy

Extract from Hugh Moran’s service and casualty form. http://naa.gov.au Series B883 QX7775

Hugh was reported Missing in Action, presumed Prisoner of War, effective 7 April 1941, and this was confirmed on 30 June 1941. Unfortunately, the WWII personnel files don’t include notifications to next of kin, and in fact we’re fortunate that this document had already been digitised.

It’s initially unclear whether Hugh was held as POW locally or taken directly to Italy. Once again he was unfortunate, because the camp to which he was sent, Campo 57 Gruppignano near Udine in north-east Italy, was under the command of former Italian Carabinieri officer,[v] Colonel Vittorio Calcaterra. He had been described by one prisoner as “a sadist and a beast and an accessory to murder”(no reference provided).

AWM Campo 57 P02793.008

AWM Image P02793.008 Campo 57 Prisoner of War huts behind two layers of barbed wire. If prisoners were found in the white-stone area,  between the trip wire and the inner fence they would be shot. In the background is the Catholic chapel which the POWs helped to build.

Thanks to Calcaterra, conditions in Campo 57 were extremely harsh. Food was poor, and housing was crowded and insanitary. The prisoners had to improvise their own medical treatment, coping with the “57 twins”, pneumonia and kidney disease…The number saved by Red Cross aid, he wrote, “is beyond computation”. Calcaterra died before he could be tried as a war criminal.

There is a wonderful sketch in this story, The Stolen Years, which graphically portrays the life of POWs at Campo 57. This article argues that soldiers may have been (somewhat) resigned to death or injury, but rarely thought about what they’d do if taken Prisoner of War and the psychological impact of that[vi]. It quotes one soldier’s experience but we have no idea whether this tallied with that of Hugh Moran:

When he finally reached his permanent camp of detention at PG 57 Gruppignano, where nearly all Australian and New Zealand other ranks had been concentrated, Ted Faulkes too, had to make a monumental change of attitude to different standards of hygiene, diet, discipline and organisation.  But at least he was among his peers, and within the camp, responsive to the discipline of his own Australian NCOs as he basically he had been in battle. To some extent his individual temperament and personality had already been moulded by the structure and esprit de corps of his AIF unit – the 2/32nd Infantry Battalion.

The initial transport of POW from the battlefield is by military truck from a holding pen to a rear transit camp, where officers are separated from other ranks[vii]….They were moved either by boat or train (or presumably both in the case of those captured in North Africa).

We have no direct evidence of Hugh’s life in Campo 57 but the above stories and images reveal some of the experience.

Read Part II to learn more about phase 2 of Hugh’s war service and what happened to him after Italy.

—————————-

[i] Military file on naa.gov.au and Queensland Birth registration C1750.

[ii] His medical inspection was on 1 June so perhaps that explains it.

[iii] https://www.awm.gov.au/unit/U56058/

[iv] http://warfarehistorynetwork.com/daily/wwii/debacle-in-the-desert-the-siege-of-tobruk/

[v] https://www.awm.gov.au/exhibitions/stolenyears/ww2/italy/story2.asp

[vi] http://www.aifpow.com/part_1__missing_in_action,_believed_pow/chapter_2__being_a_pow

[vii] http://www.aifpow.com/part_1__missing_in_action,_believed_pow/chapter_4__transportation_of_pow

A confusion of Callaghans

In the coming weeks I’ll be thinking out loud on this blog about my research plans for an upcoming trip to Ireland.  One of my key objectives is to get to understand the confusion of Callaghans from Courtown, Parish of Ballygarrett, County Wexford.

When I wrote about this family previously (here and here), the digitised Catholic Parish Registers had not been released by the National Library of Ireland, nor indexed by Ancestry and Find My Past. This advance has proven to be heaven-sent for me, while it still leaves lots of gaps in my understanding of the different branches of this family. I am fortunate, though, that the registers do cover early years and also include burials, something that can’t be taken for granted with Catholic records. So the periods available to me are: baptisms November 1828 – February 1863, marriages August 1828 – November 1865, and burials August 1830 – April 1857 and October 1865 to April 1867. This then leads directly to the civil BDM registers, but I’d still like to see more parish registers.

Specifically, I still want to find the answers to these questions:

  1. Who were the parents of David Callaghan, father of my Mary McSherry nee Callaghan?
  2. Where was he born, given his baptism is not shown in the parish registers? Perhaps his mother was from another parish and he was baptised there, but even so he is not turning up in the indexes.
  3. Who was his wife? Later civil registrations show her name as Anne Callaghan, but was this actually her maiden name or was it her married name?
  4. Where and when was my great-grandmother, Mary Callaghan (later Sherry/McSherry) born and baptised (c1860)? She also does not appear in the Ballygarrett registers.
  5. How is David Callaghan related to the other Callaghans in Courtown Harbour and nearby townlands (Edward, John, Michael)?

There are a couple of complicating factors with these families:

  1. A few marriages are not in the Ballygarrett registers implying either (i) they were possibly married in the Church of Ireland or (ii) more likely, were married in another Catholic parish.
  2. The Callaghan men were fishermen and seamen. This means they may have met their wives some distance from Courtown (affecting marriage locations) and they may have met their deaths at sea (hence no burial records).
  3. Because of this it makes it difficult to determine the naming patterns with confidence: are there children lurking in another parish?
  4. Like so many other families of the era, names are recycled with monotonous frequency making it difficult to know which is which, as well as to which branch they belong.

Search objectives

  1. Look at the Griffith’s Valuation Revision lists at the Dublin Valuation Office to see the land transfers for Callaghans in the Courtown area. (I did order in the film from Family Search but somehow it boomeranged straight back).
  2. Search for more detail on the BDMs in the civil registers.
  3. Visit Courtown to see the lay of the land, and the houses they lived in, which still appear to be standing.
  4. Visit the Ardamine cemetery and also see if there are traces of the earlier cemetery (? At Riverchapel?)
  5. Check if parish registers are available at Wexford Archives for periods beyond 1865.

The following is my summary of the Callaghans in the parish so far, based on parish registers and civil registrations (spelling variants include Callahan, Calahan):

John Callahan & Bridget Quinn married c1830s  – Courtown Harbour

Children are Edward x 2; John (1833-1845 with gaps)

Patrick Callahan & Mary Kinsella (various spellings) married 1832 – Glyn

Children: Mary, Brigid, John (1832-1846 with gaps)

Pat Callahan & Nancy Bulger married 1833 – townland?

Children: Ann & Eliza (twins?) (1833)

Patrick Callahan & Anne Ryan married 1834 – Harbour

Children: Elisabeth & Mary (1834-1839 incl gaps)

Edward Callahan & Anne Reynolds married 1838 – Riverchapel

Children: Brigid (1838)

William Byrne & Mary Callaghan married 1847 – Harbour

Children: Henry (1850)

Martin Leary & Mary Callaghan married 1843 – Glynn

Children: ?

Tentatively my next generation:

John Callaghan & Catherine Cullen marr date unk – Harbour

Children: John, Patrick, Elisabeth (married James Redmond). (1833-1845 with a big gap).

David Callaghan #1 & Anne nee Callaghan? – married date & place unk – Harbour

Children: Patrick (?), Mary (later Sherry/McSherry); Ellen; Bridget (unm); David #2 (married Kinsella). (early 1860s – 1874 with gaps)

Michael Callaghan & Catherine Sculey – married date unk – townland ?

Children: Elizabeth Susan (1866)

Edward Callaghan & Anne Naughter – married 1870

Children: James, Elizabeth (1871, 1872)

Third generation identified

Patrick Callaghan (son of David #1) & Kate Unk(possibly marriage in Dungarvan 1890/91)

Child: David #3 (1893) married Mary Kinsella 1908

Elizabeth Callaghan (dau of John gen 2) & James Redmond – married

Children: Mary, Thomas, Catherine, John, Elizabeth. (1900-1910)

Some of the gaps in these families may be due to twins or still births. My great-grandmother, Mary Callaghan McSherry, gave birth to two sets of twins.

There are also seem to be two clusters of Callaghan families – one lot in Courtown Harbour and another in the townland of Glyn.

Earlier generations:

The earliest parish register entries for burials include a handful of Callaghans who were born pre-1800. No doubt these include the parents of the 1st generation above, but who were born before the registers commenced. They include

Bridget/Brigid (1755-1835)(Glyn)

Michael (1770-1838) (Glyn)

Betty (1788-1848) (Harbour)

Anne (1795-1870)

Elizabeth (1802-1873)

Patrick (1802-1876)

John (1815-1885)

And whose son is Edward Callaghan (born circa April 1816) who joined the 81st Foot Regiment in 1840 at Gloucester? He stated his place of birth was Ardamine (civil) parish near the town of Gorey. After leaving in 1861, he intended to live in Bury, Lancashire.

Thanks for your patience in following my thinking. If anyone has ideas, or can see anomalies, I’d be pleased to hear from you.

Meanwhile here are a few tips that might be of help to someone:

Make sure you limit your search to “Ireland” before starting out. Check out the card catalogues and/or use these links to focus on the digitised versions of the parish registers.

Ireland Roman Catholic Parish Baptisms….(FindMyPast)

Ireland, Catholic Parish Registers (Ancestry)

Did you know you can search by place only so you only show the parish you’re looking at for a range of years but with no name? This will give you a list of all names indexed (however strangely) for the parish.

Sepia Saturday: Aussie royalty – the koala

Sepia Saturday Header

How could I resist this wonderful Sepia Saturday prompt which had passed me by until I read Jollett Etc’s post today?

koala sign croppedThe koala is, of course, a key icon of Australia – they look cuddly and cute, even if all they do is sleep much of the day and between-times munch on a gum leaf or two. In fact, they’re rarely seen in much of Australia these days though I know LoneTester is lucky enough to have them near her home. Despite the local signs, I haven’t seen any koalas or roos as yet, and I surely don’t want to see them on the road!

One place I used to see them in the wild quite often was when we’d visit Magnetic Island off the coast of Townsville. It was a tremendous koala habitat and patience was rewarded with regular sightings. In those days the old Kodak camera just wasn’t up to capturing their images though.

koalas at lone pine 1939 copy

1930. Koalas at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, photographed for Mrs Forgan Smith, October 1939, Queensland State Archives. Copyright expired.

German Shepherd and Koala Lone Pine

Photographed c1960 by P Cass

Brisbane has a long-lived tradition of showing its tourists the cuddly koala at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. While many similar places have limited access to them, they can still be handled by besotted tourists from Princess Alexandra of Kent(1959) or the Russian Ballet troupe (1961) to The Legal Genealogist (2016).  Luckily for all of them the koalas were on their best behaviour and didn’t piddle on royalty, British or genealogical, although it’s possible they were bored and yawned.

Of course it’s not just the tourists who would make the pilgrimage to see the koala at Brisbane’s iconic tourist spot. Back in the day it was a “special treat” outing for children during school holidays. We would catch the ferry from North Quay and arrive upriver at Lone Pine to be greeted by the German Shepherd with a koala on its back.

pauleen Lone Pine

oh my, look at those freckles!

 

Pauleen Kunkel Valerie Carstens middle and Pauline Morris and brothers Lone Pine

A picnic with family friends by the river at Lone Pine c1960.

You can see from these photos that my family made occasional visits to Lone Pine. While our children didn’t get to go to Lone Pine, they’ve managed to cuddle a koala on a couple of occasions.

Rach Louisa and Bec and koala crop

My small bear is looking a little worried about that ‘bear”..perhaps she knew she was in the “firing line” if it decided to wee.

 

Koalas Lone Pine news fm TroveLone Pine has always been proud of its reputation, boasting proudly back in 1939 of four generations of koalas living there. The trend for popularity is long established as one was named “Princess” and another “Amy Johnson” and our own Aussie genearoyalty, Jill.  I notice that the sanctuary was still referring to koalas as bears, which they’re not.  Don’t you love the photo from our good friend Trove of a whole row of koalas?

So there we have it, one post combining “Trove Tuesday”, “Sepia Saturday” and a planned-for-another-day “Monday Memories” post.

Have you ever cuddled a koala? Are they on your bucket list? If so you might want to think about visiting Australia for Congress 2018, our triennial family history conference.

And if you think they’re always docile, check out this video which has been doing the rounds on Facebook and YouTube.

 

FOUR GENERATIONS OF KOALAS (1935, July 6). The Courier-Mail (Brisbane, Qld. : 1933 – 1954), , p. 12. Retrieved June 21, 2016, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article36766724

Here are some photos of my aunt and cousins, Patsy and Jimmy, at Lone Pine. Sadly they are all deceased now.

Mary farraher with koala

Aunty Mary, perhaps circa 1995.

My grandmother with cousin Patsy and koala.

My grandmother with cousin Patsy and koala.

 

My cousin Jimmy being introduced to a koala.

My cousin Jimmy being introduced to a koala.

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Family Memorabilia and Ireland

As the Irish people commemorate the centenary of the Easter Uprising this weekend it seemed an appropriate time to share a piece of family memorabilia relating to Ireland’s fight for independence and self-government.

This brochure was found among my Irish-born grandfather’s possession. Published in 1921, long after he’d been in Australia, we don’t know how he came by it. Perhaps they were commonly available to patriotic Irish Australians at the time.

Irish proclamation page 1

Irish proclamation page 2

Irish proclamation page 3

For all I know these items are common as dust but I find it interesting because it shows my grandfather’s on-going interest in his place of birth which he left as a six-month old infant.

Brisbane Catholics and Corpus Christi

Corpus Christi march to-day. (1954, June 20). Sunday Mail (Brisbane) (Qld. : 1926 - 1954), p. 6. Retrieved December 1, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article101720933

Corpus Christi march to-day. (1954, June 20). Sunday Mail (Brisbane) (Qld. : 1926 – 1954), p. 6. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article101720933

Thinking of parades for this week’s Sepia Saturday reminded me of a post I’ve been meaning to write for a while. Growing up as a child there was one memorable “parade” every year when Brisbane Catholics would arrive en masse at the Exhibition Grounds for the Corpus Christi procession. This liturgical feast celebrates the belief that the host is turned into the Body of Christ during the Mass.

In those far-off days, religions were demarked by denominational differences and it was unacceptable to attend a service in another denomination’s church, so Anglicans would not attend Catholic services, Catholics would not attend Presbyterian services etc. This applied whether the event was a family wedding or not and my family has several events where religion kept close family members away. The days of the 1960s ecumenical movement had not quite arrived, and Catholics were obsessed about the onslaught of Communism and the Red Peril. Catholicism and Irish were almost synonymous, with many priests and nuns born in Ireland or with recent Irish ancestry. It was only with the arrival of the post-war immigrants from eastern Europe that this started to change.

Corpus Christi article50315380-3-001

Display of faith. (1952, June 23). The Courier-Mail (Brisbane, Qld. : 1933 – 1954), p. 3. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article5031538

In this community context, the Corpus Christi procession had an underlying element of defiance against the rest of the religious creeds. Unsurprisingly one hymn was sung with gusto, and some belligerence, was Faith of our Fathers (click to hear it sung).

An example of an Hibernian sash.

One of my grandfather’s Hibernian sashes…he had several depending on his role in the society.

Leading the procession would be the Archbishop or his delegate and following behind were various groups representative of the Catholic community. I don’t remember when I first went to Corpus Christi but it may have been when I was young as we lived not far away. Certainly my memories of the procession are dominated by always seeing my McSherry grandfather marching with the Hibernian Society of which he was a life-long member. He was always easy to spot in the crowd as he was very tall with a very bald head.

I think we may have marched as a parish when I was in primary school – I must ask Mum. I do recall attending at least some in my Children of Mary blue cloak, blue ribbon and medal, and white veil. I often think that the non-Catholics among us must have thought we were all a bit weird in our strange clothes. Once I started high school at All Hallows’ we attended as a group. My husband, then a boarder at Nudgee College, also remembers being there with school and being traditional teenagers, it never hurt to keep an eye on the passing girls’ schools and hope they’d line up next to you in the middle of the oval.

The new Australians, our recently-arrived immigrant Catholics, also marched in their traditional costumes and were very colourful and exotic as we’d never seen anything like them before. In our parish alone we had Czechs, Poles, Yugoslavs, Hungarians and Dutch Catholics….so many of the latter we even had Dutch priests.

1951 Corpus Christi article50103012-3-002 (1)

70,000 Attend Corpus Christi. (1951, May 28). The Courier-Mail (Brisbane, Qld. : 1933 – 1954), p. 3. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article50103012

 

The Courier-Mail (Brisbane, Qld. : 1933 - 1954), Friday 13 June 1952, page 5

The Courier-Mail (Brisbane, Qld. : 1933 – 1954), Friday 13 June 1952, page 5

To get an outside perspective on Corpus Christi over the years I turned to the Aussie researcher’s friend Trove. It’s unfortunate that the digitised newspapers don’t go quite as far forward as I like but they still give a good sense of how important this event was to the faithful as you can see from the images I’ve included here and taken from the newspapers.

I was interested to read that prior to 1950, the event had been held elsewhere but the crowds grew too large. Attendance was very high:  over 50,000 (1950); 70,000 (1951); 100,000 (1952); and 60,000 (1953). Not all the crowd processed but the stands and the oval would be packed. During the event, the Archbishop or the Coadjutor Archbishop would also celebrate the Benediction.

Corpus Christi article49724950-3-002

OVER 50,000 GIVE DISPLAY OF FAITH. (1950, June 12). The Courier-Mail (Brisbane, Qld. : 1933 – 1954), p. 5. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article49724950

Reading back through decades of newspapers, and history books, reveals how much the Irish Catholics were disliked, and in some ways feared, in the early days of our nation. Difference is rarely well-liked. When I think back even to my childhood days, I reflect on how much times have changed but also how marginalising a religion makes it more socially strident and internally cohesive.

Sepia Saturday: Mr & Mrs McSherry – Diamond Jubilee 1941

Sepia Sat 252This week’s Sepia Saturday image celebrates the 50th anniversary of Dollinger Steel of Beaumont, Texas. We all know 50th events are important ones, whether they’re wedding or business anniversaries, or just birthdays. It has to be said that 60th anniversaries are even rarer, especially of weddings as it takes a youthful marriage and two to tango to a ripe old age.

diamond jubileeMy great-grandparents, Peter and Mary McSherry, reached this remarkable milestone in 1941, and it was widely reported in various newspapers, boldly captioned “Diamond Jubilee” Thanks to the news stories we know that “The diamond jubilee was celebrated with a luncheon party at the home of Mr. and Mrs. McSherry, Alma-street, when relatives and friends were entertained. Rev. Father D. L. Murtagh (an old friend of the family) presided, and proposed the toast of the jubilarians. Rev. Father D. Keneally added his congratulations and good wishes[i]. Not to be greedy, but it would have been wonderful to know just a little more about the day and who was there, and perhaps if they were given any gifts.  One omission which has only just occurred to me is that Peter’s siblings have not been mentioned, though at least one was certainly still alive. There’s some history of family feuding over the decades, so perhaps that was at the bottom of it.

My McSherry great-grandparents and some of their children, kindly provided to me by a cousin.

My McSherry great-grandparents and some of their children, kindly provided to me by a cousin. My grandfather, James Joseph McSherry is on the left. I have found the caption which was sent with the photo and I’ve added the women’s surnames: left to right standing: Jim, Elizabeth (Lil) Bayliss, Ellen (Ellie) Quinn, John, Mary McSherry, David, Bridget (Bridie) Moran, Peter jnr. Sitting: Annie Jacobson, Margaret McSherry, Peter snr, Agnes Jacobson.

I’ve been fortunate enough to obtain a photo from a cousin of the family gathered on the day. It took me a while to twig that in fact some of them had been “photoshopped” in, probably with earlier photos stuck on to the original. Although all their surviving six daughters and four sons were listed by name, obviously not all had been able to attend. If you look closely you’ll see different flooring on the left, and also quite different dress styles. The gentleman on the left is my grandfather, Peter & Mary’s second eldest child. Standing next to him is, I believe, his sister, Elizabeth Bayliss, wife of Frank Herbert Bayliss.

At a guess I’d say the photo of Grandad may have been taken at a wedding, as to my mind he has his arm positioned as if he’s giving a young woman his arm. It may have been my aunty Mary’s wedding in 1939 or less likely, his sister Mary Ellen’s wedding in 1913. Grandad may also not have had the money to attend the jubilee event, as only a few months later his whole family would move from Townsville to Brisbane and he would commence work at the Ipswich Railway Workshops. His sister Elizabeth may well not have been able to attend either, given she was living “out bush” on Acacia Downs station (property/large farm/ranch). Addendum: see Bev’s comment below, Annie Jacobson seated on the far left was also added into the picture). Although these three were living some distance away, I suspect the real reason for their absence may have been that they were personae non grata within the family.

The newspapers have been very accurate in their reporting of the McSherry couple’s life. Peter McSherry and Mary Callaghan were married on 27 February 1881 at St Michael’s Catholic Church in Gorey Wexford, where I was able to see their entry in the marriage register over a hundred years later, in 1989.

The 'Almora', 2000 ton ship. Commanded in 1883 by Captain Franks. Carried immigrants from Plymouth to ports in Queensland. oai:bishop.slq.qld.gov.au:78321

The ‘Almora’, 2000 ton ship. Commanded in 1883 by Captain Franks. Carried immigrants from Plymouth to ports in Queensland. oai:bishop.slq.qld.gov.au:78321

Peter’s parents and siblings all emigrated to Australia in 1883, perhaps drawn by the expansion of the railway in Queensland. However Mary was pregnant at the time so their departure didn’t coincide with the rest of the family’s migration and perhaps they were also waiting on remittances from the rest of the family. When my grandfather, James Joseph, was just an infant, this little family also set forth from Plymouth on 12 March 1884, heading for Queensland. They arrived in Rockhampton a speedy 49 days later.

McSHERRY Jubilee RKY article56085296-3-001This railway family had a busy time living and working through western and northern Queensland: “Mr McSherry Joined the Railway Department Immediately. His work took him to the west, and he lived for some years at Longreach and various western towns. He became lines Inspector in the Townsville division, also at Hughenden, and was appointed chief Inspector at Townsville in 1911. In 1919 be was transferred to Rockhampton as chief inspector and retired in October, 1930, at the age of 69.

Peter and Mary’s sons and daughters are all listed by name and place, showing how they were scattered around Queensland: “The sons are Messrs James (Townsville), David (Rockhampton), John (Morella), and Peter (Emerald). The daughters are Mrs J. H. Moran (Charters Towers), Mrs A. Jacobsen (Townsville), Mrs E. Quinn (Rockhampton), Mrs F. H. Bayliss (Acacia Downs, Aramac), Mrs O C Jacobsen (Ayr) and Miss Margaret McSherry (Rockhampton)”.

McSHERRY Margaret article56809240-3-001The news stories report that the couple had 10 surviving children  of their 13, but in fact Mary had given birth to 15 children, including two sets of twins, one genetic inheritance I’m certainly glad didn’t come down to me! One set of twins died soon after birth in late 1896/early 1897 and presumably these are the two who weren’t counted in the tally. Three others, including one of the other twins also died very young. Imagine how devastating this must have been for them, though perhaps their strong faith helped them through it. Before Peter died, however further tragedy would strike when he accidentally killed their daughter Margaret when leaving for morning Mass.

At the time of their jubilee, the couple had 25 grandchildren, and eight great-grandchildren though at least four more were born afterwards. As far as I know, Peter and Mary McSherry saw none of their great-grandchildren from my branch of the family, and had rarely seen their grandchildren.

Peter McSherry’s death on 25 February 1949 cut short their long marriage just two days before they could celebrate their 68th anniversary…just imagine the shared history.

I wonder how many couples manage such marital longevity? My Kunkel-O’Brien 2xgreat grandparents reached 58 years 6 months and my own parents came within cooee of 60 years, thanks to being married youngish and inheriting those longevity genes.

None of my other ancestors have come close to the McSherry diamond jubilee standard.  How have your ancestors stacked up in the compatibility and longevity stakes?

I wonder how other Sepians celebrated anniversaries or gatherings this week…why not go over and join the party?

This is a map of Queensland, showing the  places mentioned in the McSherry story. See below for some sense of distance.

This is a map of Queensland, showing the places mentioned in the McSherry story. See below for some sense of distance.

Distances and a sense of scale:

Townsville to Rockhampton is 721kms

Longreach to Rockhampton is 687 kms

Hughenden to Townsville is a cruisy 385 kms

Hughenden to Rockhampton is 986 kms

Darwin (where I live) to Rockhampton is 2934 kms and today would be a solid two day drive at the speed limit.

References:

Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Qld : 1878 – 1954), Friday 7 March 1941, page 3 http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article56085296

Rockhampton Diocese (1941, March 6). The Catholic Press (Sydney, NSW: 1895-1942), page 19. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article106424907.

The Central Queensland Herald (Rockhampton, Qld: 1930 – 1956), Thursday 13 March 1941, page 27 http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article76252039

Townsville Daily Bulletin (Qld : 1885 – 1954), Thursday 3 April 1941, page 6. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article61488169

————–

[i] Rockhampton Diocese (1941, March 6). The Catholic Press (Sydney, NSW: 1895-1942), page 19. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article106424907.

Oh to be in Courtown, Ireland

This is a story of a success, a surprise discovery and the hazards of not paying enough attention or making assumptions. Oh to be in Ireland where it’s possible to check the primary records!

Photo by Ingo Mehling, 2010. from Wikimedia Commons.

Photo by Ingo Mehling, 2010. from Wikimedia Commons.

THE SUCCESS

I’m a great fan of ensuring I have family certificates and I used birthdays etc to gain a good repertoire of my key family certificates. Somehow I’d missed getting Mary Callaghan McSherry’s…who knows why. Thanks to the new Queensland online BDM search and online ordering I was able to rectify that yesterday for a mere $20. In a matter of a minute there it was to review. Bingo!! There was the proof I needed: her father was indeed David Callaghan, a fisherman, as I knew from her marriage in Gorey, but it also states that she was born in Courtown Harbour. This confirms that the David Callaghan I’d hypothesised as her father is the correct one, though I still want/need to see the baptism registers.

THE SURPRISE

I alluded to this in my earlier post. I’d done a google search using the words: Callaghan fisherman Courtown Wexford. To my surprise up popped a book extract which was something of an eye-popper. Margaret Callaghan, daughter of Edward Callaghan (who in turn is said to be the brother of John and David fishermen in Courtown), turned out to be the wife of Ace of Spies, the true story of Sidney Reilly. The book by Andrew Cook is available as an e-book so of course I couldn’t resist buying it to see more detail. My good fortune is that it also includes detailed footnotes on the Callaghan family, some of which I’ve been able to cross-check using Family Search and FindMyPast (world) (FMP). Other aspects I’ve been unable to verify eg Margaret has eluded me in the 1891 English census.

Critically the book’s footnotes identify Edward Callaghan’s place of birth in the parish of Ballygarrett, in which Courtown is situated. Why is this important? Because at least one of my DNA matches has traced his family to the same parish, but our match is too strong for this to be “identical by state.” The book also identifies Edward’s parents as John and Elisa Callaghan[i] so tentatively they would also be the parents of our David.

FALSE ASSUMPTIONS (make an ass out of me)

The report on the drowing of Patrick Callaghan of Courtown. Might this have been Kate's husband? Freeman's Journal 26 February 1894.

The report on the drowing of Patrick Callaghan of Courtown. Might this have been Kate’s husband? Freeman’s Journal 26 February 1894. According to the Irish Deaths Index he was 33 years old, est YOB 1861.

Error 1: I had stupidly blipped over the marital status of David Callaghan’s family in the Household Returns for the 1901 census. Kate Callaghan was not David junior’s wife, she was a widow and he was unmarried. As yet we don’t know which of David Callaghan senior’s sons she had married. I have now edited my previous post to correct this.

Error 2 was assuming that the Anne Callaghan on the Griffith Valuations may have been David and John’s mother whereas in fact it may be that John Callaghan, also living in the Oughton houses may be the correct ancestor.

An assumption, in my head at least, was that Anne Callaghan who was admitted to Wexford Gaol for stealing a chemise may have been the same one as on the Griffith Valuations. This may be the case, but she may also be the wife of David Callaghan as we can see from the birth entries identified below. She was 45 in 1877, suggesting an estimated year of birth of 1832. She could be a sister of David Callaghan (est YOB 1834) or his wife, or an unknown relation or even sister-in-law but not his mother because of her age.

Where to from here and what can be done from Australia?

Action: Order in the microfilms of the Ardamine, Wexford valuation lists so I can trace the change of ownership of the two houses held by John Callaghan and Anne Callaghan in 1853. This might clarify the lines of descent, and correlate deaths with the transfer of occupation.

Meanwhile let’s put together the BDM details that can be uncovered from Family Search, FindMyPast (world) and the National Archives of Ireland’s 1901 census.

From the census: David Callaghan, a fisherman, 67 years old, Roman Catholic and illiterate. Living with him is his daughter Bridget, aged 33; his son, also David, aged 27 and a fisherman, David senior’s daughter-in-law Kate, aged 33 and her son David #3, aged 7.

Courtown Harbour at 11am on 3 December 1989. Photograph by P Cass.

Courtown Harbour at 11am on 3 December 1989. Photograph by P Cass.

I’ve come up with the following which remain conjecture until seeing the full detail on either baptism/birth/marriage/death registers.

One thing that is explained by the Callaghan inheritance is why I’ve always loved fishing ports, especially ones with small boats, fishing creels and ropes. What is ironic is that no bells rang for me when I visited Courtown Harbour (why?) on 3 December 1989 with my mother and youngest daughter.

THE FAMILY OF DAVID CALLAGHAN

David Callaghan b abt 1834 possibly died 1913, aged 78 July-Sept 1913. (Still alive at 1911 census). From the Irish birth registrations, David senior’s wife’s name is Anne but no maiden name is stated.

Children identified to date:

Mary Callaghan (McSherry) b 1861/1862

Bridget Callaghan b abt 1868 died/reg April-June 1937, aged 67 (est YOB 1870) (FMP)

Ellen Callaghan b 8 March 1870 (Irish Birth Regn)[ii]

David Callaghan #2 b 1874 born 21 April 1873 (Irish Birth Regn)[iii] and still unmarried in 1901 but in Oct-Dec 1908 he marries Mary Kinsella (vol 2, p727) and in 1911 is living at Riverchapel with his mother-in-law. Per the census enumeration, the couple have been married three years and have no children.David is now a sailor, not a fisherman.

Action: follow up his merchant navy/navy records and the marriage record. It may be David Callaghan junior who dies in 1950 aged 71 (FMP), despite the variation in his YOB.

Action: To follow up the marriage and baptisms when (??) in Ireland (the parish registers are not on Roots Ireland).

Merchant Seamen's records BT113 from Findmypast ticket 246,956

Merchant Seamen’s records 1845-1854,  BT113 from Findmypast ticket 246,956. Indexed on Family Search and FMP as Chard Callaghan.

One possibility is that David Callaghan senior first went to sea with the merchant navy in 1840. Certainly there is a David Callaghan, aged 18, ticketed in 1846. He was an apprentice, from Courtown and had gone to sea as a boy. He is described as 4ft 10ins, brown hair, grey eyes, fresh complexion and no marks. What stands out for me here is the lad’s height as his daughter was quite tall but perhaps he hadn’t grown fully, or it is the wrong person, or a cousin….or….The anomaly is the variation in his year of birth.

THE FAMILY OF JOHN CALLAGHAN

The other Courtown resident in the 1901 census is John Callaghan, 62, living with his wife Catherine aged 60, sons Patrick 32 and James 23, and daughter Elizabeth Redmond 34, her husband James 35 and her daughter Mary, 9 months.

John Callaghan died 1911 (pre census) aged 71, so estimated YOB is 1840 which fits with the census. Hypothesis: he is David Callaghan senior’s younger brother and perhaps also brother to Edward (per Cook’s book)

John’s wife is Catherine Callaghan nee Cullen 60, est YOB 1841. She is still alive in 1911 but she may be the one who dies in 1936, aged 86.

Patrick Callaghan 32 (est YOB 1869) born 20 February 1869 (Familysearch, Irish Births)

James Callaghan 23 (est YOB 1878) born 7 May 1878 at Seamount (Familysearch, Irish Births)

Elizabeth Callaghan 34 (est YOB 1867) born 22 February 1867 (Familysearch, Irish Births)

married James Redmond July-Sept 1899 (Vol 2 page 755 per FMP)

THE FAMILY OF EDWARD CALLAGHAN

Edward Callaghan married Anne Naughter 1870 (Irish Marriages 1845-1958, FMP, Vol 2, p898)

Their (identified) family:

Elizabeth Callaghan 5 January 1871 (Edward Callaghan and Anne Naughter)

James Callaghan 24 February 1872 (Edward Callaghan & Anne Naughter)

Margaret Callaghan was born in the southern Irish fishing village of Courtown Harbour County Wexford on 1 January 1874 (v2 p873 FMP)[iv]. It is this Margaret who is the wife first of the Rev Hugh Thomas and subsequently of Sigmund Rosenblum aka Sidney Reilly.

One thing that bemuses me about Margaret Thomas nee Callaghan is that Cook says that in the late 1890s she’d have been taken as an educated, cultured Englishwoman of the Victorian upper classes[v]Frankly it bemuses me how a young woman, said to have left home at age 14, would have been able to make the transition from a somewhat knockabout life in Courtown Harbour, to that of an educated and cultured woman, let alone lose her Irish accent and replace it with an upper class English accent.

Although Margaret’s father Edward is said to be still alive in 1898 I can find no obvious trace of him in the 1901 or 1911 census records for Ireland.

CONCLUSION

Courtown Church of Ireland, 3 December 1989.

Courtown Church of Ireland, 3 December 1989. All the Callaghans were Roman Catholic. The chapel at which they worshiped no longer exists.

I now have confidence that Mary Callaghan was born in Courtown Harbour and that her father was David Callaghan, a fisherman. It appears from the births of later siblings that her mother’s name was Anne. I have a hypothesis that the family of John Callaghan, living in the Oughton houses in Courtown Harbour is related, possibly her uncle, aunt and cousins.

If the relevant facts in the Ace of Spies book are correct, and it does seem very thorough, further searching should find David, John and Edward in the Ballygarrett parish registers at the National Library of Ireland. Similarly the wife of the rather infamous and inventive Sidney Reilly would be my Mary Callaghan’s cousin.

With luck, Ballygarrett research might reveal the links to other families whose DNA overlaps mine.

Please read this story in conjunction with my earlier post, A Conjecture of Callaghans from Courtown.

FUTURE FOLLOW-UP

Keep an eye out for Find My Past’s release of further Wexford Petty Session records.

Search for Ardamine cemetery records, which are supposed to be coming online through the Wexford County Archives.

Action as listed above.

——————-

[i] Ace of Spies, The True Story of Sidney Reilly. Cook, A.  The History Press, Stroud Gloucestershire, 2004. footnote 75 chapter 2.

[ii] GS Film number: 101206 (Family Search)

[iii] GS Film number:  255877 (Family Search)

[iv] FamilySearch born 1 January 1874 to Edward Callaghan and Anne Nochter (sic).

[v] Cook, op cit, location 614 of the ebook.

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52 weeks of Genealogy Records: Internal Migration

libraryShauna Hicks has initiated a new 52 week series of prompts, Genealogy Records. We’re only into Week 3 but there have already been some interesting topics: Military Medals, Internal Migration and Probate.

Over the past few years I’ve done several 52 week series: Personal Genealogy and History (2011), Abundant Genealogy (2012) and my own Beyond the Internet (2012). I’m currently signed up for Angler’s Rest’s Book of Me 15 month series as well, with which I’m very much behind. Combined with various A to Z April posts and other daily or monthly posts I’m reluctant to get involved in more as it starts to feel like I’ve got a tiger by the tail.

However Shauna’s topic is a great opportunity to personalise my own stories to her theme so I will probably join in from time to time where the topic is relevant to my own history.  I have such a migration mania that I couldn’t possibly not participate in her second topic, Internal Migration. Whenever I get on the topic of migration it turns into a long yarn, so grab a coffee and a comfy chair, and read on for a while.

THE McSHARRY/McSHERRY FAMILIES

With so many railway people in my family tree, it’s inevitable that they’d be a peripatetic lot. Some moved across vast distances, others only relatively short postings when in their early years.

Image from Office online.

Image from Office online.

My greatest internal migrants would be the Sherry family who arrived in Rockhampton, Queensland, from Ireland where they also worked on the railway: the Dublin, Wicklow and Wexford Railway line judging on their progressive movement through those counties. On arrival, the patriarch James Sherry, changed most of the family’s name to McSharry. Oral history suggests this may have been to piggy-back on the fame of James McSharry from the railway construction firm, O’Rourke and McSharry.  Who knows whether this is fact or fiction. I suppose it’s also possible that the two families may have been connected but that’s an exploration I’ve yet to undertake.  Whatever the reality it has certainly caused immense confusion when trying to unravel what happened to my own family over the years, especially the mystery of what happened to my James McSharry.

The McSharry family moved from Rockhampton where they arrived, to Maryborough (why?) for a number of years, then back to Rockhampton where wife/widow, Bridget McSharry, settled and ran a boarding house until her death in 1900.

The adult children of this family moved around Queensland in response to work. Early family events revealed at least some of these through death certificates, police staff files, Post Office Directories, electoral rolls, and marriage records.

The eldest son of the family, Peter Sherry, arrived with his family a year after the rest of the Sherry family. Strangely he changed his name to McSherry rather than McSharry. Within weeks of arriving in Rockhampton he had been recruited to Queensland Government Railways and so began his migration around the state. The family spent a long time in Longreach, then moved on to Hughenden and Townsville before being transferred to Rockhampton where they put down roots.

Tracing this family’s internal migration has been greatly facilitated by Trove as it has revealed stories that would otherwise never have been known. I have a full copy of Peter’s railway staff record which tells the bare bones of his positions and postings over the years: a great base for knowing where they migrated internally.

Obviously the children of this family moved with Peter and Mary McSherry in their childhood, but even in their adulthood, the migrations continued. My grandfather James, worked in Hughenden then later Townsville before moving to Brisbane so his children could obtain jobs, or so the oral history goes. Given the move occurred in 1942, mid-war, in the thick of the Brisbane Line concept, I have to wonder whether it was because he was needed to build the railway carriages further from risk of Japanese invasion.

Once again my sources are: railway staff files, Trove, oral history.

THE KUNKEL FAMILY

George and Mary Kunkel, of whom you’ve all heard often, settled in Ipswich after their marriage there in 1857. While there George worked in a number of occupations: servant (pre-marriage), pork butcher and boarding house keeper. To all extents and purposes he was there all the time, after all there were children being born at regular intervals.

Cobb & Co coach from National Library Australia, out of copyright.

Cobb & Co coach from National Library Australia, out of copyright.

It was a court report, that enlightened me differently. While the family was settled, George was also working on the Tooloom goldfields in northern NSW as a butcher. Further reading on Trove revealed that there were regular coaches between Tooloom and Ipswich so plainly he could get home fairly often, perhaps to restock his supplies.

Recently I posted how he’d had a financial setback and this may have prompted their move westward, reportedly working on the railway, or perhaps again supplying meat. The next precise confirmation of where they lived was at Highfields, via the school admission registers and through church baptisms and birth certificates.

A Queensland railway camp, possibly Fountain's Camp at Murphy's Creek.

A Queensland railway camp, possibly Fountain’s Camp at Murphy’s Creek.

A few years later and the family would move a short distance to the Fifteen Mile between Highfields and Murphys Creek where they would take up farming and settle. George supplemented the farm income by working for the railway as a labourer.

Kunkel descendants, many of them railway workers, also moved around south-east Queensland and west as far as Roma with postings as the railway was constructed. One family branch moved to Mackay in northern Queensland and set down roots cane farming.

Records: court reports, school admission records, baptisms and birth certificates, railway staff files, land selection records.

THE GAVIN FAMILY

The Gavins were short-migration people. Denis came from Kildare in Ireland and his wife, Ellen, from Wicklow. They married in Dublin before they emigrated though it’s not known when they each made that internal move.

Bullock dray loaded with wool, Qld 1898. Image from Qld State Archives, out of copyright.

Bullock dray loaded with wool, Qld 1898. Image from Qld State Archives, out of copyright.

On arrival Denis went to Binbian Downs station (per his obituary) as a carrier, then to Dalby, Toowoomba and Crows Nest. Although the distances are short by Australian standards he would have covered a lot of ground carrying wool on the bullock dray from Binbian Downs which is out near Wallumbilla.

Like the other Gavan/Gavin families with whom they interweave, but are unrelated, they remained on the Darling Downs.

Records: Convict records (the Galway Gavins), birth certificates, employment records, death certificates, re-marriage certificates, obituaries, maps, Trove.

THE KENT, PARTRIDGE AND McCORKINDALE FAMILIES

These families were my stay-at-homes. The Kents and Partridges both went straight to Ipswich on arrival as far as I can tell. There they remained until their deaths, though descendants moved around the state.

Highland Gathering Acton Flats: Duncan McCorkindale was a judge of the dancers. National Archives of Australia: A3560, 2882

Highland Gathering Acton Flats: Duncan McCorkindale was a judge of the dancers. National Archives of Australia: A3560, 2882

The McCorkindale exodus from Glasgow commenced with Peter and Duncan’s arrival in Sydney in 1900. Well actually I eventually discovered it commenced with an uncle’s arrival quite a bit earlier. After the death of their father, their mother (Annie Sim McCorkindale) emigrated with the rest of the family excluding one stay-put son, Thomas Sim McCorkindale who’d moved to London. Close analysis of the shipping lists showed that other family members had arrived as well.

Once settled in Brisbane on arrival, Peter joined them, and the family remained there except for country excursions to decimate the opposite in bagpipe and Highland Dance competitions. Duncan McCorkindale moved between Sydney and Canberra where he was part of the teams that built the nation’s capital, and their Caledonian Society.

Records: Trove, shipping lists, BDM certificates, church registers.

 THE MELVIN FAMILY

Stephen Gillespie Melvin’s family was tied to the sea, with generations of merchant seamen. No surprise then that they were born to be migrants, both internal and international.

After the death of his wife, Janet, soon after arrival SGM settled in Ipswich, Queensland where he promptly established a well-regarded confectionery shop. He must have gadded around a bit though because his land portfolio was scattered around the south east of Queensland. But it was his foray into mining that brought him undone, resulting in insolvency and a little jaunt to jail.

Not long after being released from jail, the family moved to Charters Towers which was then experiencing a gold boom. No doubt escaping his notoriety would have been on his mind as well, though the coverage of the trial was so extensive that it would have been known in Charters Towers as well.

Around the time of his second wife’s Emily’s death, SGM started acquiring businesses and land in Sydney and thus the younger members of his family set down their roots in New South Wales. Meanwhile he continued his migrations on a temporary basis, as he travelled back and forth to the UK for business. One such migration became permanent however when he died in London.

Records: BDM certificates, church registers, shipping records, Trove, court reports, gaol records, insolvency records, wills.

THE O’BRIEN WIDDUP FAMILY

I know from my Irish research that the emigrants were keen to follow their own destiny even at the expense of family connections, but the internal migration of Bridget O’Brien (later Widdup) is one that puzzles me.

Bridget (O'Brien) Widdup's grave in the Urana cemetery.

Bridget (O’Brien) Widdup’s grave in the Urana cemetery.

If Bridget was in Ipswich with her sister Mary after their long emigration journey, why did she decide to move south to the Albury area, and to Urana? This has always mystified me, since I knew from her death certificate that she’d spent one year in Queensland.

The possibilities seem to be:

  • She didn’t like the Queensland environment or climate
  • Friends were moving interstate
  • She had met her future husband, John Widdup, on the ship as the story goes so she moved to be with him.
  • Her employer in Queensland relocated and offered her a position elsewhere.

It’s the Whys of family history research that keep us on our toes.

Records: Death certificates, oral history, Trove

So there you have it…the peripatetic wanderings of my families over the years. It has always seemed to me that having made the long journey to Australia, rather than the comparatively short hop across the Atlantic, they were not daunted by further moves if they satisfied their occupation or life goals.

It’s All in the Numbers Geneameme

A while ago Alona from LoneTester HQ blog launched the It’s All in the Numbers Geneameme. For ages my mind was blank on what numbers would be relevant, but eventually the lightbulb went from dim to bright and here is my contribution, focused as so often, on my immigrant ancestors.

But first I want to remember my great-great grandmother Mary O’Brien Kunkel who was buried in the Murphys Creek (Qld) cemetery on this day 95 years ago. You’re not forgotten Mary.

My McSherry great-grandparents and some of their children, kindly provided to me by a cousin.

My McSherry great-grandparents and some of their children, kindly provided to me by a cousin. My grandfather on the left, and his sister beside him seem to be an addition to the photo.

My McSherry/Sherry/McSharry family gets the guernsey for the greatest number of winning entries and here they are:

3             most name changes – from Sherry on arrival to McSharry for the parents and most children (many adult) and McSherry for my own great-grandparents (2nd phase arrivals a year later).

15           most children in one family, to Peter and Mary McSherry; with Stephen and Emily Melvin in second place, with 14 children.

5             most direct immigrant ancestors: two great-great grandparents, two great-grandparents and my grandfather (James and Bridget, Peter and Mary, James Joseph)

2             the age of my youngest immigrant ancestor on arrival –my grandfather

The Capricornian (Rockhampton, Qld. : 1875 - 1929), Saturday 12 March 1887, page 17

The Capricornian (Rockhampton, Qld. : 1875 – 1929), Saturday 12 March 1887, page 17 The unidentified man was John McSharry, aged 22.

2             set of twins to my great-grandparents – one set died as still births, another daughter died in infancy, but one survived.

10           children in my McSharry 2xgreat grandparents’ family

3             “children” (ages 7, 9 and 22) who died within 7 years of arriving

15           largest number of immigrants from one family (two phases 11 + 4)

1             most elusive ancestor – James Sherry aka James McSharry  – but not to be confused with the man of the same name who co-owned O’Rourke & McSharry, a big railway construction company.

And some of my other family history numbers:

92           the oldest age at death (Martin Furlong –father of my McSharry 2xgreat grandmother)

11           children born to my Kunkel 2xgreat grandparents and great-grandparents. 10 to George and Mary survived infancy and 11 to George and Julia.

6             number of families who arrived in Australia (Kent, Melvin, Gavin, Sherry x 2, McCorkindale)

3             number of singles who arrived in Australia (Kunkel, O’Brien, Partridge)

8             Irish immigrants – direct ancestors (McSherry, O’Brien, Gavin)

4             English immigrants – direct ancestors (Kent, Partridge)

3             Scottish immigrants –direct ancestors (McCorkindale, Melvin)

1             solitary Bavarian (German) ancestor (Kunkel)

10           2nd largest immigration of family – McCorkindales -2 phases (2 + 8)

Thanks Alona for suggesting this topic. It took a while for me to get my head around it but once I settled on the theme I really enjoyed it.

And here is the grave of my Mary O’Brien, husband George Kunkel and two of their children including my great-grandfather George Michael Kunkel.981 George and Mary Kunkel grave