The people had to go where there was work for them and where there was a living. Wages were six shillings a day. They followed the establishment of the railway line right through. It’s been said that it’s a pity they ever left Ipswich because they could have bought something in Ipswich. But then there wasn’t the work.”
This is Anne Kunkel talking in 1988 about her grandparents, George and Mary Kunkel. In fact George had been quite busy in Ipswich in the early years, some of which I’ve been able to piece together from certificates, news stories and archives documents.
Over the years I’ve often wondered why the couple had left Ipswich, given their early activity there. However, I put it down to the wish for land, perhaps more so on the part of Mary Kunkel, coming as she did from a farm in Ballykelly townland, Co Clare. George Kunkel perhaps might have felt more comfortable in the small township of Ipswich, with its community echoing, a little, his home village of Dorfprozelten.
I knew from my timeline that George and Mary were both servants when they married in 1857. When daughter Catherine (Kate) was born in 1861 George was working as a pork butcher and they were living in Union Street. George’s occupation was further confirmed by discoveries in the Supreme Court records when he was a witness to the court case involving Carl Diflo[i]. It transpires George had been working as a pork butcher on the goldfields at Tooloom in northern New South Wales in 1859.
Newspapers further reveal that George had initiated a court case against Richard Gill for stealing three fowls. The paper refers to him as the “well known proprietor of a highly operative sausage-machine in this town”[ii]. A later report states “No plea had been filed in this case, but the irresistible eloquence of the postmaster melted the obduracy of the Bench; the case was heard, and dismissed”[iii]. Behind those two statements lies a story I’d love to know but unfortunately have been unable to trace.
Two years later, in March 1864, when George and Mary’s daughter Louisa (registered as Elizabeth) was born, George stated his occupation as a boarding house keeper. Again, finding out more on this has proven challenging. It seemed he was doing okay, so what precipitated the move away from Ipswich.
Once again Trove solves a mystery. Firstly there’s two brief mentions in the Queensland Times of 8 July 1866 relating to the Petty Debts Court, Ipswich:[iv]
Charles Wilson v. Kunkel.–£6, dishonoured promissory note; costs, 5s.
Charles Wilson v. Kunkel.-£8 2s. 6d., goods sold; costs, 5s.
It seems George had cash flow problems as there’s nothing to suggest he typically reneged on his debts. The sequel to this ruling indicates he couldn’t, or didn’t, pay the debt. From the Queensland Times of 14 July 1866:
THIS DAY-AT 2 O’CLOCK. In the Court of Requests, District of Ipswich. WILSON v. KUNKEL. TAKE Notice that HUGHES & CAMERON have received instructions from the Bailiff of the Court of Requests to sell by Public Auction, at the Residence of the Defendant, East-street, THIS DAY (SATURDAY), the 14th Instant, at 2 o’clock sharp,
The following GOODS and CHATTELS, the property of the Defendant in the above cause, seized under execution, unless the claim be previously satisfied : 1 handsome Carriage, 1 Cedar Table (Pine Top), 5 Chairs, 2 Forms, 1 Dressing Table and Cover, 2 Clocks, 2 Pictures, 1 Decanter, 1 Cruet Stand, 6 Tumblers, 1 Butter Basin and Glass, 3 Chimney Ornaments, 1 Double Cedar Bedstead, 1 Single Cedar Bedstead, 1 Box. 10 Stretchers, 1 Toilet Table, 3 Looking-glasses, 1 Jug and Basin, 2 Washstands, 2 Dressing Tables, 6 Mattresses, 4 Pillows, 2 Blankets, 1 Counterpane, 2 Plates, 4 Dishes, 1 Pine Table, 1 Pine Bedstead and Mattress, Crockery, Household and Kitchen Utensils, &c., &c.Terms: Cash on the fall of the hammer. No Reserve. Sale at 2 o’clock. 269
The couple had obviously worked hard over the nine years since their marriage as their property looks quite substantial for the time. There’s nothing to indicate whether the sale went ahead, though it seems likely to have done so. Surely if George had the money to pay the debts, a total of £14/12/6, he would have done so.
It seems likely that this is the reason the Kunkel family left Ipswich and joined the movement on the railway line west. It’s also quite likely that George’s economic demise was related to the financial crisis in Queensland in 1866 given small businesses often take the hit first. This article tells the story of the economy of the time.
Ultimately this move led to the family settling on land at the Fifteen Mile on the outskirts of Murphys Creek. However, there’s one thing I’d still like to know, but likely never will: was George Kunkel the person referred to in this news story about Fountain’s Camp?
“not only are there five stores, three butchers’ shops (another one just setting up), and two bakers, but we have actually a full-blown sausage-maker and tripe dealer, whilst vegetable carts are arriving every week from Ipswich and Toowoomba”. (Courier, 26 Jan 1866)
In my flights of fancy I’d like to think so – but the timing is wrong when compared to the events above. He certainly had the skills as further stories from Annie Kunkel reveal.
He (grandfather) went down to the creek which was quite close, just down the bottom of the hill where there was running water and he cleaned them thoroughly there – let the water run on them and turn them inside out and everything until they were thoroughly cleaned and then put them in a bucket over night and probably put salt with them and the next day the performance of making sausages! Grandfather made the sausages and he used to put mace and salt and different things like that in it. In the white puddings he put oatmeal and liver and that I think. The big oval boiler was where they’d be cooked on the open fire. You could hang them in the smoke house for weeks in the cold weather
How I wish George Kunkel hadn’t died in 1916, in the midst of the WWI anti-German sentiment – perhaps there’d have been an obituary to reveal a little more of his and Mary’s story.
Sources: Birth Certificates for Catherine and Elizabeth Kunkel; oral history recording with Anne Kunkel. Others as per endnotes.
[i] PRV11583-1-1 Queensland State Archives, now Item 94875. Equity Files, Supreme Court.
[ii] Queensland Times, Ipswich, 18 December 1861
[iii] Courier, Brisbane, 10 January 1862.
[iv] Queensland Times, Ipswich, 7 July 1866