Sepia Saturday: Military Mateship

Sepia Saturday 254This week’s Sepia Saturday evoked memories of war, rather than romance and frivolity – perhaps I just can’t imagine needing or wanting to be carried across a stream. I feel like telling her “just take off your boots and hitch up your skirts, for heaven’s sake, you wuss!”.

In a week in which we remember the effects of war, this image made me think of the care, commitment and courage soldiers give to each other. It is inter-personal rather than inter-national. So here is my photo-journalism response to the topic, derived from images found on Trove.

French soldier carrying a wounded man through the trenches, Gallipoli http://trove.nla.gov.au/work/165156560

French soldier carrying a wounded man through the trenches, Gallipoli http://trove.nla.gov.au/work/165156560

30 July 1943, Corporal Leslie (Bull) Allen MM, aged 26 of Ballarat, Victoria, carrying out an injured American soldier, one of 12 he retrieved. He was awarded the US Silver Star and had already received his Military Medal (MM) on 7 February 1943, at Crystal Creek, Wau. Negative by G Short, copyright expired. Mt Tambo, New Guinea. AWM image 015515

30 July 1943, Corporal Leslie (Bull) Allen MM, aged 26 of Ballarat, Victoria, carrying out an injured American soldier, one of 12 he retrieved. He was awarded the US Silver Star and had already received his Military Medal (MM) on 7 February 1943, at Crystal Creek, Wau. Negative by G Short, copyright expired. Mt Tambo, New Guinea. AWM image 015515

Australian troops moved in behind Matilda tanks for a dawn attack on the Japanese held village of Sattelberg. A wounded soldier is carried back to a dressing station on the shoulders of a soldier. http://trove.nla.gov.au/work/165056323

Australian troops moved in behind Matilda tanks for a dawn attack on the Japanese held village of Sattelberg. A wounded soldier is carried back to a dressing station on the shoulders of a soldier. http://trove.nla.gov.au/work/165056323

Bearers (called Fuzzy Wuzzy angels) carrying a wounded soldier up a steep, muddy slope, Papua.

Bearers  carrying a wounded soldier up a steep, muddy slope, Papua. http://trove.nla.gov.au/work/165191251. The local bearers earned the recognition of being called Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels because of their work evacuating wounded men through the most horrendous, mountainous terrain of Papua New Guinea.

wo members of the 3rd Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment (3RAR), carry a wounded soldier from the Republic of Korea (ROK) Army along a snow-covered track towards a medical aid post. http://trove.nla.gov.au/work/165106038

Two members of the 3rd Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment (3RAR), carry a wounded soldier from the Republic of Korea (ROK) Army along a snow-covered track towards a medical aid post. http://trove.nla.gov.au/work/165106038

Phnom Penh, Cambodia, 1971. Australian cameraman Neil Davis carrying a wounded Cambodian soldier out of action. http://trove.nla.gov.au/work/165129872 Copyright unknown.

Phnom Penh, Cambodia, 1971. Australian cameraman Neil Davis carrying a wounded Cambodian soldier out of action. http://trove.nla.gov.au/work/165129872 Copyright unknown.

The courage and humanity of these men for their mates is sobering and deserves respect. Greater love has no man….

Here are some recent photos which commemorate similar acts of selflessness.

The Cobbers Memorial at Fromelles 2014.

The Cobbers Memorial at Fromelles 2014.

Part of the Tarihe Saygi (Respect for History) monument at Esceabat, (Gallipoli Peninsula) Turkey.

Part of the Tarihe Saygi (Respect for History) monument at Esceabat, (Gallipoli Peninsula) Turkey.

Lest We Forget… those who came home

Anzac Cove DSC_0389_edited-1Today’s Remembrance Day is particularly poignant as we honour the fallen from all our wars, but especially from World War I. The intensity of reAWM wallmembrance over the next four years may almost become overwhelming. It is impossible to imagine the reality of the horrors and terrors those men suffered through the long months and years of the war.

Each year at ceremonies around the country we are reminded “they do not grow old as we who are left grow old”. We honour and recognise the sacrifice that was made by these men who gave their lives far young or old, single or married, bushies or city slickers.

The men who died overseas have contributed to our sense of ourselves as a nation, a people who could be relied on when in a tight corner, who would fight to the bitter end. Where did their courage come from when they could be told “Boys you have ten minutes to live and I am going to lead you[i].

What passing bells for these who die as cattle?

Only the monstrous anger of the guns.

Only the stuttering rifles’ rapid rattle.[ii]

DSC_0412 edit

Such evocative words. Buried at Beach Cemetery, Gallipoli.

However there’s another aspect which I think we have sometimes neglected as family historians and one which will challenge us even more than documenting the history of our family members who died in action.

To what extent do we consider the lives of those left behind? The impact of loss on families, friends and communities? How is that documented in the official record? And how did they respond to never knowing exactly where their loved one was buried, let alone understand why there might no keepsake to treasure for themselves or their children?

I haven’t received nothing belonging to him.  I don’t even know of his burial place.[iii]

And what of the men who returned, some horrifically injured physically and no longer able to continue in their former occupations? It seems almost impossible that any man who returned, or indeed the nurses who cared for them, would return the same person mentally or emotionally. What of the guilt they may have carried at the loss of close family, brothers or friends?

What do we know of how this affected their family life?  Each returning soldier’s emotional responses to his wife and children? The general view is that they kept the horrors locked down inside them until each Anzac Day or Remembrance Day but surely the trauma must have seeped out from time to time. How did the women cope with the return of husbands, fathers, sons, brothers or sweethearts who were no longer the same men they had farewelled? At least those who married after the war would have had some idea of what they were “buying into”.  Perhaps the men felt slightly more reconciled since they knew they’d gone to war voluntarily and were not conscripted like almost all the other nations.

The Cobbers Memorial at Fromelles 2014.

The Cobbers Memorial at Fromelles 2014.

Bill Gammage’s book The Broken Years is increasingly difficult to find but is a useful starting point for our research into the returned soldier’s attitudes at the time.

These returned soldiers are the men who helped to build our then-new nation despite the traumas they’d experienced. They grew old but had to fight on in daily life. They deserve our attention as much as those who were lost and it seems to me that there is a great deal still ahead for us to research.

Lest We Forgetthose who died, those they left behind and those who lived to rebuild…in all the nations of the war.

My earlier posts on Remembrance Day are:

2013: Erle Victor Weiss

2012: Lest we forget: the Battle of Milne Bay

2011: Honouring the Australian born diggers with German ancestry.

Anzac Day:

2014: Two brothers go to war and Postcards to the Front

2013: V is for our Valiant Indigenous ANZACs

2012: V is for the Valiant of Villers-Brettoneux (my most-read post)

2011: Lest we forget: William Rudolph (Robert) Kunkel (MIA Korea)

Battle of Fromelles: In Memoriam James Augustus Gavin

DSC_0438

[i] Lt Col Alexander White, Commander of the 8th Light Horse at the charge of The Nek, Gallipoli

[ii] Wilfred Owen’s Anthem for Doomed Youth from the War Poetry Website.

[iii] Elizabeth Maud Paterson writing to the Army on 1 September 1921 about James Thomas Paterson of the 49th Battalion who died 5 April 1917. His body was never recovered and his name is among those on the memorial at Villers-Brettoneux.

Congress 2015: Be a winner in the ballot

Congress 2015Hot off the press is this news from the Congress 2015 Convenor. If you needed any more incentive to get your registration done sooner rather than later, here it is.

What to do:
Register for Congress by 30 November 2014 (by midnight, Sydney time)

AND

Email by 2 December 2014 (by midnight, Sydney time) to congress@hagsoc.org.au indicating your preference/s.

Here’s Kerrie’s news:

Opportunities for after hours research at these national institutions will be available during Congress 2015 – but the times and numbers are strictly limited. Because these opportunities are so limited we ask that you do not enter the ballot if you are easily able to get to the institutions during their normal opening hours or if you are spending additional time in Canberra before/after Congress to access the institutions. Dates, times and maximum numbers are:

  • Australian War Memorial:  5-7pm on 26th March for a maximum of 40 people
  • National Archives of Australia: 5-7pm on Thursday 26th March for a maximum of 15 people.
  • National Library of Australia: 5-8pm on Friday 27th March for a maximum of 40 people

Everyone who is registered for Congress by midnight (Sydney time) 30 November 2014 will be eligible to enter the ballot.  Entries will need to be received by midnight (Sydney time) on 2 December. Successful entrants will be notified as soon as possible after that time.

Each of the institutions has some additional information about making the most of these research opportunities.  The additional information will be sent to those successful in the ballot.

Entry into the ballot is simple – just send an email to congress@hagsoc.org.au indicating your preference/s

CHRISTMAS WISH LIST

Family asking what you would like for Christmas?   Perhaps they could give you a Congress Registration, a ticket to the Welcome function or the dinner or a copy of Congress proceedings.  And there are certain to be some ‘must haves’ among the goodies that our exhibitors will have on display.

What great opportunities!

Sepia Saturday: Colonial Fishing Days

Sepia saturday 253This Sepia Saturday has three young men relaxing at their leisure on the creek bank after a spot of fishing with their flimsy fishing rods. It brought to mind many similar scenes that would have occurred in colonial Queensland beside creeks and waterways throughout the countryside. I could well imagine my Kunkel great-grandparents, and perhaps their children, dropping a line into the Fifteen Mile Creek which bordered the property owned by George and Mary Kunkel at Murphy’s Creek. Jack Kinnon and grouper

But those images exist only in my imagination, whereas this real-life image is a more confronting, and to my mind, less pleasant aspect of colonial life. Once again we have a fishing trio with a 517 pound (about 234kgs) giant grouper which had been caught circa 1900-1910 by our fishermen, Frank Anderson and Jack Kinnon snr. The battle was uneven as they were using a tailor-made hook and a chain “line” wrapped around a 44 gallon drum. The fish is about 5.5ft (167cms) so it would have been very old, and was almost certainly swimming in the waters off Queensland well before the arrival of the white man. It makes me want to weep every time I look at this photo, and yet it’s also the story of our colony. How ironic that the giant grouper is the aquatic emblem of Queensland and how unsurprising that it is a threatened species.

As an antidote to the imbalance of the fish vs men image, let me tell you the tale of a young lad, Jack Kinnon jnr, fishing with his grandmother, Bridget Connors (daughter of George and Mary Kunkel). I included this passage in my book Grassroots Queenslanders: the Kunkel Story.

This is Bridget Connors sitting on the running board of her car. I can imagine her with the same contented expression sitting by the pond fishing.

This is Bridget Connors sitting on the running board of their car. I can imagine her with the same contented expression sitting by the pond fishing.

At the time there was a butter factory on the Mary River where it ran through Tiaro. The buttermilk run-off from the factory flowed into a small pond of the river with which Bridget was very familiar. She knew the mullet loved to come and feed on the buttermilk and get fat. So off they’d go, the old lady and the young boy, with their bamboo rods, cork floats and tiny hooks with bread threaded on for bait. They’d sit by the pond quietly waiting for the fish to bite and when the float disappeared below the water they’d reel in their catch of the day, a plump mullet. Bridget got a great thrill from catching the fish but Jack’s pleasure was diminished slightly by the need to scale and clean the fish.

Are you feeling relaxed now? Why not drop your fishing line and wander off to see where other Sepians went fishing this weekend.

Book of Me: Voice and Vision

Book of meJulie Goucher’s Book of Me, Written by You has been very popular, with many people responding to every prompt. I confess I’ve fallen by the wayside over the weeks for one reason or another. Some weeks ago prompt 49 was Voice and Julie’s questions were:

Describe your voice
Perhaps include an electronic recording of your voice reciting a poem or reading a piece of writing. Maybe even this prompt response.
Do you have recordings of other family members?

I had in mind that I might be able to get one of my geneafriends or a family member to interview me, after being inspired by Kristin’s interview with her sister on Finding Eliza.

You Tube clip1_edited-1As you know I’m an official blogger and also a speaker at Congress 2015. Fellow genimate, Jill Ball did a Google Hangout interview with me as part of our plan to speak to the speakers and it dawned on me this would be an ideal response to Prompt 49 on voice. Even better, assuming it survives the rapid technological changes that come along, my descendants might be able to see and hear me, many years in the future as I talk about my life’s passion for family history.

baby sleepHowever, for a little personal commentary on my voice: as you hear on the video (in case it doesn’t survive) it’s quite deep and at times can be a bit “gritty”. It’s very common for people to call me “sir” on the phone, which annoys me no end as you might imagine! I can’t sing for nuts, though I know the tune and words, so now I don’t even try….even in the shower. I certainly don’t try to get my grandchildren to sleep by singing to them – that’s guaranteed to give them nightmares, and they do tend to give me strange looks.  It’s a shame really as I’d have liked to continue my mother’s tradition of singing “Tura lura lural…that’s an Irish lullaby” to them.

I did try to interview various close family members over the years to no avail. I guess most of us don’t like to listen to our own voices. Back in the eighties though I was lucky to be able to record the reminiscences of Anne Kunkel, granddaughter to my earliest Aussie Kunkels, as she told me about life on the farm and in Murphy’s Creek.

 

Trove Tuesday: The Kunkel family leaves Ipswich

Kunkel book cover cropThe 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:

Wilson v Kunkel article123331889-3-001THIS 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.

One of Fountain's Camps, possibly at Murphys Creek.

One of Fountain’s Camps, possibly at Murphys Creek.

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

Ancestral Marital Longevity

“Inspired” by my post on the jubilarian McSherry couple, I decided to look at the marital longevity of my ancestors. Rather than confuse myself (and you) with a plethora of ancestors, I confined myself to those who came to Australia, although in the case of Duncan and Annie McCorkindale, she and their children emigrated after his death.

Marital longevity tableI’ve also put asterisks against those who were pre-Separation pioneers in Queensland. Each and every one lived in Queensland though Stephen Melvin defected to New South Wales after Emily’s death where he set up another business and married twice more, making his tally four marriages.

What this exercise has told me is just how much is dependent on our individual longevity gene. I have a suspicion one couple were living apart, but only inferential “evidence” and I strongly suspect one had gone walkabout after arriving in Australia. Either that or he is buried somewhere remote and hasn’t made the death indexes. Also, only one divorce, but having read the documents I am amazed the brothers didn’t take the husband out and give him a thrashing. My other half and I are already in the top half of the league table….fingers crossed we pass a few of those ahead of us.

What this exercise has confirmed for me is that I need to do some serious work on my family history program, so perhaps this is the time to change programs. Makes me tired just thinking about it, as the gedcom hasn’t been very compatible in the past.

Have you ever explored your family’s marital longevity?

 

 

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.

Missing Friends: Murphy’s Creek (Qld) people

Were your family part of the railway construction between Ipswich & Toowoomba?

Was your family part of the railway construction between Ipswich & Toowoomba?

The topic of one of my papers at Congress 2015 is The marriage of local history and family history: a bridge to the past. In part this will be a case study of the town of Murphy’s Creek, Queensland, at the bottom of the Toowoomba range.

For several years I’ve been collecting information on the town and its people from a range of sources. However it’s just (duh!) occurred to me that with the internet, and widespread interest in genealogy, I now have another opportunity to learn more about the people who lived and worked in Murphy’s Creek back in its formative years.

So, to paraphrase the Beatles, I’m looking for a little help from my friends. I’ve already picked up a few previously-unknown links through online genealogy sites, but I’m hoping this request will take my message wider.

If you have any family member who you know was born, baptised, married, died or was buried in Murphy’s Creek I’d really love to hear from you. It’s often only on certificates that some of these hidden clues come to light. You can leave a message in the comments, or contact me via email.

Please help me to bring those “missing friends” back into the Murphy’s Creek heritage story.

Congress 2015 is coming for early birds

early bird and wormYes, Christmas is also coming, and is the goose getting fat? Well maybe not, but the shops are happy for us to believe it and want to part us from our money. Being a good genealogist I have a different idea for your Christmas wish list and your hard-earned cash.

Early birds today will be out catching worms not turkeys, as they make sure they’ve caught the registration discount for Congress 2015 in Canberra, March 26-30. You see today, 31 October, is the closing date for the early bird registration special and you can save $55.

So if you’re a wily bird who likes to save your pennies, don’t forget to register before you hit the Halloween trail tonight.

Xmas presentHowever, if the piggy bank isn’t quite up to it at the moment, all is not lost. Why not put Congress registration on your wish list for advance Christmas 2014 &/or birthday presents? You never know, Santa might be feeling especially generous this year.

Why not join in, it’s going to be a ton of fun with lots of learning and research opportunities.

You can read the latest Congress newsletter here and sign up for future ones here.