Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Trove Tuesday - The Man who Hanged his Wife

An article titled The Man Who Hanged his Wife was not a story where I expected to find some information about an ancestor. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find a mention of Dr William Lee Dawson.

Last week as a whole barge full of mourners at the late Dr Dawson's funeral were returning from Franklin to Iron Stone Creek, on their way homewards, the attention of one of the many Hobart Town visitors was called by a Huon passenger to a figure sitting with head bent, and thoughtfully, as it smoked a black pipe in the bows of the boat. "That's the man who hanged his wife".

Dr Dawson's wife's family lived in Hobart Town so I wonder now which ones came to his funeral. A whole barge full of mourners - I wonder how many that was?

You might like to read the rest of the story. It's not what it seems!

The Mercury, Wednesday 5th July 1871, p. 2

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Trove Tuesday - Franklin Reading Club

It always pays to try different search terms. I usually search for articles about my great great grandfather with his name "William Lee Dawson". This time, however, I tried just Dawson and Franklin.

I was fortunate and discovered this article about the first amateur dramatic performance of the Franklin Reading Club held on Tuesday, 29th August 1871. This performance and subscription ball was held in aid of the widow of the late Dr. Dawson. The evening raised about £10 for Emma Dawson (Seabrook).

Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 - 1954), Wednesday 6 September 1871, page 3

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Trove Tuesday - Fatal Accident at Callan Park

I have previously blogged about the death of 11 year old Rupert Dawson at Callan Park in 1898. This post detailed all the details that I knew.

The following details were based on family folklore.

In September 1898 a lot of construction work was going on at the hospital. Rupert and his friends were playing a game and jumping over an open sewer in the course of construction. He missed jumping over the gap and fell in the sewer.

A search on Trove now gives details from several newspapers including  The Australian Star and  The Goulburn Evening Penny Post. This confirms that Rupert was playing with other boys near the shaft before he fell. These papers have added to the known facts. Construction of the sewer was being carried out by Carter, Gummow & Co. James Hain went to the bottom of the 50ft shaft to recover Rupert's body and a boy by the name of Leonard Towns saw the accident.

The Australian Star, Monday 5th September 1898, p. 2

The Australian Star, Tuesday 6th September 1898, p. 3

The Goulburn Evening Penny Post, Tuesday 6th September 1898, p.  4

After reading these articles I want to know more about Leonard Towns, James Hain and Carter Gummow & Co.

Lawrence Leonard Towns was born in Balmain in 1889 (3834/1889). At the time of the accident he would have been 9 years old. It is highly likely that like Rupert he lived at Callan Park. When he enlisted in AIF in May 1916 his mother Sarah's address was Callan Park, Rozelle. Towns died in Randwick in 1926 (1729/1926).

James Hain, a sheet metal worker (from at least 1930) continued to live in the Rozelle district and died at Gladesville on 2nd August 1953.

Frank Gummow was an engineering graduate from the University of Melbourne. By 1998 he had fifteen years practical experience in the construction of water and sewerage works. His company had successfully tendered for much of the work to build the sewerage network in Sydney.

A 1993 submission for an Historic Engineering Marker from the Engineering Heritage Committee Sydney Commission provides information about Carter Gummow & Co.

An article written by Bob Jackson titled Sewage and heritage mix at Johnston's Creek from Engineers Australia (February 23 1990) is included in the submission and discusses the aqueducts that were built over Johnston's and Whites Creek and were the subject of the heritage committee.

The aqueducts were built as part of the extensions to Sydney's first major sewerage scheme which originally served the city, eastern and southern suburbs......The extensions westward of the Bondi Sewer completed in 1898 serviced the suburbs of Glebe, Annandale, Lilyfield and Balmain.

It would seem that Rupert Dawson fell down one the shafts being built as part of the extension to Sydney's sewerage scheme.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Ancestors by place of birth

Thanks to Geniaus and J Paul Hawthorne for this idea.

My husband's and my five generation pedigree chart by place of birth. I quite like visual representations of genealogical data. So much easier to follow. I have previously blogged other statistics visually here.

My five generation pedigree chart

My husband's five generation pedigree chart

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

European Settlement & Pastoralism at Kunderang

Each time I visit Armidale I always head straight to the bookshops to see if there are any new local history publications. Last week I was not disappointed.

Bob Harden's book European Settlement & Pastoralism at Kunderang Upper Macleay River, 1840-1960 was on the shelf. I always go straight to the index and look up the Armidale families who have connections to my husband's extended family. A quick inspection discovered Brennan, Waters, Dawson, Sewell and Bell. I parted with $64.99 and purchased the 430 A4 page hardcover book.

Bob stated that his objectives were "to provide a coherent account of European settlement and pastoralism at Kunderang in the upper Macleay River, with particular emphasis on who the settlers were, how they lived and how they carried out their pastoral endeavours" (p. 10)

He has definitely achieved his objectives. The book has been meticulously researched and is a wonderful history of the gorge country. Each landholder's connection to the area is discussed and referenced in detail and a map has been produced for each family detailing the location of their leases and purchases.

My only disappointment is that the areas of Enmore and Long Point fall outside the specific area researched in the book.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Trove Tuesday - Carrington Handicap

My nanna would always tell me stories whenever we visited her place. It's a shame now I can't recall them all. However, I do vividly remember her telling me that her father Michael Ryan was a good runner and often ran in races in  Sydney. Her future father-in-law Harry Dawson was his coach.

I've often searched on Trove without luck for some evidence to support this story.

Earlier in the week I think I may have hit the jackpot. The difficulty was knowing exactly what to search for in Trove. I was browsing for something totally unrelated when I saw an article about a Carrington Handicap. I now had the possible name of a race.

The following advertisement from 1888 indicates that professional footraces (or at least some of them) in Sydney were worth winning.

Sydney Morning Herald, 14 January 1888, p. 2

A search for Carrington Handicap and Ryan in the period 1886-1895 (years selected as likely years he would be running) produced many results. Unfortunately the Sydney Morning Herald only gives the initials for a man's christian name. There are many entries for a M. Ryan. I hope I am not wrong in assuming that this man is my great grandfather Michael Ryan.

Sydney Morning Herald Thursday 2nd April 1891, p. 8 

In this race, Ryan the favourite finished third after winning his first, second and third rounds. Hopefully I'll be able to discover more about the running successes of Michael Ryan.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Paying rent for over 100 years

This story was originally printed in The Peninsula Observer (year unknown). The author's permission is given to reprint here.

Cambridge Street in the 1970s

Whenever I walk down Cambridge Street, Rozelle, I recall being told about Great Granny Ryan. Great Granny Ryan loved a beautiful teaset which she had seen in a shop. She scrimped and saved until the day finally came, when she could buy that set. She carefully carried home her pride and joy but coming down the hill in Cambridge Street, she slipped and fell and her beautiful teaset rolled down the hill, ending in a broken heap at the bottom. I always felt so close to Great Granny when I looked down Cambridge Street.

Great Granny Ryan was born Mary O'Halloran (Halloran). She had arrived in Brisbane in the early 1860s from Roscrea in Ireland. She had two sisters and a brother John. Mary married John Charles Ryan in St Stephen's, Brisbane on 1st June 1864. Her husband was born in Portlaw, County Waterford, Ireland and he too arrived in Queensland in the 1860s.

Two sons, Michael and James and a daughter, Mary, were born and for sixteen years the family lived on the Darling downs where John Ryan was caretaker of a large property. Meanwhile John Ryan's brother-in-law, John O'Sullivan, the husband of Margaret O'Halloran, had been living at 23 Cambridge Street since 1882.

John O'Sullivan was a merchant for W H Ariel & Co., General Merchants of 335 Kent Street, Sydney. The O'Sullivan's had two daughters but no sons. Knowing that the two Ryan boys were looking for work, O'Sullivan invited the family to Sydney and offered jobs in the grocery business.

In 1883 the Ryan family took up residence at 23 Cambridge Street, while the O'Sullivans moved to 118 Terry Street. John Ryan continued to live there until his death on 15th November, 1910, Mary had died in 1895. The older son Michael Ryan married Sarah Ogden, of 21 Victoria Road, on 9th October, 1890. Michael and Sarah lived at 25 Cambridge Street, the other half of the semi-detached building.

John O'Sullivan continued to prosper. He owned a nice house in the 'country' at George Street (now Oxford Street), Smithfield. In 1906 this house was empty, so O'Sullivan invited Sarah and Michael with their growing family to live at Smithfield. Their youngest daughter Elsie was born there.

Next in line for 25 Cambridge Street, was James Ryan and wife Ellen, while his father and sister still lived at No. 23.

In 1916 the street numbers changed in Balmain/Rozelle so the building became No. 19 and 21.

James and Ellen Ryan's daughter Mabel Ellen married William Acheson in 1914 and continued to live at 21 Cambridge Street, until her death in 1964. Sons James (Jim) and William (Bill) Acheson continued to live there.

The families of the brothers, Michael and James Ryan, had no contact with my family since Michael's death in 1940. One day I being Michael's granddaughter, went in search of 'cousins' in Cambridge Street. A neighbour told me that Acheson's lived in 'that' house, but no one was at home. I quickly drew a family tree and pushed it under the  door.

Soon I received a lovely letter from James (Jim), so for the next few years I visited him often. We would sit and talk, remembering the old days and planning a tea party when the time came to celebrate one hundred years of paying rent. Sadly, Jim died in 1977, four years short of the planned centenary celebration, but his brother Bill continued to live there.

Soon afterwards I was transferred away from Sydney but on my return in 1997, I once again visited Cambridge Street. As I walked down the hill, I envisaged a short plump Irish woman, her face beaming with delight, carrying carefully something in her arms. I had a vision of her tripping and falling heavily to the ground as her precious tea-set, lay smashed on Cambridge Street. Poor Great Granny Ryan.

Coming back to the present, I hurried to No 21. I knocked on the door. It was opened by Bill who still lives there. Yes, the family is still in residence! John Ryan's family has been paying rent for 115 YEARS!

Claire Dawson

Family at the Cambridge Street houses in the 1970s.