4 March 2019

The grandmother who never was

Elizabeth Horgan of Alma, South Australia
Elizabeth died in 1934. 4th March, 85 years ago today.₁

Before her husband - before any grandchildren were born.

There are just seven grandchildren, all of us born after her death, so we never knew our grandmother Elizabeth Agnes Horgan, (born Smyth). Each one of her seven grandchildren now have grandchildren of their own to be treasured and loved. How sad that Elizabeth missed this experience.

In 1870 in the area known as Humphreys Springs near Alma in South Australia, Elizabeth was born to parents Margaret and Edward Smyth. They had  married in February of 1862 ₂ and as far as I have been able to determine, Elizabeth was their fourth child. Mary Christina was born in 1862, Catherine Teresa in 1865 and son Francis John in 1867. Another younger sister, Margaret, was born when Elizabeth was just three years old.

Little is known of Elizabeth’s early life but it was probably consumed with the daily tasks necessitated by life on a farm. Her playmates were the other children in the family and together they would have been set the tasks of fetching wood for the fire, feeding the hens, collecting the eggs as well as assisting their mother Margaret with a myriad of household tasks.

When Elizabeth was only 9 years old, her 16 year old sister Mary Christina, died of typhoid fever. ₃  How sad the little family must have been as they buried the young girl in Pinkerton Plains cemetery.₄.  Surrounded by close relations and friends, the children grew up attending Sunday Mass at Tarlee where a new Catholic church had been opened in 1877. Here they met and mingled with other families in the parish.

The late 1890s were filled with joy with three family marriages in 1897 and 1898. Elizabeth’s older sister Catherine married John Callery in September of 1897 followed by the marriage of her younger sister Margaret to James Leo Byrne in January of 1898. Later that same year, her brother Francis married Catherine Fitzgerald. They moved onto land nearby.

Now Elizabeth was alone with her parents on the family farm. Her father was still actively working in the paddocks, but at age 79 in November of 1901 when he was mowing the hay, he was thrown from the implement. He sustained serious injuries and died ten days later in Kapunda Hospital.₅ The land that Edward had owned was left to his wife Margaret with direction that it pass to Elizabeth on Margaret’s death. ₆
Extract from the will of Edward Smyth dated 1901 
Happier days were to come with Elizabeth’s marriage to Andrew Horgan in February of 1906. A description and photo of their wedding day are included on the story A great place to marryAfter they had honeymooned in New Zealand, Andrew, a farmer from nearby Tarlee, moved to the Smyth family home and farm .

Smyth family home at Alma
Their first child Hanora Mary was born in December just 10 months later. When the baby was only a few months old, Elizabeth’s mother, Margaret, died in May of 1907 ₇. Edward John was born in 1908 followed by Joseph in 1910. Elizabeth taught her daughter at home until  Edward was old enough to start school. The two children then attended Alma South school.

Elizabeth Horgan in the farmyard, Alma, South Australia 1927
Life was hard as Andrew worked the paddocks and Elizabeth attended to all the farmyard and household chores. Elizabeth was involved in various Tarlee Catholic activities. In 1927 year she and her sister in law Catherine were in charge of the produce stall at the annual fundraising fete.₈ Andrew’s bachelor brothers and his sister from Tarlee probably visited the farm at Alma sometimes after Sunday Mass. As Edward grew he was a great help to his father. Joseph was very small in stature but did his best to assist.

Like many Catholic parents of the time, Elizabeth and Andrew were probably delighted when their daughter decided to become a nun. By the time Elizabeth turned 64 neither of her sons had married. She died at home on March 4th 1934. She is buried at Navan cemetery near Riverton along with her husband and all three of her children.

Elizabeth we would like to have met you and to have known more about you. You may have missed out on meeting your grandchildren but now, 85 years later, you and Andrew have 72 living descendants with one more great-great grandchild on the way. A fine legacy indeed.

Cite/Link to this post: 
Carmel R Galvin "The grandmother who never was" Earlier Years (https:earlieryears.blogspot.com: posted 4 March 2019)

1. 1934 'Family Notices', The Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1931 - 1954), 5 March, p. 14. , viewed 04 Mar 2019, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article47541261

2. South Australian district marriage certificate

3. 1879 'Family Notices', South Australian Register (Adelaide, SA : 1839 - 1900), 19 April, p. 6. (Supplement to the South Australian Register.), viewed 04 Mar 2019, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article42973818

4. 1879 'HAMLEY BRIDGE, MARCH 27.', South Australian Chronicle and Weekly Mail (Adelaide, SA : 1868 - 1881), 29 March, p. 21. , viewed 04 Mar 2019, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article93845713

5. 1901 'Country News.', Southern Cross (Adelaide, SA : 1889 - 1954), 20 December, p. 13. , viewed 04 Mar 2019, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article166996247

6. Australia, South Australia, Will and Probate Records." Database. FamilySearch. https://FamilySearch.org : 31 January 2019. Probate and Administration Books, Supreme Court of South Australia, Adelaide.

7. 1907 'Obituary.', Southern Cross (Adelaide, SA : 1889 - 1954), 17 May, p. 12. , viewed 04 Mar 2019, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article167038511

8. 1927 'FAIR AT TARLEE.', Kapunda Herald (SA : 1878 - 1951), 11 March, p. 3. , viewed 04 Mar 2019, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article108306635

22 January 2019

Recollections of school days past

The Primary Years

As the youngest of seven children I was very keen to attend school with my older siblings. We had often “played” schools at home and I was familiar with the grounds of the local primary school. Accompanied by several siblings, I walked about 520 metres from the farm house out to the Main North Road where the school bus, which had come from Hamley Bridge, collected us. Some children were bound for the primary school in Tarlee and others stayed on for the trip up to the secondary school in Riverton.

Tarlee Primary School 1955
Photo courtesy Riverton Local History & Family Research Centre
In South Australia in the mid 1950s when my school years commenced, children attended from the beginning of the year after they had turned five. The Tarlee school which had been established in 1876 had been replaced with a new building in 1922, by 1956 it had certainly seen better days.
In this building there were two classrooms. The youngest students from Grades 1 - 3 were taught by Miss Dora Thomas and the older group Grades 4 -7 by Mr Reg Yelland. At the time I attended there were about 52 students split between the two classrooms.
My 1959 Grade 4 report shows that we were tested on Reading, Dictation, Composition, Oral Arithmetic, Written Arithmetic, Writing, English, History and Geography.

Wednesday afternoons were devoted to art and crafts, a well remembered one being the cushions we stitched from hessian sugar sacks.

Friday afternoons were time for sport. Vigoro was a popular game as both boys and girls could participate. During recess and lunch breaks we played All Over Red Rover, Brandy, Hopscotch and Marbles along with lots of Chasey.

A new school

By 1960, Catholic school students were allowed to travel on the government provided school buses and so with my sister Marie, I now took the longer journey to Riverton.  There we were enrolled in the Catholic primary school run by the Sisters of Mercy.

The bus on which we had previously only travelled as far as Tarlee, now dropped us at the corner of Horner Street in Riverton and we trudged up the hill come rain or shine to the convent. This was also a two teacher school.

Under Sister Mary Celine’s tutelage we now added piano lessons to our classes. The nuns lived in the house that had formerly been the doctor's residence and it was in a small room there that we took piano lessons.

Classes were small with just 10 students in my final year 7. With extra help from the nuns I was encouraged to sit for the Catholic scholarship exams at the end of primary school. This led to my parents receiving offers of a boarding scholarship to a couple of Catholic schools in Adelaide.

As four of my five elder sisters had attended Cabra Convent at Clovelly Park in previous years this was now my destination.

High School years

Kitted out in hand-me-down uniforms all proudly sewn with my new Cash's name tags, my five year boarding school adventure began in February of 1963. 

For a farm raised child this certainly was an eye opener. Suddenly I was in a class of 51 students all in one room rather than 51 in the whole school. Cabra had about 90 - 100 boarders in the years I attended. Most of these girls were from the countryside so soon firm friendships were established. 

Our days were marked by unvarying routine. The nun ringing the first bell walked through the dormitories clanging with vigour at 6.30 am as boarders were encouraged to attend morning Mass. For those who chose not to attend, a second bell at 7 am signalled time to rise. Silence was to be maintained until all had assembled in the refectory downstairs and grace was said before breakfast. 

My mother had always warmed milk for breakfast cereal so the shock of cold milk in huge jugs alongside giant pots of brewed tea was new to me. Marmalade and Vegemite were supplied for the usually cold toast but any other condiments had to be brought from home.

Each term we were allocated to a new table for meals. At each table there was a mixture of girls from all grades. This was an effective method of ensuring that the boarders all got to know each other throughout the year. Rosters for cleaning tables and scullery duty usually resulted in one duty a term in the ten week, three term regime of the time.

The stairs leading up to dormitories at Cabra Convent c1966.
After breakfast there was a quick rush upstairs to make beds, clean teeth, pass dormitory inspection and prepare for the day ahead. .At 8.30 am the dormitories were locked for the day and we proceeded to join the day scrags (students) for classes. Dinner, which was lunch time, was sometimes a roast with one potato and one piece of pumpkin along with swathes of tinned green peas or beans. The smell of corned beef and cabbage were common. Neither of those foods have graced my table in the years since boarding school.

Sinker, damper, stodge, no matter what we called it, cake of some sort or other was provided for afternoon tea at the end of the school day. Hungry girls can consume even the most unappetising of foods.

Tea at 6 pm after an hour of supervised study was bread, bread and more bread  - always white of course. There was often tinned spaghetti or baked beans and any other foods were not memorable. A Sunday night treat was fried fritz, a uniquely named South Australian processed meat. (In other locations known as devon, polony, luncheon meat or Windsor sausage)

I remember competitions to see who could eat the most slices of bread. Sometimes 10 pieces were managed if one was really hungry! We stored our own food in a locker room under the rickety stairs but this was mostly discouraged because of the risk of vermin. Milo, homemade treats, honey and cakes after exeat weekends were favoured goodies. 

There was brief respite in the dormitories between the evening meal and second study. During this time most girls took baths or showers. Second study at 7.15 pm in the classrooms immediately below the dormitories finished at different intervals about 15 minutes apart depending on grade level. The senior years studied until 9.15 with lights out by 10.

Saturday morning was cleaning and laundry time. Beds were stripped and remade, laundry sorted and bundled and the previous week’s washing returned. Thorough inspection of cupboards and cubicles was carried out on Saturday mornings and this was the day of the week that many washed their hair. 

Each term Mum would supply a tube of toothpaste and a bar of soap to be kept in one’s sponge bag as it was known. Any additional needs had to be purchased from my 10 shillings a term allowance. The nuns controlled the allowances and on Saturday mornings one could withdraw cash needed provided an explanation of expenditure was given. Some girls had large allowances and spent freely at the tuckshop but I learnt to guard those Saturday morning sixpences carefully.

Classes were sorted into three streams and I advanced through the academic stream for five years with conscientious study but unspectacular results. My years at boarding school were largely carefree and happy providing strong friendships and building good study habits in a supportive atmosphere. 

In my final year at a Boarders' Social I met my future husband. We have now been married for 47 years. I have much to be grateful for.

This post first appeared on earlieryears.blogspot.com by CRGalvin

27 May 2018

Tiny cards, lots of memories

School day memorabilia

Twelve 4cm x 7 cm holy cards dated 1963 -1967
How many memories can be stored in a 4cm x 7cm space? 

Nowadays our digital memory cards are a fraction of this size and can store megabytes of information but fifty years ago these tiny four cm by seven cm holy cards were used to express friendship and share memories.

Today while sorting through a “Do not discard” box of correspondence I had labelled years ago, I unearthed more than thirty of these small treasures from my school days. It is fifty years since I left secondary school and recently I set up a Facebook group for our graduating class to help celebrate that event. Twenty eight of that cohort of fifty four are members of the group and many have contributed their photos and memories from times past. I was not able to attend the physical reunion in January but have enjoyed managing the virtual reunion.

We’ve shared sports programs, photos from a variety of events as well as newspaper clippings and other memorabilia such as exam papers, invitations and awards. Memories shared via Facebook were also shared in a folder over at Box for those class members not on Facebook. There are currently 91 files in that folder and today I’ll be adding another four including these scans. These were difficult to line up on the scanner bed and just too many to scan individually, so apologies for rather haphazard angles.

The cards were very popular amongst the boarders particularly for birthdays, end of term and end of year. Each term we were allocated to a new table in the dining hall so the 85 -100 boarders got to know each and every person in the boarding house no matter the grade level. (numbers varied through the years) Some cards comment on sharing tables, sharing study spaces or being accommodated in the same dormitories. Boarders "free weekends," known in other places as exit weekends, were occasions when one could return home. These occasions were sometimes a source of card comments.

What a treasure trove of school day memories, so glad I labelled that box "do not discard" all those years ago.
Twelve 4cm x 7 cm holy cards dated 1963 -1967 reverse side of those above

This post first appeared at https://earlieryears.blogspot.com/2018/05/tiny-cards-lots-of-memories.html  written by CRGalvin

19 April 2018

Dressed for the occasion

1917 wedding of John Michael Galvin and Grace Walmsley Payne
L to R: Edward Payne, Kathleen Dineen, John Michael Galvin, Grace Walmsley Payne, James Dineen, Annie Walmsley

Wedding photos.

Everyone looking their best.

So it was on 21 November 1917 when John Michael Galvin and Grace Walmsley Payne married. Thanks to one of my husband’s cousins, we now have some photos of them.
The description of the wedding appeared in the newspaper some two months after the wedding.

A pretty wedding was celebrated before a Choral Mass in St. Patrick's Church, Adelaide, on November 21, the contracting parties being Mr. Jack M. Galvin, eldest son of Mr. and Mrs. J. P. Galvin, of Adelaide, and Miss Grace Walmsley Payne, youngest daughter of Mrs. E. Payne, of Adelaide. Rev. Father O'Sullivan officiated.

The bride, who was conducted to the altar by her brother, Mr. E. Payne, looked charming in a dress of ivory silk poplin (tunic effect), and carried a shower bouquet. The first bridesmaid, Miss Annie Walmsley (cousin of the bride), wore a dainty Assam, silk costume and black hat with pink trimmings. The second bridesmaid, Miss Kathleen Dineen (cousin of the bridegroom), was charmingly dressed in a Japanese silk frock costume with black hat relieved with pink.

The duties of best man were performed by Mr. James Dineen, of Mile-End. Mr. Arthur Watts led the choir, Mrs. V. Brown being organist. During the Mass the bride and bridegroom approached Communion together. At the breakfast, held at the residence of the parents of the bridegroom. Rev. Father O'Sullivan proposed the toast of the bride and bridegroom, and spoke in eulogistic praise of the newly married couple and wished them every success. The bridegroom suitably responded. The toast of the bridesmaids was proposed by Mr. E. Payne and Mr. J. Dineen responded, and that of the parents of the bride and bridegroom was proposed by Mr. F. P. Keogh and responded to by Mr. J. P. Galvin. The happy couple were the recipients of costly and numerous presents. A very pleasant time was spent on the evening of the wedding, when many of their numerous friends were present. (1)

A courtship of the times

It is highly likely that Grace and John had met in Adelaide through the very active local Catholic church youth group, St Patrick’s Literary and Dramatic Society. This group held weekly meetings with debates, impromptu speeches, readings and talks and they were both very active members. So one could suggest that this was indeed fertile ground for young love; weekly meetings, spirited debating and performances. John had turned 19 in 1915 and Grace was 21.

In the photo below they are performing together, most likely in the skit “Rival Forces” as part of an elocutionary evening detailed thus:
L to R Unknown performer,
Grace Payne and John Michael Galvin
The next item consisted of a humorous sketch, entitled "Rival Forces," the following taking part— Miss Grace Payne, Messrs. P. A. Greene, P. O'Reilly, and J. M. Galvin. (2)

At a September meeting in 1915 which focussed on all things Irish, Grace presented a talk on “The five counties” and John’s presentation was entitled “Home Rule”(3).
On another occasion Grace’s impromptu speech topic was “Should Women be Elected to Parliament” while John was required to address the topic of “Bible teaching in State Schools.” (4)

They were also required to act as critics for other speeches and performances.  In November of 1915 when the  new hall at St Patrick’s was opened, a celebratory evening concluded with the court scene  from “The merchant of Venice”  John was Antonio and Grace performed as Portia.

A reporter provided this commentary:Mr. J. M. Galvin gave a good interpretation of Shylock, his enunciation being clear and distinct. Miss G. Payne as Portia was seen at her best. Her reading of the character was excellent, and her elocution proved decidedly attractive. The remaining members of the caste also did well.   (5)

Looking Back - John Michael Galvin's 1968 recollections

After his wife died in 1968, John Michael Galvin wrote a brief history about his ancestors, relations and descendants in Australia. Here he recalled his early years.
It was my very good fortune to meet a most gracious young lady, Grace Walmsley Payne. We were both members of a self-improvement Society - St Patrick' s Literary and Debating Society - which conducted weekly meetings at which papers on current topics would be read by individual members and then would be subjected to criticism by the other members present. 
Apparently at that stage of my life I must have been somewhat assertive in character as it came back to me that Grace had mentioned to some of her girl friends that when she got the opportunity she was going "to take that cocky young Jack Galvin down a peg or two". She did and as I remember the incident it concerned my over emphasis of the letter 'h' in hospital-as she said in her criticism "I would remind Mr Galvin that it is pronounced 'aitch' not 'haitch'.
Something had to be done to atone for that. Something was.
On 2nd November 1917 we were married at St Patrick' s Church, Grote Street Adelaide.
There is much more to be told another day about the lives of this couple, my husband's paternal grandparents, but for now we come full circle to the wedding photo.

Members of the bridal party

Left to right:
Edward John Payne: 1889 -1934 son of Edward Payne and Mary Walmsley, Grace's brother
Kathleen May Dineen: 1898 -1965 daughter of Jeremiah James Dineen and Julia O'Neill, first cousin of 
John Michael Galvin: 1896 - 1971 son of John Patrick Galvin and Catherine O'Neill
Grace Walmsley Payne:1893 -1968 daughter of Edward Payne and Mary Walmsley
James Augustine Dineen: 1894 - 1934 son of Jeremiah James Dineen and Julia O'Neill
Annie Walmsley: daughter of William Walmsley and Henrietta Rogers - Grace's first cousin

It is highly likely that this photo was taken at the time of the wedding breakfast outside the home of John Michael's father John Patrick Galvin. He was a photographer who at various times between 1902 and 1923 operated out of studios in Adelaide and from his home.

  1. 1918 'Family Notices.', Southern Cross (Adelaide, SA : 1889 - 1954), 18 January, p. 16, viewed 3 November, 2015, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article166985060 
  2. 1915 'LITERARY SOCIETIES.', Southern Cross (Adelaide, SA : 1889 - 1954), 12 March, p. 12. , viewed 18 Apr 2018, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article166424633
  3. 1915 'LITERARY SOCIETIES. ST. PATRICK'S LITERARY AND DRAMATIC SOCIETY.', Southern Cross (Adelaide, SA : 1889 - 1954), 3 September, p. 12. , viewed 18 Apr 2018, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article166427424
  4. 1915 'ST. PATRICK'S LITERARY AND DRAMATIC SOCIETY.', Southern Cross (Adelaide, SA : 1889 - 1954), 1 October, p. 9. , viewed 18 Apr 2018, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article166427833
  5. 1915 'OPENING OF ST. PATRICK'S HALL', Southern Cross (Adelaide, SA : 1889 - 1954), 5 November, p. 14. , viewed 18 Apr 2018, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article166428370
  6. 1968 Galvin, John Michael The Galvin Family: Over one hundred years in Australia. Family document held digitally.

This post written by CRGalvin appears at https://earlieryears.blogspot.com/2018/04/dressed-for-occasion.html 

11 February 2018

Relations in religion

This is one of a series of posts about a range of relatives who entered Catholic religious life. These men and women only have relatives or their communities to recall and remember their lives as they have no direct descendants.

During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries it was not uncommon and indeed sometimes expected that at least one child in a Catholic family should pursue a religious life either as a priest, brother or nun. A wide variety of religious orders both male and female were dedicated to providing Catholic education and training for both children and adults. Some orders specialised in the care of the sick and elderly. When few records can found for a female relative I have found it useful to look for their presence in a religious community. The choice of religious order or community often came down to geographical circumstance, the influence of a bishop or a particular religious order in a region.

This post is a list that addresses only the known, deceased relatives who lived in Australia. Further detail will be provided in subsequent posts.

The SMYTH line

  • John Smyth 1824 –1870 priest, administrator and Vicar–General of Adelaide diocese: brother to Edward Smyth, my great-grandfather
  • Mary Smyth 1878 – 1960 Sister Mary Catherine: Sisters of Mercy in Perth,  daughter of James Smyth and Catherine Mulvaney elder sister of Francis below, first cousin twice removed
  • Francis Smyth 1884 –1955 – Parish priest:  first cousin of a grandmother,  my first cousin twice removed, son of James Smyth and Catherine Mulvaney
  • Ann Elizabeth Callery 1899 – 1981 Sister Mary Patricia: Sisters of Mercy, Perth, my father’s first cousin, my first cousin once removed, daughter of John Callery and Catherine Teresa Smyth
  • Edward John Smyth 1905-1978 – Parish priest: my father’s first cousin, my first cousin once removed, son of Francis John Smyth and Catherine Mary Fitzgerald
  • Margaret Byrne 1903 - 1980  Sister Mary Rose: Order of the Sisters of St Joseph: my father’s first cousin, my first cousin once removed daughter of James Leo Byrne and Margaret Smyth
  • Elizabeth Byrne 1911 – 2001 Sister Mary Raphael: Order of the Sisters of St Joseph, my father’s first cousin, my first cousin once removed daughter of James Leo Byrne and Margaret Smyth


  • Ellen O’Leary 1845 –1908 Sister Aloysius, Order of the Sisters of St Joseph nun: great grandmother’s sister
  • Johanna Horgan 1883 –1979 Sister Stanislaus: Dominican nun, first cousin twice removed, daughter of Thomas Horgan and Mary Carroll
  • Peter Maurice Horgan 1890 – 1950 parish priest: first cousin twice removed, son of Daniel Horgan and Julia Evans
  • Joan Therese Horgan 1909 – 1994 Sister Joan:  Dominican nun, second cousin once removed, daughter of Thomas James Horgan and Margaret Anne Dempsey
  • Phoebe Horgan 1912 –2012 Sister Alphonsus: Dominican nun, second cousin once removed, daughter of Daniel Horgan and Lillie May McCarthy
  • James E Horgan 1914 – 1946  priest of the Redemptorist order: second cousin once removed, son of Denis Joseph Horgan and Laura Maria Worthington
  • Mary Elizabeth Hogan 1908  –1975 Member of the sisters of the Little Company of Mary: (Calvary Hospital, North Adelaide)second cousin once removed daughter of Timothy Thomas Hogan and Elizabeth Mary Kerin
  • Elizabeth Ann Hogan 1914 –1973 Sister Peter: Loreto nun, second cousin once removed daughter of Timothy Thomas Hogan and Elizabeth Mary Kerin
  • Thomas Erwin Horgan 1915 – 2002 priest: second cousin once removed son of Thomas James Horgan and Margaret Anne Dempsey
  • Lillian Veronica Horgan 1917 –2003 Sister Vianney, Dominican nun for early years of her life, second cousin once removed, daughter of Daniel Horgan and Lillie May McCarthy, my music teacher in the late 1960s at Cabra Dominican Convent
  • Mary Dominica Slattery 1917 -2018 Sr Mary Carmel, Dominican nun, second cousin once removed, daughter of William John Slattery and Katherine Gertrude Horgan
  • Thomas Barry Horgan 1925 – 2009 Member of the Marist order known as  Brother Godric, second cousin once removed, son of John Michael Horgan and Mary Ann Barry