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Showing posts from 2016

An elusive great great grandfather

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Where and when did he die? Patrick O’Dea migrated from County Clare, Ireland to South Australia in 1854 aboard the barque “Time and Truth”. He was accompanied by his wife Mary, sons Thomas and John and daughters Mary and Margaret.

Two hundred and forty one emigrants were aboard when the ship left Plymouth on January 11th 1854. There were 80 adult males, 88 females, 32 boys and 41 girls. During the voyage there were 4 births and 6 deaths. The captain’s report at the conclusion of the 4 month voyage on the 8th May 1854 provides some interesting insights into life aboard. He reports the conduct of the immigrants as very good with the only corporal punishment being “two boys put in irons for an hour for fighting.” General satisfaction was expressed with all aspects of the suitability of accommodation on board but he reported
The fresh potatoes failing at the end of 12 days after sailing. The quantity placed on board of the preserved potatoes proved insufficient to last the voyage. In oth…

A building with memories

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This sign outside the now abandoned Alma South School in South Australia holds few hints to the role it played in the life of my father and his siblings one hundred years ago.

Edward John Horgan and his sister Honora Mary were enrolled at this little one room school on the 28th April 1914. He was 5 yrs 11 months old and she was 7 yrs 4 months. The school register shows that neither had attended school before and that they lived three miles away. The distance from the school probably explains why Honora Mary had not started at a younger age. Now there were two children of school age, transport would be found for them.

This extract from the Alma South school register held at State Records SA details their birth dates, father’s occupation and shows they both started in J, the first grade in the school. Eddie completed Junior in 1915 while his elder sister moved up a grade.



This photo shows Eddie with his sister outside the school on their horse Beaver, accompanied by local children Lindsa…

Georgina and family leave Ngallo

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My mother related the story of arriving in Hamley Bridge, South Australia as a young girl, helping her mother and older sisters struggle to carry their limited luggage from the train station. I set out to find a date and the circumstances of their arrival. A recent trip to attend a family wedding and visit my siblings in South Australia provided an opportunity to acquire a wealth of family related stories and photos. After the death of her husband Patrick Joseph O’Dea from influenza in 1919, my maternal grandmother Georgina Ellen O’Dea continued to live and work on the plot of land at Ngallo, in Victoria just over the border from Pinnaroo South Australia. The young couple had settled there in 1911.  The house they had built, seen in the picture here, was home to the young family.  Georgina, aged 29 and now widowed, was mother to six children aged from 11 years to just 9 months old. Michael James O’Dea, Patrick’s brother had married Ethel Bennett in 1918.(1) They were living on a block…

Influenza numbers

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Advances in medical research bring us the benefits of modern medicines and I for one will be making sure that a ‘flu vaccine is on my to do list before next winter. My maternal grandfather Patrick Joseph O’Dea died as a result of the great flu epidemic that swept the world in 1918 and 1919. A dose of flu in our household prompted me to look at my family history records to identify any other victims of that epidemic.

There are 7 deaths I have recorded in 1919 and 3 of these were definitely from the effects of “pneumonic influenza’ as the epidemic was named at that time. Another three of the deaths all occurred in one Horgan family. I have not sought death certificates to confirm the cause of those deaths but two brothers in their thirties died within three months of each other and Julia their 71 year old mother died a mere six months later. If this was not from influenza then surely from a broken heart at losing Daniel and William, two of her remaining nine children, in the prime of t…

Trove Tuesday Honner

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The approaching wedding of a nephew with the surname Honner had me scurrying to Trove to see if there were any reports of the details of weddings of his ancestors. His great grandparents John Aloysius Honner and Mary Langford were married in 1893 in Maitland, South Australia, and the newspapers reveal a wealth of information about the lives of this couple.



The Honner family had arrived on Yorke Peninsula in 1875 when John was about 13 as this extract from an account about the prosperity of Maitland in 1952 records.
There were some epic pioneering stories. Richard Honner, of Yankalilla, who had seven sons, first took up land at Brentwood. Edward, aged 12, and John, 13, each drove a four - bullock team from the old home, through Adelaide, to the new property. [a distance of approx 280 km] For the feat, each was presented with an English lever and key watch. Mr. R. C. Honner, of Arthurton, now has one and Mr. R. F. Honner the other, and both still go. Mr. Edward Honner, now 88, is living …

Skills and Crafts of a Farmer’s wife

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Memories of Mum’s work, skills and hobbies It is now three years since my mother Hannah died but she left us with many fond memories and a variety of skills. The work of a farmer’s wife encompasses a broad range of tasks often not associated with a stay-at-home wife and mother.
Here’s a quick review of some of the tasks my mother undertook and taught to her children.
Farmyard relatedEggs: Seated on the veranda surrounding the farm house we washed and packed dozens of eggs manually. A damp cloth was used to wipe the surface of any soiled egg. These were then packed carefully into layers in the egg crates used to send them to market. Layer upon layer were added as they were cleaned, then came the sighs of relief when the wooden crate was sealed for collection.

Fowls: Who else would teach you how to pluck and dress a dead chicken but your mother? I’m sure she was pleased to share this onerous task with her children so that we could all enjoy the chicken dinners to follow. The heavy kettl…

John Horgan of Linwood

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A confusion of dates and ages On the 12th November 1832, John Horgan of Ballymacdonnell was baptised in the parish of Killeentierna, County Kerry, Ireland. He was the third child born to parents Johanna Fitzgerald and Thomas Horgan. (1)


Little is known about his childhood and early teen years but by the time John was 19 his father had died and his widowed mother Johanna set out along with two other sons, Thomas, and Daniel to make a new life on the other side of the world in South Australia. It appears that Johanna’s brother John Fitzgerald, already settled in South Australia had sent money to Ireland for their passage. (2) It is unclear what had happened to the first son Denis and husband Thomas but highly likely that they had perished during the great famine years. Elder daughter Johanna, born 1828, was to join the small family several years later.

According to shipping records, John Horgan was 20 years of age when they arrived at Port Adelaide aboard the barque “China” on 12 Novem…

Murphy's mixed message

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Trove Tuesday Found in Family Notices. What’s this?
In 1901 a certain Ed. T. Murphy proprietor of the Clare Castle Hotel in Kapunda, South Australia, had decided to advertise his goods and services in a novel manner as attested by the text in the illustration. (1)

Did you notice his mistake? Yes, of course, marriage should come before death and somehow he has mixed up the headings….. or perhaps the proprietor of the newspaper was having a joke on him and deliberately switched the order.

Ah, the delights of text correction in Trove. I’ve been working through all the Family Notices in the Kapunda Herald over a period of about 18 months when this one popped up today to provide an entertaining variation.

On looking further into the exploits of Ed. T Murphy, he was not only a publican who had owned a variety of hotels in Adelaide but was a consistent correspondent to the newspapers of the day. He wrote letters about licensing laws, police appointments and football matches to mention but a…

A sign from the past

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A pause for reflection
This sign in The Science Museum in London reminded me of earlier years. We did not have this sign in our house but next to the black Bakelite telephone, similar to the one below, stood a money box. To make a phone call was a privilege not to be taken lightly and the 3-minute calls would be paid for with 6d. Calls to relatives were made on Christmas Day, booked in advance and time strictly monitored.

I took these photos with my mobile phone as I explored the floor in the Science museum that covered the development of communications from early telegraph transmissions to the latest in web developments. This led me to reflect on the many common articles from my childhood that have now been replaced by apps and functions on my mobile phone.

10 things my phone has replaced
1. The Bakelite phone with its accompanying moneybox – now I can make calls from wherever there is mobile reception. From London I could speak to my husband in Australia using free wi-fi, no coins n…

Origins and age at death

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4 generation origins and longevity The chart below shows where my ancestors were born and age at death. The 5th generation great- great grandparents will most likely have at least 30 of the 32 coloured green for Ireland but as their birth places have not yet been determined I have limited this chart to 4 generations. All of the great grandparents migrated to South Australia between 1840 and 1868 as children or young adults. All were married in South Australia and 7 of the 8 also died in South Australia. George Bennett is still an unsolved mystery.


Thanks to Jill and Alona for pointing out this activity.

Worth recording

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Family history has us looking backwards into previous generations but the birth of two grandchildren within the last 5 months has me looking forward to future generations. My parents Edward John Horgan and Hannah O'Dea would have been delighted to know they now have 69 living descendants. The newest of these descendants arrived in London on Saturday 20th February.

It is less than 80 years since my parents married in 1937, I look forward and wonder how many descendants they will have in another 80 years time. Will those descendants be able to find the stories of our families? How are you preserving your family's stories?

What happened to George?

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Last week I wrote about great-grandparents George Bennett and Bridget Helen Kelly Following that post, I posed a query on the South Australia Genealogy Facebook group seeking advice on how to uncover death details for George. I was unable to determine, (via my subscription) which one or indeed whether any of the Georges listed in the SA Genealogy database was him. Several people jumped in to help and thanks to John Glistak’s eagle eye, I've now retrieved several articles from Trove that reveal more of this couple's life story.

After several moves, the birth of four, possibly five children and the marriage of the two daughters, George and Bridget's marriage of 28 years must have been under some strain. George was now about 53 and Bridget 52 years old. It appears that in 1915 George had left Bridget and was summonsed to court to pay maintenance.


George Bennett pleaded guilty to the charge of having deserted his wife on July 1 and with wilful neglect to provide maintenance for…

Restaurant on fire

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A goldfields romance Just a few days before the marriage of George Bennett and Bridget Helen Kelly in 1887, a fire broke out near Bennett’s restaurant in Teetulpa, South Australia.

Alluvial gold had been found at Teetulpa in 1886 and thousands of people flocked to the area to seek their fortune. Situated 85 km northeast of Peterborough in South Australia, life on the goldfield was difficult with limited water supplies. Typhoid had been common towards the end of 1886 with several deaths recorded. By February of 1887 it was estimated that the population was about 2500. (1)

Miners must eat and it appears the Bennetts had a restaurant. On the marriage certificate of George and Bridget Helen he is listed as a restaurant keeper aged 25. Was this his restaurant where the fire broke out on June 19th 1887? Luckily it appears that only “wearing apparel and bedding were consumed” but with the young couple’s wedding scheduled for the following Sunday, June 26th the loss may have been more signif…

Celebrating 50th wedding anniversaries

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In 1987 my parents Hannah O'Dea and Edward John Horgan celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary with a Mass and family gathering of their children and grandchildren. Many of the grandchildren in this photo now have children of their own.
Fast forward to 2016 and during this next period of a month, two of Hannah and Eddie's children and their husbands celebrate their 50th wedding anniversaries. Congratulations, Bernadette and John, Monica and Ernest.

One month later
Other wedding anniversaries amongst the siblings this year, two 48th anniversaries, two 45th anniversaries and one 38th. Happy days to all. Glad I don't still have that dress with the lace down the front of the bodice, and gloves, what was I thinking! Did we all wear them in 1966?