30 January 2014

A great place to marry

The start of a family tradition

This small church in Tarlee, South Australia has been the venue for weddings of Horgan family members across several generations.

The church was officially opened on Sunday August 12th 1877 (1) and Stations of the Cross that came from Austria were added in 1881. The opinion of the time was "they are masterpieces of art and really beautiful." (2)

It was to here, that my grandfather Andrew Joseph Horgan at age 36 and his bride to be, Elizabeth Agnes Smyth aged ~34, came on February 6th, 1906.

1906 'MARRIAGES.', Chronicle (Adelaide, SA : 1895 - 1954),
17 February, p. 50,
A wedding was celebrated at St. John and Pauls' Church, Tarlee, on Tuesday, February 6 between Miss Lizzie Smyth, of Alma, and Mr. A. Horgan of Pine Creek. The church was beautifully decorated by Mr. McCarthy (sexton) and girl friends of the bride. The bride, who was given away by her brother, was frocked in cream silk, trimmed with lace and narrow ribbon; she wore the usual veil and orange-blossom wreath. The attendant maid, Miss Norah Horgan (bridegroom's sister), was in cream voile, and a picture hat. The Rev. M. Mahar officiated, and Mr. John Horgan was best man. A reception was afterwards held at the residence of the bride's mother. Mr, Mrs. Andrew Horgan have gone to New Zealand for a honeymoon trip. 

I wonder how they travelled to New Zealand and how long the holiday lasted before returning to the hard life of farming.

Three children were born to Andrew and Elizabeth Horgan:
  • Hanora Mary in December 1906 
  • Edward John (my father) in May 1908 and 
  • Joseph Andrew in April 1910

More family weddings at Tarlee

Andrew's only daughter Hanora Mary, did not marry and with his death having occurred at the age of 82 in 1951, he did not live to see three of his grand-daughters and one of his great grand-daughters also marry in this church. All four of the brides mentioned, had grown up on that same family farm where Andrew was raised.

Notes on the church

(1) CATHOLIC CHURCH, TARLEE.—On Sunday last, His Lordship the Roman Catholic Bishop, Dr. Reynolds, solemnly opened the church which has recently been erected at Tarlee. There was a large attendance, including a number of the residents of Kapunda, and the amount collected reached a goodly sum. 
1877  Kapunda Herald and Northern Intelligencer (SA : 1864 - 1878), 14 August, p. 2, viewed 28 January, 2014, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article134886096
(2) Catholic Church, Tarlee.—By a notice appearing in another column it will be seen that the Stations of the Cross will be solemnly erected in the Roman Catholic Church, Tarlee, on Sunday next, by the Rev. J. Tappiner, of Norwood. We are informed that the Stations recently arrived from Austria, and that they are masterpieces of art and really beautiful.
1881 'The Kapunda Herald.', Kapunda Herald (SA : 1878 - 1951), 15 March, p. 3, viewed 27 January, 2014, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article106566334

25 January 2014

A victim of the 1919 influenza epidemic

Patrick Joseph O'Dea, 1877 - 1919

Patrick Joseph and Georgina Ellen (Bennett) O'DEA
on their wedding day Sept 11, 1907
I did not have the pleasure of meeting my grandfather, indeed my mother was only 7 years 4 months old when Spanish flu struck in August of 1919 and took her father.

Patrick Joseph O'Dea was born to John and Maria O'Dea in South Australia in 1877. He married Georgina Ellen Bennett on September 11, 1907. Daughters were born in 1908 and 1910 - then in 1911 they moved with the two little ones from Pinkerton Plains, his parents' home in South Australia, to Ngallo, Victoria and took up a newly released block of land in order to establish a farm. 

My mother, Hannah Olive (O'Dea) Horgan retold the story of those early years. 

They set out with all of their belongings in a horse-drawn dray for a property which my father had purchased from the government. The property consisted of one thousand acres of unfenced and uncleared land at Ngallo, a settlement in Victoria, just over the South Australian border. The trip took them eight days.

Life was not easy and accommodation was basic. My mother's words:
They built a circular broom brush hut, in which they lived until a house was built of wood and iron a few years later. The broom brush shelter then became the wash house, as I remember it. The toilet was the long-drop type – and a long way from the house.
My father, his brother and my cousin set about clearing the land and fencing it. They also erected a brush fence all around the house block, made white gravel paths and installed wooden gates. The house consisted of four large rooms, with the front and back verandah enclosed. A huge rainwater tank formed one wall of the kitchen. Not far from the house, a bore was sunk and a windmill built. This water served both the stock and the garden.

Four more children were born between 1912 and 1918 including my mother, born in Pinnaroo in 1912. She continues:

My mother and father were very hard workers. Clearing the land, planting trees and attending to stock kept my father busy. He grew all of our vegetables and many flowers too. He was an avid gardener but always had time for Mum and we children, teaching us our prayers and Irish songs and jigs. He had many medals for Irish dancing.

Then tragedy struck just as peace was declared at the end of World War I. Patrick had been ill in bed.

Our father, being the only Justice of Peace in the district, was called upon to speak at the Declaration of Peace. This was held in Murrayville, and a huge crowd had gathered to celebrate. Evidently, Dad was not feeling well, but we set out from home with Mum and we six children in our two horse drawn buggy to attend the function. Dad was speaking from the back of a wagon when he collapsed. From there, he was taken to Pinnaroo hospital, where he was diagnosed with pneumonic flu. Our dear father never regained consciousness and died three weeks later, on the 8th of August, 1919.

1919 'Family Notices.', The Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1889 - 1931),
 16 August, p. 8, viewed 25 January, 2014,   http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article5615522

O'DEA.- On the 8th August, at Nurse Pahl's Private Hospital, Pinnaroo, Patrick Joseph, the beloved husband of Georgina Ellen O'Dea, aged 41 years and 10 months. R.I.P.

What a tragedy this was for my grandmother Georgina Ellen O'Dea, and her 6 children under the age of 12, the baby Ronald Patrick O'Dea not yet 10 months old.

8 January 2014

Beginning in South Australia

My mother, Hannah Horgan (born O'Dea) died at 101 years of age at the end of June 2013. She was the matriarch, gathering family together at any opportunity. She valued and treasured her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. Now that she is gone I realise how valuable family photos and stories will be for future generations. So my interest in family history is relatively recent, but very rewarding and time consuming.

Since July I have found extensive records via Trove about the ancestral families on both my maternal and paternal side. Thanks go to my brother for supplying me with an invaluable document that piqued my interest about the early settlers in South Australia and supplied the starting point for my research.
Additional stimulus came from reading my mother's reflections on her life, as she had related her story in 1992, at the prompting of one of her 27 grandchildren. Thank you Deirdre for recording those memories.
These family stories should live on, not just in my genealogy database but for the extended family and future generations.

And so I begin, in South Australia's early days.

This 1848 map from The British Library's collection of newly released public domain images comes from South Australia : its advantages and its resources : being a description of that colony and manual of information for emigrants : by George Blakiston Wilkinson. The book was published in 1848, a scant 4 years before the first of my Irish ancestors arrived in the colony.

Whilst it is of little use to speculate upon its audience and actual readership, it does provide a very interesting background to early settlement, perceived and real difficulties as well as providing advice on all manner of enterprise from emigration to agriculture and relationships with aboriginal inhabitants. It is certainly enlightening to read works so far removed from current thinking and the reality of life in Australia in 2014. The book is free from The British Library.

On this blog I will retell some stories of those who lived in earlier times and reflect on their lives in days gone by.