6 September 2015

A Fathers' Day remembrance

Edward John Horgan c. 1918 on Beaver
Photo courtesy of M. J. Horgan , Gawler, SA
The first Sunday in September is celebrated as Fathers' Day in Australia, so in tribute to my father I record some of his early years gleaned from newspaper clippings up to his marriage in 1937.

Early years

On 30 May 1908 in Riverton, South Australia my father Edward John Horgan was born to Elizabeth (born Smyth) and Andrew Horgan. They had been married in February 1906 and already had a 17 month old girl, Hanora Mary, when Edward, Ted or Eddie as he would become known, was born. It is likely that he was named after his maternal grandfather Edward Smyth who had died seven years before his grandson was born.

His early years were spent on their farm at Alma from where he attended the local Alma South primary school, riding there on the pony with his little brother Joseph who was born 2 years after him. (1) His best friend and companion in these years was Edward John Smyth (the late Rev Fr Eddie Smyth 1905-1978) a first cousin living on the adjacent property. This devout close knit family attended Mass on Sundays at  nearby Tarlee  travelling by horse and buggy
By the time he had finished primary school his elder sister was away at school at a convent and Edward followed his first cousin and friend to Adelaide for a year at boarding school. Imagine the shock of leaving an isolated farmhouse and quiet rural lifestyle for the rigors of a boarding school run by the Marist Brothers at Sacred Heart College, Somerton. His stay was short and the rest of his teenage years were spent labouring on the family farm.

Young adulthood

4. Fair at Tarlee
In August of 1925 (2) he is listed among the 300 guests at the Hibernian Ball held in Hamley Bridge along with his aunt, uncle and cousin from the next door farm. Local dances were a popular fund-raising entertainment as the report of this fancy dress dance at Alma details. (3)

At almost 19 years old he would have been responsible for driving his mother in the sulky, (horse and buggy) to events such as this Fair at Tarlee (4) where she and her sister in law were in charge of the produce stall of homemade preserves and homegrown fruit and vegetables. He is listed as helping man the cold drinks stall with friends Denis and Bill Hahesy.


Life was not all work as he played tennis for Alma and the Catholic club at Tarlee, teaming up with Hogan cousins and playing against McInerney cousins such as this event in 1930.  Riverton Catholic Tennis Club v Tarlee Catholic Club.  Scores.—Men's Doubles: M. Hogan and E. Horgan (Tarlee) lost to V. and M. Mclnerney (Riverton), .............Men's Singles: M. Hogan lost to V, Mclnerney, 5—6 ; E. Horgan defeated M. Mclnerney 6-4 (5) These matches were reported on again in the years 1931-33 with several wins recorded against his name.

Family events

Death is inevitable in all families, and at age 18 in 1926 it is likely that he would have attended the funeral of a maiden aunt Johanna Horgan who died after a long illness at age 49. She had been living on the farm at Linwood where his father was born along with two other brothers, John and Thomas and her sister Kate and mother Hanora.
In the following year, 1927, his grandmother Hanora died aged 87. These funerals eleven months apart would have seen large gatherings of relatives as reported in 1926 and 1927.
When Eddie (Ted) was 25, tragedy struck once more when his mother Elizabeth Agnes Horgan died at their home on the farm in March of 1934. The large funeral that followed is reported in The Southern Cross. (6)

The death of Mrs. Andrew Horgan, which occurred at Alma on Sunday, March 4, occasioned deep regret, not only to her devoted husband and children, but also to a large circle of friends. The deceased lady was well known and highly respected in the district. Her admirable qualities and charitable disposition endeared her to all who had the good fortune to come in contact with her. She is survived by her husband, Mr. Andrew Horgan, and three children—Sister M. Marguerite, of the Sisters of St. Joseph; Mr. J. Horgan, St. Patrick's College, Manly, N.S.W.; and Mr. T. Horgan, Alma. The funeral, which was attended by a large number, took place on Monday, March 5, at the Navan Cemetery. Rev. Father A. Noone, P.P., assisted by Rev. Father P. M. Horgan, of Colonel Light Gardens, officiated at the graveside. 

 Joyful times

My father used to tell the story that he walked Hannah O'Dea back to her house after a dance in Hamley Bridge and kissed her "to put his brand on her." 

They were engaged in July 1935 but it was nearly two years before their wedding took place. During the years since his mother's death a housekeeper had been cooking a mutton roast once a week for Eddie and his father. This was then eaten cold with mustard for days afterwards and from his retelling, this constituted the main part of their diet. How he must have looked forward to marrying his sweetheart and once again having a cook in the house. Their 1937 wedding is reported here.

1. 1921 'The Children's Page.', Southern Cross (Adelaide, SA : 1889 - 1954), 2 December, p. 18, viewed 22 June, 2015, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article167024742

2. 1925 'HAMLEY BRIDGE.', The Mail (Adelaide, SA : 1912 - 1954), 15 August, p. 21, viewed 6 September, 2015, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article58202463

3. 1925 'DANCE AT ALMA.', Chronicle (Adelaide, SA : 1895 - 1954), 31 October, p. 71, viewed 6 September, 2015, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article90502842

4. 1927 'FAIR AT TARLEE.', Kapunda Herald (SA : 1878 - 1951), 11 March, p. 3, viewed 6 September, 2015, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article108306635

5. 1930 'S.A. CATHOLIC ASSOCIATION.', Southern Cross(Adelaide, SA : 1889 - 1954), 19 December, p. 19, viewed 6 September, 2015, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article167051800

6.1934 'OBITUARY MRS. A. HORGAN, ALMA.', Southern Cross (Adelaide, SA : 1889 - 1954), 23 March, p. 10, viewed 30 January, 2015, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article168913804

This post first appeared at http://earlieryears.blogspot.com/2015/09/a-fathers-day-remembrance.html 6th September 2015

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