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 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