Tag Archives: Colac

Trove Tuesday – For Wives and Daughters

The “For Wives and Daughters” columns from the Colac Herald first came to my attention while researching my fashion posts.  The column has fashion tips, recipes, handy hints and more.  I found the column in two other papers, the Warwick Examiner and Times of Queensland and the Western Mail from Perth.  The earliest date I found the column was 1897. The earliest column in the Colac Herald was 1910 and it seems to have run through to the end of 1918 in that paper.

forwives1

FOR WIVES AND DAUGHTERS. (1916, February 23). The Colac Herald (Vic. : 1875 - 1918), p. 3. Retrieved May 12, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article75256133

FOR WIVES AND DAUGHTERS. (1916, February 23). The Colac Herald (Vic. : 1875 – 1918), p. 3. Retrieved May 12, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article75256133

In 1914, the tight skirt was on the way out.

daughters“Waste not, want not” was an adage I heard regularly throughout my childhood, one of Nana’s favourites.

daughter1If you want to make dish washing less of a chore, here is a handy hint courtesy of an American housewife.  Or if the cooler weather has caused your nose to run, be sure to apply Vaseline around your nose and mouth area before bed tonight.

daughter2

OR WIVES AND DAUGHTERS. (1914, April 1). The Colac Herald (Vic. : 1875 – 1918), p. 3. Retrieved May 13, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article74224403

Wondering what to have for dinner tonight?  Fancy some tongue?  Maybe some Pigeon Pie is more to your liking.

Useful Recipes. (1914, April 1). The Colac Herald (Vic. : 1875 - 1918), p. 3. Retrieved May 13, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article74224398

Useful Recipes. (1914, April 1). The Colac Herald (Vic. : 1875 – 1918), p. 3. Retrieved May 13, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article74224398

Look out for more “For Wives and Daughters” on future Trove Tuesdays.


Ellen’s Inquest

Recently I ordered some digitised Inquest records including those of my ggg grandmother Ellen Barry.  You may remember from the post A Tragic Night,  Ellen burnt to death in a house fire,  her drunkenness contributing to her demise.

The various newspaper articles from around the country gave good coverage of the fire including the findings of the coroner’s inquest and her movements on the night of her death.  I hoped that the inquest record would give me more.  The copy of the inquest proved worth it but since then Trove have released The Colac Herald (1875-1918) and an extensive article including transcripts of the witnesses evidence.  Therefore, rather than me describe what the witnesses had to say about Ellen, I can include their statements as found in the Herald

The first witness statement was from Dr Adam who examined Ellen’s badly charred body.  Even though unrecognisable , he was able to show the body was a woman and she was around five feet tall.

The next  statement was from mounted Constable Charles Magor from the Colac Police station.  By the time he arrived, the house had burnt to the ground.  He found what looked like a body and removed it, “carefully” , I might add, to the home of Ellen’s son George Gamble who lived a few doors away.

After the official witnesses, members of the public where then called, the first being Barongarook man William Heron.  He and his wife were travelling home from Colac around 11pm on January 24 when he noticed a light in Ellen Gamble’s window.  Interestedly he had seen Ellen at 9pm and to him, she appeared completely sober.

There is still a lot I don’t know about my ggg grandfather, Thomas Gamble save for fleeting mentions in Colac history books, some court records and more recently his obituary.  From the  reports of Ellen’s death that I had initially found  I had questions about their living arrangements, with Thomas supposedly living in another residence in the town.  His inquest statement reveals a little more:

 

Thomas Gamble had a greengrocer’s shop in Gellibrand Street, Colac.  Ellen had visited him at the shop on January 24th, a visit which seemed more like that of a shopper not a wife.   It is not clear if she paid for the items, however she requested vinegar and the very objects that helped contribute to her death, candles.  She also wanted bread so Thomas gave her 3 pennies to buy a small loaf on the way home.  After a drink of ginger beer she left with Mary Lennon who had also been in the shop.  Thomas noted that Ellen appeared sober then, between 5 and 6pm.  Mary Lennon in her evidence also said she thought Ellen appeared sober.

George Gamble then gave his evidence.  Ellen had wanted him to drink rum with her but he declined and Ellen went home.

DEATH BY BURNING. (1882, January 27). The Colac Herald (Vic. : 1875 – 1918), p. 2 Edition: Mornings. Retrieved November 17, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article91455765

Finally evidence from George’s wife Mary-Ann including reference to Ellen’s grand-daughter Mary Ann as mentioned in A Tragic Night.  She was lucky she was not also burnt death with her grandmother.

DEATH BY BURNING. (1882, January 27). The Colac Herald (Vic. : 1875 – 1918), p. 2 Edition: Mornings. Retrieved November 17, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article91455765

It’s great to have the Colac Herald online at Trove, but I hope I find some good news stories about my Gamble family soon.  Currently my Electronic Friend is sending me stories of Ellen’s court cases with  the most recent from her 33rd appearance before the Colac Police Court.


My Electronic Friend

I heard from Electronic Friend yesterday.  I had waited for an email for a few weeks from my friend with no specific gender, although I tend to call him a he.  He brings me news of my family, sometimes good, sometimes bad, sometimes not what I was expecting, but always most welcome.  You may know my Electronic Friend.  If you have ever requested notification of a newly available article from Trove, you will have definitely had an email from him.

My latest contact was about my ggg grandfather Thomas Gamble of Colac.  Trove has been digitizing the Colac Herald (1875-1918) and I’ve been hopeful this may give me more information about Thomas.  A couple of weeks ago, a search of Thomas Gamble found three references to him in the year of his death, 1884.  All where articles “Coming Soon”, so I put in my email request and waited. And waited.

Until now I knew very little about Thomas Gamble:

As I clicked on the link to the requested article, I thought “I hope this is not another False Alarm”.

NOTES AND EVENTS. (1884, May 6). The Colac Herald (Vic. : 1875 – 1918), p. 2. Retrieved October 5, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article88187507

Very interesting.  My Electronic Friend had outdone himself.

The obituary confirms the Gambletown story.  It gives his age when he died as 76, giving a little more weight to the 1808 birth year I already had.  Finally it confirmed, in the most wonderful way that such a matter could be handled, Thomas liked a drink.

“…but a good part of his life he loved not wisely but too well – the cup.  The old man, however, had no great liking for the tea-cup, and in for something stronger and more cheering?’

Over the past year I have read well over 200 obituaries to prepare for Passing of the Pioneer posts.  Never have I read of a departed’s drinking habits, so I think Thomas really liked a drink.  So much so, it was a defining part of his character.

It is the new information that I find most interesting.  Thomas was “quite a character”, “full of humour” , in fact a “chatty, good, humored soul” and “always willing to help his neighbours” .  Until now, in my imagination Thomas has been an emotionless, non-speaking, old man standing in a brick yard!   While I had a lot of information to get an idea of Ellen’s character,  I had nothing on Thomas so it is pleasing to read of his wonderful attributes.

I have had reason to believe that Thomas did have some money at one time.  Mainly because he appears on the 1856/7 Electoral Roll, compiled for the 1856 elections of the Victorian Legislative Assembly and the Legislative Council.  At the time there were conditions for voting eligibility. For the Legislative Council, one condition was that the voter owned property over the value of £1000 and for the Legislative Assembly, property over the value of £50.  Thomas qualified in one of those categories, listed as a freeholder.  I had several other ggg grandfathers in Victoria at that time and none are on the same Electoral roll. 1857 saw the abolition of property qualifications.

Thomas must have had enough wealth to travel to Sydney to deposit his earnings.  Or was this just something he told the writer over a humorous drunken chat?  During the 1850s, Thomas had a string of appearances in court with men trying to retrieve money from him.  It does say he had his ups and downs.

As a family historian, the last bit of information is very exciting, but at the same time disheartening.  Thomas wrote his memoirs.  On 150 pages of note paper!  But as written in the obituary, the memoir would probably never have seen the light of day and I doubt it ever did.  Given the snippets I have about Thomas already,  I think it would have been a rollicking read.

My second article from my Electronic Friend was the Death notice.

Advertising. (1884, May 6). The Colac Herald (Vic. : 1875 – 1918), p. 2. Retrieved October 6, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article88187484

The last article comes from  two months before the death of Thomas and gives some clue to the state of his health leading up to his death and his financial situation at the time.

NOTES AND EVENTS. (1884, March 18). The Colac Herald (Vic. : 1875 – 1918), p. 2. Retrieved October 6, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article88190014

From the minutes of the Colac Hospital committee meeting, it would seem Thomas needed care but had no money and looked destined for the Benevolent Asylum at Geelong.  From his Death notice he died at this son’s home seemingly avoiding the Benevolent Asylum.  Whether he was living at Barongarook waiting to go to Geelong or whether he was taken in by Thomas M. Gamble (aka Mark Thomas Gamble), at least he passed away with family around him.

I am waiting for another email from my Electronic Friend.  The article’s headline is “History of Colac Chapter IV. (Continued). The Township Site—First Sale of Town Lands—Notes of Progress”.  The only available line is “…brick yard of any importance was opened out by Mr Thomas Gamble, after whom the suburb on the south…”.

Until then Electronic Friend.


A Tragic Night – January 24, 1882

Late on January 24, 1882, Mrs Ellen Gamble of Colac was lonely.  Calling at her son’s home, a few doors from her own cottage, she tried to persuade him to drink rum with her.  He refused, so she suggested her six year old granddaughter, Mary Ann,  go home with her for company.  Thankfully, the child was already asleep and her mother refused.  Ellen returned to her empty home and continued to drink.  Her husband lived elsewhere in the town, probably because of her intemperance. At some point in the late hours of the day, an incident occurred, most likely involving a candle, which would see her small weatherboard cottage quickly go up in flames.  After the fire was doused, little remained.  That night my ggg grandmother made the news.  It may not have been the first time, but it would be the last.

A WOMAN BURNT TO DEATH. (1882, January 26). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1956), p. 8. Retrieved January 19, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article11530343

ACCIDENTS AND OFFENCES. (1882, February 22). Illustrated Australian News (Melbourne, Vic. : 1876 - 1889), p. 22. Retrieved January 23, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article63185567

How did a woman, in her late 50s and mother of seven come to live this seemingly lonely, drunken existence?

Ellen Barry was born in Ireland around 1823, the daughter of Edward Barry and Johanna Gould.  It was some time before I had any leads on her arrival in Australia, but I knew it was early as I had found her marriage in 1844 to Thomas Gamble.  Thanks to the website Came to Port Phillip by 1847, I was able to find out more not only of her arrival, but her character.

There are three “Ellen Barrys” listed on the site.  One is a 17 year old from Tipperary, Ireland arriving  in December 1840 aboard the “Orient” with her older sister Mary.  I decided to trace Mary Barry and found her marriage to Robert Walker in 1841, time spent in Colac in 1852 and her death in 1905. Her parents were recorded as Edward Barry and Johanna Gould.  Through Mary, I had found my Ellen.

The girls were bounty passengers. Something that made me think I had found the right girls was a report on the voyage.  Mary, 19, and a group of up to 20 girls were disruptive during the trip and Mary’s bounty was withheld from the immigration agent, Mr Marshall.  Allegations included them causing problems among the married couples and distracting the crew from their work.  One can only imagine the behavior they were engaging in.

Port Phillip. (1841, January 21). Australasian Chronicle (Sydney, NSW : 1839 - 1843), p. 2. Retrieved January 24, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article31730577

Bawdy Irish girls where not the only cargo on the ship making the news.  A pipe organ for St Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney was a much anticipated arrival, as reported in the “Australian Chronicle” (Sydney 1839-1849) on January 26, 1841. Sadly too, it came to a fiery end in 1865 when the Cathedral was destroyed by fire, as reported in the “Maitland Mercury & Hunter River General Advertiser” on July 1, 1865.

DESTRUCTION OF ST. MARY'S CATHEDRAL, IN SYDNEY, BY FIRE. (1865, July 1). The Maitland Mercury & Hunter River General Advertiser (NSW : 1843 - 1893), p. 3. Retrieved January 24, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article18696838

Also on board was a pure bred Durham bull imported by none other than immigration agent, Mr Marshall.  It appears to have been better cared for than the  human cargo.

Port Phillip. (1841, January 4). The Sydney Monitor and Commercial Advertiser (NSW : 1838 - 1841), p. 2 Edition: MORNING. Retrieved January 24, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article32187808

After finding a reference to Ellen in the book “St Mary’s Geelong: It’s Founding Community“, a check of the “Orient” passenger list was called for as the Biographical Index in the book, lists Ellen,  (Helen in the book) as arriving on the “Thetis” in 1842 with a sister Mary.  The passenger lists can be viewed online at  NSW State Records.  The list for the “Orient” shows Ellen, 17 and Mary, 19 from Tipperary, Ireland, Roman Catholic, neither able to read or write and their occupations were housemaids.  The passenger list for the “Thetis” had only an Anne Barry aged 27 from Clare, no Ellen or Mary.

Ellen stayed in Melbourne after her arrival and in 1844 she married Thomas Gamble at St Francis Catholic Church, Victoria’s first Catholic church.  Their first child, Matthew, my gg grandfather, was born in Newtown in 1845.  “St Mary’s Geelong: It’s Founding Community” mentions early church records showing his birthplace as the Newtown which became Collingwood.

Edward was born in 1847. The Ancestry Australian Birth Index shows his birthplace as Ashbourne, near Woodend.  I tend to think it is Ashby, Geelong, later to become Geelong West, as third son Mark Thomas was born in 1851 at Kildare, Geelong, now also known as Geelong West.

Soon after, the Gamble family moved to Colac, as brickmaker Thomas had a job opportunity in the town.  The move would see him set up a brick making business in Colac.

Thanks to the wonderful Geelong and District database, I was able to find the also wonderful, award-winning online  Colac Court of Petty Sessions register 1849-1865.  It is a pleasure to read the digital images of the register and to see the original handwriting.  Ellen appeared seven times from 1851 to 1860.  Most offences stemmed from drunkenness.

  •  December 1851 she faced the Colac court for being drunk – charge dismissed.
  • Monday October 9, 1854 she faced court for being drunk on Rices Licensed Premises – fined  £2
  • Jan 2, 1856 unknown charged fined  £2
  • May 30, 1857 fined 2/7 for breaking glass?
  • July 5, 1857 – drunk and using obscene language – dismissed
  • July 22, 1857 drunk in a public place £1  fine – if not paid “to be locked up for one week”
  • October 30, 1860, drunk

Ellen was aged from 25 to 34 during this time and by 1861 she had seven children, the eldest 15 and four under five.  She had babies in 1851, 1856 and 1857, when five of the offences were committed.

It seems Ellen left a legacy.  Her son William Gamble faced court for a domestic dispute with his wife’s sister and husband.  A grandson, Robert Gamble, faced court for petty crimes and at one stage was in imprisoned in a reformatory and escaped!  Another grandson, Joseph Henry Gamble, my great-grandfather also battled with alcohol, committed petty crimes and died alone, estranged from his family.

That brings us back to 1882 and the night Ellen died in such sad circumstances, which saw her reported in the papers as either an old or elderly woman.  Sadly her final newspaper account was not a glowing obituary such as those posted at Passing of the Pioneers.  She was a pioneer, one of the early ones, normally held in high regard, yet Ellen was  remembered as an old drunken woman who died in a fire.  To date I have found 12 different newspaper reports on her death and I am sure I will find more, not only of that fateful day, but her earlier activities.

There is a reference to Ellen in the book Wild and Wondrous Women of Geelong, this time as a victim of an attack by another woman, but I doubt it was without provocation.  This is how I like to remember Ellen, one of my favourite ancestors, as a “Wild and Wondrous Woman”.


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