Tag Archives: Gamble

It’s My 1st Blogiversary!

Happy 1st Blogiversary Western District Families.  I thought we would never make it, but 84 posts and 12 months later, here we are.

What a fun year it has been.  It really was worth the procrastinating about whether to blog or not to blog.  Over the time I have made some great online friends, met some previously unknown family members and found out so much more about my Western District family.  Western District Families even got a Google+ page!

I hope some of you have also found out something about your Western District family, where they lived and the things they did through posts such as In the News and the Pioneer Christmas series.  Maybe you have found an obituary of an ancestor at Passing of the Pioneers.

I have found that the act of writing out my family history has been so useful for my research. It has helped me sort out what information I have but more importantly, what I don’t have.  Also, lining up the lives and events of siblings, in the case of the Harmans for example, has given me a better understanding of the dynamics of the family (can you tell I was a Social Sciences student?).

So what have been the most popular of the past 84 posts?

1.  The Fastest Ship in the World

2. A Tragic Night – January 24, 1882

3. Histories of  South-West Towns

4. Witness for the Prosecution

5. Only Seven More Sleeps…

Which posts have been my favourite to share?  Well it was hard to narrow them down to just five but here they are:

1 Elizabeth Ann  Jelly

2. All Quiet By the Wannon

3. Halls Gap’s Cherub

4. From Stone Country to High Country

5. A Tragic Night – January 24, 1882

An Honourable Mention must go to  What the Dickens? and the follow up post Another ‘What the Dickens” Moment.  They were both interesting and fun to write.

Over the past year, I have had made contact with Gamble and Jelly cousins and members of the Condon, Adams and Oakley families.

I  also heard from Rosemary of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Her great grandparents were married in the original St Stephens Church at Portland.

Plenty is planned for the next 12 months.  I thought I would run out of things to write about. Instead I am finding it difficult to keep up with all the subject ideas I have. There will be more Passing of the Pioneers and later in the year I will look at Christmas in the early part of the 20th century.  Of course, I will have more stories about my family.  I’ve barely touched on some of the stories I had planned when I started the blog as I keep finding more great stories in the meantime.

A big thank you must go to my fellow Australian geneabloggers.  Your support and encouragement have been fantastic and you have all inspired me to keep going.   What I have learnt from each of you has been invaluable.  It  was great to meet some of you at the Unlock the Past Victorian Expo at Geelong last year.  Also to the 29 followers of Western District Families, thank you for following and for your great comments.

I must also make a special mention of my maternal grandmother, Linda Gamble (nee Hadden).  Nana did not get to see my blog.  She passed away six days before I published my first post.  It was Nana that got me to this point.  Her love of  the past and her family inspired me almost 20 years ago to start researching our family tree simply to find out more about them for her.  What a wonderful family she gave me.

Nana & me


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”.


Surname Saturday Meme: Names, Places and Most Wanted Faces

Following the lead of U.S. genealogist Thomas MacEntee and  in turn Australian genealogist Jill Ball, I decided to take part in this meme.  It interested me more than others I had seen, because not only would I get my names “out there”, I also got the chance to do a stocktake.  What an interesting exercise it was.  With some names, I did not have to look up the details as I knew them so well, others I had to refer back to my tree, and for one name, I had basically nothing.

It’s easy to develop favourite families, with some just oozing information making them more compelling to research.  The Harmans are an example of that.  The Riddiford line was probably my least favourite  and despite it being my family name, I tended to pass it by. When I did starting seriously researching them, I found loads of information.  This avoidance was probably due to them being 20th century immigrants and my history interests lie in 19th century Australia.  I had no choice but to delve into 18th and 19th century English history and I have really enjoyed it and learnt a lot and I continue to do so.  I am glad I got over my previous mindset.

I also have more Irish links than I normally given myself credit for and I can now clearly see the branches I have been neglecting.

I have included the surnames of my great great grandparents, but I have taken the places and dates back a little further.  If not, I would have had entries with just a single place in Australia with no indication of where the family originated from.

To take part, just do the following at your own blog, then post a  link in the comments at Thomas’ blog post

1. List your surnames in alphabetical order as follows:

[SURNAME]: Country, (State or County, Town), date range;

2. At the end, list your Most Wanted Ancestor with details about them.

MY NAMES, PLACES AND MOST WANTED FACES:

BISHOP:  England (Dorset, Weymouth) 1825-1850; Australia (South Australia, Adelaide) 1850-1854;  Australia (Victoria, Byaduk)1854-1950

COMBRIDGE:  England (Huntingdonshire) 1833-1855;  Australia (Victoria, Geelong 1855-1935);  Australia (Victoria, Grantville) 1900-1950

DIWELL:  England (Sussex) 1825-1852;  Australia (Victoria, Casterton) 1852-1893;  Australia (Victoria, Hamilton) 1893-1940

GAMBLE:  England 1808-1840;  Australia (Victoria, Geelong) 1840-1850;  Australia (Victoria, Colac), 1850-present

HADDEN:  Scotland (East Lothian) 1823-1852;  Australia (Victoria, Geelong) 1852-1865;  Australia (Victoria, Cavendish) 1865-1975;  Australia (Victoria, Hamilton) 1900-present

HARMAN:  England (Cambridgeshire, Melbourn) 1800-1854;  Australia (New South Wales) 1852-1857;  Australia (Victoria, Port Fairy) 1852-1863;  Australia (Victoria, Byaduk) 1863-present

HODGINS:  Ireland (Fermanagh) 1816-1853;  Australia (Victoria, Colac) 1853-1940

HUNT:  England (Middlesex, Poplar) 1834-1854;  Australia (Victoria, Geelong) 1854-1865; Australia (Victoria, Collingwood) 1867- ;  Australia (Victoria, West Gippsland) 1880-1936

JELLY:  Ireland (Down, Drumgooland) 1815-1845;  England (Lancashire, Manchester) 1845-1854;  Australia (Victoria, Casterton) 1854-1900

KIRKIN:  England (London, Lambeth) 1859-1940;

MORTIMER:  England (Berkshire, White Waltham) 1823-1852;  Australia (Victoria, Cavendish) 1865-1930

PIDDINGTON:  England (Buckinghamshire, Cuddington) 1700s-1880

RIDDIFORD:  England (Gloucestershire, Thornbury) 1600s-present; England (Buckinghamshire, Cuddington) 1846-present;  England (London, Lambeth) 1896-1913; Australia (Victoria, Ballarat) 1913-present

WEBB:  England (Surrey, Clapham) 1845-1878; England (London, Lambeth) 1878-1900

WHITE:  England (Kent, Broadstairs) 1857-1876;  Australia (Victoria, Grantville) 1876-1950

WYATT:  ???

MOST WANTED ANCESTOR:

When I started this I thought my most wanted ancestor would be gg grandmother Mary Jane HODGINS.  She was born in Ireland around 1849, immigrated with her parents West HODGINS  and Martha BRACKIN in 1853 aboard the “Marion Moore” . She married Matthew GAMBLE in 1871 at Colac.  That is all I know except for the accident which saw Mary Jane loose the top of her finger, as mentioned in the post Misadventures, Deaths and Near Misses.

However, when I looked at the completed list it seemed clear it had to be Jane WYATT, another gg grandmother and second wife of Herbert John COMBRIDGE.

I had previously found a birth for a Jane Wyatt born 1882, St Arnuad but this did not really add up, mainly because my Jane Wyatt married Herbert Combridge in 1895 in Gippsland.  If I searched the Australian Death Index 1787-1985, I find the death of Jane COMBRIDGE in 1909 at Grantville but with no approximate birth year or parents.

As I was writing this post, I decided to have a look around for Jane again.  I checked for people researching Combridges at Ancestry.com and found a reference to Jane’s birth in 1873.  I searched again with this birth date and that threw up something interesting.  There is a Jane Wyatt listed on the Victorian Index to the Children’s Register of State Wards, 1850-1893.  Her birth date is given as 1873, but no birth place.  This could be my Jane and it could explain the lack of parent names  and birth year on the Death index.

So, thanks to this exercise, I may have come a step closer to finding Jane Wyatt, but if she was a ward of the state, I may not be able to find anything else about her.  So if anyone has information on Mary Jane HODGINS and her family, I would love to her from you!


Misadventures, Deaths and Near Misses

You have found your ancestor’s date of death, but you are wondering how they died.  You could buy a death certificate, but a certificate for all relatives can be a costly business.  Newspapers are the answer.  With the growing number of Australian newspapers available to search at Trove, there is a good chance you may find an article on your relative’s demise.  In turn, it may lead to an obituary which can also be a wealth of information, but I will discuss those in a future post.

When I began reading old newspapers, I was amazed at the number of deaths and accidents reported, compared to today’s papers.  It seemed even the smallest of accidents could make newspapers right around Australia.  Death reports were explicit and sparing little detail.  However, despite the nature of these reports, I do find them intriguing reading and they can show when, where and how a family member died.  Also accident reports show information that you may never have found otherwise.  I may never have known that my great great grandmother lost the top of her finger or my great great aunt was bitten by a snake.

Horse related accidents were naturally common whether  falls or buggy accidents.  As the years passed, motor cars where the culprits, with many stories of them rolling or hitting trees.  The increasing number of  motor cars also caused some problems for those still using horses as their main source of transport.  Fire was also a common cause of death or accidents.  Candles, coppers and fire places all increased the risk of burns.

Following are some examples of deaths and accidents involving my family members found in the papers at Trove:

Charles Bishop worked at Weerangourt Station, Byaduk,  but I found he also died there.  While chopping wood in 1916,he suffered heart failure and died at the age of 60.   I found this reported in four newspapers.

I feel sorry for poor James Elston.  He died at only 21.  The first article I found on him was in 1901, eight years before he died.  James had broken his leg, but this was the fifth break in two years.  He was sent to the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne.  The Barrier Miner published in Broken Hill reported the accident as a possible record breaker.

A Marino Boy Puts Up a Record. (1901, August 29). Barrier Miner (Broken Hill, NSW : 1888-1954), p. 2. Retrieved June 4, 2011, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article44302344

In March, 1908, James was back in hospital.  He had been thrown from a buggy and fell on a fence.  As a result he fractured his spine between the shoulder blades and was crippled, his condition critical.  In January 1909, it was report that James had succumbed to injuries at the Hamilton Hospital.

Robert McClintock died from heart strain and tetanus as a result of chasing a fox.  This was in 1913 and Robert was only 18.  I decided to search Trove with the phrase “chasing a fox” and it threw up many articles about  deaths and accidents incurred while chasing foxes.  Some had fallen from horses, others accidentally shot by themselves or others died  the way of Robert McClintock.

Jane Diwell’s death in 1909 demonstrates the dangers women faced doing simple housekeeping tasks.  Married to Samuel Hazeldine,  Jane was in a back shed at their home in Murtoa boiling up beeswax and turpentine, when her clothes caught fire.  Despite desperate attempts by her husband to save her, she died from her burns.  Samuel received severe burns to his hands.

Frederick Hazeldine of Murtoa, was watching the eclipse of the sun in 1910, when the 10 year old slipped off a fence and broke his arm

Frank Coulson was only 17 when he met his fate in 1935.  His body was found near Digby.  He had sustained a fractured skull and his pony’s saddle and bridle were lying close by.  Different articles tried to offer and explanation to his death from having been kicked in the head by the pony or haven fallen awkwardly as the pony jumped a fence.

George Gamble lost his life after a cave in at the Colac Brick Works in 1910.  He was dug out but later died at the Colac Hospital,

Mary Jane Hodgins(Mrs Matthew Gamble, below), my great great grandmother,  lost the top of her finger in an accident involving a horse.  Notice that this took place in Colac, Victoria, but was reported as far away as Maitland, New South Wales

GENERAL NEWS. (1877, September 1). The Maitland Mercury & Hunter River General Advertiser (NSW : 1843-1893), p. 7. Retrieved June 4, 2011, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article18829977

In 1906, Amy Margaret Bubb, Mrs Benjamin Combridge, was bitten by a snake which had hidden in a mattress.  Her daughter Amy was darning the mattress and noticed something she thought was mice, moving inside.  She called her mother who hit the mattress and was bitten by a black snake on the wrist.  Young Amy ran to the neighbours’ house almost a kilometre away through paddocks and returned with a Mrs Arklay.  By this time, Amy snr’s arm was black.  Mrs Arklay made an incision and drew black blood from the wound which saved Amy.  This article ran in Tasmania and Adelaide as well as The Argus.

I had known that my great, great, great grandfather William Diwell had died in a fall at the Merino Flour Mill in 1871, but I have since found that he was severely injured three years earlier.  In 1868, the Merino school-house verandah was falling down, so William volunteered to remove it.  Part of the verandah fell on him and his was pulled out suffering a severe head injury.  By all accounts if the full verandah had of fell on him he would have been crushed to death.  He was 43 at the time and I think he may have been lucky to make it 46 when he did die.

The most gruesome article I have ready about one of my family members, is that of my great, great, great grandmother Ellen Barry, Mrs Gamble.  Ellen was a feisty Irish woman, often in the courts and rather fond of a drink.  One night in January 1882, Ellen was home alone in her cottage in Colac, when a fire broke out.  The next day, the coroner found that due to Ellen’s propensity for a tipple, it was most likely she had knocked a candle which started the fire.

A WOMAN BURNT TO DEATH. (1882, January 26). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848-1954), p. 8. Retrieved June 5, 2011, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article11530343

These few examples prove how much you can find out about  your ancestor’s death, not to mention their life before death.  If you are using Trove, it is useful to search  all the papers available because as Mary Jane Hodgins’ accident  shows, incidents can be reported interstate.  You can use filters to narrow your search down, particularly if you have a specific date.

In a future post I will share some of the other articles I have found which don’t relate to my family, but show the value of these stories in developing an understanding of  how precarious life could be for those living in the 19th and early 20th century.  We can also learn how death was considered in those times by the style of writing and the depth of description.  Most importantly for family historians, our ancestors become more than just a one-dimensional date on a page.


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