ancestry

Ollie & Rudi

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My family history research journeys are seldom linear. They often provide opportunity for side trips. Most recent, the culmination of almost a decade of stop-start-meandering. It got me thinking about family and friends who keep company with us on our life journey and at the same time are journeys in themselves.

Families we are born to, friends chosen: guided to each other by our higher selves.

Since I met the G.O. in 1990, he’s¬†called me Ol‚Äô, short for Ollie. I mentioned this in Ollie & Vin, as part of the coincidence¬†in the story of our house’s¬†original owners. But that’s not the origin of the nickname I feel honoured to have.

My part in this journey began with the nickname. Then the ring. In all the years I knew him, the G.O. wore a gold ring on his left hand, married or not. I knew the ring was special though it was many years until the G.O. told me the story of it, and about Ollie & Rudi.

The G.O.’s¬†part of the story began in a 1960’s world¬†that lingers only as a memory. Life was simpler and slower. What are nowadays expensive respectable inner west suburbs of Sydney were modest working class outer western suburbs. Neighbours knew each other and talked. Kids played on the streets.

The G.O. was a wild child but not a terribly bad one. He was close to his family and good to them, befriended stray cats, dogs and people. Amongst whom were a neighbouring couple: Ollie & Rudi.

Their story began even further in the past. Online records detail some of it.

Olga and Rudolf-Alois Stroher arrived at Melbourne, Australia on 27 April 1948 after departing Bremerhaven, Germany two months earlier on the ship USAT General Black. Among 817, officially listed as:

International Refugee Organisation Group Resettlement to Australia
This passenger list contains individuals and families that migrated to Australia after World War II from various European Countries including Germany, Hungary, Russia, Ukraine, Latvia, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Romania, etc. Most passengers are World War II refugees or displaced persons.
Columns represent: Sequence number, surname, forename
683  STROHER  Olga 684  STROHER  Rudolf-Alois

The G.O. recollects Ollie & Rudi¬†talked about day-to-day¬†happenings¬†rather than¬†the past. Especially not the war, other than a few¬†fragments.¬†Olga had been a translator. Rudi had refused to join the German Army, and had a previous partner from whom he’d been separated by the war; searching for her to no avail prior to immigrating.

This part of their story is also part of Australia’s history.

The Fifth Fleet¬†is the name that I have given to the ships which, chartered by the International Refugee Organization (IRO), brought about 164,100 Displaced Persons from Germany to Australia after World War II, between 1947 and 1951… More came by ship and air during 1952-54.¬†There was a total movement of 182,159 people up to the end of 1951–more than the number of convicts sent to Australia in the first 80 years of our modern history.

It’s likely Ollie & Rudi’s first stop was Bonegilla Migrant Centre in rural north-eastern Victoria.

Between 1947 and 1971, over 300,000 migrants from more than 50 countries called Bonegilla¬†their first “Aussie home”. They arrived by train to Bonegilla railway siding where they were met, in the early days, by army personnel who provided transport, security and catering services‚Ķ¬†Bonegilla was the largest and longest operating reception centre in the post-war era. It was a place where new arrivals lived while they were ‚Äėprocessed‚Äô and allocated jobs. It was also a ‚Äėtraining centre‚Äô where non-English speakers could begin to learn the language and about Australian ways. Its intention was to help people make the transition to a new life in a new country.

Later online electoral roll records show:

Name: Olga Stroher
Residence: 1958 – city, Lang, New South Wales, Australia
Name: Rudolph Alois Stroher
Residence: 1958 – city, Lang, New South Wales, Australia
[electoral division covering southern suburbs of Sydney]

Name: Olga Stroher
Residence: 1980 – city, Macquarie, New South Wales, Australia
Name: Rudolph Alois Stroher
Residence: 1980 – city, Macquarie, New South Wales, Australia
[electoral division located in west of Sydney & the Blue Mountains]

Between those years, in the late 1960’s Ollie & Rudi¬†moved into the house next door to the G.O.’s family. The G.O. was a young teenager. They were middle-aged¬†and had no children. Ollie later commented they had chosen between travelling the world and having children. In their travels they went to Indonesia where Rudi¬†worked overseeing a factory owned by a friend.

Ollie & Rudi spent a year tidying up the property and turning the overgrown yard into a garden. They didn’t have a lawnmower, so the G.O. lent a hand and the friendship was forged. After that first year Ollie & Rudi went to work: Ollie in an office at Burwood, and Rudi in the leather garment manufacturing industry.

Before their retirement in the early 1980’s Ollie & Rudi¬†moved to the Blue Mountains west of Sydney where they continued to be devoted to their garden, their dog Moystie & cat Mousie, and a tropical fish collection which from Ollie’s efforts became a thriving enterprise.

Ollie & Rudi kept mostly to themselves, had a few friends including the grown up wild but not terribly bad G.O. for whom they set aside a bedroom in their modest house, and considered the son they never had. Rudi once confiding that in the early days Ollie had perceived the G.O. neglected by his working parents and wanted to adopt… or kidnap him!

Ollie & Rudi remained close to the G.O., giving him the gold ring as a token of their affection. The G.O. continued to visit until one day Rudi rather than Ollie came to the door. That, and the look on his face conveyed wordlessly to the G.O. the terrible news. Ollie died on September 7th 1988, sitting at the table near the back step looking out at the garden. Rudi had been unable to bring himself to contact the G.O. to tell him.

Prior to Ollie’s death Rudi¬†incredibly received communication from his previous partner, and the amazing news that he had a son. Both of them were thrilled, however Ollie died before they could fulfil plans to meet. So the other news Rudi¬†had to tell the G.O. was that he was returning to Germany. Therefore on a subsequent visit, the G.O. wasn’t surprised to find the house¬†changed and Rudi gone.

ringsBy 2005 when the G.O. and I started living together the gold ring given to him by Ollie & Rudi¬†had worn¬†thin. To preserve¬†it I convinced him to let me take it to a jeweller and have a new ring made based on its design. The G.O. has¬†Ollie & Rudi’s¬†ring safely stored in my jewellery case, wearing the new ring -now¬†his wedding ring- in its place as a¬†legacy.

At the time I had the ring made, conversation around it sparked my interest, and I discovered by telephoning Pinegrove Memorial Park which Rudi had mentioned to the G.O. as being where Ollie was cremated, that Rudi had collected her ashes rather than having them interred.

This appeared to be the end of the story, yet¬†something continued to niggle. From time to time I would Google search Rudi’s name in the hope of finding record of him in Germany.

Then, early in February my search for Rudolf-Alois Stroher came up with a result for Rudolph Alois Strother, and a search of the Ryerson Index provided a crucial (and as we’d thought he’d gone to Germany a somewhat unexpected) clue‚Ķ

STROTHER Rudolph Alois Death notice 23MAR1998 Death [age] 80 late of Glenbrook, formerly of Czechoslovakia Sydney Morning Herald [newspaper] 24MAR1998

I checked again with Pinegrove Memorial Park, who had no details of Rudi. I searched online Australian Cemeteries Index. There were no matching records. I made a list of local cemeteries and memorial parks. Of them, on a gut feeling I telephoned Leura Memorial Gardens.

After¬†querying¬†the various spellings, the woman who answered my call confirmed Rudolph Alois Stroher’s ashes were in row 7 of their Rose Garden, but they had no record for Ollie. And, anticipating further inquiries, that the arranging funeral director had closed its business.

Suddenly, it seemed we were close. On the next Saturday events transpired¬†for us to drive to the Blue Mountains¬†to continue the search in person.¬†Alas the outcome we anticipated wasn’t accomplished¬†so easily. Within the Gardens there were few signs, lots of roses¬†& rows which¬†complicated the simple instructions to go to row 7 in the Rose Garden. The G.O. searched the whole complex without¬†success. We left consoled knowing Rudi’s remains rested in¬†pleasant grounds, we believe chosen because Ollie’s¬†were scattered nearby at one of the scenic Blue Mountains places she so loved.

On Monday morning, once again I called Leura¬†Memorial Gardens, and spoke to a different woman, Kath, who¬†reiterated what we already knew, clarified “there are several rose gardens”, and offered to check and get back to me. Later in the day she emailed me a map… it confirmed we’d walked directly to the correct location adjacent to the bridge over the chain of ponds, somehow missing Rudi’s¬†spot. Later she messaged me from her phone several photos of the site, including a close up of the plaque “In Memory of Rudolph Alois Stroher, 5.5.1917 – 23.3.1998, At Rest”.

We’ll make another trip¬†to the Blue Mountains to properly pay our respects,¬†and are very grateful for the assistance we received to finally also put our search to rest.

Rudy x 4

Disclaimer:

With the advent of the internet and various ancestry and genealogy websites, depending on the depth of research you want to undertake, web searches can offer up information previously only obtainable via considerable effort,¬†investigation and cost. Should you endeavour to undertake this type of research be prepared to get side tracked and spend endless time clicking on links and sources leading you to snippets of various information which do not necessarily exactly correlate necessitating the approximation and cobbling together of a story. And even if you think the trail has gone cold, keep searching and asking questions. I’ve found people are happy to help. With more material coming to light be prepared for revisions, updates and sometimes conflicting & varying information, spelling and versions. Don‚Äôt give up.

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a good missus

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"First Impressions" Sandstone relief sculpture symbolises the origins and settlement of the colony. Playfair Street, The Rocks, Sydney, NSW Australia
“First Impressions” Sandstone relief sculpture symbolises the origins and settlement of the colony. Playfair Street, The Rocks, Sydney, NSW Australia

One of the quainter ways the G.O. expresses his appreciation of me is the by the reassuring accolade “you’re a good missus”‚Ķ However, I’m not even remotely in the league of one of his great-great-great-great grandmothers, Harriet Hodgetts.

While the convicts of the Second Fleet were waiting to depart England the Home Secretary, William Grenville sent a letter to Lieutenant John Shapcote aboard the Neptune advising due to vacant berths there was some capacity for prisoners wives to have passage to the colony. Ordinarily not allowed, however Thomas Hodgetts and his wife listed as Harriet Hodgetts were beneficiaries of this circumstance. Harriet was one of six free women allowed to travel in this instance as convict spouses to New South Wales.

Her husband Thomas Hodgetts¬†was convicted of theft in 1788 and sentenced to death, the sentence being commuted to seven years imprisonment and transportation to New South Wales. Thomas and Harriett Hodgetts arrived at Sydney Cove, Port Jackson, New South Wales, Australia in June 1790 on ships of the Second Fleet. Thomas as a convict on board the “Scarborough” and Harriet as a free woman on board the “Neptune”.

If the times and life Thomas and Harriett left behind in England were harsh, their journey to the other side of the world was more so, with the mortality rate of the Second Fleet the highest in the history of transportation to Australia. The ships were contracted to private businesses who kept the convicts in awful conditions, treating them brutally. Of the 1026 convicts due to disembark in NSW 267 died. Of those who managed to complete the journey 486 were described as lean and emaciated many needing medical attention, with 124 dying shortly after.

Thomas and Harriet are described in the book The Brave Old Pioneers. A History of the Hodgetts Family In Australia.

“Convict Thomas Hodgetts & his wife Harriet, who was one of the first free women to come to Australia, survived the notorious Second Fleet to become respectable citizens and pioneers in a strange and challenging land.”

Such was the beginning of Thomas & Harriet’s new life together. They remained in Sydney until Thomas’ sentence expired in March 1795, thereafter he was free to work and apply for land grants. In July 1800 they moved to Norfolk Island, returned to Sydney in July 1805, in 1810 moved to Pitt Town on the Hawkesbury River, and finally to Tasmania in 1819 where they remained. During this time Thomas and Harriet had 10 children.

Thomas died suddenly in 1823, age 62 leaving his wife, eight children and fourteen grandchildren. Harriet stayed on at the farm at Longford where she died at 85 years of age in 1850.

The life Thomas and Harriet began anew was up summed by Tom Keneally in his book The Commonwealth of Thieves: The Story of the Founding of Australia.

“Male convicts were suddenly told that they could bring their wives on the voyage, if they chose, but only three women and three children turned up at Portsmouth by 21 December. Three of four other women embarked in the following days, interesting volunteers, lovers of various convicts, willing to take the step, on the eve of Christmas, into the void.

Amongst them was Harriet Hodgetts, wife of a 24-year-old blacksmith-cum-burglar from Staffordshire, Thomas Hodgetts. She had followed her husband down from Staffordshire to London, where she lived with their three small children in acute squalor in Whitechapel. It seems that the church wardens and overseers of the parish of St Mary’s Whitechapel took an interest in her case and were anxious to get Harriet aboard, since she had no other prospects at all.

That made her fit for New South Wales. Her revenge was to live till 1850 and to give birth to nine colonial children.”

With grandchildren of his own the G.O.’s family has 8 generations born in Australia descended from Thomas & Harriet.

Generation 1: Thomas & Harriet’s eldest living daughter Mary Maria (1795-1844) married Thomas Graham (1794-1862), son of the G.O.’s other 2 convict ancestors Eupham (sometimes referred to as Elizabeth) Graham and Matthias (often referred to as Matthew) Lock and who were described in one bit of research as ‚ÄúAustralian Royalty“.

Generation 2: Frederick Albert Graham, son of Thomas Graham and Mary Maria Hodgetts was born at Wilberforce in 1841. He married Annie Maria Organ (1842-1905) in 1862 at Bukkulla. They had 12 children. Frederick died in 1924, age 82 and is buried at Inverell, as is Annie Maria.

Generation 3: Ernest Richmond Graham, son of Frederick Albert Graham and Annie Maria Organ was born at Inverell in 1885. In 1906 Ernest married Amanda Maria (sometimes recorded as Marie) Kachel (1886-1968) of German free settlers, who the G.O. remembers and refers to as Old Mummy. They also had 12 children most of them known to the G.O. Ernest died in 1960 age 75 and is buried at Urunga with Old Mummy.

Generation 4: Thelma May Graham (1906-1992), is the G.O.’s grandmother. May is buried at Coffs Harbour with the G.O.’s grandfather, Vincent who died in 1963 age 59 years.

There is some mystery attached to this story. One of the crimes Thomas was convicted of was reported as stealing a cotton gown valued at ten shillings, being the property of William and Ann Duce at Wednsbury in Staffordshire, purportedly his in-laws as there are suggestions that Thomas may have been married to a woman named Ann Duce at the time of his conviction, and had 3 children, who did not accompany them on the voyage. Harriet’s name has been recorded variously as “Duce”, Henrietta Ann (Harriet) Luce and Harriet Henrietta. Her headstone¬†records her name as Henaretta¬†Hodgetts.

In A Great Second Fleet Mystery-the Hodgetts Family¬†Nola Mackey, a Historian whose husband’s family is also descended from Thomas and Harriett Hodgetts writes:

“Similarly I have been able to identify his wife, Ann, and their reputed children. By tracing these forward in time, I found no evidence they emigrated to Australia at a later time. In fact they remained in their native place and some of them can be found in the census records, some sixty years later.

It has been suggested Thomas‚Äôs wife Ann, changed her name to ‚ÄėHarriet‚Äô and came to Australia leaving the children behind. As I can now prove this was not the case, it raises the question, who was the woman who came on the Second Fleet, and later claimed to be ‚ÄėHarriet Hodgetts‚Äô the wife of Thomas Hodgetts?”

Disclaimer:

With the advent of the internet and various ancestry and genealogy websites, depending on the depth of research you want to undertake, web searches can offer up information previously only obtainable via considerable effort, research and cost. It was during a period of Google-based family history research on my mother‚Äôs family which morphed into the G.O.‚Äôs paternal grandmother May‚Äôs ancestry that I stumbled across what many Australians consider family history gold ‚Äď convicts. Should you endeavour to undertake this type of research be prepared to get side tracked and spend endless time clicking on links and sources leading you to snippets of various information which do not necessarily exactly correlate necessitating the approximation and cobbling together of a story. With more material coming to light be prepared for revisions, updates and sometimes conflicting & varying information and versions.

Sources:

http://nolamackey.wordpress.com/2012/08/19/a-great-second-fleet-mystery-the-hodgetts-family/

http://members.tripod.com/franklee_1/id4.htm

http://www.freewebs.com/hodgetts/

http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~hodgettsoftasmania/

http://www.freewebs.com/msmccarthy/apps/forums/topics/show/2397555

http://www.myheritage.com/person-2000016_179434492_179434492/thomas-hodgetts

http://hodgetts.webs.com/harriethodgetts.htm

http://www.swvic.org/carapook/names/hodgetts.htm

http://genforum.genealogy.com/hodgetts/messages/2.html

http://www.chestnut-blue.com/Chestnut%20Blue-o/p333.htm

http://boards.ancestry.com.au/localities.oceania.australia.tas.general/2511.2625.1929.2655.2761.1/mb.ashx

https://elladeewords.wordpress.com/2012/10/23/alls-well-that-ends-well-matthias-eupham/

Ollie & Vin

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In my short story Henry forgot to write ‚Äúeat, eat‚Ä̬† I wrote “There are ghosts in my kitchen. I know who these ghosts are. They are familiar to me”, and chronicled¬†various family members who turn up from time to time.
But there¬†are¬†ghosts who weren’t familiar to me. Ollie whose kitchen¬†in fact it was¬†until 1980, and her husband Vin. One of the wonderful things about Ollie is she isn’t pushy. It’s taken us a while to get to know her.
It was only¬†during our¬†last visit to Taylors Arm earlier this month,¬†chatting briefly to an¬†ex-local, Peter,¬†we became on a first name basis with our predecessors Ollie & Vin. Peter who by his surname is a relative of theirs, lived¬†his early life in successive houses¬†and was an apprentice baker in the village. He¬†resided next door at the time of Ollie’s death in 1980. She died from a heart attack in the front bedroom. Our bedroom now.
Our house was built in the 1930’s. We knew the¬†first occupants by their surname only and were told¬†they raised 8 children in our 3 bedroom house. As was common practice it also once had¬†part of the verandah closed off as a sleep-out.
Courtesy of Google I was able to find some of Ollie & Vin’s family history. Ollie & Vin were married in 1925. They both came from local families. Their various family names abound¬†locally still.
Ollie’s husband Vincent, 6 years older than her, died 6 years before in 1974. They were both 73 when they died.
Although she was yet to be introduced to us, the G.O. and I had started to wonder about Ollie’s influence. Along with the many other old floral pictures¬†we or our ghosts have a penchant for, we have¬†in 8 years of our residence acquired several old religious pictures, starting with a simple small God Bless This House which cost a dollar.
Both the G.O. and I¬†have Anglican family heritage but the pictures we’ve acquired are quite Catholic, Ollie & Vin’s religion. To this day, they and their family’s names appear in the weekly parish bulletin under “Praying for Holy Souls”. As I imagine they were regular church-goers, the Catholic Church conveniently for them is one house up from ours. It’s the church we attend at Christmas & Easter but all, regardless of denomination, are welcome any time. It’s¬†the local church.
Only days before my chat with Peter the G.O. surprised me with several gifts for my birthday, one of which was a print of (I now know) Saint Therese. The gift was a surprise because I had been mulling over its purchase for a while. When we were in Macksville en route to TA I went to the shop to buy it but there was only an empty hook on the wall. Somehow sometime the G.O. bought & got it home without my knowledge.
Saint Therese
Saint Therese

 

Our St. Therese now resides over the kitchen door, flanked by flowery renditions of The Lord will Provide and The Lord is my Shepherd.
As the G.O. hung St. Therese in place on the Saturday, we wondered about the original owners of the house and if this was their influence. Our suspicions were confirmed the next morning.
When the G.O.¬†joined Peter and I in conversation¬†and was told Ollie and Vin’s names the expression on his face must have echoed mine. Since I met the G.O. in 1990, his nickname for me has been Ol’ short for Ollie, and his pseudonym in my short story¬†Reprise¬†is Vin, named for Vincent, his grandfather.
No wonder it feels like home.

Aunt Emma

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I share a love of Trove* with Metan of Buried Words & Bushwa. Metan posts about quirky historical newspaper articles, I trawl through Trove for family history snippets.

Trove came to the rescue last week, during a Facebook discussion within the Murrurundi Memories group.

RM: there was a swinging bridge there and a lady called miss button made our clothes for my nan when we stayed anyone recall this lady

Aunt Emma's paintings c 1911
Aunt Emma’s paintings dated 1911

LB: Yes I can… Miss Button made me a dresses for the balls that were held out at Timor. I worked for Mr Abbott at the BP garage and NRMA depot. He was Miss Buttons brother…

CC: …miss button made our communion dresses she used to give us cookie and fresh cows milk

CC: Miss button made my girl guide uniform that was a long time ago

RM: My time with miss button was between 1959 and 1962

GC: how could Mr Abbott be Miss Button’s brother?

LB: He told me it was his sister…

EllaDee: Miss Button was Emma Button who was my great, great, aunt. Their residence was next to the Royal Hotel. Hopefully this link will work http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/82774246**¬†Harry Button was my great grandfather on Dad’s side. Uncle Mark had the dry cleaners in Scone but he is buried in Murrurundi Cemetery. I have & treasure 2 paintings done by Emma in 1911.

**Article 30 Jan 1953 – Mr. A .T. BUTTON

http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/82774246 A popular figure in sporting circles, Mr. Arthur Trevor Button, of John Street, passed away at the Dangar Cottage Hospital yesterday afternoon. Mr. Button suffered a heart complaint which forced him to relinquish his saddlery business last year. Born in Murrurundi 69 years ago, the son of the late Mr. and Mrs. Walter Button, of that district, he came to Singleton about 1907. Settling here, he served his apprenticeship as a saddler with Mr. Milton Frith. Several years later he set up his own business in the town. In his early days he was a keen sportsman and prominent athlete, and these interests persisted up until the time of his death. Mr. Button is survived by his wife. Mrs. May Button, and leaves a daughter and four sons. They are Audrey (Mrs. R. Campbell, of Singleton), Rodney and Mervyn, Singleton, and Arthur and Easter, of Nowra.Mr. Button is also survived by three brothers and sisters. They are Fred, of Wentworthville, Harry and Mark, of Scone, Lil (Mrs. Hocking), Dosie (Mrs. Gordon) of Enfield, and Miss Emma Button, of Murrurundi. After a service at All Saint’s church this morning at 11 o’clock, the late Mr. A. T. Button was laid to rest at the Church of England Cemetery, Whittingham, where the last rites were performed by Canon W. Holmes. Messrs. H. J. Bartrop and Son carried out the funeral arrangements.

CC: I know miss button had a brother in scone

LB: I must have misunderstood Mr Abbott …sorry

EllaDee: Emma’s other brother Harry (my Poppa Button) was also in Scone, he was a tailor.

It was so very special to hear these great memories of Aunt Emma (b. 1890), who I don’t remember, although I knew and was very fond of Uncle Mark.

My great grandparents Poppa (Harry) Button and Nanna (Hazel)
My great grandparents Poppa (Harry) Button and Nanna (Hazel)

My post art of the heart mentioned Aunt Emma’s paintings.

“The paintings came from my grandparent‚Äôs farmhouse living room. From 1975 ‚Äď 2010 they adorned the walls of my uncle & aunt‚Äôs living room, with me uttering very quietly to myself upon seeing them, ‚ÄúI‚Äôd wish I‚Äôd chosen those‚Ä̂Ķ but at 9 years old, I chose a tall blue & purple vase which is still mine, and would be the first item I grabbed if I had to evacuate.

In September 2010 I received a call from Dad who when it counts is quick on the uptake. My aunt was renovating and wanted fresh unadorned walls, so my uncle rang Dad to obtain details of the Murrurundi Historical Society. The paintings were painted in the early 1900‚Ä≤s by Aunt Emma on Nanna‚Äôs side who was a seamstress in Murrurundi, so my uncle thought they would be of local historic interest. They were. To me. Quick as a flash I was on the phone and organised to pick them up that weekend. So complacent had my uncle, aunt & cousins become that none of them wanted the pictures and were bemused I did. They now hang in the back room at TA. I think it was at this time my Dad christened our house the museum.”

Genealogy for some can be almost a science. Not me. Random thoughts and ideas pop into my head and translate via my fingertips into Google searches. The online world is a wonder for a family history butterfly… I flit from tree to tree gathering the remnant bits¬†and pieces and colour of lives before mine.

*Trove is the National Library of Australia’s home “of over 342,775,686 Australian and online resources: books, images, historic newspapers, maps, music, archives and more”.

All’s well that ends well – Matthias & Eupham

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As well as blogging to caretake my sanity I also dabble in family history. I love it, mine or anyone else’s. There’s always interesting stuff to rummage through.

With the advent of the internet and various ancestry and genealogy websites, depending on the depth of research you want to undertake, web searches can offer up information previously only obtainable via considerable effort, research and cost.

It was during a period last year of Google-based family history research on my mother’s family which morphed into the G.O.’s paternal grandmother May’s ancestry that I stumbled across what many Australians consider family history gold – convicts.

We’re not quick movers as evidenced by it taking us until a week or so ago to visit the final resting places of the G.O.’s convict ancestors and their families, but I guess they weren’t going anywhere…

This is the short version but if genealogy holds no interest for you, read no further…

The G.O.’s convict ancestors are Eupham (sometimes referred to as Elizabeth) Graham and Matthias (often referred to as Matthew) Lock and who were described in one bit of research as “Australian Royalty“. That description might be taking it a bit far but many Australian’s hold convict heritage in high regard. Indeed the G.O. would only have been more pleased had I found a familial connection to Ned Kelly or his ilk.

Matthias Lock was born in London, England c. 1763. He was an educated craftsman and worked as a plasterer in the London area. In 1787 changing his lodgings, he was accused of stealing from his landlord, convicted for theft and sentenced to 7 years transportation to the colonies. After 7 months in an overcrowded Newgate Goal he moved to one of the hulks ‚ÄėStanislaus‚Äô for 18 months. In November 1789 Matthew was moved to the transportation ship ‚ÄėSurprize‚Äô. In January 1790, the Second Fleet of six ships set sail, arriving in Sydney Cove on 3 June 1790 followed, over coming weeks, by what remained of the surviving vessels including the ‚ÄėSurprize‚Äô.

Two years later the ‚ÄėFourth Fleet’ docked and on one of these ships ‚ÄėPitt‚Äô, carrying 410 convicts of which 58 were women, was 19 year old¬†Eupham¬†Graham. Eupham¬†was born near Edinburgh, Scotland c. 1772, daughter of a Spoonmaker. In 1790 she appeared in Perth court with her cousin Helen Lowrie, charged with the theft of napkins from a shop. There was some dispute as to who was responsible as the circumstances were vague but Eupham and Helen were found guilty and sentenced to 14 years transportation to the colony of New South Wales aboard the convict transportation ship, ‚ÄėPitt‚Äô in June 1791, arriving at Sydney Cove in January 1792.

In the short ensuing period, Eupham settled with Matthias Lock and although they were unable to marry due to the laws precluding convict marriages, they lived as man and wife.

At the end of 1792, Governor of the colony, Captain Arthur Phillip, departed for England leaving the colony under the control of Major Francis Grose who placed settlers west of Sydney Cove on the banks of the Hawkesbury¬†River. Matthias was given a ‘Permit to Settle’ and it was here that Eupham¬†gave birth to her children: twins, Thomas Graham and Elizabeth Graham in 1794; and Mary Graham in 1795. The children were ascribed their mother’s surname as due to their convict status Eupham & Matthias weren’t allowed to marry.

Matthias Lock received a grant of 30 acres of land in late 1794. Eupham Graham died in April 1797 at the age of 25, leaving twins Thomas and Elizabeth, aged 2 years 10 months, and daughter Mary, aged 1 year 7 months, motherless. Eupham was buried at St Johns Cemetery in Parramatta where her headstone still exists and is believed to be the third oldest remaining in the cemetery.

Although the cause of Eupham’s¬†death is unknown there is information indicating there were 120 sick on board the Pitt when it arrived at Sydney Cove. One of these was probably Helen Lowrie, who died five weeks after landing. Eupham may have also been affected by the illness and it may have contributed to her early death.

With 3 children to bring up it was fortuitous for Matthias to marry Alice Burrows at St Johns church, Parramatta less than 3 months after Eupham’s death, and burial nearby. Matthias & Alice bore no children together. Sadly Matthias’ daughter Elizabeth, one of the twins, died in 1803 aged 9, so he and Alice raised Thomas and Mary.

Matthias played an important leadership role in the new settlement, and was well rewarded:
By 1802 he was the owner of a horse, somewhat of a privilege in those times.
He received several additional numerous land grants: 1802 – 50 acres, 1804 – 30 acres, 1816 – 60 acres, 1827 – 100 acres.
1803 – he aided a friend, Constable Thompson, to recapture 15 Irish escapees.
1806 – he had a hand in saving over 100 lives in the floods.
1808 – he was appointed District Constable.
1809 – held a liquor licence.
1810 – appointed as Chief Constable of the Hawkesbury district.
1811 – his fairness with the local Aboriginal people was evidenced by his arrest of local European-origin settlers who fired upon a group of Aboriginals.
1812 – he resigned as Chief Constable to attend to his farming interests.

1818 – Matthias’ surviving daughter Mary Graham married Irishman Thomas Maloney (1787-1873) at Matthew’s Church of England, Windsor. Mary Maloney died in 1835 at Wilberforce, at age 40. Both Mary & Thomas Maloney are buried at the Windsor Catholic Cemetery.

Matthias Lock died in April 1836 at the age of 73 survived by his son Thomas, 18 grandchildren and 6 great-grandchildren. He is buried at St  Johns Cemetery in Wilberforce.

Generation 1: Matthias’ son, Thomas Graham married Mary Maria Hodgetts¬†(1795-1844) at St Matthew’s Church of England, Windsor in 1813. Mary Maria Hodgetts¬†was daughter of Second Fleet convict Thomas Hodgetts* and Harriet (surname possibly Duce but sometimes recorded as Luce).

After their marriage, Thomas and Mary Maria farmed a land grant on the HawkesburyRiver and by 1815 were supplying the Government with meat. By 1828 their land holdings had increased to 145 acres.

Thomas and Mary Maria had 14 children before she died in 1844.  

Thomas remarried in 1846 to Margaret Louisa Mills (1825-1882) 2 years after Mary Maria’s death. Together they had 7 children, making Thomas the father of 21 children in all. Mary Maria is buried at St¬†Johns Cemetery, Wilberforce.

Thomas died at Wilberforce in 1862, and was buried in St Johns Cemetery, next to his father and his first wife.

Generation 2: Frederick Albert Graham, son of Thomas Graham and Mary Maria Hodgetts was born at Wilberforce in 1841. He married Annie Maria Organ (1842-1905) in 1862 at Bukkulla. They had 12 children. Frederick died in 1924, age 82 and is buried at Inverell, as is Annie Maria.

Generation 3: Ernest Richmond Graham, son of Frederick Albert Graham and Annie Maria Organ was born at Inverell in 1885. In 1906 Ernest married Amanda Maria (sometimes recorded as Marie) Kachel (1886-1968) of German free settlers, who the G.O. remembers and refers to as Old Mummy. They also had 12 children most of them known to the G.O.  Ernest died in 1960 age 75 and is buried at Urunga with Old Mummy.

Generation 4: Thelma May Graham (1906-1992), is the G.O.’s grandmother. May is buried at Coffs Harbour with the G.O.’s grandfather, Vincent who died in 1963 age 59 years.

With grandchildren of his own the G.O.’s family has 8 generations born in Australia descended from Matthias & Eupham.

Cases of wrongful convictions or not, the future Graham-Lock family caught a lucky break when fate stepped in and transported their forbears to Australia. The¬†British ruling parties‚Äô solution to economic pressure and ‚Äėundesirables‚Äô, i.e. convicting its citizens of petty crimes based on ‚Äėconvenient‚Äô evidence gave those citizens’ descendants the most wonderful punishment of being Aussie born n‚Äô bred.

*Rechecking¬†the myriad of links and information I’ve collated, I found details of a third convict ancestor Thomas Hodgetts, father of Mary Maria Hodgetts married to Thomas Graham (Generation 1), another interesting story but one I will save for another post.

Disclaimer: Should you endeavour to undertake this type of research and resulting blog post be prepared to get side tracked and spend endless time clicking on links and sources leading you to snippets of various information which does not necessarily marry together necessitating the approximation and cobbling together of a story. With more material coming to light (such as I have found for Thomas Graham) be prepared for revisions and updates, which I will also save for another post.

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