Monday, 28 March 2016

A sign from the past

2016-03-12 16.12.02

A pause for reflection

This sign in The Science Museum in London reminded me of earlier years. We did not have this sign in our house but next to the black Bakelite telephone, similar to the one below, stood a money box. To make a phone call was a privilege not to be taken lightly and the 3-minute calls would be paid for with 6d. Calls to relatives were made on Christmas Day, booked in advance and time strictly monitored.

I took these photos with my mobile phone as I explored the floor in the Science museum that covered the development of communications from early telegraph transmissions to the latest in web developments. This led me to reflect on the many common articles from my childhood that have now been replaced by apps and functions on my mobile phone.

10 things my phone has replaced

2016-03-12 16.09.511. The Bakelite phone with its accompanying moneybox – now I can make calls from wherever there is mobile reception. From London I could speak to my husband in Australia using free wi-fi, no coins needed.

2.  Lists on paper - My mother continually wrote lists on the back of used envelopes, shopping lists, tasks to be done, reminder lists. We now receive very few letters through the post. Correspondence by email has replaced most bills and handwritten letters, so used envelopes are few. My lists are electronic with my phone sending me reminders. My email can be managed on my phone.

3 The calendar on the wall has been replaced by that on my phone, accessible on all the connected devices in our household.

4. The dictionary that was ever present for homework and constantly consulted to resolve Scrabble disputes has been superseded by easy access to web definitions. Now I can tap on the speaker symbol next to the word to hear its pronunciation.

5. Cameras and film – These were expensive items and used sparingly. I have very few photos of my childhood years but with my phone in hand, I have no need to remember to buy film for a special occasion or to post off the film to be developed. No longer do I need to print and pay for multiple copies of a photo. The photos taken can be simply shared through a link sent to friends and family via email or if I preferred, posted to a public space such as Facebook, Instagram or on one of a myriad of other sites such as the photos on this blog, viewable by anyone.

6. The street directory – This was housed in the car and studied carefully before a trip to the city. Now Google maps guides my way and shows me the direction I am travelling, estimated travelling time whether by car, public transport, cycling or walking. Gone are the days of trying to find that street which was always in the join between two pages.

7. The alarm clock – This needed winding to keep correct time and the loud insistent ring was sure to wake all the inhabitants of the house. The clock on the phone has an alarm, stopwatch, world time zones,  and timer. Gentle tones can coax one awake with recurring intervals set to awake the persistent sleeper.

8. The address book with a page or two for each letter of the alphabet – Every time someone moved house, the address was crossed out and the new one added above or below. Each year at Christmas time addresses were checked against incoming cards. Woe betide anyone with multiple families of relatives with the same surname, the pages filled rapidly.

9. The birthday book – This item kept track of important dates to be remembered each year. The friends, family, neighbours whose birthdays should be acknowledged were recorded with new babies names added as information was received.

10. The personal teledex – this stored commonly used numbers, next to the house phone. Now the address book, the birthday book and the teledex are all combined into one address book commonly referred to as the contacts list.  The telephone directory, those cumbersome big yellow tomes that were updated each year but often out of date by the time they were distributed, have been replaced with a simple web search.

These are just a few of the things from my earlier years that my phone has replaced. Now I just have to remember to have the battery fully charged!

Friday, 25 March 2016

Origins and age at death

4 generation origins and longevity

The chart below shows where my ancestors were born and age at death. The 5th generation great- great grandparents will most likely have at least 30 of the 32 coloured green for Ireland but as their birth places have not yet been determined I have limited this chart to 4 generations. All of the great grandparents migrated to South Australia between 1840 and 1868 as children or young adults. All were married in South Australia and 7 of the 8 also died in South Australia. George Bennett is still an unsolved mystery.

Thanks to Jill and Alona for pointing out this activity.

Monday, 22 February 2016

Worth recording

Family history has us looking backwards into previous generations but the birth of two grandchildren within the last 5 months has me looking forward to future generations. My parents Edward John Horgan and Hannah O'Dea would have been delighted to know they now have 69 living descendants. The newest of these descendants arrived in London on Saturday 20th February.

It is less than 80 years since my parents married in 1937, I look forward and wonder how many descendants they will have in another 80 years time. Will those descendants be able to find the stories of our families? How are you preserving your family's stories?

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

What happened to George?

Lookinginto asplitLast week I wrote about great-grandparents George Bennett and Bridget Helen Kelly Following that post, I posed a query on the South Australia Genealogy Facebook group seeking advice on how to uncover death details for George. I was unable to determine, (via my subscription) which one or indeed whether any of the Georges listed in the SA Genealogy database was him. Several people jumped in to help and thanks to John Glistak’s eagle eye, I've now retrieved several articles from Trove that reveal more of this couple's life story.

After several moves, the birth of four, possibly five children and the marriage of the two daughters, George and Bridget's marriage of 28 years must have been under some strain. George was now about 53 and Bridget 52 years old. It appears that in 1915 George had left Bridget and was summonsed to court to pay maintenance.

George Bennett pleaded guilty to the charge of having deserted his wife on July 1 and with wilful neglect to provide maintenance for her and her child. Mr. R. H. Lathlean appeared for the complainant. He said that the defendant was an electrician at the Post Office. A separation order was granted, and he was ordered to pay £1 5/ a week for maintenance of the complainant and her child. She was granted the custody of the child.

From this, I gleaned his occupation as an electrician working for the Post Office and confirmed that the youngest son was still living with his mother, One month later the court is the scene of another ruling.

The second court appearance

BENNETT_George_1915_courtGeorge Bennett, electrician, was charged by his wife, Bridget Helen Bennett, with having failed to comply with a maintenance order made against him for the payment of £1 5/ per week for the support of his wife and child. Mr. G. S. Reed, representing Messrs. Holland & Lathlean, appeared for the informant, and Mr. C. M. Muirhead represented the defendant, who applied for a reduction of the order.
The defendant stated that his wife had five boarders in the house, and received £5 15/ per week. She lived in a house rent free. To Mr. Reed-The house in which his wife lived was being purchased on the time payment system, and the deposit of £20 was paid out of his money. The S.M. said the bench had the power to send the defendant to gaol, but seeing that he had been ill that course would not be adopted. No order was made in respect of the information, and the defendant's application for a reduction of the order was dismissed.

Once more in court

Did this settle the matter? It seems not to have been resolved with George still not paying maintenance. The third court appearance in October 1915 had more severe consequences for non-compliance.

George Bennett was charged with having failed to comply with an order for the maintenance of his wife, made under the Married Woman's Protection Act. Mr. E. H. Lathlean appeared for Mrs. Bennett and Mr. C. M. Muirhead for defendant. Mr. Kearney gave evidence that defendant owed £8 15/. The defendant also gave evidence. One month's imprisonment was ordered, the warrant to be held over for 14 days.

Did he serve the time or pay the costs? After reading these accounts, I now have a better understanding of why it has been difficult to trace him. My quest to find his date of death continues, but more importantly, some of the details of their story have been found.

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Restaurant on fire


A goldfields romance

Just a few days before the marriage of George Bennett and Bridget Helen Kelly in 1887, a fire broke out near Bennett’s restaurant in Teetulpa, South Australia.

Alluvial gold had been found at Teetulpa in 1886 and thousands of people flocked to the area to seek their fortune. Situated 85 km northeast of Peterborough in South Australia, life on the goldfield was difficult with limited water supplies. Typhoid had been common towards the end of 1886 with several deaths recorded. By February of 1887 it was estimated that the population was about 2500. (1)

Miners must eat and it appears the Bennetts had a restaurant. On the marriage certificate of George and Bridget Helen he is listed as a restaurant keeper aged 25. Was this his restaurant where the fire broke out on June 19th 1887? Luckily it appears that only “wearing apparel and bedding were consumed” but with the young couple’s wedding scheduled for the following Sunday, June 26th the loss may have been more significant than these few lines in the “South Australian Register” convey.

A fire took place near Bennett’s restaurant this evening. Only wearing apparel and bedding were consumed.

George aged 25, the son of George John Bennett and Bridget Helen aged 23, the daughter of Daniel Kelly, both residents of Teetulpa were married on 26th June 1887 by G Edward Young in “a building set apart in which to hold Church of England services.” The witnesses were Catherine Stevenson a nurse and Walter Moore a storeperson both of whom listed Teetulpa as their place of residence.(2)

In 1888 their first child Olive Mary Bennett was born and registered in the Broken Hill district of NSW. Perhaps George and Bridget had moved on to the mining fields at Silverton. At this stage I’ve been unable to locate the birth record of their second child, Georgina Ellen Bennett my maternal grandmother,(born about 1890-1) By 1892 another move has been made to Goodwood, Adelaide, South Australia where the birth of their son James George David Bennett on August 16 of that year is recorded. The next birth registered to the couple is that of Cecil Victor Bennett  born at Edithburgh, Yorke Peninsula, South Australia on 7 April 1902.

Marriages of the children

When Olive, now aged 19 married Daniel Casaretto in October of 1906, her parents George and Bridget Helen Bennett are listed as living at Edithburgh on Yorke Peninsula, South Australia.

Daniel’s casarettoparents were from Hamley Bridge.
Perhaps Mary Olive's younger sister Georgina accompanied her to Hamley Bridge. Less than a year later on September 11th 1907 Georgina married Patrick Joseph O’Dea of Hamley Bridge.

George and Bridget Helen Bennett were now living in Gawler, South Australia.

JamesBennettJames, at the age of 24 married Ethel Richards on January 20, 1917 at the Holy Cross Church at Goodwood in Adelaide. Tragedy was soon to follow. A scant nine months later James was visiting his sister Georgina, brother-in-law Patrick and their 5 children in Ngallo, Victoria when he was struck down with illness and died leaving his widow Ethel with a 2 month old son, Albert John Bennett (known in later life as Jacky).

His widow Ethel subsequently married Michael James O’Dea, Georgina’s brother-in-law on October 9,1918.

Cecil (known as Ron) married May Pike at the Holy Cross Church in Goodwood on April 10, 1926. (3)

Bridget Helen Bennett died aged 71 on May 15, 1934 at Lourdes Valley, Glen Osmond (4) and was buried in the Catholic cemetery at West Terrace in Adelaide on the following day.(5) At this stage I have been unable to determine where and when her husband, my great-grandfather George Bennett died. If you have any further information on this family, my contact details are on the About page of this blog.

Shoes, boots and the shop

Casaretto - When we were children our shoes were purchased at Casaretto's shoe shop in Hamley Bridge often after Sunday Mass. The shop owner, Stephen Casaretto was Daniel and Mary Olive's son, my mother's first cousin. It seemed to me as a child that the store was opened especially for us. I remember towers of boxes and the smell of leather, it was quite an Aladdin's cave for a child unused to shopping. What a delight it was to own a new pair of shoes when so many previous pairs had been handed on from older siblings.


The town of Yunta was established in 1887 as a result of the gold found at Teetulpa.
View of Teetulpa.
Inscription underneath the photograph states 'There was great excitement when, closely following the discovery of silver at Broken Hill, gold was found at Teetulpa in 1886. The extent of the activities of the gold-seekers is shown in this panaramic of the field, which has been kindly paced at our disposal by Mr R Heithersay of Peterborough'. The photograph shows hundreds of white canvas ridge tents spread out in the scrub at Teetulpa.
courtesy of State Library of South Australia 

Perhaps George delivered pies to the miners.
1886 - The pie man photographed carrying the food in a tray balanced on top of his head as he goes on his round of the miners working on the gold field at Teetulpa, South Australia.

courtesy of State Library of SA
More historic images of Teetulpa.

Genealogy Snapshot

Name: George Bennett
Spouse: Bridget Helen Kelly

Relationship to Carmel: Great-grandparents
  1. George Bennett and Bridget Helen Kelly
  2. Georgina Ellen Bennett (O'DEA)
  3. Hannah Olive O'Dea (HORGAN)
  4. Carmel

1. 1887 'The North Australian.', North Australian (Darwin, NT : 1883 - 1889), 12 February, p. 2, viewed 10 February, 2016,

2. South Australian District marriage transcript.

3. 1926 'Family Notices.', Southern Cross (Adelaide, SA : 1889 - 1954), 14 May, p. 12, viewed 10 February, 2016,

4. 1934 'Family Notices.', The Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1931 - 1954), 16 May, p. 18, viewed 9 February, 2016,

5. 1934 'Advertising.', The Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1931 - 1954), 16 May, p. 5, viewed 9 February, 2016,