Tuesday, 17 January 2017

114 years ago

A troubled life

On this day 114 years ago John Francis Benedict O'Dea died in the Parkside Asylum in Adelaide, South Australia. An article in Trove alerted me to the reason why his death may have taken place there.  He had been wrestling with his demons for several years before being committed as a patient in January of 1900.

This 1897 article provides a glimpse of his difficulties and of the family's efforts to deal with those issues. In 1897 he was about 27 years old, his father John was 62 and his younger brother Patrick mentioned here had not yet turned twenty.

1897 'MONDAY, JULY 26.', Bunyip (Gawler, SA : 1863 - 1954),
30 July, p. 4. ,  viewed 12 Jan 2017,

Monday, July 26,
[Before Messrs W. H. Cox and J. W. R. Croft, J.P.'s.]
John Francis O'Dea, of Hamley Bridge, a young man, was charged with being a dangerous lunatic. 

John O'Dea, the father of defendant, said his son was very dangerous at times, and caused his parents anxiety. On Saturday last he invited him to wrestle with him. 

Patrick O'Dea, a brother of defendant, said the latter was always talking to himself and was very violent on Saturday night, when he struck witness. 

Alex Kain also gave evidence. Defendant asked him to come outside and said 'Would you like me to be murdered?' 

Dr. Maher said that 'defendant was quite rational in his replies to witness's questions. In the conversation he showed no signs of irritability. He complained of loss of memory, which he attributed to a time when be lifted a heavy weight. He could not believe he had done it. Did not think that was a sane man's statement. Attended him about three years ago for melancholia and this might lead up to the conditions that the witnesses described. Melancholia might lead to insanity. Dismissed.

I cannot help but wonder if the loss of his playmates, a young brother aged 5 and sister aged 3 in 1878 may have contributed to his melancholia. He was only 8 years old when they died within twelve days of each other.

On his admission form to Parkside in January of 1900 it is noted that he was 31 years of age, a farm labourer, single, Roman Catholic and well nourished. It is stated that his first attack had taken place at age 25. Further details are added that he claimed "others want to injure him and are plotting against him." In subsequent years he was transferred to the Adelaide Asylum on North Terrace but when it was closed in 1902 he was rehoused back in Parkside.

John wrote numerous letters during his time in the institution, often rambling with a mixture of concerns over matters governmental, religious, family and law related.  Inside Glenside: A history of mental health in Adelaide provides a glimpse of this life.

The Glenside Hospital Historical Society provides a doorway to the records and I am grateful for their assistance in providing John's records which fall outside the 100 year quarantine period.

How sad his family must have been that their eldest son did not recover and died on Jan 16th 1903. Their sentiments were expressed in the death notice and several In Memoriam notices in the years that followed.

John was buried at Pinkerton Plains on January 18th, 1903. His parents John and Maria (my great-grandparents) were also interred there in 1922 and 1929.

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Where did they get those names?

This photo of my maternal grandparents in 1907 displays a wedding party of siblings of both the bride and groom. The attendants ranged in age from 41 to 16 years. It also provides some clues to the names that the bridal couple would give to their children in the years that followed.

ODea Bennett wedding 1907
Left to right: Margaret I. O”Dea 41 years, Michael James O’Dea, 26 years, the groom Patrick Joseph O’Dea 29 years, the bride Georgina Ellen Bennett 17 years, her brother James George Bennett 16 years and Hannah Teresa O’Dea 37 years.

The groom’s family – children of John O’Dea and Maria (Mary) Crowley

The eldest O’Dea sibling, Bridget Elizabeth born in 1864, had married Coleman Kain in 18911 and by the time this marriage took place in September of 1907 she was 43 and had given birth to seven children.
Next in line Margaret, was born in 1866 followed by Hannah Teresa in 1869. In 1870 son and heir John Francis Benedict arrived. Michael was born in 1873 followed by Mary Anne in 1875. Patrick Joseph entered the world in October of 1877. Tragedy struck in  May 1878 when both Michael now 5, and Mary Anne 3, died within 12 days of each other2. The next son born in 1881 was also given the name Michael James.
John Francis Benedict O’Dea born in 1870, had led a troubled early life and was committed to the Parkside Asylum where he died at the age of 33 in January of 19033. Margaret and Hannah remained unmarried and cared for their parents. Michael James married James George Bennett’s widow Ethel in 19184.

The bride’s family – children of George Bennett and Bridget Helen Kelly

Georgina’s only sister Mary Olive had married Daniel Casaretto in October of 19065 and their first child, Catherine Mary6 was only 2 months old at the time of this wedding. Georgina’s youngest brother Albert Victor Ronald7 known as Ronald was only 5 years old. Young brother James8 was her supporting sibling in this otherwise older O’Dea wedding party. He had just turned 16.
In the following 11 years Georgina and Patrick O’Dea had a family of six children. They used a variety of family names as seen here.

Margaret Monica 1908 – names from Patrick’s sister and grandmother
Mary Ellen 1910 – his mother’s name and Georgina’s second name
Hannah Olive 1912 – his sister’s and her sister’s names
Patrick John 1914 – his name and his father’s name
Michael James 1916 – his brother’s and her brother’s names
Ronald Patrick 1918 – Her brother’s and his names

Popular family names from the past wax and wane through the years. A new crop of Hannahs appear and two of the younger members of the extended family now bear the name brought down through their great-great-grandfather’s sister – Hannah Teresa.

Anyone for an Olive? My mother Hannah Olive O’Dea really disliked her middle name, (initials HOOD until she became Horgan, HOH) but when we view this historical context of naming patterns, it is clear that the name Olive was important to her mother Georgina.

1. 1891 'Family Notices', The Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1889 - 1931), 21 February, p. 4. , viewed 10 Jan 2017, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article26772482 2. SA Death registrations Michael O’Dea 12 May 1878, Book/Page: 87/489, Mary O’Dea  24 May 1878, Book/Page: 88/187
3. 1903 'Family Notices', The Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1889 - 1931), 21 January, p. 4. , viewed 10 Jan 2017, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article4917225
4. SA Marriage registration Michael James O’Dea, Ethel Bennett 19 October 1918 Book/Page: 277/538
5. 1906 'Family Notices', The Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1889 - 1931), 21 November, p. 6. , viewed 10 Jan 2017, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article5114732
6. SA Birth registration Catherine Mary Alice Casaretto Book/Page: 786/47
7. SA Birth registration Albert Victor Ronald Bennett Book/Page: 693/339
8. SA Birth registration James George David Bennett Book/Page: 505/358

Thursday, 5 January 2017

Accentuate the positive 2016

christmas offerings 1894
Christmas offerings 1894 - Sts John and Paul Church, Tarlee, SA
scanned by CRGalvin from original 6 Sept 2016
The year has passed and postings here have been infrequent, however prompted by Jill to Accentuate the Positive I look back at 2016 and find I have much to be positive about in my genealogy endeavours throughout the year.

An elusive ancestor I found was my husband’s unknown grandmother Louisa May Lawson via Trove Government Gazettes where she was granted Letters of Administration in the estate of his grandfather. This led me to acquiring those records through NSW Archives.

A precious family photo was given to me by my brother  - a photo of Smyth household at Alma Plains showing gt-grandmother Hanora Horgan and my father as a small boy. Post to come in 2017.

Ancestor's graves  - I had the opportunity to photograph several in Pinkerton Plains and Navan cemeteries in South Australia.

An important vital record I found was – probate files for my husband’s grandfather which included copies of birth certificates for his children.

A newly found genimate shared – records of Walmsleys and Tonsons some of my husband's ancestors. Thank you Jenny Scammell.

A geneasurprise I received was being able to view some early church records with details of contributions made by members of a parish on various occasions.

Some new pieces of software I mastered wereOpen Live Writer for blog posts. and Google Photoscan for digitisation of photos.

A social media tool I enjoyed using for genealogy was – Facebook in particular South Australia Genealogy and the Australian History Bloggers group.

I am pleased with the presentation - I gave at Noosaville library on Internet resources for family historians during Family History month in August.

I taught some friends -  how to use Google Keep for extracting text from images.

A genealogy book that taught me something new - Organize your Genealogy by Drew Smith.

A great archive I visited  - I made my first visit to State Records of South Australia, Cavan where I found school enrolment records for my father at Alma South School.. Helpful staff with a clean well –equipped quiet research area. I must also mention the Riverton History Centre where helpful volunteers directed me to some fascinating finds.

A new genealogy based story  I enjoyed was Kindred by Steve Robinson. Read to find out whether or not he discovers the identity of his father.

It was exciting to finally meet up again with siblings and a wide range of nieces and nephews and their children at a family wedding in September.

Another positive I would like to share is the feedback and encouragement I have received from my siblings re my explorations of our common ancestors.
Thanks Jill for the prompt to look back at achievements through the past year.

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

An elusive great great grandfather

Where and when did he die? Patrick O’Dea migrated from County Clare, Ireland to South Australia in 1854 aboard the barque “Time and Truth”. He was accompanied by his wife Mary, sons Thomas and John and daughters Mary and Margaret.

Two hundred and forty one emigrants were aboard when the ship left Plymouth on January 11th 1854. There were 80 adult males, 88 females, 32 boys and 41 girls. During the voyage there were 4 births and 6 deaths. The captain’s report at the conclusion of the 4 month voyage on the 8th May 1854 provides some interesting insights into life aboard. He reports the conduct of the immigrants as very good with the only corporal punishment being “two boys put in irons for an hour for fighting.” General satisfaction was expressed with all aspects of the suitability of accommodation on board but he reported
The fresh potatoes failing at the end of 12 days after sailing. The quantity placed on board of the preserved potatoes proved insufficient to last the voyage. In other respects the provisions and water were ample and good.
In regard to the school provided on board for the children, he recorded that about 27 boys and 14 girls had attended, Margaret O’Dea at 8 years old may have been one of these girls.
The results of the tuition were exceedingly satisfactory. Several of the boys who could not form a letter or spell a word when they commenced, being able to write fairly and read fluently by the end of the voyage.
He also wrote to the Land and Emigration Commissioners to present the emigrants’ complaints about the depot at Plymouth where they were housed before departure. It appears there were several shady operators who sought to take advantage of the emigrants by promising certain services on the payment of extra fees. The complaints ranged from being compelled to purchase unnecessary goods, payment for sleeping at the Depot and payment for unfulfilled promises of “situations to be obtained”. Amongst the list of complainants was Patrick O’Dea who stated:
I, Patrick O’Dea was compelled to buy a blue shirt that I had no use for to the amount of 5s.6d. at the Plymouth Depot.
Patrick was listed as 42 years of age in the ship’s records putting his possible birth date as sometime in 1812. His wife Mary was listed as 40 years old putting her possible birth date in 1814.

What I know of their early years has been gleaned from their son John recalling their early days in South Australia on the occasion of his 50th wedding anniversary in 1913. It appears they lived near Kapunda for 8 years working as carters before obtaining land.

The early land records in South Australia yield details of land rented and purchased by several O’Dea males. The common practice of using similar names in families (Patrick, Thomas and John) makes it difficult to determine which land titles belong to which O’Dea family.

From his own recollections, son John and his family were farming at Pinkerton Plains by 1863. John was married in August of 1863 and took his bride to Pinkerton Plains. Here in September of 1864, Patrick lists his interest in blocks 359 and 360.

The first mention of the name Patrick O’Dea occurs in the land records with the transfer of a block of land in the Hundred of Mudla Wirra in 1863. Block 274 had been leased from John Coleman Dixon in February of 1863 for 10 pounds per annum for 5 years with the right of purchase for 80 pounds. In 1866 this title records the payment of the 80 pounds and the transfer of the title.

All the Patrick O’Deas in South Australia are listed under one entry in the SAILIS historical name indexes to the registers of transactions. Blocks of land accredited to the name Patrick O’Dea are listed in the Hundred of Tungkillo (near Adelaide) and the Hundred of Blanche (near Mt Gambier). Both these distances make it unlikely that all the listings under the name of Patrick O’Dea could be accredited to the same person.

In 1840 a family of O'Deas had arrived on the ship Birman. A large family of O’Deas with sons named Patrick, Michael, John and Thomas arrived in November 1849 on the ship Duke of Wellington. Another John O’Dea, with sons John, James and Michael arrived on the ship Constance in the same month.  The gates to confusion in registers were open.


There is no easily found or obtained death certificate for my gt-gt-grandfather Patrick. No reference is made to him in the official registers of deaths. This certificate of title for block 300 in the the Hundred of Mudla Wirra, lists Patrick, Thomas and John “all of Pinkerton Plains farmers” as joint holders of this 81 acre block. Could it be that the note below on the certificate of title refers to my Patrick O’Dea?

The above named Patrick O’Dea died in either [or about] the months of June or July 1867 as appears by Declaration of Death (No.29845) produced to me and [----] the 4 day March of 1870 at Two o’clock P.M.
I am pursuing several avenues of interest to see if this Declaration of Death can be found and some of the mystery solved. If you an O’Dea descendant with more information I would be pleased to hear from you.

Genealogy Snapshot

Name: Patrick O'Dea
Parents: unknown
Spouse: Mary or Margaret

Relationship to Carmel: Great great grandfather
  1. Patrick O'Dea c.1812 - ? - maternal great great grandfather
  2. John O'Dea 1835 - 1922 - maternal great grandfather
  3. Patrick Joseph O'Dea 1877 - 1919 - maternal grandfather
  4. Hannah Olive (O'Dea) Horgan 1912 - 2013 - mother
  5. Carmel
1. Crown land and Immigrants ship’s papers GRG 35/48/1854  9 Time and Truth State Records of South Australia, 2 September 2016
2. SAILIS – Historical name Index search 1858-1863 Letter O 
https://www.sailis.sa.gov.au/products/imageDelivery/historicalNameIndex/O/1858-1863/PRIVATE/4 viewed 20 October 2016
3. SAILIS – Certificate of Title Register book Vol 49 Folio 164 viewed 20 October 2016

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

A building with memories

AlmaSouthNoticeThis sign outside the now abandoned Alma South School in South Australia holds few hints to the role it played in the life of my father and his siblings one hundred years ago.

Edward John Horgan and his sister Honora Mary were enrolled at this little one room school on the 28th April 1914. He was 5 yrs 11 months old and she was 7 yrs 4 months. The school register shows that neither had attended school before and that they lived three miles away. The distance from the school probably explains why Honora Mary had not started at a younger age. Now there were two children of school age, transport would be found for them.

This extract from the Alma South school register held at State Records SA details their birth dates, father’s occupation and shows they both started in J, the first grade in the school. Eddie completed Junior in 1915 while his elder sister moved up a grade.

register entry

This photo shows Eddie with his sister outside the school on their horse Beaver, accompanied by local children Lindsay McKenzie and Beryl Watts on the other two horses. There is no saddle on Beaver so a slow and steady progress would have been the order of the day. There were only 23 children on the register in 1914 with the average daily attendance shown as 16. As many would have ridden horses to school, one can only imagine the reluctance of some to set out on cold, wet mornings.
AlmaSouthLeaving for home

To find out more about school days at Alma South I turned to Trove where Nora Mary, as she liked to be known then, wrote in 1916:
We had Australia Day in Alma on July 26. The Alma South school children were dressed up to represent different nations. I was an Irish girl. …(she continues) I am in the second class at school. The teacher's name is Miss Dubois. (1)
Ellen M J DuBois had been appointed to Alma South school in 1911 and had commenced there in April of that year. She was still there in 1928.

At the beginning of 1917 the youngest Horgan child, Joseph, was enrolled at the school at the age of 6 years 9 months. I wonder if the three of them shared the ride on Beaver or if they took turns and walked some of the way.

In February of 1917 Nora Mary wrote of school days again to the Southern Cross newspaper:
We are busy at school knitting for soldiers. Both of us passed. Eddie is in the third grade. I am in the fifth grade. My little brother Joseph is going to school now. He is a pet of the scholars. (2)

collarboneIn April of 1918 a report on a school picnic for children’s day held jointly with the Alma North and Salter Springs schools, describes a variety of activities. Miss Du Bois had obviously done a good job managing to get a group of youngsters entwined in a Maypole dance.

At the end of this report it is noted:
An accident to Mr. and Mrs. Horgan's young son, who fell heavily in one of the races, marred the afternoon's proceedings. It was found that he had sustained a slight fracture of the collarbone. (3)

Whether this was Joe or Eddie is not known but it certainly would have been a painful ride home in the buggy over rough roads. Many of the dirt roads in the locale of their old home can still provide a somewhat bumpy ride in 2016. Several school picnics and gatherings were recorded in the papers of the times.

Another glance of life at school is provided by Nora Mary in November of 1918.

Our examination will be next month. I hope to pass into the VII. Grade. Isn't it lovely to think that the war is over at last? A lady came to our school on Wednesday to teach us how to spin wool. We will have five weeks' holiday at Christmas time. We have had three days' holiday this week in honour of peace. (4)
She spent another two years at the school passing what was known as the Qualifying Certificate at the end of Grade Seven in 1920. Eddie and Joe were still recorded as attending Alma South in 1921. There were only twenty-six to thirty children attending the school in those years between 1914 and 1921.

The school register I examined was used from 1883 until December 1921. The instructions for filling it in included a note at the bottom of the first page that read:

Should a new register be required before the old one is finished, it may be obtained with the permission of the Inspector on payment of 2s.6d.

This was written before 1883 when this register of pupils was commenced. One hopes the teacher did not have to pay for a new register 39 years later! State Archives notes that the location of admission registers for the school at Alma South after this date is unknown. (5)

Alma South School – September 2016

It is sad to see the state of the building now as time and weather wreak their damage. I would like to think that my father and his siblings had fond memories of this small school and the friends made therein.
View from outside – September 2016

Entry via the porch - inside the building the remains of a chalkboard adorn one wall. The roof timbers appear to be in good condition.
View of the side of school building showing significant deterioration

An interesting article in Weekend Notes has more information on Alma and Salter Springs as well as some other small towns in this region of South Australia.

1. 1916 'The Children.', Southern Cross (Adelaide, SA : 1889 - 1954), 1 September, p. 18. , viewed 03 Oct 2016, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article166422061 2. 1917 'The Children.', Southern Cross (Adelaide, SA : 1889 - 1954), 9 February, p. 6. , viewed 03 Oct 2016, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article166980769
3. 1918 'THE COUNTRY.', The Register (Adelaide, SA : 1901 - 1929), 23 April, p. 6. , viewed 03 Oct 2016, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article60351597
4. 1918 'The Children.', Southern Cross (Adelaide, SA : 1889 - 1954), 22 November, p. 15. , viewed 03 Oct 2016, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article166988853
5. GRS/13020 Admission Register, Alma South School, 1883 -1921 State Records of South Australia, viewed 2 Sept 2016