Saturday, 4 June 2016

John Horgan of Linwood

A confusion of dates and ages

On the 12th November 1832, John Horgan of Ballymacdonnell was baptised in the parish of Killeentierna, County Kerry, Ireland. He was the third child born to parents Johanna Fitzgerald and Thomas Horgan. (1)
1832 John Horgan baptism

Little is known about his childhood and early teen years but by the time John was 19 his father had died and his widowed mother Johanna set out along with two other sons, Thomas, and Daniel to make a new life on the other side of the world in South Australia. It appears that Johanna’s brother John Fitzgerald, already settled in South Australia had sent money to Ireland for their passage. (2) It is unclear what had happened to the first son Denis and husband Thomas but highly likely that they had perished during the great famine years. Elder daughter Johanna, born 1828, was to join the small family several years later.

According to shipping records, John Horgan was 20 years of age when they arrived at Port Adelaide aboard the barque “China” on 12 November 1952. (3) Indeed by my reckoning that day was his twentieth birthday. After a long journey of 109 days, it must have been a fitting day to step ashore.  The Fitzgerald family history records that the Horgan sons, (his brothers were 17 and 10 when they arrived) worked initially “as contractors and carriers along the Port road from Port Adelaide to the city and later to and from Burra” (2)

Land acquisitions

What we do know from extant records is that by 1856 Johanna Horgan, his mother is listed in the Land Grants in Registry Office with reference to section 333 in the Hundred of Gilbert. In 1861 John Horgan leased block 361 in the Hundred of Light from Alexander Hay for £16 per annum. By March of 1864 it had been purchased for £195. In 1863 John had signed another lease for block 300 costing £18 per annum for 7 years with the right to purchase. By 1865 the deed below shows that more land had been purchased and the family were hard at work establishing their farm and paying off mortgages.
1865 Land title block 206
Extract from Certificate of  Title to block 286

Marriage and family

On the 13th of October 1863, John married Honora O’Leary in St Patrick’s church in Adelaide. John is listed as being only 27 years old however as it was now more than 10 years since he had arrived as a 20-year-old, it is more likely that he was 30. Honora was not quite 24 as she had been born in December of 1839 shortly before her parents, Andrew and Catherine O’Leary embarked for their trip to South Australia aboard the “Mary Dugdale.”

Over the next few years, John and Honora became parents to at least seven children. The first was Johanna, listed as baptised at Kapunda in November of 1864. At this stage, no death record has been found for this child but family stories suggest that she may have died away from home at about 6-8 years old. As with Irish naming traditions, the first daughter was named for the husband’s mother.

Thomas, as first born son in 1866 was named after John's father.  Andrew Joseph born in 1869 was named after Honora’s father and Catherine born in 1872 after her mother. Another son John, named for his father, was born in 1875, and daughters named Johanna in 1877 and Nora Mary in 1878 followed.  Life would have been busy for John and Honora and their young family. By the time Nora was born John was about 46. With brothers Thomas established on a farm at Manoora and Daniel farming land near Tarlee, John’s mother remained at Linwood with her eldest son. At age 75 Johanna died at the farm on February 1st, 1880.

Farm help was provided by John Rolfe. He was 35 years old and had been working on the Horgan farm for 17 years when he died suddenly in April of 1883. (4) John had lost his right-hand man and would have to have carried on. Thomas now 16, Andrew 14 and John at only 8 years old would all have helped. Catherine at 11 years old would have been busy helping her mother with household duties and assisting looking after the little girls who were five and six years old.

Imagine then their devastation when only a few weeks later John himself was struck down with pneumonia. He died on the 23rd June after only a few days illness. Honora and her six children were left to cope alone.
Horgan John 1883 funeral report

John’s death certificate records him as aged 48 but it is more likely that he was 50. The obituary record here states that he had been in the colony for 28 years but in fact he had arrived in November of 1852 so was in his 30th year in South Australia. The gravestone shown below records his age as 47. Whatever age he was, it was an early death with devastating consequences for his wife aged 42 and her young family.
Horgan John and Honora tombstones
Base of memorial to John and Honora Horgan
St John's, Kapunda, South Australia

Genealogy Snapshot

Name: John Horgan
Parents: Thomas Horgan and Johanna Fitzgerald
Spouse: Honora O'Leary

Relationship to Carmel: Great grandfather
  1. John Horgan 1832 - 1883
  2. Andrew Joseph Horgan 1869 - 1951
  3. Edward John Horgan 1908 - 1992
  4. Carmel
1. Seen on  different documents as Joan, Juliana (Latin) and Johanna Fitzgerald.
Catholic Parish Registers at the NLI, Killeentierna | Microfilm 04272 / 02, 

2. Irish pioneers of South Australia : the Fitzgeralds / compiled by Fitzgerald Book Committee under the direction of Matt Fitzgerald, 1986

3. SA passenger lists :1847 -1886 available at

4. 1883 'Family Notices', Kapunda Herald (SA : 1878 - 1951), 17 April, p. 2. , viewed 03 Jun 2016,

This post first appeared on

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Murphy's mixed message

Trove Tuesday

Found in Family Notices. What’s this?
Murphy's BDM notice

In 1901 a certain Ed. T. Murphy proprietor of the Clare Castle Hotel in Kapunda, South Australia, had decided to advertise his goods and services in a novel manner as attested by the text in the illustration. (1)

Did you notice his mistake? Yes, of course, marriage should come before death and somehow he has mixed up the headings….. or perhaps the proprietor of the newspaper was having a joke on him and deliberately switched the order.

Ah, the delights of text correction in Trove. I’ve been working through all the Family Notices in the Kapunda Herald over a period of about 18 months when this one popped up today to provide an entertaining variation.

On looking further into the exploits of Ed. T Murphy, he was not only a publican who had owned a variety of hotels in Adelaide but was a consistent correspondent to the newspapers of the day. He wrote letters about licensing laws, police appointments and football matches to mention but a few topics.

The Clare Castle Hotel, Kapunda

The Clare Castle Hotel situated at the southern end of Kapunda opened in 1859. It had suffered a series of reversals through the years leading up to its acquisition by Ed.T. Murphy. In 1862, the original licensee, James Glynn, was drowned in an accident while crossing the River Light to the Catholic church. He was washed away in a flood and his horse found dead the following morning. (2) His wife with several children to support, initially took over the licence. However, by the late 1860s, a number of applicants had been refused the licence.

It was finally granted to W. Slattery in March 1871 when he received the support of the local council who saw the need for a hotel at the southern end of the town.  A transfer of this licence was effected to G. Young in September 1882 followed by another transfer to M. McInherney in December of the same year. In May of 1886 the hotel was advertised:
HOTEL - FOR SALE, LEASE of SIX YEARS of CLARE CASTLE HOTEL, KAPUNDA- Doing a good business. Satisfactory reasons for leaving can be given. Application to Mrs. McInherney, Clare Castle Hotel, Kapunda. (3)
In July 1888, Mrs. McInherney's only son Patrick James died aged 16 and she disposed of the business. Her husband had died in 1875.

In 1889, James Battams was in charge of the hotel and by March 1891 Michael Fitzgerald had taken over the licence. His short-lived tenancy ended in September in the great depression of 1891. He was declared insolvent and the premises and all it contained were sold. (4)

By March of 1894 business had improved and the Licensing Bench had approved licences for the following 8 hotels in Kapunda:

The Globe Hotel, Sir John Franklin Hotel, Railway Hotel, Morning Star Hotel, Prince of Wales Hotel, Lord Palmerston Hotel, North Kapunda Hotel and the Clare Castle Hotel. Mary McInherney had re-obtained the licence for the Clare Castle. (5) She was compelled to relinquish the business about 1897/8 due to ill health and died in 1901 at age 53. (6)

View of Main Street Kapunda c 1900
Main Street of Kapunda.c 1900 The Lord Palmerston Hotel can be seen on the right of the photograph.
Further down the same side of the street, the North Kapunda Hotel
E. T. Murphy finally gained the licence to the Clare Castle Hotel in June of 1899 (7) and by March of the following year, he had been served a notice to carry out work on the hotel. All did not proceed smoothly with the licencing inspector detailing that a new seat must be installed in an outbuilding before the licence was renewed. (8) The work was undertaken and the business of the hotel proceeded. Perhaps his humour in the 1901 advertisement first mentioned, was not appreciated or his business took him elsewhere, as by June 1902 the licence had passed to yet another licensee. Edward Thomas Murphy died in August 1952 at age 84. An obituary details some of his hotel holdings. (9)

All this just from the correction of Family Notices. This led me down a long rabbit hole but provided an interesting glance into the state of the hotels of the time in Kapunda and the licencing laws that governed them.

Clare Castle Hotel, Main St, Kapunda - c. 2013
My Trove Tuesday posts are snippets found about families or the history of the local area. A first cousin twice removed, Denis Horgan, owned the North Kapunda hotel from 1912 - a story for another day.


1. 1901 'Family Notices', Kapunda Herald (SA : 1878 - 1951), 1 March, p. 2. , viewed 15 May 2016,

2.  1862 'KAPUNDA.', South Australian Register (Adelaide, SA : 1839 - 1900), 26 July, p. 3. , viewed 15 May 2016,

3. 1886 'Advertising', Kapunda Herald (SA : 1878 - 1951), 4 May, p. 2. , viewed 15 May 2016,

4. 1891 'Advertising', Kapunda Herald (SA : 1878 - 1951), 8 September, p. 2. , viewed 15 May 2016,

5. 1894 'The Kapunda Herald', Kapunda Herald (SA : 1878 - 1951), 15 May, p. 2. , viewed 15 May 2016,

6. 1901 'General News.', Southern Cross (Adelaide, SA : 1889 - 1954), 15 February, p. 11. , viewed 15 May 2016,

7. 1899 'ADELAIDE LlCENSING BENCH.',Adelaide Observer (SA : 1843 - 1904), 17 June, p. 14. , viewed 15 May 2016,

8. 1900 'NOTES AND QUERIES.', South Australian Register (Adelaide, SA : 1839 - 1900), 15 March, p. 7. , viewed 15 May 2016,

9. 1952 'OBITUARY EDWARD THOMAS MURPHY', Southern Cross (Adelaide, SA : 1889 - 1954), 3 October, p. 14. , viewed 15 May 2016,

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?