Thursday, 29 October 2009

McIlhaggers in (mainly) Ireland

George and Mary Jane (nee Boyd) McIlhagger had six children between 1779 and 1787. I am going to comment on them in reverse order, from youngest to eldest, as this will move us from 'least' information to 'most'! Of Mary Kathleen I know very little except that at the age of twenty two, when she was living in Belfast, on 21 December 1909 she married James Boyd in Fortwilliam Park Presbyterian Church, Shankill. James was a Constable in the Royal Irish Constabulary, the son of Henry Boyd, a farmer. We will find that she has two nieces named after her.

Equally we know little enough of Henry Joseph, known as Harry. There is a Henry McIlhagger of 29 New North Queen Street, Belfast, who signed the Ulster Covenant in 1912. He would have been twenty by then, and no doubt was a son following his father's political leanings. We know that he never married, but went to work at the great ship building firm of Harland and Wolff. Tragically in his early thirties he was involved in an industrial accident there and was killed on 23rd July 1918. He was buried with his parents in the Belfast City Cemetery.

Samuel Robert may well have worked for the same firm, for he was employed as a Plater when he married Elizabeth Lewis on 17th June, 1919, at Belmont Presbyterian Church, Holywood, Northern Ireland. Elizabeth was the daughter of Blacksmith William and Mary Anne Lewis. Samuel and Elizabeth, like his distant cousins before him, emigrated to Australia. The family arrived in Sydney on 9th February 1926 on board the PS Otranto. On 17th July 1972 The Sydney Herald reported Samuel's death three days earlier, 'late of Kingsgrove'. He had lived until the ripe old age of eighty-seven. His wife survived only a couple of months more, and died in Campsie, New South Wales on 13th September. Samuel and Elizabeth had two daughters who are among the few clan women who served in the Second World War. Both were in the Royal Australian Air Force. Florence Jane, born 14th March 1920 served as an Aircraftswoman. She enlisted on 17th December 1942 at Belmore, Sydney, and was discharged on 3rd December 1945. She married John Drury and had two daughters, one of whom is one of my correspondents on this branch of the family. Florence's younger sister, Norah Georgina, born 24th June 1923 served at a Corporal. She also enlisted at Belmore, and was discharged on 2nd July 1946. Norah also married a couple of years later.

John George, known as Jack, was doubtless the John G. McIlhagger who signed the Ulster Covenant at the same time as his younger brother Henry. Although I have not been able to confirm it, it is said that he had served in the Boer War before working as a joiner in the Belfast Shipyards. He would have been 30 at the time he signed the Covenant when he was living at 104 Mount Collyer Avenue, Belfast. In the following year he married Sarah Miller. Jack and Sarah had three offspring. John, also known as Jack, born about 1913, was an exceptional classics scholar. He died unmarried aged 69 in 1982 after a long illness. Ellen, known as Nellie, married Harry Todd in about 1940, and died childless in 1999 aged 86. Henry was born about 1919 and married Violet Aiken from Aughnacloy, County Tyrone. Henry spent a few years in Australia after World War 2. Interestingly his daughter and two grand-daughters have incorporated the clan name into the surnames by which they are known.

William Boyd, born 8th December 1880 in Belfast is probably the 'W.B.' in the 1901 Census aged 20 listed as a soldier with Sapper 60th Coy, Royal Engineers, born Shankill, Antrim. At the time he was serving at Longmore Barracks, Longmore, Hampshire, England. We can assume this means he had joined up as a regular soldier. His WW1 Medal Card says he served with the Royal Irish Rifles as a Private Soldier. He presumably rejoined to serve in the War, as in 1908 he gave his occupation as Labourer when he married Eleanor McArthur in Lynn Memorial Methodist Church, Belfast. In 1908 he was back home at 29 New North Queen Street. In 1911 his address was Donard Street, Ormeau. Eleanor's father, Charles was an Upholsterer. Her marriage witness was Elizabeth McArthur, maybe her mother. William and Eleanor had four children, three girls, Kathleen, Elizabeth and Elsie, and one boy, William. He married Martha. William died in 1993 and Martha only this year, 2009. I have referred to her passing and to their offspring in another recent blog.

Finally I come to David, the eldest son of George and Mary Jane McIlhagger, born 6th January 1879. He married Elizabeth Louise Sherwood and they had three sons and a daughter, the second infant who was named after her aunt, this one Eva Kathleen. She was born in 1917 and died in 2002 aged 85 in Lisburn. She had married William Charles Clinton Pelham-Fynes. The eldest son, George Edward, born 1909 and named, according to the naming pattern, after his grandfather, though thankfully with a second name, to distinguish him from other Georges! In 1934 he married Nella Irene Kane in Belfast. She died in 1985; he in 1996. David Sherwood came next, born 1911. He distinguished himself as a Nuclear Scientist and sometime worked for the Longman Group in Harlow, Essex. He appears in the International Who's Who in Energy and Nuclear Scientists and in the Dictionary of Ulster Biography which I have detailed in my blog of 7th February last. David married Ida Graham on 15th August 1945 in Belfast. They had a daughter and a son, both of whom are married each with two children, one carrying on the clan name. David and Elizabeth (nee Sherwood)'s third son was James, born 1913. He married Ethel Neville at St. James', Belfast on 8th August 1939, and had two sons. In this sub-branch of the family there are several other eminent scientists. James died on 2nd November 1986 in The Isle of Man.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Police Sergeant George McIlhagger

Irish McIlhaggers 1898
Standing: William, Henry, David
Sitting: John, George, Mary Kathleen, Mary Jane, Samuel

If the McIlhagger version of the clan name has died out in Australia, has it survived in the Irish branch? Indeed it has! David and Mary's second son, George, did not emigrate. George was born in 1849, three years after his brother John, also in Ballymena, Northern Ireland. He married Mary Jane Boyd from County Monaghan, on 28th October 1876 in Mountpottinger Presbyterian Church. At the time both bride and groom lived in Sandy Row, Belfast. Mary Jane was a Factory Worker. George became a Police Sergeant with the Royal Irish Constabulary and went to work in what we now know as the Irish Republic, in Laurencetown, County Galway.

Their first child, in accord with the Irish naming pattern, was called David after George's father. He was born 6th January, 1879, in Shankill, Belfast, as was number two son, William Boyd, born 8th December 1880. The subsequent four children, John (born 1883), Samuel Robert (23rd September 1884), Henry Joseph (1885/6) and Mary Kathleen (1889) were all born in Laurencetown. Their father George was the sergeant of police there from 1881 to 1894. Thereafter George and Mary returned to Belfast where among many clan members George signed the Ulster Covenant in 1912 and had his name entered in a number of annual Belfast Directories as a retired policeman. George died intestate on 15th October 1914 at 29 New North Queen Street, Belfast. He was buried in Belfast City Cemetery. Probate administration was given to his widow, Mary Jane, who had to pay £130 Estate Duty. Interestingly the High Court of Justice which issued the Letters of Administration mis-spelled their surname McIlhagga. Mary Jane lived until 2nd February 1929, aged 80. She also was buried in Belfast City Cemetery. I will comment on George's descendants in a subsequent blog. We are grateful for the old photograph of the family which has come to us from Australia.

Full Abstract of the Will:

Administration of the Estate of George McIlhagga late of New North Queen Street Belfast Police Sergeant (Retired) who died 15 September 1914 granted at Belfast to Mary J. McIlhagga the Widow).

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

The Reverend E.F.G. McIlhagger

Some three years ago a member of Pepperdine University, Malibu, California, asked a question on the Internet: 'What role has pacifism played in... Australia? Have any men taken "Conscientious Objection" stands?...'. A reply came from a retired minister of the Churches of Christ. This is a small denomination with historical roots in both Baptism and Presbyterianism. His reply included the following: '...during and after World War II there was in our Australian churches considerable discussion and debate on conscientious objection, Christian pacifism, and war as contrary to the mind and teaching of Jesus Christ. Many ministers, particularly in Victoria and South Australia were... "prominent pacifists". They included E.F.G. McIlhagger... . (Their) names appeared with anti-war statements... collated from time to time in the publication The Peacemaker which was founded by... the Church of England Brotherhood of St. Laurence (sic) 1939...'.

'E.F.G.' also appears in a publication, Ballarat Churches of Christ, 1859-1993, A History, by Graeme Chapman, published in Victoria State, Australia. In chapter 15, entitled Peel St. and York St., 1949-1975 we read that from 1950-1952 Peel Street church was without a minister and that in October 1952 the church organised a Mission led by E.F.G. (Ern) McIlhagga, BA, the minister of Esseden, with Roy McLeod as the song leader.

As I have said in an earlier blog, a correspondent and descendant in the McIlhagger family sent me a copy of a short publication, Family Reunion: Palmer-Pidgeon-McIlhagger... A Pictorial Record, in which Ernest Frederick appears. He was the son of George who at the age of 11 emigrated from Ireland with his parents John and Jane Mary (nee Hull) McIlhagger. The family of (then) four children departed from Plymouth, England, on November 7th 1883 on the SS. Goalpara and arrived at Rockhampton, Queensland, on January 5th 1884. They settled at nearby Bundaberg. George became an Engine Driver at a local Sugar Mill, married Elizabeth Deoberitz and brought up six children of which Ernest was the youngest. He attended the local South Bundaberg State High School. He obtained his BA Degree from Queensland University and a Theology Degree from Glen Iris Bible College, Victoria. He married Margaret Coventry in 1942 in Melbourne and they had three daughters. Ernest died in Fairfield, New South Wales aged only 51 and is buried in Rookwood Cemetery, Sydney.

It will be noted from this and from my previous blogs on the section of the McIlhagger family from Ireland that emigrated to the antipodes that there are no remaining descendants with the clan surname. This is also true of the one son of John and Mary Jane of whom I have not written anything. He was John, born 22nd April 1881 in Belfast, and emigrated aged just two. He like his older brother George, became an Engine Driver at a Sugar Mill (at Mackay). He married Catherine Magnus who was a widow with a young daughter. Her first husband had been killed in a tragic accident. John and Catherine had two further daughters. Catherine died in 1946 and John on 7th May 1955 in Mackay.

Monday, 26 October 2009

Life Calendar

In recent years in the month of October we have published a list of 'life events' in our annual Clan Newsletter and for comparison and information also the events of a hundred years ago. Here is this year's list:


29 March: William Luke McCrae born to Niall Duncan and Stephanie of Little Hallingbury, Hertfordshire, England, a grandson for Donald and the late Kate McIlhagga.


January: John (Jack) McIlhagga of Sheffield, Yorkshire, England (see blog for 17th January);

27th January: June Millar (nee McIlhagga). June was the third of seven children born to Samuel McIlhagga of Coleraine. She was born in 1939. She married Roy Millar and had a daughter and a son. Her grandparents were James Spence and Elizabeth (nee McGrillis) McIlhagga who married in Ballymena. Her great-grandparents were William McIlhagga and Mary Spence both of Tullygarley who were born about 1860. Their fathers were respectively William McIlhagga and James Spence;

25th April: Martha McIlhagger of Belfast, Northern Ireland (see blog for 16th May);

12th June: Margaret (Peggy) McIlhagga, of Belfast, Northern Ireland, wife of the late George Harris.

100 Years Ago

1909: Kathleen born to William & Eleanor McIlhagger, N.Ireland;

1909: George Edward born to David & Elizabeth McIlhagger, Belfast, N.Ireland;

4 Jan: Jane McIlhagga (nee Wade) died, age 71, Greenock, Scotland;

16 Jun: John born to James Spence & Elizabeth McIlhagga, Coleraine, N.Ireland;

22 Jul: William Crawford McIlhagga (infant) died, Liverpool, England;

31 Aug: Joseph McIlhagga married Annie Glenesk, Greenock, Scotland;

5 Oct: Anne McIlhagga married James Bingham, Shankill, N.Ireland;

3 Nov: Harriet Jane McIlhagga married William Robert Girvin, Shankill, N.Ireland;

10 Dec: Clark McIlhagga (infant) died Old Kilpatrick, Scotland;

21 Dec: Mary Kathleen McIlhagger married James Boyd, Shankill, N.Ireland.

200 Years Ago

6 Sep: Ann McIlhagart baptised, Co.Antrim, N.Ireland.


Amy, age 13, (daughter of Mr. & Mrs. R.A. McIlhagga) of Ballymena Academy who won the County Antrim section of a National Poetry Competition, whose theme was 'Talkin' 'Bout My Generation';

Jimmy McIlhagga was chosen last season by Ards Football Club, Northern Ireland, Board of Directors as their top player. He is their first team midfielder.

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Two Greenock Graves

I've had an email from someone with whom I have corresponded previously when she was doing some family history research for a McIlhagga friend. She had kindly copied down the wording of two gravestones she had spotted on the south-west coast of Scotland in Greenock Cemetery, which is incidentally one of the largest graveyards in Europe. One was for my first cousin twice removed, James McIlhagga, his wife and three of his eleven daughters. The other was for a fourth, his eldest daughter, Marion. The first stone (in Section 2F) reads "James McIlhagga died 7th Feb 1913 age 59, wife Joan McCulloch died 17th Jan 1905, daus Agnes died 14th Jan 1919 age 26 at Calgary, Isobel died 26th Sept 1944 at Kimberley BC, Margaret died Feb 1961, 4 children died in infancy". The second stone reads simply "Marion McCulloch McIlhagga died 3rd Nov 1961 age 84" (in Sction 2B).

There are a number of things to note about the wording of these stones which make us cautious about recording people's 'vital statistics' with confidence. The date of James' death is indeed correct. The Greenock Telegraph for the following day confirms this, as does the Register of Deaths which tells us in addition that he died at 4h 45m Pm at 31 Lyle Street, Greenock, of 'Phthisis Pulmonalis'. His eldest son William, of 88 Portland Place, Hamilton, reported his father's death to the Registrar and I presume it was he who gave his age as 57 years. This however is two years different to the age on the memorial stone which says 59 years. So was he born in 1856 or 1854, or indeed 1855? We have no record of his birth so we must calculate from other sources. The 1881 Census implies 1856, 1891 implies 1855 and 1901 implies 1856. The strong possibility is that the stone is wrong, though it may not be!

James' wife is called Joan McCulloch. It is a good Scottish practice to use a wife's maiden name in such a situation, which for us either confirms what we know from another source, or perhaps tells us what we hadn't known, even if, as in this case, the first name has been 'simplified'. She was Joanna, rather than Joan! Actually she was Joanna on her marriage certificate and Johanna on her death certificate (and in the Greenock Telegraph). As for the three daughters, I did not know the date or place of Agnes' death, though I had a note of an Agnes McIlhagga aged 21 leaving for Montreal in 1913. Isobel is I'm sure the simplified version of 'Isabella McFady'. I had not known that she too had emigrated to Canada, nor did I know the date of her death. It is interesting that one sister went to Calgary, Alberta, and the other to Kimberley, British Columbia.

It is possible that one or both had gone to join their brother Joseph who joined up in the First World War in Calgary with the Canadian Expeditionary Force. Joseph in fact gave his sister Marion as his next of kin, as by then both his parents were dead, though in fact for five years he had had a wife who like Marion was back in Scotland. Margaret (who also seems to have been called Matilda) and who had McCulloch as a second name, appears to have remained unmarried and to have died in Greenock, again on a date that I am glad to know. Marion McCulloch was the eldest child of James and Johanna and she also lived and died unmarried in Greenock. The first stone mentions but does not name '4 children died in infancy'. They were Robert McCulloch (1883), Annie Bell (1900-01), Janet (1902) and Mary Morrison (1904). I am indeed grateful to my correspondent for the extra information she has sent me.

Friday, 16 October 2009

Iona and Mull

Prioress Anna Maclean

I have just been away for a week staying on the Isle of Iona in the Inner Hebrides and was able to spend one day visiting the new Heritage Centre on the Ross of Mull at Bunessan, called Tigh na Rois. It is in the rebuilt Millbrae Cottage. I had taken with me a chart showing the names of three MacKechnie second cousins. The staff member in charge was able to confirm that they were all deceased and that their Memorial Inscriptions were published in a new production by the centre, Kilpatrick Burial Ground. However, she knew that there were descendants and she kindly phoned a 'senior' MacKechnie lady in the village who was able to see me and tell me the name of four offspring, who of course are my 3rd cousins. I can now write to them to introduce myself - I wonder if they will want to know?

I was able to do something else. The connection was through my grandmother, Margaret McLean who married William McIlhagga in Liverpool in 1892. She was the daughter of the eldest son of a large family that was born on the Isle of Coll, the Macleans of Auchnasaul, who in the late 1800s moved to the Isle of Mull where they were tennant farmers. Mull is of course the home of the chief of the clan Maclean, at Duart Castle. And there have also been Macleans living on Iona until quite recently. Now there is a famous Memorial Stone in the Abbey Museum on Iona, of Anna Maclean. She was Prioress of the Nunnery on the Island 1508-19. The stone is a product of the Oronsay School of Carving, c. 1550. Anna died in 1542. I asked the volunteer at the Iona Heritage Centre if ever people enquire how Anna fits in to the Maclean Clan. To my surprise she was uncertain whether there had ever been such an enquiry. I had learned a lot from a visit to Coll a couple of years ago and as a result have been able to trace my M(a)clean line back to include Anna. She turns out to be my first cousin, fifteen times removed (15 generations back!). I didn't tell the Heritage Centre the personal bit, but I did leave them a chart of Anna's family, descending from her grandfather Charles Maclean of Kingairloch, and down five generations. They are going to submit it to their consultant historian and hopefully I will have my research either confirmed or corrected.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Two families of 11 and a Dental Violinist

A couple of recent blogs have painted a picture of the hard life that immigrants to Australia had in the mid to late 19th Century. However, tragedy seemed almost endemic to such a hard life-style. John McIlhagger's wife, Mary Jane, died in 1886 at the age of forty-one with consumption. She left seven children, the eldest of whom was Mary aged 18. The oldest three were ready to work and fly the nest, but John was left with four young children to bring up. He found that Mary had a wise head on her shoulders. John took her advice and decided to write to a former sweet-heart, now widowed, back in Ireland, and proposed marriage. Isabella Humphreys came to Australia with her eight children and married John the very day she disembarked in 1889. A household of thirteen, including eleven children, then lived on the corner of Edwina and Kolan Streets in Bundaberg.

Eighteen years old Mary, born 9th October 1870 in Ballymena, had left home the previous year (1888) to marry and to begin her own family. She married Jacob Heininger, son of Andreas Heininger and Rosina Bekler who had emigrated as 'free passengers' on the ship Reichstag from Switzerland in 1871. Mary and Jacob resided at Stewart Street, North Bundaberg where their twelve children were born (one stillborn). In 1911 they moved to Mount Larcon with the six youngest. John became a train driver. Jacob Cecil enlisted in the First World War. Mary became a cook. Frederick also enlisted in World War I and then worked on the railway; he was a noted footballer. George William died suddenly as a teenager when he too had enlisted. Arthur Andrew became an Insurance and Real Estate Agent. Elizabeth Rose married a Dairy Farmer and Fruit Grower. Earl Victor worked the family farm. Rose married a Grazier who later became a Hotelier; she trained as a nurse, then went into the fashion business. Robert David became a farmer and Thomas a miner. Their mother, Mary (nee McIlhagger) died 16th January 1946 at Townsville, Queensland.

John and Mary McIlhagger's second child was George who became a Sugar Mill Engine Driver. Born 29th April 1872 in Belfast, he lived until his sixtieth year and died 26th May 1931. He and his wife Anni Elizabeth Deoberitz had seven children. Three boys gave hope of the family name being carried on. The eldest three however were girls. Ruby Catherine became a very talented tailoress, married and had six children. Linda Mary also married and had three children. Dulcie May also married. She and her husband took over her parents' house at 6 Elizabeth Street, Bundaberg, when they died. After the three girls, the first boy, William, died as an infant. Then came George Albert Phillip, born 12th September 1906 at Targo Street, Bundaberg. Like the other children he was educated at Bundaberg and district schools. He became apprenticed to a dentist called Bill Finnemore. He marred Norma Mary Mulcahy in Maryborough where he transferred to the dental practice of Herb Bashford. Later on he purchased this practice after he had become a fully qualified dentist. George remained in business until the late 1950s when he sold out and joined the State Health Department, travelling the Wide Bay Burnett District caring for school children until his retirement in 1972.

George was a very good musician and studied the violin. He won the open violin solo at the Maryborough Festival on 27th October 1927, when seventeen years old. Thereafter he won numerous eisteddfods. They had just one daughter. The last daughter of George and Anni was Heloise Myrtle who married and had two sons. The youngest child of George and Anni was another boy, 'EFG' who will be the subject of another blog.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Website and Newsletter

The score of a century is perhaps something to be celebrated! This is the 100th blog I have written since I started the McIlhagga Clan Blog in January last. It happens to come in the month of October which in the past seven years has been the month when Neil in Ottawa and I have produced an annual Clan Newsletter. You can read all the past ones on our Clan Website at Neil and I feel that now we have this blog there is less need for an annual newsletter. I would be happy to put any clan news on the blog and also publish any items people would like to write for us, given that they are of clan interest. Also, to be frank, not only has the Newsletter taken a lot of time to produce - it has taken us most of a month each year - it is also expensive to produce. We have never asked for a financial contribution towards it and the cost of paper, ink and postage has kept rising.

I know that many of you have appreciated receiving the Newsletter either by email or through the post. I recently received a message saying how much someone was looking forward to the next one, and I confess to feeling a bit guilty that we had taken our decision. But I hope the items in the blog are a good substitute. And the blog doesn't arrive just once a year! I've published 100 items in 9 months! And you have the chance to respond to a blog item immediately. I realise that most of the blog items have been historical, but some have been 'contemporary', and more can be. I know there are still people without a personal computer, but a majority do now have email and have access to a computer, so I hope they will understand. Neil and I will write to everyone later this month. At the same time I hope to include in this blog some items that would normally have appeared in the Newsletter.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Christmas at Bundaberg

The eldest son (and second child) of John and Mary Jane (nee Hull) McIlhagger was George who was born 29th April 1872 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. He was probably called after his uncle, and maybe his great-grandfather. He was eleven when he arrived with his parents in Australia. In 1897 at the age of 25 he married Anni Elizabeth Deoberitz. He had become an Engine Driver at Millaquin Sugar Mill. George and Anni had seven children, but before we come to them I want to quote George's recollections of his teenage years, in which he refers to his Aunty Martha. This was not the Martha who was the subject of my last blog - that was his younger sister. This Martha was his mother's sister, so was a Hull. She was the Martha who had married Edward Palmer and was probably the person who encouraged her sister Mary Jane and her husband John - George's parents - to emigrate. Here are George's recollections:

I can barely remember my grandfather as he died when I was about four (He must mean his maternal grandfather, Joseph Hull, as his grandfather David McIlhagger didn't die until 1899). I can remember his bald head (which I inherited) and he appeared to be rather stern but very kind. He had a sulky and a buggy and we loved to go for rides with him out to Lovers Walk which was well into the bush in those days. Grandfather had a friend, a Mr. Preston, who lived at Lovers Walk. In those days watermelon, along with roast chicken, was a Christmas special. Mr. Preston grew watermelons so at Christmas we rode in the buggy to get some. He had a long white beard and was, from memory, short and stout, so a visit to him at Christmas was a visit to Santa Claus. We always gave him our stocking request.

Motor vehicles were few. Deliveries were made by horse and cart. The grocer orderman came one day and the delivery was made the next in a dray pulled by great Clydesdales. Warm milk was delivered each day and stories were told of the milkman topping up his can with water if he was running short. We had a baker called Kazzy, who kept all the children on his run well-behaved by saying he would take us back to the bakehouse to be made into bread if we misbehaved. With all the horses around, there were plenty of blacksmiths so a favourite past (sic) time was standing near the entrance to the Smithy watching horses being shod. Even today (1988) the smell of burning coal brings back memories of the blacksmith shop.

Christmas was a special time when the whole family got together for Christmas dinner at the McIlhaggers. They had a pepperina tree and a favourite trick each year was to slice a piece of wood off the tree and slip it into someone's dinner. It resembled ham so the unlucky one had quite a time trying to cut and eat the pepperina wood. On Christmas Eve, Bourbong Street was closed to traffic from Barolin Street to Tantitha Street from about 5pm to 10pm. It became a Mall and was crowded with half the population of Bundaberg and district. It was the night of the year with late night shopping. All shop awnings were supported with posts and every post had green leafed branches tied to them a few days before Christmas so the street looked very cool and pleasant.

Aunty Martha made excellent plum puddings in the cloth. She must have made dozens every year because everyone seemed to have one of her puddings hung up for weeks before Christmas. I remember during the early days of the war using the pudding as a bomb. Even after numerous drops the pudding was still wonderful. When we went to live on the farm near Aunty Martha, we loved to visit her as there was always something special to eat. Her cake tins were never empty.

Going to the beach was special as it was a long trip by sulky or buggy. On Boxing Day, New Year's Day and Railway Picnic Day a special train would run to Bargara. It would be crowded and would pick up passengers at almost anywhere along the line where someone waited. The area on the hill at the southern end was known as Nobs Hill as only business people would picnic up there. The ordinary people had their picnics in Frogs Hollow near the road or among the trees. It was a very happy day with some very sunburnt people going home.

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Martha Ann McIlhagger

John and Jane Mary McIlhagger's four children, their thirty grandchildren and their numerous great grandchildren for the most part began their lives and for the most part ended them in Bundaberg, Queensland, and life was often hard. In the early days land had to be cleared by hand, primary age children had to walk five miles to school, and there were no labour-saving devices in the home. Here's a quote from the family's record of their reunion in 1988:

"Consider a wash-day for Martha when house well-water (hand-drawn in buckets) was in short supply. Gathering the dirty clothes, a kerosene tin (for the boiler), a packed lunch and four young children, Martha would head for Gordon's Creek. The clothes, boiled, scrubbed and rinsed (tubs were places at the Creek permanently) would be draped on trees and bushes to dry. Late afternoon the clean clothes would be gathered into a sheet and carried home on Martha's back, tired children following".

Martha Ann was John and Mary's fifth child and fourth daughter. She arrived in Australia aged 7 years. In 1884 she was enrolled at Gooburran School but finished her schooldays at the North Bundaberg State School. She was then employed locally as a housemaid before her marriage to Robert Yendel Heale on 9th June 1897 at Martha's father's home. Robert had emigrated from Devonshire, England, in 1882. After the birth of their first child Robert purchased 160 acres of uncleared land at Splitter's Creek for £100. The family moved there to live in a two-roomed house with a separate kitchen. The whole was made of slab walls and bagged floor plus a shingle roof. Two more rooms were added as the family expanded.

Robert worked first as a butcher in Lassig's shop in Perry Street, North Bundaberg, then in Jack Bauer's slaughter yards off Rosedale Road, Oakwood. When he worked at the slaughter-house during the week, he spent the nights in a shed with bags for blankets, then he walked home to Martha and his children for the weekend. Weekends and off-times were spent laboriously clearing his virgin land by hand. Firewood from the farm was sold to the North Bundaberg bakery. A childhood memory Fred their eldest boy liked to recall was how he had to attend the burning tree stumps on the newly cleared land, late into the night and still had to be ready for school by 7am. His sister Mary Elizabeth remembered how they would walk and then run set sections of the way to Gooburram School to ensure that they were not late. The way was a dirt-track through thickly populated bush. Things were better when the Erin Hilki School opened in 1917 and the Heale children had a 1.2km walk instead of 8km. Later in life, to increase his income, Robert had a labouring job at Invicta which meant that Saturday afternoons were spent walking from his Splinter's Creek home to Invicta.

Robert was paid the princely sum of £2 per week when employed as a butcher. Consequently the farm had to supply much of the food for the family. Goats and cows provided milk and butter (homemade). A large variety of trees gave ample fruit. Poultry supplied eggs as well as roast chicken, while wild kangaroo, wallaby, bandicoot and goat meat would provide delicacies to grace the dinner table for family and visitors alike. Visiting neighbours was the social pass-time. Robert would often request 'On the Bonnie Banks of Loch Lomond' be played on the gramaphone as he set off strolling home arm-in-arm with Martha.

At the time of his untimely death on 21st January 1918 Robert had cleared 15 acres of which four acres were under sugar-cane cultivation. Their sons Fred, John, Robert and Thomas had all left school by then and were employed at either Fairymead Sugar Plantation or the Sharon Mill. They were able to support Martha and her four youngest children financially. There were no Social Security cheques in those days! The sons developed the 15 acres into sugar-cane plantation for Martha, thus giving her independence. With Martha's consent any further cleared land became their own. In the 1920s her sons built Martha a new ready-to-erect home on the farm. Because of the conditions for new cane assignment in the 1950s Martha transferred her land to her sons so that the farm could expand. John, Robert and Thomas were now share farmers and they financially supported their mother until her death on 15th April 1958, aged 81.

Their eldest son, Frederick William, on leaving the Sharon School acquired labouring jobs and also helped develop the family farm. His brothers bought out his share of the farm and he bought his own farm at the Elliot, now called Calavos. By this time he had married a Brisbane lass, Hanorah McCarthy and they had two children. After selling his cane farm, Fred worked at the Qunaba Sugar Plantation until his early retirement due to ill-health. The family were now living at River Terrace, Millbank, Bundaberg. During World War 2 Frederick was an active member of the Victory Defence Corps. Robert and Martha had nine children. After Fred came John who married Ellen Wheeler and had a son. Jack as he was known bought a small market garden acreage from Les Palmer (see previous blog), adjoining the Heale property and built a home there for his wife and child. On retirement due to ill-health, Jack and Ellen moved to Bundaberg to live. Robert James was number three, who married Ethel Olm at Brigalow, Queensland. Bob, as he was known, built a home adjacent to Martha's on their farm and lived there until retirement when he and Ethel moved to Beatrice Street, Bundaberg. Thomas, number four, married a local girl, Mary Poulson, and built a home for his family across the road from Martha's. They had one daughter. On retirement he had the house moved to 5 Child Street, Bundaberg. Number five was Mary Elizabeth, who married Frank McGuirk and had three children. The next two children were Isabella and Gladys. They kept house for their brothers at Splatters Creek Farm for a time. Isabella then married a 'most eligible bachelor', Donald Royan, from Earn Hill Farm, Sharon. With Saturday night dances and Sunday tennis, Earn Hill was the rage scene of the 1920s and 1930s. They had five children, one of whom emigrated to live in Vancouver. Donald and Isabella lived on their farm until April 1975 when they retired to 44 Churchill Street Bundaberg. Gladys married Wilfred Proctor and they had six children. After a period of farming at Oakwood this family moved to live in New Zealand. One son moved to Venezuela and one back to Australia. Martha's eighth's child, Pearl Ivy, died in infancy. Her last, Samuel George, after education at Erin High School, found employment at the Fairymead Sugar Plantation. His share of the farm was bought out by his brothers. Sam married Mavis Fagg in 1944 when they lived with Martha for a time before moving to a home in Fairymead. After Mavis' early death aged 44, Sam and his two children lived in Collinsville for a few years. Returning to Bundaberg Sam was employed with the Bundaberg City Council until his death.