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.

No comments:

Post a Comment