About cassmob

I'm a Queenslander by birth and after nearly 20 years in the Northern Territory I've returned to my home state. I've been researching my Queensland ancestors for nearly 30 years and like most Aussies I'm a typical "mongrel" with English, Irish, Scottish and German ancestry.

Sepia Saturday: Railway maintenance

Sepia Saturday 522 30 May 2020One of the things I like about Sepia Saturday is that it makes you think about how the image might relate to your family’s stories. This week’s image just didn’t ring bells for me even though there are farmers on my tree. It took until Sunday for me to have a lightbulb moment. I may have no photos of my farmers but I also have lots of railway workers who I’ve written about before.

When we travel by train we tend to give little thought to the men who built the lines or who maintain them. Both sides of my family were involved in building Queensland’s railway lines and then maintaining them. George Kunkel, my 2xgreat grandfather certainly followed the construction of the line between Ipswich and Toowoomba but the jury is out on whether he was selling meat, or actually helping with construction. His son, another George, was a railway ganger so responsible for the lengthsmen working on a particular stretch of the line. My grandfather was actually born at a railway camp outside Dalby in what can only have been pretty primitive conditions for the women, as “home” was usually a canvas tent.  On my maternal side, the men worked the line between Rockhampton and Longreach.

Railway knocking sleepers into posn Qlder 4 Feb 1899 p214

(1899, February 4). The Queenslander (Brisbane, Qld. : 1866 – 1939), p. 214 (Unknown). Retrieved June 1, 2020, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-page2516738

These were hard, physical jobs especially during the heat of a Queensland summer or the chill of an outback winter where it does indeed get cold. Hospital records at Queensland State Archives offer testimony to the hazards of the work for the men in the tropics as so many fell ill with tropical diseases.

Railway Camp The Week 21 nov 1913

If this was 1913, just imagine what life was like in the 1850s-1880s. AT HOME, RAILWAY CONSTRUCTION CAMP, LOWER BURDEKIN. (1913, November 21). The Week (Brisbane, Qld. : 1876 – 1934), p. 20. Retrieved June 1, 2020, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article188948214

Trove also offers insights into the experiences of the men if you search by a generic phrase like “railway ganger” or” railway maintenance”. You don’t need to find you specific family name if you can gain information about their lives on the line from newspaper stories. This article gives an excellent insight into the tasks of railway maintenance. Drilling down to search for illustrated articles can provide images from the times as well. I’ve been adding stories to my list “Qld Railways” which is public.

Murphys Creek railway camp The Week Qld

No title (1912, October 18). The Week (Brisbane, Qld. : 1876 – 1934), p. 20. Retrieved June 1, 2020, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article188916590

From my personal experience, I remember when we’d be travelling to Townsville on the Sunlander train, dad (another railwayman) would always throw out a newspaper or magazine to the men working beside the line. I remember that they’d have a lean-to and a billy on the fire, but whether they lived in tents close by or travelled on one of push-pull cars to a more distant location I just don’t know.

Railway loading ballast Qlder 4 Feb 1899 p214

(1899, February 4). The Queenslander (Brisbane, Qld. : 1866 – 1939), p. 214 (Unknown). Retrieved June 1, 2020, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-page2516738

 

Thank you to Sepia Saturday for making me think more about these men, even if it’s taken me until Monday to get my thoughts organised. You can head over to the link to see what other bloggers have dug up about their families.

railway CAMP south coast line The week 1909

My grandfather worked on this line. RAILWAY, CAMP, SOUTH COAST LINE (1909, January 15). The Week (Brisbane, Qld. : 1876 – 1934), p. 25. Retrieved June 1, 2020, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article183689234

 

Crazy month of May 2020 meme: pandemic experiences

Image by Devanath from Pixabay

In the past we’ve done the May Music Meme 2012 and the May Movie Meme 2016. It occurred to me that perhaps we should have a meme which captures our response to the hopefully-once-in-a-lifetime May that we’ve just navigated….it might be a way to preserve the tip of our experiences. Remember that many blogs are being archived in Pandora so perhaps this is a way for our descendants to learn about our experiences during the covid-19 crisis.

If you’re so inclined, why not join me in completing this meme. Be as brief or lengthy as you like and feel free to add more than one response to a question.

What are you most grateful for during this covid-19 crisis?

What have you missed most during the full or partial lock-down?

Has your hobby sustained you during this time?

What changes have you seen in your life over May 2020?

Have you been exercising more or less?

Has the refrigerator been your friend or foe?

Have you been participating in virtual gatherings with friends or family?

Have you taken up new hobbies during the lockdowns?

Are you cooking or gardening more?

Have you shopped more or less? Online or offline?

What have you found to be the strangest change to your life?

Have you found the changes and experience stressful/anxious/worrying?

How have the closures affected your local community?

Have in-person meetings been replaced with virtual meetings via Zoom, Skype etc?

Do you enjoy the virtual meeting format?

Are you working from home instead of in your usual place of work?

Have your habits changed over the past months?

Have you had to cancel travel plans for pleasure or family?

Do you think you’ll be able to travel in 2020?

Have you/others been wearing masks when out and about in your area?

Will you change your lifestyle after this experience?

Since it seems I conjure up one of these memes every four years, you and I will be free now until 2024. I’ll collate the responses into a blog post next week. If possible please link back so I know you’ve memed along with me.

Jack Bishop: A champion bike racer

Sepia Saturday 521 23 May 2020This past weekend’s Sepia Saturday theme brought to mind a story I’ve been intending to write up about a prize winning racer in my Kunkel family.

Family discoveries can come from all sorts of cryptic clues. They may even reveal hidden stories – if we’re lucky. One such came to light over great grandson of George and Mary Kunkel. A cousin recounted how, while still a little girl, she attended the funeral of a young Paterson cousin who had died racing motorcycles overseas. Various searches on this family’s deaths was unproductive – until the three-month gap between Mary Bishop’s son’s dates of death and burial were finally noticed. The internet provided the final loop of the puzzle revealing that Jack Bishop was a renowned pioneer of dirt track racing in both Australia and England in the 1920s and early 30s.[1]

BISHOP Jack grave (2)

Died 20 March 1933, England. Ashes interred Drayton and Toowoomba cemetery 17 June 1933.

 After leaving school, Jack started work in the motor trade. It’s likely that’s where he gained his enthusiasm for dirt bike racing which was a new sport in those post-WWI days. In 1928 Jack Bishop was recruited by AJ Hunting to race in England and along with other Australian racers signed a contract which paid him £5 per week and a return first class voyage. Jack Bishop and the team sailed on the Oronsay from Brisbane, arriving in London on 9 May 1928.[2] Jack was 19 years old and he and all his team-mates listed their occupation as “professional motor cyclist” with their address c/- International Speedway Limited London. Although the Australians made a prominent opening in May 1928 on the dirt tracks at White City and Crystal Palace, the heavy rain made the muddy tracks hazardous and Jack was thrown and received concussion. In July 1928 he was injured in two races which affected his early career in the United Kingdom.

BISHOP Hull Daily Mail 22 August 1928 p3

Who wouldn’t want a box of smoked herring? Hull Daily Mail 22 August 1928, p3

The thrill of dirt track racing appealed to many spectators and the sport became very popular. On 19 August 1929 he was part of an Exeter team who faced the Stamford Bridge team from London in front of a 25,000 strong crowd of spectators. The “red and white” team from Exeter won the race 13-8 with Bishop leading the final lap and team-member, Jackson, covering him.[3] Jack was then the “undisputed champion of the track at Exeter”.[4] There are many reports in the English press about the achievements of the team from Down Under including Jack Bishop. They even received gifts from their fans and I was amused by the one included here.

Jack Bishop became sufficiently famous to have his own cigarette card in Ogden’s “Famous Dirt Track Riders” series. He is described as “a successful Australian rider who came over to England in 1928, Jack Bishop is one of the most daring riders, and his dashing displays are very popular with all the Speedway fans. He has been especially successful when competing in the Handicap events and sometimes when starting from scratch has run through the field and won by a big margin. He has also a number of lap records to his credit both in England and Australia.”[5] 

BISHOP Jack dirt track card

The copy of the Jack Bishop card kindly provided by Gary Milne of Cartophily cards UK.

 There were plenty of thrills and quite a few spills – some that were physically very damaging. In the early days Jack was apparently riding a basic bike which quite likely contributed to the falls. In 1930, on a return visit to Brisbane, he acquired a much more sophisticated bike which was better suited to racing. It was during this visit that he brought his young English bride, Lilian (nee Grist), with him. They’d married in London in late 1929 and although the newspaper report above mentions he already had a son there’s no indication of a child on the passenger manifests for the Jervis Bay[6].

BISHOP The Sphere 2 June 1928 p14

The Sphere, 2 June 1928, p14

Over the next few years Jack pursued a successful racing career in Australia, New Zealand and England. It seems his wife Lilian remained in Australia while Jack travelled and competed. This must have been a lonely life for her with no family to support her, especially when her husband was injured or sick overseas.

Jack later worked under contract to the New Zealand Speedways[7] and was regarded as one of the finest riders in the Dominion. In 1931 he was badly injured there in an off-track accident but by 1932 he had returned to England to race. During this trip Jack became so seriously ill that specialist medical attention could not save his life. He died in England on 20 March 1933, only 24 years old. Jack’s death was reported extensively in both British and Australian newspapers. Only general references are made to his widow and two children.

BISHOP Sunderland Daily Echo and Shipping gazette 21 Mar 1933 p12

Supporters and friends made it possible for “his earthly remains to be interred in his home town” by rallying to raise funds. Jack’s ashes were interred in the Drayton and Toowoomba cemetery on 17 June 1933 with impressive solidarity and respect from his fellow riders. A sidecar carried the urn with the ashes, contained in an oak casket which was draped with the colours of the Downs Club.[8]

BISHOP Jack funeral Bris Courier 19 June 1933p13

The Brisbane Courier, 19 June 1933 p13

The motorcycle was driven by Jack’s old friend and fellow racer, Cyril Anderson. A car with the relatives followed in the cortege and then behind it, two by two, came motor cyclists, their headlights draped in black. The Club remembers the funeral as probably the first motor-cycle funeral in the world.[9]

Jack’s widow, Mrs Lillian L Bishop, 24, returned to England on the Largs Bay on 25 September 1933. With Lillian was her young son, Daniel J Bishop, aged 3 and possibly named for Jack’s uncle, Daniel Paterson. Lillian and Daniel Bishop’s intended address was 19 Glyn Mansions, Kensington, London.[10] There is only one child on the British immigration records and that reveals another tragedy: just nine days after Jack’s interment, their daughter Patricia’s death was registered. There is no indication that she was buried in the Toowoomba and Drayton cemetery with her father and I’m left wondering if Lilian took her daughter’s ashes back to England with her.

Nothing further is known of Lillian and Daniel after their migration “home”. Research so far has been unsuccessful. I would love to hear more of them or make contact with descendants.

The extensive obituary from Jack’s home town. MOTOR CYCLING. (1933, March 24). Toowoomba Chronicle and Darling Downs Gazette (Qld. : 1922 – 1933), p. 10. Retrieved May 25, 2020, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article254304278

Why not race over to the Sepia Saturday page and see what prize-winning stories have been told?

———————————–

[1] Such moments are the lifeblood of dedicated family historians because they make the long frustrating hours of searching worthwhile.

[2] Originally from Australian Speedway Motorcycles webpage: http://www.ausm.info/aus_history/speedway_pioneers/aust_speedway_pioneers_2.htm Site no longer online.

[3] http://www.exeter-falcons.demon.co.uk/prewar.htm The history of Exeter-Falcons dirt racing makes many references to Jack Bishop. Also no longer online but this may have replaced it: https://cybermotorcycle.com/archives/exeter-speedway/spencer.htm

[4] Toowoomba Chronicle, 24 June 1933, page 5 contains a detailed report of Jack Bishop’s life and funeral.

[5] http://www.gdfcartophily.co.uk/carditem.php/itemid/1528

[6] Passenger lists leaving UK 1890-1960 at http://www.findmypast.com.

[7] There is an excellent photograph of Jack Bishop in his racing leathers on the National Library of New Zealand, Timeframes webpage.

[8] Toowoomba Chronicle, 24 June 1933, page 5.

[9] Email from Downs Motorcycle Sporting Club researcher, Garry Luchich in 2007.

[10] UK Incoming passenger lists 1878-1960, BT26, piece 1029, item 1 on http://www.ancestry.co.uk.

Sepia Saturday: A Pint in the Sun

2004311 : Sepia Saturday 520 Header (16 May 2020)

This week’s theme for Sepia Saturday evoked a particular family memory as soon as I saw it, though I can’t believe it’s twenty years since this enjoyable day out. Our youngest daughter had been on a gap year after finishing uni and had been working at a pub in Hook Norton, Oxfordshire for six months with her partner. When we met up with them in Tuscany, they’d been backpacking for a few months – staying with us in a villa was quite the lap of luxury.

Italy248

It was so exciting when we met them off the bus: kisses, huge hugs and smiles, and maybe even a tear or two. The Italians from the bus were very approving of this grand display of emotion. We were amused when the  multi-lingual localrestaurateurgave us a quote from his own family gatherings “today you laugh, tomorrow you fight“. Luckily we managed to avoid any major “blues” and had a good time together. By the time we drove into Siena for a look-see we’d even learned to deal with the Italian traffic! To celebrate we sat in the sunshine in the Piazza del Campo and enjoyed a cold beer together. Perfetto!

This topic turned my thoughts to family drinking habits and the role of alcohol. My father had only an occasional beer though he also liked a whisky from time to time. One memorable time, he was watching a Rugby Union match with Mr Cassmob and myself. Mum arrived, busying around, and moved his coffee table. Being engrossed in the match, he replaced his beer glass exactly where it had been previously – only problem being that the table was no longer there. Oops! We were not popular! My mother was never, ever a drinker of alcohol, nor was her father (or presumably her mother) since they’d both signed “The Pledge“. Amazingly I managed to avoid all school encouragement to do the same, so I can enjoy my wine.

Similarly, my father’s parents also never drank alcohol in their old age. My paternal grandfather may have been known to have a beer as a younger man but perhaps not after he married my grandmother who was a staunch Presbyterian.

The following newspaper extract describes my maternal grandmother’s parents’ refreshment rooms in Charters Towers. One might infer from this that the Melvin family were non- drinkers as well (though Stephen Melvin’s brother did run pubs). It’s also worth remembering that in Queensland, and especially the tropical north, there’s little appeal to sitting in the sun with a cold beer, or any other cold drink. Being in a shady, cool place is much more attractive.

Melvin Nth Qld Register 1895 non alcoholic

MESSRS. MELVIN & CO. (1895, December 21). The North Queensland Register (Townsville, Qld. : 1892 – 1905), p. 65. Retrieved May 17, 2020, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article79288095

Perhaps some of the family antipathy to alcohol can be explained by the death of Anne Callaghan who I believe to have been my 2xgreat grandmother from Courtown in Ireland. At first, one wonders how no one noticed she hadn’t returned home but it’s entirely possible the men in the family were at sea fishing. By 1886, my great-grandmother, Anne’s daughter, had already emigrated to Queensland.

CALLAGHAN Anne Death cert 1886

As the advertisements say “Drink in Moderation“.

Why not visit the Sepia Saturday page to see how other Sepians have “hit the grog” and whether they were basking in the sunshine at the same time.

And sometimes, an ice cream is every bit as good as a beer when it’s hot.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A to Z 2020 blog reading and thoughts

A to Z reflection

This year there were 418 bloggers who participated in the April A to Z Challenge – a more manageable number than in some previous years. I liked that they were categorised too, which probably limits which blogs you’re likely to read when time is short, but conversely lets you maximise the benefits. I’ve included my list of blogs I read intensively through the challenge – there’s great content in there.

This was my 5th year participating in the A to Z: you can see the links to previous years at the end of this post in case you’ve got cabin fever and need something more to read.

Practicalities

I like to comment on posts, even if I do a batch at a time (eg on Sundays when no posts are scheduled). These are the things I like, or find frustrating when reading a blog:

  • A “like” button or similar if you don’t have anything profound to add or are short for time.
  • Posts which require completion of a form on each occasion you comment can be frustrating, take more time and can be a deterrent to commenting (hence the added benefit of a like button)
  • Responses to comments are always welcome – otherwise it’s a bit like talking to yourself
  • Many genealogy bloggers were very generous with their time in commenting at different times throughout the challenge or even on each post.
  • A useful tip for those following Australian genealogy/history bloggers is the Facebook group called Australian History Bloggers Fan Group…a one-stop shop for finding interesting blogs.
  • I like that wordpress.com keeps my blogs spam free and I only have to be careful the first time someone comments to confirm they’re genuine. Sometimes it does get it wrong, but luckily one of those bloggers contacted me through Messenger to give me a heads-up.
  • Try to get your images lined up before you start – always assuming you have your challenge program worked out in advance. This can save a lot of time and angst.

Blogs I followed through the Challenge

Genealogy/Family History

Anne’s Family History

Earlier Years

Family History Fun

Finding Eliza

Genealogy Challenges

GeniAus

GeniJen

Molly’s Canopy

The Curry Apple Orchard

Others

Diary of a Dublin Housewife

Best Bookish Blog

The Local Tourists

My previous A to Z challenges

2019 – Snapshot memories of my early married life in Papua New Guinea

2016 – How to pursue an interest in family history or genealogy

2013 – Travels through Australia’s North and Aussie-isms (colloquialisms)

2012 – A genealogical travelogue or a travel genealogue

 

Spanish Flu and Ithaca, Brisbane

sepia Sat 1 MayThis post was inspired by this week’s Sepia Saturday theme of “I am asking you to feature your tributes to all of those who are keeping us safe at the moment by featuring your old photographs of carers of all types and all times”. Admittedly it’s now more Sepia Monday but I wanted to include my discovery of workers who supported the Spanish Flu in a suburb near where I grew up, and near where my grandparents lived at the time. I have no doctors or nurses in my own history from this time so I turned to my good friend Trove.

May 1919 seems to have been the hot-spot of infections although at this time, the deaths seems small compared to what was experienced globally.

 

Influenza deaths Courier 1919

INFLUENZA EPIDEMIC. FIVE DEATHS YESTERDAY. (1919, May 24). The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864 – 1933), p. 5. Retrieved May 4, 2020, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article20365428

Soon after this, the suburbs or town Councils started to take action to support the community as people fell ill.

Ithaca May 1919 p2 Daily Mail

WOMENS REALM. (1919, May 28). The Daily Mail (Brisbane, Qld. : 1903 – 1926), p. 2. Retrieved May 4, 2020, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article215133293

Ithaca gets busy pt 1 Telegraph 30 May 1919

Ithaca gets busy pt2

ITHACA GETS BUSY. (1919, May 30). The Telegraph (Brisbane, Qld. : 1872 – 1947), p. 2 (SECOND EDITION). Retrieved May 4, 2020, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article176087610

Meanwhile activity in neighbouring Enoggera gives a sense of what was happening at the grassroots level.

Enoggera Emergency Corps Flu Courier 3 June 1919

THE WOMEN’S PART. (1919, June 3). The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864 – 1933), p. 8. Retrieved May 4, 2020, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article20366895

Ithaca emergency work

Metropolitan Area. (1919, June 20). The Telegraph (Brisbane, Qld. : 1872 – 1947), p. 2. Retrieved May 4, 2020, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article176088512

Ithaca kitchen spanish glu

Ithaca influenza epidemic workers, July 1919. https://trove.nla.gov.au/work/238947774

The summary on this photo explains: A large crowd of people who were working as volunteers during the influenza epidemic. The group includes, doctors, nurses, ladies and schoolchildren, pictured outside the Ithaca Women’s Emergency Corps kitchen.

Ithaca workers during the influenza epidemic Red Hill 1919

Ithaca workers during the influenza epidemic, Red Hill, 1919 https://trove.nla.gov.au/version/167840188

The State Library of Queensland provides this summary and explains the signs held up by the boys on the window sill: Volunteer workers outside the Ithaca Town Council Chambers during the influenza epidemic of 1919. The Brisbane area experienced an outbreak of influenza in May 1919 and it spread through hospitals in the area. Isolation huts were erected at the Brisbane Exhibition Grounds to cope with the epidemic. Cards were issued by local authorities which could be put in house windows if people needed help. SOS for doctors and FOOD if needed. (Information taken from: Town of Ithaca Mayor’s Report, 1919, p. 6.)

Map Ithaca and family

Rather foolishly I hadn’t considered what the Spanish Flu Influenza meant to my ancestors who survived and who apparently remained well. They resided in the spread between the Ithaca Council Chambers (marked Ithaca Hall) and the Brisbane Exhibition Ground (blue marker), which was the influenza evacuation point. My grandfather hadn’t returned to his residence in Bally St from World War I until August 1919. His wife-to-be and her elderly mother and siblings were all living at Guildford St (red marker), fairly close to Ithaca Town Council Chambers. I wonder if we’ll ever know how the Influenza Epidemic may have affected them or their livelihoods. It’s made me realise that I need to research the impact of the epidemic on Townsville where my other grandparents lived. I already know from Trove that my great-grandparents’ house in Hughenden became an isolation hospital.

McSherry hospital Hughenden

Hughenden Notes. (1919, June 18). The Northern Miner (Charters Towers, Qld. : 1874 – 1954), p. 4. Retrieved April 9, 2020, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article80430142

 

How much more sedate do things look a mere year later at the Ithaca Town Council chambers.

StateLibQld_2_184327_Ithaca_Town_Council_Chambers_in_Red_Hill,_Brisbane,_1919

Ithaca Town Council Chambers 1920, 99 Enoggera Tce, Brisbane from Wikipedia.

This image is from a Sydney suburb in New South Wales but it is visually evocative of the current situation.

Kensignton nursesE00025

Image shows the influenza team at the Kensington School of Arts during the influenza epidemic of 1919. With the team is a blackboard listing the nurse, cooks and others on the team. Randwick City Library https://randwick.ent.sirsidynix.net.au/client/en_GB/search/asset/15848/0

My A to Z finale and reflections

A to Z reflection

The end of an A to Z challenge always comes with a sense of achievement as well as some relief at its conclusion. Blogging six times a week on a consistent theme can be demanding of time and mental energy, especially if you start at the last minute as I did this year.

A couple of months ago I’d set out a schedule on the topic of Gratitude which I also wanted to tie into my family history and ancestral lives. Unfortunately, with so many of the words I listed, it was nearly impossible to show them in action in my families. This made me rethink my chosen words and forced some mental gymnastics to remember all the various research discoveries I’d made over the years and how they demonstrated whichever attribute of gratitude I’d chosen.

Did I succeed? I’m not sure but I’m pleased with the stories I presented and how they showed the character and resilience of my ancestors. Not all were “perfect”, certainly not all the time, but they do provide me with inspiration for lives well lived, and forgiveness for times fallen short.

In these times of coronavirus and covid-19, the challenge was a perfect antidote to the uncertainties and social restrictions. Not only did it consume a lot of time (the virtue of starting late this year), it also reminded me that my ancestors had tough times as well and survived and thrived.

I’d like to thank those who followed along and those who commented or shared my posts as well as all those who shared their blog stories through the challenge. My blog reading net wasn’t spread as widely this year (the downside of a late start) but I’ve followed excellent series by fellow family historians and some bloggers from previous years. Thank you for your entertainment and sharing your stories.

UPDATE: A to Z Blog reading and thoughts – a further post.

Looking back a few years I found a post I’d written about the list of things I’m grateful for. It really hasn’t changed that much. Of course it differs from the things my ancestors would have been grateful for, but not entirely.

gratitude-heart

 

 

Is Zen a goal, a gratitude or an attitude?

Z2020Since my underlying theme for the A to Z this year has been gratitude and aspects of it, Zen seems to be the ultimate objective: where we reach a state of calmness and gratefulness that accepts our life as it is.

It’s particularly pertinent in April 2020 as we come to terms with a different life in social isolation from how we normally fill our days. #Iso-Zen might be our goal. For myself I haven’t found my life to be vastly different from usual other than what might be over-dramatically expressed as a reduction in freedom, to just go out, meet friends, have a coffee, go for dinner or for a drive in the country.

stones-451329_1280

Image from Pixabay by Dweedon1

The A to Z challenge this year has been a great way to use my time productively and has provided a focus for the days. My main outings have been to see my mother in her care home and occasional outings for exercise. Fortunately, Australia’s leaders have worked largely collaboratively and put safety precautions in place quickly, so that most of us do not sit in fear each day. That truly is a cause for gratitude.

Zen teaches that once we can open up to the inevitability of our demise, we can begin to transform that situation and lighten up about it. Allen Klein, American author

Zen and Ancestors

There’s no particular way to identify whether my ancestors had reached a zen-like attitude to their lives. Perhaps there’s just the hope that at the end of their lives they were content with what they’d achieved, felt happiness from the ever-expanding family descendants, and were grateful for the joys of their lives. I can only hope they had no great regrets about leaving their homeland or how their lives had turned out. Many had maintained their religious faith which had sustained them over the years.  They’d been determined in achieving their goals and were settled in their locations and had contributed to the growth of our country and their neighbourhoods. I suppose we can call that reaching a state of Zen or contentment.

How do you regard Zen and discover it in your ancestors’ lives?

Well, I believe life is a Zen koan, that is, an unsolvable riddle. But the contemplation of that riddle – even though it cannot be solved – is, in itself, transformative. And if the contemplation is of high enough quality, you can merge with the divine. Tom Robbins, American author.

20170312_113947

A zen garden at San Francisco’s Japanese Gardens. © P Cass 2017

Quotes from https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes

Yearning for “Home”

Y2020Over the years I’ve often thought of what constitutes “home” to me. You’d think I might have reached a conclusion after travel, living in two countries and two states, but I still waver. Without a doubt I’m an Aussie, I love the wide open skies and the vivid colours, the changing shades of the sea and the wildlife. Although I’ve spent many years of my life in Brisbane it just doesn’t speak to me as “home” though it feels familiar. Similarly, returning to Darwin seems “normal” yet also isn’t home even though I miss those wild Wet Season storms, the thunder and lightning and the flurry of dragonflies to herald the Dry Season.

When I first lived in Papua New Guinea I was homesick for Brisbane, yet within a year PNG had become home, and when we left over 8 years later, I was then homesick for the sights, sounds and smells of PNG. These days whenever I’m away I’m ready for home after a few weeks. So perhaps home geographically is simply Australia and more specifically wherever Mr Cassmob, the cat, and our collection of books and “stuff” reside. My vast gratitude is embedded in Australia and my family.

“LA’s fine but it ain’t home, New York’s home but it ain’t mine no more”. Neil Diamond, singer songwriter.

Home and Ancestors

All of which leads me to wonder did my ancestors yearn for the homes of their birth? Their birthplaces were so different from where they settled in Queensland. Did they miss the cooler weather, the soft rain of Ireland, the hedges and fields of England, the busy-ness of Scottish cities or the wildness of the countryside, the closeness of the Bavarian village or the communities they’d known all their lives?

Did they mourn the absence of family even towards the end of their own lives and as death neared did they think sadly of their homelands? This immigrant song by Queensland singer Graeme Connors evokes some of my thoughts: Sicilian Born.

And he never talked about going home
And he told me once the reason why.
He said, “Home’s not where you’re born,
Home is where a man’s prepared to die….

But ultimately:

….And to my surprise when I came home I found his place had sold
I called the other neighbours to find out where he’s gone
They say, “He packed up and just went back to wherever he came from”

Join my ancestors on the journey from their home places to their new homes in Queensland.

George Kunkel and Mary O’Brien emigrated in the 1850s and came to Ipswich, Queensland (you can see an image below of Ipswich 20 years later). George came from the Bavarian village of Dorfprozelten, and Mary from the townland of Ballykelly in the parish of Broadford, County Clare, Ireland.

fass postcard

A postcard for Das Goldenes Fass, owned for 200 years by the Happ then Kunkel families. Dorfprozelten, Bavaria

784-ballykelly-obrien-shed.jpg

View from the O’Brien land at Ballykelly, Broadford, Co Clare, Ireland. © P Cass 2010

m ck from a distance

A view of the old Kunkel property late 1980s. Fifteen Mile, Murphys Creek, Qld © P Cass 2010

Catherine McCorkindale, who married Denis Kunkel, emigrated from Glasgow and lived at Kelvin  Grove, Brisbane.

 

Annie Sim McCorkindale emigrated from Glasgow with her family in 1910 but had grown up on Backrow farmhouse, Bothkennar parish, Stirlingshire, Scotland. Annie’s husband, Duncan, had died four years before the family emigrated. Photos © P Cass 2010

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Backrow farmhouse, Bothkennar, Stirlingshire, Scotland. © P Cass 2010

Stephen Gillespie Melvin, whom we’ve heard a bit about in this series, grew up in Leith, the port for Edinburgh in Scotland. Although the buildings look quite grand, his family, like most of the others lived in small “apartments” within the building.  At time the area was quite rough and ready, a sailor’s place. Now it is well on the way to gentrification. Stephen arrived with his son Lawrence in Ipswich, Queensland in 1877. His young wife had died in quarantine in Moreton Bay.

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The Shore, Leith. © P Cass 2019

 

 

 

William Partridge and his wife-to-be Hannah Kent arrived in Ipswich in 1855 and 1854, respectively. The town was much more basic than the above image depicts.

William came from Coleford, Gloucestershire (though born in London). Hannah emigrated from Sandon in Hertfordshire with her parents and brothers. Quite a marked change of housing, environment and facilities.

Denis Gavin and his wife Eleanor Murphy arrived in Queensland in 1855 and his work took them out past Dalby to a sheep station where he worked as a bullock drover. He was from Kildare, Ellen from Wicklow and they married in Dublin and lived in the Liberties. A more extreme change of environment would be hard to imagine.

Images below: Dalby 1868 when the Gavins lived there, and a bullock team and drover. References: https://trove.nla.gov.au/version/266381214 (Dalby) https://trove.nla.gov.au/version/266395246 (Bullock team)

Peter (Mc)Sherry and his wife Mary Callaghan were from Gorey and nearby Courtown in County Wexford. They arrived in Rockhampton in 1884 and were soon heading west to Longreach. What a contrast!

St Michael’s church Gorey where the couple were married. Right: Courtown Harbour where Mary came from. Photos: P Cass 2016.

Left: Rockhampton c1887 https://trove.nla.gov.au/version/167848463

Right: Longreach c1907-1908 https://trove.nla.gov.au/version/208403309

I can’t help wondering if they felt “short-changed” at the new life they’d chosen. Did they miss their homeland and such different scenery?

Do you think your families were happy with their migration decision and were happy, or reconciled, to their new home?

 

 

 

 

 

Xenophobia and War

X2020One of the major influences in my life for which I’m very grateful has been the presence of many acquaintances and friends who’ve immigrated to Australia. As a child, my Catholic primary school saw an influx of Europeans in the years after World War II. This mix of Czechs, Yugoslavs, Poles, Maltese and others became part of my daily school life. After school I would visit some of my friends at home and stand by while they communicated in their original language with whichever parent or grandparent was at home. These young kids had to bridge the linguistic and cultural differences between their old lives and their new – not an easy task for youngsters. At one point we had so many Dutch immigrants in our parish that we had two or three Dutch priests. At high school one of my best friends was of Italian origin and again I was exposed to a different culture. So you can see why migration, its causes and effects have been important to me over the decades. And all this long before I had a real appreciation of my own immigrant families.

We are focusing too much on the problems and forgetting about the opportunities of immigration. Let us learn from our history. Immigration has been great for Australia in the past. Frank Lowy, Australian businessman.

Xenophobia and Ancestors

German demon

https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/C95655 Artist was Norman Lindsay.

Xenophobia seems built into the Australian character. In the early days it was the Irish who were demonised and often alienated, treated as second class people. However, it was during the years of World War I that xenophobia reached new depths.

Let me share the story of my 2xgreat grandfather, George Mathias Kunkel.

If the family story is true that he left Bavaria to escape the wars of Europe it is ironic that he found himself on the “wrong” side in Australia in 1914 when war broke out between Germany and the British Empire. Patriotic Australians, irrespective of name, rushed to defend the “Mother Country”, Britain – or just to have a bit of an adventure, as so many of them have told us. Those with German names were not exempt from this military fever and at least six of George and Mary’s grandchildren enlisted to fight against the Germans. One, James Paterson, paid the supreme sacrifice in the fierce fighting in northern France in April 1917. On some attestation papers, comments can be seen about ancestry of those with German surnames.

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Norman Lindsay certainly did his bit to promote xenophobia. https://awm.gov.au/collections/C254150

New measures were introduced to cope with the “menace” within Australia from its foreign-born residents, especially German-born people. George became subject to the new legislation, despite the fact that he was now, fortunately, a naturalised British citizen.

All persons who are subjects of the German Empire resident in the Commonwealth are to forthwith report themselves to police nearest to place at which resident and supply certain particulars to police, also before changing place of residence to notify nearest police officer of such intention and on arrival at fresh place of residence to notify their arrival to police nearest same.

Germans who are naturalised need not be called upon by police to report once a week but only when changing addresses. Applies only to Germans exempt from military service.

It should not be taken for granted that because a German/Australian has become naturalised, he is therefore a loyal subject of the British Empire, on the contrary cases which have come under notice, indicate that the known sentiments of not a few are distinctly pro-German.

Proclaimed 10 Aug 1914. Commonwealth Gazette 6 Aug 1914.[1]

Geman war precautions act 30 Nov 1917 Tmba Chronicle p4

BREACH OF THE WAR PRECAUTIONS ACT. (1917, November 30). Toowoomba Chronicle (Qld. : 1917 – 1922), p. 4. Retrieved April 26, 2020, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article252874726

Under this legislation, Australians of German birth were required to supply their place of residence and occupation or business and such other matters as police officers saw fit. Although naturalised Germans were initially required to report to police weekly this was later changed, however the requirement to notify change of address remained. Police had the right to place people under surveillance or arrest them if they acted suspiciously.[2]

It seems bizarre that an eighty year old man who’d been resident in Queensland for sixty years might truly be regarded as a security risk.

Reported “evidence” of disloyalty could result in incarceration in detention camps. Fischer believes that farmers “who were self-employed and who enjoyed a comparatively greater degree of autonomy, had a better chance to survive the war without being challenged or bothered by the authorities, provided they kept a low profile” and didn’t become the “subject of denunciations by jealous neighbours or business rivals.”[3]

German Hard Hit Bris Courier 7 Mar 1916

THE GERMAN QUESTION. (1916, March 7). The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864 – 1933), p. 9. Retrieved April 26, 2020, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article20060251

Another factor contributing to the safety of the Catholic German-born residents in the Toowoomba and Murphy’s Creek areas may have been that they were not part of a tight-knit German community keeping exclusively to themselves, speaking German, and within their own Lutheran religion. Being Catholic, speaking English, and so being more assimilated into the Irish-born community may have meant that they were at less risk of suspicion. Anne Kunkel told me that there was little discrimination against them at the time in Murphy’s Creek. Perhaps the fact that they had lived in the area for many decades, and were well known, may have also given them some protection from the hysteria of the time.

German reservists DDG 1915

GERMAN RESERVISTS FINED. (1915, February 15). Darling Downs Gazette (Qld. : 1881 – 1922), p. 4. Retrieved April 26, 2020, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article196951791

Decades ago I searched the Commonwealth Archives Enemy Aliens (ie foreign nationals) files for any reference to the Kunkel name, but I could find no indication that George was listed. However, other Germans were not so fortunate, and it seemed the climate was ripe for misdirected envy of a neighbour’s good fortune. In one document a German resident was reported for having bought a new piano because there was no evidence that he should have had the money. The conclusion this citizen reached was that the German-named neighbour must have been supplying weapons! Letters to the editor both defended loyal sons of German born residents and exhorted them to do their duty to the land they had chosen to call home.

In a letter to the newspaper of the day, an unknown author “CS”, writing on 18 September, suggested that “the Germans have the best of it in the colonies”. He called on them to be brought before their particular police court and asked “all present naturalised and holding landed property whatsoever in the colonies to come to the front,” then “all who are willing to go to the front (if required) and fight on the side of the British to stand to the right; and all those who do not, stand to the left. Those not willing to go to the front should give a definite reason or should be interned and any of their property should be confiscated by the Crown”.[4]  Similarly the chair of a Dalby Patriotic Meeting in September 1915 expressed the view that Germans living in Australia should have their names removed from the electoral rolls, presumably with the loss of associated rights as citizens.[5]

Germans Bris Courier 7 Mar 1916 p9

THE GERMAN QUESTION. (1916, March 7). The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864 – 1933), p. 9. Retrieved April 26, 2020, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article20060251

Newspaper articles were similarly hysterical as is so often the case in wartime. Germans were portrayed in a wide array of diabolical representations.

How painful it must have been for George and for his fellow New Australians to have their original homeland and families pilloried as vicious and violent savages. It is sad to think, after all the hardship George had experienced in carving a new home for himself and his family, so far away from the place of his birth, that his last years were tainted by this terrible angst over loyalties. Anne Kunkel remembers her grandfather being a cranky old man by this time, which is hardly surprising.

German George The Week 1 April 1915 p27

THE WEEK’S, NEWS IN BRIEF. (1915, April 1). The Week (Brisbane, Qld. : 1876 – 1934), p. 27. Retrieved April 26, 2020, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article190553723

When I think of what George Kunkel went through during the last years of his life, I feel quite sad.  It would have been quite impossible for him to imagine today’s Australia where foreign-born residents and their families continue to play such a huge part in the life and development of the country.  Perhaps he would feel proud of his early contribution to the emergence of a unique nation whose people have come here from so many countries. Sadly, it may be because he died during war time that we have no obituary for him.

George and his wife Mary have given Australia many descendants to contribute to the country’s well-being. I am certainly very grateful to them.

 If you would like to read a little about the Anzac enlistments among the descendants of the immigrants from Dorfprozelten, Bavaria to Australia you can read it here.

 

[1] Queensland State Archives: PRV8687- 1- 1. COL/155: 28/10/1914

[2] WR Johnston, The Long Blue Line, Boolarong Publications Brisbane 1992, pp. 193-194

[3] G Fischer, The Darkest Chapter: Internment and Deportation of Enemy Aliens in Queensland, 1914-1920 in The German Presence in Queensland,. M Jurgensen & A Corkhill (eds). The University of Queensland, Department of German, 1988, p. 24.

[4] The Toowoomba Chronicle, 23 September 1915, p. 2  c. 4.

[5] The Brisbane Courier, 10 September 1915, p. 9.