At least some of my discoveries are ones I’ve previously found by searching Google Books (yes, not newspapers) where you’ll find digital versions of some Bavarian newspapers. I wrote about this some years ago, here, here, here, and here
However, I’ve also found some new articles including the liquidation of my ancestor’s inn in Dorfprozelten, which seemed to teeter on, into the future for a while. Then last night I made a discovery of the sale of the inn in 1868. This occurred because key members of the family had died of Lungensucht which I understand to be tuberculosis or similar. The inn had been in the hands of my 2xgreat grandfather’s step-brother, Jakob August Ulrich who died on 19 June 1868, followed by his wife Elisabeth Firmbach on 20 August 1868. Shortly afterwards, on 15 October 1868, Eva Catharina Kunkel, born Happ, also died. Catharine Happ later Ulrich then Kunkel was the mother of both Jakob Ulrich and my George Mathias Kunkel. These consecutive tragedies marked the end of the Happ family’s history with Das “Goldene Fass” which had been in business for over 100 years by then. Jakob and Elisabeth’s children emigrated to upstate New York.
As always, I’m indebted to local historian, Georg Veh and the team who wrote the wonderful book “Dorfprozelten Teil II” for information relating to my family, and for the photo of the inn.
There are some tricks to be used when searching these papers:
Tip 1: Spellings may vary from what you’re familiar with, so do try to use the German version eg Georg not George (Not that I’ve found him – yet!)
Tip 2: the first search and the first time an image comes up it is very sloooow. After that, each image comes up much more promptly.
Tip 3: When you get the little image snapshot, you can click the down arrow to see what it includes. Clicking the image itself brings up the whole page.
Tip 4: Once the page has loaded, if you click the download icon at the top right, you can click on the JPG options and see the image separately, enabling you to save it.
Tip 5: This doesn’t tell you which newspaper, date, or page you’ve found it on, so best to include that information in your saved name.
Tip 6: If you have a long place name like Dorfprozelten, it is worth searching with it hyphenated eg Dorf-prozelten as you will get different additional results.
And now let me share with you my major discovery.
My feeble translation courtesy of my outdated German skills, Reverso and my very large German dictionary…all of which were defeated by some phrases/words/sentences.
In the estate of Jakob Ullrich Widow Elizabeth of Dorfprozelten, auction by the under…(signed?) Notary.
Thursday 17 September …1pm in the Guesthouse “Fass” in Dorfprozelten
Following real estate
The Guesthouse “Fass” Plan number 341 -119 decimal (?) residence with stable, pig house, brewery, barn, bar-hall (??), barn, guest…rooms, well managed (carriageway??) ….and farmyard.
Plan number 343* -19 decimal, Entry and farmyard, one-eighth share (??)
Plan number 349-123 decimal, nurseries (hothouses?) to both sides of the carriageway
Plan number 4433-170 decimal, vineyard Rothenhäuser
Plan number 1412-619 decimal, vein/core of the ….(Abschlag) of Hösbach
The same Guesthouse -Inventory
Tables, …., stools/chairs, glasses (?), Beds etc
The inn’s position in the middle of the High Street of some 1200 residents of the village of Dorfprozelten is one of the most favourable.
The Money for the moveable property is therefore…, that for plan numbers 4433 and 1412 to pay nearly 5% ???? in 1869, 1870 and 1871.
The rest largely defeated me but it seems that there was an amount of 2400 florins and 5% interest remaining. (????)
There were three payments due in 1860, 1870 and 1871 at 5%.
Anyone who has better German skills than I do, is more than welcome to correct or clarify. I’ve also discovered from this that perhaps I need to investigate the relevance of Hösbach.
Happy hunting if you’re looking for your Bavarian ancestors’ story.
My A2Z 2016 theme is how to pursue an interest in family history/genealogy – I’d love you to join me on the journey.
I is for Interviews aka Oral History
If there’s one thing you will repeatedly hear among family historians, it’s the wish that they’d asked more questions of their immediate ancestors – parents and grandparents – about their lives and experiences. I’m certainly among those, as while I lived next door to my grandparents until they died in their 80s, I have no recollection of them ever speaking of much in this line. Like many of us in our childhood and teens I guess I was just too self-absorbed in my own activities. Now I curse my stupidity! Of course there’s another thing we fail to recognise which is that not everyone wants to share their life story. I heard more stories from my parents than ever before, once I started writing my history of the Kunkel-O’Brien family.
Nor can every person we speak to can be regarded as a “reliable witness”. We do still need to cross-check the stories with documentation where possible. Every time I say that I question myself…if, for example, I say I moved to the Northern Territory to live, surely I know whereof I speak. So balance what you follow with common sense.
Don’t just focus on your immediate family – some family members have been more curious, or had a different relationship and so they may know more. I was lucky enough to track down a grandchild, Annie Kunkel, of my Kunkel ancestors and as I’ve repeatedly acknowledged she was a gold-mine of stories of their life on the farm, the names of kin who lived far away and the extended family names. She was an extremely reliable witness because I’ve been able to confirm certain details, lending more credibility to other stories.
Another interesting side-shoot is that when being questioned people are likely to focus their answers on the type of approach you take or the person who is asking the question. For example, Annie told the local historian a totally new story about her Bavarian grandfather than she ever mentioned to me, either because it had passed out of her memory or she was focused on family: “He [grandfather Kunkel] was a clever man and he could take a pocket knife and carve a thing. We had a pen handle carved from a bone. It was a perfect thing with a folded hand on the end of it like that on the end of it”.[i]
Immigration information is one of those gold nuggets we seek about our earliest immigrant ancestors. Australia is blessed with fantastic records in this regard, especially up to about 1870. This is one of the advantage of how many of our ancestors came under government funding – needed to tempt them to travel the great distances.
A further source of immigration information for Aussies is the great certificates I mentioned before. You have two chances to pin down the information: marriage and death, the latter being generally the less reliable, depending on the informant.
Once again speaking to close kin may help you take your family stories back in time, and obtain clues to search for your ancestor’s arrival from the ‘old country”. I would guess that a common story of mid-19th century arrivals is that “he came as a sailor, jumped ship, and went to the gold fields”. Now I know this was often true but there must have been a lot of them!
One story for which I’d love to find the answer is the rumour that my George Kunkel came to Australia but two brothers went to “America”. Unfortunately, he didn’t have two full brothers, only one, though he had step-brothers, and I’ve managed to trace a couple of his step-siblings to upstate New York, but where, oh where, did his brother Philip Joseph Kunkel (b 1840) end up, given he didn’t stay in Dorfprozelten? Did he move within Bavaria, or Germany, or emigrate? Will I ever know?
Annie Kunkel told me her Irish O’Brien grandmother, from Broadford in County Clare, arrived on an old sailing ship, they were six months at sea, and she was 16 while her sister Bridget was 18. Despite thirty years of searching I’d been getting nowhere until I found a newspaper clue….only to be frustrated by the documents. If you’re curious you can read about their likely migration on the Florentiahere.
One of the things you learn as you research your family’s history is how often when one question is answered, another half dozen spring up – sad but true <wry smile>.
Immigration is a complex topic, closely related to naturalisation, and it requires learning more about the circumstances which applied at the time of our ancestor’s arrival. This is where that life-long learning kicks in.
For others who are keen to learn more you might have a read of my earlier Immigration (arriving in the new country) and Emigration (leaving the old country) posts.
Thank you for visiting me on this journey. I love comments <smile>
There’s a plethora of reading choices on this year’s A to Z Challenge, so my challenge to you is to visit the sign-up page and select one (or more) blogs to read between the numbers 1000-1199.
[i] Oral history interview with Cameron McKee, local historian for Murphy’s Creek, circa 1984.
Thinking of parades for this week’s Sepia Saturday reminded me of a post I’ve been meaning to write for a while. Growing up as a child there was one memorable “parade” every year when Brisbane Catholics would arrive en masse at the Exhibition Grounds for the Corpus Christi procession. This liturgical feast celebrates the belief that the host is turned into the Body of Christ during the Mass.
In those far-off days, religions were demarked by denominational differences and it was unacceptable to attend a service in another denomination’s church, so Anglicans would not attend Catholic services, Catholics would not attend Presbyterian services etc. This applied whether the event was a family wedding or not and my family has several events where religion kept close family members away. The days of the 1960s ecumenical movement had not quite arrived, and Catholics were obsessed about the onslaught of Communism and the Red Peril. Catholicism and Irish were almost synonymous, with many priests and nuns born in Ireland or with recent Irish ancestry. It was only with the arrival of the post-war immigrants from eastern Europe that this started to change.
In this community context, the Corpus Christi procession had an underlying element of defiance against the rest of the religious creeds. Unsurprisingly one hymn was sung with gusto, and some belligerence, was Faith of our Fathers (click to hear it sung).
Leading the procession would be the Archbishop or his delegate and following behind were various groups representative of the Catholic community. I don’t remember when I first went to Corpus Christi but it may have been when I was young as we lived not far away. Certainly my memories of the procession are dominated by always seeing my McSherry grandfather marching with the Hibernian Society of which he was a life-long member. He was always easy to spot in the crowd as he was very tall with a very bald head.
I think we may have marched as a parish when I was in primary school – I must ask Mum. I do recall attending at least some in my Children of Mary blue cloak, blue ribbon and medal, and white veil. I often think that the non-Catholics among us must have thought we were all a bit weird in our strange clothes. Once I started high school at All Hallows’ we attended as a group. My husband, then a boarder at Nudgee College, also remembers being there with school and being traditional teenagers, it never hurt to keep an eye on the passing girls’ schools and hope they’d line up next to you in the middle of the oval.
The new Australians, our recently-arrived immigrant Catholics, also marched in their traditional costumes and were very colourful and exotic as we’d never seen anything like them before. In our parish alone we had Czechs, Poles, Yugoslavs, Hungarians and Dutch Catholics….so many of the latter we even had Dutch priests.
To get an outside perspective on Corpus Christi over the years I turned to the Aussie researcher’s friend Trove. It’s unfortunate that the digitised newspapers don’t go quite as far forward as I like but they still give a good sense of how important this event was to the faithful as you can see from the images I’ve included here and taken from the newspapers.
I was interested to read that prior to 1950, the event had been held elsewhere but the crowds grew too large. Attendance was very high: over 50,000 (1950); 70,000 (1951); 100,000 (1952); and 60,000 (1953). Not all the crowd processed but the stands and the oval would be packed. During the event, the Archbishop or the Coadjutor Archbishop would also celebrate the Benediction.
Reading back through decades of newspapers, and history books, reveals how much the Irish Catholics were disliked, and in some ways feared, in the early days of our nation. Difference is rarely well-liked. When I think back even to my childhood days, I reflect on how much times have changed but also how marginalising a religion makes it more socially strident and internally cohesive.
Thanks for following along on this post about the Happ family who emigrated to the USA.
Translation: If you would like to read this post in a different language you can click here.
Emigration of Raimund/Raymond Happ
As we know from the previous post, Raimund emigrated with his sister Anna Apollonia in 1869. He was only seventeen but in those days that made him ready to work and take such a huge step. Addendum: Since my initial post, I’ve found education records for Raimund which show that he had only just finished school when he emigrated. I assume it was at the secondary school level given his age. He had been studying, as far as I can tell, at the High School in Würzburg and these were his results for 1866/67. I have no idea what the scores mean but his subjects were religion, Latin, Greek, German, arithmetic, history and geography.
I had also previously searched the German newspapers (under Google Books), for the emigration notice of Raimund and Anna’s departure. These searches are neither straightforward or predictable but I did manage to find it fairly easily (I just forgot to add it to their stories yesterday!)
Anna and Raimund arrived in New York on 6 October 1869. Raymond (note spelling change) remained in New York for a few years and presumably lived with his sister for some of them. In 1873, the year he turned 21, he became a citizen of the United States of America. At the time he was living at 400 First Avenue and working as a barber. George Eckhardt was his witness.[i]
Two years later Raymond Happ was on the voters’ register of the 12th Ward in San Francisco, having registered on 29 July 1875.[ii] In 1888, he is registered as living at 419 O’Farrell St (on the 2nd floor).[iii] The 1892 registers would be something of a gold mine for his descendants as it documents his physical characteristics: he is 40 years old, German-born, 5 feet 6¾ inches tall, with medium complexion, hazel eyes and black hair, though the next entry states he is bald. He is still living at O’Farrell St but his naturalisation date is incorrectly noted as 1878 not 1873.[iv]
It took me a while to locate Raymond in other records and only through searching for “Happ” + b1852. It seems he’d changed his name, or reverted to his full name, Charles R Happ. This may well account for why his brother Julius named his own son, Charles. These Germans can be tricky <smile>
Having pinned down the change of name, there was a surfeit of information on Charles and only one anomaly. On the 1875 City Directory for San Francisco, soon after his arrival, he is listed as a carpenter living at the Columbia Hotel[v]. In all other instances he is shown as a barber so perhaps it was just the work he could get when he first arrived on the west coast…he had “gone west, young man”. The nice thing is that the 1891 entry in the city directories ties Charles R Happ to Raymond Happ, as the address in common is 419 O’Farrell St.
Because Charles was in business he appears by name and business in many of the digitised editions of the San Francisco City Directories (in Australia we call them Post Office Directories usually). He, and the business, moved often enough, but frequently within the same street.
The first time we find him working as a barber in San Francisco is 1878. His employers were Oppenheim & Stieber and he was living at 519 Octavia St. In 1883 he was at 915½ Market St working with Strecker and Kern, barbers, but by 1891 he had gone into partnership with John Ulrich Gingg at 116 Kearny St.
By 1896 Charles had moved to 20 Hollis Street and Happ & Gingg to 102 Geary (1900-1905). Obviously Hollis Street suited Charles as his next move was up to 64 Hollis. From 1905-1909 Charles is residing at 56 Hollis, only a few doors away but the business moved to 414 Divisadero St in 1907 then 2 Mason (1909-1911).
After a brief stop at 1522 Fulton St in 1910 and 814 Cole St in 1911, Charles and his wife Ida moved on to 18th Avenue where it seems they settled indefinitely, living first in number 778 until about 1913, then at number 770 (1921-1940). In the latter years the business name has become Kern and Happ at 1488 Fulton St, so it seems possible that he was perhaps preparing for retirement as by then he was nearing 70. It’s also interesting that the business included a Kern, the same name as the person he worked for in 1883.
But what of the census records? Do they match with the directories? Luckily for me they do! Each entry tells us just a little more about the couple. In 1900, Charles specifies he was born in Bavaria while Ida was born Germany. They had been naturalised in 1875 and 1886 respectively and had been in the country 25 and 14 years. In 1900 and 1910 they were renting their home. They had been married 23 years (est YOM 1886/87), and had no children. Unfortunately I’ve had no joy in locating their marriage.
Charles is listed as an employer in 1910 and 1920 and a proprietor of a barber shop in 1930. At that time they owned their own home and also owned a radio –a sign of technological change, or was there another reason for this question.
By 1940 Charles had finally retired, not surprising since he was now 88. Both had studied to Grade 8 level and could read and write.
Newspaper articles are frustrating in their absence, or requirement for subscriptions, and even though I have several there’s ones I can’t see. However the free site, Chronicling America, reveals the non-working side of the Happs’ lifestyle with holidays at Hoberg’s Resort on 22 August 1897 and again in July 1902.[vi] Combined with the apparent ambience of 18th Avenue, it seems the couple had made a success of their immigrant lives.
Another little snippet came to light through The San Francisco Call with the listing of land transfers in April 1906. What’s particularly interesting is a transfer of land from John Juedes to Ida, wife of Charles R Happ in April 1906:lot on E line of 18th Avenue 150N of Fulton St, N25 by E120 $10.
Charles R Happ died on 30 December 1943, aged 91 at Alameda, California[vii]. The registers show his birth as 21 January 1852, compared to 23 January 1852 for his birth/baptism in Dorfprozelten (baptism usually occurred on the day of birth). His wife Ida had predeceased him in San Francisco on 11 June 1941, aged 87. Her date of birth is listed as 18 October 1854 and her father’s surname as Maas. They are buried at the Cypress Lawn Memorial Park, Colma, San Mateo County, California.[viii]
By the time of their deaths their new nation was again involved in a world war. As with my own George Kunkel I can’t begin to imagine how distressing it was for them to be a lightning rod for anti-German sentiment for the second time.
Oh, and by the way, how lucky are we Aussies to have Trove…just imagine what might have been found in a similar site.
[i] National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington, D.C.; Soundex Index to Petitions for Naturalizations Filed in Federal, State, and Local Courts in New York City, 1792-1906 (M1674); Microfilm Serial: M1674; Microfilm Roll: 99. From Ancestry.com
[ii]Source Citation: California State Library, California History Section; Great Registers, 1866-1898; Collection Number: 4 – 2A; CSL Roll Number: 44; FHL Roll Number: 977099. 1875. Ancestry.com
[iii] Collection Number: 4 – 2A; CSL Roll Number: 66; FHL Roll Number: 977627.
[iv] California State Library, California History Section; Great Registers, 1866-1898; Collection Number: 4 – 2A; CSL Roll Number: 88; FHL Roll Number: 977607.
[v] Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011. Original data: Original sources vary according to directory. All entries for Charles R Happ are in the San Francisco directories.
[vii] Ancestry.com. California, Death Index, 1940-1997 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2000. Original data: State of California. California Death Index, 1940-1997. Sacramento, CA, USA: State of California Department of Health Services, Center for Health Statistics.
[viii] On MyHeritage.com from Find a Grave, Section F Lot 51.
I mentioned in my East Clare post last week that I was waiting on a new release news story which looked tantalisingly optimistic. It’s now been released and has exceeded my hopes.
Regular readers will recall my excitement back in late December when I found a clue to my Mary O’Brien’s immigration in an advertisement for her sister, Bridget. Since the family’s oral history has them both arriving in Australia together I thought I’d hit the jackpot.
Hours of research online and in archives in Hobart, Sydney and Brisbane had left me none the wiser in terms of hard evidence, and if anything doubting whether even Bridget had come on this sailing ship. Nowhere was there a mention of her name and my hopes plummeted. I felt like the prince trying to make that glass slipper fit.
This new death notice and obituary once again opens up the research and reveals so much more. It tells of:
Bridget’s arrival in Queensland (also mentioned on her death notice)
Arrival on the Florentia (a confirmation of Mary’s advertisement for her)
Relocation to Sydney. Her death certificate mentions 1 year Qld, remainder in NSW, so she probably left Ipswich for Sydney some time in 1854.
Arrival in the Urana area with Mr James Broughton to work on Cocketgedong[i] Station, on Billabong/Billybong Creek, near Jerilderie, probably around 1857-58.
Arrival in the town of Urana before it was surveyed. “Urana village was laid out in 1859” according to Bayley[ii]. Urana was proclaimed a town on 6 May 1859 and gazetted on 10 May[iii]. This roughly fits with when Bridget was believed to have married John Widdup, who would become the town’s poundkeeper, a role Bridget took on after his death in 1876.
There is some oral history that suggests Bridget worked as a children’s nurse which would fit with the birth of Emily Church Broughton in Sydney in May 1858 and Mary B on 25 April 1860. This would tally with Bridget’s move to Cocketgedong especially if she had been working for the Broughtons in Sydney. She’d certainly have been well qualified in this role having been the eldest of the eight O’Brien children. The impact of women arriving in the district was among the subjects discussed in this interesting article in the Sydney Morning Herald of 11 May 1858[iv].
Of course the question remains why Bridget left Ipswich and her sister, having journeyed so far together. To the best of my knowledge there were not yet any relatives in Sydney. Perhaps she just didn’t like the Queensland heat and dryness. Certainly it can’t have been the isolation as Urana was far more isolated.
So here I am, back pondering the mysteries of the Florentia migration and again I’m left with the following questions.
Did Mary and Bridget emigrate together?
All the oral history suggests the two young women came together. Annie Kunkel’s usually reliable information fits with what’s now known of the Florentia’s voyage. Furthermore I’ve re-read the notes I took at the time and see that she refers to them on an “old sailing ship”. I’d blipped over the “old” previously but it particularly fits with what’s known of the Florentia which had made voyages to Australia as a convict ship in earlier decades.
Why would Mary advertise for her sister on the Florentia if she didn’t arrive on it?
This question now seems to be answered. I have two different sources citing the Florentia which gives me confidence that Bridget at least arrived on that ship. It only had one voyage to Queensland, in 1853. Earlier ones to other states would have meant the women were too young to travel alone, so I’m now happy to place Bridget on this ship. But why is she not mentioned anywhere in the records?
Were they unassisted passengers?
I can find no evidence or mention anywhere that there were paying passengers on board the ship. It was an old ship and less likely to provide suitable cabin accommodation for anyone other than the captain and surgeon. However, is it still possible that it offered cheap paying accommodation to two young women? The records, as always, are focused on the assisted passengers and there was enough kerfuffle about the voyage that the assisted may have gained no recognition. Or am I clutching at straws?
Were they assisted passengers?
As I mentioned I’ve looked at all available passenger lists for this voyage. There are no single women named O’Brien other than the daughters of Daniel O’Brien who I mentioned in the earlier post. I’d checked them out years ago because of the family’s on-going connection to Mary O’Brien and the Kunkel family. However, once again I married each girl off, and checked their deaths until I was sure none of them were actually our Bridget or Mary. Case closed there.
Were there substitutions or impersonations?
As implausible as this sounds it is not impossible. State Records of New South Wales (SRNSW) makes mention of it:One practice which frequently occurred during this period was the taking on of an alias in order to obtain passage. This happened in cases where passage had been denied under the correct name; in these instances, the assumed name was often the maiden name or the name of a person with whom travelling. In other instances, an immigrant assumed the name of a person to whom a passage certificate had been granted. An example of this is Joseph Golding who came in place of John Mahon. In these cases the lists usually record the person under his/her correct name with a reference to the alias (or assumed) name. (always assuming they actually came to light)
I’ve also found manipulated records, and impersonations, in the East Clare database I’ve built up, though they are only the ones which have come to light, as per the SRNSW examples above.
It seems logical that if the O’Brien girls had taken up other passengers’ tickets/permits that they’d (a) have to have been Irish and (b) most likely have been from Clare or nearby eg Limerick or west Tipperary.
I also eliminated from consideration single women whose married siblings or single brothers were on board, just because that would have required more extensive collaboration.
Similarly two young women in their mid-teens were unlikely to be able to pass themselves off as women over thirty.
It really does defy logic, and Irish propriety, that the girls would have been languishing on the docks of Plymouth hoping to catch a ship to Australia until some other young girl(s) changed her mind about the voyage.
Checking the single women
Over the past weeks I’ve been researching the single women on the Florentia.
Even eliminating the English and Welsh women from consideration there were still lots to investigate and I set to by looking at potential marriages via Queensland’s online BDM site. If I found one that seemed plausible I traced the death and compared the parents listed with those provided on the shipping lists.
Again and again I hit brick walls, often not even finding marriages at all. I also checked the NSW BDMs, just in case, because some of the immigrants had stated they had relatives interstate. Eventually I had to give this away due to the overall ambiguity, but if any reader had ancestors arrive on this ship I’d love to hear from them.
To be honest I’m still floundering, though I’m now much more confident that Bridget was on board the Florentia when it arrived in Queensland in 1853. However, was she an assisted or unassisted passenger? Did she/they come out under someone else’s name? There is a suggestion in the local history of Broadford that some young people were assisted to emigrate and perhaps that’s where the clues lie. Perhaps the girls came out as privately funded passengers but on a very old ship, with perhaps a cheap rate.
Frustrating as this is, without Trove I’d still have no clues about their migration as I’d exhausted other avenues many years ago. My gut feeling for some time has been that they came out as unassisted passengers so perhaps that was the case on Florentia. I’m still walking around with that glass slipper in my hand looking for a perfect fit but will it ever happen? Digitisation has saved my research and perhaps will do so again.
[i] Also known as Cocketygong, Cockegong from Trove reports. Cockejedong Creek was a tributary of Billybong or Biallabong Creek: Billabidgee, History of Urana Shire. Bayley, WA. Urana Shire Council 1959, page 59. For overseas readers, the word “station” here does not refer to the railway but an extremely large rural property. In American terms it would be called a ranch.
[ii] ibid, page 75.
[iii] ibid, page 23.
[iv] I was alerted to this by a reference in Bayley, op cit, page 22. Although not referenced in the book, Trove picked it up immediately when I searched by the phrase used.
In my previous post I mentioned the newspaper remarks of problems on board the barque Florentia, and my hopes of getting to the bottom of the mystery…and finding reference to Mary O’Brien.
Only a matter of hours after disembarking from Voyager of the Seas in Sydney I was ensconced in the reading room at State Records New South Wales, at Kingswood following up the Colonial Secretary (Col Sec) records for the period, as well as the Immigration Board etc. I’d anticipated having more problems as they can be so convoluted to follow with their top-numbering system but I was lucky as the Florentia papers were easily found.
The Immigration Board in Moreton Bay submitted their report, dated 19 May 1853, to the Agent for Immigration[i], and forwarded by the Health Officer. It included statements by the Surgeon Superintendent, Dr William Clegg, and the matron, Bess McLoughlin, also one of the assisted immigrants listed on the manifest.
If the scenes on Florentia were as lively as shown in this image, one can see why there might have been a kerfuffle.
The essence of the problem was that the captain (Banks) had been in breach of the rules in the Charter Party, a new term to me, but apparently rather like a modern day memorandum of understanding, setting out the terms and conditions under which the ship was to sail, the obligations of those in authority, and presumably the remuneration involved. The Investigation found “the Captain was in the habit of playing with the females on the poop for about a month or five weeks after sailing”. The game referred to was Blind Man’s Bluff.[ii]
Captain Thomas Hopper Banks was charged with having inappropriate “intercourse” (not as we understand it today) with the single women and permitting the crew to do the same. Warnings by the Surgeon had no impact on the captain’s and second mate’s behaviour. This in turn influenced how the ordinary seamen behaved.
Rather than have the single women locked below after dark, the key to their quarters mysteriously disappeared soon after departure[iii]. When it was found, the hinges of the door were taken off. The Captain claimed the matron was being cruel forcing the women to stay below, even though this was the custom, and requirement.
The consequence of the report was that Captain Banks and the Second Mate were refused their payments for the voyage and it was recommended that Banks not be employed in the colonial service again. The matron and the schoolmaster were paid their remuneration as was the Surgeon, Dr William Clegg.
Under the circumstances I was quite pleased to find no specific mention of my Mary O’Brien or her sister Bridget, though it also fits with the oral histories that they both met their future husbands on the voyage out. One young woman features in the story however, and that is Ann Drew who plainly had a close relationship of some sort with the captain. Two illegitimate children had been born on the voyage but they would have had nothing to do with the shenanigans on board. One of the babies had been stillborn and was hidden, but the mother had been discovered and she was cautioned on arrival…unfortunately her name is not mentioned.
Through the archive documents and/or the newspapers I’ve found specific mention of some of the passengers on the ship:
James Massy of Limerick, complained against the surgeon “for not paying sufficient attention to his wife during her illness and by…causing her death”.[iv]Later in the report the Surgeon Superintendent, Clegg, was exonerated from blame as the ship had been in very severe weather at the time. James would have had an uphill battle with three children to take care of, which no doubt made gaining employment more difficult. Mary Massy and Cath Ryan were the two married women who died on board, deduced from the details on the Board reports.
Ann Drew: a single woman who was plainly in the Captain’s favour. Ann Drew’s mess (group of women sharing the cooking etc responsibilities) were said to have disrespected the matron’s orders.
John Hockings, a gardener from Devon, declared that he never saw the Captain give preference to Ann Drew or any of the other girls, or make indelicate remarks to them. He was also a constable on board ship.[v]
Frances Bransfield, a laundress from Cork, gave a statement that she declined to go to the hospital –it’s unclear whether her complaint was against the surgeon or the captain, though it follows an examination of the Captain by Dr Clegg.
Denis Kelly: a single man who was a schoolteacher from Limerick and so presumably the teacher on board.
Bess (Elizabeth) McLoughlin, a 40 year old laundress from Londonderry was the matron.
Daniel Brian (or Breen) a 34 year old married man from Glamorganshire in South Wales, and a plaster, was one of the constables, mentioned in a case of stealing on board ship. [vi] Although Daniel O’Brien from Tipperary, a blacksmith, would also be a possibility, overall I’m inclined to think it was the former.
Frederick Pierce (or Pearce), 33 year old smith from Cornwall, a married man with four children was another constable mentioned in the above court case.[vii]
William Henry Cox charged with having stolen a quantity of wine on board the Florentia on 19 January 1853, was sentenced to 12 weeks imprisonment in Brisbane gaol.
Joseph Pinch, supernumary seaman was a witness in this case[viii].
After arrival George Parsons was charged, on 12 May 1853, by Mr. Tooth, his employer, with refusing to go on to the station (property owned by Tooth). The reason alleged for this refusal was that Mr.Tooth would not provide conveyance for the whole of defendant’s luggage; but as the Bench did not think this sufficient, they passed a sentence of one month’s imprisonment. Heaven help us! What a punishment to hand down to this poor immigrant who’d tolerated that six month voyage to get to Moreton Bay. And what happened to his wife Maria and their four children including infant George?
Although news stories report that seamen absconded from the Florentia in Hobart[ix] , when a crew of 24 is listed on the immigration documents. In Brisbane, at least one crew member absconded and who stole a ship’s boat[x] but neither he nor the Hobart escapees are mentioned by name. The Hobart documents list a crew of 24 on the ship. However, when indentured apprentice James Murphy; native of Cork; height, about 5 feet 8 inches; age, 16 years jumped ship in Sydney, a reward of £5 was offered for his imprisonment.[xi] Poor young bloke!
Reviewing the complaints listed by the immigrants many of the same people are mentioned[xii]. Those complaining against the Matron were Hanah Todd, Frances Bransfield, Anne Drew, Hannah Gale, and Harriet and Mary Roger (perhaps Anne Drew’s Mess group?). The only complaint against the Doctor was the one mentioned by James Massy. Margaret McMullin, a 37 year old ladies maid from Meath complained of the conduct of the Captain and some his officers. Unsurprisingly Bess McLoughlin, the matron also complained against the Captain. John Hughes’ complaint is hard to read but may refer to morality. James Ryan complained that his mother-less child did not receive the milk ordered by the doctor. There was a long queue of complaints from the married men about the lack of provisions, bread and water: John Cuddihy, James Cherry, John Green, Cornelius Halloran, Thomas Madden, Michael Nowlan, Daniel O’Brien and Thomas Cherry. Interestingly they were all Irish emigrants.
Despite all the complaints and the withdrawal of the Captain’s gratuity, some ninety-eight of the passengers signed a testimonial, published in the newspaper, stating they were “fully convinced of his general and lasting friendship, as well as his willingness and cheerfulness to render all the assistance he possibly could to us at large-being to us, in need or trouble, like a father and a friend and never failing to visit us in danger; whose presence we always beheld with the greatest delight…”
And after all that, not a mention of unassisted passengers and no reference to Mary or Bridget O’Brien. In the coming days I’ll be weighing up the merits of the case for or against their being on the Florentia and whether there’s any chance of fitting that glass slipper.
And a bit of trivia for fellow cruisers on Voyager of the Seas: the modern day cruise liner has a tonnage of 138,000 compared to poor little Florentia’s 453 tons.
Growing up as a child in Queensland, we had a large Queensland nut tree in our back garden. Now known as macadamias, these nuts make you work hard to get to their delicious centres (unless you buy them stripped bare). First you have to work through the hard protective casing around the nut, unless it’s so ripened that the exterior has turned brown and ready to fall off. Then you are still left with the rock-hard shell itself. This is no dainty nut, ready to be cracked with a graceful pair of nut crackers on the Christmas table. No, you need a hammer, the perfect spot in the concrete path and a firm stroke and a good aim for the seam in the shell. Hit too hard and you’ll demolish the nut itself, hit too softly and that delicious nut will continue to elude you. Or you just use your grandfather’s vice from “under the house”.
It struck me last night that’s a pretty good analogy to some family history research, especially the focus I’ve had lately on exploring all things relating to the little barque, Florentia, on which my ancestor Mary O’Brien may have arrived in 1853.
I’ve collected as much possible information as I can including:
I’ve compared the data squeezed from each source and analysed places of origin and relations in the colony.
What did I learn?
Length of the voyage and on-board disputes
I already knew this ship had taken an inordinate, and unusual, amount of time to reach Moreton Bay: 156 days or 23 weeks. They’d had an unscheduled stop in Hobart Town after 19+ weeks at sea, because they’d been loaded with only 20 weeks of provisions. Surely all on board must have been getting anxious before they reached Hobart – after all they’d been rationed since passing the Cape of Good Hope.
The Sydney Morning Herald of 11 May 1853, reported a Brisbane story of 22 April: “The Florentia is the next immigrant vessel for this place, and she may now be considered fully due”. Initially I thought this was code for wondering if the ship had been lost, especially as it had only spoken two other vessels[i], both in the early weeks of the voyage. However by the time of the story, the news of the ship’s arrival in Hobart had already been published.
Unsurprisingly the Immigration Board who mustered the passengers in Moreton Bay on 29 April reportedly found the “state of the ship does not appear to be very cleanly.”[ii]
As alluded to in the newspapers, the “local Immigration Board is now engaged in the investigation of certain charges against the ship’s officers, but what their nature or justice may be remains a mystery”[iii]and “some of the proceedings of the voyage are likely to furnish employment for that mysterious body the ‘Unholy Inquisition.’ We hear that the Surgeon-Superintendent does not appear to be culpable, but more sinned against than sinning. Will the Inquisition stifle this affair also?” [iv]
These newspaper references and the length of the voyage gave me hope that the official correspondence would provide some clues to this enquiry, and indeed it did…but I will keep this for a separate story. The newspaper reporter seems to have been correct in his assumption, too, that the mystery would be stifled. Nothing further is reported in any of the newspapers on Trove, as far as I could find, and as I’ve mentioned nothing in the British, Welsh or Irish newspapers, at least by the ship’s name.
Mortality and the long voyage
There is contradictory evidence as to how many died on the voyage as well as how many births there were. The summary information for the Florentia in Hobart lists 9 deaths: 1 married woman, 3 single women, 1 boy under 14, 3 girls under 14 and one infant. In fact the infant was, as far as I can tell a stillborn child. However by the time the ship reached Brisbane, they were reporting 12 births and 17 deaths.[v] It is entirely possible (probable) that four passengers died between Hobart and Moreton Bay as the total number of passengers falls from 249 to 245. This would still leave an anomaly of four deaths, which would reconcile with the additional four births, though not necessarily the same children[vi].
The most tragic aspect of the deaths is that those people’s names remain unrecorded. One can deduce that two married women died, simply by looking at the details for families, so presumably one died on the final phase of the journey. As the parents’ names are stated for the children in each family, the mothers’ names are revealed even though they are not listed on the manifests as “died on the voyage”, which I’ve seen on other ships. The two married women were Mary Massy (family from Limerick) and Cath Ryan (family from Tipperary).
But what of the children who succumbed on the voyage, or the single women? Sadly, there is no mention of their names anywhere. I wonder if their families ever learnt what happened to them.
With my East Clare database which covers the period 1848-1870, the mortality rate was 1%, very low. On this voyage, the overall rate was 5%, with females being the most at risk category. Girls under 14 were particularly vulnerable, with a 6.98% mortality, and likely more depending on the deaths between Hobart and Moreton Bay. It’s tempting to conclude that this would, in large part, have been down to the reduced provisions, including the lack of water mentioned in passenger complaints, and reiterated in the Immigration Board’s enquiry.[vii] Of itself the long voyage should not have had such an impact but the ship was also a former convict-ship and was probably not as well equipped as some later ones, or as suitable for general emigration.
If ever there was a voyage when one might wish for a copy of the Surgeon’s journal, this would be one of them. Among the SRNSW documents is a letter which indicates that the surgeon’s diary was forwarded to the Colonial Land and Emigration Commissioners[viii] but sadly it does not appear in the lists of extant diaries on the UK National Archives site. There is also no mention of a passenger diary extant for this voyage in the Log of Logs.
The prince and the glass slipper
My hope from this research voyage was that I’d find any clues at all to suggest there were unassisted passengers on this voyage, and any kind of reference to Mary and her sister. Unfortunately my quest was futile. I know a lot about this ship’s voyage but am none the wiser about Mary. Perhaps my family tree is indeed a Queensland Nut or Macadamia tree…it’s certainly keeping me on my toes.
I’m left feeling like the prince who went from house to house trying to squeeze the glass slipper on each young woman’s foot hoping to find the beautiful girl who’d stolen his heart. I suppose by now I should know better than believe in fairy stories.
Who was mentioned in the documents? What was the scandal? Come back for the second instalment.
A readable and informative reference book on the conditions of voyages is Robin Haines’ book “Life and death in the age of sail”.[ix] I can highly recommend it to provide a solid understanding of the health aspects of migration.
Shauna Hicks has initiated a new 52 week series of prompts, Genealogy Records. We’re only into Week 3 but there have already been some interesting topics: Military Medals, Internal Migration and Probate.
However Shauna’s topic is a great opportunity to personalise my own stories to her theme so I will probably join in from time to time where the topic is relevant to my own history. I have such a migration mania that I couldn’t possibly not participate in her second topic, Internal Migration. Whenever I get on the topic of migration it turns into a long yarn, so grab a coffee and a comfy chair, and read on for a while.
THE McSHARRY/McSHERRY FAMILIES
With so many railway people in my family tree, it’s inevitable that they’d be a peripatetic lot. Some moved across vast distances, others only relatively short postings when in their early years.
My greatest internal migrants would be the Sherry family who arrived in Rockhampton, Queensland, from Ireland where they also worked on the railway: the Dublin, Wicklow and Wexford Railway line judging on their progressive movement through those counties. On arrival, the patriarch James Sherry, changed most of the family’s name to McSharry. Oral history suggests this may have been to piggy-back on the fame of James McSharry from the railway construction firm, O’Rourke and McSharry. Who knows whether this is fact or fiction. I suppose it’s also possible that the two families may have been connected but that’s an exploration I’ve yet to undertake. Whatever the reality it has certainly caused immense confusion when trying to unravel what happened to my own family over the years, especially the mystery of what happened to my James McSharry.
The McSharry family moved from Rockhampton where they arrived, to Maryborough (why?) for a number of years, then back to Rockhampton where wife/widow, Bridget McSharry, settled and ran a boarding house until her death in 1900.
The adult children of this family moved around Queensland in response to work. Early family events revealed at least some of these through death certificates, police staff files, Post Office Directories, electoral rolls, and marriage records.
The eldest son of the family, Peter Sherry, arrived with his family a year after the rest of the Sherry family. Strangely he changed his name to McSherry rather than McSharry. Within weeks of arriving in Rockhampton he had been recruited to Queensland Government Railways and so began his migration around the state. The family spent a long time in Longreach, then moved on to Hughenden and Townsville before being transferred to Rockhampton where they put down roots.
Tracing this family’s internal migration has been greatly facilitated by Trove as it has revealed stories that would otherwise never have been known. I have a full copy of Peter’s railway staff recordwhich tells the bare bones of his positions and postings over the years: a great base for knowing where they migrated internally.
Obviously the children of this family moved with Peter and Mary McSherry in their childhood, but even in their adulthood, the migrations continued. My grandfather James, worked in Hughenden then later Townsville before moving to Brisbane so his children could obtain jobs, or so the oral history goes. Given the move occurred in 1942, mid-war, in the thick of the Brisbane Line concept, I have to wonder whether it was because he was needed to build the railway carriages further from risk of Japanese invasion.
Once again my sources are: railway staff files, Trove, oral history.
THE KUNKEL FAMILY
George and Mary Kunkel, of whom you’ve all heard often, settled in Ipswich after their marriage there in 1857. While there George worked in a number of occupations: servant (pre-marriage), pork butcher and boarding house keeper. To all extents and purposes he was there all the time, after all there were children being born at regular intervals.
It was a court report, that enlightened me differently. While the family was settled, George was also working on the Tooloom goldfields in northern NSW as a butcher. Further reading on Trove revealed that there were regular coaches between Tooloom and Ipswich so plainly he could get home fairly often, perhaps to restock his supplies.
Recently I posted how he’d had a financial setback and this may have prompted their move westward, reportedly working on the railway, or perhaps again supplying meat. The next precise confirmation of where they lived was at Highfields, via the school admission registers and through church baptisms and birth certificates.
A few years later and the family would move a short distance to the Fifteen Mile between Highfields and Murphys Creek where they would take up farming and settle. George supplemented the farm income by working for the railway as a labourer.
Kunkel descendants, many of them railway workers, also moved around south-east Queensland and west as far as Roma with postings as the railway was constructed. One family branch moved to Mackay in northern Queensland and set down roots cane farming.
Records: court reports, school admission records, baptisms and birth certificates, railway staff files, land selection records.
THE GAVIN FAMILY
The Gavins were short-migration people. Denis came from Kildare in Ireland and his wife, Ellen, from Wicklow. They married in Dublin before they emigrated though it’s not known when they each made that internal move.
On arrival Denis went to Binbian Downs station (per his obituary) as a carrier, then to Dalby, Toowoomba and Crows Nest. Although the distances are short by Australian standards he would have covered a lot of ground carrying wool on the bullock dray from Binbian Downs which is out near Wallumbilla.
Like the other Gavan/Gavin families with whom they interweave, but are unrelated, they remained on the Darling Downs.
Records: Convict records (the Galway Gavins), birth certificates, employment records, death certificates, re-marriage certificates, obituaries, maps, Trove.
THE KENT, PARTRIDGE AND McCORKINDALE FAMILIES
These families were my stay-at-homes. The Kents and Partridges both went straight to Ipswich on arrival as far as I can tell. There they remained until their deaths, though descendants moved around the state.
The McCorkindale exodus from Glasgow commenced with Peter and Duncan’s arrival in Sydney in 1900. Well actually I eventually discovered it commenced with an uncle’s arrival quite a bit earlier. After the death of their father, their mother (Annie Sim McCorkindale) emigrated with the rest of the family excluding one stay-put son, Thomas Sim McCorkindale who’d moved to London. Close analysis of the shipping lists showed that other family members had arrived as well.
Once settled in Brisbane on arrival, Peter joined them, and the family remained there except for country excursions to decimate the opposite in bagpipe and Highland Dance competitions. Duncan McCorkindale moved between Sydney and Canberra where he was part of the teams that built the nation’s capital, and their Caledonian Society.
Records: Trove, shipping lists, BDM certificates, church registers.
THE MELVIN FAMILY
Stephen Gillespie Melvin’s family was tied to the sea, with generations of merchant seamen. No surprise then that they were born to be migrants, both internal and international.
After the death of his wife, Janet, soon after arrival SGM settled in Ipswich, Queensland where he promptly established a well-regarded confectionery shop. He must have gadded around a bit though because his land portfolio was scattered around the south east of Queensland. But it was his foray into mining that brought him undone, resulting in insolvency and a little jaunt to jail.
Not long after being released from jail, the family moved to Charters Towers which was then experiencing a gold boom. No doubt escaping his notoriety would have been on his mind as well, though the coverage of the trial was so extensive that it would have been known in Charters Towers as well.
Around the time of his second wife’s Emily’s death, SGM started acquiring businesses and land in Sydney and thus the younger members of his family set down their roots in New South Wales. Meanwhile he continued his migrations on a temporary basis, as he travelled back and forth to the UK for business. One such migration became permanent however when he died in London.
I know from my Irish research that the emigrants were keen to follow their own destiny even at the expense of family connections, but the internal migration of Bridget O’Brien (later Widdup) is one that puzzles me.
If Bridget was in Ipswich with her sister Mary after their long emigration journey, why did she decide to move south to the Albury area, and to Urana? This has always mystified me, since I knew from her death certificate that she’d spent one year in Queensland.
The possibilities seem to be:
She didn’t like the Queensland environment or climate
Friends were moving interstate
She had met her future husband, John Widdup, on the ship as the story goes so she moved to be with him.
Her employer in Queensland relocated and offered her a position elsewhere.
It’s the Whys of family history research that keep us on our toes.
Records: Death certificates, oral history, Trove
So there you have it…the peripatetic wanderings of my families over the years. It has always seemed to me that having made the long journey to Australia, rather than the comparatively short hop across the Atlantic, they were not daunted by further moves if they satisfied their occupation or life goals.
The midnight fairy came to visit me last night with an amazing surprise –in fact such a big surprise that I can’t quite believe it, and have spent the day trying to confirm or deny my conclusions. Oh ye of little faith!!
As a prelude to sleep (!!) I decided to have a quick look on Trove for Bridget O’Brien Ipswich. Bridget was my Mary O’Brien’s (2x great grandmother) sister. You see the other day I’d found a new obituary for her on Trove which mentioned that her year in Queensland had been spent in Ipswich. Up came the following advertisement in the Sydney Morning Herald on 9th and 12th February 1859:
SHIP-FLORENTIA – BRIDGET O’BRIEN Your sister Mary is anxious to hear from you. Mrs KONGEL, Post Office, Ipswich.
It’s as well I was lying down I tell you!! I couldn’t believe my eyes and kept saying “keep calm, keep calm”.
Why was I so excited? Because I’d pretty much guarantee that this is my Mary Kunkel (nee O’Brien) and her sister Bridget. Kunkel is routinely mangled even today, or greeted with a “what??” so the mis-spelling doesn’t bother me much, especially since Mary was illiterate and had a Clare accent.
I’ve been hunting for Mary’s immigration for 27 years to no avail. I’ve looked at every possible immigration record I could find, including checking every Mary O’Brien entry, as well as Bridget and Kate/Catherine.
So am I leaping to conclusions? Please tell me what you think after reading this.
My memory didn’t instantly retrieve Florentia but it was ringing loud bells for me. A quick search of my records reminded me this was the ship that the Daniel O’Brien family from Tipperary arrived on. I wrote about the connections in this post early in 2013. This O’Brien family and my Mary O’Brien Kunkel were involved as witnesses in each other’s church events.
So let me put together the details and compare it with the oral history given to me by Mary’s granddaughter, Anne Kunkel who lived with her, and who was an extremely reliable witness (she’s been spot-on about 99% of what she told me):
1. Mary left Ireland when she was 16
In 1852 when the Florentia sailed Mary was 16 years old. This tallies with the age stated on several children’s birth certificates as well as her death certificate. Bridget’s age at death, and the details on her certificate also indicate an arrival year of 1852-53.
2. Mary was six months at sea coming to Australia
The Florentia was at sea for 22 weeks, slightly over five months. On top of that Mary had to get to Plymouth to catch the ship, either by boat from Limerick or Bianconi carriage to Dublin. Either way you can see how the total trip would have been close to six months. And wouldn’t the temptation be to round up, not down?
3. Mary and Bridget came together…though Anne did suggest perhaps sister Kate also came, but then she would have been <10 at the time.
Assuming this is correct, then Mary would have been on the Florentia too. I had eliminated Kate as an arrival through Moreton Bay as she married in Sydney in 1871 but now I’m rethinking that. Kate witnessed a baptism in Broadford, Clare in 1860. A Kate O’Brien witnessed Mary’s child’s baptisms in 1864 and 1866 in Ipswich. Was this her sister or Daniel and Winifred’s daughter (born 1854), which does seem young to be a witness? Our Kate’s details suggest she arrives in the early 1860s, just when there are some Board Immigrant Lists missing.
4.“Mary had a job before ever she got here…and she worked for a sea captain in Brisbane”
Was Mary arriving as an unassisted passenger? Or did she come under a false name as happened occasionally (and perhaps more than we realise?). Certainly the passenger list of the Florentia tallies with the stated number of passengers, and does not include two unassisted passengers because when the ship docked in Hobart on 4th April 1853 to take on additional supplies, there is only one cabin passenger stated on the Tasmanian documents, the Surgeon Superintendent for the voyage, William Clegg. Might she have been under an alias? This is tricky and yet none of the ages quite fit, let alone for two young women, aged 16 and 18.
5. She met her husband on the voyage
This tale is common to both Mary and Bridget. Bridget’s future husband was a mariner, John Widdup, so that may be plausible. I’ve never found George Kunkel’s immigration either, and have conjectured he too may have worked his passage given his upbringing on the River Main. The Tasmanian records indicate there were 26 crew on the Florentia…I wonder if either George or John was one of them. Unfortunately the Mariners and Ships in Australian Waters website does not include the Florentia.
So far at least I’ve also been unable to trace them through the CLIP website.
The ship’s captain was Capt TH Banks and Surgeon Superintendent William Clegg and the ship arrived in Moreton Bay on 25th April 1853. The Florentia was a barque of 453 tons, and on arrival was carrying 249 immigrants so a fairly small ship. Apart from being unusually long, due to “contrary winds and calms”, the voyage had a fairly high fatality rate, with two differing death rates: 17 deaths (Moreton Bay) and 9 deaths (Hobart). Although “offset” by either 8 or 12 births, this was not a good tally. And yet surprisingly very little is documented in the Trove newspapers about the voyage, other than an elusive hint that there were issues with the ship’s officers: The local Immigration Board is now engaged in the investigation of certain charges against the ship’s officers, but what their nature or justice may be, remains a mystery.- Moreton Bay Courier, May 7 quoted in the Maitland Mercury of 18 May 1853.
The Moreton Bay colonists were far more concerned that the ship brought far more women and children, than the men they wanted to boost their workforce.
Was there another Florentia voyage? Yes, but back in 1841 when Bridget was only a girl of about eight. It seems logical that the 1853 voyage is the correct one. Our Bridget witnessed her brother’s and sister’s baptism at home in Broadford in 1846 and 1850 adding to that likelihood.
It’s also not surprising that Mary might have been advertising for her sister, as Bridget left Ipswich after a year, so about mid-1854. By the 1860s she was married and living with her little family in Urana in southern New South Wales. Meanwhile Mary too had married in 1857, to George Kunkel, which Bridget may not have known.
So why was Mary “anxious” to get in touch with Bridget in early 1859? Their parents didn’t die until much later. Mary’s marriage and children seemed to be having no problems. Perhaps she just hadn’t heard from Bridget for a while or perhaps Mary knew that Kate was thinking of emigrating and wanted to get in touch.
Plainly there’s room for further research at various archives and online.
So what do you think? Does my hypothesis hold up? Can I do a happy dance or is it all wishful thinking? Pearls of wisdom and advice would be much appreciated.