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Though the gold was good and the future seemed promising, for Moses and Anne life was not to be settled and peaceful. Anne became alarmingly ill during 1856 so once again Moses harnessed the horses and packed the dray. This time he made a bed for Anne in the dray. They left their children with John and Mary and set off in search of a doctor and hospital. It took them three weeks to reach Maitland where Anne was operated on for appendicitis. She was recovering satisfactorily and so Moses left her to get back to their children and to earning a living, saying he would return for Anne as soon as she was ready to travel again. John was keeping the two claims working at Rocky River and Moses was pleased to be back with him for a time, though always anxiously awaiting the message from Anne. When no message came in ten weeks Moses returned to Maitland to sadly learn that Anne had died shortly after he left her.
Moses returned once more to Rocky River, lonely and dispirited, the winter of 1857 became cold and wet, too boggy to dig. His daughter, Mary Anne had married William Vitnell, a gold seeker, and gone with him to the new goldfields near Mudgee, where they made their home. Moses and his two sons, John, 14, and Michael, 12 years old, went to Piedmont, near Barraba, then to Bowling Ally Point where they found some gold but after a time there they gave up the search for gold and went to work on "Laura" sheep station near Bundarra. Michael worked with his father on Laura and John went to a neighbouring station, called "Goose's Neck" because of the curve of the Gwyder River that curved round to form the boundary on three sides of the station. In 1864, just before he turned twenty-one, John married Jane Curtis at Wellingrove, the Rev. Archibald Cameron performed the ceremony, 9 March, 1864. They lived on "Goose's Neck" and had nine children but John succumbed to an attack of pleuresy on 8 July, 1884 and left Jane alone to rear the family. The oldest, Mary Anne, was only 18 when her father died, and the youngest, Florence Kate was only a year old. Moses helped Jane with the family where and when he could but she was a strong and forthright woman and managed very well.
Michael O'Connor married Ellen Mary Robinson in 1878. Ellen had been born at Rocky River on 27 March 1855, and had a sister Martha who married Victor Whitehorn. Mr. Robinson was digging for gold at the Rocky at the same time as Moses and John O'Connor. Michael and Ellen had six children born at Bundarra, Jane, John's wife was a renowned midwife, perhaps she stayed with Ellen when she was needed.
Michael left Laura Station to conduct a butcher's shop in Bundarra for a time, but then he left it in 1892 and moved to Inverell, perhaps seeking better educational opportunities for his children. Moses moved to Inverell with Michael and his family, but was there only a short time when he died, 25 April 1894, nearly forty years after his beloved Anne had left him with their children, forty years of loneliness and toil in which he had seen their three children married and John had died so unexpectedly. There were 28 grandchildren, all fine young Australians, God Bless them.
Mr. C.V. Randle. Died May 1922
Though it has been known to his friends for some little time that Mr. Charles Vincent Randle, of Ross St. Inverell was seriously ill, the news of his death last night at the residence of his father-in-law, Mr. Michael O'Connor of Vivian Street, was none the less distressing. Deceased was a fine robust man, only 36 years of age, who was a carpenter with the Education Department. Last Christmas time he took ill with an internal complaint that is practically incurable. Six weeks ago he went to Sydney and was operated on but when he returned to Inverell on Thursday last he was far from well. His condition continued to worsen until the end, last night. He was a native of Toowoomba (Q) but had been living in Inverell for some years. He married Ellen, the second daughter of Mr. M. O'Connor, who is now left a young widow with five sons, the oldest of whom is only 9 years, and the youngest 8 months. They are Charles, Henry, Fred, Vincent and William. Deceased's father-in-law and mother-in-law, Michael and Ellen O'Connor, and the following brothers-inlaw all reside in Inverell: Jack, Mick, Tom and Morrie O'Connor. Deceased's mother and a sister (Mrs. Crawford) reside in Toowoomba. Another sister lives in Brisbane and a third sister is a nun, Sister Mary Helen in North Sydney.
Mr. Randle was a steady and reliable worker and was held in high esteem by all who knew him. He was a splendid specimen of Australian manhood and, prior to his marriage was a noted athlete, winning fame and glory on both football and cricket fields. The most sincere sympathy is expressed with the widow in her bereavement and with the young family who are left without a breadwinner.
The remains will be interred in the Catholic Portion of the local cemetery to-day (Tuesday) at 4 o'clock. The funeral arrangements are in the hands of Mr. C.S. Thorley.
John Moses O'Connor was born at Bundarra 31 July 1879, the oldest of the nine children of Michael O'Connor and Ellen Mary Robinson. He went to Inverell when the family moved there in 1892. On 12 April 1909 he married Emily Matilda Collins from Armidale, they were married in the Sacred Heart Church, Inverell, and it was a very happy day for them 26 years later when their oldest son John Michael, came home from Rome a priest and celebrated Mass for them in that same church. John Michael had been born at Brewarrina where John Moses worked for a time, then the family moved to Sydney and their second son Roderick was born at Forest Lodge. They then returned to Inverell where three more children were born. John Moses opened a saddlery shop and also joined the Inverell Municipal Council where he served for many years. Another proud and happy day for the family was 25 July 1945 when their third son Shane was ordained a priest.
Mr. JOHN MOSES O'CONNOR, of Hillsdale celebrated his 100th birthday on 31 July last. (1979). Son of the late Michael and Ellen O'Connor, he was born at Laura Creek, near Bundarra. At the age of 13 his family moved to Inverell where he lived until 1953 when the family moved to Sydney.
The celebrations were very quiet but Holy Mass was celebrated by his two sons, Monsignor John O'Connor of West Tamworth and Father Shane O'Connor of Barmera (South Australia). Mr. O'Connor was able to be present at the Mass in the Notre Dame Nurses' Home, St. Vincent's Hospital.
After Mass, Monsignor O'Connor presented his father with an apostolic blessing granted by Pope John Paul II. Monsignor O'Connor referred to the gift of a long life granted by God and the gifts of tenacity in the Faith and a keen intellect.
The parish priest, Father John Power called on Mr. O'Connor to offer his own congratulations and he also brought a letter from Cardinal Freeman who referred to God's goodness to Mr. O'Connor in granting him such a long life and in turn, to the praise and glory given to God over all those years by such a good life.
Messages were also received from the Bishop of Armidale, Bishop Henry Kennedy, and the Bishop of Port Pirie, Bishop Bryan Gallagher. Telegrams were received from the Sisters of Mercy at Inverell and Gunnedah (his old teachers). The Parishes of West Tamworth and Barmera sent "spiritual bouquets" to mark the occasion. Mr. O'Connor lives with his son and daughter Rod and Jessie at Hillsdale.
"Catholic Weekly". 5 June 1980
Concelebrated Requiem Mass was offered for John Moses O'Connor at the Church of Our Lady of the Annunciation, Pagewood, on Thursday, May 29 (1980). Mr. O'Connor was born at Laura Creek in the Bundarra district on 31 July, 1879. He was the eldest of the nine children born to Michael and Ellen O'Connor. The family moved to Inverell when he was 13 years old. He was educated by the Sisters of Mercy and maintained close contact with them over the years. John O'Connor was an exemplary Catholic and a friend of all priests. Two of his sons are priests, Monsignor John O'Connor of West Tamworth and Father Shane O'Connor of Barmera, S.A. Other children are Roderick and Jessie of Hillsdale. Last year Mr. O'Connor celebrated his 100th Birthday.
The Principal concelebrant of the Requiem Mass was the Bishop of Armidale Bishop Henry Kennedy. Other concelebrants were Bishop William Murray (Wollongong), Bishop Peter De Campo (Coadjutor of Port Pirie), Monsignor John O'Connor and Father Shane O'Connor, Fathers John Haseler, Victor Doyle, Edward Shepherd, Bruce McPherson, Ronald Perrett and Edmond Travers M.S.C. Father John Power P.P. was master of ceremonies and read the prayers at the graveside.
Wooger Vetnal (that's how they spelt it in the records) was a private in the 3rd "Buffs" East Kent Regiment, who first came to New South Wales on convict escort duty in 1822. He had served twenty years in the British Army, been wounded more than once, and in 1824 was returned to England and discharged "invalid".
Health recovered, he eventually married Martha Avery Wood at St. Mary's Newington, London, in 1831. Australia must have had its attractions for Wooger, for shortly after their marriage they boarded the "Mary" and arrived in Sydney in February 1832. Later that same year son William was born at Kissing Point (Ryde). They then moved to the Hunter region where Wooger became a constable for several short periods at Merton (near Denman) and Paterson, eventually settling in the Maitland area. Daughter Mary Ann was born in 1834 and sons Charles in 1836 and John in 1838. By this time some interesting changes in name had occured. The spelling of the surname became fixed at VITNELL. It is probably unique to Australia. And in family records the name William appears before Wooger.
William Wooger Vitnell disappears from the records during the eighteen forties. Did he really vanish with a group of convicts? In 1848 Martha, now described as a widow, married Isaac Dodd. Martha died more than thirty years later and is buried in the Old Glebe Cemetery at East Maitland.
Some of the family have remained in the Hunter area. Mary Ann married George Stephens. They lived at Morpeth and are buried in the cemetery there. Most of John's family were born in the Maitland area and he was buried at Hinton in 1917.
Some of the sons went chasing gold. William was married at the Rocky River diggings (Uralla) to Mary Anne Connor who was born near Singleton in 1841. Her father had a mine at Rocky River, William and Mary Anne moved to Mudgee where fresh goldfields were opening up. They settled here and raised a family of twelve, four girls and eight boys. William and Mary Anne are both buried at Mudgee.
While most of the boys were content to work the farm with their father and then go wandering over the various goldfields, George Henry Vitnell, William and Mary's fourth son found a tutor and got himself educated. He became a school teacher in the Mudgee area, north-east of Mudgee. He married Sarah Gossage, moved to Eugowra where he was schoolmaster for nearly thirty years. Sarah died while their children were still quite young arid George married again to Christina Agnes McMillan.
William's brother George went to Mudgee goldfields, married Jane Rayner at Piambong and raised a family of four daughters, and five sons. Later he moved to Dubbo and his grave is in the local cemetery there. Charles went to the Northern goldfields, Crow Mountain, Woods Reef (Barraba), Rocky River in 1870, Bundarra in 1884 and others but we have no record of any marriage or of his death. A number of the descendants of George and William have found their way back to the Hunter district.
Mary Anne O'Connor was nursing in Armidale when she met Gabriel Nixon who had a carrying business. They were married in Armidale 3 December 1879. Near the end of 1885 Gabriel's business was suffering because of the railway line having been completed and the trains took over much of the work he had been doing. He found new employment at the Tannery at Willoughby on Sydney's north side. In 1889 the family were in Stanthorpe, QLD, where Mary Anne's cousin Jane Thomson (Wall) was living with her husband and family. While the Nixons were in Stanthorpe their eight years old daughter, Hope died. The family was back in Uralla when Walter was born in November 1890. About this time Mary Anne set up a nursing home in John St. Uralla, called "Maroubra". For the next thirty years this was one of the favourite places for young mothers to come to have their babies.
When Mary Anne retired and sold the nursing home in 1923 her youngest daughter, Elsie had just finished her nursing training in Sydney and set up a small private hospital for herself in the Rose Bay area of Sydney. Elsie took her parents to Sydney so that she could care for them in their old age, but after a short time with her they could not take the closeness and the rush of life in the city and longed for the open spaces and fresh air and the life-long friends of New England. Elsie sold her new hospital and moved back to Armidale where she set up a hospital on the corner of Jessie and Mann Streets in the home that is still called "Sturry". There she was able to help her parents to end their days in peace, as well as to continue to nurse the many patients who came to her.
WYONG ADVOCATE 1 February, 1978
A memorial service for the late Nora Dearing, who devoted much of her time and energy to improving the community living in the township of Budgewoi, will be held this Sunday.
Mrs. Dearing became well known as a real estate agent, and from an office in Halekulani made friends who joined with her in many welfare commitments.
Just over ten years ago the Upper Tuggerah Lakes' Meals on Wheels was established, Mrs. Dearing being a foundation member and holding the position of organiser for 10 years. When the kitchen was first opened less than 20 meals were sent out each day. The number is now 70.
Norah Dearing was instrumental in obtaining a second Meals on Wheels kitchen which is attached to the newly renovated and enlarged Budgewoi Hall.
At the time of her death, Mrs. Dearing was president of the hall committee. She had worked tirelessly for the _ improvement of the hall, which is now regarded as one of the best in the district. She was one of a band of Budgewoi people who worked for the cleaning up of the oval, and for the erection of tennis courts.
Mrs. Dearing and her son, Harry, were included in those workers who formed Society and also a member of the ambulance committee. Budgewoi Hall also houses a branch of the Community Service, a project dear to Mrs. Dearing and for which she worked tirelessly.
Mrs. Dearing will be missed by the entire community.
WYONG ADVOCATE 8 February 1978.
Large Gathering Pays Tribute.
About a hundred people attended a memorial service to the late Mrs. Nora Dearing in Budgewoi Community Hall on Sunday. The service was conducted by the Rev. Geoff Rowney, Anglican Rector for the Upper Tuggerah Lakes Parish. Mrs. Sheila Brailey, secretary of the Budgewoi Combined Pensioners, recited a poetic tribute. Budgewoi Ladies Choir sang hymns. Mr. Alex Cooke gave a reading from Corinthians, Mr. Harry Neilson a eulogy, Mrs. Hilda Sterlin tributes and Mr. Frank Millington reminiscences.
Mrs. Dearing, former nursing sister and Matron of the old Elrington Private Hospital at Wyong, was a tireless worker for innumerable district organisations. As one speaker said, "She was of the bulldog breed who never gave up on a project or anything else".
Her son, Mr. Harry Dearing, unveiled a memorial plaque. It came as a surprise to him and was a touching moment for himself and all present.
The service concluded with a bagpipe tribute by piper Jock McEwen who played "Amazing Grace" and "Lament".
Death of a Returned Soldier, Private Francis Leo Nixon.
What though they passed in all their pride and power
With steadfast tread adown the sun set track
To Glory's Gates - in memory's hallowed hour
They shall come back.
Though Uralla and district has contributed a large number of men to make the last great sacrifice on the field of battle, all the boys that have been spared to return have been getting along well and in this respect the district was considered fortunate. However, the grim reaper has made an appearance and carried off one of the heroes who helped to make this land famous by the gallant fighting in Gallipoli and France. The sad intelligence came through by phone that Private Francis Leo Nixon had passed away at the Military Hospital at Randwick on Saturday evening at 5.30. On all sides could be heard expressions of sympathy for the bereaved parents, brothers, sisters and relatives.
Pte. Nixon, who was born in Uralla, was the youngest son of Mr. and Mrs. G. Nixon of this town and in his 22nd year. Had he lived he would have been 23 in February. He sailed on the `Suffolk' on 28 July, 1915 and left Heliopolis Camp, Egypt, on September 10 for the Dardanelles. After four months on the Peninsula, during which he fought in the Lone Pine battle and was present at the evacuation, he was sent to France with the 56th Battalion. After some months he was transferred to the Light Trench Mortar Battery, where he remained till 15 April, 1918, when he was badly gassed at Polygonwood near Amiens. The unfortunate young man was blind for six weeks and it was four months before he could speak. He returned home on 15 October, last year and was given a warm welcome, but his face showed traces of the terrible sufferings he had been through. He became excited at the reception given to the Anzacs in the city and was taken to the Military Hospital at Randwick. He was operated on twice, the trouble being fluid on the lungs. He did not recover from the second operation but quietly passed away. The body was brought to Uralla by train.
The Mayor ran the Town Flag to half mast in the presence of a representative gathering. The Mayor said; `It is our sad duty to run this flag to half mast again in honour of one who has given his life for his country. This is always a sad duty, and doubly sad on this occasion because it is such a short time since we welcomed this boy home. Pte. Nixon came back to us and we had hoped that there would be many happy days in store for him and his family, as well as for the other brave boys who are returning, since they have all showed their willingness to shed their blood for this flag and our country. We trust that God will comfort and sustain the relatives in their dark hour of need.'
In the afternoon the stores closed for a time in order that all might attend the funeral. A short service was held in St. Joseph's Church and at the conclusion Mrs. W.L. Elliott played the Dead March as the people passed out. The funeral was one of the largest ever seen in the town. On about 70 occasions since the flag was run to half-mast to the memory of the late Lieut.-Col. Braund, the public have gathered at the Hill St. Corner to pay a last tribute of respect to the memory of the men who gave their lives for the Empire. This however, was the first occasion that a returned soldier has been laid to rest here, and the public turned out en masse to show respect to the memory of the brave boy, whose life had been cut short by the deadly poison gas. The funeral was led by a number of returned soldiers under the direction of ex-Corporal J. Grattan, then the cadets, followed by the band. Then came the guncarriage, an improvised lorry, bearing the coffin with two returned soldiers at the front and two at the back. On the way to the new cemetary the band rendered the Dead
March. The service at the graveside was conducted by the Rev. Father McGrath, the funeral arrangements being in the capable hands of Mr. J.P. Henry, jr. The firing party consisted of returned soldiers and the Last Post was sounded by Sergt. E. Pearson (an Anzac).
Private Walter Nixon, who was at the Military Hospital, Randwick, when his brother passed away, speaks in the highest terms of appreciation of the attention given by the doctors, the nurses and the Red Cross. Eight of the best surgeons were in attendance and the nursing sisters never left him alone for a minute. Everything that the patient asked for was obtained and given to him, provided it was allowed by the medical men. As an instance of the promptness of the Red Cross, an electric fan was phoned for in order to keep the patient cool. Inside half an hour it was installed in the hospital ward. Mr. Nixon is deeply impressed with the unremitting skill, care and attention shown to his brother and is satisfied that no body of men or women could have done more than was done.
Walter Gabriel Nixon died during the first week of October, 1958, about the same time as his cousin, Justin Ignatius O'Connor, late of Walcha. Both men were Diggers from World War I.
Margaret Mary O'Connor was only 15 years of age when she married John Patrick Henry at Uralla on 5 Jan. 1871. Margaret was the oldest of the family of John O'Connor and Mary Murphy and was well used to helping her mother in the home and with the younger children. Margaret and John's first son, whom they named John Patrick like his father, was born just four days before Christmas, 1871, when Margaret's youngest brother, Moses, was only three years old. Margaret and her mother helped each other with their families, Mary O'Connor being always ready to teach her grandchildren and to listen to their childish stories, the same as she had done with her own family.
Margaret and John reared a family of twelve, eight sons and four daughters, each of whom took their place in the civic life of the town and district. John, the eldest, followed his uncles as a member of the Uralla Municipal Council, and served as Mayor in 1907. It was John Henry who set up, in 1918, and operated the machinery that supplied Uralla with electric light and power for many years. He also carried on a sawmill, a building business and undertakers service established by his uncle, J. F: O'Connor.
One of Margaret and John's daughters, Maude, trained as a midwife and established a nursing home in Uralla where she assisted many of the young mothers of the district.
A Letter written by Margaret Henry.
Uralla. 31 Oct 1899
My Dear Minnie,
Just a few lines to let you know that we all feel sorry for you in your loss I wish I could have gone up to you but we could not get d buggy or sulky: Or I would have let Lucie go, for I could not go as the children have bad colds. It is so hard to borrow a buggy and I have not got the money to go any other way, but Dear Minnie I feel for you for I know how good you were to your Mother and fond of each other, but it is a debt we all have to pay and, Dear Min I know your Mother has been well prepared to meet her Maker, or I would think so, for poor woman she has suffered a long time and it must be a good thing to think that God has had pity on her and relieved her suffering. I would have written to you sooner but I thought your Mother was getting better, Lord have mercy on her soul.
When you get reconciled to your loss we would like you to come down and stay with us for a time. Dear Minnie, I must now draw to a close, I do not know what I can say to help you, but be a brave girl and bear up for Mo's sake and your dear little ones, and try and cheer your poor old Father.
So with love to you all l remain your ever loving sister
Word reached Uralla at 6.30 p.m. on Friday of the death at Cessnock of James Edward Henry, second son of Mr. and Mrs. J.P. Henry, sen. of this town. He was a native of Uralla and leaves a wife and nine children, six of them very small, but fortunately, they are well provided for. The late Mr. Henry was at one time in business at Bundarra as a builder and contractor, but went into the picture show business at Cessnock and had a good connection.
"The Uralla Times". Thursday, 26 June, 1922
One by one the pioneers of the district are being gathered in to their Eternal rest, the last to pass over to the Silent Majority being Mrs. J.P. Henry senr. The deceased lady, who was before marriage, Miss Margaret O'Connor, was born on the Rocky in 1855, whither her parents were attracted in the early days of the gold field. Probably no family in the district is better known and respected than the O'Connor's, as apart from being pioneer settlers, they have reared well respected families and are numbered amongst our best citizens. They have always taken a keen interest in anything for the advancement of the town and district and displayed an intelligent interest in public affairs. Over fifty years ago the marriage was celebrated to Mr. J.P. Henry and of the union there are six sons and four daughters living. The sons are: John P. (Uralla), William (Armidale), Alfred and Edwin (Sydney), Frederick (Newcastle), and Roy (Uralla). The daughters are Mrs. Whitten (Duri), Mrs. J. Ryan (Gostwyck Road), Mrs. Lloyd (Tamworth), and Nurse Henry (Uralla). James, Raymond and Margaret predeceased their mother. Of the O'Connor family Patrick (Mobbinbri), John (Inverell), Moses (Armidale), Mrs. Wall (Ben Lomond), and Mrs. Nixon of this town are still in the flesh. All of these except Mrs. Nixon, who first saw the light of day in the Tenterfield district, were born on the Rocky River. Since marriage Mr. and Mrs. Henry have lived in the district, except for a break of five months at Inverell. Mr. Henry, who is still going strong and looks back on about seventy-three years, followed agricultural pursuits in this district and was also a carrier on the road in the days before the railway came to Uralla. The end came peacefully at 2.30 on Sunday, death being due to a hemorrhage of the brain. The lady took ill last week and all the family were sent for and were able to reach the bedside for her final hours on earth. The interment took place yesterday afternoon, the last sad rites at the graveside being read by Rev. Father McGrath. The funeral arrangements being in the hands of Mr. C.G. Cooper.
William King continued the carrying business and agency at North Road, Preston, Lancashire, in the north-west of England, begun by his father, James King. On 26 October 1845 he married Jane Elliot of Friargate, Preston, and moved to Blackburn where they raised a family of six children. Kenneth born 26 November 1854, William Henry 22 February 1857, Eugenie 29 May 1859, Walter 25 August 1861, Fanny 24 April 1864, and Caroline 28 January 1866.
Walter became a builder and painter but by 1886, though only 25 years of age, he had become so affected by lead poisoning, a form of T.B. common to painters of that time, that he decided to migrate to Australia, hoping that the clear air and warm sunshine would help him. He was living at Nithsdale Street, near Hyde Park, Sydney, when he met Hanora Kennedy. She was a member of the choir that sang in St. Mary's Cathedral and also at the Sacred Heart Church in Darlinghurst. She lived with her mother and sister at Paddington. They were married on 2 July 1891, and moved further out of the city, the first of the many moves which they made, always seeking better conditions and fresher air for Walter.
They were at Newtown when their second child, Walter James was born, 19 August 1893. Alice was then 18 months old. Margurita (known as Rita) was born 29 November 1894, and then the family had moved to Balmain before Cecil John was born 30 June 1898. Hanora moved the family again, taking them with her when she went to Randwick to nurse her own mother through her last illness. Mary Kennedy (Bourke) was only 53 years old when she died, 28 June 1899. Again Walter and Hanora moved house, this time going further from the dampness of the sea air to Smith Street in Summer Hill. But it was to be for only three months till Walter died 2 October 1899, only 38 years of age and having given thirteen years of his life and work to his adopted country.
Hanora was left alone to raise their family of four, the fruits of their hopes and prayers. She left Sydney, the scene of so much hardship and sorrow, and returned to Uralla, and the home of their mother's childhood. Her grandfather Daniel Bourke had died on 13 November 1893, her Uncle Patrick Bourke had died 11 June 1894 and now it was his wife Julia, with her mother Norah, and her sons, Tom, Dan, James and John who were managing the property and keeping the home going. Hanora and her children were welcomed into the home and lived there for four years. Hanora was able to take up her former work as a seamstress to help support her family. She used to spend some time with her very good friend L.ouisa Post who lived on Gostwyck. Perhaps she did some sewing for the women of Gostwyck. There she met James Carlon. They were married on 8 September 1903 and when Hanora moved to the new home he prepared for her it was the last time she had to move her family. They grew happily and well together with the new family that she bore with James, two daughters, and a son.
When the war started in 1914, Hanora's oldest son, Jim was just 21 years of age. He was patriotic, enthusiastic and eager to go with his mates so she did not deter him, but how it tore at their heart!!! She turned for comfort and strength to Our Lady, that other Mother who knows and understands the anguish of separation from a loving Son. The Rosary was the source of that trust that kept Hanora going. Throughout the cold, biting winter as in the heat of summer there was not a single evening that she did not "pray her beads" for Jim and for his companions. She prayed, too, for all the mothers like herself, and that included Sarah O'Connor, whose boys and their friends went so valiantly to defend their country and ours. Even during those long months of 1918 when Jim was "missing, presumed dead", Hanora did not join in such presumption. Perhaps her mother's instinct, perhaps the grace of God, kept her praying for his safe return. And return he did!! Even though it was months after the Armistice had been signed, months after many of the other boys had come back, but he came 26 June 1919.
Frances Margurita King was only four years old when her father died at their home at 15 Smith Street, Summer Hill, (near Ashfield) in Sydney. She had been born 29 November 1894, the third child of Walter King and Hanora Kennedy. She used to enjoy the walks with her father in the quiet of the evening, as she and her sister Alice would go out with him, each holding one of his hands. Perhaps they went to the nearby shop for the evening paper, or to set something for their mother. Sometimes it would be to the park that they would go and their father would push them gently on the swing. They did not realise how ill he was and that that was all the exercise he could take. Nor did she realise what it meant when he died and her mother sold up their home and took the two girls, together with their two brothers, Walter James was six years old and Cecil John was a baby fifteen months old. They went to Uralla, to "Uncle Pat's" home. The place was another "Summer Hill" and Uncle Pat had been their grandmother's brother; though he, too, had died. His wife and sons were there and welcomed Hanora and her four children. They spent some time with others of Hanora's relatives and friends. The children hardly understanding that they had returned to their mother's birthplace. Margurita, or Rita as she became known, started school at the Catholic School (St. Joseph's) in Uralla. When her mother married James Carlon the family moved to his home on Salisbury Plains and Rita attended the small school there.
Rita King was a popular member of the group of young people living and working in Uralla and her "Tea Rooms" was a favourite meeting place. In February 1924 she went to Sydney and entered the Little Company of Mary and made her final Profession of Vows there 30 September 1929. She was given the name Sister Benedicta and became a part of the Nursing Staff of Lewisham Hospital.
Sister Benedicta spent time as Superior at Calvary Hospital, Wagga Wagga, and also at Mount St. Margaret Hospital at Ryde. In 1956 she went as one of the foundation members and as Superior to the new hospital at Hawera, New Zealand. In 1963 Sister Benedicta was transferred to Christchurch, in the South Island of New Zealand, and appointed Provincial Superior of the New Zealand Province of the Blessed Sacrament, of the Little Company of Mary. On 9 April 1965, following the General Chapter of the Congregation, in Rome, Sister Benedicta was appointed Vicaress-General of the Little Company of Mary, which post she held until her return to Australia 11 January 1972. Sister Benedicta has been at the Convent at Lewisham until her death there on 7 November 1972.
Alice King married Roy McGarrigle in 1922 and they made their home at Maroubra, (Sydney), where their son Ronald was born 22 February 1923. Ronald was only fifteen years of age when his mother died, and he joined the Navy. He had spent only five years in the Navy when his ship was sunk on Christmas Day, 1943 and he was one of those who went down with it.
Mr. C.J. King
Cecil John ("Kingie") King died suddenly on November 29, at his home, 28 Copeland Street, East Lambton.
Aged 73, he was a popular resident of Kentucky South for many years, until he and his wife retired, about 11 years ago, to live in Newcastle.
He served in World War I at Gallipoli, and was one of the original soldier settlers at Kentucky South.
The last Mr. King's first wife (nee Ida Rixon), predeceased him by many years.
He is survived by his wife, Veronica (nee Ryan), and sisters and brother, Sister M. Frederick, of Kogarah, Winnie (Mrs. R. Carey, of Bondi), and Mr. Joseph Carlon (Salisbury Plains, Uralla).
A brother, Mr. Jim King, and sisters, Mrs. Alice McGarigal, and Sister M. Benedicta, predeceased him. Requiem Mass was said at St. John the Evangelist Church, Lambton, on Friday, after which interment was at the Catholic Cemetery, Sandgate.
Walter James (Jim) King was born at Newtown, (Sydney) on 19 August 1893, the elder son of Walter King and Hanora Kennedy. In early childhood he lived in various suburbs of Sydney as his mother moved the family from place to place seeking fresh air and comfort for her ailing husband. Perhaps it was when the family was living at Centennial Park that James could remember walking to school with a string on his slate slung around his neck. That would have been the year in which he celebrated his sixth birthday, it was also the year in which his grandmother died and then just three months later his father died 2 October 1899. Jim could remember his mother packing up all the family goods and travelling up to Uralla, to `Uncle Pat's place', though Uncle Pat had been dead five years, his wife, Aunt Julia welcomed the bereaved family. Then it was that Jim and his two sisters, Alice and Rita walked to the Convent School in Uralla.
Jim was ten years old when his mother married James Carlon and the family went to live at "Castlebrook", on Salisbury Plains. Some times ha. would stay with his mother's good friends, the Cahill family of Palace Hill. After leaving school, Jim was apprenticed to a tailor in Uralla, then he was working for Tom Elliott, a saddler when the first World War started. Jim enlisted on the 30 September 1914 and went into training with the 6th Light Horse. A note written about his departure on the S.S. Suevic makes interesting reading:
D. Troop, B. Squadron, 6th A.L.H.
On Board S.S. Suevic, at sea. 11 January 1915
My Dear Reader,
In the following pages I will write in the form of a diary, a few notes concerning my travels since we left camp at Holdsworthy. Since I came aboard I have not written anything relating to our trip because strict censorship is on all our letters. Well to start with on 19 December we received orders to pack our kits and load them onto the transports at 8 o'clock in the morning. Then all day we were let lay about, guessing at what time we should leave, when we were told at about S o'clock to saddle up and be ready to start at 6.30. in the excitement no one thought of having much tea, then at the sound of the bugle, about five hundred men were on the parade ground waiting for the order to mount. It being such a hot summer's day nature seemed to know our wants for without any warning a great black cloud burst overhead, and in five minutes we were standing in about afoot of water, at 7.30 we were mounted and ready for a long weary journey of 24 miles at a pace not to exceed 4 miles an hour. When you know the time it took us to get to the end you will wonder how we put in the time, nevertheless we got as far as Homebush at 10 o'clock in the morning, where we watered and fed our horses. After doing so we began to search for the pack horse that was carrying our midnight meal but without success and I can tell you our appetites were increasing rapidly by this time.
Unfortunately for us the note ends and there is nothing more written in the pad, however we know that the "Suevic" sailed from its berth at Woolloomooloo on 20 December, 1914, had an uneventful voyage and, after brief stays at Aden, Suez, Ismalia and Port Said finally reached Alexandria on 1 Feb. 1915, and the Regiment settled down to the task of completing its training near the edge of Cairo. May 15 they embarked from Alexandria on the "Lutzow" and on the morning of 18 May sailed past Cape Helles and on the afternoon of 19th reached Anzac Cove where they landed next morning. From 19 till the evening of 22 May the Regiment stood to in Shrapnel Gully. An 8 hour Armistice was arranged on 24 May to bury the dead. Late in June the Brigade took over the right flank of the Anzac position. The 5 Reg. occupied Chatham's Post, the 6 and 7 taking over successive sectors inland.
On 26 November the weather which had gradually grown colder, set in wet, with violent windstorms, culminating on the night of 28 with a heavy fall of snow, the thermometer showing 26 degrees of frost. Numbers were evacuated with frostbitten feet and the strength of the Reg. became so low that continuous night duty was unavoidable. For thirty-five consecutive nights one post was occupied by the same three observers.
For those who had, throughout 7 lurid months dwelt in an inferno of death and disease, the underlying sentiment was not for ourselves, but for the men who had fallen in a desperate and unsuccessful gamble, whom we seemed to be abandoning. But we knew, none the less, that the enterprise had failed. On the evening of 18 December the first large party embarked safely at Anzac Beach and the last few followed without incident at 2.30 the following morning. The string of rowing boats were rapidly loaded at the little jetty, a steam launch went ahead to the minesweeper awaiting us several miles from shore. We climbed aboard, shivering and conscious of the inevitable reaction, for our journey to Lemnos. Now that it was all over there were few who did not feel the unutterable relief.
We sailed on the `Beltana' for Alexandria, arriving there on Christmas morning. That Christmas compared well with one in the workhouse. The rations on board throughout had not been remarkable for either quantity or quality. Christmas dinner left more spaces unfilled than overloaded, and from 3 o'clock in the afternoon until 9 at night we sat on our kits on the upper deck and fasted - and prayed. Entraining towards midnight we reached Zeitoun in the small hours of the morning and, scorning sleep, spent the remainder of the night profitably in a steak and egg canteen.
The following day the Regiment marched out to Maadi and by nightfall the camp had been re-established. During our seven months absence the horses had been well cared for. Many re-allotments had to be made and by the opening of the New Year (1916) a period of training was in full swing, officers and men threw themselves vigorously into it. The result was the singular individual and corporate efficiency which characterised those Light Horse Regiments to whom fell the initial pioneering work in the Sinai Desert. By mid April training days were at an end and we entered into the desert campaign. At midday on 23 April 1916 we started on the long ride that began at Salhia,, on the Egyptian side of the Suez Canal, and ended two and a half years later, on the Tablelands of Moab, beyond the Jordan River. On the 7 May the 6 Regiment reached Oghritina and just outside the camp was the old stone well with its plentiful supply of good soft water. Life became one stunt after another and both men and horses were learning to live in the desert. No training can teach one to quench a raging thirst with brackish water or to endure long days through the burning sun and suffocating dust without water. Then in the winter the weather became cold and wet, rain fell on Christmas Day 1916 and while its quantity was not very great it was sufficient to make the hessian bivvies of the men very uncomfortable. The nights became intensely cold and sandstorms blew with hurricane force. We were still in the region of Oghritina, Katia and Romani.
By February 1917 we were resting at the beach near Mazar for a week then during March we came to the very strong Turkish post at Gaza. We camped at Belah on the east side of the Wadi Ghuzze, which was for some months our reliable water supply. On 26 March began the first attempt to take Gaza but it was not until after the second attempt on 19 April that it was finally cleared of the enemy. On 22 May the Regiment rode out to take part in the demolition of the enemy railway which ran from Beersheba through Asluj. By 2 November the Regiment moved north along the Beersheba-Hebron road, then advanced towards Jaffa where we were for Christmas 1917. The New Year, 1918, opened with showery weather and for most of January and February, it remained cold, wet and windy. On 9 March the first move was made towards Jericho and the Jordan Valley. March 17 the long ascent up the Judean Hills was completed by nightfall. The Regiment bivouacked outside the north-west corner of the walls of the old city. of Jerusalem. Parties in turn went to visit the historic places in the old city, then rather in an unsanitary condition, its occupation by our forces having not been sufficiently long to work the vast improvement noticeable a few months later.
On 22 May the Regiment began the long descent into the Jordan Valley. The River was reached at dawn one morning and crossed on a pontoon bridge and then, traversing the eastern plain of the Valley, there were the signs of the previous day's conflict when the enemy had been forced across the river by the New Zealand Brigade, the wounded and the dead still lying along the route. The enemy could be seen on ridges four miles to the south, they withdrew as we advanced and by 4 o'clock the ascent of the Moab Mountains had commenced. The ascent, during a night of rain and darkness, in single file by what were goat tracks, along sheer ascents, up steep grades made slippery by wet flagstones, was accomplished by daybreak, and without one serious accident; a striking proof of the claim that in no phase of the Sinai-Palestine Campaign, were Australian horsemen and their camel transports unable to take part. The rain, which had been falling intermittently during the night, set in steadily at daylight and continued to fall in torrents during most of the day. Icy winds chilled the. already soaked and weary men.
The route followed took the Regiment through Naaur and northward along the Es Salt Road, thence branching off this on a track leading to Amman. El Fuheis was reached by 7 o'clock where we bivouacked for the day. B squadron, working on the left flank moved a considerable distance towards Amman, the remainder of the Regiment made a direct attack on enemy sangars a little to the right of the village. Absence of artillery on our side placed the advancing force at a great disadvantage. The enemy held his main position around Amman and along the railway line to the north. On 28 -March, a day for ever historic in the 6 Regiment, a general attack took place. Steadily the advance continued until it reached the top of a high, bare hill overlooking a series of strong enemy sangars several hundred yards in front, B Squadron, 58 strong when it started, spread out along the top to the left. Realizing that an advance was little short of suicide, Lieut. Dickson passed a message down to the C.O. that advance was impossible and received the reply for a frontal attack, three times he sent a similar message until the final reply was to advance at all costs. So the advance was made and the cost to the Squadron proved staggering. Of the men who crossed the skyline only one, wounded in four places got back. The missing included Lieut. Ridgeway, Sergeants King, Burlace and Sharpe, Corporal Redman and 18 other ranks - in all 23. Jim King was able to tell of his ordeal when he did finally get home but for eleven long months he was kept a prisoner in Aleppo and for his family he was "missing, presumed dead". He had been wounded in the shoulder, on the side of his head and in the calf of his leg. Perhaps it was fortunate for these prisoners that the railway line had not been destroyed or they may have been killed, as it was they were thrown into a closed van on the train and taken to Aleppo where there was at least a Red Cross station at which their wounds were tended, but they could get no message either to friends, family or comrades. They did not know that the Armistice was signed 11 November 1918, or that the war was over when they were put in a train in early February 1919, and taken across to France where their guards simply left them on the train and returned to Turkey. French officials assisted the former prisoners to cross the Channel to England.
When Jim King arrived home from The War he found that his mother had invested his money in a bakery business in Uralla. His brother Jack and sister, Alice were running the business with the help of their good friend, May Ryan. His sister, Rita and her friend Mary Haren were conducting "tea rooms" next door. Jim was discharged from the Army on 23 September 1919, and took over the management of the bakery. He was not happy with town life and was longing to have a farm of his own. When some of the Gostwyck land on the eastern end of Salisbury Plains was offered for soldier's settlement he put his name on the ballot list and was successful in getting a block, so he sold the bakery to his mother's cousin, Arthur Donaghue.
On 15 September 1920, just a year after he had arrived home, Jim married Eva Kathleen O'Connor, daughter of Patrick Michael O'Connor and Sarah Elliott. Eva had been working in Curtis's clothing shop in Uralla, for some years and was a familiar and popular member of the younger people of Uralla, as also were Jim's sisters, Alice and Rita King, and Molly and Winnie Carlon.
Jim and Eva moved out onto their holding soon after their marriage and began establishing their home, which they named "Oghratina,' after the oasis in Palestine where Jim had many times found refuge and water. Jim selecting his stock and building sheds and fences, Eva became a keen gardener and was able to grow all the vegetables they required as well as having a good supply of flowers to take to decorate the church or to give to her friends when she went to town.
Their first child, Joan was born 26 June 1921, then a son, Bernard Walter in 1923, Cecilia in 1925, and all this time they would make the long trips, 15 miles; to town in the sulky and Eva would be hard put to keep the small children warm in the cold of winter. It was a great day when Jim bought a car and they could travel the distance in less than half the time, as -well as being sheltered from the weather.
The farm was prospering, their next sons were born, Oswald James in 1927 and Keith Joseph in 1929. Jim commenced building a new house for his growing family when the great depression struck the country. Wool prices fell drastically and he was no longer able to purchase building materials. He and the family survived by living on their own produce, thanks to Eva's expertise in the vegetable garden and with the help of the children. Also to having their own meat, milk and eggs produced on the farm.
Carma Margaret was born in 1932 and Gerard Anthony in 1934. By 1936 Jim was able to complete the new house and the family moved in. Eva, like her grandmother, Mary Murphy, was careful for her children's education and taught them herself with the help of Mr. Finigan's Blackfriars Correspondence School, since there was no school within reach of their home.
Jim kept his interest in the army by training with the Australian Light Horse Association and went into camp with these men from time to time. When the 2nd World War started he became an instructor in Civil Defence, and also saw his son, Bernard enlist in the army.
After the war Jim joined the Gostwyck Shire Council and served the local community until November 1947 and then when the Gostwyck Shire Council and the Uralla Municipal Council amalgamated he became the first President of the new Uralla Shire Council.
In 1949, when most of their children were grown and had left home, Jim handed over the working of "Oghratina" to Bernard and he and Eva moved in to Uralla, hoping for a less strenuous way of life, in the Stock and Station Agency which he took over from his long-time friend, Tom Heagney. Jim did not enjoy his different way of life for long, he died suddenly 28 July 1950. Eva returned to "Ohgratina" with Bernard, but when part of "Ohio" Station was offered for soldier's settlement and Bernard secured a block of land there, "Oghratina" was sold and Eva went with Bernard to make a home on the newly developed property which Bernard named "St. Joseph's". Eva died suddenly there 4 December 1958. It is interesting to note that "Oghratina's" name has been changed, it is now known as "Kings" and has recently been purchased by a member of the Nivison family, the owners of "Ohio".
LIFE AT THE LIGHT HORSE CAMP
War-time Song Recalled
How would some of you late risers like to turn out each morning at 5.45? That is what they are doing at the light horse camp at the showground this week. At 5.45 the Reveille is sounded - and there is no snuggling down into the pillow for that last minute doze!
The feelings of some of the men are well summed up in that well-known song:
"Oh, how I hate to get up in the morning!
Oh, how I long to remain in bed!"
There are a few more lines, equally expressive, about murdering the bugler, but we have forgotten them for the moment. Those war days are such a long way off. At any rate, the sum total of them is that the bugler is not a nice man, in fact (at 5.45 in the morning) a horrible man, and that he would far better be dead. Anyone at the Light Horse Camp will tell you that.
To Horse! To Horse!
Fifteen minutes to dress! Hauled out of bed, shivering, in the early dawn, the next thing is the wash basin. The water is bitterly cold, but it takes those last traces of sleep out of you. Then a cup of coffee, steaming hot, after which life begins to assume a more cosy hue.
At 6.15 all proceed to the stables and for a full hour grooming and feeding of horses are attended to.
It is a long time since so many horses have been seen in Armidale at any one time. The total number at the camp is 194. Needless to say, they require a good deal of attention.
A Moist Welcome
Drizzling rain did its best to damp the ardour of the light horsemen upon their arrival on Monday. Fortunately the tents had already been pitched and other arrangements made for the accommodation of the horses and men and conditions therefore were not nearly as bad as they might have been.
Altogether 205 officers and men are in camp and, in addition, eight civilians have been employed as cooks, batmen, etc. The regimental band comprising members of the Armidale City Band, will march into camp early on Friday morning.
Following are the regimental officers attending this years camp: Lt. Col. Johnstone, V.D. in command. Major Menzies (Glen Innes), Captain Salmon, D.C.M. M.M. (Inverell), Capt. Clark (Tenterfield), Capt. Rowland, M.C. (Tamworth), Lt. Dowe (Tenterfield), Lt. Scholes (Glencowe). Lt. Cunningham (Inverell). Lt. Johnstone (Armidale), Lt. Treloar (Tamworth), Lt. King (Uralla), Lt. Brennan (Emmaville), Lt. Westmacott (Yarrowyck), Lt. McRae Wood (Armidale), Captain Digny, A.A.M.C. (Tenterfield), Capt. Ferguson, A.A. V.C. (Tenterfield).
Other officers include the Brigade Major, Capt. C.W. Huxtable, C.S., Major O.V. Hoad, A.A. and Q.M.G., First Cavalry Division, Major A.H. Powell. D.S.O., Staff Capt., 2nd Cavalry Brigade, Capt. Monaghan, S.C., Adj. 12th Lt. Horse, Lt. Serisier, S.C., Adj. 16th Lt. Horse Regiment (West Maitland). On Saturday, the Divisional Commander (Brigadier General Macarthur-Onslow) will visit the camp.
THE URALLA TIMES
Thursday, August 3, 1950
Walter James King
The death occurred suddenly at his home at Uralla on Friday of Walter James King, a 57-year-old stock and station agent and former grazier.
Deceased was one of the district's best known and most respected residents. He was the son of the late W. King, and the late Mrs. J. Carrion, of Salisbury Plains.
He was one of the first to enlist for service in the Army in World War I and he had a remarkable war record. He was one of a party of Australians who were ambushed on Gallipoli and reported killed. It was not until the end of the war that his family learned that he had not been killed but seriously injured, and had been taken to Constantinople, and later to the Interior of Turkey, where he had been welltreated.
For many years Mr. King conducted a grazing property 17 miles east of Uralla. Only recently he put his son in charge and moved to Uralla where he took over the stock and station agency of the late Thomas Heagney.
The late Mr. King had been keenly interested in the affairs of Southern New England P. and A. Association, and he had been chief steward at Uralla show for many years. He had also served for a time as shire councillor.
When the Uralla Bowling Club was formed he took keen interest in that sport.
The late Mr. King was a prominent member of the Catholic community at Uralla and an active member of the Catholic Holy Name Society and the Australian Holy Catholic Guild.
He is survived by three daughters and four sons. They are Mesdames Houlahan (Moree), Calma (Salisbury Plains) and Sister Rita (Armidale Convent) and Oswald, Bernard, Keith and Tony (Uralla).
Surviving sister and brother are Mother Bendicta (Sydney) and Jack (Kentucky South).
Deceased is also survived by two step-sisters and a stepbrother, Mother Fredericka (Wagga) and Mrs. R. Carey (Bondi) and Joseph Carlon (Salisbury Plains).
The funeral at Uralla on Saturday was one of the largest seen in the town. Members of the A.H.C.G. were pallbearers. Rev. Father B. O'Brien officiated at St. Joseph's Church and at the graveside. T. Crowley and Son had charge of the arrangements.
"The Uralla Times",
August 24, 1950.
TRIBUTE TO LATE WALTER JAMES KING.
Sir- What a pity so many good things about a life are left unsaid until they decease. What inspiration and cheer such remarks would give in life if they had then been passed on. It seems our life is not truly appraised until after death and in many cases, years after.
I would crave space in the columns of the Times to place on record this well merited tribute from one who knew Mr. W.J. King from boyhood.
The recent passing of James King of "Oghratina", Salisbury Plains, Uralla, has removed from us one of our finest citizens, who took an active interest in all worthwhile matters in our town and district. He was a man of very high prinicples - one whose word was always his bond, and the slave of honour in all his dealings.
By his exemplary character he won the esteem and respect of all who knew him, and the confidence of all who had dealings with him. Quiet and unassuming in manner, he was a man of devout faith, and one who had made his guiding principle of life in dealing with his fellow man, to be straight, upright and true.
Cut off in the prime of life, this community is the poorer for the passing of one of his calibre. A splendid trail has been blazed for his boys to follow in and a memory of all that is good and best in life - unselfishness, love and kindness - has been bequeathed to his loved ones, and to our town and district is left the impress of a man who was too fine to stoop to anything mean or unworthy; who always placed duty first and did what he conceived to be right irrespective of consequences.
THE WALCHA NEWS
DECEMBER 11, 1958
SUDDEN DEATH OF MRS. E.K. KING
The death occurred suddenly at the home of her son, Mr. Bernie King, of St. Joseph's, Walcha of Mrs. Eva Kathleen King on Thursday last.
Mrs. King, who was 60 years of age a native of Uralla and a daughter of the late Patrick and Sarah O'Connor. She had lived at Uralla all her life until making her home with her soldier settler son, Mr. B.W. King, at "St. Joseph's," about five and a half years ago.
Her husband pre-deceased her nine years ago.
Mrs. King was a woman of a very happy disposition and made many friends in Walcha.
She took an active part in three womens' auxiliaries - the Red Cross, CWA and Hospital in Walcha and was also in those same three auxiliaries whilst she was in Uralla.
She is survived by a family of four sons and three daughters.
The sons are Messrs. Bernard King (St. Joseph's, Walcha), Oswald (Kentucky), Keith (Wollun), and Tony (Gravesend). The daughters are Mrs. Joan Holahan (Gravesend), Cecilia (Sister Rita of the Ursuline Convent, Toowoomba), Nursing Sister Carma King, (of St. Margaret's Hospital, Darlinghurst.)
Three brothers and one sister also survive in Messrs. Milo O'Connor (Injune), Desmond O'Connor (Dungowan), Brendon "Tom" O'Connor, a relieving postmaster, and Mrs. Cruse (Uralla).
A brother, Mr. Justin O'Connor predeceased her just two months ago.
The high esteem in which Mrs. King was held was exemplified by the large funeral on Saturday afternoon. Burial took place in the Catholic cemetery, following a service in St. Patrick's Church with the Rev. Father J.B. McKeon officiating at the church service and at the graveside.
Piddington's had charge of the funeral arrangements.
Michael Ernest O'Connor, born 8 October 1872 was the fourth child of John Connor and Jane Curtis. There were five more children born after Michael so he grew up in the midst of a large family, but was barely twelve years old when his father died of pneumonia. With his two younger brothers he helped his mother to support their five sisters. Little Anastasia had lived only a few months and died early in 1881, but the youngest, Florence Kate, was only one year old when they lost their father on 8 July 1884.
Michael was nearly 18 when his sister Eliza (Elizabeth) drowned in the flooded Gwyder River on the eve of her wedding.
He was 36 years of age when, on 10 March 1909 he married Katherine Fennelly (Campbell), in St. Mary's Cathedral, Armidale. Katherine was a widow with four children, Mary, Jim, Bill, Katherine (Kit), Kit is the only one still living (1984) Michael and Katherine had two children, Frederick Fenlay O'Connor born 7 August 1909, and Marie Veronica born 7 February 1911.
Michael, Katherine and family moved down to the Millfield area near Cessnock, where Michael was employed for thirty years at the Maitland Main Colliery at Greta Main, not far from Millfield, as the bell-boss. Mick built a house at Millfield where he and Katherine reared their family. He retired, probably about 1940 but was still a familiar figure in the area for many years. Restoring old furniture was one of his hobbies and he liked walking and would take his grandchildren on long walks into the hills around Millfield. He would often bring back native plants and shrubs to plant in the grounds of Crawfordville School, which he tended. His grandson Pat, tells the story of helping grandfather to bring home a big cedar log out of which he made a beautiful stool with lovely cambriole legs. Pat and his wife still have the stool in their home at Maitland.
About 1953 Mick and Katherine moved to Redhead to live with their daughter Kit. Katherine died there 11 August 1954. Pat's last recollection of Mick was in about 1956 when he arrived in Walgett where Pat and his wife Inez, and their family were living at the time. Mick, then about 83 years of age, was armed with a Geiger counter and was all set to go prospecting for uranium!! Pat put him back on the train to return to Kit at Redhead.
Many stories exist in the family of Mick's earlier days, and of how he "carried his swag" with Henry Lawson: though this has not been confirmed. We do have a book of Mick's which contains some of his own poetry, quite cleverly written.
FREDERICK FENLAY O'CONNOR
Frederick was the first child born to Mick and Katherine O'Connor. Born at Armidale 7 August 1909, his sister, Marie Veronica was also born there on the 7 February 1911 before the family moved to Cessnock where their father found employment at the collieries. Fred probably attended the Crawfordville School and then became a coal miner, a common occupation for people living in the Cessnock area. He married Essie Malina Sutton at Stockton on 1 September 1928. Their first child, Patrick Fennelly O'Connor was born at Cessnock on 22 March 1929, then followed Darrell Frederick in 1931, Wesley Stanislaus in 1935, and Ernest Edwin in 1941.
Fred was a very keen motorcyclist and, reputably, one of the founders of dish-track racing in Australia. The first track was at Maitland. Fred's love of motorbikes led to an unfortunate accident when, in 1931 he was on his way to Newcastle with a mate, Fred came off his bike at the old railway level crossing at Hexham. Fred was seriously injured and his left leg was amputated at the hip. Fred was in St. Vincent's Hospital in Sydney for some time and received three blood transfusions from his sister, Veronica, a rare occurrence in those days.
Veronica is reported to have prayed to God for Fred's recovery with the promise that if God allowed Fred to live, she would join the convent as a nun. Fred did recover and Veronica kept her side of the agreement by becomine Sister Marie Veronica.
Apparently the doctors said that Fred would never be able to wear an artificial leg as his stump was too short, but Fred's determination overcame that problem and the people of Millfield - Paxton took up a collection to buy his first wooden leg. Pat recalls taking a ferry to Sydney from Newcastle, to visit his father. The ferry docked at Pier 1 !!
When Fred returned to Millfield after his convalescence he took up cobbling. The money he earned supported his family and helped him in his correspondence course in Automotive Engineering. Fred then began working on, and repairing cars. He also built a house at Millfield and a shed where he could do his mechanical work.
While working as a mechanic at home Fred did a course in welding at Cessnock Technical College. During the depression Fred worked as a timekeeper for the Government relief work. His son Pat would have to take his father's reports and hand them to the bus driver on Monday mornings before going to school.
Fred and Essie moved their family to Mayfield when Fred got a job welding at Stewart & Lloyds in Mayfield about 1938. Fred used to ride a Lambrella motor scooter to work. Early in the War Fred joined the Royal Australian Electrical, Mechanical and Engineering Corps, R.A.E.M.E. Corps. He was probably one of the few men admitted to the Army with only one leg. He rose to the rank of Corporal Instructor and gained distinctions for his skill in welding. He was discharged from the Army about the beginning of 1944 and was employed at the State Dockyard in Newcastle.
Essie died in Newcastle on 17 September 1962 after which Fred spent most of his time in Allandale and Lidcombe Hospitals. He died at Lidcombe on 12 January 1983.
Patrick Fennelly O'Connor was born at Cessnock on 22 March 1929 and spent his early childhood in the coal mining area. He loved the long and pleasant walks with his grandfather among the hills above Millfield, where they would learn all sorts of interesting things about plants, some of which they would bring home for grandfather to plant in the school garden; about trees and they would bring home some pieces to be made into furniture; about birds which are so beautiful and plentiful in the quiet forests, or about many other things of which grandfather was so knowledgeable and wise.
Patrick was about ten years old when the family moved to Marrickville where he completed his primary school education. Then they moved to Mayfield and Patrick attended Newcastle Technical High School and then worked for a time in the steel works.
On 24 June 1950, Patrick married Inez Dawson at Adamstown. Inez is the daughter of John Cook Dawson and Margaret Estel Scott both of Newcastle District. Pat and Inez had a son John born in Newcastle 15 April 1952. Patrick was with the C.M.F. (Commonwealth Military Force) at this time but soon left it and joined the St. John Ambulance Brigade. As an Ambulance driver he and his family moved to Narrabri and then to Walgett. Two more children were born to them in Walgett, Peter on 26 July 1955 and a daughter Kerry on 7 February 1957. Kerry was born just after her great grandfather, Mick O'Connor, at 83 years of age, arrived in Walgett with his Geiger counter, looking for uranium! Patrick helped him to get back onto the train and return to his daughter Kit, at Redhead (near Newcastle).
THE STAFF (Railway and Tramway News)
September 22, 1930.
When, in the March issue, `The Staff' announced Mrs. Jane Clarke's retirement, it was stated that her service - thirty-two years - probably constituted a record for female employees. The claim was disputed in last month's issue by a correspondent on behalf of Mrs. M.A. Stewart, of Belford, whose services will total thirty-three years at the end of this year. This month Mrs. E.M. Atkins, writing of her mother, Mrs. Ellen Wall, says that lady entered the service in July, 1888, and had charge of the gates until they were closed in 1926, a period of employment of thirty-eight and a half years. "Even now," concludes Mrs. Atkins, "mother is interested in all concerning the railways. She reads `The Staff' every month from cover to cover, and can still do so without the aid of glasses."
Mrs. E.C. Wall. Died 3 January 1942.
The death occurred in the Glen Innes District Hospital on Saturday morning last of Mrs. E.C. Wall of Ben Lomond, at the age of 81 years. Mrs. Wall, who was a daughter of the late Mr. and Mrs. O'Connor, of Uralla, was born at the Rocky River where she lived until she married the late John Wall, 62 years ago. John Wall was working on the construction of the railway line when he met Ellen, and he continued in that work for many years. The line had not
yet reached Uralla when John and Ellen were married and they made their home in Uralla until the line was beyond Armidale, then they moved to Ben Lomond where the work on the line took the men a long time, particularly making the long, deep `blue cutting' and then the long build up of the valley beyond. It was while the men were working in this area that Ellen and her children settled in to the cottage near the `Blue Cutting' and Ellen accepted responsibility for the railway gates where the road crossed the line at this point. That was in 1888 and Mrs. Wall has lived there ever since.
The deceased lady was of a quiet, peaceful disposition and was always ready to do a kindly deed or help anyone in trouble. She was loved and respected by all and will be greatly missed. She was devoted to her church, which she attended on New Year's morning and it was when she was returning home from the Mass that she collapsed and was brought in to hospital where she was devotedly cared for by the matron, sisters and nursing staff, and the doctor. The Right Rev. Monsignor Tobin watched her spiritual welfare until she passed away on Saturday Morning. Her husband predeceased her by forty years. Her daughter, Kathleen spent the last nine years devotedly attending her mother.
The late Mrs. Wall is survived by four sons and seven daughters. The sons are Messrs. William (Queensland), John (Ben Lomond), Edwin (Queensland) and Fred (Ben Lomond). The daughters are Mrs. Alf Thomson (Queens-land), Mrs. Alf Dawson (Glen Innes), Mrs. Taylor (Queensland), Mrs. Sway (Wee Waa), Mrs. J. Parrington (Narrabri), Mrs. M. Moloney (Sydney), Mrs. Tutton (Ben Lomond). One son, Joseph, was killed in the 1914-18 war. Mr. M. O'Connor of Armidale is the only surviving brother. There are 19 grandchildren and 17 great-grandchildren. The funeral took place to the Catholic Cemetery at the church at Ben Lomond. Father O'Brien of Guyra, reading the .at service. R.T. Lightfoot and Co. had charge of the funeral arrangements.
Death of Private J. Wall. - Mrs. Wall of Ben Lomond has received a cable from the Defence Department, stating that her son, Joseph had been killed in action in France, between the 22nd and 27th July. The deceased soldier who was 25 years of age, was a fine type of young Australian, and by his amiable disposition and upright and manly principles, had won the esteem of all with whom he became associated. He was particularly highly respected in the Ben Lomond district and much sympathy is felt for his widowed mother, Mrs. Ellen Wall, and his brothers and sisters, in the loss they have sustained. Deceased was a good horseman and rifle shot, and was a prominent member of the Ben Lomond Rifle Club. He enlisted a little over twelve months ago with the 4th Battalion and first went into action at Gallipoli and then was transferred to France, where he met his untimely death.
`They died that we might live.'
Joe Wall. Son of "Wood" and brother of "Weasel", of Ben Lomond, NSW.
A letter was received by Fred Wall some time after the news of his brother's death had saddened the family. It was written from France, 17/6/1916.
Dear Freddie, Just a few lines hoping they find you well as this leaves me. We are having splendid weather over here. I suppose you are getting plenty of cold weather there now. This is all this time. Remember me to Mother and all at home. I remain Yours truly, Joe.'
A quiet wedding took place at St. Cyprian's Church, Narrabri, recently, when Veronica Marie, eldest daughter of Mr. and Mrs. A. Dawson, of Glen Innes was married to Thomas Thwaites, eldest son of Mr. and Mrs. T. Cherry, of Narrabri. The bride, who was given away by Mr. J.H. Clarke, was gowned in an ankle length frock of white georgette and lace. Her veil of cut tulle was held in place with a wreath of orange blossoms and silver ribbon. Mrs. D. Stewart of Quirindi, attended the bride as matron-of-honour. Mr. W. McLean was best man. The reception was held at the home of Mrs. J.H. Clarke.
On Saturday afternoon, 30 May, the marriage was solemnised at St. Mary's Cathedral, Warwick, by Father Michael, of Allan, second son of Mr. and Mrs. Alf Thomson, O'Mara Estate, Stanthorpe, and Marjorie, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. W. Popp, Inglewood.
The bride, who was given away by her father, was frocked in white satin and wearing an embroidered veil, cap fashion. The bride was attended by her sister wearing green georgette and Miss Lovell (Toowoomba) in pink georgette. Mr. Hedley Clifford was best man and Mr. Popp, brother of the bride was groomsman. After the ceremony a reception was held at the home of the bride's aunt, Mrs. Sutherland. After the honeymoon the young couple will reside at Warwick.
Ellen Marie Parrington. Died 28 June 1981
A Requiem Mass at Our Lady Queen of Peace, Kemps Creek, preceded the funeral of the late Ellen Marie Parrington, who died recently at Ann's Private Hospital, Meadowbank. (Sydney).
Mrs Parrington, aged 88 years, was the daughter of the late Ellen and John Wall of Ben Lomond and a granddaughter of Mary and John O'Connor late of Uralla, who were among the first pioneers of that area. Mrs Parrington lived in Narrabri West most of her married life. She was a dedicated Church woman who worked hard for the Church and was devoted to the Rosary and the Mass. She was a Carmelite Tertiary and was buried in the Carmelite Habit. Her husband predeceased her by 30 years. He having died at Narrabri 2 February, 1952. She will be greatly missed by Joseph (Joe) of Eastwood and John at Taree, and by a daughter, Georgina Mrs. D. Rosewarn of Panania; five grandchildren and seven great grandchildren, all of whom she loved greatly. Her only surviving brother and sister are Fred Wall of Guyra and Mrs. Kath Tutton of Brisbane.