Lest we forget

Jasper Jens Iverson

Jasper Jens Iverson (1889-1917)

Jasper Jens Iverson
(1889-1917)

Son of: Mary (nee McLean, formerly Mulcahy) and Jens Iverson

Brother of: John Roscoe (Jack) Mulcahy, Hugh McLean Mulcahy, Donald Mulcahy, David Matthew Mulcahy, Ellen Iverson, Donald Iverson, Finlay Iverson, Mary (Pollie) Iverson, Kenneth Ross Iverson, Alfred Iverson

Service Number: 2715A

Rank: Private

Unit: 9th Australian Infantry Battalion

Service: Australian Army

Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Date of death: 04 October 1917

Place of death: Belgium

Cause of death: Died of wounds

Age at death: 28

Place of association: Urbenville, Australia

Cemetery or memorial details: Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres, Flanders, Belgium

Source: AWM145 Roll of Honour cards, 1914-1918 War, Army

 

Donald Joseph Maloney (1890-1917)

Donald Joseph Maloney
(1890-1917)

Donald Joseph Maloney

Son of: Ann (nee McLean) and Edward Maloney

Brother of: Edward Matthew Maloney, David Ross Maloney, Charlotte Catherine Maloney

Service Number: 419

Rank: Private

Unit: 42nd Australian Infantry Battalion

Service: Australian Army

Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Date of death: 31 July 1917

Place of death: Belgium

Cause of death: Killed in action

Place of association: Woodenbong, Australia

Cemetery or memorial details: Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres, Flanders, Belgium

Source: AWM145 Roll of Honour cards, 1914-1918 War, Army

 

Finlay Urquhart

Jasper Iverson's  great-niece places a poppy next to his name on the Roll of Honour, Australian War Memorial, Canberra.

Jasper Iverson’s great-great-niece places a poppy next to his name on the Roll of Honour, Australian War Memorial, Canberra.

Son of: Margaret (nee McLean) and Hugh Urquhart

Brother of: Catherine Anne Marion Urquhart, Alexander William Urquhart, Hugh Kenneth Urquhart, Margaret Louisa (Lulu) Urquhart, Thomas Malcolm Urquhart, Bertha Urquhart, Isabella Ross Urquhart, Caroline (Carrie) Urquhart

Service Number: 2423

Rank: Private

Unit: 15th Australian Infantry Battalion

Service: Australian Army

Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Date of death: 11 April 1917

Place of death: France

Age at death: 31

Place of association: Mummulgum, Australia

Cemetery or memorial details: Villers-Bretonneux Memorial, Villers-Bretonneux, Picardie, France

Source: AWM145 Roll of Honour cards, 1914-1918 War, Army

 

Reuben Smith

Reuben Smith  (1891-1917)

Reuben Smith
(1891-1917)

Son of: Eliza Jane (nee Merchant) and George Smith

Brother of: George Smith, Samuel Smith, Mary Ann Smith, Rose Hannah Smith, James Smith, Hannah Louisa Smith, Matilda (Tilly) Smith, Emma Eliza Smith, Edward George Smith, Ellen Smith, Phyllis Phoebe Smith, Henrietta Smith, Agnes Smith

Service Number: 4540

Rank: Lance Corporal

Unit: 25th Australian Infantry Battalion

Service: Australian Army

Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Date of death: 03 February 1917

Place of death: France

Cause of death: Killed in action

Age at death: 24

Place of association: Pretty Gully, Australia

Cemetery or memorial details: Martinpuich British Cemetery, Picardie, France

Source: AWM145 Roll of Honour cards, 1914-1918 War, Army

 

Photos below:

By Markus3 (Marc ROUSSEL) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

By Johan Bakker (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Menin Gate Memorial

Menin Gate Memorial

Villers-Brettoneux Australian Memorial

Villers-Brettoneux Australian Memorial

Encounter with a bushranger

“What’s that gun up there for?” asked the pleasant stranger who had knocked at Tilly Merchant’s door, asking for water.  He looked up at the rifle which hung on the wall above his head.

Tilly Merchant (or more liekly her daughter of the same name)

Tilly Merchant (or more likely her daughter of the same name)

While many of us would find it a bit odd for a stranger to knock at the door and ask for a glass of water, it wasn’t so unusual in outback Australia in the 1860s.  People rode long distances and often needed a rest along the way and food and water for themselves and their horse.

Tilly glanced over his head at the firearm.

“Oh, that’s in case Thunderbolt comes”, she replied.

“Well,” said the man, “I’m Thunderbolt.  What are you going to do since I’m standing between you and the gun?”

Tilly must have been terrified but the gentleman bushranger assured her that he meant her no harm and soon went on his way.

Or so the family story goes.

Not his best look - a photo taken of Frederick Ward (Captain Thunderbolt) after his death in 1870.

Not his best look – a photo taken of Frederick Ward (Captain Thunderbolt) after his death in 1870.

Frederick Ward (1835-1870), aka Captain Thunderbolt, was a bushranger who roamed New South Wales in the 1860s.  He had originally been sentenced to prison for horse stealing, later escaped the Cockatoo Island prison and remained at large in the New England area for several years.  The authorities were searching for him but he seemed to gain the sympathy of many of the people he came across.  He was known as the “gentleman bushranger” because he was rarely violent in his encounters with people he was robbing.  There are reports that he would sometimes attend race meetings and the like but was not “dobbed in” to the police because the ordinary folk protected him.

If the story of Tilly is accurate, however, there was still some fear of him in the community.

Is the story of Tilly accurate?

The timing and the location are right.  Matilda Elisabeth Merchant (nee Neale) arrived in Australia with her husband in 1855 in pursuit of gold and she lived most of her life in the New England area.  Her husband James died in 1865 and she remarried in 1869 to William Collins.

But, what makes me just a little bit sceptical is the number of articles and stories about how people encountered Thunderbolt.  Stories from others just seem a bit too similar to Tilly’s story to be coincidence.

For example, from an article originally published in the Armidale Telegraph:

It was a peculiarity of Thunderbolt’s that he could never rob any one with whom he first entered into conversation; his nature would not permit him; hence his custom was to ride up to a person he intended to rob, and without another word simply demand his money. He pretended never to have known what fear was, and instanced this by telling a story of some gentleman in New England who had made a boast that he would shoot him the first time he met him. A short time after Thunderbolt met the boaster, and saw that he was armed. Boldly riding up to him, the bushranger asked his name, and he told him. He intimated that he knew who he was, adding, “I am Thunderbolt.” The gentleman, he said trembled, and fumbled for his revolver, observing which he cried out “Up with your arms, or I’ll blow your brains out. You were to shoot me; now is my time.” He then took from him his gold watch and a revolver, the gentleman expecting, as a matter of course, to be shot. Thunderbolt, however, assured him of his safety, and rode many miles along with him on his way.

And this one about Aunt Laura (partial transcript below):

 

Thunderbolt 3

 

 

My Aunt Laura was not unduly alarmed at the sight of the handsome stranger who flourished his cabbage-tree hat and asked politely “May I have a glass of water?” Aunt Laura fetched him a glass.  As he drank he remarked casually “You are alone I presume” “Yes” she answered guilelessly. The gallant stranger than blew a whistle, and two very rough “men” appeared from nowhere.

No doubt many people encountered Thunderbolt but I’m not convinced that Tilly was one of them.

Gold is running in my veins

The mists rose slowly out of the valleys, as first the Clarence, and then its tributary, the Timbarra or Rocky River, were discovered by the cedar-getters and squatters.  While the squatters were still busy establishing their empires, the magic cry of “Gold, gold!”, echoed down the valleys, and almost overnight the scene changed.  Mining camps and townships sprang up on lonely parts of the runs, and roads became alive with hopeful diggers.  This is the scene of our story. (Wilkinson, 1980)

"On the Timbarra" by Tom Roberts from the NSW Art Gallery

“On the Timbarra” by Tom Roberts from the NSW Art Gallery

My mother was born in northern New South Wales.  The various branches of her family tree met there because the country began to open up for timber-getting, farming and grazing in the 1830s as settlement gradually spread away from the areas first settled by the British around what is now Sydney.  Then in 1857 gold was discovered at Boonoo Boonoo (pronounced Bunna Bunnoo by the locals) and in 1858 at Timbarra, in 1859 at Tooloom and Pretty Gully.  The early history of the area is covered in Isabel Wilkinson’s brilliantly detailed but sadly unindexed book, “Forgotten Country” published in 1980.  More recently (2009) Brett Stubbs has published “The Gold Digger’s Arms.  Pubs of the Upper Clarence River district, New South Wales”, a useful and interesting read about (unsurprisingly) pubs, their owners and lessees and their local area history.

Payne ancestors

Mum’s Payne ancestors were convicts who received land grants in the Hunter region once they had served their sentences.

"Big" John Payne (1843-1910)

“Big” John Payne (1843-1910)

John Payne and his wife, Mary Ann Sophia (nee Merrick) left the Hunter around 1870 and worked their way through New South Wales with children born in Inverell in 1871, Tingha in 1874, Pallamallawa in 1876 and 1878, Bininguy in 1880 and Narrabri in 1884.

Mary Ann Sophia died in Narrabri in 1885.  Their oldest son, John Edward (Jack) was settled in the Upper Clarence by the time of his marriage in 1889.  Gold was still being discovered and in fact there was a new boom in the early 1890s.  The Paynes capitalised on this boom by opening the Tooloom Hotel in 1894.

Tooloom Hotel

Tooloom Hotel, 1910 or earlier

“It was said that ‘neither money nor brains have been spared’ in the building of the hotel there; ‘a building quite fit for [Tenterfield] stands up quite grandly over the Tooloom River, and the hospitality to be found there is indiputable’.” (Stubbs, 2009, p.27)

Wherever the Payne family was living in 1889, it was obviously not the spacious establishment of the Tooloom Hotel for the story goes that when “Big” John Payne (so called because he weighed 23 stone) married for the second time in September 1889 and brought his new bride home, his son and daughter-in-law, married only two months themselves, were required to vacate the only double bed in the house.

Smith and Merchant ancestors

There are some mysteries surrounding George Smith but he was born in Buckinghamshire and arrived in Australia in 1857, maybe in the wake of the gold rush. He married Eliza Jane Merchant whose family switched from laying railways in England to digging for gold on the other side of the world.  Their daughter, Mary Ann (Annie), married Jack Payne.

McLean and Mulcahy ancestors

Donald McLean and his wife Ann Matheson arrived in Australia in 1837.  The highland clearances and economic changes in Scotland had impacted their families on Skye and in Inverness and the newly married couple joined the wave of immigration to Australia, America and Canada.  Their daughter, Mary, married John Mulcahy the son of Irish immigrants who had also travelled north from the Hunter region.  Farming opportunities and gold brought these families to the north of the colony.

The branches meet

The Tooloom gold diggings was the place where in 1893 a 17-year-old Hugh Mulcahy (son of John Mulcahy and Mary McLean) heard the news that Jack Payne’s wife, Annie (nee Smith), had given birth to a daughter.  No doubt he congratulated the proud father but can’t have known that he would one day marry that daughter. The 35-year-old Hugh married the 18-year-old Ettie in 1911, and they were my grandparents.

Hugh and Ettie (Payne) Mulcahy and family, 1949

Hugh and Ettie (Payne) Mulcahy and family, 1949