Saturday, 4 July 2015

52 Ancestors - week 27 - Independent

The American declaration of Independence took place on the 4th of July in 1776.  

As I have no direct ancestors that I know of in America I've decided to write about an ancestor who was born in that year.

According to the 1841 census my 4th great grandmother, Agnes CUNNINGHAM, was born in 1776 at Largo, Fife, Scotland.   I don't know who her parents were.

She married Andrew MASON on the 15th of May 1795 at Kemback, Fife.
Andrew and Agnes MASON had 14 children born at Largo, Fife over the next 23 years, including 3 sets of twins.

  1. John Berwick - 4 Feb 1798
  2. Andrew - 16 April 1800
  3. Euphemia - 9 July 1802
  4. David - 27 June 1804
  5. Jean - 29 Oct 1806
  6. Thomas - 31 July 1808
  7. Grizal (Grace) - 27 July 1810
  8. Andrew - 30 June 1812
  9. Peter Webster - 17 Sept 1814 d 1 March 1892 Bendigo, Vic. (my ggg grandfather)
  10. Robert - 17 Sept 1814
  11. Archibald Goodsir - 8 July 1816
  12. Janet Goodsir - 8 July 1816
  13. Anstruther - 30 Dec 1818
  14. James Durham - 30 Dec 1818
Agnes (CUNNINGHAM) MASON died at Largo on the 11th of June 1854 aged 78 which I think is an amazing acheivement for that time, after so many children and three lots of twins to boot! 
Her husband Andrew had predeceased her by thirteen years.

52 Ancestors Challenge 
  by Amy Johnson Crow at 
"No Story Too Small"

Monday, 29 June 2015

52 Ancestors Week 26 - Halfway is Robert FORSYTH

I decided that my halfway subject would be whoever was born halfway between my earliest confirmed direct ancestor (1748) and myself (1958).

This turned out to be my great great grandfather, Robert FORSYTH who was born in 1852 at New Aberdour in Aberdeenshire, Scotland.

Robert's parents were Robert FORSYTH and Helen nee THOMSON.  The FORSYTH men were meal millers in Aberdeenshire for many generations.  
In fact back to my earliest confirmed ancestor, Robert's great grandfather James FORSYTH who was born in 1748 and perhaps even earlier generations.

In 1871 Robert FORSYTH was a meal miller at the Mill of Aberdour along with his father Robert FORSYTH senior.

Remains of the Mill of Aberdour.  Mill wall date says 1791.
On the 8th of February 1873, young Robert married Jessie FARQUHAR at the Manse of Aberdour.

Manse of Aberdour

Robert and Jessie then decided to emigrate to New Zealand.  Along with their first born son, Alexander Farquhar FORSYTH (1873-1943), they sailed on the ship Crusader to Littleton harbour in 1874.

Robert and Jessie went on to have another nine children born in New Zealand.

  1. Robert (1876-1967)
  2. Margaret Ann Hay (1877-1929) my great grandmother.
  3. John (1879-1973)
  4. George (1882-1882)
  5. Ellen "Nell" (1883-1967)
  6. Jessie "Nette" (1886-1967)
  7. William James (1888-1971)
  8. James "Jimmy"(1890-1966)
  9. Jane "Jean" (1893-1981)

Robert wrote a letter home to his mother in September 1896.

My Dear Mother,
I now write you this few lines to let you know that we are all well at present hopping (sic) that this will find you all the same.  You will remember the Simpsons that lived near the Cranbog there is one of them come to live on our Island.  She is housekeeper for a man about 2 miles from us. She has been calling on us twice.  Maggie is her name she came out here about 12 years ago to keep house for her brother but we have never seen her till she came up here.  I hope Helen is getting on all right you was to write and let us know how she was but we never had any word so I suppose she is all right.  

I forget if I ever told you that there was another Aberdour man here Alex Mitchel a son of old Cork Mitchels the soutar.  He is a grocer to trade but is worse for drinking than the old man was.  I don't know what he is doing now I have not seen him for the last 7 or 8 years.  You was asking how Willie Dickie was doing Him and his wife have been separated for years.  She lives in Kaipoi (sic) and goes out washing and he goes about the country working and drinks all the money he makes.  Sandy Dickie is married and has a place about 40 miles from here.  He is fairly steady.  

We had a grand harvest here this year The best for years and very good prices but there was a lot of people that lived near the hills had there grain nearly all shaken out with the wind.  All round we can't complain.  We have had a very wet winter here more rain than there has been for the last ten years.  Last year we had plenty of snow but no rain.  

How is John always getting on with his farm.  I have never written to him yet but will have to make a start sometime.  Tell him he might write sometime he would be able to give us more news than we could give him.    How is George and his wife getting on.  

She has got a bad leg or something hasn't she. But I think he ought able to give you a little help when they have no family but just themselves two to keep.  

I ought to have written long before this time but it is better late than never.  We have been very busy for a good bit we have been having additions made to the house 2 new rooms ...?... that takes time & money to pay.   Must thankyou very much for sending the Peoples Journal.  No more at present but I herewith enclose you a post office order for two pounds.  Write soon with love to all.  We remain your loving son & Daughter

R . J  Forsyth

Robert FORSYTH died on the 20th of July 1897 and is  buried at Kaiapoi cemetery, Canterbury.


52 Ancestors Challenge 
  by Amy Johnson Crow at 
"No Story Too Small"

Friday, 19 June 2015

52 Ancestors Week 25 - The Old Homestead

There isn't any "Old Homestead" in my family that I know of.  
The closest place I could think of was the Hotel owned by my paternal Irish great-great grandparents, John MORGAN and Alice nee KELLY.
Old Photo of the Cross Keys Hotel, Firebrace Street (now Pascoe Vale Road)
North Essendon.

This photo is in the Coburg Historical Society Collection
North Essendon was formerly known as Hawstead and was in the Parish of Doutta Galla, County of Bourke.
The details of original ownership are a bit confusing, but basically it seems that John Morgan purchased the block of land from Crown Grantee, William Jones, on the 10th of October 1859 for ₤81.
Then John Morgan apparently sold the land to a John Calvert on May 29th 1860 and it was later conveyed to William Bergin in 1862.  John Morgan was first recorded as licensee in 1871 so I'm not sure what, if any, buildings were on the land before that.  Perhaps a house? Nor have I found out when the Morgan family bought back the land.

Finding Folio and volume numbers for the original land titles is proving elusive.  None are listed on the Wills of the Morgan family even though the Hotel was left to surviving family members.  Still searching.

A descendant of William Bergin has told me that the Bergins lived next door to the Cross Keys Hotel for 40 years and her great grandmother, Catherine Bergin married a James Power and they lived in a house on the corner, where the car park is today, until around 1907.
The surnames Bergin and Power crop up in the families history with a Nicholas Bergin (son of William) witnessing Michael Kelly's Will in 1898 and a Fred Power witnessed John Morgan's Will which was written in 1879. 

On a visit to the existing Cross Keys Hotel in Essendon in about 2005, I was told by the then owner that they thought the old Hotel actually stood on the opposite corner where the Strathmore railway station is now.
I didn't think this was the case though because when I checked the old map on the website of the State Library Victoria it shows the name Jones on the same section of land as the Hotel currently stands.

I have since been told it was not the Cross Keys Hotel on the opposite corner but another hotel.

"The owner of the Cross Keys was right about an old hotel being across Pascoe Vale Road from the Cross Keys but wrong about assuming that it was the original Cross Keys. It was on the site of Melfort Avenue,the block at Hawstead granted to John Haslett. Ellen Haslitt, National Hotel, Moonee Ponds. Granted. 
(P.6, Argus, 16-4-1856.)
Sam Merrifield's Annals of Essendon had an entry circa 1888 about a fellow called Robinson who apparently had just bought the hotel and was advertising some sort of race (bike?) to promote his hotel which he must have renamed as the Melfort.  
Title: Township and suburban allotments at Essendon & Hawstead in the Parish of Doutta Galla, County of Bourke [cartographic material] / lithographed at the Public Lands Office, Melbourne ; Oct 8th 1858 T. Ham, Lith.

Below is a wonderful description of the area from an article in the Australasian newspaper in 1898
  • JOHN MORGAN would have been about 40 years old when he first held the license for the Hotel in 1871
  • After John's death in 1880, his wife, MARGARET (ALICE) KELLY who was known as Alice, held the license until her death in 1904.  In 1880 she would have been around 46 years old.
  • The license then passed to her son JOHN FELIX MORGAN then aged 34. John tragically drowned in a water tank at the hotel in 1907.
  • The Hotel then passed to his wife MARGARET MORGAN NEE O'MEARA.  Margaret was licensee in 1917 when she was prosecuted for opening the Hotel door in prohibited hours. Margaret died in 1937.

A transcription of an article in the Argus newspaper on 5th Feb 1929 states that the Hotel was to be demolished.  
The actual newspaper copy is quite hard to read so I have trancribed it below.
"An old landmark, the Cross Keys Hotel at North Essendon, has been demolished.  This hotel was the first built North of Melbourne and was owned by the Morgan family for more than 70 years.  It stood on the old Sydney road, which was one of the busiest roads in the days of the gold fever.The diggers passing to and from the gold fields spent their money freely and buckets were used as tills and safes. There being no local banking facilities in those days, great difficulties were experienced in finding any safe place in which to keep the cash until the gold escort came to transfer it to the bank in town. Bushrangers threatened to raid the hotel but it was known that John Morgan was well armed and a straight shot and no raid was ever made. Today the Cross Keys is the property of the Misses Raynor who have had a modern residential hotel erected on the site of the historic old Inn".