Friday, 2 November 2012

Y is for .... Yarram

I am a little late with my Y contribution for the Family History Through the Alphabet Challenge issued by Alona of Gould's  

I was going to write about my husband's ancestors the Young family but I haven't done a lot of research on them yet and I have been enthralled lately with my current project about a family connection, I have only just found, to Yarram in South Gippsland, Victoria. 

This connection is still quite confusing and may take a bit of unraveling yet.  

A brief rundown so far:-

My great great grandmother was Margaret "Alice" Kelly.
One of her brother's, John Kelly, brought their two younger brothers to Alice in Melbourne just before her wedding to John Morgan in 1858.

I knew John went to Gippsland as he married Mary Ann Francis at Tarraville in 1869.  Tarraville, Yarram and Alberton are all close by one another.

In searching Trove I found quite a few references to a John Kelly but there may well have been more than one living in the area.  
Yet to be sorted.

There was a John Kelly who was a tanner at Nightingale's tannery at Tarraville in 1874.
My John Kelly was a currier (tanner) when he died at Yackandandah in 1905.  
There was a John Kelly who became insolvent at Tarraville in 1878.  Reasons given were lack of employment, death of a son, illness of wife. 
There was a big "to-do" over a Dr. Eccles in several articles, one being in the Gippsland Times in December 1869 where John Kelly's wife may have lost a son soon after childbirth. There is a birth registration for a John Kelly born to John Kelly and Mary Ann Francis in 1869 at Alberton which is near Tarraville.

Mary Ann Francis' mother was Mary Kilroy.  After the death of her first husband, Thomas Francis, Mary Kilroy married a Fenton Lawler.
They had three children, Michael, Elizabeth and Catherine.  Catherine married Edward Slavin in 1887.

I sent a query to the rootsweb Gippsland mailing list and learned that there is a book called  "Clonmel to Federation: a Guide to People in the Port Albert area 1841-1901". compiled by Gwen O'Callaghan at the Gippsland Regional Maritime Museum which contains quite a bit more about the Francis and Lawler families.  I have yet to get access to the book but Gwen did give me a couple of snippets and one little piece of information which grabbed my attention immediately.  Elizabeth Lawler was a much loved nurse who delivered thousands of babies at Yarram for many years.  She was known as Bessie.

A few months ago I received copies of a batch of photos from descendants of John Kelly's nephew, Alexander Morgan, who went to New Zealand.  
One of these photos was of two young ladies.  
Written on the base of the photo was "Miss Bessie and Miss Kate" but none of the descendants knew who they were.
I believe they could well be Elizabeth and Catherine Lawler.

One of the witnesses at the marriage of John Kelly's niece, my great grandmother Mary Morgan, in 1887 was a miss Lawler but the first name isn't very legible. I don't know yet if she is of the same Lawler family.  Bessie Lawler was known to be in Melbourne doing her nursing training around 1889.

I'm still searching, sorting and wondering but perhaps one day I will find enough confirming detail that all these pieces will fit together.

 My family history through the alphabet list


  1. Oh, it's SO exciting when you're "on the hunt", eh Kerryn? :-) Great sleuthing, thanks for sharing and am looking forward to seeing how this progresses. Best of the best, Catherine

    1. thanks once again Catherine. I have made progress!! will write about it soon.

  2. Thanks Catherine, yes I just love it when clues start to fit but I am also a bit afraid of "jumping to the wrong conclusions" :)

  3. Yikes! Please don't talk about being late with this challenge, I'm only up to W. Great post and good luck finding those last pieces :)

    1. and good luck to you too Fi..... you'll get there :)

  4. I know Yarram, Alberton, Tarraville and Port Albert very well. We spent most weekends and school holidays in the area. I remember as a child walking to the Tarraville shop to buy a drink and bag of lollies (the shop no longer exists). I have pictures of the old Tarraville church, which still remains standing today, if you are interested.
    Good luck with your research.

  5. Wow thanks Sharon. I have never been there but it is now definitely on my "to visit" list which is growing huge. I'd love pictures thanks for that very kind offer. I have more to add to the Yarram story hopefully will get to it soon.

  6. Piece by piece, it all comes together, and it is SOOOOO exciting when it does. All the best with your comtinued search ;-)

  7. Ah, thanks Kerryn for the link to this page in your reply. Wasn't sure if you'd checked for burials in the Alberton Cemetery for the death of a Kelly child to see if anything showed for a potential child death in 1869. No headstones are showing on the headstone register so I checked the burial register for Alberton Cem and there are only 2 Kelly's showing. One is number 17 in the register and is for an Edwin Duncan Kelly, buried 21st April 1863, aged 11m and 15 days, late of Port Albert. He is buried in C of E, allotment 33, section 1 in a private grave.

    The other is number 164 in the register and simply has the name Kelly with no other name recorded. This person was buried on the 22nd April 1872, late of Melbourne. Buried in C of E, allotment 33, section 1. Can't quite make out if it's a public or private grave but it kinda looks like it's private.

    So maybe that 1869 baby survived? Pre 1861 or 1863 (the exact year escapes me right now) families were burying their own dead in the cemetery and no official records were kept. But by 1869 records were definitely being kept. I also remember speaking to an old resident many years ago who was told that headstones were supposedly somewhere near the Tarraville Church, close to the river but they disappeared well over 100 or more years ago. We could never find anything to back this up, only vague ancient recollections of people long passed by now. But it's something I've always kept in mind. I was also told that there were stories of midwives who took away stillborn babies and buried them in the garden at (possibly) Dr Hedley's house. Dr Hedley arrived in the area in the early 1850's. Pretty hard to trace infant deaths when things like that were happening. Good intentions I'm sure but makes it hard for the modern day genealogist!

    Anyway you probably have the Alberton Cem details but just in case! Also there are 4 Kelly's in the Yarram Cemetery - John James (d. 1934), Mary Ann (d.1947), Patrick (d. 1934) and another Patrick (d. 1956). Let me know if you don't have this info and would like further details.

    You know, I'm completely side-tracked from what I was even google searching over an hour ago. Hah, gotta love a good mystery. :) Maybe I should get an account so I don't have to keep posting as anonymous. lol

  8. Sorry, that Patrick that I said died 1934, should actually say 1961.

  9. Thanks "Anonymous" :) I didn't have any cemetery details. My Kelly family were Roman Catholic. John Kelly and Mary Ann Francis married at the Roman Catholic Church in Tarraville in 1869. I wonder if that is still there. I haven't yet found any death registration for John Kelly jnr. The family were living in North Melbourne by 1888 as Mary Ann nee Francis died there in August and very sadly their daughter also died there in December of 1888. I will write about that next. I did find a John Kelly, Tanner and beamsman of Wurruk Wurruk declared insolvency in 1878 (Trove newspapers) but Wurruk would be a different area?

  10. Yep, different area, in today's mode Wurruk is just a bit over an hour's drive from Tarravile by car. Wurruk is about 5 minutes out of Sale on the road that heads to Rosedale (Princes Highway). Basically when you leave Sale and cross the Thompson River, you're in Wurruk. Just a heads up incase the guy at Wurruk is yours but you also come across anything to do with Sale - Wurruk and Sale addresses interchange so if you find someone popping back and forth between the two, it won't necessarily mean they have moved.

    Re Tarraville: the only Church left there now is the C of E (called Christ Church)- which also has the distinction of being the very first Church built in Gippsland. Not sure of the exact location of the Roman Catholic Church site, but it was called St Patrick's (which I'm guessing you prob know) and it was auctioned off in the early 1940's and the building removed.

  11. Actually, I just looked up a booklet I have here at home. The Catholic Church at Tarraville was located on the bank of the Tarra River. If you happen to find a map of Tarraville, as you come down Tannery Road into Tarraville and cross the bridge (at this point Tannery Road becomes Bridge Street), the Catholic Church was on the immediate left. Tyers Street is directly opposite. I'm thinking now that there is a plaque there on the side of the road, whether it's for the Church or not, I'm not sure.

  12. Gosh, you're probably sick of me by now.. but just thought I should have also made mention that the RC at Tarraville, St Patrick's was also known as St Michael's. If you search on Trove, there's a small snippet about the auction in the Gippsland Times, dated 26th July 1943.

    1. Oh wow, not at all sick of you. What a wealth of knowledge you have about the area. Thanks so much for answering so many of my questions. You're a gem!