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 transcribed 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".

1 comment:

  1. Those are great photos you've found! A lovely post.