Irish Ancestral Heritage

Past stories of my Éire families

Monday, 16 April 2018

Why I blog!

So, I'm now officially overwhelmed (and yes...infatuated) with a Maternal historical connection to the Founding Father's of America.
It has now completely changed how I see history, in particular with - how it's been taught today.

The story and its never ending continuance, revolves around that fella again - Sir Edward Newenham.
He is,  here, there and everywhere. Everytime I research something out of the way, he somehow always seems to come into the fray at some point. I cannot escape him and his dealings with history.

Lets get one thing right from the start and I'll be blunt - in Sir Ed's earlier days, I'll admit, he was a champion of the people of Ireland. Though as time went on - around the early to mid 1780's, Sir Edward got a bit more centered on protecting his Protestant social standing / beliefs and had much different opinions with the Catholic community.
As time went on, he became more into debt, distanced himself from his direct family and by 1800 ended up in debtors prison in the infamous Kilmainham Gaol (A prison he had dealings with the building of). Understanding that, along with Irish Politics and his patriotic drive with the Irish Volunteers, you get quite a mixture of drama. As I said, I'll be blunt.
The hardest thing for me to understand, was his views against Catholics and their rights in Ireland, during the late 1700's and very early 1800's. This was a turning point, in my thinking of how history was written and how it played out.

So, with this history and learning of his life, coupled with the history of his eldest male child and heir - Edward Worth Newenham, I've seen quite the 2 sides to how history played out for this Father and Son. Some good, some bad.

Many references to Sir Edward, in these recent times, are mainly based on his communication with the Found Father's of America. That is, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams and John Jay. There are many others involved in this story - including Lafayette, but I'll keep to the these 4 men.

Among many websites using Newenham as a historical point of reference, 2 website blogs recently wrote about Sir Edward's story on "communication with Washington".

Edward Lengel's Blog on Sir Edward and Washington's communications.

Robert O'Byrne documents on the Newenham Family of Coolmore - Co. Cork and Sir Edward

Now, on a recent part of my research, one letter by John Adams - dated in March 1780, has totally blown my mind.
I believe it is the first known document by any of these 4 men, to reference Sir Edward Newenham.
It wasn't addressed to Sir Edward, but rather the President of the Congress at that time - Samuel Huntington.
At the time he wrote this letter, John Adams was in Paris, France with Benjamin Franklin. If you know part of John Adams's story, this is the period where John was in discussions of a Peace Treaty with England. And just a few months before his discussions of a "loan" from the Netherlands.

This letter shared some very strong and deep thoughts on how history could have played out.
In particular with, the Volunteers and their will power to overcome a dominant force.
It depicts, Adams learning of a scene in Dublin, Ireland in what I think is Feb 1780. He does not tell the year, but if it' is 1780, he writes this letter about 4-6 weeks after the event.
He writes that this event could have ended, just like the Boston Massacre. I suppose, it's maybe almost his own lament, on what the resultant could have been and what he learned from the "Boston Massacre" episode. The irony of writing this letter, basically marks the 10 year anniversary of the massacre in Boston. This would explain why, Adams was so animated on his letter back to the Congress.

He describes "3 bodies of Irish Volunteers" in Dublin City, that they were marching along Barrack Street (after their review), where these Volunteers met with the Royal Guards, coming from the opposite way. Adams, names one of these commanding "Volunteers" as Sir Edward Newenham.

The Guards and the Volunteers, entered a standoff between who "owned" the pavement - defining on who had right of way to march - without any deviation and who had to give way.
Both parties said that they had "right of way" and weren't giving in.
Both sides had firearms and were affixed with bayonets. The commanders or captains, went into a discussion with the Royal Guards. As this was happening, the Volunteers went into "prepare for battle" mode. They were at the ready and very much prepared for a standoff and what may have ensued. They also armed themselves with stones. With this determination on board, the Royal Guards stood down (because they didn't want a "scene of blood" - very smart choice) and allowed the Volunteers to proceed with out any deviation.
Adams remarked that owing to America's experience with the Boston Massacre, the Dublin Volunteers showed some "great confidence in their strength", to put themselves up for a fight that could have ended, just like it had in Boston.

I don't know how Adams got this information, but he was in France at the time of writing this letter.  Was the knowledge of this event strictly from verbal sources and Adams was the first one to document it? Either way, this event struck a huge chord with how Adams deconstructed the event and filed it in the "More Blood Split in Ireland" history" folder.

As far as I am concerned, if this had of gone just like the Boston Massacre and "Blood was split - on Barrack Street", would the history be noted as the "Volunteers gallantly defending Ireland's Freedom / Liberty". Or would no-one batter an eyelid?

It isn't known if Sir Edward's eldest son - Edward Worth Newenham was there as well.
This son, was also a Captain of the Dublin Liberty Volunteers. If he was there on this day, he would have been approx 17 years of age. But I think Edward Worth was either in, France or Switzerland at this time (school studies).

This letter of John Adams to Congress, can be found here at the "John Adams Papers" :
John Adams Letter about the stoush with the Volunteers & Royal Guards

The New Annual Register: Or General Repository of
History, Politics, Literature 1780 (Pg. 27) 
As a 2nd source to this story, this image paints the picture.

On a 2nd note, my wife has connection to West Point (being Born there), her relatives worked just a few hundred metres away (Water Street) from George Washington's Newburgh Headquarters. Also, there maybe a suspected family connection (by marriage) to a tavern near Blooming Grove, owned by a George Galloway, where George Washington stayed at.

Why I blog!

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by Brett Fitzgerald Monday, April 16, 2018 No comments

Monday, 12 March 2018

Bards - Lady Gregory & the ANZAC (Initial Writeup 12-03-18)

Well, I am at a point in my research that has taken me to, far deeper levels of my ancestry than I had expected. A connection to 2 relatives, that have given me a "library of information", much more than anyone could've given me at school or even at an academic level.

This is an initial post with very basic details - but gives an insight to where research has taken me.
It is again, another interesting family story that crosses between my Paternal & Maternal lineages, that go between Ireland and Australia.

The whole concept of this blog post, is to touch on these 2 people's lives, showing a complete "juxtaposition" of each other during the exact same time. Each person's story carries pure passion and patriotism but also carries the issue "which side are you on". I cannot emphasize enough, the importance of these 2 people, into understanding ones allegiance to ones country and how sometimes the real meaning of "patriotism" can lead you astray.

I cannot emphasize enough, if ever you are researching the WW1 era with an Australian perspective, you must research the Easter Rising, Dr Daniel Mannix (Archbishop of Melbourne) and the Australian / Irish Catholic perspective on the conscription/plebiscite debacle.
These items are absolutely essential, to understanding the motives of people's "agenda's" and explains how the Easter Rising, dramatically affected Australia, both politically and personally, 1/2 a world away. Anything to do with the above history, is always provocative, depending on your viewpoint.

  • Lady Gregory - Maternal 2nd Cousin - tells us a lot of WW1, The Easter Rising and how history has been told about her son - Major Robert Gregory, with how he served and died in WW1. Robert's legacy is immortalised in the W.B Yeats poem "An Irish Airman Forsees His Death". Her poem's and plays are very deep in culture. Born in Galway, under a Protestant upbringing, she changed her Anglo-Irish ways and went into a nationalist mode, the Easter Rising period is essential reading. In 1892, her husband - Sir William Gregory died and I believe this is the point where she found herself in books and cultured into the native Irish ways, including her way of expressing the English language in Gaelic form, by usage of "Kiltartanese". This form of nationalised culture (maybe coined as Romantic Nationalism), extended into the Easter Rising period.
  • Paternal Great Great Uncle - James Sebastian Sheehan, an Australian born Catholic, tells us a lot during the initial phase of the WW1 Gallipoli campaign, from an Australian perspective. He served in the 1st Australian - Light Horse Brigade Train as a driver, but then went on to other areas. It is hard to define what other jobs he did (Camel Corps come up), but in numerous newspaper articles, that he is mentioned in, shows he was right in the middle of the battle zone. He laments about a young boy, who died in his arms on the battleground and how he heard the boy asking about the welfare of his mother, just before he passed. James came back to Australia, affected by shell shock. He put his hand up for being a "recruiter" and soon became acquainted with the British Born - Australian Prime Minister - Billy Hughes. It was then, we see a change in James, for what I can interpret, it's almost as if he was being groomed as a Politician, with supporting the Empire. He became quite the writer of poems, recitals and some were performed in a choir like voice. His pen use, was "mightier than the sword". One of his poem's, was based on "The Blind Poet" - Thomas Skeyhill

This insight and complete "juxtaposition", to these 2 Bard relatives, is unparalleled.
More later!

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by Brett Fitzgerald Monday, March 12, 2018 No comments
Mystery of the Marysville Pitman's -Newenham Pitman

(Not written yet - just a placeholder)
Hoping to write this in a few weeks.
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by Brett Fitzgerald Monday, March 12, 2018 No comments

Sunday, 28 January 2018

Mystery of the Marysville Pitman's - Gwendoline's Tragic end (Updated 22-03-18)


LOG CABIN - Marysville, Victoria

It's been a while since I posted another story. I've been working quite a bit since the middle of last year, which has taken its toll to my research time and thoughts. I have been writing this post since I think November. There was a lot of detail to Gwen's story, which I had to write down and come back to it later. And just this past few days, I've had to re-edit this story (again), because I had just received an email, with the details of the inquest into Gwen's tragic end. Thanks again to the Marysville Historical society, who helped me out with Gwen's story.

Since learning of Gwen's Sister - Olive's untimely death, I found more details to the siblings lives, that shares such a similar sad ending. From a research point of view, it's hard to not feel for this family, because they all could have lived a lot longer.

As from the previous post on Olive's disappearance, Gwen took over the reigns of the Kooringa Guesthouse in Marysville. Around the same time, Newenham (brother) had been running a Metal Manufacturing company (Minerva Metal Products) in Melbourne City.
The published change of "Hostess" at Kooringa, following the disappearance of Olive, was quite slow. Olive's name, had still continued to be published as the "Hostess" of Kooringa, even to well after she had disappeared.  Maybe they were waiting for official confirmation of her death? Though that never happened until many years after her original disappearance, a court case was held in 1929, declaring her dead.

Gwen was single (from what I know of) and ran the Log Cabin across the road from her Sister's Guesthouse "Kooringa". The Log Cabin was her residence and was also listed as a Business, selling Trinkets or the like and had also catered for Photographer's needs as well.
I haven't been able to establish, if the Log Cabin was owned by Gwen or just a place of residence, as by Inquest details, it could be that her business partner owned the cabin and the "trading business".
So Gwen, may have been just residing there as a home/storekeeper, but not as an owner.
By various news articles, both Olive and Gwen shared some sort of mental health issues, where I believe, contributed to their untimely deaths. Reporters of the news, must of felt that it was also of a contributing factor to note about it. It also took it's toll on Newenham as well, or atleast played a part on him. It is one of the reasons, why I have documented these Pitman's, to find out if there was any Family medical history that I needed to know about.

On a side note, just to add a bit more drama to the mix, the only sibling to be unscathed by such a tragedy, was sister - Rosalind Stringer (nee Pitman). Well, so I thought. I was so hoping Rosalind escaped this family tragedy. But there was one twist to Rosalind's story. She lived to be in her early 70's and mental affliction was not the case here, but she was involved in a car accident that killed an elderly man - no fault of her own. Just unfortunate, that Rosalinda was driving along the road as you do and a man walked on to the road. He wasn't watching where he was going and stumbled into the path of her car.

Various news articles suggest that Gwen also was a bit of a "folklorist" and was into old stories of mythology, which also hints to an ancestral Irish family link.
The family was connected to the Persse family of Co. Galway, via their Mother Caroline and by both Caroline's Parents - Henry Hood & Annie Persse Newenham.
This connection leads to a close cousin relative, who also had a similar story of mythology and folklore. This cousin was the Co-Founder of the Abbey Theatre in Dublin - Isabella Augusta Persse (Lady Gregory).
I am pretty certain, that Lady Gregory's stories and her eventful life, was known by this family and I believe that her eventful life transpired into the minds of this Pitman family. In particularly from events both here in Australia and Ireland during the 1916 Uprising.

Notice the similarities between Gwen and her Maternal 2nd Cousin (1x removed) Lady Gregory -

I don't have much details of Gwen's life - outside of what is written about her eventful death. Her death is where the details come from and discusses her family ties both here in Australia (Melbourne, Blairgowrie, Marysville and Geelong) and Ireland (relates to the Persse / Newenham lineages and their related families of Galway, Cork & Dublin)

So we come to the part of, Gwen's tragic death. There are several news articles about her death. The details of this tragedy, went nationally - in an almost same fashion of her Sister's disappearance (Olive). I think the newspapers seen that this was quite an eccentric story, as it was very mysterious and difficult to explain.

27th Nov 1931- The Argus

          26th November 1931

The basic story of her death, is that she was found outside of the Log Cabin, in her garden about 20 metres (or another report of 100 yards?) from the Log Cabin and in a very badly burnt state from fire. The reporter assumed that she was using the stove, but the inquest findings were quite different.
20th Dec 1931 - The Sun

I will list the details of the inquest, rather than some of the news reports, as the reporter's slightly misinterpreted the findings. In the recent few days, I found an article, which is probably is the best "reported" interpretation  of the inquest, which I'll show here.
The inquest findings, did change my thoughts on what actually happened, from previous details.
So obtaining the inquest, took many questions out of the equation.

By the findings of the inquest :
  • Gwen suffered from a lot of mental stress (maybe today's version of "anxiety")
  • Gwen had been handed, some of her Brother's estate, just prior to her death
  • A family heirloom was handed to her, just prior to her death - a George Washington letter - addressed to Gwen's 3rd Great Grandfather - Sir Edward Newenham
  • Her business partner of the Log Cabin - Peter from Melbourne, visited her the day before her death and the day of her death. Peter noted on the day before her death, that Gwen was in "normal appearance and good health"
  • News reports had published that a person had left Gwen's residence in a hurry, on the night before her death. They assumed that "dinner for 2 was set at the table" and placed a scene where someone else was involved, maybe of romantic nature. The person that was there on the night, was her business partner, Peter (as noted by him at the inquest). No mention of an romantic interlude, but it was just purely on business terms.
    (The inquest dilutes some sensationalised news reports that their may have been a romantic interlude or tiff of sorts)
  • Peter arrived back in Marysville on the morning of the 26th November and noted that Gwen wasn't there. He assumed that she was out, possibly taking photos and maybe back in a short while. He put the stove on and made 2 cups of tea. He realised she was nowhere to be seen and odd that she wasn't around.
  •  Peter went out and started to look for her, he went and visited a neighbour and noticed that no-one had seen her.
  • Peter then went to the Police and reported her missing, where a search was undertaken.
  • Police Constable found Gwen about "100 yards" from the house, on a bank of a creek. He noticed that she had been badly burnt from the waist upwards 
  • Gwen was found alive but very badly burnt. She was taken to the house and then off to hospital
  • Gwen was asked a few times, on what had happened - she did mention "Petrol" and that "it was the only way out". It had now highlighted the fact, that it was of her own doing
  • Gwen was badly burnt about the face
  • Gwen died of her injuries (shock from burns), just a few hours of being placed at the hospital (1:30am on the 27th November 1931 - aged 40) 
  • It was noted by the Medical Doctor, that he had seen Gwen on the previous week and noticed that she was in a very nervous state
22nd Dec 1931 - The Herald (Melbourne)
23rd Dec 1931- The Age

Gwen seemed a very highly strung individual. And her Brother's recent news regarding her standing - of his estate, was the most probable cause of her being too stressed and it ended in such a tragic way.

The one thing that I've learnt through these multiple stories of different lineages and I suppose, in my own family, is that storing or handling of "wealth", has not been a forte. It seems to be, that my DNA didn't inherit the "Wealth Gene", but most of all, how to handle wealth.

20th Dec 1931 - The Sun - Sydney

26th Dec 1931
Healesville & Yarra Glen Guardian
By some news reports and a key part to this whole tragedy, I am trying to identify "why" a letter of a very historical nature, has some apparent bearing to her death. I have done extensive research on this letter, to find it's history and most of all, why it landed here in Melbourne.
This letter had been passed around the family a few times but had been kept by the Pitman Family when it was handed to Gwen. The letter was indeed genuine and was written by the one and only George Washington in 1789. It was addressed to Gwen's 3rd Grandfather - Sir Edward Newenham MP and was a "letter of introduction", advising Sir Edward of Gen Montgomery's Widow and her future visit to Ireland.
The family had kept this letter as an heirloom and for some reason, Gwen's tragic death, promoted the fact, that this letter may have had a "curse" about it?
As far as I know and have tried many hours to interpret, if there ever was something in the letter, that suggests a curse to the family. However it doesn't.

I think it may relate to the "handling" of such a letter and it's historic nature, where care is needed. Just to add more to such a story, another news report mentions or assumes, that there may have been some form of family tension (involving a few families), into the safe keeping of this letter. Either way, it looks like the "possession of the letter", was key to understanding Gwen's anxious nature.

Around the late 1930s or early 1940s, it is believed that the letter became part of a US collection, due to it's historical nature. Unsure how or if it was sold off or not.

Unfortunately the Log Cabin was destroyed in the 2009 Bushfire's that ravaged Marysville.

Google Earth Image of Post 2009

My image April 2017

My image of the Garden April 2017

Information Sign at the Site of the Log Cabin

What the Log Cabin used to look like (Pictures are via the State Library of Victoria)

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by Brett Fitzgerald Sunday, January 28, 2018 No comments

Monday, 11 September 2017

Mystery of the Marysville Pitman's - The Missing of Olive Pitman and details of Marysville.

It is believed that the story is something as follows. Info was put together from News Reports, Family Stories and also info supplied from the Marysville Historical Society. This I suppose, could be the Pitman's real life version, of Joan Lindsay's "Picnic at Hanging Rock".

A small town nestled in some hilly territory, about 78KM's North East of Melbourne, lays the township of Marysville.

The 6th Child of Clarence & Caroline Pitman, was Olive Pitman.
The 7th and youngest child, was Gwendoline Pitman.
These Pitman's were known to Marysville during the early decades of the 1900's.

Olive managed a property called "Kooringa" and it was located about 180 Metres South of the Main road from Melbourne. It was a guest house property, offering a "Get Away" for all those city dwellers to escape the pressures of the city grind. Gwendoline lived in and managed a property called the "Log Cabin", just metres away from Kooringa.
They were only separated by a road's width, so even though they were independent of each other, they were still "a stone's throw" from each other.

Parts of the family also moved freely about, between Melbourne and Marysville over the years.
The Pitman's were the 2nd owners of the Kooringa property.
Because of the travel time to get there and the road conditions, it would have taken hours, maybe half a day to get there. I think people travelled up there for a week at a time, not just like day trips like we do today (as the below map shows).

GOOGLE Aerial Map of Marysville

12th July 1926

Disappearance of Olive Pitman

Sometime in the morning of 8th of July 1926, Olive walked out of the Kooringa property. No-one knew at that time, it would be her last "walk".
It's been suspected and told as a history, that she may have taken a walk to visit her Father's Grave at the local Cemetery, which is approx 1.3Km's away.
Her Father - Clarence, just passed away in March of that year. So his death was still quite raw.
When Olive did not return to Kooringa for Lunch, the alarm was raised to find her.
Olive must of been quite affected by her Father's death, to visit him on a cold July day.

What is known from that point, is that Olive never returned to Kooringa and was declared "missing".
What is unknown from that point, is where Olive ended up and what happened to her.
Search Parties went out looking for her for days on end, to no avail of finding her. After 2-3 weeks of frantic searching, with no known sighting, the search patrols realised that Olive could not have survived out in the bush for that long. She apparently wasn't dressed for cold weather, nor was it known that if she took food and drink with her.
The approx daytime temperature was around 10-12 deg. C, dipping to about 4-6 deg. C overnight.
The news reports of her disappearance, went as far as Interstate.

6th December 1929

The Age

After this lengthy rescue/search period had ended, her body was still never found or recovered and she was declared dead about a few years later (by a Court Case). But there were stories of later sightings of what was believed to be "Women's Apparel" and a Shoe in the area where Olive was thought to have ended up. And some bones were found as well, but it was never established or proven, that it was indeed the remains of Olive. Only today's world of DNA technology could prove that - if evidence still survives?

Things go through the mind what might have happened to her.
Did she slip and fall or maybe twist an ankle? Did she have a drink before going out?
A snake bite maybe - snakes are normally in hibernation mode in Winter, but some types of Australian snakes do tend to venture in the cold.
In any case, Olive had to be found, in the first 1-2 days of going missing.
In today's world, she would have been found within in that time, but back in 1926, with no phones, beacons or EPIRB's, walking and searching in dense hilly bush land, she had next to no chance, if she couldn't raise her voice to oncoming rescuer's.

It seems that since Olive was never found, Gwen took over the Kooringa property.

Bringing the story to a much later date, unfortunately, on February 7th 2009, known as "Black Saturday", a large firestorm ravaged the Marysville township, bringing it to it's knee's. The firestorm all but destroyed Kooringa and the Log Cabin, along with many other properties.

Kooringa was never rebuilt, but the land now lays bare of this majestic Guesthouse. Apart from the information sign put up by the Historical Society, the "Red Dirt", is now just a poignant reminder, of what was there.

To this day, Olive's "remains" still have not been found or formally identified.

Initial Takeover - October 1918

(3rd Oct 1918 - Table Talk)

Local Distribution of Leaflet. circa 1929

April 2017 - Kooringa Property

Aerial Map showing the Southern side of Marysville and relation to the Town Cemetery

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by Brett Fitzgerald Monday, September 11, 2017 No comments

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Prelude to - The mysterious deaths of the Marysville Pitman's.

On discovering the Pitman's of Marysville, I was told about how 2-3 of the kids, met untimely deaths.
I learnt a lot more about this sad story online, using "Trove" and a bit of assistance from the Marysville Historical Society.

This is a prelude or back story, in understanding why things may have happened the way it did for
                                                            3 Pitman children.

Part of my research with the Pitman's, was to understand what information was out there, that could help assist, in learning about the Children & Grandchildren of Henry H Newenham & Annie Persse.
Their eldest child (and my 3rd GGM) Eliza, died in 1891 and of course, all info related to the family partially stopped and that the surviving family had moved to Adelaide at the turn of the century-which didn't help.
So in order to understand many living people around that time, who directly descended down from Henry and Annie, I had to learn about their lives, to bring out our story and how we connect, to put my thoughts back on track.
As Eliza was the eldest but a female, inheritances may not have favoured her. I know she had holdings in a Gold Fund, maybe to assist her wealth, but it seems it that it went a bit awry as it looks like she gave up the "shares" or were forfeited. Her husband - Frederick J Hasler, also had shares in a Gold Fund as well, but it didn't take off either and I think he forfeited them as well.

Since Eliza died in 1891 and knowing of the inheritances and the family history connection back to Ireland via Henry and Annie, I believe the family's inheritances were mainly split between younger siblings - Caroline and her twin brother Edward - when their Father Henry had passed away in 1895.
My interest was the mining lands or mining business prospects back in Ireland. It goes back to Caroline / Edward's Paternal Grandfather (Edward Worth Newenham 1762-1837) and centres itself in Tipperary and surrounding areas.
So many questions I wanted to know - How long did they keep the lands for? Did they sell it? Did they still mine it? How did it affect the economy of Ireland? Were they good at it or was it a failed venture? And part of my questioning, how can you run a mine successfully, whilst outside of Ireland?
Were the locals happy with the mine? What exists today? etc etc etc.....

By news reports, it looks like Caroline had some mining interests and that her Nephew - Edgar C Hasler (aka Dr K. R. Moure) also had a hand in proceedings.
For Edgar, this was his forte, his bread and butter, learning of mining and the business of it. But it was very late in his life. Now at this exact point of the story, everyone has their "hand in the pie" and learning each other's story is absolutely crucial to understanding the Marysville Pitman's and what happened next.

But by 1937, only 1 person was left standing - 2nd child and eldest Daughter of Clarence and Caroline -  Rosalind Persse Pitman (married name Stringer).
I'm in belief that Rosalind inherited a residual of her Brothers estate, when he died.
I was hoping for Rosalind to survive without any drama but just days ago, I learnt that she too, had a major drama to contend with, but in a different way. She was involved in a car accident and the person died. It was just an unfortunate accident of the "Pedestrian vs Motorcar" type. Rosalind was driving a Car and a Pedestrian stepped on to the road with out looking properly - the pedestrian also was noted to have bad vision. You can see what happened next!

I believe the Pitman lineage may only survive via Rosalind Pitman's "Stringer" family.
Newenham M Pitman had a child - Constance. She married an Edward Kelso, but unsure if they had a child.

I'm hoping that their Mining history can be found, to help explain a bit more on the family's dealing with Mining in Ireland - including with the one and only Edgar Hasler - "Dr. Moure".
Simply because the mines that the Family were involved with, were of a large size and in full production in around the early 1800's.
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by Brett Fitzgerald Sunday, August 13, 2017 No comments

Sunday, 9 July 2017

The Story of the Pitman's of  Marysville.

I was told the story of the Marysville Pitman's, many years ago.
I didn't know their story to well, so I found it hard to learn their lives and how they fitted in with my Maternal story. As I didn't fully understand the connection, I wanted to search their story and help "connect the dots".
I decided to visit Marysville a few months ago, to find out more details, on who they were.

Ironically, after learning what I did, there is so much mystique to their story, along with Family connections and stories. But, also knowing their circumstances of fate or tragedies that befell them, they still carried a lot of history with them, which also ties up with me and is the reason, why I write these blogs.

As I am just putting the list of the kids down, it shows in great detail on the true reality of tragedy.
But Clarence and Caroline kept plowing on, knowing that one of their children, would survive to Adulthood or even survive them.

Father     - Clarence died in 1926 (Buried in Marysville Cemetery)
Mother    - Caroline died in 1937 (Cremated and Scattered at Springvale "Necropolis" Crematorium)
  • Henry Newenham Pitman        - b1872-d1873 -infant
  • Carrie Rosalind Persse Pitman - b1874-d1948 -approx 74
  • Alice Burton Pitman                 - b1875-b1875 -infant
  • Clarence Edward Pitman         - b1877-b1877 - infant & buried with GM Annie Persse Newenham
  • Newenham Mueller Pitman                  - b1880-d1933 -approx 53
  • Olive Dora Blakeney Pitman    - b1885-d1926 -approx 41
  • Gwendoline De Burgh Pitman  - b1890-d1931 -approx 41

    The children share quite a few names from the Galway/Dublin Persse/Newenham ancestry
    (Persse / Burton / Edward / Blakeney / De Burgh)

Carrie, was the only child to survive both Parents. It also shows that out of the first 4 kids, she was the only one to survive infancy. Ironically, the last 3 children who survived infancy, struck tragedy later in life.

What is really interesting in the above table, is when Newenham Mueller Pitman was born in 1880, Newenham and the 2 successive children survived infancy.
It begs the question, did medical technology - intervene on the health of Melbourne's citizens?
Just shows quite the "juxtaposition" where death in infancy was quite high vs infancy survival rates after 1880. I haven't researched why this is, though the table hits right on the plausibility of better health / medical practices, after around 1880.
What is interesting, is that after Gwen, they didn't have anymore children. Even though they were older than 40, the Bank Crash of 1892 probably would have sealed the fate of no more children, as Clarence lost quite a bit of money (Over 5,000 Pounds).

It is also believed that all children died in Victoria.

I don't know much about Carrie, as she got married to Reginald Stringer (of Perth origin), but there is some details of her (or what I think is of her line), that pertain to hereditary inheritances.
Because I don't know enough of this line, it is the reason she isn't included with much details.
Part of my main aim of this blog, was to learn about the last 3 kids of Clarence and Caroline.
I am looking at the 3 untimely and very unfortunate deaths, that must of taken it's toll on Caroline and Carrie.
I don't know much about the children's early lives, other than living in Marysville.
Their earlier days would have been spent around Albert Park / St.Kilda districts and Blairgowrie.
I am certain that they would have known, their Maternal Grandfather - Henry Hood Newenham.
But it does seem that the 2 girls had to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life.

In their later part of their lives, Olive and Gwen resided in Marysville, Victoria.

Marysville, was quite an isolated part of Country Victoria back then.
Weather could have really hampered the access to the hills surrounding the town, during certain times of the year. Snow, and the bad rains, could have really made the town inaccessible for a few days at a time, before the roads were of any good standard. Summer would have been stiffling hot, in amongst the trees, bushfire's would have been as deadly to the town (as per the 2009 "Black Saturday" firestorm).

When Olive and Gwen moved to Marysville, they had a sort of a partnership, with a Guesthouse called "Kooringa" during the 1920's. Gwen lived across the road from the Kooringa Guesthouse, in the property known as the "Log Cabin".
Brother - Newenham, had business relations with a Steel company (Minerva Metals - Spencer Street) in Melbourne and lived around there, but most probably frequented Marysville from time to time, to see his Sister's.

Images of where Marysville is, in relation to Melbourne and the details of the 2 properties, with Olive & Gwen, in Marysville. The 2 properties, are around 250 metres South East, of the main road roundabout.

Travel Time to Marysville - In Today's World

February 7th 2009, known as "Black Saturday", was a major bushfire / firestorm.
It ravaged the township of Marysville and burned down, both the Pitman's residences - Kooringa nd the Log Cabin.

 3rd Oct 1918 - Table Talk Melbourne

Local Leaflet - depicting "Winter" and the snow.

Kooringa, was Olive's residence, until she went missing (covered in the next blog)
This is a local leaflet, approx dated in 1929

The Log Cabin, was Gwen's residence.

Details of the later lives of the 3 Pitman children, will be in the next blog.

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by Brett Fitzgerald Sunday, July 09, 2017 No comments

Sunday, 28 May 2017

Learning of the "Maternal Collateral" Pitman's.    *Updated 22-03-18

The term "Collateral", is referred to a brother or sister line to that of your own, from a set of certain Grandparents.

This is a story of a colleteral line of my Maternal family - The Pitman's from Marysville, Victoria.
This family has totally captivated me. It taught me, no matter how tragic stories get, there can be endless details found that can help you understand, how historical data, interacts with your own lineage.

This part, is centered on the parents of the Marysville Pitman Family - Clarence and Caroline Pitman.

  • Clarence is the 3rd son of Jacob Pitman and Emma Hooper. Jacob was an Architect and also taught "Pitman Shorthand". Jacob and Emma, emigrated to South Australia in 1838. Clarence was also a nephew of Sir Isaac Pitman (inventor of the "Pitman Shorthand" Phonographic system).
  • Caroline is the 2nd daughter of Henry Hood Newenham and Annie Persse. Caroline's heritage is of the Persse family of Dublin and Roxborough Co. Galway and the Newenham's from Cork and Dublin.

Their story, has historic value in connection with Marysville-Victoria, but also adds a story with a letter from George Washington in 1789. It was sent to Caroline's Paternal 2nd Great Grandfather - Sir Edward Newenham and that letter somehow landed in Melbourne/Marysville.
It also shares a tragic end, to 3 of the Pitman Children, who seem to think that there is a family curse among them.

I recently took hold of this story and wanted to find more about them, particularly why things happened the way they did.
As I am writing this, I am discovering more and more of Clarence Pitman, than I have ever heard of, which is adding to the story.
It is a tad longer than I wanted, but I am trying to show the parental side of this story and to keep within one blog. But also still trying to keep in mind, where this "family curse" thought is coming from. Is it, the Pitman's or Newenham's?

The Newenham's, as they arrived in Melbourne in 1856

Original Immigration Shipping List - 1856
Voyage took 140 days from Liverpool, aboard the ship "Sultana"

Parents : Henry and Annie are up the top. My 3rd Great Grandmother, is Eliza and is the eldest child.
This blog story centres on the 4th child down - Caroline.
It is believed that Eliza was born in France and the the rest of the kids, were born at St. Helier - Jersey Island.
*Note - disregard Henry's age, it is incorrect (born 1805). They may have had to lower it, to fit in with an Age limit of migration?

Caroline Anna Blood Newenham, was born 26th January, 1847 in Lempriere St, St. Heliers - Jersey Island. She was a twin and her Brother was Edward Persse Newenham.
I don't have an image of her, but I do have one of her twin brother Edward. There is reason to believe, that Caroline may have looked like, her 2nd cousin - Lady Gregory.
Why would I say such a thing, well, you'll just have to wait and see, I'll let the images do the talking. A key point on my theory is that, Henry and Annie were 1st cousins, that is via Henry's Mother and Annie's Father - they were siblings. Henry and Annie can trace to the same Grandfather - Col William Persse of Roxborough - Co. Galway.

The Persse face, is pretty profound and I do believe that it maybe making it's appearance down the lines. I don't have any photos of Caroline or Clarence Pitman to draw conclusion, but their daughter Gwen, supports this theory.

I don't have any info of Caroline's early story, prior to her being married or even much after. Other than following her Father's addresses etc and as far as I know, Caroline was in the St. Kilda and surrounding districts.

I can only find Caroline in a few ventures.
She published details of historic war battles, that many of her close and far relatives were involved in.
One of many details was with her Nephew - Edgar Hasler (pseudonym :  Dr Kelwylyn R. Moure), with mining lands in Ireland (1930's era) and another was with issues relating to her children, with the inheritances, that came down via Henry Newenham.
It seems later in life, she moved to Blairgowrie on the Mornington Peninsula, which I think back in those days, were holiday type places (1/2 day trip to get there from Melbourne City). And then later, moved a bit closer to Melbourne - to the suburb of Sandringham.

13th Mar 1897 - Melbourne Argus

On 30th October, 1871, Caroline Newenham married Clarence Pitman, in the Anglican Church of St. Mary's. The district written as "Hotham", is now known as North Melbourne.
The reference to Firmont, is I think is either the last place in Ireland, that Henry/Annie were from, or land that Henry owned. Henry's family held mining lands around Nenagh, Co. Tipperary, which fits this story.

1st Nov 1871 - Melbourne Argus

On Clarence's story, his father Jacob was an Architect. from near the town of Bath, England. In 1838, Jacob and his family, migrated and settled in Adelaide, South Australia, just after it had been proclaimed as a Colony (Dec 1836). They were in Adelaide for a number of years, were Jacob was not only an architect, but also a Minister of Religion (Swedenborgian Church).
Clarence was born in Adelaide c. 1848.

To put another twist of an added connection to this Pitman Family, I am pretty certain, that they knew of the Newenham name well before Clarence met Caroline.

Charles Burton Newenham, was the State Sheriff of South Australia, for more than 20 years, around the time that this Pitman Family were of Adelaide.
Charles B Newenham was a 1st cousin of Henry Hood Newenham, both their Grandparents were Sir Edward Newenham and Grace Anna Burton.

The Pitman's, then decided to pull up stumps and re-settle in Geelong, Victoria, sometime in the 1860s-1870's period. This is where we start to find Jacob's son - Clarence. I was recently advised by my relative - Michael Collins Persse (curator of the Geelong Grammar School), that Clarence also attended Geelong Grammar, as a student.

As time went on, it seems that due to the family's mantra of teaching / instructing and also interaction with the Pitman Shorthand system, we would have to assume that we "should" find Clarence, a very well educated man. And we do. Quite an accomplished fellow.
It seems that if you had a committee going, a banking trust, accountancy of the books, a business audit or even secretarial type jobs, Clarence was your man.

25th Sep 1867 - Geelong Advertiser

The earliest document that I could find so far, is that we find Clarence, in Geelong and he is part of the early formative years, of the Geelong Football Club. Here he is noted being the Secretary of the club in 1867 - 4 years before his marriage to Caroline.
This is quite the find and in my view, it is a great historical link, to one of the strongest Victorian Football Clubs around.

24th Jul 1880 -  The Telegraph
(St Kilda, Prahran and South Yarra Guardian)

25th Feb 1882 - The Argus

Here we see a movement to Grey St,
St. Kilda - Melbourne in 1880. This is where Caroline's Father (Henry H Newenham) lived in around that time.

18th Oct 1886 - Bendigo Advertiser

As a Bank Teller, he had to face many people, who forged Cheques. This is just one of a few cases, that Clarence had to deal with.

One of the many companies, corporations and businesses, Clarence had associated himself with. An accomplished Accountant, Secretary and Manager over many years.

 1st Aug 1890 - Table Talk Melbourne

Clarence also had continual workload, with promoting the Pitman Shorthand system over many years. It also shows, even to this day, a lot of people struggled with the learning of the Pitman Shorthand system. Clarence clarifies this point, that "laziness" is the reason you fail.
Though what comes to mind and I think the term would be "Practice, Practice, Practice" and if you didn't, you'd get ruler across the back of the head or hands (Well, I know I did in school...)

But something happened in the early 1890's in Australia. A Banking Sector Collapse.
By 1 report, that Clarence is listed in, states that how could a bank have such an amount of a loss, in the vicinity of £300,000?
This loss of money, created a huge slump in the Australian Bank's sector, allowing a lot of banks to close, thus creating a huge depression period that followed.

Clarence was involved in this "Bank Loss" and in some way, it must have taken a toll on the family.

19th Aug 1892 - Table Talk

31st Mar 1893 - Table Talk

I can only speculate, that it must of forced Clarence to keep working, as I can see no holidays of sorts or family interaction. Did this force Clarence to diversify his business interests (put more time into Pitman phonography?) He was a busy man and for many years after this, it seems he kept on working.
I cannot determine, if this was because he wanted to provide for the family, or he was really a very good business man and just wanted to "work". I don't have any info, showing family time together. Caroline was bringing up the kids, so I can only assume, with Clarence's business interests, that the children may not have seen much of their Father. Maybe in the later years only when the kids took up residence in Marysville, Victoria.
In both of the below documents, Clarence also shows, that he had to have the courage to stand up to some form of critique, of the Pitman phonography. The 3rd document from The Argus Newspaper, shows quite a stern retort to a previous contributor - "Oriel" and his views .

6th Sep 1892 - The Age

10th Dec 1892 - The Standard Port Melbourne


 2nd Feb 1897 - The Argus


  Bendigo Advertiser  - 1st Dec 1903

It seemed also, that in the future years, Clarence was involved with a lot of traveling around the State of Victoria and Auditing Council's "financial bookworks" as what looks like to be, an appointed Government Auditor.

 18th Mar 1926 - Kilmore Free Press

And the ending of an era with Clarence. His death was reported by the Kilmore Free Press.

Clarence died in 1926 and was buried in the Marysville Cemetery.
Caroline died in 1937 and was cremated. It is not known if she was scattered and or placed into Clarence's plot, or if indeed the family kept the remains.

15th Mar 1926 - Argus

 20th Apr 1937 - The Age

Clarence's Burial Plot at the Marysville Cemetery.

** Thanks to Bill & Judith, from the Marysville Historical Society, for assisting me in this story **

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by Brett Fitzgerald Sunday, May 28, 2017 No comments

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