When There is No Church…..

It appears that, for the most part, both my family and my husband’s family chose to marry in a church, however I did find a couple that married in a house or building – it’s unknown which, as there was no church in the area!

My husbands great grandparents Michael Allsop & Ada Amelia Eliza Huff married in Westbrook which is a locality in New South Wales, and the town of Singleton is the major centre within the area.  The wedding took place on Tuesday 1 Oct 1872 and may well have been at the home of a friend.  Michael was a farm worker so no doubt the service would have been held in a farmhouse.

Ada was just 17 years old and Michael was 23 years old.  They would go on to have 12 children together; all but one of whom were born in the Singleton/Westbrook area.  They appear to have lived nearly all their lives around Singleton and, although Michael died in Gosford which was many kilometres away, he was brought back to be laid to rest in the Whittingham Cemetery at Singleton in 1926.  Ada lived another 8 years passing away in Singleton in 1934 and was also buried at Whittingham Cemetery.  In the picture above Ada looks very young – perhaps it was taken around the time of her marriage.

It doesn’t matter that the couple were not married in a Chapel or a Church – the vows would have been just as solemn and sacred to the couple than if they had travelled miles to the nearest church.


TROVE Tuesday–It Happened in Tamworth in 1909–Heat, Drought & Rain

Heat_Wave_1The weather has always been of the utmost importance to those on farms in regional areas, and I doubt that my family of farmers were any different.  During January of 1909 there was a fairly severe heatwave in New South Wales.  The first TROVE clipping talks about the heat experienced in Menindee, which is more than 960 kilometres west of  Tamworth.  The 2nd clipping shows that Tamworth recorded 105 degrees Fahrenheit (40.5 degrees Celsius) on the same day.  Over the course of the following days Tamworth’s temperatures  reached as high 109 degrees f (42.8 degrees c), however a cool change passed through on the Wednesday afternoon when temperatures came down to 100 degrees f (37.8 degrees c).  Actually, during summers these days it is quite normal to see the mercury climbing to these temperatures.


Heat_Wave_Rain2Then, during the Wednesday afternoon the rains came.  The rain cooled the parched land and soothed the human soul.  175 points is close to 2 1/2 inches and would have brought with it a fresh touch of green to the crops and feed for the stock for a short time. There would have been much rejoicing, I would imagine!






TROVE Tuesday – It Happened in Tamworth in 1909 – Accidents

The first newspaper reports of 1909 in Tamworth, New South Wales, included a rather interesting and very sad article about a body that was found in a tent by the Peel River.

Accident or Suicide

The thing I find just horrendous here was that a positive identification of the body was never made.  In my own family history I have a number of people that I cannot trace a death for.  In 1909 it was very much easier to loose oneself if one needed to.  If you were dodging the law, leaving a wife or husband for another woman or man or simply drifting through life, you could start up in a new location and give an alias as your name.  There was little chance that the authorities would have the resources to track you down, especially if you moved states.  It was not essential in the daily lives of those who lived in 1909 to carry identification on their person as it is today: no drivers licence, Medicare card or credit cards.

The poor chap in this article could simply have been down on his luck and looking for work but when you think of the distances between towns, the harshness of the Australian climate and terrain, and the availability of access to good quality health care in country areas at this time in history, it is no small wonder that some people could just disappear off a family tree!

Then of course there is the case of  Mr H. Barnes who is just out there having a friendly game of cricket and ends up with a broken nose.

And lastly, a scary yet amusing story about a brown snake chasing a local resident.  The first article is mildly amusing in that the thought of a snake actually chasing a woman is quite an unusual event. Of course it would have been terrifying for her.  The interesting thing about this story is in the second article which hinted of the likeness of Mrs S. Matheson to the downfall of Eve in the garden of Eden – probably not politically correct by today’s standards!






James Bailey 1808 – 1866

 I was very excited to find my family linked with life in Tamworth almost from the beginning of its history.  Below is the story of my 3 x great grandfather James.

James Bailey was the second child born to Robert Bailey and Mary nee: Watts at Great Casterton, England in 1808 and was baptised in Great Casterton with Pickworth, Northamptonshire on 15 Oct 1808 . He grew up with his older brother Robert, younger brothers Peter and William and a sister named Frances.

Not a lot is known about James’ early life with his family, but presumably as a young man he was apprenticed to a butcher, as that was his calling throughout his life.  During 1830/31 he met and fell in love with Ann Knight and they were married in Great Casterton, Rutland, England on 17 Jul 1831 .

Initially it would seem that children did not come easily to them, as the first record of a child born to them is not until my 2 x great Grandfather Edward James Bailey was born on 12 Jan 1834, although it is entirely  possible that Ann had conceived and lost children in that time period.

In October 1835 James and Mary had a son, Alfred, who died the following month, and then on 8 Jan 1837 they were blessed with another son who they named John Thomas.  Life for the young family continued with hard work until the 2 Dec of 1837 when James was arrested for stealing a sheep.  He was found guilty but appealed the decision.  The Leicester Chronicle  reported on Saturday 6 Jan 1838 that James had lost his appeal even though James “was a respectable butcher and that the evidence had been purely circumstantial, with no direct evidence to implicate him”.

Unfortunately for James he was sentence to be transported for 7 years.  He may have spent time on a prison hulk until he was embarked on the Earl Grey on 18 Jul 1838 Woolwich .   There was a hold up of a few days due to bad weather before the Earl Grey finally departed Portsmouth on 8 Aug 1838 leaving Ann and the children behind.

James arrived in Port Jackson on 21 Nov 1838 after a voyage of 105 days, but the prisoners were not disembarked until the following Tuesday, 27 Nov 1838.  At the time of writing I have been unable to find records of where James was sent or to whom he was assigned, however he was granted a Ticket of Leave six years later on 11 Dec 1844 which said that he had to stay in the Scone area of New South Wales .   (Scone is approximately 130 kilometres from Tamworth).  It was around this time that James’ wife Ann arrived in New South Wales as an unassisted immigrant with her two sons, although only one son is listed as travelling with her.  After being left in England in 1838 Ann must have sold whatever she could to raise funds to make the trip and join her husband in Australia. 


On 24 Mar 1848 James was granted a Conditional Pardon  which allowed him to roam freely, the only restriction being that he could not return to England.  James, Ann and their two boys Edward and John moved to Tamworth almost immediately.  Tamworth at that time was largely a “company town” run by the Australian Agricultural Company. 

James must have found work, possibly as a butcher, and tried diligently to save money.  Just 2 years later the Government Gazette advertised the first free-hold sale of allotments in Peel Street, Tamworth and this land was auctioned by Roderick Mitchell on 31 Jul 1850.  On that day James bought the site of the present day 277-283 Peel Street and built a family home and butcher shop, said to be the first buildings on the block in the main street of Tamworth.  At the time it was noted that James Bailey, butcher, and his wife Ann had come to Tamworth from England 2 years previously, so it would appear that no-one knew of his convict past.

James built his home and business with the help of his sons Edward and John Thomas when the population of Tamworth was just 250 people and there was no bridge of any kind over the Peel River. 

On 27 May 1851 in Tamworth James and Ann welcomed the birth of a daughter, Agnes Letta, the only one of their four children to be born in Australia .

The Peel River flooded a number of times during James’ lifetime.  There are recorded floods in 1852, 1853 and 1857 .  The flood of 1852 saw 300 men stranded at the West Tamworth Railway Station.  When food supplies ran low someone felled a large tree to cross the river to purchase supplies.  After the flood in 1853 there was a foot bridge in place, however it was washed away in the flood of 1857, which saw 2 feet of water through the buildings in Peel Street – including James’ butchery and home.  There would be no permanent bridge structure for some years to come. After the devastation of the 1857 flood a suspension bridge was built across the Peel River, being the first of its kind to be built in the colony .

As James’ sons Edward and John grew they assisted their father in the Butchery.  Edward was granted a butchers license in 1859 . In 1862 James’ and Ann’s son Edward James died in Paddington (Sydney), New South Wales.

James continued working until his own death 7 Jun 1866  in Tamworth leaving his wife Ann, one son – John Thomas, and one daughter – Agnes Letta to mourn his loss.  He is buried in the Tamworth General Cemetery, Showground Road, Tamworth, New South Wales .  John carried on the butchery for a short time.


Ann passed away just over 6 years later on 4 Jan 1873 and is buried with James in the Tamworth General Cemetery, Showground Road, Tamworth, New South Wales .

Northamptonshire, England, Church of England Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1532-1812
England, Pallot’s Marriage Index, 1780-1837,
England, Select Marriages, 1538-1973
Leicester Chronicle, 6 Jan 1838
Leicester Court Sessions
Free Settler or Felon – Convict Ship Earl Grey 1838
Chronological History of Tamworth, Lyall Green & Warren Newman, Section A-S, printed 2004 by Edwards Printing Solutions, Tamworth,
Australia, Birth Index, 1788-1922
Australia, Death Index, 1787-1985
Web: International, Find A Grave Index
Headstone of James Bailey sighted and photographed by Julie Preston, 11 Jun 2018




TROVE Tuesday–It Happened in Tamworth in 1909 – Crime

New Year revelry is not new to anyone, and many have found themselves in trouble for it.  On Jan 1 of 1909 it was reported in the newspapers across the state that young John Thomas Reynolds partied just a little too hard and found himself in court!  Of course, being drunk and disorderly and riding wildly through the streets of Tamworth, New South Wales was no more acceptable now and being drunk and disorderly and driving your car would be today.  This must have been highly embarrassing for him.


Youthful Celebration!

The next story of crime is more serious and just a little confusing.  In some newspapers it is reported that a jewellery merchant had his wares stolen whilst staying in a hotel in Tamworth, however other papers report that the theft took place in Manilla which is a village outside of Tamworth.  No matter where the crime took place, the theft of the diamonds totalled a considerable sum of money, and if the thief had been local, would not someone have noticed the change of his/her fortune?


Staying in a Tamworth Hotel


Staying in Manilla Hotel





TROVE Tuesday-It Happened in Tamworth in 1908 – Starr-Bowkett Society

Tamworth Starr-Bowkett Society

I had never heard of the Starr-Bowkett Society before coming across this article but, as it turns out, it was a financial institution with an office in the hometown of my grandparents Edward Bailey & Ines Maud Smith.  In August of 1908 the Starr-Bowkett office had been operating in Tamworth for about 18 months having opened it’s doors for business around March of 1907, and this newspaper report shows that the financial institution was doing very nicely. 

Starr-Bowkett held a public meeting in May 11, 1907 so as to provide people with information about the workings of the company.  By October there were offices in Manilla and Inverell and by December of 1907 it is reported in local papers that the Society drew a ballot to complete it’s 1st share.

Starr Bowkett Public Meeting

Starr_Bowkett Building Society

I have absolutely no way of knowing what bank my grandparents chose to handle their finances but as Tamworth was a  small country town of roughly 6000 people their choices may have been limited.   I have found reference in TROVE digitised papers to The Savings Bank of NSW (now trading as Westpac), and the Commercial Bank of Australia (known as CBA – merged with Bank of NSW, now known as Westpac), having offices in Tamworth at that time, so the addition of the Starr-Bowkett Society may have been of interest to them.  With their impending marriage the couple could well have been looking for a bank/society to handle their joint account, or their first mortgage.

It would appear that Starr-Bowkett operated in Tamworth and area until at least 1954, possibly longer.





Trove Tuesday – It Happened in Tamworth in 1908 – Insanitary Hospital

Insanitary Hospital

The hospital in Tamworth had it’s fair share of hardship in 1908.  Back in April of this year I posted an article about the outbreak of Typhoid and Diphtheria in Tamworth after large scale flooding of the town (read story here).  At the time of the outbreak it was decided to engage the Board of Health to carry out an investigation and the resulting report was not what the hospital would have wanted to hear.

Apparently, the report indicated that the removal of effluent from the hospital was achieved  through drainage pipes into ditches within the hospital grounds.  One of the trenches was also found to be in close proximity to a well, the water in which was used for drinking. 

After months of meticulous attention to detail, cleanliness and law Tamworth Hospital did seem to have the outbreak of Infectious disease under control though, as reported in newspapers later in the year.  In total there were 62 cases of Typhoid in Tamworth in 1908,  4 of which could be attributed to the Hospital itself.  I am sure that my grandparents,  Edward Bailey and Ines Smith, would have wondered about the safety of going to hospital, discussing it either amongst themselves, or with their respective families after reading such articles in the local paper.

Tamworth Rural Referral Hospital today is a state of the art medical facility for a regional area with new wards and Emergency department having only been opened last year.  Having worked at the hospital for nearly 40 years I can honestly say that we are lucky indeed to have such a fine facility with well trained staff in our town, and Tamworth residents in general are fortunate to live in 2018 and not 1908. 




TROVE Tuesday – It Happened in Tamworth in 1908 – Diabetes

Death Due to Diabetes

How very sad that the young life of Miss Mary Constance Buckley was taken by a disease which in our lifetime is basically considered quite manageable.  Mary Constance would have had a vastly reduced life expectancy once diagnosed with Diabetes as the disease was classed as a terminal illness at the beginning of the 1900’s.  She was just 27 years old, roughly a year older than my grandmother Ines Maude Smith, and there is a distinct possibility that they knew, or at least knew of, each another. 

I tried “trusty old Google” to find out how Diabetes may have been treated in 1908 and found the following:

Between 1900-1915, a variety of different diabetes treatments were proposed. Early treatments included:

  • the oat-cure, which involved eating 8 ounces of oatmeal mixed with 8 ounces of butter every 2 hours
  • the milk diet
  • the rice cure
  • potato therapy
  • opium
  • overfeeding to replenish lost fluids and increase weight, symptoms that many people with diabetes experience

It wasn’t until 1921 that development of insulin changed the management of Diabetes – years after Mary Constance, and many many others had succumbed to the disease.


Diabetes Treatments:  https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/317484.php

Newspaper Article:  nla.news-article193208764

TROVE Tuesday – It Happened in Tamworth in 1908 – Trooper Bailey

Military Tournament Results – Trooper Bailey

The family have always believed that my grandfather, Edward Thomas Bailey, was a great horseman, so you can imagine how exciting it was to find the above results recorded in the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper in June of 1908.

Modern Day Tent Pegging

Grandad was a member of the 6th Australian Light Horse and on this day he preformed well in Tent Pegging, Cleaving the Turk’s Head (a bit off-putting and I choose not to show pictures of it), Sectional Tent Pegging, and Obstacle Racing.  Unfortunately I don’t have a picture of him in uniform.




TROVE Tuesday – It Happened in Tamworth in 1908 – The Weather

Temperature of -2 Degrees in Tamworth

Weather is all important to people living on the land, no matter what country you are from or what time in history you have lived.  Tamworth is actually a place of weather extremes as it’s very hot in the summer and really cold in winter.  Summer temps can reach the mid 40’s easily, and in fact, in Tamworth this past summer we had more consecutive days over 40 degrees than ever previously recorded.  The coldest winter recording that I can recall was –8 degrees – and I remember that because our pipes froze!  I do clearly remember a day that only peaked at 8 degrees vividly, as I had to score a baseball game in that freezing weather.

My grandparents Ines Maude Smith and Edward Thomas Bailey had their lives, and the lives of their families, dictated by the weather in 1908.  The floods earlier in the year saw loss of stock or ruined crops, rain hindered their planned trips to town for general and farming supplies, and equally – the lack of rain had a devastating effect on the farming community.