Tuesday, March 12, 2019

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Week 10 - Bachelor Uncles - Tom and Charlie Smith

This year I have decided to take part in Amy Johnson Crow's 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks blogging prompts. 

The theme for Week 10 (March 4-10): Bachelor Uncle.

I am running a little bit late with my blog for Week 10. I have a few Bachelor Uncles in my family tree but I have decided to chose my great grandfather's brothers, Tom and Charlie, as I have some recollections of my grandmother's to make their story more than just dates and places. 

My great grandfather James William Smith had five brothers: 
Albert Smith and Robert Smith died young. John Hutton Smith married Lillian Carter Ogleby in 1899. Thomas George Smith (Tom) and Charles Walter Smith (Charlie) were both lifelong bachelors. 

My mother interviewed my grandmother, Doss (Smith) O'Brien (1912-2001), in the 1990s. From that interview, we learn the following about Doss' uncles Tom and Charlie:
In 1923, Dad (James William Smith) bought a property at Thule, New South Wales, and he and the older boys, Jim, Syd and Ivo, and Uncle Charlie Smith, went there to work the place. They took a big covered type of horse-drawn hut (these were known as travelling houses). There was a family photo that showed their departure. Several trips were made back and forth and, on one occasion, Dad took Bill, who drove a cart in which they were transporting some chooks. When they were going over the bridge at Echuca, the cart hit a bump and the coop came unlatched. Chooks escaped and scattered all over the place! They had quite an episode on the bridge. The Cobb Highway was just a little old road then, and kept close by the river.

Doss' Uncle Charlie, her Uncle Tom and her Auntie Suze, lived with Grandmother Sophia Smith in their old family home on the banks of the Campaspe River, just east of Childers Street, Elmore. Doss remembered Grandmother Sophia as having been unwell most of the time, and Auntie Suze took care of her. Grandmother Sophia was a big woman and, simply, “sat and sat.” Looking back, it seemed very likely that she suffered from severe depression. Her life had not been an easy one. In 1922, when she was 74 years old, she died and, according to her Death Certificate, she suffered from ‘fatty degeneration of the heart.’ Doss believed that the block on which the Smith home stood was a leasehold and, when it terminated, Auntie Suze, Uncle Tom and Uncle Charlie bought a house in Elmore. In later years, the three lived together there until they died, in about the 1960s; first the uncles and then, Auntie Suze.

Uncle Tom and Uncle Charlie Smith had always been familiar faces to the young Smith children, as they worked with Dad quite a lot over the years. Uncle Charlie was with Dad and the older boys at Thule, through 1923 and partway into 1924, and he had been working for the Stewarts at Tennyson for a while before Doss’ family moved there. At the time, he had a motorbike on which he rode home to Elmore at weekends. He was one of the first people around there to own a motorbike, and he also broke new ground in being one of the first to own a gramophone and records. When the Smiths were at ‘Errington’, Uncle Charlie resumed working for Dad, and lived there with them. Doss remembered one occasion when he had the horse in the spring cart, ready to take the younger children to school, and to take her to work at Buckleys’. Unfortunately something hooked the clothesline and tipped Charlie off the cart, and upended Doss in the back of it.
(Source: O'Brien, D., Lockington, Victoria. Interview by M. O'Brien, 1990s, tape recording and transcript. Privately held by interviewer [address for private use] Victoria, Australia. 2019.)

© 2019. Australian Genealogy Journeys. This post was originally published at https://ausgenjourneys.blogspot.com/2019/03/52-ancestors-in-52-weeks-week-10.html
52 Ancestors in 52 weeks is © Amy Johnson Crow

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