Thursday, March 23, 2017

Williams of Little Para and Little Para Freestone Quarry

Williams of Little Para

Thomas James Williams was born at Totenham, England on 22 May  and arrived on the ship Augustus Captain Hart on October 16, 1845.  He built the Old Spot Hotel in 1849 and lived there until a few weeks before his death in June 1899. 
He married Tabitha Bailey and had eleven children, many of them dying young and are buried in the Little Para Wesleyan cemetery.

Richard Thomas            1853 – 1855
Helen Mary (Nellie)       1856 – 1946
Albert                          1854 - 1864        buried Little Para Wesleyan
Richard William            1860 – 1860       7 months buried Little Para Wesleyan
Thomas George            1860 – 1860       2 months            buried Little Para Wesleyan
William James              1861 – 1944
Frank Bailey                 1863 – 1912
Robert Knowles            1865 - 1865        3 years buried Little Para Wesleyan
Ernest Alfred                1869 – 1945
Henry                           1873 – 1873       3 weeks buried Little Para Wesleyan
Amy Blanche Adeline    1874 – 1933
He was an active supporter of the Munno Para East Cricket Club and had a large orangery with over 550 trees which he proudly showed off to visitors.  

The Little Para freestone quarries which had lain dormant for many years was re-opened by Thomas Williams, in 1893.  Mr. David Morney Sayers, of Comstock Chambers, was appointed manager. 
In 1893 Thomas organised a party to visit the place. Among the party were several architects and contractors, who were well able to pass an opinion upon the quality and nature of the stone. They were unanimous in expressing unqualified  satisfaction at what they saw.

There were four quarries, No. 1 quarry, contained dark freestone; No. 2, chocolate freestone; No. 3, white freestone; and No. 4, natural white faces. Orders were being received by Mr. Sayers daily both for white and dark stone for buildings.  The stone was used in the SA Insurance Office and additions to the Children’s Hospital in North Adelaide.   The brown quarry was opened in the 1860 and stone used in the building of the Little Para bridge.  
The quarry stone was made into coinings for graveyard railings and also for basements of tombstones.   The white stone quarry located further up the gully and was of a very high quality.
Thomas’ son Frank Bailey took over as quarryman carrying on the business.

Thomas is believed to be buried at the buried North Road cemetery. 

Monday, March 13, 2017

Whitford family of Little Para

Two members of the Whitford family lie buried in the Little Para Weslyan cemetery at Hillbank.
Henry Whitford died 6th August 1889 at his residence on the Little Para aged 84 years.  He was born 23 August 1805 in Cornwall.  He married Ann Curra on 1 January 1829.  Ann was aged 75 when she passed away in 1879.
On Henry's arrival and the family probably made their way to Burra. Henry started work as a teamster transporting ore from Burra Mines in the Mid-North to Port Adelaide. Henry's daughter, Maria married a miner, James Pearce at Kooringa in 1850. By 1864 Maria and James had moved to Kadina.
Henry was one of the original trustees of Little Para chapel. According to the chapel's Cemetery Lease Book, his sons John and William were curators of the Little Para cemetery
At 75 years of age, Henry's wife, Ann died on 5th January, 1879 and was buried at the western side of the chapel, near her son. William's headstone read: In Affectanate (sic) Remembrance of William Whitford Who Departed this Life February 17 1875 aged 42 years. The Lord Gave and the Lord Taketh Away Blessed Be the Name of the Lord.

Incredibly, aged 74, Henry married secondly, 26 year old Elizabeth (nee Black) in 1879. Henry adopted four year old Margaret Fountain, Elizabeth's daughter by John James Fountain. Henry's son, Henry Lilley Whitford was born to the couple in 1880, then Eliza Ann Whitford in 1886, in Henry's 81st year. His new lease on life must have proved too much for him and he died in 1889 and was also buried at the Little Para Cemetery.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Little Para Wesleyan Cemetery

On Williams Road, Hillbank, lies the remains of the Little Para Wesleyan Cemetery and chapel.

The small cemetery situated on section 3092 originally belonged to the Wesleyan Methodists from the Gawler circuit.  The chapel was built in 1857 on land originally owned by Thomas Williams.  The church was demolished in 1902.  The chapel served the needs of the small settlement on the Little Para around the Old Spot hotel.  Unfortunately we have no photograph or drawing of the chapel.

Amongst the burials are members of the Goodman, Watts, Chapman, Billing, Henderson, Matthew and Williams families. The first burial recorded was that of Lydia Tippett aged 4 months on the 2 October 1860.    We have a record of 37 individuals buried on site, the last burial occurred in 1899. Remains of the Williams family underground burial vault can still be seen.

The land that once held the chapel is now part of a housing estate and the cemetery has been incorporated into a park.  No legible headstones remain.

The Burial register is held at the Uniting Church Archives.

Entrance to cemetery
William's family vault

Friday, February 10, 2017

The Catholic Thompson family of Penfield

Virginia was settled by Irish Catholic migrants, and so it is not surprising that a nun came from the district.  The very Catholic Thompsons were active in the Catholic community and granddaughter Ruth joined the Dominican order. 

James Thompson, died at his residence, "Chelsea," Salisbury, on January 13, 1925. He was born 85 previously in Bowden.  He was a member of that sturdy band who drove their bullock teams with copper ore over that tedious journey, from Burra to Adelaide. He was married in St. Patrick's Church, Adelaide, in 1865 to Mary Spain, a daughter of another early settler in Salisbury. 

He invested his savings in agricultural land, and with his young bride to cheer and help him he successfully farmed for many years at Red Banks and Salisbury, and subsequently became the licensee of the Railway and the Governor MacDonnell hotels, Salisbury.  The Thompson’s placed their homestead at the disposal of the Red Banks priest, who at stated periods said Mass there for the people in that scattered district. After relinquishing the hotel business he purchased a private residence in Salisbury and retired from active business.
He served for years as councillor in the Yatala North District Council, and was also a zealous member of St. Augustine's Church committee.

He had a family of six children; two sons and four daughters: Patrick Thompson, Penfield; Mr. James Thompson, Salisbury; Mrs. Mary Immaculate O'Brien, Adelaide; Mrs. Eliza Ann Doyle, Hamley Bridge; Mrs Teresa Jane O'Brien, Salisbury; and Mrs. Cicely Ruth 0’Leary.
His remains were interred in the Salisbury Cemetery.

The eldest son Patrick engaged in farming at Penfield (Willow Park) before his marriage.  He was a staunch member of the congregation at the Church of the Assumption, Virginia, of the H.A.C.B. (Hibernian Australia Catholic Benefit) Society, Salisbury Branch, and of the Virginia Hunt Club and Football Club, and was a foundation trustee of the Virginia Institute.
All who knew the him had nothing but words of praise for his kindly disposition and unfailing charity at all times. He left a widow and three daughters when he passed away on July 29, 1937.  Mrs. A. O'Leary, Woodville; Mrs. A. O'Leary, Salisbury; Sister M. Emmanuel, O.P., St. Dominic's Priory, North Adelaide; and one son, Mr. Jack Thompson, of Penfield.

Patrick married Anne Elizabeth O’Brien in 1890.  Anne was a member of The Assumption Church, Virginia, for over 47 years.  She was born on the feast of the Assumption, 1857, and was the daughter of the late John and Mary O'Brien, of Sheaoak Log.  Both of her parents hailed from Ireland.
They then took up farm life at Penfield, where they lived until 1937.  As a child, when churches were fewer, the late Archbishop Reynolds said Mass in the house of her parents.  It was the Archbishop's first Mass in a private house, and the place became fittingly known as the Home of the Stations.

The Thompson's home was known for its hospitality to Priests. They were willing and generous worker in parish activities.
For twenty years, Anne was a Dominican Tertiary[1]. During the last ten years, she was regularly visited by Rev. Mother Prioress and the Sisters of St. Dominic's Priory, North Adelaide, where her daughter was a nun.

Anne Elizabeth died on June 16 1947. Her body was buried in St. Augustine's Church, Salisbury, where she was buried in the habit of the Dominican Order.
It was no wonder that their daughter, Ruth born on the 15th May 1894 at Penfield raised in a very Catholic family decided to join a religious order.  Known as Sister Mary Emmanuel Thompson she became a teaching Sister at St. Dominic's Priory, Molesworth St. North Adelaide.

Sister Mary died on the 16 May 1964 at Calvary Hospital, North Adelaide, aged 70.  She is buried in the West Terrace Cemetery Catholic Section.
References used
Southern Cross 23 Jan 1925
Southern Cross 20 Aug 1937
Southern Cross 4 July 1947

[1] A Dominicans tertiary are men and women, singles and couples living a Christian life with a Dominican spirituality in the secular world. The Life of a Dominican layperson is all about having a passion for the Word of God. It is about committing oneself to a community of like-minded brothers and sisters that immerse themselves in the Word of God.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

The marble altar of Our Lady of the Assumption Catholic Church, Virginia

Since 1868, this elaborate marble altar has graced the church of Our Lady of the Assumption in Virginia.  The text below details the dedication of the altar.

The altar-is erected on a slab of Willunga slate 4 feet by 12, and 2 inches thick, with a foundation of five feet of solid masonry, well concreted. The base is of white Italian marble, which supports four pedestals or pillars of Irish black and red marble, surmounted with caps of alabaster, which support three arches that form the front of the altar. The table, which is in one slab 3 feet by 10 1/2, a foot thick, beautifully polished, and weighing nearly one ton, is of white Italian marble. The back is all of beautifully pained English marble of various colours. The tabernacle, which stands on the table, is two feet by two and a half, and is of coloured marble. A strong course of white Italian marble finishes the first cornice, which is six feet from the base of the altar. Then follows seven recesses or arches, supported by 10 pedestals of black and red marble, exquisitely polished, the caps and bases of which are all alabaster, supporting two piers of black and white English. The top cornice is finished in Italian, freestone projecting six inches over quoins and columns, and is ten feet from the base of the altar. The weight of the altar is five tons, the height and width 12 feet, and the depth from the front of the table to the back three feet nine inches.

The cost of this was £390, including the mouldings in tile sanctuary, which is in keeping with the style of the altar. Mr McMullen, of Adelaide, put the altar together.  The altar arrived by the ship Yatala. The Catholic ladies of Virginia waited on the Vicar-General the Very Rev. J. Smyth, and asked him to send home for plans, which he did, and two were sent out by the agent for the South Australian Diocese, the Very Dr. Heptonstall, of Blackmore Park, England and the one now erected was selected.  It was made by one of the first-class marble manufacturers in London, and it was put together in the studio before it was shipped. The chancel or sanctuary in which it is erected is sixteen feet in the clear.

The dedication of the alter took place on September 20th, 1868, the Very Rev. Vicar-General officiating.  At 11 o'clock the ceremony commenced by the choir chanting " O Immaculati" according to the rubrics of the Catholic Church. The altar was then solemnly dedicated, and the chancel opened by the Vicar-General, who commenced Mass immediately afterwards, and at the finishing of the last Gospel, preached an eloquent and impressive sermon, taking his text from the Hebrews, ch. xiii., v. 10—"We have an altar whereof they have no right to eat who serve the tabernacle.'

The altar was beautifully decorated with very costly vases and flowers, and on the marble canopy stood a very large statue of the Madonna and Child, which had been given as a present by Michael Hewitt, of Penfield, and on either side stood two magnificent marble vases. Mr. Hewitt has also made a present of six massive silver candlesticks, which cost in the whole fifteen guineas, and are in admirable keeping with the style of the altar. The Vicar-General has also made a present of a handsome marble Credence table. Miss Ward, of Emerald-hill Melbourne, has sent to the Secretary two guineas to purchase something appropriate in tile shape of ornamentation for the altar, and many other presents have been made, including some large and exquisite bunches of flowers which had been given by the Misses Forrestall, and many other very valuable presents are promised and forthcoming.