Monday, 6 April 2015

No rush

I have written before about a father, John Henry de Chave, who went missing from Grafton circa 1874, although there is still hope for finding him because all avenues are not yet exhausted. de Chave, if that was his actual name, never met his father-in-law William Joseph Halligan, who also went missing albeit 15 years earlier. It only took 154 years to find out what happened, or 126 years, depending on how the extant "evidence" is approached. This is Halligan's story. 

Last month I wrote about the splitting of collections across political borders. It is not a new phenomenon. In 1948, the State Library of Queensland purchased a 0.03 linear metre-sized document called Tooloom Gold Escort Petition, written in 1859-1860.  At least, I think it was. 

I found it listed in Trove, which also contains a lot of newspaper articles that mention Tooloom and the discovery of gold there, some 200 kms north of Grafton in NSW. Or as SLQ's finding aid says: "Tooloom is located 90 miles from Ipswich".

The discovered gold was sent to both Brisbane and Sydney for sale, amidst concern for its security threatened by bushrangers, thieves and general ne'er-do-wells. So there was legitimacy for either state library in Queensland or New South Wales to hold this item. Why mention Grafton? It was the home for a lot of the miners who walked or rode along the Clarence River to the successful mining areas such as Paddy's Flat and Pretty Gully, near to the Tooloom diggings.
Clarence River, Paddy's Flat, 2014

William Joseph Halligan was one such miner. A convict from Ireland, he left his wife, son and three daughters in 1859 to take advantage of the gold rush. They never saw him again, and in June 1863, placed identical advertisements several times in both the Clarence and Richmond Examiner and New England Advertiser (Grafton, NSW : 1859 - 1889) and the Goulburn Herald (NSW: 1860-1864). It may have been an evidentiary requirement for monetary reasons.

Last year, pursuing a land grant which Halligan had been granted in 1856 in Queanbeyan prior to his move north, a document was uncovered which almost but not quite filled the gap left by an unregistered and intestate death. Halligan's son, John Hallagan (1844 - 1935), claimed the Queanbeyan land in 1888. To do so, he and his mother Mary Hines (~1825 -1904) had to fill out an affadavit.

State records NSW NRS 17513/39/40 [PA 7162], 1 May 1888

A professional researcher is cognisant of the need to triangulate evidence. In sympathy with the time expended by the family originally, it seemed reasonable to travel again from northern NSW to Brisbane to look at the Tooloom Gold Escort Petition. The finding aid for item OM70-31 gives the box number '10159 o/s' so it can be ordered in advance. All quite helpful, until arrival at the John Oxley Library.

Box 10159 was fetched from the stacks, but a quick assay confirmed that it was not the the right box. 

The internal catalogue showed that the box number had changed. Thinking again of that family, my family, I waited for the next likely box, 8673, to arrive. 

At the same time the librarians checked the internal catalogue and confirmed that the document had been missing since 27 July 1997. Another journey of despair. No explanation was given for not providing this status in the public catalogue, so perhaps there is a possibility it will be found in the collection of the State Library of Queensland one day. Hopefully without waiting another 126 years.

1 comment:

  1. There needs to be a like button, like facebook. Can you post this on facebook also?