Ellen Tobin arrived in South Australia on 10 September 1849 aboard the ‘Elgin’ which left Liverpool on 17 May via Plymouth on 1 June. She was 16 or 17 years of age and was one of 190 ‘Orphan’ girls, including 15 girls from Clonmel, on board.
[ref: Irish Famine Memorial Sydney- Famine Orphan Girls database- http://www.irishfaminememorial.org/orphans/, and
South Australia Passenger Lists- Early Shipping Arrivals and Immigration, by Barry Leadbeater- http://www.familyhistorysa.info/shipping/passengerlists.html,
and, Sources 6,7(J. Fahy), 20, 30- see below].
(S.A. Reg. No. 8/201)
The Fahys were from Knockanira, Parish of Killone, 8 kms from Ennis in Co. Clare, Ireland
(information courtesy of Fahy descendant Marilyn Corica)
This marriage was not a harmonious union. Less than a year after their marriage, the following Police Court report appeared in the South Australian Register (Adelaide), Tuesday 8 April 1851 page 3:
Ellen stated that she had left her husband because of the constant abuse and was trying to find 'a situation in Adelaide'. Whether she returned to him or carried out her threat to leave him is not known. They had no children. For poor Ellen, the beginning of her new life in this new land was a very unhappy one, having married a cruel brute of a man. She must have wondered about her decision to emigrate.
Sometime between this incident in April 1851 and her second marriage in Sydney in December 1854, her husband James Fahy/Fahey either died (no records found) or she obtained a divorce or annulment from him, which would have been an unusual step for a Catholic, but given the circumstances, she may have been driven to it, and certainly now had the evidence she needed for grounds for divorce- "this could have been a Church Divorce which meant that the Priest could convene a Church/Ecumenical Council Court, grant a divorce or annulment and they would be free to commence new lives. The Catholic Parish was St Patricks in Adelaide." ( per Marilyn Corica).
It may be the case that he divorced her on grounds of desertion.
Descendant of Ann Fahy (who died in 1872) has found that a James Fahy appeared in the Wallaroo Court on a drink charge in 1877 and at the time, three of his nephews were working at Wallaroo, and that this could indicate that James had remained living near his family.
The most likely record pertaining to Ellen Fahey's arrival in Sydney, is the record of the coastal schooner the 'Almeda' which sailed up and down the east coast between Melbourne and Newcastle, arriving in Sydney in February 1853. She would have had to travel from Adelaide to Melbourne first, either, via another coastal schooner, or overland. How she afforded these trips is a mystery, given her circumstances. And where and how she found work for the year preceding her marriage is also unknown. Maybe the Catholic Church helped her, and possibly found her a position in Sydney. She probably met her second husband through the church.
By 1854, Ellen was in Sydney where she found her new husband, and appears to have found happiness at last.
Ellen was probably born in or near the place where her brother Stephen was born, viz. Newcastle, a few miles SW of Clonmel, in the barony of West Iffa and Offa, in southern Tipperary, near the border with Co. Cork and Co. Waterford. She may have been born in the town of Clonmel. Whether the death of her mother Elizabeth Tobin nee Brien occurred before or after Ellen left Ireland for Australia is unknown, but she grew up during the period of the Great Potato Famine in the 1840’s, when Tipperary was particularly badly affected. It would appear that she was placed in the Clonmel Workhouse, possibly with her mother and two younger brothers.
Historian and author of two books on the history of the area from the Nerang to the Tweed border, Robert Longhurst described Stephen Tobin as “a determined lobbyist, an articulate man who obviously had previous experience in rattling the bones of government. In a community where many settlers could not sign their names, Tobin early on assumed a commanding role.” And, “An especially literate and forthright man, Stephen Tobin figured as a prominent community leader.
So even though Ellen ended up as a pauper in the Clonmel Workhouse following the untimely death of her father, she came from a reasonably well-off family background with sizeable landholdings in the area, not from the poor peasantry.
Where it picked up the 190 Irish orphans is not specified, but it was possibly at Cork after the ship departed Liverpool. The Clonmel Board of Guardians reported that 'In reference to the letter of the Poor Law Commissioners... date 9 May 1849, the Board resolved to fit out 15 young girls for emigration to Australia, their names and ages are as follows.... Ellen Tobin 17... these names and the corresponding characters are to be sent to Lt Henry R.N. without delay, the outfit of 8 of the above is already prepared and Col. Philpps and Dr Scully are in power to cause the necessary articles of dress etc to be got for the remaining 7 so as to have them ready for embarkation and to make arrangements for the conveyance of the whole party to Cork by the appointed time 24th May instant".
After the first 28 girls were selected for emigration in 1848, the Board reported on 14 April 1849 that "there are several other families in the workhouse eligible and willing to go and for whom the Guardians are satisfied to defray the expenses of outfit etc when sanctioned by the Commissioners."
On 21 April 1849, "In reference to an enquiry made by the Poor Law Commissioners as to the number of young females the Board would be willing to fit out for emigration they have caused a search to be made and find there are a considerable number in the house eligible and willing to emigrate: the number of such persons may be set down at 69. The Guardians are willing to comply with the necessary conditions to send out 60 of these persons and will commence the required preparations on being instructed to that effect by the Poor Law Commissioners."
Only the 15 on the Elgin went to South Australia, the others chosen went to Sydney, Port Phillip or Hobart.
(Clonmel Board of Guardians Minute Books 14 May 1849 p.306-- from typescript supplied by Dr B. Taylor sometime Deputy Keeper, Public Record Office of Northern Ireland- sourced in Barefoot and Pregnant? Irish Famine Orphans in Australia, Volume 2, p.11-12, compiled by Trevor McClaughlin, pub. Genealogical Society of Victoria, 2001.)
The first 28 girls selected by the Clonmel Board of Guardians for emigration on the ship 'Roman Emperor', were sent to Dublin, the Board paying 8 shillings car and railway fare, and 13s. 6d. for the passage from Dublin to Plymouth.
(NSW Reg. V.1854 100/708)
Not long after their marriage, Henry and Ellen Koch travelled north to QLD and settled in Dalby sometime around 1856.
Dalby, on the Myall Creek was declared a township in 1854 and became a municipality in 1863. It is on the Darling Downs, about 216 km north west of Brisbane. It is said that it was named after Dalby on the Isle of Man. The railway arrived at Dalby in 1868.
So the Koch's played an important part in the early history of this town.
By June 1857, Henry was regularly importing goods into QLD, and in September 1857 Koch was one of those praised for their efforts in fighting a fire in the Dalby Arms Hotel. By all accounts, Koch appears to have been financially well-off. Whether he made his money on one of the gold-fields is not known.
In September 1867, Henry applied for 320 acres of the land released upon the Cumkillenbar Reserve. He built a grand seven room house, approached by an avenue bordered by fruit trees and a vineyard, which masked the stockyard and a paddock under cultivation. He grew cotton with fair success, however the farming experiment ultimately proved a failure and was later sold at a loss. A report in 1874 on the Cumkillenbar Agricultural Reserve, described the Koch homestead: at one time it had been the ‘beau ideal’ of what a prosperous farmer’s residence ought to be. Koch is said to have laid out ₤1500 on the whole property. To support him in his attempt to make his farming experiment pay, he had the benefit of an income from property in Dalby to the amount of ₤250 p.a. The property passed into the hands of Messrs Bell of Jimbour for ₤300.
Koch was appointed to the Commission of the Peace in 1868. In June that year, the R.C. Bishops of Brisbane, Maitland and Goulburn visited Dalby and were conveyed to the church in the carriages of Mr Koch and Alderman O’Keeffe. The Bishops then stayed the night at the Koch residence, before moving on to Toowoomba.
In August 1870, Koch stood as a candidate for the Northern Downs, losing to Mr Bell at the election. His electoral speech revealed he held rather controversial views re the extension of the railway which he stated had been a curse to the colony; he also supported the idea that all land bordering rivers and dams should be resumed by government as reserves; and that every farmer in QLD should be allowed on the land on the same terms as squatters, which would encourage immigration to the state.
Koch held several positions of importance in the town, including J.P.
In December 1871, the Kochs decided to leave Dalby- the water supplies in the area had completely dried up and Henry announced his plan to return to America. Whether they went to America first before returning and trying their luck in the newly developing area opening up in the far north of the state near the Hodgkinson goldfields near Cooktown, or whether they went straight there is uncertain.
Ellen died of jungle fever at Smithfield in April 1878, and was buried at Smithfield the next day. She left no issue. (QLD Reg. 1878/C427)
Strangely, it was her brother Stephen Tobin who claimed her properties in Dalby, Cooktown and Smithfield in 1894, as her 'heir-in-law', not her husband.
The following year, in 1879, Henry had a narrow escape from a cruel death, in an encounter with a crocodile determined to have Koch for dinner. In that same year it was reported that he found two nuggets of gold at Tinaroo south of Cairns.
Henry Koch was last heard of when a wrote a commentary on the Land Act for 'The Worker' (Brisbane) newspaper on 28 June 1902.
The following newspaper reports reveal the details of the Koch’s lives in Dalby and Smithfield:
North Australian, Ipswich and General Advertiser , Tues 9 June 1857, p2:
Yarra Yarra: 1 case saddlery, Koch
North Australian, Ipswich and General Advertiser Tues 29 September 1857, p.3 -Fire at Dalby
On Saturday night last, about midnight, the Inn known as the Dalby Arms, was discovered to be on fire. It was first discovered by a neighbour and by the time the alarm was given the whole building was enveloped in flames.... All the inhaitants of the town were promptly on the spot, and a line was formed for the purpose of conveying water from the creek, and thanks to their exertions, the large stable adjoining was saved. There was but one lodger in the end of the house where the fire originated, and he has been arrested on suspicion of setting fire to the premises. Great praise is due to the following parties who signalised themselves by their untiring exertions to extinguish the fire:- Messrs Roche, Burns, Sapthurn, Taylor, Clarke, Koch, etc.
Darling Downs Gazette and General Advertiser, Thurs 22 July 1858 p.2
Register of Lost Stock
From Green Bank, 9 months ago, as Iron Gray Mare, long tail, branded HK WG on shoulder: owner H Koch, Dalby.
Dalby Herald & Western QLD Advertiser, Sat 13 Feb 1869
The Nunn Brothers have determined on clearing out the whole of the Damaged Stock,
Before Removing into their New Premises,
Lately built by Mr Henry Koch, on the site where the late Dalby Exchange stood in Drayton-street, etc.
The Kochs decided to leave Dalby at the end of 1871:
The following adverts for the sale of Koch's property appeared:
Description of the Cumkillenbar property:
Brisbane Courier Sat 1 Aug 1874 p.5.
Relocation to Cooktown
Whether they had first travelled back to Henry's homeland in America, which was their original intention, and had returned to QLD, is uncertain.
On 22 September 1876 Henry Koch was a candidate for alderman:
In 1875/ 76/ 77, H. Koch was listed as a saddler/harness maker, and an alderman in 1877. (The Courier 1/12/1875)
H. Cock- Hope Street- Section 19 Lot 17
Lot 19 owned by S. Tobin (Ellen’s brother)
DEATH OF ELLEN KOCH NEE TOBIN
Ellen Koch nee Tobin died 6 April 1878 at Smithfield and was buried the day after. She was 43 years of age and died of jungle fever which she contracted 4 days before.
She had not had children by either of her husbands.
The Capricornian Sat 20 Sept 1879 p15
As it appears that Henry Koch may have married again in 1880 in Sydney, it is not certain if the following newspaper accounts apply to him:
Cairns Post Sat 11 June 1887 p.3- Cairns Echoes
The 1903 Electoral Roll for QLD, District of Herbert, at Eton, shows a Henry Koch listed as a mill overseer. Eton is near Mackay in North QLD. Construction on the North Eton Central Sugar Company Ltd was registered in 1886, and work on construction of the sugar mill began in early 1887. A branch line was laid from Mackay/Eton railway line to the mill site. The mill was officially opened on 1 January 1888 and completed in August 1888, the first government financed Central Mill in Queensland crushed for the first time.
It is difficult to determine whether this refers to 'our' Henry Koch', or the Koch working at Eton Mill, or the Henry Koch named in the death record below, but it is in the same area as Eton. Clermont is about 150 kms SW of Eton. It would be interesting to know the circumstances for his state of mind.
DEATH OF HENRY KOCH
The following notices relate to the Henry C. Koch who married Ann Gahan in Sydney in 1880.
Name: Henry Christopher Koch
Date of Death: 27 Aug 1914
Place: 18 Westbourne Street, Petersham
Age: 83 (b.1831)- burial record has birth: 27 August 1831
Place of Birth: St Louis, USA
Time in Aust Colonies: 62 years- 15 yrs QLD, 47 yrs NSW (?)
Father: Henry Christopher Koch
Marriage 1- unknown; no issue
Marriage 2- Annie Gahan, place: Sydney; age of groom 49 (m.1880); no issue
Informant: Thos Loseby, Nephew, 54 Norton St, Leichhardt.
Cause of Death: Haemorrhage into spinal cord, cerebral effusion
Place of Burial: Roman Catholic Cemetery Rookwood, Catholic Mortuary 2 & 3- Plot: Section E, Row 13, No 1325
Marriage record of 2nd marriage:
1435/1880- Groom: Koch, Christopher Ho; Bride: Gahan, Ann, District: Sydney
The information was supplied by Henry's 'nephew Thos Loseby', so his knowledge of Henry's early life may have been scant, but, this Henry Koch was described as 'late of Queensland' and had remarried, and was a Catholic from America. He was 83 years of age, viz b.1831 so was an appropriate age for Ellen.
At the time of his death he was living at 18 Westbourne Street, Petersham, just south of the Parramatta Road (for what period of time is not recorded). The record also says he had lived in Queensland for only 15 years, and in NSW for 47 years, so, unless this was a clerical error, or mistaken reporting by Loseby, the record would appear not to match our Henry Koch.
However, the 1903 Electoral Roll above has a Henry Koch listed as a mill overseer at Nth Eton Sugar Mill near Mackay, Nth QLD, and the death record above lists Henry Koch's father as a "miller", so does this suggest a connection?
The 1913 Electoral Roll has Henry Koch and wife Annie living in Westbourne Street Petersham, with his occupation listed as "retired".
Death of wife Annie Koch in 1919.
A shipping record in the 'Sydney Morning Herald', Sat 2 May 1914 p24, just four months before the death of Henry Christopher Koch, has the following:
PASSENGERS BY THE VENTURA
List of passengers sailing by the steamer Ventura for San Francisco via Pago Pago and Honolulu from No 4 Wharf Darling Harbour:
Mr and Mrs Henry Koch.
It is also possible that Henry Koch died somewhere in Queensland and his death was unregistered, or he may have returned to America at an earlier time.
Ellen Koch's properties
Unusually for a woman living in that era, a number of properties in Dalby, Cooktown and Smithfield were purchased in Ellen's name only. Whether the reason for that was because Koch was not a British citizen is not known.
Stephen Tobin in a deposition attached to his claim, stated:
The document hereunto annexed is an affidavit signed and made by Henry Koch the husband of the said Ellen Koch. When the said Henry Koch discovered that he was not the heir at law of his deceased wife (the said Ellen Koch) he caused the said document to be given to me. I claim that the Estate or Interest of the said Ellen Koch deceased has become transmitted to me as the eldest brother and heir at law of the said Ellen Koch deceased in consequence of the death of the said Ellen Koch Intestate and without issue.
(QLD State Archives, N11667, dated 15/2/94- In the Matter of Deeds of Grant No. 34143, Vol. 306, Folio 153; and No. 30516, v.266, f.26; and No. 33453 v.297 f.214)
The other two properties, both in Smithfield, Allotment 6 Section 3 and Allotment 14 Section 2, were transferred under Local Authority Act possibly for non-payment of rates- one in 1924 and the other in 1932. Both of these were after Stephen's death which was in 1904. Stephen left no will, so maybe the family didn't know of their existence and as such they were reclaimed by the Lands Department.
The following article, in 1903, concerns the Koch's Dalby property:
An Ellen Agnes O'Neill (b.1880/81) married Hugh Michael Sweeney in 1898 in QLD. Hugh raced horses in the 1880's and was running a pub in Dalby, the Golden Fleece Hotel in the early 1900's.
Link back to Introduction:
Links to all other chapters in this blog:
Tobin and Driscoll family in Tipperary Ireland
Tobin family settle in Gerringong, NSW, Australia in 1857
Tobin family settle in Tallebudgera Queensland in 1870
Life at Tallebudgera for the Tobin Family until 1892
Tobin family move back to NSW and Western Australia- deaths of Stephen and Mary
Stephen Tobin's sister Catherine Tobin- marriage to Timothy Guinea
Bushrangers in the family
Stephen Tobin's sister Ellen Tobin- an Irish female orphan immigrant in 1850
Stephen Tobin's daughter Katherine Tobin- marriage to Adolph Poulsen
Sons of Stephen Tobin and Mary Driscoll
Daughters of Stephen Tobin and Mary Driscoll
Irish Roots of Tobins, Driscolls, O'Briens, and Whites
Refs: Family History South Australia website by Barry Leadbeater
South Australian Emigrant Sources- 2,4, 6,7, 20, 30: