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The Old Homestead

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Week 13 of the #52ancestors challenge is "The Old Homestead." I contemplated talking about the history of Numbers 16 and 18 Glance Street in Newmarket which saw many Shorten's through their doors. 
I contemplated talking about the legacy of my late grandfather - our holiday house in the little hamlet of Loch Sport in Gippsland, Victoria.

The first thing I thought of however, was talking a bit about the first home Nan and Pop built together in the 1950s in North Altona in Melbourne - the same home that my parents, sister and I lived in for the first eight years of my life - and a bit about their job as caretakers and cleaners of the Altona North Technical School.

In the late 1950s Pat (Nanny) and Charlie (Poppy) lived on Millers Road, Altona North where they were building their house. The building of AltonaNorthTechnicalSchool began in April of 1958. At the time:
…there were only two houses in Millers Road, the second belonging to Charlie Cauchi, a Maltese Migrant, cleaner th…

Misfortune...

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Last week, I told the story of John and Goymer Shorten and their illegal exploits in several counties in England, discussing their luck in narrowly avoiding a Capitol sentence after they were apprehended for horse stealing. Week 12 of #52ancestors gives us the prompt of "misfortune." Misfortune is defined as bad luck; an unfortunate condition or event. For John Maguire, that unfortunate event occurred on Thursday, 2nd October 1913.
John Michael Maguire (sometimes Maguire, sometimes McGuire) was the first born of Patrick Maguire and Elizabeth Monaghan, and was my 2nd great-granduncle. He was born around 1857 in County Meath, Ireland and traveled with his parents and his younger brother Patrick Michael (my x2 great grandfather) from Liverpool, England to Melbourne, Australia aboard the Phoenix on 21 July 1862. They were unassisted passengers, meaning they paid for their own passage to Australia, or were privately sponsored.


Patrick, Elizabeth and their two boys settled in Ashb…

Lucky...

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Amy Johnson Crow challenges us this week with the theme 'Lucky' in #52ancestors. What does it mean to be lucky? Dictionary.com defines it as having or being marked by good luck or fortune. For some this means only knowing success and prosperity, and for others it means a once in a lifetime opportunity. For my 3x Great Grandfather, Goymer Shorten who was a career criminal in Suffolk, England; being lucky meant he didn't hang for his crimes of horse theft!
It may seem ridiculous by modern standards, but the theft of domestic animals including sheep, cattle, horses, pigs and fowl, was quite common in the nineteenth century. Horse theft was judged to be the most serious of these offences, considering prior to the industrial revolution, horses were  the primary source of power for agriculture, trade, and transport. Given their importance for the successful continuation of industry and livelihood, it comes as no surprise that the penalty for horse theft was death.
So why was Goy…

Strong Woman...

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Happy International Women's Day! Today's blog post continues to tell the story of my 3x great grandmother, Catherine Devitt who was raised during the Great Famine in Ireland. At age 20,  when she was 2 months pregnant, she began the arduous journey in search of a better life, which brought her to Melbourne, Australia. If you missed last weeks post, I suggest reading that prior to continuing. You can find that post here : Week 9 - Where There's a Will...
What became of Catherine and Ann Fitzgerald Devitt after they left the Immigration Depot is unknown however, on 2 March 1859 Catherine married widower James Logan, a sailor from Greenock, Scotland in John Knox Presbyterian Church on Swanston Street. The ceremony was conducted by William Miller, and witnessed by William Page, and Catherine’s younger sister Ann Lowrie (nee Devitt) who had arrived in Melbourne two years prior. While neither Catherine nor James list any children on their marriage certificate, they had at least o…

Where There's a Will...

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Week 9 of the #52ancestors challenge is 'Where There's a Will...' Like most people I originally interpreted this as a legal will, or as an ancestor named Will. However, Amy Johnson Crow (the person behind the 52 ancestors in 52 weeks challenge) mentioned possibly talking about a person who was strong willed; an ancestor that possessed a lot of character. So today I am writing about Catherine Devitt, my third great-grandmother.
Martin Devitt, labourer and his wife Ann Campbell welcomed a daughter named Catherine in 1836. At the time, they were living in a small town calledMilltown Malbay, located in the heart of Kilfarboy, in County Clare, Ireland.


Miltown Malbay once had five mills, with the growing town being referred to as ‘POLL A MHUILLIN’ meaning “The Town of the Mill” or Milltown. In 1837, the town had 133 houses and 726 inhabitants, many of whom were evicted by the unpopular landlords, The Morony’s, during the Great Hunger or Great Famine - a period of mass starvation,…