John is said to have inherited ‟the house with many chimneys”. Where was this house, Lahardane? If John inherited the estate, (and the story seems to bear some measure of truth) he did not manage to keep it. He is reputed to have lost much to gambling and that he left Ireland because the bailiffs wanted a word with him. Somehow he had enough resources to get a passage to Melbourne. Griffiths Valuation records show that by 1876 neither John nor any other O’Connell owned land at Lahardane. (John inherited the lease to Lahardane in 1869 after James’ death and held it till 1875.)
The same tragedy faced the Hennesseys. They also lost everything to carelessness and drink. Jeremiah and Edward were almost paupers when they died. Only for their brother helping them to buy a little house at Aphona, Ballybunion they would have been homeless.
John’s death certificate notes that he married twice. The first was to Bridget Harrington, in Ireland and they had two sons, James and John. The certificate states that James was ‟dead” and the second son, John ‟unknown”. It also records that John had been ‟a colonist for 55 years” at his death. This means he arrived in Australia about 1876, five years before his mother’s death and when he was around twenty nine years old. We know nothing more of Bridget. Did she feel she was better off staying in Ireland? Or was Bridget already dead? There was a Michael P. O’Connell born to a ‟Mina Harrington” and John O’Connell in Lahardane, 5 July, 1875.
John O’Connell and Bridget Harrington of Listowel had:
In Victoria John met Sarah Bowden and with her produced another son, Michael, born 1890, who died in September 1891. This Michael Bowden was the first person buried in a plot in the Boroondara cemetery (now known as Kew cemetery), Melbourne. John paid for this plot and he was buried there in 1930. Three more people are interred in this same grave. They are Arthur Harris (died 1913 aged 37) Frederick Harris (died 1924 aged 53) and Annie Harris (died 1970 aged 92). Who are they? His death certificate names Sarah Bowden as John’s second wife and shows that they had a daughter, Mary, who was aged thirty six at John’s death. So far we have not found a marriage certificate for Sarah and John.
The Hickman descendants in Melbourne have Sarah’s death certificate. She was born Constance Sarah Bowden c1862, daughter of Charles Bowden (carpenter) and ? Murphy. Sarah died aged forty eight in 1910 from complications suffered after a fire and is buried in the Hamilton cemetery, Melbourne.
Sarah and John had two children:
It is interesting to note that, in an obituary for John printed in the Melbourne Age on 4th June 1930, Michael is not mentioned, but a son Jack is named. Is this the John born to Bridget in Ireland? Was he still there or had he also moved to Australia?
Records for Mary Bowden note that she was born in 1892 in Collingwood, Melbourne, as Mary Anna, to Sarah Bowden and John O’Connell. The wording on John’s obituary suggests that Mary had married a Joseph Pohlner. This confused us for some time until we found that Mary had married first a Claude Stanley Hickman and her children (John’s grandchildren) were named Edward, Francis, Eileen and Stanley Hickman. The first marriage was to Claude Hickman (of Durban) in 1910 when she was about 18 years of age. Mary married Joseph Pohlner in 1928. She died in Caulfield in 1959.
Mary Bowden/O’Connell and Claude Hickman had:
Stanley Hickman and Teresa Casey had:
There are quite a few discrepancies between the various accounts of both John and Sarah’s records. John was the last of his generation and it is not known if the two remaining children were living in Melbourne. There were few left who knew his earlier family history, so inconsistencies are understandable. John’s nephews and nieces remember his visits to New Zealand and that he often needed a helping hand. He died of arteriosclerosis in Melbourne in 1930, aged 83 and is buried with his youngest son Michael in Boroondara/Kew cemetery, Melbourne.
As was almost expected, Mrs. O’Connell, whose injuries by burning were reported in the ‟Spectator”, succumbed at five o’clock on Tuesday morning. The deceased, who was of big build, had received very bad burns to the lower limbs and the lower portion of the body, besides suffering greatly from shock, which, notwithstanding the most careful attention, hastened her death. An inquiry into the circumstances of the misadventure was held before Mr Frank Uren, J.P., deputy coroner, on Tuesday afternoon. William Christopher Bones, licensed victualler, of Heywood, said he knew the deceased, Constance Sarah O’Connell. She was in his employ as cook and laundress for about three months. She was a steady, sober woman. On Monday morning she was doing the washing, when her clothes caught fire. She told him that at first she extinguished the flames, but in a few minutes her clothing caught alight again. She then rushed out into the yard. It was about seven o’clock in the morning. He was in bed and heard her screaming. When he got out they had taken her to her room and put her to bed. He was told that James Barnes, the groom, had torn her clothes from her, and that Miss Reid rushed across the street with a buggy rug and wrapped her in it. When he saw her he asked her how it happened, and she said the wood was a bit long, and projected out from the copper. It was burning on the outside, and her clothes caught from it. He then got Mr Ern. Righetti, who understood first aid, and afterwards sent for Dr. Sleeman, of Portland, who came by train. He attended to her, and ordered her removal to the hospital. He (witness) came with her by the four o’clock train to Hamilton, and had her conveyed to the hospital in the ambulance. As far as he knew, deceased had a daughter in Melbourne. Dr Alexander Grant, the medical officer at present in charge of the Hamilton hospital, said he had seen the deceased on her arrival at the institution about six o’clock on Monday evening. She was sensible and able to answer questions, but was suffering from great shock, and her pulse was very weak at times, almost pulseless in fact. Both her arms and legs were cold. He had administered stimulants and tried to restore the circulation by hot applications, but she made no response. The dressings had been well applied to the burns, and had given her relief. In his opinion she died front heart failure following on shock. The Coroner returned a verdict that Mrs. O’Connell had died from heart failure following upon shock, the result of burns received by her clothing catching fire while engaged in her occupation as a laundress.