Daniel Ward 1869 - 23 October, 1942

This Daniel Ward (his father was another, his oldest son who was known as Barney was another and yet another is my brother) was born in Purga in south east Queensland.  No-one seems to know anything about this Purga place, except that it is near Ipswich and was an immigrants camp. I took a photo out of a car window a few years ago as we passed a sign saying Purga but saw nothing but a paddock.

He was brought to Thornton, along the banks of the Laidley Creek, when he was 10 years old by his Irish immigrant parents, Daniel and Elizabeth (Eliza) Ward.  

Of his childhood I know nothing.  When he was 12 in 1881 his father was one of the local farmers who applied to the government to open a school in Thornton.  How he and his siblings were educated, I don't know but it's probable that they rode horses to Mulgowie, about 10 miles away, where a school had opened in 1877.  No Wards appeared on the Thornton school rolls until his oldest daughter, Dolly (Mary Anne) started school in 1900.  It was common in those times for people to ride long distances to and from school and, as they grew older, to attend dances.   His third son, Charley regularly rode over the Liverpool Range at the back of the farm to court our Aunt Kathleen who lived in Rosewood. 
When his mother died in 1900 a death notice tells she had four sons and a daughter, Catherine Mary who married Patrick John Mc Grath in 1886.    I always knew there was a connection with the Mc Graths, it's nice to finally know where it came from.  Shame none of my brothers were gifted cricketers!  Now that I've said that, one of them is bound to disagree with me.  My brother Danny I suspect.

He was married on 26 February, 1895 to Margaret Carroll, an orphan who had been sent from an orphanage to work as a maid for the family.  When they married he was 26, she but 16 years old.   Their first child was born the following year.  A further 13 children were born over the following 29 years.  My father was the 11th of these children.
Because he became quite involved in community matters over his lifetime, upon his death he had quite a lengthy obituary notice in the local newspaper.  On two different occasions he was a member of the Laidley Shire Council and for about 35 years was Chairman of the Thornton School Committee. He was a foundation member of the Laidley Hibernian Australian Catholic Benefit Society. a church-based support network.  For many years he was a member of the Laidley Hospital Board and also a member of the Laidley Agricultural and Industrial Society and took a keen interest in the life of St Patricks Catholic Church in Laidley.  I also found an article in the Queensland Times mentioning he was Clerk of the Course at the Laidley races.  This rings true as enjoyment of horse-racing seems to be something of a family trait.  Is that sort of pleasure genetic? 

We must remember that it was a 16 mile trip into Laidley made on horseback or horse and buggy until the family secured their first car in 1929.  All that community involvement would have taken a fair amount of commitment.
It's known that there were a number of excellent horses on his farm, including an ex racehorse.

The story goes that when my father joined the light horse brigade in the army in January, 1942 his father gave him a beautiful bay mare, the best horse on the farm, so Dad would have a good horse under him.  (Men who joined the Light Horse provided their own mount.)  On one occasion there was a huge army procession down Queen Street in Brisbane with Dad's commanding officer mounted on Dad's horse leading the parade.  And Dad on some old nag with feathery feet, almost a draught horse.  The C.O. had swapped his scrubber for the good bay mare.

The Catholics of the district gathered on a week day about every three months when the parish priest would visit the Wards and the two other Catholic families in the district, in turn, to celebrate Mass.  This was a popular social event and even the "big spread" that followed is mentioned in the Thornton-Townson 100th Reunion booklet. 

I've never even seen a photo of this Grandfather of mine although I've heard of a photo of a little man with a big white moustache and white hair which is thought to be him.

My other grandfather could always be relied upon to give us a funny story if we asked him what our Ward grandfather or great grandfather  had been like.   I can't remember the stories but he would say Old Dan Dunna-ya-know Ward was sitting on the shores of Australia when Captain Cook sailed by.  I took that to mean he was one of those people who knew everything but goodness knows with Grandad Osborne, he was likely to tell us anything.  Regardless, he has been Old Dunnayaknow in my head ever since.  

The date of his death is certain - 23 October, 1942.  Whether his year of birth was 1867 or 1869 is unclear.  I would guess that his age on his wedding certificate (of which I have a copy) is more likely to be accurate than his age on his headstone.  He claimed to be 26 years old in 1895 so I'm making his year of birth to be 1869.  We do know he died at his residence in Thornton where he had lived all his life. 

His children were:

Mary Anne (Dolly) b 1896 d 1977
Daniel (Barney) b 1897 buried at Nudgee (Anne) 
Ester born 1900 died 1904 from polio aged 4
John (Jack) b 1903 d 1973 (Marie and Jackta) buried at Nudgee
Tom – strangled in a mosquito net aged 8 – 9 months old (but I'm not sure what place in the family order)
Charles (Charlie) b 1905 (Tim, Catherine, Pat, Vonnie) buried at Rosevale
James (Jim) b 1908 buried at Nudgee (Jennifer, Carmel, Janice, Catherine)               
Eva Marguerita (Sister Mary Paulina) b 1910 became a nun 8 July 1930 buried at Nudgee
Eileen b 1912 died 1941 aged 29 
Elizabeth Josephine (Jo) b 1914 buried at Nudgee (Margaret, Brian, Mary, Betty) 
Andrew (Andy) b 11.02.1918 died 10.02.2007  buried at Nudgee 
Monica (Monnie) b 1920 buried at Laidley (Terry, Eileen, Garry, Gerard,          ?) 
Arthur Terence (Terry) 08.02.1921 according to Army records but he put his age up - buried at Kalbar (Phillip, Denise)
Alica May (Maisie) b 6 July, 1924 - 7 December, 2010 (John, Peter, Paul) 

Eileen, who was a governess “out west”, died from blood poisoning in 1941, aged 29.  She was engaged to be married.  She had a pimple on her forehead which she had pricked with a needle after sterilizing it.  She'd gone to Brisbane to visit Uncle Jack and was wearing a felt hat, as was the custom of time.  Ladies did not venture forth without their hat and gloves.  It is thought the hat rubbing against the pimple may have caused the infection.  Uncle Jack took her to a doctor, the doctor said it was two days too late.

Everyone in the family had their blood tested to find a donor for a blood transfusion.  Charlie, Dad and Jo all had the same blood type as Eileen but Dad, aged 23, was chosen to give blood because of his fitness.  Dad said he had to lay down for an hour, they took the blood, then lay down for another hour before being told to go home and lay down again, a very different experience from donating blood these days.  Dad became a life long blood donor and made sure we all did too.  These days such a simple infection would be easily treated but then there was no penicillin.  Australia became the first country in the world to make penicillin available to civilians in 1943, just two years too late to save Eileen.  When we were young, Dad always insisted that we girls brush our hair each and every night before bed, 100 strokes.   He would tell us about Eileen's long black hair and how she would brush it each night until sparks flew across the room.  I don't think he ever spoke of his lovely big sister without sadness, I know he thought her death was a tragedy.  

 An old shed which today still stands at the back of the old Ward homestead.

I never knew anything about the two older siblings who had died, just that they had existed, until I sat down with Dad and Mum after Esme died and asked them to tell me more about the family.  Ester's death he seemed pretty matter of fact about and I put that down to the fact he had never known her but his voice choked up a bit when he told me about Tom.  Of course, that too had happened before Dad was born but he said his older brothers often spoke about it and said no-one thought Grandma Ward would ever recover from that and she was never the same person afterwards, there was a spark that was never seen again. 

Grandma Ward always seemed something of an enigma to me.  I guess by the time I have clear memories of her, from about 8 or 9, she was already 75 years old.  She was a refined, gentle old lady who never had a lot to say, Aunty Dolly ran the house and seemed to me to be the boss.  It always seemed impossible to me that this genteel old lady had given birth to 14 children and raised 12 of them in the bush, when life in the bush had been very hard indeed.  Before electricity, phones, motorcars, let alone a mod con.  I used to wonder if Dad actually loved her or visited regularly because he was scared of Aunty Dolly telling him off if he didn't.  I suspect I thought such things because Dad's sense of “duty” came through so strongly but, in those days, he didn't seem loving to me.  He was the strict father, the disciplinarian.  I think now that he was just a product of the times and his own upbringing.  He was never very comfortable with any show of affection.

I guess today you would say my Ward grandparents were very community minded.  Grandfather served on the school committee and council, Grandmother acted as midwife to the local community.  What she lacked in qualifications she made up for in experience.  Dad told me how when he was young they would hear a horse galloping towards their home in the night, a male voice calling for Mother Ward to come quick, come and help.  And they would know that somewhere in the district there was another baby on the way.   Sometimes his mother would not be back by morning, or even the following night but life continued as usual with the older girls picking up the reins.  

During the second World War the telephone line only went as far as the Ward's homestead so the family acted as a emergency message service for those who lived further along the road (up the creek).  Dad had joined the army and was waiting to board a troop train to North Queensland for jungle training prior to deployment in New Guinea when he was ordered to stand down.  His mother had requested that he be returned to the farm and as the food supply for troops and the country was so important, he was sent home.  My Aunty Maisie told me he was 'dirty' with his mother for years about that.  I know he felt bad that he had never served his country.  He joined the Volunteer Defence Corps which he referred to as the Home Guard (or Dad's Army) and did his bit but the one way he made a real contribution to the war effort was in delivering those terrible telegrams that were sent to the families of those killed or missing in action.  A telegram would be rung through to the Ward homestead and regardless of the hour, day or night, Dad would saddle a horse and ride up the creek.  Bear in mind, this was a small district, the men killed were well known, many of them his mates.  I recall a local lady telling me every time she saw my father she would hear a horse galloping in her head and fear would grip her.  This was in the 80s, all those years later.  She told me how the families would wake up when they heard a horse galloping up the road, they would lay in the dark praying it didn't slow down at their place, then relief would sweep in as it went on by.  Then, of course, there was guilt and concern that a friend or neighbour would be getting bad news.    Later they would hear the horse quietly walking back down the road and guess by the time between it's coming and going which household would be grieving.
My oldest cousin, Marie is 14 years younger than Dad, so she has known him for most of his life, since he was a young, single man.  I think her recollection of Ward history should be recorded.  The following is her speech at Mum and Dad's 60th wedding anniversary on 5 September, 2004.

Except for Maisie I have probably known Andy longer than anyone here.  For close on 72 years he has been an important part of my life.

Could I take you on a journey with me?  Back 60 years to the 17th June, 1944 to St Patrick's Church, Laidley.  We are spectators at the wedding of Andrew Ward and Lily Osborne.  He a very handsome 26 year old farmer, and she just 18, surely the prettiest girl in the shire.  Australia is at war.  Food and clothing are rationed and Lily wears a pink dress and hat.  There are no spare clothing coupons available for a wedding dress when a home has to be established.  Maisie Osborne, Lily's sister is bridesmaid and Andy is attended by Jack Wilson, not yet married to Maisie Ward.  Andy's brother, Terry, his lifelong best friend, would have been with him on this important day but he is away with the A.I.F. fighting in New Guinea.

I wasn't at the wedding but I was at the “tin canning” a short time later.  After the Thornton house was dark, a fearful din broke out.  It was some of Andy and Lily's friends and neighbours banging on milkcans and saucepans and ringing cow bells to get the young couple out of bed.  We all got up.  I don't think it was much of a surprise, as all on grandma's side of the house anyway were all dressed, and the party began!  There was a piano in the parlour and Maisie was soon banging away while the very unmusical Wards and their friends sang their little hearts out.  We had some wonderful times around that old piano and the windup gramophone, “Clementine”, “Blueberry Hill” and “Nursie” were always on the programme.

Jackta and I had great holidays on the farm.  Our father Jack went back to help on the farm as often as he could and we had a ball.  Farming is hard work but we little girls didn't know that.  The women were mostly occupied providing food for breakfast, morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner for the men who toiled all day.  The big, black wood stove was always lit and provided some great meals, scones and cakes, as well as heating the heavy irons and water for the ladies' baths.   One small kettle of hot water and two of cold was the ration from Aunty Dolly.  The rain water soaped up beautifully and we would itch for a long time after our joint bath.  Butter was made by hand, and washing day, boiling up in the yard and hanging out in the home paddock nearly did take all day.

All this Lily took on when she came to Thornton.  It could not have been easy for her, so young, and having to live in half a house with her mother-in-law and Aunty Dolly, her eldest sister-in-law, in the other half.  She got on with it, and soon was bringing up her own first child.
Mum and Dad lived in the right hand half of the house.  
This was home to the oldest five of our family.

I've done a few calculations.  When Pauline began to eat solids, Lily produced 1,095 meals the first year to feed her.  By the time Janet was on solids Lily was turning out 13,140 childrens' meals a year and 2,190 for Andy and herself.  Working on 10 nappies a day in the days before disposables, she would have changed, washed and folded 3,650 for Pauline in her first 12 months.  So in the first 12 months of their lives 12 children were probably responsible for at least 43,800 nappies.  If Lily had the time, I'm willing to bet she would have been a most enthusiastic potty trainer.  If you were to ask Lily what she did “just a housewife” would be the answer.  “Heroic housewife” surely would be more apt.  Andy was born in the last year of the First World War, into a home without electricity or any of the comforts we take for granted today.  He grew up and went to Mulgowie State School with his brothers and sisters and learnt to be a farmer.

As a farmer his day started at sunup with the milking and finished at sunset, when he stood, winter and summer, under a trickle of water from the tankstand and then came upstairs, combed, clean and smelling of soap for dinner. 

When we were there they played cards every night, mostly euchre, our Grandpa, whose sons called him “Boss” because believe me he was, Jack, Jim, Andy, Terry and Dolly.  The hurricane lamps would dance on the table as they slapped down the cards to take tricks.  They were most competitive players, real life and death stuff.  I've said Andy was handsome. He was also tough, very strong, a good rider and a more than competitive and competent footballer and a tireless worker.  A good dancer, his hair was bryllcreamed to shiny, neat perfection before he ventured out for a Saturday night dance.

On the farm everything was done by hand.  He walked behind the horse with the reins around his neck guiding the plough, mostly in a cloud of dust.  Seed was planted and eventually the potatoes, hoed, picked and bagged, corn cut, lucerne scythed and piled into stooks which were then forked up onto the dray to go to the hayshed to eventually be made into chaff and bagged.  I remember the draught horses, particularly Blossom and Nugget.  Nugget was almost twice as tall as Andy with hooves big as dinner plates. Andy just bossed these huge animals around and at the end of a long day fed them large bales of hay.  In his spare time he mustered the mountain and back paddocks where he was always, always fixing the windmill.  The cattle were brought to the house paddock to be dipped, branded, ears clipped and other unmentionable things done which we were not allowed to watch. He bled the bleeder bullock and inoculated the cattle and neighbours would come to get blood for their stock.  He had to service the outdoor loo and always have a clean pan ready for visitors and he kept the woodbox full.  One day he cut his little toe off, took the wood upstairs and gave the toe to his mother.  Grandma put it in metho in an essence bottle and one of the first things Jackta and I would do on our visits was check the bottom drawer of the sewing machine to make sure it was still there – it always was!

Andy joined the Light Horse during the war.  Grandpa Ward died in 1942, aged 75.  When Terry turned 21 he enlisted in the AIF and Andy was demobbed and had to come home to run the farm.  They had 999 acres to look after and farming was an essential service.  With the help of hired hands, Percy who rode a white horse (and I thought very handsome) and Tommy Day, a very tall thin man, Andy kept the farm going.  It became harder and harder however and in 1952 it was sold. 

Andy and Lily located to Nudgee to the house they live in still and Andy became a carpenter.  He became very involved in the Parish here and worked for many years for the handicapped residents at Holy Cross at Wooloowin.  As a couple they have always been ready to help someone else and to share what they have.  Lily, the oldest of 5 and Andy, third youngest of 14, set about making their own remarkable family of 12, before family payments and Government help of any kind.  Any money in their home was made by Andy's two hands and Lily had to spend it wisely and well.  In those days if you didn't work you didn't eat.  It was as simple as that. 

Let's fast forward to today – 60 years later and the love they had for each other is still there through all the joys and sorrows, laughter and tears, good health and bad.  Their 12 children are a credit to them both and the fact they are all here and all get on so well with each other is further testament to a really good marriage and family togetherness.

So, Andy and Lily, we congratulate you sincerely on this great occasion and hope you are aware of the love and respect we have for you both.

In this Olympic year we award you a gold medal for 60 years of love, devotion and steadfastness.

May God bless you both.

A few months after the anniversary party Marie wrote out the following for us:

Because some of you asked for a copy of my speech you may be interested in some more about Thornton.

Barney, Jack, Jim, Charlie, Andy and Terry would have all worked during their childhood and early teens doing the things I've described on the farm.  Barney and Jack finished their education at the Brothers in Ipswich and then went to Brisbane to work.  I think there may have been too many children to live off the land. 

Barney became a public servant.  He was nice but was always telling other family members what they should be doing.  He had a sad life and died of a brain tumour.  He was a reasonably good boxer in his youth.  He married a lovely lady called Claire and they fostered a pretty, dark-haired girl called Ruth.  When she was 14 her father, who was working away from Brisbane, took her back because she was old enough to work and bring in money.  They never saw her again and I know it broke their hearts.  Aunty Claire became ill with TB and after she died Barney married Val and they eventually adopted Anne from Nudgee Orphanage.  Barney taught Dad, Charlie and Jim to swim by just throwing them in a deep waterhole in the creek which flowed very freely in those days. 

I know my father, Jack, loved the land.  He joined the Agricultural and Rural Bank.  At 18 he became their youngest valuer, was given a car which he learned to drive taking up his first post at Gympie.  It was dirt road all the way and took him two days to get there.  Eventually he became the 1st Chief Valuer for Queensland for the Commonwealth Bank armed only with a Junior Certificate and practical experience.  He died of a massive heart attach in 1973, aged 70.

Jackta and I loved going down the lane and over the creek to Jim and May's house.  They lived opposite the family home at Thornton.  It was a prosperous dairy farm with a big herd of jersey cows.  The farm had electricity so milking was done by machine and the cream and milk separated at the press of a button.  Andy milked by hand and sometimes had to leg rope a cow because she kicked or was stupid enough to put her hoof in the milk bucket.  Sometimes Andy would squirt the warm milk at us or into the mouth of one of the dogs.  Aunty May was a great cook and there were always cakes and bickies at her place.  Sometimes a cow would get into the lucerne and bloat, and to save it Jim would stick a knife into its side to let the gas out.  I saw this twice and the smell was incredible.  It didn't seem to worry the cow. 

Charlie rode over the Liverpool Range at the back of the family farm to court Kathleen Dwyer of Rosewood.  When they married they farmed at Rosevale.  He wasn't much of a farmer but he was a fun uncle with plenty of time to play with us.  He did daft things.  He once bought an expensive saddle when he didn't have a horse and they never had electricity connected to their house.  His feet were like leather because he seldom wore shoes.  He would sometimes earn a few bob by coming over the mountain and picking the potatoes while we were on holiday.  Aunty Kathleen was very religious. When she wrote to us every sentence ended with T.G. or P.G. for Thank God or Please God as in “It rained heavily last night T.G.” or “They say it will soon rain P.G.”

Terry saved his money from his Army pay and bought a truck and started carting in the district.  We all know how well he and Aunty Jean did.  He loved going to the races with my dad and we saw quite a lot of him at Brighton where we lived over the road from Grandma and Aunty Dolly.  He went off to the war a very handsome young man, went over the Kokoda Track and returned gaunt, yellow, terribly thin and sick looking with thinning hair.  He never talked about his experiences until many years later. 

Terry and Andy were 12 and 14 when I was born.  One Christmas, Father Christmas brought me a wind-up monkey which turned cart-wheels on a frame.  They almost wore it out playing with it.  I don't think there were too many toys ever at Thornton.  Dad told he was only ever invited to one birthday party.  His father took him into Laidley and they bought a pen-knife as a present which Dad fell in love with.  Dad couldn't bear to give that knife away so he didn't go to the party.  When our first child Lindsay was about two, again at Christmas, we gave Lindsay a battery operated timber train which would load and unload 10 little logs at a siding and pick them up again next time around.  Terry loved it and play with it until the batteries ran out.  It was hard to explain to an almost two year old. 

The Thornton house had many beds with some along the verandah.  Here the men rested after lunch during the hottest part of the day.  Andy and Terry slept there at night too.  It gets pretty cold during winter up that valley.  I used to sleep with Aunty Dolly.  She had long hair she wore in a bun which she let loose at night.  Sleeping, she would give a mighty toss of her head and cover my face with long strands of hair.  I hated it!  One night when she was putting me to bed, she saw a lump under the quilt and discovered a snake.  Snakes were an occupational hazard in the bush.

A carpet snake lived in the big pantry off the kitchen, and we kept a wary eye on it, having a bath in a big washing tub before the bathroom was built at the end of the verandah.

Grandma's rose garden was always beautiful and  along the path from the front gate there were two circular beds on each side.  There was a white fence at the front and along the left hand side.  To the right, from the house, were a few rows of grapes, and I would eat grapes until my teeth ached.  Watermelons, pie melons and pumpkins were grown down by the creek and mostly were fed to the pigs. 

Jackta and I were so lucky being born when we were.  We were taught to ride, climbed the hay stack looking for eggs and scrambled under the barn to search out the clutch of eggs some clever hen had hidden.  We helped feed the calves, sucking on our milky fingers to get them started, and the pigs.  We helped with the dipping, opening and shutting the gate after the cattle jumped in the dip and had to stand in the gate while the men sorted the cattle to be sold.  Some we let through, others we had to stop.  Some had very big horns!  We rode over to the back paddock with Andy and Dad past Jim's paddock with a very bad tampered bull who would walk along the fence line roaring at us.  We always rode the other side of the men just in case it broke out.  We were busy getting the cows out of the lucerne when Dolly waved a tea towel from the verandah signaling the cows half hour feed of lucerne was up.  We stamped the lucerne down on the dray when it was forked up.  We helped separate the cream from the milk, washed and dried the separator afterwards.  Every day was an adventure.

Maisie told me Grandma Ward hated Andy and Terry playing football because of their injuries.  They would tell her they were just going to watch, having thrown their football boots over the railings of the verandah beforehand and going off in the Crosby truck to the game.  They were often hurt she said because as good players the opposition tried to get them out of the game.

Sometimes the priest would say Mass in the front bedroom and neighbours would come over, but we were often driven into Laidley by Andy in the old car.  At Easter we would watch for the sun to come up dancing over the mountain.

It was hardworking families like the Wards that helped make Australia the good country it is today.  I'm proud to be part of it and I hope you are too!

PS  There was a horse called 'the Bender” because he would quickly turn around in circles when a foot was placed in the stirrup and only “The Boss” ever rode the black mare while he was alive.  

The rich soil of the valley set up with modern irrigation pipes.  The pipes and their stands look the same as those I remember from my childhood except back then the pipes were moved every couple of hours. 


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