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52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Week 1 Foundations – Thomas Price

6 January 2022

In 2022 I am participating in Amy Johnson Crow’s blog challenge 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks to keep me motivated and blog writing my family stories. During the last two years my blog posts have been few and often far between. Hopefully I will be able to keep up the pace.

In Week 1 the theme is Foundations which can be interpreted however we like. My mother was a Price and very proud of her family. Her Price family stems from one emigrant couple, Thomas Price and Elizabeth Judge/Pollard.

Thomas Price and his wife Elizabeth Judge/Pollard

Thomas was the son of Solomon and Ann Price and born in 1857 in Wednesbury, Staffordshire, England. He married Elizabeth Judge on 7 April 1878 at Tipton, Staffordshire. Three weeks later they sailed from London on 2 May 1878 on board the Samuel Plimsoll with an assisted passage.

Those must have been very exciting and eventful weeks knowing that they were leaving their families behind. Thomas and Elizabeth arrived in Sydney, New South Wales on 28 July 1878 after nearly two months at sea.

After their arrival in Sydney, it appears that Thomas and Elizabeth had no fixed plan on where to settle. They moved around trying to find a place to call home. The birth of their ten children illustrates their wanderings throughout New South Wales and Queensland.  Illustration.

  • Solomon Price born 1878 in Caleula, New South Wales
  • William Price born 1880 in Orange, New South Wales
  • Thomas Price born 1881 in Parramatta, New South Wales
  • Elizabeth Ann Price born 1883 in Kiama, New South Wales
  • Clara Price born 1886 in Broughton, New South Wales
  • Henry Price born 1887 in Nattai, New South Wales
  • George Price born 1889 in Bundamba, Queensland
  • Stillborn child born 1892 in Bundaberg, Queensland
  • Herbert Leslie Price born 1894 in Charters Towers, Queensland
  • Annie Lewis Price born 1897 in Charters Towers, Queensland

Charters Towers in Queensland was their final choice. Certainly, Thomas and Elizabeth spent more years there than anywhere else. However, it was not to be their final resting place.

Both Thomas and Elizabeth Price were very active in the running of the Charters towers Baptist Church located in Ryan Street, Charters Towers. Thomas was a Deacon of the Church and acted as Treasurer for three years 1907-1911. From 1910-1913 he also held the position of Superintendent of Sunday School at the Ryan Street Church. Elizabeth was a Deaconess of the Church during the period 1907-1911. Both may have held their respective positions for longer, but not all year books of the Queensland Baptist Association have survived.

The records of the Baptist Union of Queensland help to clarify the position somewhat by confirming that Thomas was Treasurer of the Church for ten years and Sunday School Superintendent for three years. He resigned from both positions in 1913 for the time being. It appears that he intended to resume these positions later but unfortunately never had the opportunity

Thomas Price died separated from his family by hundreds of miles. During World War I jobs were scarce and Thomas, in search of work, went out to the newly discovered Cloncurry copper mines. He found work at the Wee McGregor mine near Ballara as an employee of Hampden Cloncurry Copper Mines. A mining field was no place for a wife and family so Elizabeth stayed behind in Charters Towers and later moved to Townsville. The absence of women and children also had its drawbacks in a mining area. The only social outlet for miners was the local hotel and drinking alcohol.

Thomas was no exception and unfortunately, on 16 June 1918 he had been drinking quite heavily. He attempted to cross the railway bridge at Hightville on his way to work at the Wee McGregor mine. Thomas stumbled and fell off the bridge. It was a fall of approximately twelve feet onto a stony creek bed. Thomas died of a broken neck and fractured skull. He was buried the same day at Hightville. The local police at Ballara made the funeral arrangements. Thomas was buried in the Hightville cemetery which is now in the middle of nowhere. Some years ago a member of the local 4 wheel drive club took this photograph for me.

Hightville cemetery

Thomas’ death certificate gave no details of his wife and family, as the police did not know the relevant particulars. However, the Public Curator established that his wife was Elizabeth Price of Humphrey Street, West End, Townsville.

The certificate of particulars tendered at the inquest into his death stated that he was 5 feet 7 inches tall with grey hair. Only two photos of Thomas Price are known to have survived but neither indicated his height. He was only 61 years old at the time of his death.

Thomas died intestate and the Public Curator administered his estate. At the time of his death Thomas had £ 8 15s cash in his possession. This represented all his worldly belongings apart from his swag. The list of contents of his swag provided a fascinating insight into Thomas’ lifestyle and his personality. It was compiled by the Clerk of Petty Sessions, Cloncurry

Money

  • One cheque paid over by the Hampden Cloncurry Copper Mines Ltd for amount of £ 8 14s

Equipment

  • One tent fly, one portmanteau, one bed rug, one towel, one pillow, one piece of rope, one sweat rag, one file, one coat hanger, two boxes of matches, one nut matchbox

Clothing

  • One blue overcoat, two grey tweed coats, one pair of dungaree trousers, one pair of grey tweed trousers, three pairs white trousers, one white coat, one grey flannel shirt, one blue dungaree shirt, one white cotton shirt, three white singlets, one pair of underpants, one cap. one handkerchief, three neck ties

Toiletries

  • One razorstrop, one extra hollow ground razor, one shaving brush, one shaving pot, one tin of shaving soap

Jewellery

  • One brass watch chain with one 9ct gold medal attached
  • One pair spectacles

Stationery

  • One fountain pen, two lead pencils
  • One writing pad and envelopes
  • One pocket diary
  • One AWU ticket
  • Five photos
  • One packet of miscellaneous papers
  • Books

Kitchen Utensils

  • One billy-can, two tin dishes, one knife, one fork, two spoons, one tin pint, one enamel pint

Foodstuffs

  • Three tins of dripping, two tins of condensed milk, one tin of Golden Syrup, one tin of luncheon beef, one tin of pork sausages, and one bottle of condensed milk.

The Clerk of the Petty Sessions even described the property found on Thomas at the time of his death.

  • One white cotton shirt, one white singlet, one white pair of trousers, one pair of blutcher boots, one canvas belt, one white handkerchief and 1/- in silver

The Public Curator’s Office advised the Clerk that both the widow and other relatives had been constantly in touch about Thomas’ personal belongings. Therefore, the Public Curator arranged for the swag and its contents to be railed to Townsville. Thomas’ son Henry had the sad task of collecting his father’s belongings from Townsville Railway Station on 27 August 1918.

Elizabeth survived her husband by twenty-six years. She moved from Charters Towers to Townsville and finally to Brisbane where she died on 21 May 1944.

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Comments

1 Comment

  1. Hi Shauna that is a simply splendid photo of Thomas and Elizabeth. What a very sad end for Thomas though. Poor Elizabeth and family. I too am interested in his list of worldly goods in the swag. All those white clothes. Do you think he played a lot of tennis or cricket perhaps???? I’m also interested that the Price’s trip in the Samuel Plimsoll seemed to take much less time than my poor Carretts who were at sea for I reckon for just over 14 weeks. I guess it all depends on the size of the ship and the weather. Yes, yours seems to be three times as big and made of iron. Admittedly my folk went to Auckland but I can’t see that it would make that much of a difference…a couple of days or a week at the most I would have thought. Maybe two weeks. Anyway…interesting. I was going to do a map of my Carretts meanderings but I ran out of time. I need to get better and quicker at plotting those maps.

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