Trove Tuesday – Frederick John Finn, a sad victim of Murphy’s Creek

16 May 2017

It’s Trove Tuesday again and I’m participating in the regular Trove Tuesday blog challenge. My aim is to do it at least once a month, and this is my second post for May.

Mary Finn sketch 1903

This time I am revisiting the sad death of Frederick John Finn, my first cousin twice removed (my great grandmother Mary Finn’s nephew). Frederick was the son of James Joseph Finn and Miriam Joyce and his life was not a long or happy one. James and Miriam had six children but three died very young, one an infant, one a toddler and one a five year old.

Frederick was only four years old when his mother died and his father James struggled to keep the family together. One can only imagine what it was like to lose his wife and have three young children to look after. In the end the children were placed in care and Frederick went to a family at Murphy’s Creek near Gatton on the way to Toowoomba.

Frederick was in State care when he was sent to work at Michael O’Connor’s dairy farm at Murphy’s Creek. On 29 December 1943 Frederick was sent to round up the milking cows on foot. When he didn’t return, O’Connor and his brother went to look for him and retraced Frederick’s steps back to the creek which ran through the property. The creek had been rising and by that night was over 10 feet above its normal level. Police were contacted and a search started but it had to cease when darkness fell.

On 7 Jan 1944 the Queensland Times (Ipswich) reported “after one of the longest and most intense searches ever undertaken by the Helidon police no trace has yet been found of the body of 14 year old Frederick John Finn who, it is believed, was washed away and drowned when flood waters came down Murphy’s Creek on Wednesday of last week.”

Searching Trove I located two articles relating to the police search for Frederick but nothing on them finding his body. Years ago I found reference to a newspaper article on microfilm after establishing that Frederick was buried in the Toowoomba and Drayton cemetery. I probably searched backwards from the date of burial but I can’t really remember what I did decades ago.

So why couldn’t I find the same article in Trove using “Frederick John Finn” as a search term? Given that I knew a year, that it was Queensland and the article would probably have “body found” in the title, I searched on those parameters. It’s a bit surprising to see so many ‘body found’ articles but once you add the year it narrows down. The title of the article was actually “Boy’s body recovered” but there were several references to ‘body’ and ‘found’ throughout. So if you are not finding something under a person’s name, try other keywords such as place or topic and narrow down to a year.

Queensland Times 8 Jan 1944 via Trove

Queensland Times 8 Jan 1944   via Trove

The Queensland Times on 8 January 1944 reported that Frederick’s body was finally found seven miles downstream from where he disappeared. He was found by his employer Michael O’Connor and another man, W Gill. The post mortem and inquest were held in Toowoomba which is probably why Frederick was buried in the Toowoomba and Drayton cemetery. His brother Daniel was serving overseas in the RAAF and I haven’t been able to determine if his father and older sister attended his funeral.

The Finn family has many sad stories, but I like to think that Frederick did enjoy his time working on a dairy farm in the  beautiful Murphy’s Creek area. Did he miss his family or was he too young to remember what his family was like before he was taken into care?

Once again Trove has managed to provide more insight into one aspect of my family history. Three articles, two discovered just by using a person’s name and the third by using other keywords to find how this story ended.

Poor OCR can  mean that relevant articles are not easily found so remember to think laterally and try different combinations of keywords including names, places and subjects. Thanks Trove!



The Nile -Australia's Largest Online Bookstore





shaunahicks

Shauna has been tracing her own family history since 1977 and is a Fellow of the Queensland Family History Society. In 2009 Shauna received the Australasian Federation of Family History Organisations (AFFHO) Services to Family History Award for her achievements in Queensland, Canberra and Victoria.

Related Posts

Review on the Family history show 20 Feb 2021

Review on the Family history show 20 Feb 2021

In pre Covid times, I used to try and get to as many Australasian genealogy conferences as I could in person. Catch up with friends, meet speakers and network with colleagues. Travel may have disappeared for a while but all is not lost. One of the few benefits of...

Australia Day 2020 Challenge: C’mon Aussie

Back in 2014, one of my favourite bloggers, Cassmob, issued an Australia Day Challenge C'mon Aussie geneameme in which I participated. My answers are below plus an update (in bold) six years on. CLIMBING YOUR FAMILY’S GUM TREE My first ancestor to arrive in Australia...

Accentuate the Positive Geneameme 2020

Each year, for the last few years, Jill Ball (aka Geniaus) invites us to take part in this activity by responding to the following statements/questions in a blog post. Write as much or as little as you want and complete as many statements as you wish. If you wish to...

Lest We Forget – Remembrance Day & Frederick Trevaskis

Lest We Forget – Remembrance Day & Frederick Trevaskis

Six years ago, on 8 November 2014 I blogged about Frederick Trevaskis and how he died on the battlefield in Belgium on 13 October 1917. Each ANZAC and Remembrance Day I like to do a tribute to one of my military ancestors. Frederick Trevaskis was a distant cousin (my...

Comments

4 Comments

  1. Thanks for the link to a great Murphy’s Creek story….one of my One Place Studies interests. O’Connor rings bells…will have to give it more thought.

  2. Thanks Pauleen. Yes I wondered if you knew about this tragedy at Murphy’s Creek. I always forget to tell you when we meet up.

  3. I thought of Pauleen when I read your post – as expected she was on it right away.

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.