Pioneer women – Ellen O’Connor (Mrs Thomas O’Connor).
Ellen O’Connor is the eighth and final of my great grandmother’s to feature in my series ‘pioneer women’. I do not know any personal details about the life of Ellen O’Connor, but the following are some facts gathered about her and her family.
Ellen O’Connor was a daughter of Timothy O’Connor and Margaret Condon. Ellen was baptised 18 March, 1831 at Bruff, County Limerick, Ireland. Ellen and her siblings, Catherine and John, and John’s wife, Elizabeth, arrived in Portland, Victoria on the “British Empire” on 2 September, 1857.
John and his wife, Elizabeth, settled at Mortat near Goroke, Vic (some of Elizabeth’s Dunbar relatives were also in the Colony) and Catherine initially worked for Edward Henty’s wife before marrying John O’Callaghan and settling at Rocklands, Balmoral near the Grampians.
Ellen’s sister, Margaret O’Connor arrived in Victoria at a later date and married Mark Sheane, but died from tuberculosis at 37 years of age.
Ellen O’Connor married Thomas O’Connor, the son of James and Mary O’Connor/Connors of County Wicklow, Ireland. They married on 7 March, 1859 in All Saints RC church, Portland and had six children. Their eldest son, Patrick, was killed after falling from a train. In the early 1870s the family moved to South Australia where Thomas worked as a farmer at Reedy Creek; he died when he was only 45 years of age from a bout of dysentery. It is not known why Thomas moved his family to Reedy Creek, which is situated inland from the coastal town of Kingston SE. The creek for which the area was named appears to have only flowed during wet winters. It was flat dry land used for sheep grazing. The steam railway between Kingston SE and Naracoorte only opened in 1877.
Ellen died only five years later from tuberculosis on 22 September, 1888 at Millicent, South Australia, aged 57 years. Ellen’s sons worked at farming, on the railroads, as contractors in the forests, but were also athletes with a state-wide reputation. It has been told that Ellen’s only daughter, Mary Ann disappeared and her brothers did not know her fate and the records bear this out as nothing has been found as to what became of her.
More research needs to be conducted into the district of Reedy Creek to give a greater understanding of what sort of lives Ellen and Thomas O’Connor had whilst they lived there and to see if the family was mentioned in any records of the area and also when they lived in the Portland district.