Monday, June 25, 2012

The Story of John Hornby - Part 5

Once John and his family were together again, life began anew in Zeehan. School for Grace. Mary minded young Meg and kept house. John went to the mine every day, where he worked underground chiselling tunnels into the rock face to retrieve the metallifeous ore. This was known as working on tribute.

 The girls grew older. Meg started school (where she was known as Maggie).

On 8 August 1897, John left Mary and the girls temporarily, to go to the Klondike goldrush in the Yukon River district (NW Territory of Canada, near the Alaskan border). His departure was described thus: "Mr John Hornby, for several years connected with Zeehan British Mine, has left Zeehan with a bad attack of British Columbia gold fever". While absent, on 30 December 1897, Zeehan endured a dreadful bushfire, which burnt close to Argent Tram (near the Hornby house). Luckily, Mary and the girls survived, as did the house. Many of the miner's houses were destroyed. Like the majority of prospectors that went to the Klondike, John found very little (only enough metal to have mounted into a broach). The conditions were very harsh and so he returned to Tasmania, where he resumed mining work in Zeehan sometime in 1898 or 1899.

On the 6th of June 1903, John's brother Thomas uplifted his family from Zeehan and relocated to South Africa, where their brother Joseph was now well established. Thomas had "occupied the position of engine driver at the Montana mine for the past 11 years".

Zeehan had an active industrial environment. In 1906, John was appointed to a working committee to help a Mr Lamerton represent a break-away movement from the Workers Political League. John was also active as a member of the Druids.

Mostly, John worked the hard life of extending tunnels in the mines. Periodic reports on the progress of miners involved in tunnelling made the press. Mr Hornby and party were occasionally mentioned.

In 1909, John and Mary had an addition to the family, a son, John Bainbridge Hornby.

On 12 October 1912, Australia's worst mining disaster occurred when a fire in the Mt Lyell mine caused the death of 42 miners. On 25 November 1912, the Tasmanian Government established a Royal Commission of enquiry. John Hornby was appointed as one of three miners and four ratepayers comprising the Commission.

The Commission was unable to identify the cause of the fire and returned an open verdict.
Daughter Grace moved to Melbourne to work as a milliner. Meg moved to Penguin to work as a bookeeper and, in 1920, married Herbert Rowland. They settled in Ulverstone. John and Mary lived in Zeehan until their son John was an adult and left home to become an electrical engineer.
In 1927, John and his brother Joseph were reunited when Joseph (Jos) and his wife Elizabeth visited Tasmania while holidaying. This event made local news.
Joseph and Elizabeth Hornby (left) with Mary and John Hornby (right) - 1927

In 1931, John retired and he and Mary relocated to a new house they had built in Shaw Street, Ulverstone. Unfortunately, within six months (on 19 October 1931), John died suddenly, a victim of silicosis at the age of 64. Mary survived him by many years, eventually passing away on 2 August 1950, aged 83.

So ends John Hornby's story. I've described Patrick McCarthy's arrival to Australia in 1804 - he was the earliest arrival of any of my ancestors. John and Mary are at the other extreme - being the most recent emigrants to Australia in my ancestry (1892 and 1894, respectively). John and Mary Hornby - my great grandparents.

Back to The Story of John Hornby - Part 1

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