Note: Both father and son were named John Bennett Tonkin. The father I will refer to as JB(1). The son I will refer to as JB(2).
|Ross saw it first: he beckoned me over. "I think we have something." |
Indeed, we did. We (Ross, Robyn, and I) were in Bathurst for this very purpose. Well, I was, and had dragooned them along as a means of keeping in regular touch. We looked up at the lead-light transom above the door: "32 Rankin 1889".
|I was going from an entry in the 1891 Census, which showed where our great-grandparents lived with their four children. My mental directions were that they had lived on Rankin between Henry and Durham. It was only later that I showed the entry to Ross, who immediately recognised what I termed a "hieroglyph" as a stylised ampersand. It meant on the corner of Henry and Rankin. On the corner! And on the corner was this transom. It was like they had left a message for us.|
The 1891 Census is to be treasured, as the only other existing prior census data goes back to 1828, the documents in between perishing in the conflagration that destroyed the "Garden Palace" in Sydney's Botanic Gardens in September 1882. So, this entry says that a chap lived on the corner of Henry and Rankin, and he was one of four males and two females in the household. That would be:
John Bennett Tonkin (JB1)William George was our grandfather, John Bennett our great-grandfather, and Louisa our great-grandmother.
|Of the six people who lived in that corner house (terrace) I have images of just three. The photograph above shows Arthur seated left, and William George seated right. This was taken at Will's marriage in July 1918, to Sylvia Cole, our grandmother, in Drummoyne. Arthur, although he married, had no children.|
|This next photograph shows John Bennett (2) with his grandson, Robert, in about 1950. It was taken at his home beside his shop in East Gosford.|
But nothing to show the only daughter, Florence, nor the two parents. Especially the two parents, JB (1) and Louisa. For, this is their story.
|The corner of Henry and Rankin was a shop, as is apparent from this next photograph. A corner shop. JB(1) was a shop-keeper. As was his father John Dunstan Tonkin, who was an iron-monger in Melbourne. And his father before HIM, Uriah Tonkin, who ran a chandlery in Penzance, Cornwall.|
|The streetscape of this part of Bathurst lends itself to visions of the 1890s. Although the strip of terraces which were anchored by No. 32 on the corner, have been tarted up, they are essentially the same structures. I am given to flights of imagination, and can readily see my ancestors living and playing here.|
|I suspect they rented No. 32 not long after its construction in 1889, and lived here for the duration of their decade keeping shop in Bathurst. Although, the corner store of 1891, had given way to a much enlarged store in the retail heart of the town by as early as July 1892. Which I will detail in my next post.|
|These 4 images are snipped from Google Street-view as I travelled the block on which my paternal ancestors lived: Rankin, Henry, Durham, and Morrisett. They are interspersed with houses spanning the 20th century, but I am surprised how many of these 19th century homes are still standing. They all have a story to tell.|
Perhaps, none more poignant than the story I have unravelled.