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#AtoZChallenge J for Jones

April 11, 2018

The Blogging from A to Z April Challenge is an annual challenge put out to bloggers to publish a post from A-Z every day in April, except for Sundays. April 1 is A, and so on throughout the month. The theme I have chosen for 2018 is The Story Of Me

Of course, J has to be for Jones. I feel justified about talking about my ancestors in a Storyof Me theme, as their DNA is passed down to me, and I do feel they are part of me. I have spent many, many hours researching the Jones family, and to me, that also makes it appropriate to mention part of  the Jones ancestral story very briefly, in this Story of Me.

Tracing  ancestors, with the common name of Jones, has been quite challenging, over the years. But I am sure that Thomas Jones arrived in Australia from London, some time around 1820 as part of the military. This information was given on his death certificate by his wife. But no evidence has been found to support this, as yet.

Thomas’ son, Joseph Henry Jones, is my great great Grandfather, and was born in Hobart, Tasmania, Australia in1839. In 1855, Joseph married Ellen Virginia Lowe at St. David’s Church, Hobart. They had 7 children, before Ellen died in 1872, when the youngest child, Avonia was aged 6 months.

In the years after Ellen’s death, Joseph seemed to have a troublesome life, which I’m sure was made more difficult, trying to care for his family of young children.

In 2011, I wrote an article about Joseph Henry Jones, and was very excited to have it published in Australian Family Tree Connections Magazine, September 2011 issue. The main reason for me writing the article is that the obituary of Joseph, was one of the best obituaries that I had read, and I wanted to share it with other genealogists and family historians.

When the article was published I was shocked but pleased to see that it was one of their cover stories.

Below is the article as published:

“From: Jamieson Chronicle, Saturday, November 9, 1895
Our representative at Gaffney’s Creek, The Other Vagabond reports:  One of those horrible discoveries, which makes the most hardened of us shudder, was made on Wednesday last, by Mounted Constable Polmear.  He had that morning received information that a man named Joseph Jones, an alluvial miner who was ‘a hatter’, on the Goulburn River, a few miles above Knockwood, had not been seen at his home for nearly 3 weeks.  The energetic constable at once set about finding the missing digger.  The result of shrewd and careful inquries caused him to take an old and unused bush track leading from Luarville, to the German Spur.  Mr. James Cadam accompanied Mr. Polmear, and they had not proceeded more than a quarter of a mile from the Commercial Hotel, when the gruesome spectacle of poor Joe’s dead body, in a very advanced stage of decomposition, barred the way.  The unfortunate man, who was known by the sobriquet of ‘Joe the Quacker’, had taken this track as a shortcut to his temporary home on the Goulburn River, never dreaming, no doubt, that instead of reaching his camp in good time, he would never see it again; that he would die a lonely and miserable death, within sight of the houses and active bustling humanity.  He was about 60 years of age and though not of robust constitution, was lively and active but….Ah, the but….Joe had periodical failings. ‘Tis the old, old, very old story; an empty whiskey bottle; an empty pain killer bottle; a grinning corpse; a ghastly spectacle; a  noisome thing; a hideous putrid mass to be tumbled into a coffin to fill a pauper’s grave; just one more nameless mound, which will for a short time mark the spot, where a little of the flotsam and jetsam of the bush were covered up out of sight.  But the remains of unfortunate Joes are not buried as I write.  The putrefactive remnants lie in an outhouse at the Commercial Hotel awaiting official enquiry. 

My Great Great Grandfather Joseph Henry Jones, for many years, was my brickwall. I had followed his life until he seemed to disappear, after the death of his wife, Ellen Virginia Lowe,  in 1872. This was followed soon after, by the death of  his youngest child, Avonia, who was only 4 months old at the time her mother passed away.  Sadly Avonia died from starvation, or  ‘want  of breastmilk’, as stated on her death certificate.

Joe was left with seven children to care for, ageing from 16 years down to Avonia aged 4 months.  Unfortunately there was more tragedy and sadness for Joe in the coming years.  In 1974,  daughter Catherine Virginia passed away from epilepsy, age 12, followed by their son William Lowe at age 18, in 1893.

I had given up searching for any trace of Joe, after losing his trail, until another researcher alerted me to the death of his oldest child, Thomas James in a mining accident at Darlingford, Victoria in 1893.  It was both exciting and sad to read the evidence he gave at the inquest. It seems father and son had been working side by side in the mine. While Joe went to put the billy on there was a landslide in the mine, and his son lost his life.

This led me to his death certificate, where I found that  sadly, Joseph had been lying dead in the bush for a number of days before his death was discovered.

The lesson in this story of my brick wall is to keep in contact with other researchers who are following other branches of  your family.  You just never know what tiny snippet of information might  be exactly what you are missing. This is the only way I found old Joe again. If not for comparing our research and keeping each other up to date with our progress, I would never have found Joe or read his obituary.

And what an obituary it is.  I love the colourful writing and the dramatic tone of this obituary. How the obituaries we read in old newspapers differ from today.  They make much more interesting reading than those of today, and definitely leave us feeling that we know the person being remembered”

The Jamieson and Woods Point Chronicle;
Victorian BDM Records;
Victorian Inquest Records

Please visit again to see my story unfold. 


  1. Oh well done Jen having your article published and making the front cover. We have some ancestors from Tasmania as well on my Nan’s side. I think I mentioned that my two cousins have done extensive research on both my Mum and Dad’s side of the family. I wish I had more time to devote to it but I have all the information which I skim through occasionally. See you tomorrow for ‘K’! I had trouble writing that one LOL:)

    • One day long into the future, when life slows down for you Sue, you might pick up that family history. It will always be there when you’re ready. My K post for tomorrow was one of my easier posts. Look forward to yours

  2. What an interesting and “colourful” tale of poor Joseph and his wife and children Jennifer. I felt quite sorry for his ending and for the losses he suffered along the way – it would be enough to drive anyone to whiskey and pills!

    Leanne |
    J for Just Do It!

  3. Wow… great article and awesome that they published it. Yes, Jones would be a tough name to trace. I always cry about how so many of my ancestors are named John and Robert and marry a Nancy. So many brickwalls we have… but one by one they come down.

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