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Z: Zero – Joe “The Quacker” #AtoZChallenge

April 30, 2021

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. Participants can post on a chosen theme or just do random posts with no theme at all. The theme I have chosen for 2021 is Newspaper Articles About My Family Found in Trove

I have zero ancestors or places that my ancestors lived that would qualify for letter ‘Z’. I have decided that instead of posting about the letter Z, my final post for the April A to Z Challenge 2021, will be about a random ancestor, whose story I’d like to tell. Having given much thought as to which ancestor will be my choice, I have decided to focus on my great great grandfather Joseph Henry Jones, and particularly his obituary. This obituary was first posted in 2011, but it’s my opinion that this obituary deserves to have another outing.

Joseph Henry Jones

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.

Joseph 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 Joseph, 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. He was using his second name as his christian name, which along with his surname Jones, made him almost impossible to find.  The family had not previously lived in this area, adding to the difficulty.

It was both exciting and sad to read the evidence that Joseph 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, Thomas, lost his life.

This led me to the death certificate, of Joseph Henry Jones and an inquest, where I found that  sadly, Joseph had been lying dead in the bush for a number of days before his death was discovered. The inquest then led me to his obituary.


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 Joe are not buried as I write.  The putrefactive remnants lie in an outhouse at the Commercial Hotel awaiting official enquiry. 

  • Please note: paragraphs and punctuation have been added for ease of reading.

Please Note: Please note: paragraphs and punctuation have been added for ease of reading.

#AtoZChallenge 2021 badge

JAMIESON (18905, Nov. 9). Jamieson and Woodspoint Chronicle, Saturday November 9 1895

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  1. mollyscanopy permalink

    Congratulations on completing the A to Z Challenge and sharing so many Trove stories about your ancestors. This story is particularly sad because of all the previous losses Joseph suffered — which, along with a hard work life, may have led him to self-medicate with alcohol. That he died “within sight of the houses and active bustling humanity” makes his last moments particularly poignant.

  2. What a terrific theme! Thanks for sharing your journey, and congratulations on surviving the challenge!

  3. Oh, what a sad story. But I’m glad you were finally able to track him. Congratulations on completing the challenge.

  4. Some families experience way more than their fair share of tragedy! Congratulations on completing the challenge Jennifer.

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