William Walter O'Neill, known as Willie, was the fifth oldest of twelve children of Patrick O'Neill & Elizabeth Lulham. He born on 17 Jul 1864 in Brookfield near Clarence Town in the Hunter region of NSW.

Rose Ann Ward was born in the Manning River district in 1867, her parents being John Edward Ward & Ellen Maria Wright. Willie and Rose married in Stroud in 1888 (record 4957). From some of her children's birth records it appears she was known as Anne or Annie.

Much of Willie's life can be surmised from newspaper reports of his activities. In summary, he was a jockey, a racehorse trainer, a keen sportsman, business man and hotel owner. In later life at least he was somewhat of a flawed man.

The first record that crops up is a reference to the renewal of a hotel license for the Cottage of Content Hotel in Bullahdelah, as reported in the Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners' Advocate on Sat 22 Jun 1895:

A special Licensing Court for the Port Stephens licensing district was held at the Courthouse, Stroud, on Wednesday, when eight publicans’ renewals were granted, together with two renewals of colonial wine licenses. The renewal of W. W. O'Neill’s Cottage of Content Hotel, Bullahdelah, was objected to by the police on the ground of the dilapidation of the premises, but was withdrawn upon the applicant lodging an application for a temporary license for six months in order to create new premises. This application was granted with the renewal of the old license.

His branching into mining was first reported in the Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners' Advocate Wed 24 Aug 1898. This was in an article discussing the bright future of the Port Stephens region due to mining activities:

Mining at Port Stephens.

What with the alum mine, the limestone quarry, and the numerous gold mines in and around Port Stephens there is undoubtedly a great future before that place …

With the advent of Mes'srs. T. C. Kemp, of Coolongolook, and W. W. O'Neill, of Bulhadelah, into the party, about 15 months ago, some capital and considerable energy was put into the venture. The strike of the reef upon which the shaft had been sunk was due north and south, underlay west. It was seen that the shaft was merely a prospect one 90ft deep, and narrow and cramped, in fact in places a man could hardly get down. Mr. Kemp, who resides at the claim, and practically manages it, enlarged this shaft to 6ft 6in by 3ft 6in in the clear, timbered it securely with sets and laths from top to bottom, and then drove 100ft along the line of reef south, 90ft from surface. A trial crushing of the fresh stone, five tons taken from this mine, gave 9oz 16dwt smelted gold, the balance of the quartz is still in the claim. ...

From the Wingham Chronicle and Manning River Observer Wed 01 Mar 1899:


(from our correspondent.)

Feb. 22.

Messrs. Kemp and O'Neill who have erected crushing appliances at Paddy's Creek have just cleaned up the first crushing of twenty tons from their mine for a yield of one ounce four pennyweights per ton, which is most satisfactory. On the mine they are developing they have two lines of reefs both carrying good payable ore, and when the stone which has already been raised has been treated and the mine set in full swing, should give returns that will create a stir. Several other parties are at work prospecting some being on very hopeful shows.

Mr. W. W. O'Neill, who is under contract with the Cockle Creek Smelting Company to supply limestone, is now opening a large quarry on the Myall Lakes close to the Paddy's Creek Mines. Several men are engaged constructing a tramline to the lake, a distance of about half-a-mile. The stone will be carried by punts to Nelson’s Bay and then shipped to Newcastle. ...

On Fri 21 Jul 1899 the Dungog Chronicle & Durham and Gloucester Advertiser foreshadowed the couple's move from Bulahdelah (it turned out to Kew, some 115km further north near the coast):

Mr. W. W. O'Neill, whose lease of the Cottage of Content Hotel has nearly expired, is likely to leave the district shortly to go into business elsewhere. Mr. O'Neill has resided here for many years, and has many well wishers in his new undertaking.

A few months later, on Fri 29 Sep 1899:

Upper Myall.
(From our own Correspondent.)

Very little of importance has transpired since my last, but in order to let your readers know we are still in existence I will just pen a few lines. In the first place, one of our popular and highly respected hotel keepers, Mr W. W. O'Neill, is about to take his departure from the district. His sale which came off on 23rd inst. was exceptionally well attended, and I believe everything sold at satisfactory prices, especially the cattle, for which the bidding was brisk. I believe Mr E. Ireland was the purchaser of the landed property at something over £300. I am informed that Mr O'Neill has purchased a property somewhere on the Manning to Port Macquarie line, and purposes going into business there, where, no doubt, Mr and Mrs O'Neill by their courteous and affable manner and strict attention to business, will soon become popular, and gain as many friends and well-wishers as they leave behind them in and around Bullahdelah. …

The district gave the couple a very fine send-off; from The Manning River Times and Advocate for the Northern Coast Districts of New South Wales on Sat 21 Oct 1899:




One of the most enthusiastic valedictory functions ever seen in this township took place on Monday, 9th instant, when, at the School of Arts, a large and influential company assembled to bid good-bye to Mr. and Mrs. W. W. O'Neill, late of the Cottage of Content Hotel, on the eve of their departure for Kew, Camden Haven River, to take over the control of the Royal Hotel there, which business was recently purchased by them.

The proceedings took the form of a banquet, presentation, and ball, and the hall in which the festivities were held was converted into a veritable fairy bower for the occasion by the artistic arrangement of a profusion of ferns, palms, wild flowers, and garden blooms. The tables presented a particularly attractive appearance, set out as they were with snow-white napery, choice flowers and plants, silver-ware, cut-glass, &c., together with a really excellent spread, which included every delicacy of the season.

Mr. W. T. Lee, J.P., who presided over the gathering, and who, by the- way, was a very efficient chairman, opened the programme (the tables having been cleared) by proposing the usual loyal toasts, which were received .in the customary manner.

Then Mr. Patrick O'Hanlon, of Newcastle, rose to propose the healths of the guests of the evening. He said he had known Mr. O'Neill for 14 years, and had had business transactions with him which ran into many hundreds of pounds, and he always found that gentleman straightforward and upright - a man, in short, whose word was his bond. (Applause.) Mr. O'Neill's good qualities were manifold, indeed. (Hear, hear). Ho was a man of the strictest integrity in all his dealings - business and otherwise; a thorough sportsman and straight-goer, who loved sport in all its branches for itself; a modest winner, a good loser; and a man of brains, pluck and enterprise, who was never afraid to back his own judgment and opinion in mining, racing, or any other matter. (Cheers.) As an hotel-keeper he had achieved undeniable success, for he had won the highest favour from travellers and residents alike, by his genial disposition and his open-handedness, as well as by the first class management of his hotel, where an excellent table and the best of liquors were always to be found. (Hear, hear.) He (the speaker) had had experience of Mr. O'Neill's disposition and character at that critical moment in a man's life which comes to most, when “a friend in need is a friend indeed,” and their guest proved himself well worthy of that title. (Applause.) Mr. O'Neill had always been a generous friend to the poor, and he was ever ready to assist in a case of distress. (Hear, hear.) He was not of the timid and selfish kind, who wrap themselves up entirely in their own little concerns, but had given many instances of his public spirit, and his desire to help forward the interests of this district. As most of those present were aware, he had developed the Myall Lakes limestone quarries, from which the extensive smelting works at Cockle Creek were supplied, and had then placed the property on the market, with the result that a Newcastle syndicate acquired it, and would probably soon work it on a more extensive scale. (Hear, hear.) He had also invested largely in the Paddy's Creek Gold Mines, and by taking up numerous large contracts he had provided work for a number of people of the neighbourhood, who invariably found in him a liberal and considerate employer. Many other proofs of this nature could be adduced, but enough had been stated to show that Mr. O'Neill was a man whom the district could ill afford to lose. (Applause.) With regard to Mrs. O'Neill, many of the good things said of her husband would aptly apply to her. She was that best of God's creatures - a good woman - and a kind and attentive hostess, who spared no trouble to ensure the com fort and enjoyment of visitors to the hotel. (Hear, hear.) In conclusion, Mr. O'Hanlon declared himself confident of the success of Mr. and Mrs. O'Neill in their new home.

After several other speakers had endorsed the sentiments voiced by Mr. O'Hanlon, the latter gentleman called upon the company to drink their healths of Mr. and Mrs. O'Neill in bumpers.

This was done with the greatest cordiality.

The Chairman prior to this, in a neat speech, presented to the guests an illuminated address, which was couched in eulogistic terms, and a silver tea and coffee service. Mr. O'Neill, on rising to respond, was received with a most hearty demonstration of good-will. He thanked them for the manner in which the healths of Mrs. O'Neill and himself had been honoured, for their beautiful presents, and for all the complimentary things that had been said of them by the Chairman and Mr. O'Hanlon. Speaking for himself, he only wished that he was deserving of half of what had been uttered in this way during the evening. In leaving the district he was. born in, he felt that he was parting from many, dear friends, who had helped,. in various ways towards the success he had attained to, and he assured them that no matter where his lot might be cast in the future, he would always have a warm corner in his heart for the Myall, and the friends he would leave behind him. (Cheers.) He and Mrs. O'Neill would always treasure the gifts they had just presented to them, not so much for their intrinsic value as for the good wishes which accompanied them, and as mementoes of the warm-hearted donors. (Applause).

“Prosperity to the district” was proposed in a telling speech by Mr. A. W. Markham; and “The Ladies,” submitted by Mr. Crowley, was replied to in happy style by Dr. Wright, of Stroud.

The toasts of the “Press” and “The Chairman” brought an eminently enjoy able banquet to a close, and then the revellers “chased the hours with flying feet” until dawn the following morning.

Willie was active in business and politics in his new home. From The Manning River Times and Advocate for the Northern Coast Districts of New South Wales is this report on Wed 15 Jan 1902 of his intercession:

Kew Telephone Office.

Postal and Electric Telegraph Department,
General Post Office,
Sydney, 2nd January, 1902.

Sir, - Adverting to the communication dated the 1st November last, relative to yours of 30th of the previous month, submitting a letter from Mr. W. W. O'Neill, of Kew, to Mr. John Thomson, M.P., covering a petition from Messrs. M. Fagan, J.P., J. McLaughlin, H. A. Burstead, and other residents of Kew and Kendall, for the Kew Telephone Office, which has been closed at 6 p.m. since the 1st November last, to be kept open till 8 p.m. as formerly, I have the honor to intimate that the Postmaster-General has approved of the Telephone Office being kept open till 7 p.m. for three months, to take effect from the 7th instant, the matter to be further considered before the expiration of this period.
I have. &c.

Depute Postmaster-General.
Franks Clarke, Esq., M.P.

Next, on Sat 16 Apr 1904 The Port Macquarie News and Hastings River Advocate reported on a satisfactory resolution to an oversight;

At the Licensing Court last week, W. W. O'Neill (who through net knowing of the date of the Licensing Court in January had not applied for a renewal of his license in time, and therefore it had expired), of Kew, was granted a publican's license.

Then came this stoush; from The Manning River Times and Advocate for the Northern Coast Districts of New South Wales on Wed17 Aug 1904:

The Timber Industry.

To the editor of the M. R. times.

Sir, - In your issue of the 13th instant I notice a letter over the signature of Mr. A. E. Rose, taking exception to the notion of myself and others in sending a telegram conveying our appreciation of Mr. Thomson's services in the interests of timber-getters, and as such letter contains several mis-statements, I ask space to reply.

Mr. Rose says that expression was represented as coming from “a large and representative meeting.” I would refer Mr. Ruse to the telegram as copied into your journal of 10th instant, which reads as follows: - “The timber-getters of Camden Haven, one of the largest centres of that industry in New South Wales, recognise your efforts in their interest. (Signed) H. Hoole, A Jackman, W. W. O'Neill, for timber-getters.

Mr. Rose’s public meeting is therefore imaginary, but the timber-getters of Kew have expressed themselves as conveyed by telegram, and are still sensible of Mr. Thomson's efforts - one of which was the introduction of a deputation to the Minister consisting of Messrs. McFarlane, Briner, and Thomson, M's.P., which took place in December, 1902, and at which I was present, the result being a reduction in royalty rates from 6d to 5d per 100 feet, with a corresponding reduction in hewn-timber; also Mr. Thomson's advocacy daring the debate on the [Forestry] Bill of the output system at reduced rates, and opposed to the log-measurement system.

Mr. Rose's attempt to obtain the opinion of timber-getters must have been limited to persons who are either ignorant of Mr. Thomson's efforts, or who are too politically [biased] to do him justice.

The reference of Mr. Rose, that such telegram was prompted by desire to assist Mr. Thomson s return to Parliament, is most unwarranted, the purpose being to give credit where credit was due.

As to the statement that the telegram was signed by only one timber-getter, the other two being business men, Mr. Rose is also wide of the mark ; and while Mr. Rose must admit that every business man is directly affected by the prosperity of those with whom he does business, and should therefore interest himself on their behalf, I have to inform Mr. Rose that I am the owner of three bullock teams drawing for Camden Haven mills, which I have bought and paid for, and on which no person has either lien or mortgage; consequently I have as much right to speak as a timber-getter as Mr. Rose, or those of his friends who now profess such indignation.

Apologising for taking up so much of your valuable space,

I am, &c..
W. W. O'Neill.

The letter above resulted in this rebuttal (which on the surface suggests political manipulation) on Sat 20 Aug 1904:

The Timber Industry.

To the editor of the H. B. times.

Sir, - I see by your issue of the 17th inst. that Mr. W. W. O'Neill takes exception to some of the statements made in my letter which appeared in your issue of the 13th inst. He says, “the timber-getters of Kew have expressed themselves as conveyed by telegram, and are still sensible of Mr. Thomson's efforts.” Now, had the telegram referred to merely expressed the opinions of the timber-getters pf Kew, I should not have taken the trouble to make any remarks about it, but the telegram, as quoted by Mr. O'Neill, begins, “the timber-getters of Camden Haven, one of the largest centres, etc.” Might I remind Mr. O'Neill that Kew is not Camden Haven - being only a very small part of that district - and the timber-getters of Kew, including Mr. O'Neill himself, do not number more than, I think, five or six. Had the telegram merely mentioned Kew, I admit I should have had no right to interfere in the matter, but when the whole of Camden Haven was included, I think the timber-getters of other parts - at whose request I took the matter up - are quite within their rights in letting it be known that they object to being used in this matter without being consulted.
Mr. O'Neill says that my reference to their message as being prompted by a desire to assist Mr. Thomson's return to Parliament was unwarranted. Let me ask Mr. O'Neill why, then, was it sent on the eve of the election? Why was it used at an electioneering meeting on the last night of the campaign, when it could not be replied to before the poll was taken? Surely enough time had elapsed since these efforts of Mr. Thomson’s, which Mr. O'Neill mentions were made, to have allowed of their acknowledgment before the night preceding the election?

In conclusion, Mr. O'Neill says he is the owner of three teams of bollocks, all bought and paid for, “no person having either lieu or mortgage on them,” and thus has as great a right as I to speak for the timber-getters. If by this Mr. O'Neill wishes to imply that some person has lien or mortgage on mine, let me assure him that such is not the case. I cannot boast of being the proud possessor of three teams, but what I have got is held by quite as clear a title as Mr. O'Neill's can possibly be; yet I cannot see how that can give either he or I any authority to speak for the timber-getters of Camden Haven.

I first wrote at the request of about 20 timber-getters, whose names I can supply if required, and I challenge Mr. O'Neill to name the half of that number who had any knowledge of, or gave their consent to, the sending of this telegram to Mr. Thomson.

With apologise for occupying so much of your valuable space,

I am. etc..
A. E. Rose.
August 17th, 1904,

By 1908 the family had moved further north, to Tunstall (South Lismore). Willie purchased the Winsome Hotel there; the family lived nearby, but he had leased the hotel one John Webster. The pair of them were involved in arguing that their license not be cancelled in a move by authorities to reduce the number of licenses in the district. From Lismore's Northern Star on Tue 02 Jun 1908:

Special Licensing Court

Monday June 1

The Special Licensing Court under the Licquor Act consisting of His Honour Judge Gibson (President) and Messrs Fitzhardinge and Arnott P. M.s resumed its sittings yesterday to consider the question of the reduction of the licensed houses in the Rous and Richmond electorates, in accordance with the local options vote taken at the last election.

At the preliminary sitting on Saturday , May 23, the court called upon a number of licensees to show cause why their licenses should not be cancelled. The evidence was heard yesterday in a number of cases, but the decision of the court will not be announced until the 12th June when evidence has been taken in other centres and various hotels inspected.

The cased heard yesterday were ...


John Webster lessee, W. W. O'Neil owner.

Mr. Young, instructed by Mr. V. B. Macdermott, appeared for the licensee and owner.

Inspector Evans said that drovers of stock passing the hotel often stopped there overnight. There were good stables and private paddocks, and it was very cleanly kept. There were slaughter houses close to it, a rifle range and a railway station. It was more needed than the hotels at Tumbulgum. It was well conducted by the present licensee. He thought there were other hotels that should go before it. In his opinion wine licenses were not so much needed as hotel licenses.

John Webster suki he had been licensee since January, 1907. His principal customers were stock dealers and the travelling public. The hotel was at the junction of the Hanging Rock Creek and Casino road, on the main stock route serving New England. Great numbers of stock passed it, and he sometimes had as many as 1000 head in his paddocks. Some 30 or 40 dealers stopped there weekly. There were sale yards there, and the hotel, was a convenience to those attending.

W. W. O'Neill, owner of the hotel, said he lived half a mile away. He thought there was no hotel more used by the travelling public. He had £1800 invested in the building, which was in good order and well kept. He had erected a blacksmith's shop there and a public hall.

Thomas Armstrong, part owner, of Disputed Plains, said the hotel had been there 20 years. He thought there was no hotel that served the travelling public so well as this. There were good paddocks and watering places close handy. Stock were kept there overnight so as to come into Lismore before 6 a.m. There were more cattle camped there than round any hotel or all the hotels on the rivers. Good liquors were kept, and the hotel was run by Mr. Webster and family only, and all the drovers spoke very highly of them.

William Allen, stock drover and butcher said the hotel was a grout convenience. It was the only place to camp with stock to water them between Lismore and Casino. Great numbers used it, and he had done so himself. He thought it very necessary.

J. G. Hicks, captain of the Rifle Club, said the hotel was very useful for pig drovers. The fact of the Hotel being there helped in the choice of the site of the rifle range. The hotel was kept respectably.

The hotel was not one of the ones announced to be closed (see, for example, The Richmond River Herald and Northern Districts Advertiser on Fri 19 Jun 1908).

Apart from the three hotels mentioned to date, a later obituary indicated he had held the license for the Wharf Hotel at Bullahdelah and publican's licenses at Toowoomba, Brisbane and Gympie. The 1912 electoral rolls show they had moved to the Royal Hotel, Nundah near what is now Brisbane Airport. They were there for some years, but in 1916 Rose Ann became the licensee of the Royal Hotel in Gympie with "Willie Walter" the hotel manager (from the 1917 electoral rolls); she sold the license in 1919.

Willie must have gained a serious drinking problem. The Gympie Times and Mary River Mining Gazette reported on Tue 2 Sep 1919 that his wife Rose had taken out a prohibition order:

Police Court.- At the Police Court yesterday, before Mr. J. Bracewell, an application by Rose Ann O'Neill for a prohibition order against her husband, William Walter O'Neill, was heard. The applicant was represented by Mr. Sykes and the defendant by Mr. Power. The latter objected to the granting of the application. After evidence by the applicant, her daughter Gladys O'Neill, Acting-Sergt. Joseph Kingsford, William Walter O'Neill and George Fowles, the P.M. granted the order for twelve months.

The prohibition took the form a one-year embargo on anyone supplying Willie with any form of alcohol; it was published in the same edition of the paper:

THE LIQUOR ACTS, 1912-1914.
(Section 70.)
Court House Gympie,

1st September, 1919.


WHEREAS it has in Open Court been made to appear to me, the undersigned, constituting the Licensing Court, in the Licensing District of Gympie, acting under “The Liquor Acts, 1912-1914” that WILLIAM WALTER O'NEILL, by excessive drinking of liquor, wastes his estate, and interrupts the peace and happiness of his family, I do by this my Order forbid any licensed persons to sell to the said WILLIAM WALTER O'NEILL any liquor for the period of one year from the date hereof.

Given under my hand this first day of September, 1919.

Police Magistrate.

He retired to farming; in the 1925 electoral rolls the couple lived in Chatsworth Rd Wide Bay, Gympie. Willie died on 02 Jan 1931. In 1943 Rose Ann lived at 245 Pallas St, Maryborough. She passed away in 1944.

A notice of Willie's funeral (with the family listed) appeared in The Brisbane Courier on Sat 3 Jan 1931:

O'Neill. - Friends of Mrs. W. W. O'Neill, Mr. and Mrs. S. Johnson and Family, Mr. and Mrs. W. Gummow, Misses G. and A. O'Nelll, Messrs. E.and P. O'Neill are invited to attend the Funeral of her deceased Husband and their Father, and Father-in-law, Willie Walter O'Neill, to move from St. Pius R.C. Church, Banyo, This (Saturday) Afternoon, at 4 o'clock, for the Nudgee R.C. Cemetery.

GEORGE DOWDEN, Undertaker.

His death was also announced in the Dungog Chronicle : Durham and Gloucester Advertiser on Tue 13 Jan 1931

The death occurred at Brisbane on Friday week of Mr. W. W. O'Neill, aged 65 years, brother of Mr. P. J. O'Neill (Kempsey), Mr. H. O'Neill (Taree), and Mr. Alf. O'Neill (Wingham). The deceased, who was in earlier years resident at Bullahdelah, and later, at Kew, was well-known in sporting circles, and esteemed for his many estimable qualities by residents of the Central Coast of an older generation, who will learn with regret of his passing.

Referring to the late Mr. O'Neill, Mr. Thomas Carlton states that he was a native of Brookfield and one of the most popular men who ever walked on to a racecourse. As a trainer and a jockey he achieved great fame. He acted in those capacities for Mr. Gus. Carlton and one of his most prolific prize winners was “Spy” a horse which he trained and rode for Mr. Gus. Carlton.

A more substantial obituary was published on Fri 16 Jan 1931:



We take this further reference to the late Mr. O'Neill from an exchange: - The death occurred on Friday, 2nd January, of Mr. William W. O'Neill, aged 65, at his home situated near Brisbane. Many of the older generation, especially around Myall Lakes and Kendall districts will remember the subject of this notice, for he was a man who enjoyed much popularity wherever he went. He was a son of the late Mr. and Mrs. Patrick O'Neill and was born at Brookfield, on the Williams River. As a youth he moved with his parents to the Myall River, and lived for a time at Bullahdelah. The late Mr. O'Neill was known far and wide for his great horsemanship, and to be considered an expert in the “pigskin” in those days, when good riders were plentiful, means that he was an expert. The late Mr. O'Neill was married at Bullahdelah to a Miss Ward (a sister of Mr. J. Ward, of Taree) nearly 40 years ago. After following contracting for some years, he took over the Wharf Hotel at Bullahdelah. He subsequently held publican's licenses at Kew, Tuncester (near Lismore), Toowoomba, Brisbane and Gympie, the last-named three being in Queensland. He finished with the hotel keeping at Gympie and after he sold out he purchased a property on the Mar River, where he resided for 10 years. Then he moved to live in retirement - a short distance out of Brisbane. About a year or so ago he visited the Manning and Newcastle. A widow, three sons and four daughters survive, all residing in Queensland. One son, Jack, was killed at the war, having been blown to atoms. Brothers and sisters of deceased are: Messrs. Patrick J. (Kempsey), James, (Merewether), Alfred (Wingham), Frank (Canberra) and H. T. (Taree); Mesdames J. Moylan (Scone), Davis (Berry), Minch (Berry), and O'Shannessey. One sister (Mrs. J. Moylan) and one brother (John) died some years ago.

Willie and Rose had at least eight children:

01. Ellen Elizabeth (b. 01 Oct 1888 in Stroud, record 22135, d. 11 Sep 1968 in Southport, Queensland)

02. Ernest Owen (b. 1890 in Stroud, record 32975, d. 1976 in Queensland)

03. Emily M (b. 1892 in Stroud, record 33822, d. 1892, record 12481)

04. John Patrick (b. 1894 in Stroud, record 32367, d. 1917 in Belgium)

05. Emily M (b. 1896 in Stroud, record 16711, d. 1898, record 7222)

06. Annie G (b. 1901 in Taree, record 7865, d. ?)

07. Ada A (b. 1903 in Taree, record 25534, d. ?)

08. Mary E (b. 1907 in Lismore, record 25477, d. ?)

This list is not complete if Willie's obituary is accurate, as it mentioned "three sons and four daughters survive". There is a record (number 34229) of the death of Patrick William O'Neill at Murwillumbah in 1968; his parents were listed as Willie Walter & Rose Ann, however to date a record of his birth, any marriage or a presence in the electoral rolls has been found.

01. Ellen Elizabeth O'Neill married Spencer Herbert Johnson at Lismore in 1909. Spencer was born in 1886 (record 33146) in Lismore, his parents being James Johnson & Maria Smith. Spencer was listed as a labourer in the 1934 electoral rolls (and until 1937), living in Tweed St, Tweed Heads (northern NSW). From a newpaper report in 1943 it appears Spencer worked in the Colonial Sugar Refinery Company's mill at Condong. In September 1942 they lost a son, Neville; his funeral notice, carried in the Tweed Daily on Thu 24 Sep 1942, includes an outline of their family:


Neville John Johnson, (14), son of Mr and Mrs Spencer Herbert Johnson, of Condong, died last night. He became affected by paralysis six years, ago, and had been an invalid ever since. He was born at Gympie. In addition to his parents he is survived by five brothers, Spencer (Dimbible). Allan (Carcol), Colin and Wallie, AIF, and Ron (Condong) and five sisters, Mesdames V. Hodge, (Nambour), P. Bishop and M. Dowling and Misses Maureen and Iris Johnson (Condong).

The funeral will leave the Church of the Sacred Heart, Murwillumbah today, at 1.30 p.m. for the Catholic cemetery, Uki Road.

During this period there were two accidents, one of which involved Spencer as the injured party and the other Ellen as a witness. Firstly, from the Tweed Daily on Mon 13 Dec 1943:

Falling heavily to the roadway when he jumped from the luggage-carrier of a moving bus at Condong about 7 o'clock on Saturday night, Spencer Herbert Johnson (54), laborer, employed at the Colonial Sugar Refinery Company's mill at Condong, sustained a large lacerated wound over the right eye, abrasions to the right shoulder, abrasions to the hands, and shock.

Johnson alighted from the bus some distance from his home and then decided to ride on the luggage-carrier to save walking. The driver did not know he was still travelling on the bus.

Tweed District Ambulance bearers gave Johnson first-aid treatment and conveyed him to Tweed District Hospital.

Ellen appeared as an eyewitness as described in the Tweed Daily on Thu 15 Apr 1943:


Ellen Elizabeth Johnson, wife of Spencer Herbert Johnson, of Condong, said that she saw two boys, Williams and Conaghan, run out and hang on to the back of Eric Johnson's dray. She heard Johnson say, “Don't hang on boys,” and then, seeing the ambulance, he said, “Don't run, here's a car.” She saw the ambulance coming and the little boy Williams run over in front of it in the middle of the road. He hesitated and, although the ambulance driver tried to avoid him, the front of the car struck the boy. The boy was struck near the side of the road and was carried on by the car. The ambulance continued on and hit a post and then struck a small bridge and a telegraph pole. She saw the ambulance man pick up the boy from the back of the car. The boy was later removed after the police arrived.

In answer to Sergeant Hill, witness said she had no idea of car speeds, but the ambulance seemed to be travelling at an ordinary speed. The boy ran right into the path of the ambulance when it was almost level with the dray. The driver of the car did all he could to avoid the accident.

By 1949 the family had moved to the Pacific Highway, Condong, and Spencer was then listed as a banana grower. They were still there in 1954. Spencer died on 20 Sep 1959, aged 73. Ellen died in 1968 in Queensland. Their children were:

01. Marie Annie (b. 1909 in Byron Bay, d. 22 Apr 2000)

02. Spencer William James (b. 1910 in Byron Bay, d. ?)

03. Doris Iris (b. 1912 in Lismore, d. ?)

04. Thelma M (b. 1914 in Lismore, d. ?)

05. Clem (b. 1915 in Lismore, d. 1928 in Queensland,)

06. Allan Percy (b. 14 Dec 1916 in Lismore, d. 26 June 2003 in Tugun, Queensland)

07. Gordon H (b. c. 1919, d. 1920) death registered in Lismore, record 19517

08. Colin Francis (b. 08 Feb 1922 in Gympie, d. ?)

09. Wallie (b. 23 Sep 1923 in Gympie, d. 13 Apr 2000)

We have not located Neville John Johnson's birth record or any records for his brother Ron Johnson who was mentioned in Neville's obituary above.

Generation 2

01. Marie Annie Johnson married Victor Leonard Hodge on 17 March 1929 in Gympie, Queensland. Victor was the son of Richard John Hodge & Edith Shaw, born in Queensland on 6 Dec 1902. Richard's obituary was published in the South Coast Bulletin on Wed 28 May 1947:



The death occured at his home, Worenda Street, Southport of Richard John Hodge on Monday last 26th May.

The late Mr Hodge for the past 15 years has been engaged in the timber carting on the South Coast, he came from Maryborough and was the son of Richard James Hodge of Antique [Antigua], a Crimean war veteran, who was one of the earliest pioneers of the Maryborough district.

The deceased leaves a large family of sons and daughters, grandchildren and great grandchildren of whom the following reside at Southport and to whom deep sympathy is extended. Messrs V. L. Hodge, E. E. Hodge, H. H. Hodge and N. G. Hodge.

In the 1915 to 1928 electoral rolls Victor was listed as a timbergetter in the Wide Bay (Nambour region) in Queensland. In the 1937 register the couple lived in Southport; in 1943 he is listed as a truck driver back in Wide Bay. By 1949 he was back in Southport in Worenda St, presumably his father's; Marie was not listed at his address - an Edith Janet and Mary Josephine were two names also listed in Worenda St.

Victor appears to have had a drink problem as this was mentioned in two newspaper reports. From the South Coast Bulletin on Wed 30 Jul 1947:


In the Police Court on Monday Sen. Sgt Cochran proceeded against two offenders, John Daniel Stohr and Victor Leonard Hodge on charges of being under the influence of liquor while in charge of motor vehicles. Both pleaded guilty and the Bench (Messrs C. L. Weller and F. Carter J's.P.) fined each £15 in default 2 months imprisonment. Mentioning that these cases were becoming very prevalent Mr Weller intimated that the Bench would seriously consider increasing the penalty as they considered the offence a very serious one.

and on Wed 21 Mar 1951 (the earlier part of the report is unreasonable):

... VICTOR LEONARD HODGE by excessive drinking of liquor, interrupts the peace and happiness of his family, I do by this my Order forbid any licensed person to sell to the said Victor Leonard Hodge any liquor for the period of one year from the date hereof.

Given under my hand at Southport this twenty-second day of January, one thousand nine hundred and fifty-one.

Stipendiary Magistrate

The couple were listed together at Ahern St Southport in the 1954 and 1958 rolls; from 1968 to 1980 they were at 95 Turpin Rd. Victor passed away in 1982 and Marie on 22 Apr 2000; she's buried in Southport Lawn Cemetery. The couple had eight children. Living people are not named without their permission or unless they appear in a official document in the public arena. Three of their children died before 1988: Victor Leonard (1929), Dennis Harold (1930) and Graham Barry (1962).

02. Spencer William James Johnson married Mary Grace Dowling in 1937. Spencer was listed in the electoral rolls from 1943 to 1949 as a labourer living at Dunbible; his wife was listed as Grace Mary [Dowling] (b. 1917, d. 2005). From 1954 to 1980 the couple were in Church St Murwillumbah, number 21 until the latter years when they appear in number 7.  Spencer died in Murwillumbah in 1990.

06. Allan Percy Johnson married Grace Isabel Pollett in Queensland in 1937. He enlisted at Coolangatta in the Army Citizen Military Forces, Service Number Q203975, gaving his next of kin as Grace Johnson. In the 1943 and 1958 electoral rolls the couple were living in Carool (Tweed Heads); in the 1958 electoral rolls Allan they were living in Adelaide St Tweed Heads. From 1943 to 1958 Allan described as a labourer, but in the 1963 and 1968 he was an "elect. lineman" and they were at 68 Charles St Tweed Heads. In 1972 and 1980 they had moved to 7 Marion St Tugun.

08. Colin Francis Johnson married Maureen Ruth Maloney at Murwillumbah in 1944 (record 4128). He joined the 2nd AIF during WWII (service number NX54673). In 1972 the couple lived at 70 Stapylton Ave, in 1980 at 86 McLean St, Coolangatta.

09. Wallie Johnson also joined the 2nd AIF at Paddington (Service Number - NX87201). In the 1977 electoral rolls he is listed as a labourer, living at 69 Nerang St Southport. We have not located any other information apart from the following tombstone inscription:

In Loving Memory of Wallie JOHNSON 23.9.1923 - 13.4.2000 aged 76 years much loved father of Cheryl and Linda missed "grand-dad Wallie" of Jaydn, Marnee, Kimberley and Jarrod resting peacefully.

02. Ernest Owen O'Neill married Cherry Abrahams in Brisbane on 30 Jul 1917 (record B20446). That marriage did not last; Cherry filed for divorce on the grounds of desertion (Sydney Morning Herald, Thu 09 Jul 1927). He may have become involved in training race horses in Brisbane (an E. O. O'Neill was granted such a license - The Courier Mail, Thu 2 Aug 1934). Ernest died on 26 Jul 1976 in Maryborough, Queensland.

04. John Patrick O'Neill enlisted at Toowoomba in Queensland on 10 Jan 1916 in the 6/31st Batallion of the Australian Imperial Forces, service number 2866A. His birthplace was stated as Billadinna NSW, aged 21 years 6 months and he was a single man. He died in action on 26 Sep 1917 in Belgium.

Ed. Note that we do not publish names of living people without their consent, or unless their name appears in an official document in the public arena. If anyone can assist with information on this family please email mick@oneillfamily.id.au.