The First Family of Michael Halbert.

“The  Other  Family” “Albert Miller – Who?”

Michael Halbert

The descendants of Albert Miller Halbert (as Sergeant Shultz oft’ said to Colonel Klink), could rightly and honestly say “I  know nothing” when it comes to their forebear “Michael”. The earlier generations, if they did know anything, did not share it, but I do believe they were as much “in the dark” as I was.

I often pondered what his earlier life may have been like, did he have a loving home, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, nephews, nieces, brothers and sisters–in-law. 

To find out more I started down the usual genealogy pathways. I did a course or two, visited a few State Libraries, National Archives and localised Historical Society’s and Genealogy Groups.

I had 2 “certificated” clues, the first source, his own death certificate, called him Albert Michael and told me that his fathers name was “Halbert” and mother “unknown”. The second source came from his son Gordon’s birth certificate, it said he was born in “Kingower”. Not a lot to go on, I’ll admit, but in the end those two “finds” took me on a journey that would indefatigably prove that our satellite existence was actually just a part of the larger galaxy of Halberts.

Above the Birth Certificate of Michael Halbert, the Death Certificate of Albert Michael Halbert , the signature of Albert Miller Halbert and the Grave of Albert Halbert.

My investigations found that this Michael married a Rose on the 21st January 1884, but this was not “my” Rose (Keogh), this was Rose Fry, daughter of Thomas, a butcher, and Brigid Fry (nee Moore).

The Bride, Rose Fry was born in Kingower, and at age 19 or 22 (?) married Michael, aged 25, at St Mary’s, Kingower, 12 kms south-west of Inglewood and 45 km west of Bendigo.

(St Mary’s courtesy of photographer John Young and Vic. Places)

Rose had 8-13 siblings (?). The Bridegroom, Michael Halbert was the sixth of thirteen children that we know about, the first, a female Maud, was born in 1851 and died in 1851. So that made Michael the fifth of five brothers, with seven others of mixed gender to follow. 

Michael and Rose had  4 children, Harold James 1884-1967, Albert Gordon 1886-1967, Ivy Yatla 1887-1889, and  Miller Walter 1890-1974. The three male’s were all named in honour of Michael and Rose’s siblings. But where did the name Ivy Yatla come from? It was just too much of a coincidence that my Albert and Rose’s children also shared these names, including Ivy Yatala(!), and more, like Lindsay, Dudley, Jane and William (all siblings of Michael) as can be seen on pages further on.   How could he?

For me, that meant that all the children born by my grandmothers on both sides were…illegitimate!!!! Yeh, the McMillan’s and now the Halbert’s! (Kinda makes me proud, actually, as exceptional ladies they have proven to be.) 

That brought home the niggling conundrum, was he a bigamist?, did he actually marry my great grandmother Rose Keogh in Coolgardie in 1895, as he said he did? The answer is of course, NO! Many searches were done by the first and second families, to no avail. It could be that his “timeout” in New Zealand was necessary because, as a “Wife Deserter” (if he was, in respect of Rose Honor Fry), he could be arrested and jailed if he tried to return to Australia within three years of desertion. This Rose, it appears, never lodged papers for divorce, desertion, or maintenance.

According to Helen Harris (Researcher) “As there is no record of his first wife taking out a warrant for desertion, or inserting a Missing Friends notice, or attempting to divorce him, it is reasonable to say that either they came to a mutual understanding and parted, and that he agreed to send maintenance payments, or that she already had another male friend to provide for her and the children.  Rose would have needed financial support of some sort.”

Two things are certain, firstly, Michael’s last address before jumping onto a ship, was Pickles St, Port Melbourne, where he was surrounded by those that later became “Racing Identities”, (Jockeys, Owner’s, Trainer’s, Bookies etc.) and secondly, that he never returned to Victoria.

No record can be found of him as a registered Jockey in Victoria or Australia, an occupation he stated as fact, later.

(Above left, the Death Certificate of Rose Halbert, (nee Fry) (Above right the Melbourne “Sands and McDougall” of 1892) NOT AVAILABLE.

As the Sands and McDougall can be a year or two out, as off the date of publish and as Michael was already  a “Resident” of New Zealand in the 1893 Electoral Rolls (which can also be a year or two out), one could assume, that he left  Australia a few years before 1892.

Rose Halbert (nee Fry) also left Victoria about the same time as Michael as there is no record of her being there past 1890.  She died in Redfern, a suburb of Sydney, at her 92 Bourke St., home aged 63 (or 66). She died of carcinoma of the uterus and secondary cancers. She had seen a doctor the day before she was found deceased, by her first born son, Harold James Halbert. One must wonder why, as she neared death, she was alone, in her own home? Why not in the care of family or hospital medico’s?

The Obituary notice in the Sydney Morning Herald of Monday 30 January 1928 was abrupt and to the point, giving the scarcest detail.

“Halbert: January 29, 1928, at her residence, 92 Bourke Street, Redfern, Rose Halbert, aged 63 years.”

Rose, her son Harold, and daughter in-law Ruby share a grave at  South Head Cemetery, Vaucluse, N. S. W. The funeral notices for Rose read:

HALBERT.-The Relatives and Friends of the Late Mrs. ROSE HALBERT are kindly invited to attend her Funeral; to leave her late residence, 92 Bourke street. Redfern, THIS (Monday) AFTERNOON, at 2 o’clock, for the Church of England Cemetery, South Head.

HALBERT.-The Relatives and Friends of Messrs. H. J. JACK and GORDON HALBERT, are kindly invited to attend the Funeral of their late beloved MOTHER, Rose Halbert; to leave her late residence, 92 Bourke Street, Redfern, THIS MONDAY, at 2 p.m. for Church of England Cemetery, South Head. Motor funeral.

(Surely “Messrs. H. J. JACK and GORDON HALBERT” are Harold James , Miller Walter  (aka Jack) and Albert Gordon Halbert……but it’s not obvious from the notice?)

Rose and Michael’s 3 boys, Harold, Albert and  Miller grew up without a father figure throughout their formative years, as Michael would have absconded, by the time Harold had turned 5, maybe 6.

Nevertheless, Rose’s decision to move back to Sydney., N. S. W., would have provided plenty of male attention from her parent’s and in-laws, OR, maybe it was just male attention? We don’t know how the family was supported.

Not much is known about the Fry and Moore families (Rose’s parents) but we know that her father Thomas Fry, a butcher, died in Kingower in 1870 when his last child of 9, Emma, was just 3.

Bridget, his wife, who was 10 years his junior, lived on for another 29 years, possibly marrying William Innes in Inglewood, Victoria in about 1873 at age 40.  She died, however in Sydney N.S.W. officially as Bridget M. Fry in 1899, aged 66.

But let’s have a peek at the “Eastern States” children of my great grandfather and see how they fared in comparison to his “Western Australian” children.

(One could only explain the later as the “hard working poor”, fond of the occasional drink and a gamble, turning a quid where they could and keeping mainly to themselves. They never became rich or famous, nor did they seek the company of the rich or famous. There were definitely no grand abodes dwelt in, nor much desire to travel, for travels sake. They just made do with what their purse allowed, enjoying a simple life, with no extended family or relatives of any kind, to draw comfort from or cause angst.)

Indeed, Michael (namesake and great grandchild of Albert Miller/Michael from the East), states, on seeing a photograph of his Great Grandfather, “I just noticed that Michael didn’t have shoe laces. A bit ironic, knowing his son would have had a maid and  a chauffeur, to drive his Rolls Royce, both living in.”

The Halbert abode

Mrs. Halbert’s car.
You just have to look at this photo below to see it is so (no shoelaces), but we are talking about Western Australia in the “Depression Years”, and a man, that it seems for now, didn’t like, need or want any contact with his Eastern States family, of any ilk. 

(Photo Courtesy of Ronald Catchpole, enhanced and colourized by My Heritage.)

The Gammage’s and Bryant’s of Richmond.

Bill Graham

Two Richmond Families during and after the First World War.  One with a US Civil War connection.

Bill Graham, a friend of Richmond & Burnley Historical Society,  who has donated a number of items, has been working on a history of two families who lived in Richmond throughout the early years of the 20th century, of which two members were to become his maternal grandparents.  The Richmond timeline of this story is the period from around 1915 to 1923.  The families were the Gammage’s, who lived at 74 Gardner Street and the Bryant’s, who lived firstly at 64 Somerset Street and later at 54 Fraser Street.

The Gammage family originally came from in Oxfordshire.  Charles Gammage senior had emigrated to America with his family in 1845 at the age of 15.   He married in 1852 and fathered 4 children.  Charles served in the Union army during the American civil war.   He was wounded and captured at the Battle of Ball’s Bluff on October 21, 1861.  After being released from a Confederate prison camp in 1862, he was discharged from the army and soon after, deserted his family.   After several years his wife had him declared legally deceased, allowing her to re-marry.  However, far from being dead, Charles had departed New York in 1863 on a ship bound for Melbourne, a fact that was not uncovered until nearly a century later.

Charles married two more times in Australia and fathered 4 children here.   He lived in and around Beechworth from the 1860s until 1915 and spent the final year of his life in Wonthaggi.  Apart from vague rumours, Charles’ Australian family knew little of his American past until the 1980s when an American descendant in Rhode Island, where Charles had lived, discovered that he had moved to Victoria after abandoning his family.   After many years of research, she established contact with his Australian descendants.   Thus, the details of his lives in America and Australia finally came to be known to his many descendants.   A local historian with an interest in American Civil War veterans who came to Australia after that conflict, became active in Charles Gammage’s story.  It eventually resulted in a US army headstone being placed on his previously unmarked grave in Wonthaggi in 1990.

Charles’ fourth Australian son, Charles Edwin Gammage, was born in 1874 at Stoney Creek, near Beechworth.  He worked as a sawyer and then a boilermaker.   Charles’ work had taken him to places as varied as Thailand and Western Australia before the family settled in Richmond.  They were recorded as living at 74 Gardner Street in the 1915 Sands and McDougall.    Charles Edwin Gammage (pictured here) and his daughter, Irene (also pictured as she was in 1914) worked at the Vickers Ruwolt engineering works, which is now the site of Victoria Gardens.  

The Bryant family came to Australia in November 1912.   The father, Benjamin, was in the boot trade and their eldest son, William had been serving his apprenticeship as a bootmaker.  The family lived at 54 Gardner Street and William knew Irene from school in Richmond.  They used to attend dances in Bridge Road, but the Great War had changed everything.  In February 1917, William enlisted in the A. I. F., on the day of his 18th birthday.   He served as a signaller with the 2nd Division and was awarded the Military Medal for his deeds during an action at Morlancourt in the Somme region.  William Bryant and Irene Gammage had been close before his embarkation and he wrote many letters to her during his time away. They were married in 1923 and this photo dates from 1950.  The letters remained in the family and are currently being scanned.  It is hoped they will be made available to R. B. H. S. researchers in the near future.

William and Irene Bryant

(Bill also has records that show that the widow of Charles Edwin Gammage Senior, Annie Jane, had lived at 14 Murphy Street Richmond around 1925, Charles Edwin having died in 1922. Records show she spent some time at Bontharambo in Wangaratta, hence another connection of interest, this time to the famous Richmond pioneer, Rev Docker.)