Tuesday, 24 September 2013

The Obituary of Dr Callaghan ~ Trove Tuesday

Most researchers are well aware of the benefits of a death notice and obituaries found in newspapers. A death notice is usually very brief providing minimal details such as the name of the deceased, date and location of funeral or burial. The following is an example of the death notice of Dr Joseph Callaghan who operated for many years in the Hawkesbury and who passed away in 1924.

Family Notices - Sydney Morning Herald 17 June 1924

On the other hand, an obituary provides a history of the deceased and listing all the good qualities of the person. It will include family details possibly parents, spouse and children. It can also include other relatives. It may provide information about deceased's occupation, place of work or business and associated hobbies and their involvement in the community. If you are lucky it may mention the period leading to the death and even the cause. The location of the cemetery, place of burial, and undertaker may also be mentioned. The length of the obituary will often depend on the popularity of the deceased. A selected few may include a portrait, like the following image of Dr Callaghan which appeared in his obituary in 1924. Photographs were more popular from in the 20th century.

Dr Callaghan as pictured in his 1924 obituary

Joseph Callaghan's lengthy obituary appeared in the Windsor & Richmond Gazette 20 June 1924 and provided over sixty unique pieces of information, that would be extremely valuable to both family and local historians. The main points were:

Born in Ireland 
Obtained his medical diploma in Ireland
Migrated to Australia as a ship's surgeon in 1868 
Settled at Rockhampton, Queensland and practiced there until 1875
Came to Richmond in 1877 and practiced there for about five years
Lived for about 12 months in Sydney, then returned to the Hawkesbury
Settled in Windsor about 1884 where he practiced as a surgeon and physician  
Sold his medical practice to Dr Arnold in 1920
When he left in 1920 he was presented with a very fine illuminated address and a purse of nearly £100 
Went to Sydney to spend the remainder of his days in 1920
Loved horses and dogs, and bred some good specimens of both 
Was a great horseman and frequently rode his own horses in races  
At the gathering in the School of Arts many identities attended the presentation 
He was a Justice of the Peace for 40 years and many years Licensing Magistrate
Was 36 years medical officer to the Manchester Unity IOOF 
Member of the Hawkesbury District Agricultural Association for 31 years and several times President 
Was a committeeman of the Windsor School of Arts for 24 years and President on several occasions
Foundation member and constant benefactor of the Hawkesbury Benevolent Society and Hospital
22 years on the Wilberforce Settlement Board 
Trustee of the Windsor Savings Bank
Deputy Sheriff; Government Medical Officer and visiting justice to the gaol
Member of Hawkesbury Race Club for almost 50 years and President on different occasions. 
His wife died in Windsor some years ago, and he never recovered from the blow
Family included Reginald, Clendon, Clive, Oscar, Madeline, and Mrs. Boydell 
Sons Reginald, Clive and Oscar served in WW1, Clendon served in the Boer War, tried to enlist again but was turned down. 
Dr Callaghan died in Lane Cove
Died aged of 78 years
The funeral took place on Tuesday afternoon 17 June 1924 and buried in the Church of England portion of the Rookwood cemetery, alongside his wife. John Cherry (formerly rector at Pitt Town) and Rev. J. H. Wilcoxsen, (Lane Cove) officiated at the grave, and both clergyman extolled the great benevolence and high-minded qualities of the deceased doctor.
The chief mourners were the four sons, his daughter Madeline Callaghan & nephew Mr. T. Dixon 
Many people attended the funeral including many of his friends from the Hawkesbury including Messrs C. S. Icely, Charles Roberts, Brigadier-General Lamrock, G. G. Kiss, J R Hardie (Hawkesbury Race Club), Messrs J. W. Ross and A. J. Berckelman (Windsor Hospital), R. A. Pye, James Gosper, G. D. Wood. Brinsley Hall, John Tebbutt, J Tebbutt jun, J. Byram, Sidney Gosper, Alex Gough. J. T. Town, P. J. Chandler 
Hawkesbury Race Club committee each sent a beautiful wreath. Flags at Windsor Fire Station and the Council Chambers were flown at half-mast

The above is an excellent example of why all references to deceased person should be followed up. Checking different issues of newspapers also can provide different variations of a story including that of Callaghan's obituary which appeared in the Hawkesbury Herald 19 June 1924.

Trove is an excellent source of digitised Australian newspapers. A considerable article, partially reproduced below, also records information about Dr Callaghan's death with a picture also appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald 17 June 1924.

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