Family History Overview
Fred Ahern’s father, Michael Ahern, departed Queenstown (now Cobh), County Cork in February 1875. Cobh/Queenstown is a larger town near his birth town of Whitegate. Michael’s age is listed in the ships records as 22, and he travelled with his younger brother John, aged 20. Michael and his brother are listed as free passengers on the ship’s list. The ship was called the “Sepia”. It arrived in Rockhampton on the 18th of June 1875.
Michael and John came to Rockhampton because they had a relative (named Ahern) working as an engineer for the railway who said he could get them a job. Both Michael and John got jobs building the railway line out west from Rockhampton. John later moved further away and is so far lost to the family records.
Michael was a bit of a storyteller and apparantly had quite a temper. His marriage records show his parents names as John Ahern and Elizabeth Roach, but his family were always convinced that he lied about this because he was unhappy about having to get married. His parents names were probably Michael Ahern and Katherine Roach. He and John had three older brothers and a younger sister, all of whom stayed in Ireland.
Michael married Caroline Retchless 27th December 1977 in Rockhampton.
Caroline Retchless’s parents were Sarah Ann Adams and George Retchless. They sailed from Lincolnshire in 1856 on board the “Parsee”. Before they left, their eldest daughter Elizabeth died aged two. Their second daughter, Charlotte died aboard the ship aged only one. Their third child, Eliza Parsee, was born in 1857 aboard the ship which is why she was named after it. She died soon after their arrival in Brisbane/ Moreton Bay. Their fourth child, Harriet, died in 1858 in Ipswich. Caroline was the fifth daughter born, and the first to live longer than two years. The rest of her siblings are: Dundas (1861-1940), George Frederick (1864) Elizabeth Ann (1865), Ellen Eliza (1866 – 1868), Edith Georgina (1869 – 1871), and William Thomas Adams (1873).
The Retchless family travelled overland from Ipswich to Emerald and Caroline’s father, George, built the first railway station at Emerald. Caroline was working in Dingo when she married Michael Ahern. Caroline moved around with Michael while he continued working on railway lines out west. They had 13 children:
- Mary Elizabeth – known as Lizzie – 1880
- Harriet Ellen – known as Nelly – 1882
- Catherine – known as Kate – 1884
- Sarah Ann – 1885
- Charlotte – known as Lottie – 1887
- William – known as Bill (but his mother called him Willie) 1889
- John – known as Jack – 1891
- Mary Ann – known as Molly – 1892
- Annie – 1893
- Thomas Joseph – 1896
- Daisy – 1900
- Michael – known as Mick – 1906
- Frederick – (his father always called him Toby) – 1908.
William and Thomas both served in WWI. Apparently, Caroline refused to let John enlist because she said that two sons were enough.
Frederick Ahern and Hilda Ellen Golding
Fred and Hilda married in Rockhampton on the 4th January 1930. They had 11 children:
James William (Bill), Frederick, Gordon, Hilda Ellen, Caroline, Joseph, Mary Dorothy (Dot), Ronald, Clarence, John and Josephine (Mary).
Fred and Hilda raised their children in Emu Park during the Depression – Fred was a very capable man. He caught fish and possums to feed his family. He was good to the American soldiers who camped in Emu Park during WWII. He became good friends with Howard Latham (I’m not sure of his rank, but he was the head of the US soldiers in Emu Park). Fred worked as a railway ganger. His sons, Fred and Bill, became railway drivers.
Hilda’s parents were Richard Golding and Margaret McPhie. Richard was born in Suffolk, England in 1864. He came out to Australia with two of his brothers. Richard married Margaret in Charleville, QLD. Margaret was 14 years younger than him. Apparently, Richard had a sheep station in the area with his brother Herbert, but because of a bad drought, the farm couldn’t support both brothers’ families. Richard and Margaret and their children moved to Rockhampton in 1912. They had 8 children:
Isabel Margaret, Thomas McPhie, Dorothy Mary, Edith Jean, Marjorie Robinson, Hilda Ellen, Richard Eshor and Reginald Lawrence.
Richard had a shop in Emu Park in the mid 1920s but then became an orderman for a big grocery store in Rockhampton. He retired, age 60, to Emu Park.
The land where Ahern St is now was once a Chinaman’s garden. He sold the land to Fred Ahern because he wanted to return to China. The family house was built there but was destroyed in a cyclone in the 1940s. Fred re-built and later split the land up amongst the children.
Richard Golding lived on what is now Golding street. Fred’s son Fred still lives at Oak street which lies between the two streets named for his grandfathers: Ahern St and Golding St.
See more about Hilda and Fred