John, Ellen, Jeremiah, John, Mary, Francis CONNELL

John Connell                      1811-1881

Ellen Connell                     1822-1876

Jeremiah Connell              1847-1851

John Connell                      1847-1910

Mary Connell                     1851-1896

Francis Connell                 1896-1896

John Connell was born at Kilbrin, Cork, Ireland in 1811.  He married Ellen Callaghan on 11.10.1841 at Kilbrin, Cork, Ireland and settled in this area soon after.  It is believed he managed the Boorambeeta Run for Charles Bradshaw, before acquiring his land in the area of Connell’s Lane, Merrimu.  John built his family cottage from bluestone quarried from an area on top of the ridge above Connell’s Lane, not far from what was Matt Finnin’s property for much of the twentieth century.  Family members believe the bluestone used for the foundations of St Bernard’s Church came from the same quarry.  John served as a shire councillor for Bacchus Marsh Shire.  He died in 1910.

John and Ellen had ten known children: Andrew Gwiney born 1843, Timothy born 1844, John born 1846, Jeremiah born 1847, Catherine born 1850, Ellen Louisa born 1853, Annie born 1858, Daniel Francis born 1858, Thomas born 1862 and William born 1866.  Jeremiah died as a four year old.

Andrew Gwiney married Maria Johnston in 1866. They had ten children – John, Laura, George, Howard, Charles, Ida, Claude, Leo, Frank and Leslie born between 1867 and 1885.

Timothy married Bridget Teresa Bourke on October 2nd, 1867 at Sunbury.  Bridget and Timothy had thirteen children – Ellen, John Francis, Timothy. Margaret, Mary Frances, Michael, William, Eveleen Stella, Daniel, Thomas Leahy Connell (all born in Bacchus Marsh between 1868 and1885), Hannah born Brunswick and Gerald Septimus Connell, born Essendon in 1887.

John and Ellen’s son, also John married Mary Allen, the daughter of Margaret Cuneen (from Clare, Ireland) and James Allen.  They married in 1886 and, reportedly, had eleven children in ten years.  Nine known children were: Mary Ellen, Andrew, Thomas Ambrose, Margaret, Elizabeth, Marian, James Daniel, William Henry and Francis.  Mary died as a result of childbirth in 1896 as did William’s twin brother, Francis.  Mary was only 38 years. Mary’s husband was left with nine children from age eleven to one day.  The James and Eliza McCullagh family helped rear the baby, William Connell.  Earlier research suggested that John Connell and Mary Allen had a son called John but neither a birth nor a baptism could be located.  When Barry Connell, the friendly baker from Yarram, and his wife attended our Dedication Day for the Memorial Stones, he confirmed that he was descended from John, son of John Connell and Mary Allen.  Where was this missing child?  Why was he not registered with the others?  Further research located the birth of John Connell Allen on January 20th 1885 at an address in Fitzroy.  The mother was Mary Allen, aged 32.  No details were provided for the father of the child nor were there any marriage details.  Given the second name of the child it could be reasonably assumed the father was John Connell. When he and Mary Allen were married the following year his name was given as John Allen Connell.

This John, grandfather of Barry Connell told Barry he was twelve when his mother died and that he left home and Bacchus Marsh when he was fourteen years old and went to Korumburra to work in the mines.  Barry knew that some local families helped care for the children and that some of the children were placed in orphanages.  From Korumburra he went to Ferntree Gully to work in a quarry.  John (Jack) married Olive Miles.   Olive was the sister of John Campbell Miles who discovered one of the world’s richest lead-zinc seams in the world.  Miles pegged out 42 acres of land around rocky outcrops, the largest of which he dubbed ‘Mt Isa’.  This claim would become one of the most productive single mines in world history.  Jack and Olive had three children – Frances, John James Miles and Olive. James married Audrey Peters.  Their children were Peter, John, Avis, Janice, Julie and Barry.  Barry’s first wife, Robyn, died from leukaemia after 34 years of marriage.  They had three children – Kathy, Christine and Brad.  Barry has now been married to Cathy for fifteen years.

Thomas Ambrose, son of John Connell and Mary Allen married Eileen Babb.  The two sons of Thomas and Eileen, Guinness and Andy, were the last family members to farm Glenconnell.  They both have children and grandchildren still residing in the town. Guinness married Kathleen Shea and had three children – John, Jenny and Clare. John is a member of the Hopetoun Cemetery Preservation Group. He and his wife, Sue, live in Bacchus Marsh with their three children.

Andy and his wife, Doreen live in Bacchus Marsh.  Andy has maintained an interest in Hopetoun Cemetery preservation activities.  Recently Andy shared these memories of the area surrounding the Hopetoun Cemetery – ‘Much has changed since I was a boy.  The Cobb and Co horse stalls in front of Symington’s Brewery, the flour mill of three storeys with a large well on the west side and the small hotel only about 150 metres further west between the brewery and the mill – on the fascia board you could just make out Hopetoun Hotel.  The Boyes family lived there when I was a boy and Mr Ernie Boyes, who worked for Millers helped build beautiful lucerne stacks along the old Pyrete.’

Catherine, the eldest daughter of the original Connell settlers, John and Ellen, married James Darragh (from Co Antrim) and had thirteen children.

Ellen Louisa married John Francis Brophy at Bacchus Marsh on 5th September, 1877.  John was from Tipperary.  Ellen and John Brophy had ten children born between 1878 and 1890 at Bacchus Marsh, Blackwood (Blue Mountain), Phillip Island and Melbourne.  Their eldest child, John O’Connell Brophy was initially a soldier, then a policeman who finished his career as a police inspector.  The other children were – Ellen, Thomas, Michael, Catherine, Edith, Lily and Nellie.  Several of the children married and had families.

Two sons from John and Mary Allen Connell’s family enlisted for service in WW1.  James, a school teacher, was a trooper with the 13th Light Horse Brigade.  After his return, James, married and had four children.  His younger brother, William, also served as a trooper. After his discharge William spent some time farming with his brothers, Andrew and Thomas, on the family property, Glenconnell.  William married and had two sons, Brian and Bruce.  Both William and James are remembered on the Coimadai Avenue of Honour and its accompanying memorial at Lake Merrimu. They are featured in the book ‘Coimadai 129’.