Hello from me, Editor Des. Well do you know what? We went to the city of Goulburn on a special pilgrimage. My guardian Rob Conolly’s ancestor William Conolly used to live there when it was just a little town. This is him;
Hmmm…not the most handsome fellow, but he couldn’t help that could he? He came from Rathmines in Dublin, where he was a wine and spirits merchant, but not making much money. Well, to be fair, times were very hard in Ireland. Anyway, before he went completely broke he decided to emigrate. When he arrived in Australia with his little family in 1854 he met a man who owned a flour mill in Goulburn (southern New South Wales). So he decided to give flour a go instead of plonk, and bought the lease, and then the whole business. Here is a lovely drawing of the mill.
William sent flour from his steam driven mill all over the country, and won first prize at an international exhibition in Sydney for five years running. People everywhere cooked his wheaty porridge for breakfast. This is probably why Rob Conolly still makes porridge every morning. Yuk! Unfortunately, me and Pauline have to eat it too.
Now our William was not above giving local farmers some advice, even if they didn’t ask for it. 😎 The following snippet was published in 1863.
Below is a photo of the mill taken about 1870. The man in the white coat is miller William, and behind him is his son George Wallace (Rob’s great-grandfather).
Sadly, it’s the only image we have of George Wallace, but here is a photo of his son Wallace with his wife Maude taken about 1950.
And here is the Conolly family’s first house in Goulburn, called Argyle Cottage. It might be still there, but nobody can find it because we don’t know what street it’s in. If it’s still standing that is. I like the neat picket fence.
Unlike Rob Conolly, William went to church a lot. He helped raise money to build the city’s lovely Anglican cathedral, called St Saviour’s. In 1987, when he had been dead for a hundred years, all the family (including Rob and Pauline) went to a big reunion in Goulburn.
By this time the mill had moved to the city’s old public baths building. The move had taken place in the early 1900s.
Here is the Conolly clan in front of the mill, which was then a bowling alley! I forgot to say that the last flour had been milled in the 1960’s.
There was a special service in the cathedral and a minister cousin from Melbourne, the Rev. David Conolly, preached a sermon of thanksgiving for the life of William. A brass plaque in the old chap’s memory was put up under the Conolly family stained glass window. Wasn’t that lovely? Except the cleaners have been a bit too free with the brasso, and now the plaque is really hard to read. For goodness sake!
Anyway, the window is pretty. It was actually put there in memory of Harriet Conolly, William’s sister-in-law, who was even more churchy than he was. She came to Goulburn from Dublin after her husband Richard Conolly died. Well he was a minister, so that’s why she was so religious I suppose.
Old William is buried in St Saviour’s Anglican cemetery, which is right beside Goulburn’s maximum security gaol. I don’t think he would like that really, but never mind. The family visited his grave during the reunion and Reverend David gave another little sermon.
Then they all went off and played cricket, which is a very Aussie thing to do. Rob said he was a shining star, but I don’t believe him. Pauline said she thinks he got out for a duck, from a fast ball bowled by minister David.
GOD BLESS OLD WILLIAM CONOLLY, FLOUR MILLER OF GOULBURN. IF IT WASN’T FOR HIM I WOULDN’T HAVE TO EAT PORRIDGE EVERY DAY, BUT I FORGIVE HIM. HE WAS WHAT YOU CALL A FLOURY PIONEER!
Thanks for reading my history story…..love, Editor Des xxx