Thursday, September 18, 2008

Bridget's story continued...

The publication "Just About Tungamah 1875-2002" by local Colin Campbell has the following information about the Victoria Hotel:
" In 1878 Mr. Patrick Bourke purchased land on the western side of Barr Street and during 1885, built the Victoria Hotel on that site. It was a two-storied brick building with an impressive verandah and balcony. Although this hotel had quite a number of licensees, Mr. Bourke retained the ownership and at the time of its closure in 1900 as the result of a local option poll, the license was held by his daughter, Mrs. Bridget Sheridan. Once it closed, the building became the family home until 1995 when it was completely demolished and the bricks reused to erect a new residence on the same land for Mrs. A. Einsporn, a great-grand-daughter of the original owner." page 57,
Close Sheridan family friend and fountain of knowledge about all things seeped in history in the Tungamah and Yarrawonga district is Lou Saunders Browning. She has given me two leads that I have yet to chase up..firstly, that in the years following the closure of the Victoria as a hotel, the building was let out to one of the Haebich ladies to use a a boarding house. Secondly, there was a rift between Paddy Bourke and his daughter Bridget about the money obtained at the hotel's closure, and the courts became involved. Both of these avenues of information require further research.
What we do know for sure, is that after marrying Paddy Sheridan in July of 1897, Bridget continued to manage the Victoria Hotel in Tungamah. At the age of 24, she gave birth to their first child, a daughter named Mary Frances, the following year.Mary was born on Friday, December 23, 1898, in the Victoria Hotel, Barr Street, Tungamah. Her 28 year old father, Patrick Sheridan, was noted as being an hotel keeper. No doctor attended the birth, but local woman "Mrs. Saunders" was named as the nurse who attended the birth. Mrs. Saunders must have acted in this midwife capacity for other Tungamah mothers, as she is also named as nurse for another birth on the same page as Mary's registration.
Just over 18 months later Bridget gave birth to her second child, my grandfather Patrick James Sheridan. He was born on Tuesday,May 29, 1900, also in the Victoria Hotel, and again Mrs Saunders assisted Bridget with the birth. Patrick Sheridan's occupation was still 'hotel keeper'.
With the closure of the Vic as a hotel in 1900, Bridget and her family moved to nearby Yarrawonga, and it was here that their third child and second son was born in 1902. Known as 'Jack', John Aloysius Sheridan was born on Thursday, February 20, 1902. Again no Doctor attended the birth, and the nurse was Mrs. C. O'Brien. Paddy Sheridan's occupation was still 'hotel keeper', and judging from the two photographs of Sheridan's Exchange Hotel already posted, it was here that John was born.
The Sheridan family remained in Yarrawonga for at least the next few years, as their next three children were born in 1904, 1905 and 1906. Margaret Sheridan was born on Sunday, February 9, 1904, at Yarrawonga. Mrs C. O'Brien was again midwife, but this time local doctor, Dr. Denis, also attended Bridget. Although the baby was born in Yarrawonga, when Paddy Sheridan registered the birth he signed his name 'P. Sheridan, father, Burramine'.
Just 22 hours later, on Monday February 10, 1904, little Margaret Sheridan died. She must have been a delicate baby from the beginning, as her cause of death was given as 'debility of 22 hours duration". She may have even been premature. Bridget and Paddy buried her on the same day as her death in the Yarrawonga Cemetery. Just a few weeks later her paternal Irish grandfather, Nicholas Sheridan, died of consumption at Yarrawonga and was buried in the same grave.
Just one day after the one year anniversary of Nicholas Sheridan's passing, his daughter-in-law Bridget Sheridan gave birth to her fifth child, this time a son whom they named William Thomas. William was born on Tuesday, February 28, 1905, at Yarrawonga. His father was noted as being a 34 year old labourer, and again Mrs. C. O'Brien attended Bridget in her labour.
Baby William had no more grip on this world than his sister Margaret... aged only three months, he contracted broncho-pneumonia during the cold winter months, and after an illness of 15 days he died. Dr. Denis had attended him on June 7, 1905, and William died on June 11. He was buried in the Yarrawonga Cemetery on June 13.
I can't imagine the anguish of Bridget at this time in her life. As a child herself she had witnessed the death of six of her eight siblings, and now had lost two babies of her own. At the time of baby William's death her other children were aged six (Mary), five (Patrick) and three (John).
Just over two months later Bridget fell pregnant with her sixth child. On Thursday, May 3, 1906, Bridget Alice Sheridan arrived, and this time all was well with both the pregnancy and baby. No doctor was in attendance, and Mrs. Brown acted as Bridget's midwife. Paddy Sheridan was a labourer, and the family were still living in Yarrawonga.
Bridget's and Paddy's final two children were born in Yarrawonga- Annie Teresa on March 19, 1909, and eighth child Peter Augustine on August 31, 1914.
The young Sheridan children attended the Convent School at Yarrawonga, but Mary Sheridan at least also had stints at Tungamah State School ( records show that she was enrolled here under the guardianship of her grandfather Paddy Bourke in c. 1908 when she was ten years old) and St. Columbia School at Berrigan.
The Sheridan family began to move around after the birth of Peter- postcards sent to Paddy Sheridan by his brothers serving in WW1 place him at Berrigan working for a Mr. M. Hickey, butcher. Another is addressed to him at Barooga. When Bridget died in 1963, her obituary stated that she and Paddy had managed hotels at Tungamah, Yarrawonga and Chiltern, but details on the latter have not yet been located. The Sheridans also moved interstate to NSW around the end of WW1, when Paddy conducted a butchers shop at Illabo, near Junee.
They returned eventually to the ex-Victoria in Tungamah, and remained there until they moved to live at Ascot Vale in Melbourne, with their son Patrick and his wife Mafra taking up residency in the old pub.
Daughters Bridget Alice and Annie Theresa moved to the city with their parents, and both obtained employment as confectioners until their marriages. Bridget had one blip on her life's radar, however, when she fell pregnant at the age of twenty, giving birth to a son named James Joseph Sheridan. ( His story is amazing in itself, and will be told at a later stage...suffice to say that his nickname within the family is "Jim the Crim", and that he met his end in a dark ally way in Sydney, shot with his own gun and dumped out of a car in 1967!)
Bridget Senior loved her grandson with a passion, and totally took over his upbringing. My grandmother, Mafra, related to me that Bridget had tried to pass the child off as one of Maf's and her husband's, in order to protect her daughter. It was of Maf's opinion that Jim's destiny was shaped from the very beginning as he was thoroughly spoiled by his grandmother, and that her indulgent treatment of him as a child shaped his adult disposition.
Bridget and her eldest daughter, Mary Sheridan, were very close, as was Mary's only child, Margaret Mallon, to her mother and grandmother. When Paddy Sheridan died in October of 1951, Bridget moved back to Tungamah where she lived with her eldest son, Patrick, and his family in their home, the old Victoria Hotel building.
One of Bridget's grandsons, my father Basil Sheridan, remembers the following about his grandmother:
" She was tall and wirey, and a top horsewoman. She used to tell us kids how as a girl she had ridden to dances all around the district on horseback, and how those dances would always be held on full moons so the riders could find their way safely in the moonlight."
Bridget Mary Bourke Sheridan lived with the Tungamah Sheridans until her death in 1963. I have no memories of her, having been a month short of my first birthday when she died.
My Great-grandmother Bridget Sheridan died in the Yarrawonga District Hospital on March 6, 1963, at the age of 89 years. She was buried in the Fawkner Cemetery, near Melbourne, with her husband, Paddy Sheridan.

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