Saturday, November 21, 2009

Michael Meehan, only son of Paddy Meehan and Mary Mockler.

Above: Michael Meehan as an elderly man. At the time this photo was taken, he was bed-ridden with arthritis, a legacy of his shearing days.

I have not been able to locate a birth certificate for Michael Meehan, the second of three children and only son born to Paddy Meehan and Mary Mockler.He was born in c. 1857 in Kilmore, and was a little boy of only two or three when his mother was found dead in the bottom of a well near their home.
It is not known whether little Michael remained with his father after the death of his mother, or whether he was raised by his father's widowed sister, Judith Meehan Bourke, who also lived in Kilmore.It is known amongst the descendants of Michael Meehan that there was an irreparable rift between Paddy Meehan and his son, and that in his father's will Michael was left "a shilling and a shot gun".I favour the scenario of Michael livng with his father and sister, and the falling out with his father coming later when Michael was a grown man.

At the time of his marriage Michael Meehan was residing in Yarrawonga while his only living sibling, sister Mary Honora Meehan, lived with their father on the Dairy Creek property near Yea, and after her 1881 marriage to Michael Coonan she remained in the Yea district.
In 1893, two years before his father's death, 35 year old Michael Meehan married Annie Harris, 24, at the Catholic Church in Yarrawonga. Annie brought to the marriage three children- Daisy who was almost six, Michael who was two years and a two month old baby who had been registered as 'John Harris' but raised as 'Patrick Meehan'.All three of these children were registered as 'Harris', with no father's name stated, but were raised with the name 'Meehan' as part of the Meehan family.
Michael and Annie had a large family of ten children,including the three born prior to their marriage, and Michael worked very hard as a labourer and shearer to support his family. Electoral Rolls for 1903, 1909, 1914 and 1919 show Michael Meehan, labourer, and Annie Meehan, home duties, living in Yarrawonga, the 1919 Roll specifying their address as Telford Street, Yarrawonga.
In 1924 the family were shown as living at 28 Penders Street,Northcote, which is a suburb of Melbourne:
1924: 28 Penders Street
Michael Meehan no occupation
Annie Meehan home duties
John Francis Meehan cabinet maker
Harry Joseph Meehan grocer

1931: 28 Penders Street, Northcote.
Michael Meehan no occupation
Annie Meehan home duties
Annie May Meehan sales
John Francis Meehan laborer
Monica Meehan home duties

1936: 28 Penders Street, Northcote
Annie Meehan home duties
Monica Meehan home duties

1942: 28 Penders Street, Northcote.
Annie Meehan home duties
Monica Meehan home duties

1949 and 1954 entries were as above.

On May 31, 1893, just under three months before Michael married Annie Harris, his brother-in-law Michael Francis Coonan passed away. This left Mary Meehan Coonan, Michael Meehan's sister, a widow with three surviving children. She remained on the family property, but died herself in 1900, leaving her children-aged between 16 and 7 years- orphaned.
Stepping in to adopt the Coonan children was their paternal aunt, Margaret Coonan Butler, 52 years old, widowed and herself childless.In September of 1900 Margaret applied for the Letters of Administration of Mary Meehan Coonan's estate, the latter having died without a will.In one part the document read:
" The deceased left no husband nor father nor mother nor sister her surviving, but left one brother her surviving named Michael Meehan who usually resides in Yarrawonga in the Colony of Victoria and is a labourer, but is as I have been informed by a telegram from his wife and verily believe at present in NSW and out of the jurisdiction of this court and who is as I know of my own knowledge in very poor circumstances and has a wife and family dependent on him for support."

Margaret Butler adopted the three Coonan children and raised them herself, and the family property at Yea, 'Tara', is still held by the grandchildren of Michael Coonan and his wife Mary Meehan.
Michael Meehan and his wife Annie had their share of heartbreak in the raising of their own 1918 they lost their son Patrick Meehan in France in WW1, and in 1931 they lost two sons, 17 year old James and 23 year old William, to the disease tuberculosis.
Michael Meehan died in his home at 28 Penders Street, Northcote,on July 4, 1932, aged 75 years. His cause of death was given as 'Rheumatoid arthritis, years; Myocarditis, heart failure, years."

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