Thursday, December 3, 2009

Michael Francis Coonan Continued...

Michael Francis Coonan was 27 years old when, on September 1, 1881, at St. Francis Catholic Church, Melbourne, he married 22 year old Mary Hanora Meehan. Mary was the daughter of Yea farmer Patrick Meehan and his wife Mary Mockler. I have already dealt with Mary Mockler Meehan's sad tale in the Meehan component of my blog...suffice to say here that Mary Hanora Meehan was only a baby in 1860 when her mother was found drowned in the well of their Kilmore home after suffering physical abuse at the hands of her husband for some time in the previous years.
Michael and Honora had a family of four sons and one daughter, born between 1884 and 1893- Patrick Michael; Margaret Frances; Jeremiah Joseph; Edward James and Thomas Emmet.Jeremiah died of a deadly combination of diptheria and croup in 1889 aged almost 1 1/2 years, and Edward died of tonsillitis and intestinal catarrh in 1892 at the age of three months.

Michael Coonan was a very successful farmer...the Argus carried many market reports of the sales of his sheep, horses and cattle over the years.Just a few examples are as follows:

"Alexandra, Friday:- The annual parade of entire horses took place today , and despite the inclemency of the weather, the rain falling in heavy showers nearly all day, it was well attended by people from the surrounding districts. Of the draught stallions, a well shaped powerful horse named Young Royal Tantin Robin, belonging to Mr. Coonan of Yea,was decidedly the most admired.." -Argus, Saturday 27 September 1879

"McCulloch, Campbell & Co. to sell on account of Mr M Coonan of Yea 20 head draught, medium draught and well-bred horses, all broken in. No reserve" - May 28, 1880.

"Account of Mr. Coonan, Yea. 12 head draught to medium draught horses."- November 28, 1880.

" Stratford Strettle & Co has sold for Mr M Coonan, Yea, 50 cows and bullocks."- 3 February, 1881.

"Sold by John G. Dougharty for Mr. M. Coonan of Yea: 31 bullocks and cows to seven pounds ten shillings." - March 10, 1881.

"40 bullocks for sale by John Dougharty for Mr M. Coonan of Yea."- March 25, 1881.

"Dougharty & Parker sold on account of Mr. Michael Coonan 39 2 and 3 year old Hereford heifers to Mr. D. McLeish at a satisfactory price." - December 10, 1890.

" Dougharty and Parker sold 11 bullocks for Mr. M. Coonan, Woodlands, Flowerdale, to nine pounds 12 shillings and six pence."- October 6, 1892.

On September 3, 1880, Michael Coonan purchased from Edward Dunn allotments 58,60 and 60A in the Parish of Yea for the sum of 421 pounds, although this land was not mentioned in an inventory of his assets at the time of Michael's death in 1893.

The Victorian Gazette has many mentions of the Coonans in regard to leases of lands, both renewals and approvals and lessees in arrears.In 1890 there is the notice of a transfer of a lease title from Thomas Condon to Michael Coonan of Whittlesea. The land in question was allotment 56A and 125 A, comprising of about 208 acres in the parish of Windham and Yea.
In 1890 there was also a notice for lessees in arrear under section 32 of The Land Act...Margaret Coonan owed just over 19 pounds for lease number 283, comprising of 661 acres in the parish of Billian and Flowerdale; Mary Coonan was up for 11 pounds for lease number 287, same parish, 661 acres; and Michael Coonan owed 13 pounds for his lease number 316 of 791 acres in Billian parish.

Michael Coonan's lease number 316 of 791 acres had been approved on July 1, 1887, for a term of "eleven and a half years, less three days". In 1887 there was also a notice referring to the transfer of a lease from Edward Gibbs to Michael Coonan, farmer, of Flowerdale. This lease concerned allotments 36B, 40C, and 44A, comprising of just over 232 acres.

Finally, in 1887 there was a notice of Michael Coonan being in arrears of rents due on two properties: Lease number 2278, parish of Windham, 200 acres leased from August 1, 1882, owing thirty pounds; and lease number 1178, parish of Billian, 305 acres leased from July 1880, owing fifteen pounds.

Times would have been trying on the land in 1888 as conditions were very dry in Victoria, despite 1887 being a very wet year.

Around 1890 seems to be the time when Michael Coonan changed the focus of his farming enterprises from cattle and horses to sheep. There appeared in the Argus newspaper of Saturday, October 10, 1890, the following notice:

" Immediately after Mr. Hardy's sale, at the same place, we will sell for Mr. Mick Coonan of Whittlesea 289 head of cattle as under:-
50 first class backward springers, due to calf in the latter part of December and in January.
46 well-bred dairy heifers, 2 and 3 years old.
35 store cows, in forward order.
28 three year old steers, good doers.
25 two year olds
55 yearlings, mixed sexes, well grown.
17 horses and ponies
7 light draughts, broken in to all sorts of farm work.
8 saddle and harness horses, four to six years old, good sorts.
2 well bred ponies.
1 good farm dray and 1 tip-dray.

Mr Coonan has instructed us to sell everything without the slightest reserve, as he has purchased a large number of sheep in NSW and must make room for them. We may state that all the cattle are good, and have been carefully selected by Mr. Coonan with his usual good judgement.
Further particulars from the agents, William Anderson and Co, 406 Bourke Street."

The sale was to be held at Ashvale Farm, Whittlesea, due to the owner, Mr. James Hardy's, continual ill health, on Tuesday, October 28, 1890, at 11 o'clock sharp.

Despite the Coonan family's launch into the wool trade, Michael still ran numbers of cattle, as periodically he would appear in the reports of various sales as having sold heifers and bullocks.
On June 24, 1891, Dougharty & Parker reported that they had sold 802 wethers for Mr. Coonan of Flowerdale.

The Coonans were well known as being excellent farmers, and everything appears to have been running smoothly when tragedy hit the family yet again in 1893 with Mick Coonan's premature death.

I'm not sure of the events surrounding Michael Coonan's death on May 31, 1893, but he must have been involved in an accident as the cause of his death was "fracture of the spine". He lingered for five days before death claimed him, at the age of only 38 years.

Michael Coonan's death left his 34 year old wife responsible for three young children- 9 year old Michael Patrick, 7 year old Margaret Frances and the baby, three month old Thomas Emmett.
He was taken to Melbourne and buried in the Coonan family plot in the Melbourne General Cemetery with the members of his family who had predeceased him.

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