Thursday, 1 June 2017

Margaret Killion - 1862 to 1919

Margaret Killion is the fifth and last child of John and Jane Killion.  I'm interested in our Killion, Quinn and Hand family history because Margaret is my great-grandmother and, until 18 months ago, I knew very little about her life.  Slowly I'm gathering fragments of information.... With only six descendants of Margaret surviving, we're the smallest branch of the family.
On 10 February 1862, Margaret was born on "North Shore, Port Macquarie" - the site of the Killion land.  On Margaret's birth registration, John shows his occupation as "Settler", aged 54 from Athlone, Ireland.  While Jane is aged 30 from Wicklow, Ireland. 
Margaret Killion - 11 May 1915
On 21 July 1864, John Killion died at their North Shore, Port Macquarie home  leaving Jane with 5 young children- 
Edward John (Jack) - 9 years, 9 months,
Rosanna (Rose) - about 8 years,
Thomas - 7 years, 3 months,
Mary Jane - 4 years, 9 months and 
Margaret - 2 years, 3 months.
Jane was about 32 when John died and, within six months, she married Thomas Seward.   In future posts, we'll cover the lives of Jane, John and Thomas and Jane's third husband, Charles Moran.
Sometime between 1873 and 1878, Jane and her children moved from Port Macquarie to Kempsey where Margaret met Francis (Frank) Gersbach.   
Margaret and Frank were married on 26 June 1885 at the Catholic Church in Kempsey.  Born on 05 February 1861 at Yarravel, Macleay River, Frank was the son of Anton and Margaretha Gersbach who had married in Eltville, Germany prior to immigrating to New South Wales in 1855.  Margaret was 23 and Frank was 24 when they married.  The witnesses were John Henry Gersbach, Frank's younger brother, and Ida Hefren, who was Mary Jane Newton's (nee Killion) niece by marriage.

Francis Gersbach - 11 May 1915
Margaret and Frank Gersbach had four children.  Their first two were born in Kempsey - Pearl May (May) on 08 May 1886 and Mary Irene (Rene) on 17 October 1887.   May died on 16 February 1888 in Kempsey.  The family moved from Kempsey after May's death.  Francis Joseph Macleay (Frank jnr) was born on 25 January 1890 in Glen Innes.  By the following year, the family were living at 15 Ridge Street, Surry Hills.  Margaret Essie (Essie) was born there on 17 August 1891.  

Family of Margaret Killion and Francis Gersbach
The Gersbachs lived in the Petersham and Stanmore area during the 1910s.  Their son, Frank jnr, enlisted in the First World War.  On 22 August 1915, his battalion landed at Anzac Cove and, in the week that followed, 50% of them sustained casualties including Frank.   After that time, Frank jnr saw little active service and, following his return to Australia, was discharged "unfit" on 10 July 1918.

Francis Joseph Macleay Gersbach prior to the First World War
After his return, Frank jnr lived with his parents and sisters, Rene and Essie, at 19 Northumberland Street, Stanmore.  On 18 April 1919, Frank jnr died at home with the cause of death recorded as "pneumonic influenza; general debility due to gas 9 months on active service".  The duration of his illness was 7 days.  Frank jnr, aged 29, was buried at the Catholic Cemetery, Rookwood the following day.   

Letter from Margaret Gersbach informing of her son's death
Frank jnr predeceased his aunt, Rose Porter (nee Killion), by 11 days.  On 05 July 1919, just twelve weeks later, Margaret Gersbach (nee Killion) died at her Stanmore home with the cause of death recorded as "Chronic bronchitis, pneumonic influenza and heart failure".  The duration of her illness was about 10 days.  Margaret was buried with her son two days later.  
After the death of his wife and son, Frank snr moved to various areas of Sydney - Chatswood, Kensington, Paddington and Drummoyne - with his daughters, Rene and Essie, and Essie's husband, James Woodlands.   

Margaret Essie Woodlands (nee Gersbach)
Frank Gersbach had many occupations.  It's likely that he worked from a young age on the family farm at Aldavilla on the Macleay River.  In the 1880s, his venture as a publican in Port Macquarie failed.  After his move to Sydney, he describes his occupation as "collector" for many years.  It seems that he was selling Singer sewing machines on a time payment arrangement.  
By 1933, Frank snr was working with his son-in-law, Jim Woodlands, in a mixed business at 175 Military Road, Neutral Bay and living in the premises above the shop with his family, including his two grandchildren, Frank and Pat Woodlands.
Mary Irene Gersbach
On 22 September 1937, Rene Gersbach died aged 49.  She is also buried at the Catholic Cemetery, Rookwood.

Family Notices (1937, September 24). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 10. Retrieved May 31, 2017, from
Frank Gersbach worked in the family business until his early 80s.   On 18 Jul 1947, Frank died at St Vincent's Hospice, Darlinghurst after he suffered a heart attack on a tram travelling from Neutral Bay to Crows Nest.  He survived his wife, Margaret Killion, by 28 years.  Frank is buried with his Margaret, Rene and Frank jnr.  

Frank Gersbach, Jim Woodland and Frank Woodlands, Neutral Bay, circa 1934

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