Ida May (née Pelling, m Jenkins) & Thomas Keller (g-grandparents)

Thomas Keller was born 3 August 1875 in Queensland to Herbert Francis Keller and his wife Alice née Shane.  Thomas had seven siblings although not all survived infancy.  His siblings were: Edith Alice Shane (b1867 d1938); “Frank” Francis Herbert Keller (b1868 d 1893); “Charles” John Charles Keller (b1870 d1938); an unnamed son (d1874); Ethel Maud Mary (b1876 d1899); and twins, Sarah Alice (b1880 d1881); and “Kit” Catherine (b1880 d 1960).

When Thomas was 18, his older brother Frank died when his horse fell on him.  This was reported in The Northern Miner on Wednesday 11 January 1893 p3 “DEATHS. KELLER. – At Springfield, on January 7th, through his horse falling on him, Frank Herbert, eldest son of H.F. and Alice Keller, at one time of Cardington Station, aged 24 years and six months.”

Ida May Pelling was the daughter of Albert Pelling and Florence Anne Fitzgerald, born 1884 in Queensland. Ida’s birth is recorded as “Ida Maud” but later records use “Ida May”.  Ida had the following siblings: Albert Harrison (b1886 d1887); William George (b 1888); Ethel Maud (b1891); John Vincent Wilfred (b1894 d1952); Violet Hilda (b1895); Eileen Florence (b1898); Florence Victoria Mary (b1901); and Albert Clifford Charles (b1903 d1980).

On 17 October 1903 Ida married John Henry Jenkins.  The couple had two children together, Ida May born 1905 and  “Jack” John Henry was born on 28 April 1907.  Ida’s husband John died 5 January 1908 when their son was only nine months old.

Just over twelve months later, on 3 February 1909 Ida married Thomas Keller.  I believe Ida’s son from her first marriage was known under the surname of Keller for the remainder of his life.  Thomas and Ida had at least six children together.  Some of the birth records are still not available to the public as they occurred within the last 100 years.  The children known to be born to the marriage are: Herbert Frank Shane (b1909); Arthur Charles Thomas (b1912) Cecil Andrew Percy (b1914) Phyllis Alice (b1917 d 1977); Thomas John (b1919 d1937); and Violet (b1923).

The couple’s youngest son Thomas John died in 1937.  This is the Thomas for whose memory many of the current Thomas’ are named.  His death was reported in the Cairns Post on Friday 22 October 1937, p6.  “DEATH.  Keller.- After a long and painful illness, Thomas John, youngest son of Mr. and Mrs. T. Keller, passed away at the Gracemere Hospital, Cairns, on October 1, 1937, aged 18 years.”  The same column carried a notice from the family “THANKS.  Mr. and Mrs. T. Keller and family wish to thank the Doctors, Matron and Nursing Staff of Cremorne and Gracemere Hospitals for their unremitting care and attention to their late son and brother, Tom; also the Brothers and students of Saint Augustine’s College, and all kind friends who sent floral tributes and messages of sympathy and condolence in their recent sad bereavement.”

Thomas Keller died in 1956 and Ida May died in 1970.

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Florence Ann Fitzgerald & Albert Pelling (g-g grandparents)

Albert Pelling was born in Hornsey, Middlesex according to the 1861 census which was taken on the night of the 7th April 1861.  Albert’s parents were Emma Louisa (nee Grinder) and James Richard Harrison Pelling.  Albert was ten months old which would make his birth June 1860.  According to the census, his father James was a house carpenter with the family living at 10 Royal Crescent Margate.

By the time of the 1871 census the family have relocated to his mother Emma’s home town of Hornsey and are living at 35 Mount Pleasant Road.  Emma is a general shop keeper and James is now working as a Plumber – this seems inconsistent with the earlier census but I believe it is the same family .

 Albert now has four siblings: Lewis John 8; Colin Stewart 5; Stewart Charles 3; and Lucy Alice 1.  The children’s birth information tells us the family most likely returned to Holloway, London by 1863 for Lewis’ birth then moved to Stratford in Essex by 1866 when Colin arrived.  They were to return to Margate around 1868 for Stewart’s birth but moved to Hornsey prior to the birth of their daughter Lucy in 1870.  The four boys are listed as scholars indicating they were attending school and therefore were most likely able to read and write.

In January 1875, James’ mother (Albert’s grandmother) Lucy died and whether this influenced the family’s decision to emigrate to Australia is unknown but later that year James and Emma travelled aboard the Clara to begin a new life with their young family.  The Clara sailed on 10 November 1874 and arrived in Brisbane on 28 February 1875, with the tug ‘Boko’ towing the ship up the river according to a passenger, Lizzie Chard.

I don’t have any information at present to tell me where the family settled after arriving in Australia. Albert’s youngest sister Hilda arrived 14 March 1876 and as far as I can tell was the last child born to Emma and James Pelling.  By this time Albert would have been sixteen and most likely already working.

In 1883 Albert marries Florence Ann Fitzgerald on 23 August.  Florence was born about 1861 in Ballinacurra, County Limerick, Ireland to Catherine (nee Donnelly) & John William Fitzgerald.  

Albert and Florence’s children were all born in Queensland but I have no information relating to where they were actually born, but their second son (Albert Harrison) died in 1887 and is buried in Cairns.

  1. 1884       Ida May/Maud
  2. 1886       Albert Harrison
  3. 1888       William George
  4. 1891       Ethel Maud
  5. 1894       John Vincent Wilfred
  6. 1895       Violet Hilda
  7. 1898       Eileen Florence
  8. 1901       Florence Victoria Mary
  9. 1903       Albert Clifford Charles

In 1888 the family are living near the Railway Station in Cairns and Albert earns a reputation for killing snakes.
albert pelling

In 1892 an advertisement indicates Albert Pelling is the agent for the Citizens Life Assurance Co Ltd in Cairns.  This is also the same year that his mother Emma Louise (nee Grinder) Pelling dies on Christmas day.  By 1902 the family have relocated to Hughenden but the family’s home is destroyed by fire.

albert pelling house fire

In 1903 Albert is working as a carpenter and the family are still recorded as living in Hughenden, Queensland on the electoral roll.  In the 1905 electoral roll, Florence is still in Hughenden but Albert is missing from the roll.  The following year a warrant for the arrest of Albert Pelling by the Townsville bench appears in the Australian Police Gazette, and indicates he has deserted his family.  I have not found definite records for Albert after this date.Police Gazette

Florence next appears on the Chillagoe electoral roll in 1913 but this appears after her death in 1912.  Florence is buried in the Chillagoe cemetery.