In Part 1 of the series “Who lived here?“, Ancestor Detective, introduced readers to John Kelly, a publican of the Traveller’s Rest Hotel in Violet Town. In the research into a 1880’s cottage found at Lot 11, Primrose Street, Violet Town, in the Certificate of Title for the property identified that John Kelly as the first owner of the property and sold the property to Maria Tuckett, the wife of Alfred Curtis Tuckett. In Part 2, Ancestor Detective introduces Alfred Curtis and Maria Tuckett, local business owners in the small town of Violet Town in the late 1880’s.
Alfred Curtis TUCKETT was born to Alfred Tuckett and Helen Maria CURTIS in Mangotsfield, Gloucertershire, England on 27 August 1833. Both Alfred and Helen were born into the Religious Society of Friends, otherwise known as the Quakers. A society whose belief was individuals held a direct, personal experience with God and lived by a strict moral code that placed faith above country and a refusal to participate in state churches and forbade military service which was the subject of persecution. However, their marriage, according to the book by Marjorie McDonald, The Tuckett Legacy, was surrounded in controversy when it was known that they were in fact first cousins forcing them to be banished from the Society and left to marry in the Church of England on 22 February 1831 in Bradwell, Essex, England. The separation from the Society must have been resolved because by the time their son, Alfred Curtis, was born they were allowed to register his birth with the Society in the quarterly meeting following his birth.
As part of the Society they forbid military service and it appears that Alfred Curtis did not holds these beliefs when as a 16 year old he joined the Merchant Navy on 19 December 1850 as an indentured Apprentice on board the ship “Mercury” until 19 December 1854.
Not long after completing his service with the Merchant Army, Alfred Curtis boarded the ship “Starlight” and headed to Melbourne, Australia. After 124 days at sea, on 5 May 1857, the “Starlight” reached Melbourne shores where it is believed the lure of the goldfields saw him travel to northern Victoria.
On 17 May 1860, Alfred Curtis appeared in the The Argus newspaper as a missing person, which sought his whereabouts.
Then on 9 October 1860 the NSW Government Gazette post that the whereabouts of him where required. The article states that he had not been heard from since 1858 while in the Wellington District as a 25 or 26 year old. The search appears to be from John Beard of the Railway Hotel in Tambaroora. Circumstances into his alleged disappearance and why his location was being sought remain a mystery.
Maria Bryans was born on 16 July 1843 in Armagh, Northern Ireland to John Bryans and Elizabeth Robertson. in 1863, aged 20 years, Maria traveled on board the ship “Gresham” as an assisted migrant, arriving in Geelong, Victoria in December 1863.
In 1867, Alfred Curtis and Maria marry in Skipton, Victoria. They would reside in the small rural towns of Skipton and Beaufort, where Maria would give birth to six children between 1866 and 1877; Helen Tuckett (1868), Lillian Victoria (1869), Alfred Curtis (1871), Frederick William (1873), Francis John (1875) and Maria Maud (1877). After the birth of their sixth child, Maria Maud Tuckett (1877). Maria would gave birth to three more children between 1880 and 1885; Lewis Allen (1880), Alexander (1883) and Phillip Samuel (1885) while living in Violet Town.
Unlike their time living in Violet Town, newspaper articles recording their lives in the Skipton and Beaufort areas were not forthcoming. Between 1877 and 1881 Alfred Curtis and Maria would move to the parish of Marraweeny where in 1881 they would purchase 284 acres of land, approximately seven miles from Violet Town. It is here that they would build a substantial six roomed house, garden and orchard and stables along with four paddocks that included water from Faithfuls Creek.
On 1 October 1884, owner of lot 11, Primrose Street in Violet Town, would sell his property to Maria Tuckett here her husband, Alfred Curtis, would build a five bedroom weatherboard home.
It was at their property in Marraweeney that the first horse races of the area were held and following the races a gala ball was held in their large house.
It was in Violet Town that the couple’s ownership of businesses dominated but along with this, newspaper reports on court proceedings and fires that impacted upon their businesses and houses emerged from the late 1880’s to the early 1900’s.
On 1 December 1884, Maria purchased land of four roods and eight perches at lot 11, Primrose Street in Violet Town. In 1887, Alfred Curtis advertised a tender to build a five bedroom weatherboard house on the property.
On 23 November 1885 Alfred Curtis gave notice for the application for a colonial wine license for a house in Violet Town, which was granted at the Licensing Meeting held in Violet Town on 16 December 1885. Over the years, the license continued to be renewed up until 1887. In 1886, Maria offered the wine shop up for public auction on 19 March 1886. The sale appears to have fallen through, with another renewal of the wine licence renewed in the following year.
At the same time that the Tuckett’s were operating their colonial wine shop within an eleven room boarding house, known as the Temperance Hotel, located near the railway station in Violet Town. It was the wine shop that starts to get the Tuckett’s into a little bit of trouble with the law, when in June 1887 Maria was charged with the illegal selling of liquor, fortunately the charges were dismissed.
On 14 March 1887, the large property of A. C. Tuckett was offered for Sale, by Public Auction. This farm included 284 acres of freehold land in the parish of Marraweeney, Country of Delatite and seven miles from Violet Town. Subdivided into four paddocks, permanently watered by Faithful’s Creek and springs, the property featured a six roomed house, kitchen detached, and 25 acres of cultivated land, good garden of two acres, planted with fruit and ornamental trees.
It seems that a few encounters with the law for Alfred and Maria, may have been a reflection of the times, and with numerous property fires, the couple fell on hard times. On 25 March 1891, a notice was advertised in the Euroa Advertiser by Mr. T. S. Moore, assignee, against Alfred Curtis Tuckett for insolvency. It appears that despite Alfred Curtis being declared insolvent, the same was not reported of Maria who continued to operate businesses in Violet Town, as well as leasing more land in Shadforth in 1894 and 1895.
On New Years Even 1899, a fire burnt the boarding house of Maria Tuckett to the ground. Few possessions could be saved. This was not the first fire on the Tuckett’s properties, with the first occurring in September 1885, and then again in September 1895, fortunately on these occasions there wasn’t a lot of damage to the properties.
It is this large fire, destroying a substantial business for Maria that may have instigated their move to Caulfield, Victoria between 1900 and 1904. Maria sold lot 11, Primrose Street, Violet Town to Herman Gerhard Meyer on 19 April 1905.
When next we hear of the Tuckett’s is upon the death of Alfred Curtis on 25 July 1904 at the family home, “Myrtle”, from a cerebral hemorrhage. The significance of the family home name, “Myrtle”, originates from Alfred Curtis’s childhood home in Bristol, England.
One must wonder what was happening for the couple at the time of Alfred Curtis’s death because despite financial means, he was buried in plot 2063 at Bundoora Cemetery in an unmarked grave. Maria, following her husband’s death, moves to Victoria Park in Western Australia, where she lives with her son, Francis John.
Western Australian rates books shows that Maria bought land in Victoria Park up until her death on 7 November 1922.
On 4 August 1914, Britian declared war on Germany. Neither the Australian government nor the 324,000 who signed up to fight for their country would know at the time the human sacrifice and financial toll that World War 1 would have on Australia.
Like many young men, Maria would farewell three of her sons and one grandson, with great pride and undoubtedly a tear in her eye, sadly she would only welcome back one son and grandson.
Francis John Tuckett was the eldest son, aged 40 years, to join the Australian Imperial Force in the 3rd Australian Division Signals Company where he reached the rank of Lieutenant. His oldest son Francis Curtis Tuckett would also join the same day with his Father, at the young age of 16 years.
Lewis Allen Tuckett was aged 35 years when he joined the Australian Imperial Force on 17 August 1914 and like his older brother and nephew, Lewis was in the 3rd Division Signal Company where he reached the rank of Captain and awarded several bravery medals.
It must have been some comfort for both Maria, and the wives of Francis John and Lewis, for Francis Curtis to be deployed in the same division as his Father and Uncle. Sadly, this comfort would turn to grief, when on 14 October 1917, they would both witness the death of Francis John when he was killed in action in Belgium. He would be buried Ypres Reservoir Cemetery, Ypres, Flanders, Belgium.
Philip Samuel Tuckett was the youngest son born to Maria and Alfred Curtis, he would join the Australian Imperial Force on 3 February 1916 in the 3rd Australian Pioneer Battalion at the age of 31 years. Two days after being promoted to second Lieutenant, Philip Samuel, would be killed by shell fire in Flers, France on 24 November 1916. He would be buried at Bulls Road Cemetery, Flers, Departement de la Somme, Picardie, France.
Maria Tuckett would remain in Victoria Park, Western Australia up until her death on 7 November 1922. The devastation of losing two sons in World War 1, she commemorated both their deaths with memorial plaques in Kings Park, Western Australia. Maria is buried in Karrakatta Cemetery and Crematorium in Karrakatta, Western Australia, along side her son, Alexander. The headstone also displays the names of her sons, Francis John and Philip Samuel.
Alfred Curtis and Maria Tuckett will be remembered as business owners and community members of Violet Town. While they had their ups and downs financially, this was not unusual for this time in history, they did endure and their ability to purchase property in their later years in Caulfield and then in Perth show the remained financially stable up until their deaths.
In the next edition of Who lived here, Ancestor Detective introduces Hermann Gerhard Meyer as the next owner of lot 11, Primrose Street, Violet Town.
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