I’m giving myself a new challenge this year - 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks which is run by Amy Johnson Crow from No Story Too Small. I noticed many blog posts from people who took part in the challenge last year and thought it would be something fun to do in the future. Plus, I’m hoping it will help me identify areas for further research.
The theme for Week 1 is Fresh Start. When I think of a fresh start I think of my Great Grandfather William Gow.
Born on the 21st of May, 1868, William was the youngest of 5 children to parents William Gow and Jean Drummond. He grew up on his family’s farm at Cairn, Muthill, Perthshire, Scotland. Sadly, his father passed away the day after his 6th birthday in 1874. William remained on the farm until 1886. By then, his siblings and mother had all relocated, including his brother Robert who had immigrated to Sydney in 1884. In 1886, when he was just 18 years old, William made the long journey to Sydney arriving on October 5th, 1886. William did not have any family with him when he made this trip, so it must have been quite daunting!
|William Gow in 1889, aged 22.|
[Source: Personal Collection]
When he arrived in Sydney, he lived in Potts Point, an inner-city suburb. William had worked as a gardener in Scotland, and continued to do so in Sydney. In his diary for the year 1887, William recorded what he did each day. Some entries are detailed, others are not. On January 17th, he was “cleaning [garden] beds in front of the house and watered them and pots at the door and veranda.” Potts Point is also situated on Elizabeth Bay. On February 6th, William “got out the boat and went over to Darling Point and had another row around Elizabeth Bay.” In quite a few entries he mentions doing some gardening at a Bush House. I currently have no idea where Bush House is/was but it would be interesting to find out. According to William’s obituary, he also worked as a gardener for Sir Adrian Knox. Perhaps Bush House could have been something to do with Sir Adrian Knox? Some investigating to do here I think.
In 1896 William became a police officer, and in 1897, after the 12 month probation period, became an Ordinary Constable.
|William Gow's Police Appointment on NSW State Records|
On the 14th of December, 1904, William married Elizabeth Croal. They lived in Stanmore (inner-west Sydney) where they had two children – Adam Gow (1905 – 1905) and William David Drummond Gow (1910 – 2003).
|Wedding of William Gow & Elizabeth Croal, 14th Dec 1904, Sydney|
[Source: Personal Collection]
In 1905, William became a 1st Class Constable. I actually have all this wage sheets from his career as a police officer which I got from the New South Wales State Records! William became favourably known throughout the Sydney Police Traffic Department, and when he retired in 1912, he was asked to reconsider. However, William believed that gardening was his true calling. With that in mind, in 1913 William, Elizabeth & their son William Jr moved to Gumma, a small town near Macksville on the Mid-North Coast of New South Wales. William became well known for growing tomatoes and he thoroughly enjoyed working on the land.
|Article from Farmer and Settler, 1 Nov 1929|
William passed away on November 28th, 1943 at the ‘Jalna’ Private Hospital in Macksville at the age of 75. He is buried in Macksville Cemetery. When he died, William had been living at Gumma for 31 years. I feel that moving to Gumma gave William a fresh start. His obituary states that he was “a very kindly Scotsman who nevertheless was ever ready to speak his mind and defend what he considered was right and just.” Now that, that makes me very proud.
|William Gow's death notice, Sydney Morning Herald, 11 Dec 1943|