The Beatty boys - Jack, Jim and Bill - lived at the "Googongs" at a property named Red Hill (now largely consumed by the waters of Googong Dam). Their dwelling was a typical slab hut of the 1800s, with a bark roof and mostly dirt floor. It was never repaired because whenever necessary a new one was built. There were two rooms. Newspapers were glued to the slab walls with flour and water to keep out the winter chill. There was no stove, just an open fireplace. Most cooking was done outside.
The main room with its fireplace was the living area. The table was made of packing cases with legs made of tree trunks. Fresh water was held in kerosene cans cut in half and hung from the wall or roof. Preserved fruit tins were used as billy cans. Condensed milk tins were converted into mugs by attaching wire as handles. Branches from teatree tied together formed a broom. Lighting was by lanterns and kerosene lamps. The property benefited from an orchard that produced apples, apricots, cherries and plums. Apart from meat from rabbits and sheep, to obtain other provisions they regularly travelled the 25 kilometres into Queanbeyan by sulky or horseback via the Old Burra Road.
They were among the sons of John Beatty and Elizabeth Feagan. John had arrived in Australia as a bounty immigrant with his father Thomas and two brothers in 1842 at the age of 14. They were from Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland. They embarked as a family from Plymouth on the barque Theresa. During the voyage he lost his younger brother Robert to consumption (tuberculosis), another brother born to his mother Letitia during the voyage died at 12 weeks, and three days later his mother died of "dropsy" (a form of fluid retention or oedema).
His father, Thomas, had been engaged by William Rutledge to work on his property, later named Carwoola, located on the Molongo Plains. Thomas was a labourer, and John and his two brothers, William and Archibald, worked as shepherds. After two years at Carwoola, Thomas moved to the adjoining property, Foxlow, on the Molonglo River. He later worked at River Station on the Queanbeyan River for Dr James Murray, leased from Charles Campbell. Thomas Beatty died in 1880 at the age of 93. The Queanbeyan Age of January 3, 1880, reported that "Mr Beatty was the oldest Orangeman of the district, and his brethren of that Order marched in procession at the funeral, wearing their regalia".
John enriched himself at the Braidwood district goldfields and there met his future wife Elizabeth Feagan. They had 10 children, three girls and seven boys. Letitia, born in 1854, died at the age of 3 from injuries received from inhaling steam from boiling water. The eldest boy Tom was born in 1856, Mary Ann in 1858, John (known as Jack) in 1860, James (known as Jim) in 1862, William (known as Bill) in 1865, Alexander in 1867, Margaret Jane (known as Maggie) in 1869, Henry (known as Harry) in 1872, and Albert (known as Ern) in 1875.
In 1878 a typhoid epidemic struck Queanbeyan which took three members of this family within 39 days. Elizabeth perished along with daughter Mary Ann, aged 19, and son Alexander, aged 10. John was left a widower responsible for his remaining children. In desperation he rode to Walcha, (a return trip of nearly 1400 kilometres), to seek help from his late wife's sister, Margaret Studdy, who returned with him. While away he was charged in Queanbeyan with deserting his family but on his return, when the circumstances were explained, all charges were dropped. John remarried a widow, Margaret Frayer (Moore) or Fraser (Batty), in 1879 and together they raised John's three youngest children. John died at Queanbeyan in 1909 at the age of 82.
Tom leased a property (Crabtree) at Urila which he farmed until his death in 1907. The lease was left to Harry who eventually purchased the freehold and it passed to the only surviving brother, Ernest, when Harry died in 1933. Margaret Jane went to live with her aunt and uncle, Jane and William Feagan, at Googong. When older she sought domestic work which took her to Summer Hill in Sydney where she worked for her aunt, Margaret Studdy. It was eventually at Glebe where she met and married James Tierney, an Irish Catholic, in Sydney in December 1897.
In 1926 Ern built a house for himself at 18 Kathleen Street, Queanbeyan. He had previously lived with his brothers at Red Hill and on various properties where he worked as a shearer's cook, fencer, and boundary rider. He had a reputation for walking long distances and at one point walked from the Red Hill property over the Clyde Mountain to the coast. After Red Hill was sold in 1944, Jack and Jim went to live with Ern in Queanbeyan. Ern was the last of the Beatty boys, dying in 1956 at the age of 81.
Historical accounts of the region, such as The Warm Corner by Bruce Moore, reflect that "all of the Beatty boys were expert bushmen, and among the best rifle shots in the district. Henry was a prominent member of the of the Queanbeyan Rifle Club, and won the club's premier trophy, the Triggs Bowl, outright on two occasions. The youngest son, Ernest, was a well-known and respected citizen of Queanbeyan...". The genealogy chart in the book, unlike entries for her siblings, records no date of death for Margaret Jane. Either because all trace of her was inadvertently lost, or she had offended the staunch Orangemen by marrying "The Green" Jim Tierney.
None of John Beatty's sons married or had children. They are all interred at Riverside Cemetery, Queanbeyan. The only surviving daughter, Margaret Jane, had five daughters, of whom her first born Eileen is the author's maternal grandmother.
- Doug Kentwell attributes facts and photographs to 'The Warm Corner' by Bruce Moore, and 'Ancestors from The Emerald Isle: Our Tierney and Beatty Families 1820-2010' by Maureen T Batty.
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