THE photographic archives of the Bathurst District Historical Society contain many photos that do not have a great deal of information. Our photo this week shows a single storey, brick, semi-detached home at 103 Seymour Street which was the residence of George A. and Kate Thompson around 1900.
A semi-detached house is a pair of houses joined together by a common wall. Our photo shows Kate standing on the verandah nursing a young baby, with one of her sons standing beside her. The family must have had a great interest in pot plants, judging by the number on the front verandah.
Kate Thompson was the daughter of ex-convict James Maguire. His wife Francis Bryant died when she was just 42.
Francis married James at 15 and had 12 children in her short life, though not all of them survived. Their second daughter, Hannah, married a Bathurst boot and shoe maker named Thomas Johnson.
James Maguire was buried from this house, with the story appearing in the National Advocate on June 23, 1903 under the headline “Death of Mr. James Maguire”;
“A very old Bathurst identity, in the person of Mr. James Maguire, passed away yesterday morning at the residence of his son-in-law (Mr. G.A. Thompson), 103 Seymour Street. The deceased, who attained the venerable age of 98 years, was one of the earliest residents in the Western district, having resided in either Bathurst or Kelso for the past 69 years,” it was reported.
“Always of a quiet and unassuming disposition, he commanded the esteem of a wide circle of friends, whose deep sympathy will be extended to the members of the family in their bereavement.
“He was a native of Dublin, Ireland. He leaves a grown-up family of eight, five sons and three daughters.
“The funeral will leave his late residence to-day at two o'clock.”
Mr G.A. Thompson was a supporter of the Bathurst District Band and often made an annual donation to help with renewing instruments and uniforms. The band relied on sponsors, especially when the popular group was having problems with Bathurst City Council, as happened in September 1900.
“At a meeting of the Committee of the Bathurst District Band held on a Wednesday night the offer of the Council of £20, half subsidy for playing in Machattie Park, was considered,” it was reported.
The band decided to decline the offer. One of the reasons was that the band considered they had not been fairly treated. The group planned to set forth the full reasons in a letter which was to be drafted and forwarded to the council.
A photocopied family letter tells that the Thompsons’ Seymour Street home had a backyard that “was a vegetable garden and small orchard that supplied the family with many vegetables and fruit throughout the year”.
“A well supplied the extra water needed to ensure it kept going through dry spells with all helping with buckets of water. In late June or July, we would all help to dig up the beds and fork in horse manure,” the letter says.
Mostly, they would buy seeds from Webb’s store, though on occasions they would get plants ready to be put out.
“We would grow onions, cabbage, radishes, marrows, broad beans, leeks, beet, parsnips, pumpkin, cauliflowers, snow peas, turnips, carrots, lettuce, broccoli, mangel beet, peas and tomatoes,” the letter says.
By the ship’s tank was the parsley, mustard seed, sage, mint and cress.
“Some years we would have jam melons,” the letter says.
“Some years the green caterpillars would be very plentiful, as was the aphids. This meant someone had to give them a spray of kerosene with a hand pump.
“In drier years, we have seen rabbits and hares eating the green leaves and we would find holes in the back fence. The fruit would attract the possums.”