Albert and Helen McAllister m 1894

1894 and Albert McAllister was second generation Australian. His Grandparents James McAllister and Ellen Clausey from Limerick had made the journey aboard the Magistrate arriving in Sydney in 1838. His father James, was born in Sydney but the family moved north to Brisbane which is where James Jr meet his wife and Albert’s mother, Mary Gallagher from County Clare.

The family continued to move further north and by 1873 when Ellen Maude was born, they were living in Charters Towers, a thriving gold mining city affectionately known as ‘The World’ as it was said to have everything anyone needed. It was here Albert met and married Helen Baker, a Lancashire lass who arrived in Townsville, Queensland, from London in 1888 on the Jumna.

The Baker Family

Helen was just eleven when her Mother Elizabeth, her father Alexander and her two brothers, Alexander eight and John one, arrived in Townsville QLD aboard the ship Jumna in October of 1888. The details of the arrival was reported in the Brisbane Courier Mail.

The ship Jumna

In the passenger list, the Baker family is listed as ‘Remittance’ and bound for the port of Townsville. This suggests that a family member, already in Australia, paid for the family to immigrate. Townsville would be the closest to Charters Towers which was a booming fold mining town at the time. The Jumna left London on 18 December 1887 heading for Brisbane Queensland. It went via the Suez canal and Colombo travelling down the East Coast of Australia calling to ports on its way south. According to the ships log, passengers for Townsville arrived on 31 January 1888.

Details of Immigration Remittances are set out in a document dated 1848 and is a guide to how much passage will cost and circumstances allowing emmigration to Australia.

In the Census of 1881, Alexander Baker and his wife Elizabeth are listed with three children, Alexander 8, Ellen Louisa 7 and John 1, living at Bewley St, Kirkdale, Lancashire. Elizabeth and her children are listed as being born in Liverpool however Alexander was a mariner, born in New York. The Census data describe this as New Yorkshire. It is uncertain if Alexander was a runaway American or a native of the hamlet of New York in Yorkshire. The story in the family was that he left his family, changing his name from Whitman to Baker and was a brother of the famous Walt Whitman, America’s poet lauret. He was about twenty-five years younger and the Whitman family is said to have had nine children six of whom were male. There is also suggestions that he had a ship possibly named ‘Helen Louisa’ after his mother. Walt Whitman’s mother was a Dutch woman by the name of Louisa Van Velsor Whitman.

According to family memories, as an old man he was very straight in his bearing and used to rouse his grandchildren with: ‘All hands on deck!’. On his last trip to England, he invited his daughter Helen Louisa to accompany him but she declined as she was about to be married. He is remembered as stern- the real old sea captain. He died 20th April 1924 and his wife, Elizabeth died just a few months later on 26 July.

Albert and Helen 1894

Albert and Helen were to have thirteen children all born in Charters Towers within twenty-two years between 1895 and 1917.

When Albert’s father, James, married Mary Gallagher, in Brisbane, 1865, he described himself as a saddler. Albert, Ernie and James Jr all learnt the trade and established themselves in business and set up a shop in the main street of Charters Towers and called themselves McAllister and Sons Saddlery, Harnesses etc.

An ad which appeared in The Northern Miner Dec 1898
Article in North Queensland Register Dec 1901

I believe the photo below may have been taken in 1916. James, the eldest died in Belgium in WW1 in 1917. Alex also drowned in 1917 at aged 14.

This is my guess. I think the photo was taken in 1916 and if so – Standing back row left to right: Alex 13, Albert 20, Mary 16, Maud 12 and John (Jack) 15. Centre Row left to right: James 21, Elizabeth 8, Helen 39, Reg 10, Albert 48 and Helen 19. Front row: Alice 6, Vince 1 in his father’s arms and Veronica 4. I don’t think Hilda is in this photo. She was born in October of 1917 and James died in WW1 in the September of the same year.

McAllister family about 1916

The McAllister family, Albert Edward and Helen Louisa and their thirteen children lived at 70 Hodgkinson Street, Charters Towers. They were a musical family.

Helen Louisa, died 30 December 1924 at just 49 years old. She is buried in Charters Towers.

Albert Edward left Charters Towers a few years after his wife died and went to live in Cairns. Unfortunately he took ill within a few days of arrival and died December 1929.