This year I have decided to challenge myself with a series 52 Boonah families in 52 weeks. I will pick a family from the area and provide a snapshot of their life. It is not meant to be a full detailed study but hopefully will be a good starting point for seeing who was in the community. (Caution: life gets busy sometimes so no guarantee that it will be consecutive weeks.)
If any family members are your ancestors and I have made a mistake or you would like to add additional information (or just say hi), please don't hesitate to contact me. Use the comments section below for a public comment or the contact page for a private one.
William H. Abell
The name W.H. Abell is quite familiar to me. He was the undertaker for many years so his name appears on a lot of death certificates. His name also turns up in many stories and articles about the Boonah district. His son Ernie was good friends with my grandfather.
PERSONAL. DEATH OF MR. W. H. ABELL The death took place yesterday of Mr. William Henry Abell, one of the pioneers of the Fassifern district, at the age of 71. Mr Abell recently underwent an operation and was considered to be making a recovery, when the end came. The late Mr Abell was born at Kidderminster, Worcester-shire, on August 7, 1855. Soon after his school days were over, he came out to Australia in the ship "Young Australian," in charge of Capt. D. R. Bolt, landing in Brisbane in July 1869. His family first settled at Redbank Plains. About a year afterwards, his father selected land under the Homestead Act of 1868 in the Roadvale and Milbong district, where, for nearly 10 years the family farmed successfully. In 1873. Mr Abell came to Ipswich, where for two or three years he was engaged as a coachbuilder and wheelwright. Later, he returned to the Dugandan district, where he selected land on the main road at Coulson. In 1878 he married Miss A. Beckham, daughter of Mr. W. Beckham. who lived at the Dinner Camp at Coulson. Mr Abell lived at Coulson for nearly 20 years, carrying on his trade in conjunction with farming. With other residents, Mr Abell was responsible for the erection of a State school at Coulson and was a member of the school committee for 16 years. When he removed to Boonah he served on the school committee there for five or six years and filled various offices. Mr Abell had a long and honourable association with local government. When Mr Thomas Alford resigned from the old Goolman Divisional Council, Mr Abell was elected to fill the vacancy. He was again elected in 1888, and in the following year, he was elected Chairman, an honour which was again conferred on him some years later. He was a member of the board for nearly nine years. Mr Abell was also connected with the agitation for the extension of the railway line from Harrisville to Dugandan, which was accomplished in 1877. About 1892 Mr Abell opened a branch of his coach building business at Boonah, and four years later moved there with his family. There Mr Abell took a prominent part in the establishment of the hospital. He was a member of the original committee, and to the time of his death was a trustee of the institution. He was a Justice of the Peace for nearly 40 years and was connected for a long period with the Methodist Church in various capacities. To mourn his passing, Mr Abell leaves his wife. five sons, Messrs. Thomas. Herbert, Ernest. Charles, and Percy, and two daughters., Mrs Alcorn, of Wondai. and Miss Ivy Abell. Another daughter, Miss Elsie Abell, died about three years ago. The funeral will take place to the Boonah cemetery tomorrow at 11 a.m.
William was born on the 7 August 1855 at Kidderminster, Worcestershire, England. He arrived in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia on the ship "Young Australia" on the 13 July 1869. Other family members on the voyage were his father Thomas, sister Amelia and brothers John and Thomas (jr). The family first settled at Redbank Plains and then later William's father selected a plot of land between Roadvale and Milbong. After William learnt his trade in Ipswich, in August 1877 he selected 80 acres of land. This was on the main road at Coulson (back then was called Teviotville) and established himself as a Wheelwright and Coachbuilder. He lived and worked at Coulson (Teviotville) for about twenty years and farmed as well as working in his business.
On the 8 April 1878, William married Miss Amelia Beckham and they had a family of five boys and three girls. They were
Around 1892, William rented some land and opened up a branch of his coachbuilding business in Boonah. At this stage, Boonah only had one street, a small school and only two larger shops (Blumberg's and Bickerton's) and the Australian Hotel. His business here went well and four years later he and the family moved there. Around May 1896 Mr Abell had a house built on the side of the hill overlooking the small town. This would later become known as Park Street. In 1898 William Abell moved his business after purchasing land in High Street. See the news article below. He called his business "Boonah Coach Works." There is a photo on the State Library of Queensland (OneSearch) website showing William Abell's business on High Street in 1903. It can be viewed at http://onesearch.slq.qld.gov.au/SLQ:SLQ_PCI_EBSCO:slq_digitool280959 (or type in Abell coachbuilder).
Below is an extract from Local and General News. (1896, March 10). Queensland Times, Ipswich Herald and General Advertiser (Qld. : 1861 - 1908), p. 4. Retrieved January 14, 2017, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article123361366 and describes one of the waggons built by Mr Abell as well as the type of wood he uses.
While in the township of Boonah on Saturday last a representative of this journal was shown a new farm waggon, which has just been constructed by Mr W. H. Abell, coach-builder, &c., of that place. The vehicle is one of several which Mr Abell has turned out to the orders of different farmers in the district, and the conveyance under notice has been built for Mr Charles Murphy of Coochin. The body of the waggon is some 9ft. long, and is set upon four substantial, though light-running, wheels. Ample room has been provided for the carriage of a large load of produce -two tons being its carrying capability- and, in order to facilitate the loading, the driver's seat is placed at the extreme front. The waggon is constructed of colonial timber, obtained and prepared in the district, and consists principally of spotted gum. It is fitted up with a very suitable double brake and is furnished with a splendid turntable, allowing the waggon to be turned in a small space of ground. The turntable, and, indeed, nearly all the other work, is made on the Canadian principle, with few alterations to suit patrons. One of the many interesting features of the waggon Is certainly the way in which the body has been made, as the side, back, and front boards which surround the body can, by the use of some ironwork and nuts, be removed from the waggon when it is desired to carry sawn or other timber in it instead of farm produce. This should unquestionably be a great convenience. The waggon, taken right through, has been very creditably constructed, and, though every piece of the work, is strong and durable, it is not at all heavy for the work for which it Is intended. In passing, it may be mentioned that several interesting facts were brought to our representative's notice while inspecting the vehicle in question. It seems that a considerable quantity of the timber used by coach and carriage builders, &c., is imported into the colonies from America, but it was stated by Mr Abell that this importation could be minimised to a great extent, especially in regard to spokes for the construction of buggy or other wheels. He said that he had invariably used brigalow timber, procured from the scrubs in Fassifern, for making spokes for vehicles, and had found it to suit the purpose admirably, never having received any complaints as to its adaptability. He thought that efforts should be made to get people to use colonial timbers more extensively, thus finding additional employment for tradesmen in the preparation of the timber and preventing a considerable sum of money going to foreign countries. To prove his contention, he pointed out a dog-cart in the yard, the spokes in the wheels of which were of brigalow timber. These wheels were made as far back as 1877, and, though they have been subjected to a deal of rough work on bush roads, they are yet apparently quite sound. This is a matter which might well occupy the attention of the advocates of protection to our native industries.
In January 1897 William Abell was appointed as a member of the State School Committee at Boonah and in June 1897 he was serving on the Boonah Police Court and on the annual Licensing Court at the Boonah Court House. William was a Justice of the Peace for about forty years. I'm not sure when he started the undertaker business but in September 1899 he is advertising in the Queensland Times, Ipswich Herald and General Advertiser and seems to be updating that part of his business.
In July 1900 William was one of the committee members organising and raising funds for the building of the Boonah Hospital. This was accomplished by the end of the year when a small building with a capacity of ten patients was completed. Mr Abell continued his association with the hospital until his death.
All of William's sons ended up working in the business. In the 1908 Queensland Electoral Roles Thomas was listed as a Wheelwright and William Herbert (known as Herbert) was employed as a coach painter. In 1912 Charles and Ernest were also working in the business as blacksmiths and later Percy Albert is also working as a coach painter. At some point, Herbert went away from the family business and set up his own shop in High Street. According to the book "The Fassifern Story" by C.K. Pfeffer the Abell family continued a business in High Street until 1963. The areas of trade involved during various years included coachbuilder, blacksmith, farrier, motor garage and undertaker.
William H. Abell died on the 11 November 1926 and is buried in the Boonah General Cemetery with his daughter Elsie. His wife Amelia died two years later on the 7 December 1928. Their graves can be viewed at Find A Grave Memorial# 157859499 and # 157859409.
I think I would have to agree with this sentiment from one of the articles "William Abell led a long and useful life in the interests of Boonah and the Fassifern district."
(1) FASSIFERN VETERAN. (1926, April 17). Queensland Times (Ipswich) (Qld. : 1909 - 1954), p. 12 (DAILY.). Retrieved January 11, 2017, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article118633538.
(2) PERSONAL. (1926, November 13). Queensland Times (Ipswich) (Qld. : 1909 - 1954), p. 14 (DAILY.). Retrieved January 11, 2017, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article115649307.
(3) Assisted Immigration 1848-1912, Queensland State Archives, on-line database, (http://www.archives.qld.gov.au/Researchers/Indexes/Immigration/Pages/Immigration1848.aspx: accessed 11 Jan 2017), Abell William, Young Australia, page 5 of 5.
(4) Queensland Historical Births 1829 - 1917, on-line database, Queensland Government (https://www.bdm.qld.gov.au/IndexSearch:accessed 11 Jan 2017, Thomas Frederick Abell, registration number: 1879/C2310.
(5) Queensland Historical Births 1829 - 1917, on-line database, Queensland Government (https://www.bdm.qld.gov.au/IndexSearch:accessed 11 Jan 2017, Annie Elizabeth Abell, registration number: 1881/C2247.
(6) Queensland Historical Births 1829 - 1917, on-line database, Queensland Government (https://www.bdm.qld.gov.au/IndexSearch:accessed 11 Jan 2017, William Herbert Abell, registration number: 1882/C2491.
(7) Queensland Historical Births 1829 - 1917, on-line database, Queensland Government (https://www.bdm.qld.gov.au/IndexSearch:accessed 11 Jan 2017, Ernest Edward Abell, registration number: 1887/C3395.
(8) Queensland Historical Births 1829 - 1917, on-line database, Queensland Government (https://www.bdm.qld.gov.au/IndexSearch:accessed 11 Jan 2017, Charles Harold Abell, registration number: 1890/C5105.
(9) Queensland Historical Births 1829 - 1917, on-line database, Queensland Government (https://www.bdm.qld.gov.au/IndexSearch:accessed 11 Jan 2017, Percy Albert Abell, registration number: 1891/C5007.
(10) Queensland Historical Births 1829 - 1917, on-line database, Queensland Government (https://www.bdm.qld.gov.au/IndexSearch:accessed 11 Jan 2017, Ivy Amelia Abell, registration number: 1894/C4504.
(11) Queensland Historical Births 1829 - 1917, on-line database, Queensland Government (https://www.bdm.qld.gov.au/IndexSearch:accessed 11 Jan 2017, Elsie Frances Abell, registration number: 1901/C4340.
(12) Queensland Historical Death 1829 - 1987, on-line database, Queensland Government (https://www.bdm.qld.gov.au/IndexSearch:accessed 11 Jan 2017, William Harry Abell, registration number: 1926/C4152.
(13) Queensland Historical Death 1829 - 1987, on-line database, Queensland Government (https://www.bdm.qld.gov.au/IndexSearch:accessed 11 Jan 2017, Amelia Abell, registration number: 1928/C4041.
(14) Pfeffer, C.K, The Fassifern Story: A History of Boonah Shire and Surroundings to 1989 (Boonah, Qld: Boonah Shire Council, 1991).
I enjoy researching history and families, it's an all encompassing hobby that takes over a lot of my spare time.