Tag: white women

The Hung family of Lefroy, Tasmania

Peter Cox’s local history of the former gold-mining town of Lefroy in north-eastern Tasmania, Lefroy: Tasmania’s Forgotten Gold Town (George Town and District Historical Society, 2016, p. 90), mentions a market gardener named Ah Hung, who with ‘his European wife Jemma’ had a large vegetable and fruit garden to the north of Lefroy, ‘on the old Douglas township site’.

Douglas was a town that never eventuated, about four kilometres east of Lefroy. By contrast, Lefroy was once a substantial town, reputed at one point to have been the fourth largest town in Tasmania. There was a notable Chinese community in Lefroy, including a temple. Today, there are only a few houses remaining.

Chinese miners occupy their own chapter of Cox’s study (Chapter 3, ‘Chinese and Slate’), but Jemma and Ah Hung receive only the one brief, unreferenced mention in Chapter 10 (‘The Peak of the Boom’). On a recent holiday in the East Tamar district, I set out to see what I could find out about them.

Jemima Cox and Ah Hung married in Launceston in 1875. She had come to Tasmania as a small child, after migrating with her family from Hertfordshire, England in 1856. Jemima and Ah Hung had three children, born in the early 1880s, Henry, James and Mary, and they lived on land owned by Jemima at Douglas, near Blanket Creek outside of Lefroy, where they ran a garden. Ah Hung died in 1904, after which time it seems that Jemima moved to Launceston with her eldest son, Henry. They lived in Forster Street, Inveresk, and Henry was a gardener like his father (and Jemima’s father, too). Jemima died in 1923, at age 74, in Broken Hill, New South Wales, where she was living with son Henry – she had been in Broken Hill for four months.

The town of Lefroy, Tasmania (George Town and District Historical Society, GTH_HS0194, https://eheritage.libraries.tas.gov.au/resources/detail0f3f.html?ID=GTH_HS0194)

Below is a chronology of the information I uncovered through Trove Newspapers, the Tasmanian Names Index, the NSW Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, Ancestry.com, General Register Office UK, Broken Hill Cemetery website, and maps from the National Library and Libraries Tasmania (thanks to Imogen Wegman for the latter reference). There are many leads that could be followed up about the life of Jemima and Ah Hung and their children, and I’ve noted some of these for future reference!

Chronology

c. 1835–1846: Ah Hung was born.

1850: On 13 September 1850, Jemima Elizabeth Cox was born in at Nancy Bury, Tewin, Hertfordshire, England, the daughter of Daniel Cox and Mary Gregory. Her father was a woodman and her mother signed with an ‘X’.

Birth of Jemima Elizabeth Cox, Oct-Nov-Dec 1850, Hertfordshire, Vol. 6, Page 547, FreeBMD, England & Wales, Civil Registration Birth Index, 1837-1915 [database online], Ancestry.com.

Birth registration of Jemima Elizabeth Cox, December Quarter 1850, Hertford Union, Vol. 6, Page 547, General Register Office, United Kingdom.

1851: The family of Daniel and Mary Cox was listed in the 1851 England Census as living at Nancy Bury, Tewin, in Hertfordshire, England. The household consisted of Daniel (farmer labourer, age 32, born Tewin), Mary (housewife, age 26, born Codicote), Daniel (age 4) and Jemima (age 7 months).

Census record for Daniel Cox and household, Tewin, Hertfordshire, England, Class HO107, Piece 1711, Folio 170, Page 26, 1851 England Census [database online], Ancestry.com.

1856: On 5 February, Daniel and Mary Cox and their children arrived in New South Wales as assisted immigrants on the James Fernie. The Cox children were 7-year-old Daniel, 5-year-old Jemima, 2-year-old Joseph and a male infant born on board.

Assisted immigrants records for Daniel Cox, Mary Cox and Daniel, Jemima and Joseph Cox, arrived on James Fernie, 1856, Assisted Immigrants Index 1839–1896, NSW State Archives and Records.

Passenger list for the James Fernie, arrived Sydney on 5 February 1856, New South Wales, Australia, Assisted Immigrant Passenger Lists, 1828-1896 [database online], Ancestry.com.

1869: Jemima Cox gave evidence in a case about trespass on the land that her father, Daniel Cox, rented in Glen Dhu Street, Launceston.

‘Trespassing on Land’, The Cornwall Chronicle (Launceston), 27 November 1869, p. 5, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article65988017.

1875: Jemima Cox and Ah Hung were married at the Wesleyan Church in Patterson Street, Launceston, by the Rev. E.W. Nye. Jemima was incorrectly said to be a native of Tasmania, aged about 25 years old, and she was still living with her parents at Cataract Hill. Ah Hung was described as a ‘middle aged man’.

They were married on 13 May 1875. He was recorded as being aged 29 and she was 25. He was a bachelor and she was a spinster. He was a miner and she was a gardener’s daughter.

‘Another Chinese Benedict’, The Cornwall Chronicle (Launceston), 14 May 1875, p. 2, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article66073314.

Reprinted as: ‘Fifty Years Ago’, The Mercury (Hobart), 16 May 1925, p. 12, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article23817025.

Tasmanian Names Index, Ah-Hung and Jemima Cox (Marriage), 13 May 1875, Tasmanian Archives, RGD37/1/34 no 503, https://stors.tas.gov.au/RGD37-1-34$init=RGD37-1-34P266.

Tasmanian Names Index, Ah-Hung and Jemima Cox (Marriage), 13 May 1875, Tasmanian Archives, RGD37/1/34 no 503, https://stors.tas.gov.au/RGD37-1-34$init=RGD37-1-34P266.

c. 1880: Henry Charles Hung, son of Jemima Cox and Ah Hung, was born in Tasmania.

c. 1882: James Hung, son of Jemima Cox and Ah Hung, was born in Tasmania.

c. 1884: Mary Hung, daughter of Jemima Cox and Ah Hung, was born in Tasmania.

1889: The premises of Ah Hung at Lefroy were robbed on Tuesday, 3 September 1889, and £75 in gold and silver was stolen. The theft was not discovered until 5 September. The main suspect was another Chinese man.

‘Tasmanian News’, The Tasmanian (Launceston), 7 September 1889, p. 25, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article200288906.

1892: Jemima Hung was recorded as the owner of 2 acres, 0 roods and 31 perches of land on the main road from Lefroy to Back Creek, close to Blanket Creek.

A 1973 Tasmanian Department of Mines map of Lefroy still noted that the land is owned by J. Hung.

‘Map – Douglas D32’ (AF819-1-82), Printed Town Charts (AF819), Land and Surveys Department, Tasmanian Archives, https://stors.tas.gov.au/AI/AF819-1-82.

‘Lefroy’, Tasmania mineral chart series, Tasmania Department of Mines, Hobart 1973, http://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-668738343.

Detail of 1892 map of Douglas, Tasmania, showing Jemima Hung’s land on what is now Douglas Road (Tasmanian Archives AF819-1-82)

1901: An article in April about ‘Crown Land Sales’, under the heading ‘Town Lands’, mentioned land in the town of Douglas ‘fronting on the road to Back Creek, opposite land purchased by H. Ah Hung’.

‘Crown Land Sales’, Daily Telegraph (Launceston), 15 April 1901, p. 4, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article153962637.

1904: James Hung, ‘a Chinese gardener’, went missing from his home near Lefroy at the beginning of February and had still not been found several days later.

‘Launceston’, The North Western Advocate and the Emu Bay Times, 4 February 1904, p. 3, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article65130652.

1904: James Hung returned home on Thursday, 4 February; he had been reported missing from Blanket Creek near Lefroy. He was said to be in a weak state.

‘Current Topics: Returned Home’, Examiner (Launceston), 6 February 1904, p. 4, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article35790680.

This land on Douglas Road at Lefroy, near Blanket Creek, was owned and occupied by the Hung family in the late nineteenth century. On the land there are two old fruit trees, possibly apples. (Photograph by Kate Bagnall, October 2020)

1904: On 6 February 1904, Mr and Mrs Hung of Lefroy placed a notice in the Launceston newspaper to thank people for searching for their son, James, who was lost in the bush.

‘Family Notices’, Daily Telegraph (Launceston), 10 February 1904, p. 1, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article153921840.

Google Earth satellite image showing the boundary of Jemima Hung’s property at Douglas, Tasmania (Created by Tim Sherratt, October 2020)

1904: Ah Hung, aged 69, died at his home at Lefroy on 23 October 1904 after a long and painful illness. He was the ‘dearly beloved husband’ of Jemima Ah Hung.

‘Family Notices’, Daily Telegraph (Launceston), 25 October 1904, p. 1, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article153825631.

‘Family Notices’, Daily Telegraph (Launceston), 25 October 1904, p. 1, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article153825631.

1910: Mrs J. Hung of Melbourne Street, South Launceston, won the ‘Robur’ Tea Ticket Collecting Competition for February 1910 and her name was listed in a Launceston newspaper (under ‘3/6 Rewards’ in the first column).

‘Advertising’, Examiner (Launceston), 26 March 1910, p. 9, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article50412200.

1913: Mrs Jemima Hung was listed in the Post Office Directory as living at Forster Street, Inveresk, on the righthand side from Invermay Road after Goderich Street.

Tasmania Post Office Directory for 1913–14, H. Wise and Co., Hobart, p. 154, Ancestry.com. Australia, City Directories, 1845-1948 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015.

1914: Mrs Jemima Hung (domestic duties) and Henry Charles Hung (gardener) were living in Forster Street, Inveresk.

Electoral Roll, Tasmania, 1914, Bass, Launceston North, p. 25, Ancestry.com. Australia, Electoral Rolls, 1903-1980 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010.

1915: Mrs Jemima Hung was listed in the Post Office Directory as living at Forster Street, Inveresk, on the righthand side from Invermay Road after Goderich Street.

Tasmania Post Office Directory for 1915–16, H. Wise and Co., Hobart, p. 152, Ancestry.com. Australia, City Directories, 1845-1948 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015.

1922: Jemima Hung (domestic duties) and Henry Charles Hung (gardener) were living in Forster Street, Inveresk.

Electoral Roll, Tasmania, 1922, Bass, Launceston North, p. 31, Ancestry.com. Australia, Electoral Rolls, 1903-1980 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010.

1923: Jemima Hung died at Broken Hill, New South Wales (father Daniel, mother Mary).

New South Wales Registry of Birth, Death and Marriage, death of Jemima Hung, 3771/1923.

Death registration of Jemima Hung, Broken Hill, New South Wales, 10 January 1923 (NSW Registry of Birth, Death and Marriage, death of Jemima Hung, 3771/1923)

1923: On 11 January 1923, Jemima Hung was buried at Broken Hill Cemetery in the Methodist section.

Broken Hill Cemetery Records Navigator, Burial Number 30291, Methodist Section (METH M4 Row 23A Plot 15), Buried 11 January 1923, http://www.bhcemetery.com.au/.

1923: Probate record for Jemima Hung, late of Broken Hill, New South Wales.

Tasmanian Names Index, Jemima Hung (Wills), 1923, Tasmanian Archives, AD963-1-4 (Will no. 3880), https://stors.tas.gov.au/AD963-1-4-3880$init=AD963-1-4-3880-1.

1947: ‘Half-caste Chinese’ James Hung, age 65, died. He was the brother of Henry Charles Hung of 53 Charles Street, Launceston. James Hung’s body was found at the bottom of a cliff in the Gorge on Saturday, 1 February 1947.

‘Body Over Cliff’, Examiner (Launceston), 3 February 1947, p. 2, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article60998659.

Things to follow up

  • Birth certificate of Jemima Elizabeth Hung ordered from the GRO.
  • Assisted immigrant record for Daniel and Mary Cox and family, 1856, ordered from NSW State Archives.
  • Passenger record for Cox family from Sydney to Tasmania, probably in mid-late 1850s.
  • Land purchase records for Jemima Hung’s land at Douglas near Lefroy, before 1892, and any other land purchase by the family.
  • Death registration for Ah Hung, 1904.
  • Marriage of Mary Frances Hung and James Quong in Tasmania in 1905 (1905/852) – is this Jemima’s daughter Mary, who was listed on her death certificate in 1923?
  • Birth of Edna Elizabeth Florence Quong, in Hobart on 13 October 1906 to James and Mary Frances Quong.
  • Reason for Henry Hung, and his elderly mother Jemima Hung, to have moved in c. 1922 from Launceston to Broken Hill.
  • Inquest record for the death of James Hung in Launceston in 1947.

 

Chinese Christmas box

Early on Christmas morning 1879, the residents of Lambie Street, Cooma, received a visit from their neighbour, Jimmy. With a Christmas greeting, he presented them each with a dish of new potatoes and a piece of prime pork, products of his Lambie Street market garden (Manaro Mercury, 31 December 1879). From childhood I’ve loved the sense of history that Lambie Street exudes, with its iron-roofed stone and brick cottages and their snug verandahs. It was Cooma’s first street and Jimmy’s garden would have sat on the low side of the road, an area that ran down to the creek and was subject to flooding.

‘A Chinese Christmas box’, Illustrated Australian News, 31 December 1880

Jimmy’s small act of Christmas cheer was repeated over and again by Chinese hawkers, gardeners and storekeepers around the Australian colonies. European businesses also made gifts of a ‘Christmas box’ to their customers, but the generosity of the Chinese at Christmas was something that lingered well into the twentieth century, continuing on after European traders abandoned the practice. The memory of the Chinese Christmas box lingered even longer. A 1937 article reminiscing about the early days of the Tambaroora goldfield remembered the prosperity of the Chinese stores of Sam Choy, On Ti Kee, Sam Gon Shin and Ah Tye, achieved through the regular custom of the white population. ‘Perhaps it was the never failing Christmas box forthcoming at the Chinese stores that attracted a certain amount of patronage from the whites’, the article suggested somewhat unkindly. White women dealt regularly with the Chinese, particularly with the hawkers who brought high-quality fresh fruit and vegetables to their door each day, and a number of illustrations from the newspapers and journals of the time depicted their congenial Christmastime meetings.

‘A Chinese trader making presents to his customers’, The Graphic, 24 December 1887

The Chinese were best known for their gifts of jars of preserved ginger; it was ‘the very best of its kind, and as such [was] a very acceptable addition to the Christmas Day dessert’ (Newcastle Morning Herald, 28 December 1908). Others like Jimmy of Lambie Street presented customers with fresh produce or nuts, fans or handkerchiefs. In 1917, the civic-minded Chinese gardeners and fruit hawkers of Wagga even presented the district hospital with a cheque for £14/10/ instead of giving their usual Christmas boxes to their customers (Albury Banner, 14 December 1917).

Looking like a pak ah pu ticket

On 19 March 1930, the Sydney Morning Herald reported the arrest of a white girl, two white men and a Chinese man in a ‘suspect “Pak-a-Pu” den’ in Sydney. Along with the suspects, the police took with them ‘a number of squares of rice paper covered with strange Oriental signs’ (Sydney Morning Herald, 19 March 1930).

These little paper squares were pak ah pu tickets and they would have looked something like this:

Pak ah pu ticket

(This ticket was passed on to me through my mum by an amateur local historian from Epping in Sydney. I don’t know where he got it from or what year it dates from – probably early 20th century. The square is about 9.25 by 8.5cm, on a piece of paper that’s 14 by 11.5cm. Here’s another one, from New Zealand, which has been used.)

Pak ah pu was one of the popular forms of gambling that made their way overseas with nineteenth-century Chinese migration to Australia (and New Zealand, the USA and other places). Its name came from the Cantonese baakgaap piu – literally meaning ‘pigeon’s note’ or ‘pigeon’s ticket’ – and it was what was commonly known as the Chinese lottery. Spellings vary, including pak ah pu, pak a poo, pak a pu, with or without spaces and hyphens.

Marlon K Hom provides this explanation of pak ah pu in his book Songs of Gold Mountain (University of California Press, 1987, pp. 25–28):

Baakgaap piu is a lottery game based on the first eighty words of the ‘Thousand Word Prose’ (Qian zi wen), a well-known four-word-per-line prose-poem. No words are duplicated in the prose; hence there are eighty different spots on which the players can bet. A player wins if his choice of words matches the winning word(s)… The game’s popularity was due to the fact that, in addition to being a simple lottery that required no skill but only luck, it did not require presence of the player, who could carry on his usual business while playing the game. Agents in storefronts wrote up the lottery tickets for the players; in addition, couriers for the operators were readily available to pick up or deliver bets and winnings. This game was also well received by non-Chinese players. The Japanese mockingly called it baka (‘foolish’), a play on its Chinese name, baakgap (lit., ‘pigeon’). It was also immensely popular among white players, so much so that, according to Stewart Culin, white casinos later adopted it and turned it into the game of Race Horse Keno, and later, simply Keno. Here, eighty numbers, written from left to right and top to bottom, replace the original Chinese characters, which were arranged from top to bottom and right to left.

The Stewart Culin that Hom refers to was an American ethnographer who, in 1891, wrote a paper entitled The Gambling Games of the Chinese in America. The Elliott Avedon Virtual Museum of Games at the University of Waterloo (Canada) has more information about Stewart Culin and an online transcript of his paper on Chinese gambling.

In Australia, pak a pu was one of those parts of Chinese culture that became so familiar that it entered the vernacular. Eric Partridge’s Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English lists the expression to ‘look like a pakapu ticket’, meaning to be completely indecipherable (8th edition, edited by Paul Beale, pp. 850–51).

The ABC’s Kel Richards recalled this about the expression:

Any writing that is difficult to decipher was once labelled ‘a pakapoo ticket’…

The origin of the expression is a Chinese gambling game played with slips of paper marked with columns of characters…

…It’s an expression that seems to have died out, but still I remember being told, as a school boy: ‘This exercise book looks like a pakapoo ticket, Richards.’ From that use it was extended to describe anything that was untidy or disorderly. The earliest citation for this sort of use is from Eric Lambert’s novel, based on his wartime experiences, called Twenty Thousand Thieves (1951) in which an officer complains that the platoon’s pay book ‘looks like a pak-a-poo ticket’…

Because of the inability of Aussies to read these Chinese characters, such slips were said to look like untidy scribblings. ‘Pakapoo ticket’ is another distinctively Aussie contribution to the English language. (Kel Richards, ABC NewsRadio website)

And another small reminder of the widespread presence of the Chinese in 19th- and early 20th-century Australia and their influence on colonial life in many ways, large and small.