Ballarat, Vic. Photo Rescue: Campbell Family c. 1895

Coincidences & Photographs

Was it six degrees of separation or merely a coincidence that this homeless portrait of the Campbell family, which was unearthed in an antique store in Ballarat, has a direct connection to Yass which was also featured in a post regarding coincidences?

The Campbell Family, Ballarat c. 1895

The key to this wonderful photograph is all the names and information written on the back identifying people and places, and the connections between them, including Yass & another Aunt. It is a also a “Photograph Copied by Douglass Baglin” and perhaps, the original or other copies still exist somewhere. The back reads:

Back row L-R

  • Anna Bridget Campbell, born 23.5.1869, Mrs Robert Burns (Aunty Dais), Colac
  • John Thomas Campbell (Our Dad), born 1.7.1886 [1866!], Wagga Wagga
  • Mary Ann Campbell (Auntie Mollie), born 27.10.1861, Mrs Jack Robertson, Junee

Front Row

  • Elizabeth Rose Campbell, born 26.5.1881, Mrs C Coghlan, Ballarat
  • Our Grandparents from County Louth, Ireland. Died before we were born
  • Cathrine Campbell, born 6.6.1879, Mother Mary Joseph, Mount Carmel, Yass


  • Margaret Teresa Campbell (Auntie Maggie) born 27.10.1861 (Kevin’s Grandmother) had just married & is not in this picture.
  • Picture thought to be taken just before Kate entered the convent.

Mother Mary Joseph, Mount Carmel, Yass

Mt Carmel School & Convent is in Saint Augustine’s Parish, Yass and its history shows that Mother M. Joseph Campbell was appointed Superior during 1926-1929 & again from 1943-1949. The School’s website has very little history except to say that “In 1875, a small group of Irish Sisters came to Yass and their mission founded Mt Carmel School”. According to Memories of Yass Mission in St Augustine’s Sesquicentenary 1838-1988 the Sisters of Mercy were originally from Rochfortbridge Convent in County Westmeath and there is a detailed account in the Mount Carmel Centenary from 1875-1975. Trove shows a copy at the National Library of Australia. Perhaps, they can help with more information. Further searches on Trove reveal that in a Convent Ceremony at Yass, Kate Campbell of Wagga Wagga took the white veil on 22 April, 1897 and became a novitiate. This dates the photograph no later than 1897 when Kate was aged 18, although she appears younger.

“Dad”-John Thomas Campbell (1866 -1952)

This was hard work. There was no obvious birth in Victoria or NSW. If the photo was dated to 1897, he did not look 11 years old! After finding the parents deaths in Wagga Wagga & the other children born in Victoria, I finally found John through the Ryerson Index & Trove Newspapers by looking for a death instead. By checking 1952 in the NSW Birth, Deaths & Marriages, I found the same parents as the other children although he was aged 86 in 1952. This meant he was born in 1866 & aged 31 in 1897. Such a simple error! Now we have a better idea of who wrote ‘Dad’ on the back as we have his children listed. The Trove notice reads:

CAMPBELL. John Thomas.—November 17, 1952 at his residence, 15 Portview Road, Greenwich, dearly beloved husband of May and loving father of Kathleen, Eileen and Thomas, and stepfather of Arthur, aged 86 years. Requiescat in pace.Wagga, papers please copy.

Sydney Morning Herald, 18 Nov 1952. Trove 27529103

Aunts: Anna, Mary, Elizabeth & Margaret

By searching for all the children’s births on the Victorian Birth Deaths & Marriages it was possible to determine that their parents were John & Bridget Gerraty/Geraghty/Gerraghty/Gorraty. The children were born in Chiltern or Buckland in North Eastern Victoria. On closer inspection, the two youngest look very similar but only one of the 1861 girls, Mary is there and the relative ages seems right now and the date appears to be in the mid 1890s. Perhaps the clothing could tell us more.

Various searches for the birth of Margaret Teresa Campbell in 1861 were fruitless. If they were twins then their registration numbers should have been running numbers. The registration before Mary Anne in 1861 was for Margaret Sandilands, so something is not right. The only King-Campbell marriage I could find was in Wagga Wagga, NSW in 1887, when Margaret T. Campbell married Thomas King.

The photographer may be Douglass Hinton Baglin (1926–2010), who copied the photograph for one of them, probably in Sydney, & sent it to Ballarat, perhaps to the Coghlan family.

Grandparents John Campbell (c. 1840-1899) & Bridget Geraghty (c. 1839-1900)

By looking in Trove for the grandparents deaths before 1900, I discovered their death notices in the Wagga Wagga Advertiser and much more. The names matched and Mrs T King was possibly Aunt Maggie, although a few more details of her marriage & who Kevin is might help. However, it does tells us the importance of Wagga Wagga, the family came from Chiltern, Victoria & that the grandfather died first.

DEATH. CAMPBELL. — On the 20th March, at Wagga, Bridget, relict of the late John Campbell, beloved mother of J. T. Campbell, Wagga; Mrs. J. Robertson, Junee; Mrs. T. King, Richmond; Miss H. B. Campbell, Ballarat; Miss E. Campbell, Wagga; and Sister Mary Joseph,Wyalong. Late of Chiltern. R.I.P. Aged 61 years.

Wagga Wagga Advertiser, 22 Mar 1900. Trove 105673788

CAMPBELL.-On the 24th April, at his residence,Edward-street, Newtown, WaggaWagga,  John Campbell, late of Chiltern, aged 59. R.I.P.

Wagga Wagga Advertiser, 6 May 1899. Trove 138614326

A little more…. The NSW Death Records for Wagga Wagga show Bridget’s parents as James & Bridget & John’s parent’s as Patrick & Mary or Duncan & Mary depending on which is the correct entry. A cemetery search for Wagga Wagga may help further.

That’s a pretty good start but if you can tell us more about the photograph or the family, and the connections between these people and places, please write a comment or contact us. It would be great to learn more!

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