This is not about Linden, my father, as I wrote about him in last year’s A to Z. Rather, this is about the small railway stations where my ancestors, the Prices and the Ridgways, worked and died. As I said in F for Fermanagh, William Price worked in the railways of NSW, ending up as the Stationmaster at Rooty Hill. William had lost five children by the time of his death. His son William, stationmaster at Wee Waa, was one of them.
Alderman Price, on returning from Mrs Brown’s funeral on Monday afternoon, received a rude shock by the receipt of a telegram announcing that his eldest son William had died that day. The deceased, who served several years at the Parramatta Station, was, at the time of his death, Stationmaster at Wee Waa. He contracted rheumatic fever, and was only ill a few days. Late in November, Alderman Champion met him at Wee Waa, looking in perfect health. The body is being brought to Parramatta, and the funeral will leave Alderman Price’s residence, Harris Park.
Ella told me that her husband John was Stationmaster at Linden when my father was born in 1907 so they named him after the town. Imagine my surprise when I read the Probate documents for John Price after his death from heart failure at Bogan Gate. One of the signatories was Ella’s brother Arthur Ridgway, Stationmaster at Linden!
A search on Trove unearthed the even more surprising information in the Nepean Times that on Saturday, 24th February, 1917, after 19 years as stationmaster at Linden, “he (Arthur Ridgway) was tendered a send off on Saturday evening last” as “he has been appointed to Mt Druitt”.
So the story that my grandfather was stationmaster is not true. Checking my father’s birth certificate I found that John was “night porter” at Linden. Ella may have followed her brother to Linden to housekeep for him, his wife and three children after the death of her father in 1896. There she would have met the night porter, John Price, and married him in 1904.
He did however get to be a stationmaster at Illabo.
Another Trove gem states:
Mr Price, railway stationmaster at Illabo for the past three years has received an appointment with a rise of £10 per annum and has gone to Bogan Gate, and he has been relieved by Mr Bansfield. It is the intention of the many friends of Mr Price to make him a handsome presentation in the near future.
Cootamundra Herald, Tues 20 Feb 1912 p 2
My grandmother, Ella, showed me the silver plated cutlery set with the initial P on the handles as well as the silver plated coffee pot, teapot, sugar and milk bowls which she said were gifts from the people of Linden when they left. Maybe they were from Illabo!
Considering I knew nothing about my grandfather it is comforting to read a description of him after his death.
The sudden death of our stationmaster, Mr Price, is deeply regretted. He was a sterling man, and one Bogan Gate could ill afford to lose. He never spared himself when duty called, and was a prominent worker on behalf of the local Church of England. His death came as a great blow to his wife and sorrowing parents. A short funeral service was held at the late Mr Price’s residence by the Rev. A.S. Champion before the remains were removed to the train for interment at Parramatta.The Forbes Advocate Fri 7 Nov 1913 p 8
I was astonished to find in graphic detail, the last moment of John Price’s life.
Mr Price, stationmaster at Bogan Gate, died suddenly on Wednesday evening. About 6.30 he was at work in his office, when he complained of feeling unwell (says the “Western Champion”). Leaving his chair he lay down on the floor and asked the junior porter, who was in the office, to bring him a drink. The lad hastened to comply with the request and on his return found that Mr Price was dead. The deceased gentleman had been about two years in charge of Bogan Gate station. He leaves a wife and one child, who were absent in Sydney when the final signal came. The late Mr Price was a courteous and popular officer and his untimely demise is deeply regretted.
The Forbes Advocate Fri 14 Nov 1913 p 8
Earlier in the A to Z I was speculating as to where Ella and Linden went after the loss of their husband and father. Now I know.
Messrs Kearney and Keast held a very successful sale of Mrs Price’s furniture and effects on Saturday and highly satisfactory prices were realised. Mrs Price left by mail train on Monday for Linden, on the Mountains, where she will reside with her brother, who occupies the position of stationmaster there.
Western Champion Thu 27 Nov 1913 p 19
Of course I don’t know how long Ella and Linden stayed with Arthur but I can speculate that when Arthur went to Mt Druitt in 1917 he met someone new because he divorced his wife, Emma in 1921 and remarried in 1922.
The grandfather who died 38 years before I was born has become real to me for the first time. The struggles and triumphs of his short life now will not be forgotten and there is some comfort in the fact that his genes live on in me and my descendants.