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Rediscovering Ginninderra:
Thomas Holligan

Born: 1814; Died: 1887; Married: Elizabeth [Fraser]

Thomas Holligan was born in Sydney on 16 August 1814, the son of James Holligan and Maria Morrison. He was baptized on 16th October 1814 at St Phillips Church Sydney. He married Elizabeth Fraser [Taylor?] on 8th February 1842 at St Matthew's Church, Windsor. Little is known about his earlier years but he and Elizabeth came to the Ginninderra district in 1849, and he is listed as a 'farmer' at Charnwood in 1867 – possibly a tenant farmer on Henry Hall's Charnwood station.

He acquired land of his own just to the north of the future site of the village of Hall on the western side of the Yass-Queanbeyan Road - Portions 27 (60 acres), 38 (44 acres), 39 (40 acres) and 40 (43 acres). He called his farm 'Springfield' – not to be confused with a property of that same name on the Nanima Road. He shared a boundary to the north with David Johnston's Jeir Station, and to the south with William Mitchell. Donald Murty and his wife Francis had 'Gledeswood' across the Yass – Queanbeyan Road, while Glenwood station was just to the west. Murty selected his land – eventually some 450 acres – at about the same time as Holligan.

Thomas seems best remembered for the manner of his passing. He died on Thursday 25th October 1887 after being gored by a bull, and was buried on the 27th October at St Paul's cemetery.

Fatality at Gininderra. Gored to Death by a Bull.

A tragic occurrence was reported to the police on Tuesday last. Early on the morning of that day Mr. Thomas Holligan, one of the pioneers of the farming industry in the Gininderra district left his home for the purpose of looking after his cattle. As he was rather late in returning, his wife, Mrs. Holligan, went in search of him, and found him lying inside the shifting panel going into a barley paddock, nearly a quarter of a mile from the house. It was then found that the unfortunate old fellow had been gored by a bull kept in the paddock mentioned. He was just enabled to tell his wife what had happened and said, "Betsy, bring the barrow", before the glaze of death settled in his eyes. He did not speak again, and died about half an hour after being removed to his house by Messrs William Mitchell and Donald Murty.

His body was fearfully lacerated and presented a cruel spectacle, the bull having ripped open the abdomen, besides inflicting other serious wounds. The animal was known to be dangerous and had frequently challenged deceased, who had repeated expressed his intention of shooting the beast. It is conjectured that on the fatal morning in question the bull had taken him unawares, and being an old man of some 74 years he was unable to get out of its way and was literally gored to death.

Information of the sad event was promptly wired to the Queanbeyan police, in order that the necessary arrangements for holding an inquest on the remains of deceased could be completed, and on Wednesday Mr. Thomas Parr went out to hold the usual inquiry, which was held in the afternoon at deceased's late residence. A jury having been empanelled, Mrs. Elizabeth Holligan, wife of the deceased, gave evidence as to finding her husband in the paddock already mentioned lying with his head towards the slip rails. She summoned assistance as soon as soon as possible and had deceased conveyed to his residence by Messrs Mitchell and Murty. He died about half an hour after reaching home.

William Mitchell deposed: to being called by last witness, and fetching Donald Murty, who helped him to remove deceased to his dwelling. The marks of the bull's horns were visible on the posts and slip rails and blood was scattered about the ground where deceased was lying. Sydney Longden Richardson deposed, I am Government Medical Officer for the district of Queanbeyan; I have examined the body of the deceased, Thomas Holligan: I found a great bruise on the right temple, the lower jaw broken on the right side, and a long superficial wound extending from near the left shoulder, across the chest and downwards. I found another wound on the abdomen extending right across and penetrating the abdominal cavity. I found extensive bruises more or less all over the back. The cause of death was the abdominal wound. The wounds on the chest and abdomen appear to have been made by the horns of a beast at the same time.
A verdict of accidental death, from the effects of deceased's being gored by a bull, his property, was returned.

The bull was shot the same day as deceased died. Eight bullets were used before the beast was destroyed. Deceased's funeral took place on Thursday last and was largely attended. The arrangements for his burial were entrusted to Mr. N. M. Lazarus of Queanbeyan. [Queanbeyan Age, Saturday 29 October 1887, page 2]

Elizabeth survived her husband by 27 years. In 1900 'Spring Field' was recorded by Yemens as 'growing wheat maize and oats' [Yemen's Directory of Landholders of NSW 1900]. She passed away in 1914 at the age of 90, and is buried in the Old Temora cemetery.

'1914 – In the Supreme Court of NSW Probate Jurisdiction in the Will of Elizabeth Holligan, late of Springfield, near Hall in the State of NSW, widow, deceased. Application will be made after fourteen days from the publication hereof that probate of the late will of the abovementioned deceased shall be granted to Albert John Percival Knight of Grogan, near Temora, farmer, the Executor. James Jamison, Proctor (Queanbeyan Age, Tuesday 19 May 1914, p.3)

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