Jan 252012
Shelley, of    Twigs of Yore  has issued another exciting invitation to bloggers with Australian roots to celebrate Australia Day, 2012 Wealth for Toil

To participate, choose someone who lived in Australia (preferably one of your ancestors) and tell us how they toiled. Your post should include:

  1. What was their occupation? 
  2. What information do you have about the individual’s work, or about the occupation in general?
  3. The story of the person, focusing on their occupation; or
    The story of the occupation, using the person as an example. 
Responses may be as long or short as you like, and as narrow or broad as you wish.

I spent some time thinking about occupations, what they can mean and how that meaning can change over the years, how people stayed with an occupation and how sometimes it took a while to find your occupation.
My William Busby was a stonemason and I have spoken before about him.  He came from a long line of stonemasons. 
William Busby
Caskey Memorial
When he first emigrated he got a job as an Inspector of Works with the Brisbane Council which still related to stonework. After being dismissed from that job (for rudeness per the report in the paper. I still have to do some research and see if I can gain access to the Council minutes). He worked as a monumental mason and did this until his retirement from work and then death in 1928. After winning the design competition for the Caskey Memorial he made a number of very large ornate memorials.

So he was a tradesman and kept to his trade.

His son, George Howard Busby never went into the stonemason business, the reason for this is unknown although I have my suspicions that George had a bit of a taste for adventure.

George had joined the 1st Queensland Regiment, a militia force in Queensland, pre-Federation. He did not got to the Boer War with the official Queensland Contingent, perhaps because he was too young as was only 16 in 1900. However per his World War 1 enlistment papers he served in the Cape Mounted Rifles, during the Boer War, a group that was established in South Africa. I am having trouble confirming this enlistment as so far we have found no records in South Africa but I live in hope.

Also on his WW1 papers he said he had served in the New Guinea Police, again currently I have not been able to confirm this but am still looking.  
In this time period before WW1 he joins the Fire Brigade and was based at the Fortitude Valley Station. He gave evidence at inquiry into the Overells department store in February 1904. A body was found in the burnt-out building and and an inquiry was held as the owner felt that the Brigades response was too slow. 

George was a member of the Brigade for a few years, long enough to get a tattoo of crossed axes and helmet which was listed on his WW1 records which gave me the clue to start looking for his employment information. Ken Capell co-author of Brisbane Ablaze was able to give me some information about the working conditions. 

As a brigade member they were required to stay onsite and as George got married in 1904. He is listed in the electoral Roll for 1905 as a fireman. I can understand why he did not stay in the job too many years post marriage. We believe he left sometime in 1906-7 as he is not listed in the 1907 employment list.

George completed a st John’s First Aid course in 1909 which was a requirement to be in the Ambulance service. I have this certificate but it didn’t mean anything in particular until I found in Trove that George had his service terminated with the ambulance Brigade in January 1911. 

In the 1913 electoral roll he is listed as being an engineer

In 1914 when he joins up he is listed as being a motor-mechanic. He goes to Gallipoli and that story has been told.   

He was wounded at Gallipoli and returned to Australia as being unfit for further military service. He then acted as a recruiting sergeant around the southern half of Queensland.

After the war George is listed as being an engine driver in the electoral rolls. This would have been a stationary engine driver rather than a railway engine. He had completed his steam ticket certification. I don’t know where George was employed.

I do know that George also was into photography and supplied photos to the Brisbane Courier. I do not know whether this was a freelancer or as an paid member of staff. In 1920 George obtained a Press Photographers pass on the occasion of the Prince of Wales’ visit. I have a letter from the Prince of Wales’ secretary thanking George for the photos he had sent.
It took George a fair while to determine what occupation he was going to follow but he did stay in that until after the Second World war when he splits from his family and ends up in Bundaberg as a fisherman

It is interesting to compare William and George’s experience with modern times when it is almost expected that people will have four to five career changes in their working life.

These changes are not like Richard John Rollason’s  forced career change in 1863 when he changed from being a silk ribbon weaver to a labourer as his profession did not exist in Queensland.

  7 Responses to “Australia Day 2012: Wealth for Toil”

  1. Lots of toiling there! Interesting to read about the changes in direction as these men progressed through their working lives.

  2. I have a book called "Brisbane on Fire: a History of Firefighting 1860-1925" by K.D. Calthorpe and K. Capell, published in 1997; ISBN 0646312391. Is that by any chance the one you referred to as 'Brisbane Ablaze'?

  3. Brisbane Ablaze is the second volume by the same authors that covers the time period 1921-1990. Ken was very kind and did some searching among his records for George and we had a few conversations about working conditions. There is a Honour Board somewhere, whereabouts unknown to Ken, that showed George on it as an ex-Brigade person who went to WW1

  4. Yes. George is my mystery person and I wish I had known more about him (so did my Mother which is the reason why I first started family history research).

    I find snippets which are very interesting. He was interested in amateur radio and I have a couple of pages in a notebook where he has written about what radio contacts he has made. This is interesting particularly as I also have an amateur radio licence.

  5. Thanks for this post Helen. I didn't know about the tattoos for the fire brigade so I found that interesting.

  6. Thanks for joining in. What a varied career. I love the tattoo as the hint for his occupation!

  7. Yes it was great as without that I would never have known to go looking until Trove was released and his name came up as Fireman Busby as a witness in a fire where a body was found.

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