Name: ROBERTS Johanna
Date of Birth: 1834
Birth Location: Toomevara, County Tipperary, Ireland.
Maiden Name: RYAN
Also Known As: Judith (as per “Victory” passenger list)
Age at Burial: 73 years
Date of Death: October 9, 1907
Death Location: Bellevue Farm, Capel.
Date of Burial: October 11, 1907
Denomination: Anglican D
Row/Grave: Believed to be Row 2 Grave 12 (Confirmed by Great Great Grandson)
Grave Transcription: No headstone – brick and stone surround partly covered by sand.
Father: John Ryan
Mother: Mary Callaghan or O’Callaghan born: 1810 Died: 13 March 1850, St Marks Famine Cemetery, Cashel Tipperary, Ireland.
Mary Ryan born: 1836 Nenagh, Ireland. Died: July 24, 1905, Buried Northam Cemetery. Married 1855 William Sermon
Spouse: Frederick Roberts born: January 19, 1830, England. Died: July 12, 1913, Bellevue Farm, Buried Capel Cemetery.
Andrew Roberts born: 12 November 1855 Bellevue Farm, Capel. Died: 21 April 1927 Buried Bunbury Cemetery.
Absalom Roberts born: 22 September 1856 Bellevue Farm, Capel. Died: 12 November 1933. Buried Karrakatta Cemetery. Married 1882 Elizabeth Maslin.
George Roberts born: 2 February 1858 Bellevue Farm, Capel. Died: 21 February 1940. Buried Bridgetown Cemetery. Married 1879 Johanna Thompson.
Mary Roberts born: 1859 Bellevue Farm, Capel. Died 25 May 1945. Buried Bunbury Cemetery. Married 13 May 1897 Evan Jarvis.
Anne Roberts born: 1860 Bellevue Farm, Capel. Died: 1863.
Caroline Roberts born: 1862 Bellevue Farm, Capel. Died: 1 September 1954.
Anne Roberts born: 1863 Bellevue Farm, Capel. Died: 8 August 1923. Buried Capel Cemetery.
Catherine Roberts born: 1864 Bellevue Farm, Capel. Died: 21 October 1929. Buried Balingup Cemetery. Married 1882 George Maslin.
James Roberts born: 5 September 1865 Bellevue Farm, Capel. Died: 24 August 1939 Buried Capel Cemetery. Married 1892 Mary Ann Batt.
Elizabeth Roberts born: 12 July 1867 Bellevue Farm, Capel. Died: 10 January 1945. Buried Greenbushes Cemetery. Married 1896 Elias John Stainer.
Thomas Roberts born: 1869 Bellevue Farm, Capel. Died: 1955. Buried Blackwood District. Married 22 October 1894 Bertha Louisa Wenn.
Occupation: Housemaid, Wife, Mother, Grandmother.
Johanna Ryan was the first child born to parents John and Mary Ryan in Toomevara, County Tipperary, Ireland. Two years later, in 1836, her sister Mary was born. The family appears to have moved, as Mary’s birthplace is listed as Nenagh, which is a market town and has an iron works, brewing and coach building. Maybe their father, John was working in one of these industries.
The potato famine came to Ireland and was at its height between 1849 and 1851. It isn’t known what happened to Johanna’s father, but it appears her mother, Mary died during the famine and was buried in the famine cemetery. The girls then went into a Poorhouse in Cork.
In 1853, Johanna (listed as Judith 22years) and Mary 18years, appear on the passenger list for the ship “Victory”, which was bound for Western Australia. Johanna and Mary arrived at the end of 1853 and were both employed as domestic servants. Mary went to the Toodyay area and Johanna was employed by the Maslin family who ran a boarding house in Bunbury. This is probably the last time the two sisters ever saw each other.
During her time with the Maslin’s, Johanna met Frederick Roberts from Capel. In 1855, Johanna and Frederick married. They purchased a small farm, near Capel, which they called “Bellevue”. Frederick farmed this land and did labouring jobs around the Capel/Stratham district. Frederick built a small two room house of wattle and daub, with a shingle roof. He sunk a well not far away and built a mud oven outside the house. They welcomed their first child, a son, Andrew at the end of 1855 and then 10 months later, Absalom was born. Johanna’s family continued to grow. Another son George was born in 1858, then Mary in 1859, Anne 1860, Caroline 1862 and then in 1863 Anne died, aged 3. The next baby, a girl, was born the same year and was called Anne after her sister. In 1864 Catherine was born, then James 1865, Elizabeth 1867 and lastly Thomas in 1869. The family was now complete.
Johanna was described by her granddaughter as a very little lady with red hair. She was a wonderful mother, she sewed, gardened and was a good cook. She could read and write but not well as she didn’t have much education. Her children called her Mother.
Johanna must have been very pleased when a small school opened next to their property in November 1864. The children could now receive an education. The school closed four years later because the number of children attending had dropped. In 1871 it opened again and had about 20 students regularly attending.
Johanna and Frederick lived a very simple life. They worked hard and provided for their family. Frederick farmed his own land, growing potatoes, onions and a number of fruit trees. He also worked for others in the district. He had some cattle and pigs. They made bacon which took about 10 days to salt and smoke. Johanna made butter for the family and to sell and she had a vegetable garden.
Johanna’s life changed when Frederick became crippled sometime between 1875 and 1880. It’s not known if he had and accident or if it was the result of sickness. He was no longer able to work. The older children were working but the younger ones were still at school. Andrew was working for the Ramsay’s at Minninup. Anne also went there to work when she was old enough. Both remained working at Minninup for life and neither ever married. George married in 1879 and then Absalom and Catherine both married in 1882. These children went to the Blackwood district around Balingup and Bridgetown. Maybe they worked in the timber and tin mining industries. Some had farming land as well. James, Thomas, Elizabeth and Mary married in the 1890’s. James built a small house on “Sandridge” not far from his parents and bought his new bride, Mary Ann, home. Thomas also stayed living in the district. Elizabeth went south to Greenbushes and Mary lived in Bunbury.
Johanna’s grandchildren arrived at regular intervals from 1884 to 1909 when her 24 th grandchild was born. Her grandchildren always called her Grandmother.
James and Mary Ann helped even though they had a very young family of their own. From the electoral rolls in the early 1900 it looks like Thomas moved back to live with Frederick and Johanna when his marriage to Bertha ended. Distance and transport difficulties made it hard for the other children to visit their parents very often.
During 1906 Johanna suffered a stroke. The Church of England minister was sent for. Johanna improved but was now bedridden and could not do anything for herself. Thankfully she could still talk. James and Mary Ann’s daughter, Mary Jane was just 11 years old and still attending Capel School when she became the fulltime nurse and carer of both Johanna and Frederick.
Johanna, according to her granddaughter Mary Jane, was the perfect patient. She never complained and was always very grateful for the care she was given. Mary Jane made the bread every day, she washed the clothes and did all the household chores. Frederick was on hand to help her where he could. He and Mary Jane bathed Johanna each day and changed her bedclothes and bedding. They were very worried Johanna would get bed sores. Frederick had made Johanna a bedpan from a kerosene tin. He had lined the edges with tanned hide and sheep skin and he always attended the fires. He had made himself a wooden walking frame and used this to move about. Mary Ann would come and read to Johanna to help pass the time. She bought milk to them every day as Johanna could only eat small pieces of bread soaked in milk. Frederick sat with Johanna and they would talk for hours about times gone by.
On October 9 th 1907 Johanna had another “bad turn” and passed away at her home. She was buried within site of her home at the Capel Cemetery two days later.
Compiled and researched by DC. (Information also sourced from an Oral History of Mary Jane Farmer – Frederick and Johanna’s granddaughter – held at the Battye Library, Perth)
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