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Rediscovering Ginninderra:
John 'Jack' Butler (Junior)

Born: 1855; Died: 1935; Married: Euphemia (Phoebe) Gillespie

'Jack' Butler was the third child born to John (Snr) and Ann Butler - on 7 March 1855. He was baptised in the Parish of Queanbeyan on 24 December, by which time the family had left Palmerville and were at Yarralumla. 'Jack' was also commonly known later on as John Butler (Senior)

'Jack' Butler married Euphemia ('Phoebe') Gillespie; she was the daughter of John and Mary Ann Gillespie who had built their nearby homestead, 'Horse Park', in 1853. Jack and Phoebe lived at 'Malton', the Butler's family home, before moving in 1906 to Hall, where they were to live at 'Ottocliffe' for some fifteen years after the death of John Southwell.

They also bought the block on the corner of Victoria and Loftus Streets from J A McInnes, where they built themselves a home. In 1910 they bought a second block, on Alexandra Street.

'Jack' was employed by the government on road repair work, working for a while in partnership with with George Shumack. With unsealed roads and increasing use of motor traffic, they and their horse and cart were kept busy.

'Yarrowlumla Shire Council decided to accept John Butler's tender at 16 pounds 10 shilling for contract 18/08 road Hall to Wallaroo.[Goulburn Evening Post 5.5.1908]

The road gang under Mr Butler is now on the village of Ginninderra and doing excellent work. [Queanbeyan Age 15.9.1911]

He was an active sportsman. He played for the famed Ginninderra cricket team in the 1870's, was a good shooter, and help organise athletic sports at the Cricketer's Arms Hotel in 1878. He also did well at quoits, and in ploughing matches, having a win at the first of the annual Ginninderra ploughing matches held in 1886 opposite the Hotel. In 1888 he was elected to the committee of the Ginninderra Protection Union.

According to Samuel Shumack, Butler refused to accompany the police when they sought volunteers at the Cricketers Arms to pursue a murderer allegedly sighted at Ginninderra village in 1902. He also refused to allow his sons to go. The sighting was a mistake, and lead to the tragic killing of an innocent man, Joseph Heaps.

John and Phoebe had five children: Annie, Ida, Robert, Frederick, and John Albert. The latter alone amongst the siblings remained living in the district. Annie's 21st birthday was reported in the following terms:

A most enjoyable little social in the shape of a birthday party tendered by Miss Annie May Butler, daughter of Mr and Mrs John Butler of Mulligan's Flat, to her relatives and friends on the occasion of her 21st birthday by kind permission was held in the large dining room of Mr William Ryan of 'Horse Park' on Monday night. There were 40 guests and the music (violin) was supplied by Messrs Thomas A Lake, G Kinlyside and (?) Eager in turns. The card table was well patronised. Several songs were rendered by local vocalists. Miss Butler received a large number of birthday gifts. [Goulburn Evening Penny Post (Wizard's Notes) 27.11.1902]

Phoebe died on 12 December 1927 at the age of 75. She was survived by two daughters (Mrs Ida Allan [Artarmon] and Mrs Annie Armstrong [North Sydney] and three sons (Robert [Glebe] and Frederick [Paddington] and John Albert [Hall]). Her bereaved husband then moved to Cremorne, Sydney, to live with one of his daughters until his death in 1935 aged 81. he was buried at the Queanbeyan Riverside cemetery.

John Albert stayed in the home on Victoria Street, which was rebuilt. John Albert and his wife Annie and their two children Hilary and Patrick later moved to 'Ottocliffe' in Palmer Street when John Southwell died.

John 'Jack' Butler - obituary

The late Mr John Butler who died at Cremorne on Monday last (15.4.1935) aged 81 years. He was born in this district where he lived nearly all his life. He followed grazing pursuits at Mulligan's Flat, Ginninderra and afterwareds lived at Hall till the death of his wife eight and half years ago when he went to reside with his daughter and Cremorne. He leaves two daughters, Mrs Allen (Artarmon), Mrs A Armstrong (Cremorne) and two sons, Mr R Butler (Glebe) and Mr Fred Butler (Paddington). One son, Jack died eight years ago. There are seven grandchildren. The funeral took place yesterday afternoon in the RC Cemetery at Queanbeyan, Rev Father Toomey of Canberra officiating at the grave and Mr H O'Rourke had charge of the funeral arrangements. The pall bearers were his two sons, his nephew (Mr H Gillespie) and Mr R Jordan. A number of floral wreaths were laid on the grave. [Queanbeyan Age 19.4.1935]

Phoebe Butler - obituary

The death of Phoebe, wife of Mr John Butler of Hall, took place at her home on Sunday. Deceased was 76 years of age the cause of death being senile decay. She was a daughter of the late J Gillespie of Horse Park Ginninderra and a sister of the late George Gillespie of Queanbeyan and James Gillespie of Ginninderra. Mr Robert Gillespie of Glen Innes is the only surviving brother. A family of three sons and two daughters are left to mourn their loss, Mr John Butler Jnr of Hall being the only one resident in this district. The other children are Mesdames Armstrong (North Sydney) and Allen (Artarmon) and Messrs Robert Butler (Glebe) and Fred Butler (Paddington). There are several grandchildren. The funeral took place this afternoon the remains being interred in the RC Cemetery. [Queanbeyan Age 14.12.1926]

Related Photos


Gillespie, L.L. Ginninderra. Forerunner to Canberra, Canberra, 1992.

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