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Rediscovering Ginninderra:
John ('Jack') Butler

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

John (Jnr) 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. John Butler (Snr) was also commonly known later on as 'Jack'

'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. They also bought the block on the corner of Victoria and Loftus Streets from J A McInnes, and in 1910 they bought a second block, on Alexandra Street. There is some speculation that they may have lived at Mulligans Flat before moving to Hall.

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

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 near 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 (Snr) 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. 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 W Ryan of Horse Park on Monday night. There were 40 guests and the music (violin) was supplied by Messrs T K 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 John Jnr 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.

Related Photos


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

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