106 Napier Street, Fitzroy

As yet I haven’t looked back prior to 1920. The numbers along Napier St changed, so the 106 prior to this may not be the same as today. In 1920, Patrick Hegarty was living in the house (Sands & MacDougall 1920), but by 1925 the recorded resident was Johnston Pty Ltd, who are recorded in both 1925 and 1930. It appears as though Johnston C. & Co who had their factory at 90-92 Napier Street had expanded to this site during the period 1920-1925. Between the factory at 90-92 Napier St and this house were four houses.

Google Image – November 2014

Annie O’Neill (and Family)

By 1934, Mrs Annie, Beatrice and Ellen O’Neill are living here (Electoral Roll). Most of the information below is courtesy of Alan McGuinness (sincere thanks, as it is fantastic history!)

Annie and Bernard O’Neill – 1909 – Alan McGuinness (Ancestry)

Annie was the daughter of James Rooney (a bootmaker) and Annie (nee Bloxham). She was born in County Galway, Ireland in 1862. Annie’s family emigrated to New Zealand in 1874.

She married Bernard O’Neill (known as Barney) in 1879, whom she met in New Zealand. They were married in Hokitika, NZ when she was 17 years old.

Barney was born in 1844 in Cambelltown, NSW. His family travelled to Beechworth during the 1850s to look for gold. After the gold had petered out in this district, Barney and his brother, Patrick, travelled to the New Zealand mining fields of Hokitika and Kanieri in 1875.

Together Barney and Annie had a family of 10 children. Five were born in New Zealand and 5 in Australia. Ellen Josephine (Doll) 1880-1946, William Joseph 1882-1954, Margaret Ann (Madge) 1883-1950, Harriett Frances 1885-1968, James Lyttleton 1887-1966, John Henry (Jack) 1889-1967, Myra Agnes 1891-1919, Gladys Mary 1893-1975, George 1894-1975 and Beatrice Lyttleton Maude 1896-1988.

The family moved back to Australia in 1889 and resided in Stanley. Barney’s main occupation when back in Australia was as a stage coach driver, teamster and roadsman. While in Stanley, the boys George (19), Jack (24) and Lyttleton (26) signed up for World War 1 (note: the ages are approximate in 1914).

An article from the Ovens and Murray Advertiser (Beechworth) – Saturday 27 April 1912, page 3. And two photos supplied by Alan McGuinness showing Barney and Annie

Most of the family then resettled in Fitzroy in 1912 to 32 Palmer Street, but had moved by 1919 to 22 Hanover Street. In 1919, within 2 weeks of contracting pneumonic influenza during the world-wide epidemic, Barney died. At the time Annie was doing Home Duties. George (Labourer), Lyttleton (labourer) and Ellen (presser) were still living at home with their mother at the time.

In 1924, the family were living around the corner at 146 Brunswick Street, and then sometime before 1934 they moved into 106 Napier Street.

Top left: George O’Neill, Bottom left: Annie O’Niell (sitting) and Madge, Gladys and Doll standing and Right: Beatrice and Gladys O’Neill.
(Photos supplied by Alan McGuinness in Jun 2023)
Left: Myra O’Neill and Right: Jack O’Neill
The Age – 5 Aug 1937 – Trove

Annie passed away on 14 March 1940 aged 78 (Argus, 15 March 1940) and Ellen the oldest took over the house until she passed away aged 66 in 1946 (The Herald, 3 Jun 1946). George, the second youngest remained resident (Sands & MacDougall) until at least 1975, at which time he would have been about 80 years old. Beatrice and Bruno Ciancio (Bill) were married in 1937 and also lived in the house post their marriage. Unfortunately Bruno was tragically killed in 1956 when hit by a tram in Victoria Parade. Beatrice eventually moved from Napier St in 1975 to live with her niece (George’s daughter) in Cranbourne. Beatrice died in 1988 aged 92.

Article about the Tram Accident on 16 January 1956. (Not sure which newspaper).
Urban Action Project – 1970-1974 – State Library

George must have passed away a short time later and the house was sold in 1977 for $30,000. The front two rooms are bedrooms and a hall descends through the centre of the house. It would appear that there was a renovation done at this time or early 1980s on the middle part and rear of the house.

Google Image – December 2009

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