Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Lionel Edgar Laws family story Part 1 1868 to 1915

Great Uncle Frank Goodall Laws has left wonderful handwritten stories of the Laws families so let's begin. Thanks must go to his daughter Helen for preserving them and allowing me to publish them.

A transcript by Pat Flynn and me from notes written by Frank Goodall Laws (1903 – 1982) regarding his father  Lionel Edgar Laws (1868 – 1848) and family written for his children, Helen, David and Alan in the late 1970’s.

Lionel Edgar Laws was born on 12 February 1868 at sea on board a British ship, the Bayswater. The nearest land at the time was the island of St Helena.  I understand his birth was registered in London  as was custom when British subjects were born at sea on British ships.

His parents were William Frank Laws and Sarah Sophia  Laws

Lionel arrived in Brisbane mid 1868 where his parents settled at Brookfield.  He was educated to primary school level in Brisbane.  He learnt the trade of bridge carpenter under his father who did this type of work in Queensland, building wharves in Brisbane and railway bridges in Brisbane and in the country.  He also became a very proficient carpenter.

When he was a young man, work here became slack. He and a friend (workmate) decided to go south to the South Coast of New South Wales where he obtained employment in his trade building railway bridges on the South Coast of NSW.

At Berry he met and married your Grandma Louisa Rebecca Chamberlain.  They were married on 2nd  November 1892 at Nowra Shoalhaven New South Wales and he continued work there on the South Coast of NSW.  Lionel Edward my eldest brother was born there on the 28th August 1893 and my brother Richard William on 23rd May 1895.  During the next 2 years he moved back north to Brisbane where he continued to work building bridges and wharves.

Lillian May was born in Brisbane on 8th May 1897
Jessie Charlotte was born in Brisbane 21 March 1899
Victor George was born in Brisbane on 12th February 1901

When Victor was very young, my parents moved north where Dad was engaged building railway bridges on the main line north and the Gladstone Rockhampton line and also Gladstone Many Peaks line.  It was while they were here I was born  at Auckland St, Gladstone 17 October 1903. 
Bridge being built in North Queensland

Soon after I was born they moved back to Brisbane and Dad continued to work at his trade in and around Brisbane.

Frederick Charles was born in Brisbane on 30th April 1905 and Colin Chamberlain was born on 9th September 1906

When Colin was a few months old Dad and a partner named Peter Trewick won a contract to build a bridge over the Condamine River at Warwick known as the Helene St Bridge.  This is the bridge we used to cross when leaving the town of Warwick when going on the Toowoomba road to Allora.

When the bridge was completed Dad decided to stay at Warwick and work on his own account building road bridges and culverts in and around Warwick where he completed many.  The Helene St Bridge has now been replaced by a high level concrete structure as the one my father built was at a lower level in those days. On account of the cost this was the practice.  This was a fairly big bridge in those days.  When work on bridge building was scarce he used to shift houses and other buildings and he commenced building roads for Shire and Town Councils.

Note the logs under the house for house to roll on.
When Dad went to Warwick Lionel, Richard, Lillian, Jessie and Victor went to school there and attended the West State School later to become Central State School (the one you went to in Warwick) .  I started there in 1909, Fred in 1910 and Colin in 1911 or 1912.  John Edgar (Jack) was born at Warwick on 17th February 1909. He also attended the same school years later.  In fact nine of the ten of our family attended this school at different times.  Uncle Lionel passed the Sydney Junior from this school at Warwick.

Lionel left school to work for a firm of produce merchants in the office.  He was there less than two years when Dad was told by a Doctor that he had a weak heart and he had to do no hard work.  At this stage he took Lionel from his job and Richard from school to work with him on building bridges and roads.  After a year or two his health had so improved he put Richard to the plumbing trade and Lionel stayed on with him. 

Horse and cart delivering rock to the rock breaker for road making
Lionel and Richard both belonged to the Junior Cadets and Lionel and Richard were both good rifle shots with Lionel being the better.  They both played Rugby Union in competition at Warwick. In 1914 there was a dispute about the administration of Union and the majority broke away and formed a Rugby League Club.  The next year they formed 3 clubs and a competition.  League has thrived there ever since.  Union has never regained its place in sport there except in schools.  Richard was a very good footballer and a very good racing cyclist both road and track and a fairly good swimmer.  Lionel was also a good footballer but he had less time to play sport.

The First World War started in August 1914 and all the eligible young men started joining up.  Richard joined the AIF in September 1915 and left for camp in Oct 1915.  His Regimental Number was 4829.  He was in the 9th Battalion.  He sailed for overseas on 28th March 1916.  He went to Egypt to England and to France where he served for 15 months being wounded and returned to England in 1917 where he was placed in a barracks job.  In 1918 he returned to France and was killed on 23rd August.  We believe he was  stretcher bearing when killed.  This was a great shock to our mother.  It had a serious affect on my mother’s health.

On 31st Dec 1915 Thelma Louisa was born at Warwick while we lived in Cecil St.  At Warwick our family lived in three different houses.  McEvoy St, Percy  St and Cecil St, all rented houses and each one better than the last.  This was the reason for the change.  I can assure you that the rent was always paid.