52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks

52 Ancestors #44 John Theodore Mulder

Amy Johnson Crow introduced the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge on her No Story Too Small blog in 2014. This year she continued the challenge, but also added a weekly theme. The theme this week is “Frightening”.  Do you have an ancestor who did something frightening or lived through a scary event? Do you have your own ghost story in the family? Now is the perfect time to share!

Since I don’t have any ghost stories in the family, I’ve decided to choose a “scary event”.  Earlier in the year, when the topic was “Stormy weather”, I had been reading the book “Ash Road” by Ivan Southall, and I started setting up a post about bushfires, but ended up deciding to do the post about a relative who was in Darwin at the time Cyclone Tracy hit, as that seemed to be more weather related.

Since I would consider living through a major bushfire a “scary event”, I’ve decided to use the post I started to set up back then.

One of the major bushfires in Victoria’s history is the Black Thursday fires in 1851.  One of the areas affected most by these bushfires was Barrabool Hills and Geelong.  There was a brother of one of my ex-husband’s ancestors who was living in the area at this time, John Theodore Mulder.

John was born in October 1813, and baptised 17 April 1814 at St Anne’s Limehouse, London, England.  He was the son of Jan Dirk Mulder, a Dutch sea captain, and Mary Ann Jones.

John married his cousin Mary Ann Sophia Wynn (her mother Sophia Jones was his mother’s sister) on 3 Jul 1837 at St Anne’s, Limehouse.  Their first five children were born in London, two of these children dying young.  The 1841 England Census shows that John was living at Baker’s Road, St Mary Whitechapel, Middlesex. He was 25 years old, born in county, and he was a hairdresser.

In 1849 John and Sophia sailed to Australia with their three children.



William Watson, barque, 480 tons, Morrison, from Adelaide, 3rd instant ; William B. Carpenter, Surgeon Superintendent. Passengers-Mr. Frederick Reginald, Mr. J. Dixon, Mr.C. B. Peed, Mr. and Mrs. Young and three children, Mr. and Mrs. Mulder and three children, Mrs. Roach and child, Mr. and Mrs. Prentice and three children, Mr. and Mrs. Sorrel and two children. Mr. and Mrs. Jennings and two children, Mr. and Mrs. Scotchmer and two children, Mr. and Mrs. Bengray, Mr. and Mrs. Annis, Miss W. Williams, Messrs, G. Machall, L. Machall, A. Dixon, J.Lane, J. Woods, P. Dixon, A. Ferguson, J.H. Howard, H. West, G. Headland, J. Feltham, W. Padwick, D. Hill, G. Gray, J. Randall, J. Richardson, J. Baker, J.Wright, W. Izard.

(PORT PHILLIP. (1849, May 19). The Sydney Morning Herald(NSW : 1842 – 1954), p. 2. Retrieved March 3, 2015, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article12902757):

After arriving in Melbourne, John and Sophia settled at Geelong, where their sixth child, Eliza Jane, was born on 29 Jun 1850.  The directories for Victoria show that John continued to work as a hairdresser in Geelong, and he lived in Moorabool Street Geelong.

The following are two articles found about the Black Thursday fires.

(BLACK THURSDAY. (1857, January 17). The Argus(Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), p. 4. Retrieved March 3, 2015, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article7143278)
(BLACK THURSDAY. (1857, January 17). The Argus(Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957), p. 4. Retrieved March 3, 2015, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article7143278)
Black Thursday article
(Black Thursday. (1934, February 13). Border Watch (Mount Gambier, SA : 1861 – 1954), p. 2. Retrieved March 3, 2015, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article77959916)

Living within the town of Geelong, the family would not have been as affected as many others in the colony, but with four young children, and fire all around them, it would have been a frightening time.

John and Sophia went on to have 3 more children, and they continued to live at Geelong until their deaths, Sophia dying in 1887, and John on 26 Jun 1896.  They are both buried at the Eastern Cemetery in Geelong.