Trove Tuesday

Trove Tuesday – John Theodore Mulder

I recently had a contact on Ancestry saying they had found John Theodore Mulder and Mary Josephine Mulder together on the Electoral rolls, and was asking how they fit in to the family.

This was my reply:

John Theodore Mulder was the son of Thomas Alexander Mulder and Lizzie Silk. John had married Bessie Baker in 1906, but they don’t appear to have stayed together very long, because Bessie had two children (Leslie in 1907 and Frederick in 1910) with the father listed as unknown.

I haven’t been able to find a marriage for John Theodore and Mary Josephine, but they do appear to have lived as husband and wife. I found an article on Trove about them  – .

Mary Josephine Mulder died in 1945 at Melbourne, age 46 (reg no 306/1945). Her parents were listed as unknown, and her birthplace was listed as Londonderry, Northern Ireland.

This is the first article I had found about John and Mary:

Tomahawk Throwing Denied
POLICE NEWS. (1929, October 14). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957), p. 16. Retrieved June 11, 2019, from


John Theodore Mulder, described as a “horseman,” aged 45 years, of Station street, Carlton, was charged at the Carlton Court on Friday with having assaulted Mary Mulder, also of Station street, on October 9.

Mary Mulder said: – When Mulder came home at half-past 6 o’clock on the evening he abused me and threw a cup, which missed me. He then threw a tomahawk, which missed me, but split the wall behind me. He hit me on the jaw, knocking me to the floor.

Mulder denied having thrown the tomahawk and said that he had never “lifted his hand” to Mary Mulder.

Mr. J. W. Freeman, P.M., said that the assault could not have been serious, as the police had not been summoned until come hours later.

Mulder was fined £2. in default imprisonment for 48 hours.

In a further message on Ancestry, my contact wrote that his wife’s late father had spoken of a Mulder connection with an indigenous man called Mulga Jack, who had been involved in many forms of horse riding and was the famous face on many Pelaco Shirts advertisements. He continued to say he had found a death notice for Mary Mulder, which showed she was married to “Mulga Jack”.  He had found it on, but since it was from The Age in 1944, it is also available on Trove.

Mary Mulder death notice
Family Notices (1944, December 8). The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 – 1954), p. 7. Retrieved June 11, 2019, from

MULDER . – On December 5, Mary, wife of Mulga Jack, and mother of Vennie. Privately interred Preston Cemetery.

I then found the following article on Trove that confirmed that John and Mary were living as man and wife.

Wife Arrested Charge of Unlawful Wounding
WIFE ARRESTED. (1929, March 21). The Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1889 – 1931), p. 15. Retrieved June 11, 2019, from



Melbourne, March 20

John Muldern (42) better known as “Mulga Jack,” of Rathdown-street, Carlton, was admitted to-night to the Melbourne Hospital suffering from a knife wound in his groin.

Muldern told the police that when he arrived home his wife and he quarrelled. She demanded a drink, and to pacify her he gave her one. She asked for another. Further trouble ensured, and later Muldern was taken to the hospital.

Later the police arrested Mary Josephine Muldern and charged her with unlawfully wounding her husband.

I also found another article about this incident:

Man Stabbed with Knife
MAN STABBED WITH KNIFE. (1929, March 21). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957), p. 8. Retrieved June 10, 2019, from

Woman Arrested
Having been stabbed, it is stated, during a quarrel in his home at the corner of Reeves and Rathdown streets, Carlton, about 10 o’clock last night, John Mulder, aged 42 years, was brought to the Melbourne Hospital suffering from a knife wound in the abdomen. Examination showed that the wound, which had been inflicted with a table knife, was not serious, and Mulder was able to leave the hospital after receiving treatment.
Plain-clothes police from Russell street learned that a quarrel occurred about a bottle of wine, and that during a scuffle Mulder fell to the floor with the wound in his abdomen. After having obtained a statement from Mulder, the police went to his home and arrested a woman.
At the city watchhouse Mary Josephine Mulder, aged 34 years, presser, wife of the wounded man, was charged with having unlawfully wounded John Mulder.

Then I found his brother James’s death notice, which confirmed his brother Jack was known as “Mulga”.

James William Mulder death notice
Family Notices (1951, February 2). The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 – 1954), p. 2. Retrieved June 11, 2019, from

MULDER. – On January 30, at Royal Melbourne Hospital, James William of Carlton, beloved son of the late Thomas and Elizabeth Mulder, brother of Thomas (deceased), Arthur (deceased), Louisa (Mrs. Kelly, Carlton), Jack (Mulga), at Mount Royal, and Victor (North Melbourne), brother-in-law of Rose, aged 70 years. At rest.

These articles showed that John Theodore Mulder was known as “Mulga Jack”, but didn’t explain who the indigenous man the family knew was.

After finding these articles, I decided to put aside the family I had been working on as part of my genealogy do-over (I needed a break from these families anyway), and start researching John in the collections available on Ancestry.  It was when working on the Electoral rolls that I found that John and his brother Arthur were listed on the 1912 Electoral roll as showmen (John was living at 133 Cardigan Street Carlton, as was their brother Victor Charles Mulder, who was an ice-cream vendor, and Arthur was living at 25 Lygon Street Carlton, as was their other brother James William Mulder, who was a sign-writer).  On the 1916 Electoral roll, John was listed as a horse breaker, and was living at 62 Faraday Street Carlton.  I then decided to do a search on Google for “Jack Mulder horse breaker”, and found this link:

In the section about “Mulga Fred” (page 87), it mentioned that he had joined the Mulder Brothers’ Show in 1908.  I finally had the connection to the indigenous man the family had known, and that his name was “Mulga Fred” not “Mulga Jack”.  It’s easy to see how the names had been confused, with John Theodore Mulder being known as “Mulga Jack”.  “Mulga Fred” had worked for the brothers for a few years, and had stayed in contact with the family.  Now that I had the proper name, I was able to find Mulga Fred’s entry in the Australian Dictionary of Biography –, which mentions the Mulder Brothers, and also mentions his connection to Pelaco Ltd.

To finish this post off, I am sharing another article about Jack, from his time as a showman:

A Showman Assaulted
A SHOWMAN ASSAULTED. (1911, June 7). Barrier Miner (Broken Hill, NSW : 1888 – 1954), p. 5. Retrieved June 11, 2019, from

3 thoughts on “Trove Tuesday – John Theodore Mulder

Comments are closed.