1 December 2022
I thought that with the release of the final book in the Saga, I should include a note about the characters.
Little is known about William Thomas before his marriage in Orange, NSW in 1864 and precious little after that time.
In writing his story, I have taken licence with the creation of many characters, but we do know something of his movements from 1864, so I could draw on documents and newspaper articles of the time. Using such things, I could weave a story that included real people. Even so, the interactions and conversations are mostly invented.
We know William Thomas lived in Kings Plains on the Pretty Plains Road, that he married Caroline Jenner in 1864 and had ten children. We know the first children were born using the services of a midwife called Euphemia and we know about her from her bankruptcy documents. My grandfather John was born in Hill End in 1872. We know William, Caroline and family moved to Kelly's Station in Newbridge around the time Richard (pioneer family, above) was born in 1881, that his children went to school there and that around the time William disappeared in 1902, William's family moved into the town of Newbridge and occupied a home near the train station. William's youngest son Thomas lived in that home until he built his own further up the hill nearby. My grandfather John rented a home in Newbridge when he got married in 1901 and like other members of the family, subsequently moved into Bathurst. He was killed in a motoring accident in 1936.
The family tells the story of William sometimes picking up his children from school in Newbridge and taking them home to Kelly's Station. It's some way out of town, so the poor little ones probably had to walk in the absence of a ride.
One of the troubling matters was the number of James and Williams in William's life. It was customary at the time for children to take the names of their parents or grandparents, so many people finished up with the same names. I was concerned that if I called people by their correct name, the reader would be confused. Remember "And Quiet Flows the Don"?
William Thomas's father-in-law was James Jenner and James Jenner also had a son called William who I called Warren. There was also a son James who features in the story. Incidentally, James the father-in-law's wife was Philadelphia, but she was often called Phillis. Young William's wife was called Bridget.
William Thomas rented the farm in King's Plains from James Backhouse who also owned property in Guyong and Bathurst and was a publican in Bathurst. He was a popular and wealthy man that died too young. I gave him the name Daniel.
Michael the publican in Newbridge was real and a family friend to the Stewarts for many years.
Bernard is fictional, but we know William was forced off a Conditional Purchase for failure to meet his obligations. There was a family rumour that William won the block in a game of poker.
TH Hellyer was a popular and well-regarded lawyer in Bathurst who handled William's bankruptcy.