|John Higgins and Catherine Connolly
- from Tuam Galway to the Black Stump at Coolah-
John Higgins was born about 1831 in Taum, Galway, Ireland, son of Thomas Higgins and
Mary O'Neill. Baptised 6th May 1831 [e] Arrived in Australia aboard the Albatross in 1841
with his parents. John Higgins was a teamster/carrier who later took up land in the vacinity of
Black Stump Run which was just north west of at Coolah. In the 1860s John built a hotel
which he called The Black Stump Inn, located at the junction of roads leading to Gunnedah
and Coonabarabran. The inn later became the Black Stump Wine Saloon and was destroyed by
fire in 1908. It has been suggested that the saloon was an important staging post for traffic to
north-west New South Wales and it became a marker by which people gauged their journeys.
[Wikipedia and other sources] Many claim that this is the origin of the saying 'Beyond the
Black Stump'. I have found mention of The Black Stump near Coolah Gap as early as 1866
[Queanbeyan Age 1866] The Maitland Mercury dated 16th September 1882 records that John
Connelly sold Australian Inn at Coolah for 700 pounds to John Higgins. Note: Could John
Connolley be related to Catherine Connelly?
Catherine Connolly was born about 1829 in Gort Galway, daughter of Michael
Connolly/Connelly and Mary Moran [possibly of Luskintyre near Branxton] who arrived in
NSW aboard the William Metcalf/e in 1844. The family is recorded under the surname Nelly
which has been crossed out and rewritten as Connelly. For this reason it appears out of
alphabetical order in the ships indent. Catherine could not write as she would later sign her
will with an X. [NOTE: Death Registration shows parents as Michael and Mary]
Marriage: John married Catherine in 1855 [ref V1855261 123/1855] according to the rites of
the Roman Catholic Church at Maitland.
John Francis Higgins born 18th October 1857, at Kelly Street, Scone, father John a
storekeeper. [Maitland Mercury] Died 12th April 1933 aged 76. Married Alicia Milbra
Johnston at Dubbo 1885 ref 4079
15573/1886 HIGGINS JAMES Augustus DUBBO
29346/1887 HIGGINS CATHERINE M COONAMBLE
25353/1888 HIGGINS William Joseph Cassilis [mother 'Elicia'] Died 9th August 1915
24152/1889 HIGGINS JOHN T[Francis?] CASSILIS
2661/1895 HIGGINS ERNEST Elmer COOLAH
29944/1896 HIGGINS ALBERT Harley COOLAH
29713/1899 HIGGINS IRENE Liliian COOLAH
Mary Higgins baptised 1858 at Maitland ref 8716/1858 Died 1874 ref 4568/1874
Margaret Agnes Higgins born 1860, ref 8574/1860 at Maitland. Died 10th December 1950
aged 90. Buried at Coolah. Never married.
Catherine Higgins born 1862 ref 9420/1862 at Maitland. Died 22nd September 1873 ref
3928/1873 aged 11 years. [Lonely Grave/Coolah]
Michael Thomas Higgins aka Thomas Michael Higgins, probably known as Thomas, born
1865 ref 10383/1865 at Maitland. Never married. Died 1919 aged 53. Buried at Coolah. See
news reports below.
Fergus Higgins born 1867 at Cassilis ref 8279/1867 Died 1874 ref 4541/1874
James Higgins born 1869 at Cassilis ref 9638/1869 Died 1869 ref 3442/1869 Cassilis
James Higgins born 1870, Cassilis, ref 8586/1870 Died 1879 ref 4988/1879 Cassilis
The Black Stump: At the time of his death, John is reported as being 'late of the Black
Stump, Coolah, grazier.'
Catherine Higgins, nee Connolly died 25th April 1904 aged 75. She is buried in the Coolah
cemetery. In her will she names 'only' daughter Margaret and granddaughters Irene Lillian
and Florence Agnes as her beneficiaries. Ref: HIGGINS CATHERINE 5075/1904 MICHAEL
John Higgins died 1st April 1912 aged 82. He is buried in the Coolah cemetery with wife
Mudgee Guardian dated 11th April 1912 reported:
One of the oldest Coolah identities, in the person of Mr. John Higgins, sen., died recently. He had
resided in the Coolah district 40 years. He was ailing for some time, and unable to get about at
all for the last two or three years. Deceased was 85 years of age and a widower leaving a
family of three sons and one daughter to mourn their loss. Three sons and two daughters died
before their parents.
John Higgins senior leaves his entire estate to his son John Higgins junior. There is no
mention of son Thomas Michael or daughter Margaret.
Graves of Catherine and John in the Coolah cemetery.