Let me introduce you to my 2nd Great Grandfather – George Harris Westley Ford Hooper. He’s an ancestor I am completely obsessed about!
This piece talks about one part of George’s life – where he fit into the community. Engaging himself by using his talents seems like a great way in to making new friends and gaining acceptance. Being an American from Washington D.C, living in a small town must have been an eye-opening experience for George, however from what I gather, he must have had the ‘gift of the gab’ and would charm his way into the town life. When George died, his newspaper obituary did not state that he was ‘The American’ in town but praised him for his community spirit and involvement in charitable events. It seems like George was truly admired and respected.
When a disaster occurs, there is usually an outpouring of public grief and shock about the event, followed by a drive of enthusiasm in the community to do something to help the victims of the disaster.
‘A Grand Benefit’ was given to aid the family of W.J. Wells Jr, who met with an ‘unfortunate accident’. This was held by the Bundaberg Town band in April 1901.[i] The program published in the Bundaberg Mail and Burnett Advertiser featured songs to be sung by individuals, the town band and individual musicians. One of these was my 2nd Great Grandfather, George Harris Westley Hooper. He played the side drums and the booming kettle drums at various events in and around Bundaberg. I assume he learnt to play the side drums when he served as a boy in the Civil War, enlisting when he was 11.[ii]
When George arrived in Australia he was involved in theater shows, travelling around with his first wife Grizzelda Rollah, otherwise known as ‘Gracie’, the ex-circus lady with jaws of steel and iron teeth.[iii] George and Grizzelda broke up, and a few years later he declared himself a widow and married the lovely Maud Mary Alzano.[iv]
Maud and George moved to Bundaberg with their family of three boys and quickly became part of the community. George Joined the ‘Oddfellows’, the Orchestral Society and the Town Citizens Band where he met and gained the respect of many townspeople, which is handy when you want to start a hairdressing business.[v]
[i] “Advertising” The Bundaberg Mail and Burnett Advertiser (Qld. : 1892 – 1917) 22 April 1901, page 3, Accessed 16 Aug 2018.
[ii] Ancestry, Military Record of G. H. Hooper, July 1861, U.S. Marine Corps Muster Rolls, 1798-1958, accessed 16 Aug 2018.
[iii] 1) Marriage of George Harris Hooper and Grizzilde Rollah, 2 Nov 1881, NSW Marriage Transcription, Ref No 1881/2972, printed 18 Mar 2015. 2) “Advertising” The Riverine Grazier (Hay, NSW: 1873 – 1954) 1 October 1881, accessed 25 March 2018.
[iv] Marriage of George Harris Westley Ford Hooper and Maud Mary Alzano, 27 Oct 1884, NSW Marriage Registration Transcription, Ref no 1884/6446, Printed 18 March 2015.
[v] “DEATH OF MR. G. H. HOOPER.” The Bundaberg Mail and Burnett Advertiser (Qld.: 1892 – 1917) 2 October 1908, p 2, accessed 16 Aug 2018.