Children with gelignite is an explosive part of these incredible family legal precedents from the old Ipswich Courthouse in Queensland during the Great Depression of the 1930s. I told a version of this story live on West Bremer Radio.
In 1922 there was a very pretty wedding in East Ipswich Methodist Church. The bride Lily Ballard walked down the aisle on the arm of her father John Ballard. The groom was Ken Harris from Blackstone.
There ceremony was officiated by The Reverend Harold Wheller and he later became the president of the Methodist Church in Queensland. There are gardens named in his honour in Brisbane to this day.
But it was thirteen years later in 1935 that this wedding party became embroiled in a legal battle in the Ipswich Court. The father John was a carpenter from Basin Pocket and he sued his son-in-law for £8 and 12 shillings.
He was claiming wages for building a verandah and bathroom onto their house. John’s daughter Lily and son Harold both gave evidence against their father.
The son-in-law won the case, and so the father John not only didn’t collect his £8 wages but was a further £3 out of pocket for court expenses.
The father might have got the idea about making money in court from his son Harold just a few years earlier.
That’s because in 1932, John was taken to court by Harold for having used insulting language in a public place.
Young Harold had been in a dray outside the unemployment office on Brisbane Street in Ipswich, when his father made his verbal attack that finished with him calling Harold “a police pimp.”
That was too much for the son and the case went to the Ipswich Court.
John was late arriving and got there just in time to hear the magistrate say that he had to pay his son 10 shillings for witness expenses. That was on top of the 30 shillings fine for the offence itself.
The very next year in 1933 out at Warwick, a mother Mary Abood sued her daughter Cecelia. The mother was claiming £60 from her daughter for board and lodging from five years earlier.
The Aboods were a prolific family from Beirut which at the time was part of Syria. John Abood gave evidence supporting his mother.
The judge dismissed the case saying that there was no justification for the mother to charge rent.
But Mary may have been emboldened by an Ipswich case just a few years earlier in 1929.
That’s when twenty-year-old Garnet Thompson appeared in the Ipswich Court to answer the charge of being an idle and disorderly person.
Garnet was the youngest of twelve children and lived with his parents Fred and Margaret Thompson at Bundamba – it was his parents Fred and Margaret who called the police.
They alleged that their son wouldn’t do any work and lived off the rest of the family.
His parents claimed that they could do nothing with him and every time that they tried to get rid of him, he kept coming back.
He was rude to his mother, called her filthy names, and when she scolded him, he went outside and threw stones on the roof of the house.
Young Garnet was convicted and sentenced to six months in prison.
Incidentally, although the sticks of gelignite that Garnet had were nothing to do with the court case, they were confiscated and destroyed.
The legal precedents here include a parent cannot claim wages for doing house renovations, they can’t call their children police pimps in public, cannot charge rent, but when it comes to the children being lazy around the house, that’s six months in gaol!
The Great Depression was an interesting time.
CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO A VERSION OF THIS STORY TOLD LIVE ON RADIO.
Old Ipswich Courthouse – Wikipedia Public Domain taken by Soozle 2009
The Reverent H.M. Wheller – Wesley Mission Queensland
John Abood – Warwick Daily News, 28th July 1949, page 6