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George Jones – race horse trainer

March 6, 2011
George Jones with a racehorse and jockey.

George Jones (standing) with one of the racehorses he trained.

I’m still going through the document file from my early foray into family history research, back in the late 1980s and early 1990s.  I found a story written for me by my Grandmother’s sister in 1992.

Since I found the transcript of the Will of Frederick Greer Hanna, with the names of his sister and sister-in-law (which I hadn’t recognised back then), I have been reading through this file of bits of stories and documents that people copied and sent to me, or like this one, wrote for me, prompted by some question I had asked.

My Grandfather, GEORGE JONES had been living in Tasmania and came to Sydney with his brother, Jim.  Both brothers drove Cobb & Co Coaches in Sydney and from Sydney to Melbourne.  George was living in Randwick, Sydney and decided to become a horse-trainer.

George trained horses for J.C. Williamson in Sydney and later for the Osbornes who owned a property out from Bungendore, called “Fox Low”.  Emily, my grandmother, and Alice, my mother, joined George there.  My Mother loved life at “Fox Low” and remembered it all her life.  The Australian poet A.B. (Banjo) Patterson was a regular visitor to the Osbornes and took my mother (who was just a young girl) to the race meetings, several times.

George returned to Sydney, living in Orange St. Randwick (close to the Race course and not far from Centennial Park) and trained for J.C. Williamson again.  My grandmother & mother lived at Newtown, and Alice attended Burke (or Bourke) St. school – about 1899.  I think they later moved to Marshall St. Surry Hills.

Meanwhile some of the Peck family had gone to live in W.A. with Aunty Alice and the Foulston cousins.  Aunty Alice urged her sister, Emily to join them.  Subsequently (1907) Emily and Alice sailed on the “Kanowna” to Fremantle and lived in a home at Subiaco, opposite the Railway Station.  My mother had been working in Sydney in the lace department at Marcus Clark’s Sydney store.  I remember reading the glowing reference written for her on her departure for Perth.  George followed Emily & Alice and trained horses in Perth, firstly for Dr. Oliver and after his death, for Mr. Vincent, who had stables at Redcliffe.  George became trainer of some of Perth’s most outstanding race horses – Hyperion, Olympian, Pica Pica, Lady Pica and many more.  When George was ready to retire he and Emily joined Alice, now married to Angus McLeod and their family at 51 Ward St. Kalgoorlie.  They lived there happily until their deaths.  My grandmother reigned in the kitchen and my grandfather had the interest of my father’s yard full of horses – albeit trotting horses, not race horses.  They were both much loved by us all.

This is a very poor story of the life of George Jones – a deeply respected man, by all who knew and worked for him – a man of honour in all his dealings – a gentleman and a man of Peace, who would have had wonderful stories to tell if we had ever sat down and asked him to tell them.  We were living in the present and it seemed there was no need for things of the past.

I loved my grandfather dearly and helped attend to all his needs during his last days, without realising his end was near.

George Jones died peacefully, at his home, 51 Ward St. Kalgoorlie, aged 88 years.  He is buried in the Methodist section of the Kalgoorlie Cemetery, Grave No. 10286, date 23-12-1946.

George Jones (standing, Left) with his grandson Angus 'Mac' McLeod and one of his great grandchildren

It stuns me that I have not recorded ‘with his brother Jim’ anywhere.  I had no idea that George Jones had a brother.  My great-aunt does not provide any detail about what happened to Jim.  I wish she had.  Jim Jones is just as difficult to track down as George Jones.

I want to know how George Jones and Emily Peck met – for her to ‘join him’ at “Fox Low”.  My great-grandmother’s birth was registered in her mother’s maiden name, with no father recorded.  When I asked my great-aunt about this she told me ‘some skeletons should stay in the closet’.  And she provided ‘potted histories’ like this one, to satisfy my curiosity.  I believe she knew and it frustrates me that she wouldn’t tell me, but I respect her right to choose to do that.

My great-grandmother’s family knew Banjo Patterson!

And then I wonder why Emily and Alice came to Western Australia on their own in 1907.  And I berate myself that these details (date and name of ship) are also not recorded anywhere.  1992 was a difficult year.  My second child was born in 1991, we moved house, I was studying, the ‘recession we had to have’ was in full swing and we had financial problems, there were at least four deaths of people I cared about, all of them in traumatic circumstances (two of them suicide) and I suspect I was depressed (little wonder, all of that considered).  Perhaps I did the best I could at the time, by filing the document safely away for later.  Going through the same file I have found the second page of a letter with all sorts of vital information in it, tucked in loose.  The first page has not appeared yet and may be lost forever.

My grandmother told me that she used to go and stay with her grandparents in the school holidays in Redcliffe (near the Ascot Racecourse) and walk down to the bakery to buy bread.  The very old building that was that bakery is still standing, near the Belmont Primary School on Great Eastern Highway, and on the occasions when I drive past it, I think of my child-grandmother walking back with the bread.

George Jones is one of my brickwalls.  Finding this document has given me a bit more to go on in my search for his background.

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