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Joseph Dempsey (1851–1939)

A pioneer of the Newcastle, district, Mr. Joseph Dempsey, of Havelock-street, Mayfield, died on August 25; He was 88.

Mr. Dempsey lived in Newcastle and the Hunter River long before the great Steel Works came into being. He knew it when water fowl swarmed into the swamps at Carrington and when bush animals had have been hunted about the hills of Mayfield.

A well known figure in the district, Mr Dempsey was the father of 14 children. Three of the sons served with the A.I.F., and two were killed in action. In his earlier days, Dempsey went into the Mudgee district where he was engaged for somoe time li :i, caryingbhnsl. nrews. Always with.. him e'as.lhis',violin. After a liratd-da'on' thelrond'the:youn. nan coonoled lmiielf. by drawing music fror the nhstrinseot; mnod even ,whenbin family hlad croanw about him in the New castle lisotrict lie epent his leisure time eitlh hio violin. .lHis love of music was iiu time blood. :It is oppenrinii in his family lo-day; . two of-hIis danghters -lisoes Dtrotlly anid Kastie, are well'known hi the mdlsicnlwvorld'of Sydney and New castle. MIET .THUNDERIBOLT. Out beyond the Livempool: rnnges .oi ome: occnsion" lie met the famous bimab. manger, Tlimimmdcrbolt,. Time ontlaw did' ot larm the vomlsg man, but conversed with lim. for sonme time. Other inotorious MR. JOSEPH DEMPSEY boshoragers had been met by Mr. Demp. sey ia hio travcls, bat, none attempted to molest him. At one time Mri. Dcmpsey had a dairy form at Mehselto Island. They were hiard days then. The only means of communieation wIth the island was by rowieg boat, The small 'croft was used to carry the milk down to· the smelting norhkso wholr(n ow tho Steel Worhs harfl). It wos osedl to carry the family to school at; Carrington; and to tose loads of fodder from the city to the farm ahen the dry season set In. There wera no geiding lights in the harbour in those days, Tile dairyman and one of his geowv ing eons lad to depend on their sense of direction to find thm .the landing place ao foggy moriings. 0 Riigat 3 a.m. 5it. Demppey and these of,,tho family:who fwere old enough t .assistijmileod the "cows and. then set olt w it the milh.foi: tlie mainlalnd. It oons osually abeot 4 an., when tile small i'esoel pushed off.' If it were choppav the tasoi of man~hiadlioc the boat down etream wao a real job. When the ricer was wrapped in foag i winter the ,ltas wos almost Impossible. Frequcntly the rowers awerolost in'the fog; and.on one occasion~ awre upset by, a stroiig current. Fortunately, the milk had been ,delivered andi they were 'returning with the'empty cans whoie the accident happened, Thie cans floated, and: were sabsequontly picked up. . , , A: 8·GOOD HORSEMAN. Dempsey'~ liorso, Tony, wee almost on wall:known on the mnoanlandos its mnster. It woo o epanking, well.groomed trotter, hend wentl ewiftly on the rounds. The horse woa etablodon the mainland about wlhero the Steel Worhk stands. Thore the milk woes.pluced on a cart and sent to its destination. Mr. Dempsy wans a splendid rider, and the fences on Mosechoto Island were no obstacle when le aon in the suddle. He seldom waitedl to open n gate, bat be and a compannon when out for a ride tolk the feance in their otfride. Heoneas,an arden t sepporter of aqoatie sports, whleli in thone dna~y wiere frequent. ly bold on the heater River.. He was interested In the rowing ability of the lute Mr. Tom Croeee, who lied often pitted hlo ekill in handicaps against eareo Townse. Towns afterwords. bcamo worll'e eboniplon. .. , 'THREE SOLDIER SONS, Ieore were ,14ichlldren in the faImily- 10 none and Ifour delightrs.e, There ore now 21 grandehlldren and six great-grend ran.'Three of hnis. sns foughnt whll the A.I.F. Roy enlisted;theo7th Light I l[ere wlhen lie woes 18. lIo wnes after wards transferred to the artillry.v, and was hlleld in France. Donuld'(35th Blattallbn) wan also killed; the third eson, If'rry (34th blatltliol) retiurned home, lie wan w0oun dicdl in a foot. I)uring hIs younger days at iloncheto Islanld Mr.. Dempsey wos brou ght uito clone:coitaet writh seone of thin erulier ycrechos nu the Newucnhle const. WVhen thie Cuwcarra went to her douin on Jahy 12, 1810, barreln tf floorii auld ngar flouted up ntreuo anid went ashiore nt the islhaid. A steay csnk of ram u n also wscuhed Mi. l)enipRO.Vy love of-the viaolini naid bin Iliindly feeling towards hin Ib fllonc enu Were lin eridelire oni ocuetl oCCeOIehii mhc-ni hle nileil thle city. Idiudie a n street violinist ciiihenaoriilng to etcra.e ii ii tiiiio from nlie iintlriieiit, Deii povY rnas uonuut to borrour the viol ii nail play the iie on it houald hue Ipayeud. Every time lie dii It he httrartcl m i crod onil people slom-. n-red'oinm into a hut. II his moime t laullehil to-hn- the old viohin is a silent rcuirimindrm of the "oldm11niLer." It is a tIreasiureld posessonlni of thn family.

Original Publication

Citation details

'Dempsey, Joseph (1851–1939)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 20 April 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Joseph Dempsey, n.d., photographer unknown

Joseph Dempsey, n.d., photographer unknown

Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners' Advocate, 2 September 1939, p 16

Life Summary [details]


15 August, 1851
Maitland, New South Wales, Australia


25 August, 1939 (aged 88)
Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia

Religious Influence

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