Dead Person #1 - Dennis Culla, Farm Labourer

Beginning my series on the interesting deaths of my Dead People, today I'm going to tell you what my Mum and I have found out about one of our earliest Australian immigrant ancestors - my fifth-great-grandfather, Dennis Culla.

Dennis Culla was born about 1819, and baptised in the Roman Catholic Parish of Ballycahill & Holy-Cross in County Tipperary, Ireland.

His parents, Dennis and Catherine, were still alive when he left Ireland as a Bounty Immigrant to Australia with his new wife Mary Maloney (b. c. 1817). Mary's parents, John and Johanna, were also left behind in Ireland when their daughter and son-in-law left to start a new life on the other side of the world.

Dennis and his wife Mary arrived at Botany Bay on 8 March 1842 aboard the 'Woodbridge' and were soon on their way up the Hawkesbury River to work as farm labourers for Mr William Twibble on his farm on the Macdonald River.

Tragically, less than eight months after arriving in Australia, Dennis Culla died, leaving his wife Mary alone with their newborn baby boy, also named Dennis.

Dennis Culla's Headstone in the grounds of the ruined Our Lady of Loretto Chapel at Upper Macdonald. Source: Australian Cemetery Index.

Dennis Culla was buried in the Roman Catholic cemetery next to the Our Lady of Loretto Chapel at Upper Macdonald by the Reverend Thomas Slattery on 28 October 1842. The Burial register does not give the date of his death, nor the cause, and I am afraid it will probably remain a mystery.

Was it an accident on the farm? Did he drown in the river? Did he get bitten by a snake?

If you know more about Dennis Culla and his death, please leave a comment below or contact me privately, as we would love to find out how this young husband and father died so soon after arriving in the colony.

Also, a note on the photo: the Australian Cemetery Index is a great FREE resource, their database has more than 430,000 entries (and there are images attached to most of these). Thanks to the owners of the website, and all of the contributors!