Sunday, 28 September 2014

Black Sheep Sunday - William Nelson McCann

Black Sheep Sunday - I have many candidates for this post, however I will choose William Nelson McCann.
The Star (Ballarat) 26 April, 1861, page 2

William Nelson McCann (my 2nd great-grand uncle) was born on 27 September 1837 in Launceston, Tasmania. He was the son of Nicholas McCann & Catherine Nelson. William married Lois Louisa Jenner on 25 April 1861 at the home of Louisa's brother, John Adolphus Jenner, in Ballarat, Victoria.

At the time of his marriage William was a town Councillor in Geelong, Victoria and the co-owner of the Geelong Advertiser newspaper. In 1864 William was elected as a Member of Parliament (MLA) in Victoria for the electorate of South Grant (an area near Geelong). Life seemed to be progressing well for the young couple, until...

Illustrated Sydney News, Monday 16 September 1867, page 6
Isn't Trove wonderful? So, here is William in 1867, son of a prominent Geelong family, sentenced to 7 years imprisonment. You might think that is the end of the story. I thought so for many years. William seemed to have disappeared. However ...

The McIvor Times & Rodney Advertiser
Friday 24 April 1885, page 2
Earlier this year, around May, I decided to have another look in Trove for William and had a Eureka moment. Here is a snippet from the article. It appears that William was a resident in San Francisco, California and not only that but with a different name. Again, thank you Trove.

So armed with this new clue I started digging. Questions that I needed to answer were: Why the change of name? When did he go to San Francisco?

There he was in the Sacramento Daily Union, dated August 1870, as an Englishman from Australia, one of the local reporters on the Alta (another San Francisco newspaper). This raised more questions than answers. Wait a minute, 1870? He was sentenced to 7 years prison in 1867 in Victoria wasn't he? When did he enter the US?

To Be continued...

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