Thursday, October 24, 2019

What does P stand for?

As I continue digging through countless archives to discover the dusty stories of old pocket watches, I can’t believe some of the tales I find! Our fourth Australian pocket watch is no exception.
The pocket watch dates to the very early 1900s, potentially 1905, Swiss made. And you guessed it – the white porcelain dial is marked with a personalised inscription - P. McKenna  Gympie, Q. I thought that this might be a tough one to crack, with only two pieces of information to go off.

Gympie is a town located in Queensland, Australia, about 160km north of Brisbane. Gympie is a famous area for gold, which was discovered by a European Settler named James Nash, in 1867.

P. Mckenna was likely to be of Scottish or Irish descent, as the name McKenna is the anglicised form of the Gaelic Irish surname "Mac Cionaoith" or of the Scottish surname, "MacCionaodha". He was the owner of a jewellery shop, ‘P. McKenna and Sons Ltd’, located on Mary Street, Gympie. And his Jewellery shop was the best in town:

“The best house in Gympie for every class of repairs to jewellery is that of Mr McKenna, which is in Mary-street. Mr McKenna is a practical watchmaker and a first-class manufacturing jeweller. If you suffer from headaches or your eyesight is bad, see Mr McKenna, who is an experienced optician. Mr McKenna’s shop is well worth a visit. He has a very fine stock of ornaments and gems and makes a speciality of wedding gifts.” The Catholic Press, Thursday 5th August 1909
With information on a singular P. McKenna drying up, I broadened my search to the wider McKenna family of Gympie. And here’s where it gets gritty! P. McKenna was the father of four sons - Edward, Albert, Henry and George – whom he left his business to when he died (assumed early 1900s). However, family and business didn’t mix well. A brotherly bond between Edward and Albert soon turned into brotherly bitterness. And on January 3rd, Edward shot his brother:

 “Yesterday afternoon Edward Joseph McKenna was arrested by Senior sergeant Frisch and charged with having unlawfully attempted to kill his brother, Albert Joseph McKenna, who was seriously wounded during a shooting affray on the business premises of P. McKenna and Sons, Ltd., Jewellers, on January 3 last.” The Week, Friday 16th March 1928
Can you believe it?

Although the bullet wasn’t instantly fatal, it killed Albert three years later, making for a whole page news spread in the Brisbane Truth.
“There was a wound in his back under the left shoulder blade, six inches from the spine, which had paralysed him from the waist downwards. For many hours, Albert hovered on the borderline of life and death. Doctors did not think he could live. Yet he did.

But he lived a living death. Paralysed, the bullet in his back in such a position that it could not be removed, Albert knew long weary days of hell . . . while Edward, silent morose, waited for the day when he would face a judge and jury on a charge of attempted fratricide.

[...] Death, the doctors decided, was due to the pneumonia, aggravated by the paralysis which the bullet had caused.”
Truth, Sunday 25 January 1931

Anyway, back to the pocket watch. It is nickel case, with a movement made by “Ilix”. Although I’ve tried to find some information on Ilix watch movements, the internet has no answers aside from eBay listings of similar retailed pocket watches. I was hoping you might help me with some information.

But the bit that puzzles me most: What was Mr. McKenna's first name?

UPDATE: P stands for Patrick.                       

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