One of the strangest aspects of researching my family history is that you try to get to know people who you are related to however distantly. You’re never quite sure what you’ll find. Whether you’ll be pleased or horrified.
My great great grandfather, J T (James Thomas) Lemon was born 13 July 1865 in Parramatta, NSW and was the eldest son of Robert Lemon and Margaret Oliver. When he was about 15, the family moved to Goulburn as his father had taken a position of gaol warden at the Goulburn Gaol.
J T married Mary Jane Faulder on 3 June 1889 at her family’s residence, Preesgwene in Yass.
J T was the founder of the store pictured above, J T Lemon’s which was a general store that began circa 1895. The Goulburn Evening Post reveals the history of the store on 15 March 1951 when the store was sold to Groceries General Merchants Ltd. According to the article, James began the store in Grafton Street during the 1890’s depression. James is described as “a man of boundless energy” who prospered despite the harsh times where “nearly everybody was poor”. He later moved the store to Auburn Street (where S.P. and R Stores had been situated) as it was a better location. The store was moved again to a vacant store beside the Imperial Hotel as James endeavoured to move his business closer to the centre of town.
While trawling my way through Lemon entries on Trove recently, I stumbled across a pleasant surprise. It was a letter to the editor, published in the Goulburn Herald (17/01/1894), written by James Lemon – likely my forebear, J T Lemon. It is to be assumed that the Lemon family were not fond of the Goulburn Herald as J T’s brother, Robert, worked at (what I assume) the Herald’s rival, the Goulburn Evening Penny Post for 55 years and was considered the “Father of the Office.” In any case, here is J T’s letter on the subject of the Goulburn Unemployed:
THE GOULBURN UNEMPLOYED
TO THE EDITOR OF THE GOULBURN HERALD
Sir,-I am not a constant reader of your journal, nor do I think that there is any likelihood of my becoming one after reading your sub-leader of tho 10th instant upon the Goulburn unemployed, As the unfortounte members of our community referred to, and whom you so severely and cruelly attack, are absent, and as I know the majority of the Goulburn men, I should be wanting in my duty if I did not raise on their behalf some objection to your criticism. They, in their unavoidable absence, have not the opportunity to do so.
I have already stated the majority are well known, not only to myself, but to a great number of our business men. The worst that can be said against some of them is that they have unfortunately, through the force of circumstance, been compelled to have their names on the wrong side of the ledger. But, taking all things into consideration, it is not by any fault of their own that they are so placed. The fault lies in our unsatisfactory social conditions, that have forced thousands to similar circumstances. Therefore I contend that, if we take all things into account, the men are to be commended for the eagerness and energy that they have manifested in disappearing into various parts of the country in search of gold. That they may be successful in their endeavours will be the unanimous wish of all liberal-minded and sensible people.
From my own knowledge of some, I am sure that should they prove to be successful in their undertaking, they will repay the Bureau to the extent to which they have been assisted; and thereby they will be able to hurl back, to those who have maliciously libelled them, that they are not professional loafers. Also, it is not necessary for them to go to gaol to do a hard day’s work. They want work, but they cannot find it. They are debarred from following their usual trades, and they are accordingly eager to take anything To a great number gaol would be a better life, for they would then obtain sufficient to eat and drink and plenty of clean clothes to wear. This is not so with a great many who are free, as they are living a life of misery and poverty, much to the dishonour and degradation of a supposed enlightened and religious community. Neither is it necessary for Mr. Creer, or any other gentleman, to be a thought-reader or physiognomist to discern the difference between the genuine workman or the loafer, and, I will say, the capitalist. They all have outward signs; the former b) his emaciated appearance and by the raggedness of his garments, the last named generally by his enormous belly, covered with fine tweed or broadcloth. No doubt these were the signs that prompted Mr. Creer to make the remark that the supplicants were all hardworking men. They have now gone, and I hope they will succeed, so that the unfortunate wives and families that are left behind almost destitute, will receive some of the wages of their labour, no matter how small.
I am, yours, &o
Reynolds Street, January 16th, 1894.
J T Lemon was vocal on the issue of Federation, expressing his viewpoint in the Penny Post on 8 June 1899, and in continuing discussions in the Herald on 19 January 1894. Not dissimilar to members of my family that I know (and love) well, J T Lemon seems to be a man who is actively interested in the issues of the day and not afraid to put forth his point of view.
The Goulburn Evening Penny Post contains regular articles describing the meetings of the Goulburn Literary and Debating Society of which J T was a member. In Jul 1899, J T gave an impromptu speech on “Is football a manly game?” while others subjects were “Should Goulburn be the seat of the Federal Government?”, “Are English cricketers superior to the Australians?” and “Cremation”.
In 1901, at a debate on Women’s Franchise, J T is cited advocating a woman’s right to vote stating “it was the old crystallised tory opposition that was against women voting—the old spirit of bygone days that was opposed to all reform. Voting was a natural right for men and women. Municipal law gave women a vote, and women could vote as intelligently in the government of a country as in that of a city. Sex should be no bar when the ability is there. Woman’s keen intellect bad raised her to a high position.” His proposal was oppose
J T died in 1919. His obituary, published in the Goulburn Evening Penny Post (22/02/1919), is below and describes the man better than any random facts could.
“OBITUARY. MR. J. T. LEMON. Mr. James Thomas Lemon, proprietor of the Model Arcade, died at his residence, Cowper street, Goulburn, at twenty minutes to 12 on Friday night, after a lengthy and painful illness, the cause of death being neuritis. Mr.Lemon was 53 years of age, and during the last six months had suffered acutely. He bore his sufferings with characteristic fortitude. The news of his death will be received with deep regret by a wide circle of friends and acquaintances. Mr. Lemon was a son of the late Mr. Robert Lemon, and had resided in Goulburn for over 37 years. He was a keen business man, and thoroughly upright in all his dealings. Starting in a small way many years ago, he built up a big and prosperous trade connection at the Model Arcade. Mr. Lemon was greatly respected and admired for his sterling qualities. He was a member of the Grand United Order of Oddfellows, and was also a prominent member of the Goulburn Chamber of Commerce. Deceased is survived by a widow and three sons and two daughters. The sons are Robert, Bruce and Fred, of Goulburn, and Sid, of Sydney, and the daughters, Miss Ethel Lemon (Goulburn). and Miss Dorothy Lemon, of the Educational Department, Sydney. One son, Leslie, was killed at the war about nine months ago. Messrs. William and Robert Lemon, of Goulburn, and Leslie Lemon, of Maitland, are brothers, and Mrs. R. Stephenson and Miss J. Lemon, both of Goulburn, are sisters.”