b. 26 March 1869, d. 24 June 1951
Ellen Phillips (O'Loughlin)
FatherMichael O'Loughlin b. Apr 1826, d. 3 Jun 1890
MotherMargaret Lee b. 1834, d. 15 Feb 1873

Birth, Death, Marriage

Ellen O'Loughlin was born on 26 March 1869 in Warrenheip, Victoria.1 
She married John Phillips, son of James Phillips and Bridget McMahon, on 15 April 1891 in St Mary's, Dunnstown, Victoria.2 
She died on 24 June 1951 in Bacchus Marsh, Victoria, at age 82.3 


John Phillips b. 25 Jul 1863, d. 6 Aug 1925
ChartsO'Loughlin, Michael, descendant chart
Phillips, James, descendant chart
Phillips, Thomas, pedigree chart


Ellen was born to Irish parents, and grew up in an area near Ballarat that was home to many other O'Loughlins. Her mother died in childbirth when Ellen was less than four years old. Her father died the year before she married railwayman John Phillips. Initially in Lillimur, most of the couple's married life was in Bacchus Marsh where they raised a family of six boys and four girls. Occupations held by the boys include hairdresser, billiard marker, billiard saloon proprietor, publican, grocer, jeweller and railwayman. Several were also starting price (SP) bookmakers. For many years the family lived in a railway gatehouse and Ellen worked as a gatewoman. She was also a well-respected midwife and strong supporter of her local St Bernard's church. Ellen was a happy-go-lucky person who was devoted to her family. She was a much-loved and often visited Grandma to twenty-two grandchildren.
Tragic Childhood
Ellen was born in Warrenheip, a farming area near Ballarat that was home to a large number of O'Loughlins.

At the age of four, her mother died in childbirth.

We don't know how she was brought up. Certainly her father would have struggled on his own to raise his family consisting of a 15 year old boy and five girls aged from 13 down to two. One report suggests they were brought up by her mother's sister. Another possiblity is Michael's brother Austin and his family, as we know Ellen maintained close contact with this family throughout her life.4,5
John and Ellen were married in St Mary's Roman Catholic church in Dunnstown, near Ballarat, in 1891. This is where Ellen was born.

Witnesses to the marriage were Cornelius O'Loughlin and Margaret O'Loughlin, Ellen's cousin and sister.

At the time of the wedding, both of Ellen's parents had died. And as John's only remaining family was his mother, she was the only one of the parents to see them marry.

John was a Catholic because of his Irish mother, the family name Phillips not normally being associated with Catholicism at the time. When they moved to Bacchus Marsh, they were the only Catholic Phillipses there.6,2
John & Ellen Phillips (O'Loughlin)
Raising Family
Following their marriage in Dunnstown, the couple lived near John's work around Nhill in western Victoria. The three eldest children, Larry, Mary and Tess, were born in Lillimur.

Around 1897, the family moved to Bacchus Marsh. They initially lived in Turner St in what would have been a railway house. There is a Bacchus Marsh railway manifest for April 1897 that mentions a Mr Phillips. It is likely that this was delivery of some or all of the family's belongings in their move from Lillimur to Bacchus Marsh. This is just two weeks before the birth of son Tom. More children arrived while in Turner St, Jack, Joe, Jim and Annie.

The children all attended one of the two local Catholic schools. Either St Bernard's School in Gisborne Rd, or St Joseph's Convent School adjoining St Bernard's church in Lerderderg St. The family is recorded as having made a donation towards the construction of the new convent school.6,7
One Grandparent for the Children
The children would not have known what life could be like with grandparents. Ellen's mother died when Ellen was only three, John's father died when John was only three, and Ellen's father died before John and Ellen married. So John's mother was the only grandparent that any of the children knew, and she died of dementia when the eldest, Larry, was just six.8,9,10,11
There were three railway gatehouses in Bacchus Marsh; on Grant St, Fisken St and Vallence Rd. Around 1908, the family moved to live in the Vallence Rd gatehouse and Ellen started working as a gatewoman.

Ellen (and sometimes the kids) would open the gates to let the train through, then close them afterwards. The Vallence family across the railway line had a dairy, so occassionally the job also involved shooing Vallences' cows off the line.

Ellen was the gatewoman all the time that the family lived in the gatehouse. We don't know when her job ceased, but John's August 1925 death might have been a trigger. His death might also have triggered the move from the gatehouse.12,13,14,15,16
The Gatehouse
The gatehouse was right next to the railway line on the south-west corner of the Vallence Rd crossing (this crossing was removed in 2004). It was a small four-roomed house, and the older boys slept in a tent in the back yard.

The family moved there about 1908, with Danny born later that year, and their tenth and last child, Eileen, born in 1911.

The children would play with any children nearby or who were known through school or St Bernard's church. There seemed to be a particularly strong connection with the Vallence family, or more correctly all the Vallence families, in Bacchus Marsh. A number of Vallences lived nearby including Nell, Eddie, Amy and Harry, who were just over the railway line. Lifelong friendships were known between the Phillips children and Vallences. Mary married Bill Vallence.

The wide age range of the children, nineteen years to the day between the eldest and youngest, must have created an interesting household. Larry was working as a hairdresser in Grant St before Eileen was even born. He married when Eileen was just three, and made her Auntie Eileen at age four, before she even started school. During and following the First World War, the children gradually started leaving home to be replaced with visits by grandchildren.17
Gatehouse in Bacchus Marsh 1960
The House on the Hill
Sometime in the 1920s, the family moved to a bigger house on the other side of Vallence Rd to the gatehouse and higher up the hill. In later years, the grandchildren all referred to this as 'the house on the hill'. This house was a twin weatherboard house with a covering between the two sections.

It is not known whether John ever lived in this house, but the older grandchildren all have happy tales to tell of their time visiting Grandma at the house on the hill. At this time, including during the Depression, the grandchildren would play with any children nearby or who were known through St Bernard's church.

The weatherboard 'house on the hill' was later replaced by a brick house, which in turn was demolished to make way for the 2004 rail realignment as part of the Ballarat Fast Rail project.18,19
Ellen & Eileen Phillips with Pat Simmons (in front), house on the hill, Vallence Rd, Bacchus Marsh
Just as their cousins Jack, Reg and Laurie were despatched to visit Grandma in Bacchus Marsh at every available opportunity, so too were Dot, Beryl and Marge. Here they found many ways to wreak havoc. One time after they had - again - been sliding down the railway embankment, Grandma told them that this time she was not going to patch the seats of their pants again. Marge remembers hearing from Auntie Eilie something like 'why do we have to look after those b__y kids again?' They all played with the Flannagans, the Vallences, etc. and made their own fun.20
O'Loughlin Family Contact
While we don't know the full extent of Ellen's contact with her O'Loughlin family, we do know she had regular contact with her sisters, Bridget and Margaret, and her cousin Cornelius. These last two were the witnesses to her marriage.

Bridget became Bridget Guerin and later moved to South Australia. Margaret became Maggie Budge and lived in Skipton. Cornelius visited from Dunnstown with his two sons, Jack and Con (Cornelius).21,22
Doctor's Assistant
Ellen was a well respected midwife in the area, often being called upon when a difficult birth was expected. She was not a registered midwife, but was often called out at odd hours to help the local doctor with births, and sometimes, deaths.23,5
The Great Bacchus Marsh House Swap
About 1928, a couple of years after John's death, Ellen bought a house at 43 Lerderderg St. This house was a couple of doors from St Bernard's church.

After Bill Vallence died (1932) in Caulfield, Mary moved back to Bacchus Marsh and bought the house at 16 Millbank St. Ellen moved in with Mary, and Ellen's son Jack and his family (Ruby, Joy and Roylyn) rented Ellen's Lerderderg St house.

As Ellen got older and less mobile, Jack bought the Millbank St house from Mary and moved in, with Mary and Ellen moving back to the Lerderderg St house. This was easier for Ellen to get to St Bernard's church.

Ellen's grandchildren kept visiting and have told many happy stories of visits to see Grandma, Mary and the last to marry, Eileen, at both the Millbank St and Lerderderg St houses.

Ellen died while she was at the Lerderderg St house, and Mary was the last of the Phillips family to live in this house.20,24,25
Mary Vallence (Phillips), Tom Redden, Eileen Redden (Phillips), Bub Phillips, Ellen Phillips (O'Loughlin), John Redden, Danny Phillips (seated), 16 Millbank St, Bacchus Marsh c. 1937
Four generations c. 1949.
Four generations: Dot McInerny (O'Loughlin), Pam McInerny, Ellen Phillips (O'Loughlin) & Tess O'Loughlin (Phillips) c. 1949
Philosophy, Interests and Final Days
Ellen had a saying: 'It's no good being poor and looking poor'. Personal appearance was important to her, and she passed this philosophy on to her children. It has been noted that her six boys always dressed well.

Ellen is described as a happy-go-lucky person, another attribute she passed on to her children. This was in sharp contrast to her husband John, who has been described as 'a bit grumpy'.

Ellen was devoted to her church and family, though she did find time for other interests. While at the house on the hill, she would tune the 'cat's whisker' of the crystal set radio so she could listen to the wrestling through the headphones. And her obituary noted that her favourite recreation was a game of euchre.

Ellen died at her home in Lerderderg St on Sunday 24th June after a fortnight's illness. The funeral took place the next day at Maddingley cemetery following a requiem mass at St Bernard's church.

Ellen was 82 years old and at the time of her death had twenty-two grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.26,27,28,29
Ellen Phillips (O'Loughlin)


  1. [S30] Ellen O'Loughlin, birth registration no. 1121, 26 March 1869.
  2. [S22] John Phillips and Ellen O'Loughlin, marriage registration no. 3056, 1891.
  3. [S360] Ellen Phillips, death registration no. 17781, 24 June 1951.
  4. [S31] Eileen Redden, personal communication, 5 December1998.
  5. [S38] Lynette Dow, personal communication, 14 March 1996.
  6. [S318] Bacchus Marsh & District Historical Society, personal communication, Christine Bronchinetti 8 November 2013.
  7. [S276] '[No title]', Bacchus Marsh Express, 1857-1983, newspaper, Christopher Crisp & George Land, 17 April 1897, p. 2, viewed 23 June 2014, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article88346650
  8. [S54] Michael O'Loghlen, death registration no. 5727, 1 June 1890.
  9. [S47] Margaret O'Loughlin, death registration no. 2885, 15 February 1873.
  10. [S48] Bridget Phillips, death registration no. 18989, 25 December 1903.
  11. [S34] James Phillips, death registration, 16 September 1866.
  12. [S1] Ellen has two electoral roll entries for 1908, one as homeduties in Bacchus Marsh and one as gatewoman in Maddingley, so we have assumed this is the year she started work as a gatewoman.
  13. [S38] Lynette Dow, personal communication, 18 December 1996.
  14. [S331] Joan McClure, personal communication, 7 December 2013.
  15. [S32] Laurie Phillips, personal communication, several conversations during late 2013.
  16. [S392] Australia, Electoral Rolls 1903-1980, online, division of Corio, subdivision of Bacchus Marsh, 1908.
  17. [S318] Bacchus Marsh & District Historical Society, personal communication, Christine Bronchinetti 18 November 2013.
  18. [S32] Laurie Phillips, personal communication, a number of conversations during 2013.
  19. [S331] Joan McClure, personal communication, 11 December 2013.
  20. [S37] Margaret Deveney, personal communication, 11 March 1996.
  21. [S38] Lynette Dow, personal communication, 22 June 1997.
  22. [S31] Eileen Redden, personal communication, 25 February 1996.
  23. [S31] Eileen Redden, personal communication, 16 November 1996.
  24. [S44] Roylyn Phillips, personal communication, 12 July 1996.
  25. [S15] Irene Barnes, personal communication, 5 October 1996.
  26. [S319] 'Obituary: Mrs John Phillips, Sen.', Bacchus Marsh Express, newspaper obituary, 30 June 1951.
  27. [S61] Beverley Scott, personal communication, 12 July 1996.
  28. [S31] Eileen Redden, personal communication, 10 March 1996 and 4 December 1998.
  29. [S52] Doris 'Nene' Courtie, personal communication, 30 December 1996.
  30. [S10] Thomas James Phillips, birth registration no. 8018, 2 May 1897.