Introducing Our Chinese Past member – Gill Oxley

Gill Oxley OCP member

In 2015 I was searching for a member of my own family who had gone missing from Nundle 1868. Her name was Catherine Hibbet. She was 15 years old when she vanished. There had never been any further contact with her, and my family had presumed her deceased ever since. Whilst searching online, I came across her name in a database put together by Kate Bagnall, “Chinese European marriages in New South Wales to 1888”. Catherine was listed as having married James Kim at Inverell in 1869. A check of the NSW Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages historical births index revealed that the couple had five children together in the Tingha-Inverell area between 1870 and 1882. James’s place of birth is noted on the birth certificates of his children as Amoy, China. He was variously a shepherd, a labourer and a tin miner. Finding Catherine and her 1869 marriage to James Kim was the start of my journey into Chinese Australian genealogical research with a focus on the New England North West. Along the way I met and became friends with the other founding members of Our Chinese Past Inc, and have also become very interested in the temple artefacts as a rich dimension of the material culture of the New England North West. There were many marriages like James and Catherine’s and there have been more interesting genealogical discoveries about Chinese Australian couples who lived and worked in the district. Some of these may be the subject of subsequent posts.

Elizabeth Kim

Elizabeth Kim (1871 – 1939), eldest daughter of the Chinese Australian couple James Kim and Catherine Hibbet. This beautiful photo is from the collection of Our Chinese Past Inc member Kira Brown

Elizabeth Kim

Elizabeth Kim, circa 1900. One of the first generation of Chinese Australians born in the Inverell-Tingha area. Photo is from the collection of Our Chinese Past Inc member Kira Brown