You Can Research Your Home

If you live in an older home in South Australia you may be able to find out about it by following the tips from the State Library and State Records of South Australia, you don’t need to be a historian to find things out.

You will be surprised by what you can find out about the home you live in.

The State Library has a downloadable guide for Researching your locality in the collections of the State Library of South Australia which covers

Almanacs and directories
• Architecture in South Australia
• Mapping sources for South Australian history
• South Australian newspapers

as well as Tracing the History of a House

State Records has House or Property History which takes you through how to use their Archives Search, the South Australian Integrated Land Information System (SAILIS), Location SA, Maps of the Surveyor General’s Office, 1808-1946, land tax assessment returns and more.

Murder, Suicide or Accident?

This is the script of the above video which I made this week. There are still photos of the River Torrens and Torrens Lake in Adelaide, South Australia as well as video footage I took at the river as it is today.

Police report to the coroner 11 August 1900.
George Mathews reported to Constable Lucas that his nephew William Hollwell had seen something in the water while working near the weir at Torrens Lake. Mathews took his boat and went to the place and discovered what he thought was the body of a woman. Constable Lucas went with Mathews to the spot and discovered a body of a woman, name unknown, and removed the body. It was lying in about 2 1/2 feet of water about 200 yards from the weir. The body was taken to the morgue at West Tce.

The woman was Mary Hayward. She was 80 years old.

Mary’s daughter Catherine at the inquest said she had last seen her mother, who had been living with her for about 6 months, on Monday 6th August when she left home to get rations. She was not seen for five days. Neither Catherine nor any other members of the family reported Mary missing.

Catherine said she wasn’t anxious because her mother often went away for days at a time. The jury found that Mary died from drowning however there was no evidence to show how she got into the water.

Where was Mary for those 5 days she was missing?

It makes me wonder was there foul play? Did she slip and fall into the river? When did she die? How long had she been in the water for? The coroners reports for this period were pulped during World War 2 so these questions may remain unanswered.

In this day and age we would have so many more answers, my brain keeps asking these questions. What happened to her? Mary Hayward was my great, great grandmother.

Shipwreck Survivor, Ellen Mary Chamberlain, An Incredible Woman – Part One

This post was first published in December 2010.  I have updated and republished it as part of Women’s History Month.

I am amazed by the things Ellen went through in her life.  Born in Westminster, Middlesex, England in 1833 Ellen had five siblings.  It is believed she came to South Australia in 1848 on the Princess Royal, when she was just fifteen, with her sister Eliza Isabella Chamberlain.  Their parents had come out three years earlier.  I can’t imagine travelling on a sailing ship to a new country, basically alone, at fifteen years of age.

Port Adelaide 1840s

On the 2nd Aug 1850, at seventeen years of age, Ellen married Captain James Welsh at St Andrew’s church in Walkerville, Adelaide, South Australia.

On the 4th Sep 1850 Ellen was on board her husband James’ ship the Harlequin travelling to Singapore when they were struck by a violent northwest gale.  The ship was lost along with three of the crew.

The Harlequin was owned by Elder and Co. of Adelaide, departing that port for Singapore on 3 August 1850 under the command of Captain Welsh (or Welch) with a crew of eight, and was to call at Albany and Fremantle en route. The captain’s wife of one month was also on board. A newspaper criticised the condition of the rigging of the schooner stating that ‘she was most shamefully found in every respect, and had hardly a whole rope from stem to stern’ (Gazette, 27 September 1850: 2c). Western Australian Museum Shipwreck Database

The gale then swung to the south-west, and at 3 o’clock in the morning of 4 September the Harlequin was driven on to the coast to the west of West Cape Howe, ‘a locality of the most fearful description for such a mishap, the coast consisting of almost perpendicular rocks of granite, near 200 feet high, and the water at the base having a depth of ten fathoms’ (Gazette, 20 September 1850: 2c). The vessel very quickly began to go to pieces, and three of the crew, the cook, a seaman and a cabin boy, were drowned. It was later stated that the seaman was drunk and made no effort to save himself. Mrs Welsh was three times washed off a spar that the crew were using to help get her ashore. On each occasion she ‘regained it by swimming, an art of which she was before entirely ignorant! and only knew by description’ (ibid.).
The cook attempted to save his life by grasping at the dress of Mrs Welsh, who had gained a small rock; and as his efforts threatened the loss of her life, and could not save his own, his hold was broken off by one of the sailors, and he sank (Inquirer, 18 September 1850: 2c).

Mrs Welsh had been asleep below, and was dressed only in a night dress. The body of the drowned sailor was located on a ledge of rock, so his trousers were removed and given to her to wear. The survivors were saved by a sailor climbing the cliff with a rope, which, after fastening one end, he lowered to the others. This enabled them to climb the rocks, and finally Mrs Welsh was hauled up. Western Australian Museum Shipwreck Database

A full description of the ship, its cargo, passengers and the rescue of Mrs Welsh (Ellen Mary) can be found in the Western Australian Museum Shipwreck Database.

Back In South Australia

Ellen and James’ first child, William George Welsh was born in Pine Forest, South Australia on 7 Sep 1851.  The family then moved to Victoria and another son was born in 1853, Charles James Welsh.  Sadly Charles only lived for eight weeks.  Ellen was far away from her own family back in Adelaide, I often wonder how she coped being away from home, with a young toddler and mourning the loss of her second child.

 Geelong Harbour 1857

In 1855 Ellen and James are recorded as living in Geelong, Victoria where James had the position of Bar Pilot for the port.

A bar pilot or maritime pilot is a professional who helps to guide ships through navigationally challenging waters. While the bar pilot is on board, he or she provides advice to the captain; this advice is based on knowledge of local waters, weather conditions, and the abilities of the captain’s boat. Typically, the captain retains legal control and responsibility of the ship, although a bar pilot can be held accountable for egregious navigational errors which result in substantial damages.  (Thanks to wisegeek.com for this info.)

Ellen’s parents and her younger sister Eliza Isabella arrived in Geelong for a visit before returning to England.

This article from the Geelong Advertiser is titled “Melancholy And Fatal Accident”.  Eliza Isabella Chamberlain, Ellen’s sister, was killed by falling timber near the Harbour Master’s office on the 7th Mar 1855.  The full article with the inquest details are on Trove.

I don’t know how long the Welshs remained in Geelong, the next record I have is of the birth of their daughter Eleanor Isabella Welsh, my great, great grandmother, in 1857 in Melbourne, Victoria.  I didn’t realise until I was writing this post that Eleanor Isabella would have been named after Ellen’s sister.

Eleanor Isabella Chapman nee Welsh
Back in Adelaide in 1860 and another daughter is born to Ellen and James.  Clara Elizabeth Welsh is born on the 22nd Aug 1860 in Queenstown, Adelaide, South Australia.

Special thanks to Joanne Steele for all her research and for the photo of Eleanor Isabella Welsh.

Stay tuned for part two of this amazing lady’s story.

Headstones & Memorials

I went to the West Terrace Cemetery this morning looking for the grave of James and Mary Chapman but had no luck finding it.

I was thrilled, though, to find the following plaque commemorating Mary and Robert Thomas.

Mary & Robert Thomas

Mary & Robert Thomas

This is what is says:

Mary and Robert Thomas were among the first South Australian colonists, arriving with their four children aboard the Africaine in November 1836.  Their eldest son, Robert Jnr., had arrived earlier as part of Colonel William Light’s survey team.

Mary was an accomplished writer and poet, having published several poems while in England.  With her husband, she played an important role in documenting and commenting on early colonial life.

Robert Thomas brought the first printing press to the Colony and founded South Australia’s first newspaper, the South Australian Gazette and Colonial Register, Mary was a regular contributor and held an influential position for a woman of the period.

Mary’s diaries and letters provide a detailed account of the ups and downs of early colonial life, the harsh living conditions and ongoing financial struggles.  Through hard times, it was Mary’s commitment to her family astute way with finances that saw them survive.

Like many graves, the memorial which once adorned this site has been lost due to exposure to the elements.

Mary and Robert aren’t ancestors of mine it was just so good to read about a woman’s achievements in early South Australia as well as seeing the plaque where their headstone used to be.

This headstone I saw is being eaten away by the elements, I wonder how long it’s been there for.  You can’t really tell from the photo but it looked like it was melting into the ground.  There is no discernible writing on it at all.  Whatever type of stone it is it’s sad that it didn’t hold onto its information for future generations.

Wind and rain erosion

Wind and rain erosion

I wonder how long this headstone has been standing.

I wonder how long this headstone has been standing.

Victorian Funeral Re-enactment

The cortege coming into the cemetery, thanks to Tanya Saint for this photo

Sunday I went to the Adelaide Cemeteries Authority and Victoriana Society of SA‘s re-enactment, at West Terrace Cemetery Adelaide, of John Luke Monck‘s funeral in 1880.  With a lot of pomp and ceremony the horse drawn hearse made its way up West Terrace and into the cemetery.

Mournful mourners following the hearse

 

Mourners following the hearse

 

The horse drawn hearse

I was pleasantly surprised by the size of the crowd, it was a good turn out of several hundred people, even though it threatened to rain.  Thankfully there was only a light shower after the funeral.

Funeral Card

 

Funeral Card

 

Funeral Card

The mourners and family members gathered around the grave, with the crowd looking on.  A traditional funeral service was held, the committal spoken as it would have been in 1880, we all sang the hymn Holy, Holy, Holy and then there was the closing prayer and benediction.  If you’re not familiar with the hymn Holy, Holy, Holy you can listen to it here http://youtu.be/PCnRYj3lMlQ

The coffin in the grave

 

 

Lovely people from the Victoriana Society who were happy to pose for photos

 

The patient horses and their driver

I had mentioned in the Australian Genealogy group on Facebook that I would like to go to this event and so did another Adelaidian, Tanya.  We hadn’t met before but we ended up catching the same bus to the cemetery and chatting as we crossed the road.  It didn’t take long to work out who each other was and we had a great time watching the funeral and talking genealogy!

My 3x great grandfather William Chapman died on the first of January 1897 and had a large funeral cortege.  This re-enactment gave me a bit of an idea of what William’s funeral might have been like.  My next post will be about William Chapman and his funeral.