Saturday, 13 August 2011

Shreds of connection but no real progress

 PHOTO: Old Shepherd's hut.
I have not had time to do any research for the past couple of months and we have in that time gathered only shreds of connection but it seemed time for an update.
Attempts to find records of deaths for Henry,Edward, Joseph, Hannah or Anne Atkins have brought us no closer to establishing a connection between our Edward Atkins and the Edward Atkins who married Hannah McLeod and who died at Whyte Park, Wirrabarra.  Kylie's search through Clare records came up empty.
She said:  I could also go through all the surnames in a list and could find no alternatives that matched.  I also searched the exact date of Edwards death according to the paper and nothing even close came up.  If you think of it, there is the marriage only for this family until the girls got married.  No births or deaths were registered.
So the next step may be the burials from SAGHS next time you’re there Ros.  They might also have some ideas as to other sources for deaths.  I know there is a CD of unregistered SA BMD’s that have been discovered by other means. 

I have the “Register’s family notice” books that go up to 1870, and I have gone through the Register, in Trove, through to 1878.  I am just doing all the family notices, correcting just the surnames as I go.  I have found nothing for this family yet, but quite a few for other lines, so a worthwhile exercise.  It takes me a day or two to do a year.  Some years are worse than others. 

 I  have also got a copy of “Balliere’s SA Gazetteer and road guide”.  It gives the following populations for the area, for 1866:

Victoria County – Booyoolie area  889  up by 351 from 1861.
Stanley County – including Clare, Auburn Penwortham and Watervale  6935 up by 2101 since 1861.   Clare council area, included Penwortham but not Watervale,  had 2593. 
Burra County  - 4221, a decrease of 1262 since 1861.
Penwortham is said to have a hundred occupants but the surrounding district is thickly populated for a farming district.
 The runs are mostly described by the population of sheep, with most having about the 40,000 mark.  I wonder how many  sheep a shepherd looked after.  Also, how many people lived on the Runs.  Booyoolie had about 40 people just at the meat processing plant in the late 1860’s.  I would be surprised if they had less than 50 people to manage the runs. 
 Some other indications of population over the period.  Estimated 2000 living in the northern area in the 1842 census.  Watervale had a population of at least a hundred people in 1856. 
 At this point in time the only link is the name Edward Atkins, the area and the profession of blacksmith. The time-line is also possible. There is a vague connection in terms of employer in that the Hughes family which owned Booyoolie Run, near Jamestown and Gladstone-Rocky River, Wirrabarra, also owned Booleroo Station, further north of Wirrabarra, formerly Charlton.

The Booyoolie Run ran from Gladstone to Laura and the small Clare Valley town was named after H.B. Hughes's wife, when the land at that section of the Run was released. There is also a report that refers to Ten Mile Hut, one of the shepherd's huts situated ten miles from the homestead. The Run was huge, listed as 194 square miles. Booyoolie also spelled Booyooloo Run was about fifteen miles long and incorporating Wirrabarra would be 300 square miles- more than enough space for two Edwards.

The run is situated on the N road via Clare, 20 miles E of Port Peri (Pirie) (24m) 45 NW of Clare (45.7) and 130 m N of Adelaide.Both James and George Lewis worked on the Booyoolie Station.  George lived in Gladstone at one time while working at Booyoolie.  He gave his address as Hundreds of Booyoolie, Laura later in life.  
Fellow researcher, Cherrie Sherriff, connected to the Pole family came up with the following:

Edward Atkins    1830  Florentia    (on convict muster record but not transcribed to ship record)  24 yo Gloucester
compared to
Edwin Atkins      1830  Florentia  (transcribed to ship record)  19 yo  from Yas Plains.

But Kylie's research makes it unlikely there are two people involved. She said: 

One reason I think there is only one person here is that there are no conflicting records, no conviction for Edward Atkins, no ship record etc, and there is no Edwin Atkins in the 1837 muster.  If you check the muster record the year of birth is worked off the arrival date not the current year.  I think the age is the current age, 24 (and he should have been at least 25 if he was 19 in 1830), take that from 1837, not 1830 and you end up with a close enough year of birth to be the same person.  It is also possible that this is our Edward, and that he started out as Edwin.  Interestingly the comment I have for Yas Plains in 1835 is that there is only a few scoundrelly convict shepherds there.
PHOTO: Challenging conditions existed for convict shepherds in the area around the South Australian and New South Wales border.

But this information also provides another shaky link because Yas Plains is just inside the New South Wales border with South Australia, some 300 kilometres from Gladstone and clearly somewhere that ex-convicts, working as shepherds were living.  There is every chance, our Edward or one or both of the Edwards if there are indeed two, did begin life as convicts and did travel into South Australia following their release.

This takes us back again to an earlier line of research; was Edward Atkins a convict?  There is no easy answer to that question but at this point in time I think we have to assume there are two Edwards and proceed accordingly. We know our Edward married in 1857 and was living in the Wirrabarra area working first as a blacksmith and then as a shepherd. We also know his family moved later to Gladstone, South Australia but we do not know if he moved with them. 

Beyond that we cannot be sure of anything let alone where he was born or when and how he came to Australia. Two steps forward and three steps back seems to be the order of the day.

However the number of family researchers has grown with Cherrie's involvement and with a few of us dabbling in facts I have high hopes that ultimately the mystery will be revealed. Until that time however there is little point in getting research done in the United Kingdom. We need a place of birth before that can happen. 

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