Friday, 19 August 2011

Tidbits of information continue to come in but no real facts

  PHOTO: The old Bundaleer Railway Station.

The trouble with ancestry research is that names are often spelled incorrectly and dates are wrong. It is a complex enough process without such complications.

One spelling of Mashford came up as Matheford and we have varying ages for Elizabeth and her mother Mary on different records. How to make the challenging even more challenging.

Unless some new information comes up on Trove it is death notices which will be required for any further progress I suspect. Hannah's would be great or a second obituary for Edward Atkins either put in by Elizabeth and their children for the same date of death which would tie the two together, for for a different date which would solve the riddle once and for all.
It would also help to find the sons of Edward Atkins and Hannah McLeod, either Henry or Joseph, for further clues toward proving whether there are two Edwards or one. A Henry Atkins died in Clare on March 2, 1887, aged 52 which would have him born in 1835 which is much too young for parent's marrying in 1843 and does not fit the birth record of Henry Edward Atkins in 1843 to Edward and Hannah.
But could the age at death be wrong and this Henry Atkins is ours dying at 44 not 52. It is unlikely but it is possible. This Henry  had a son called George Atkins. George had three daughters all born in Clare. 

We now have birth records showing Edward and Hannah were living in the Clare Valley from 1845 when daughter Jane was born. She was followed by Margaret in 1847, Sarah in 1850 and Joseph in 1851. Emily was born at Bundaleer in 1854.

The key to the mystery is a death record for Hannah McLeod. Anything prior to the date of Edward's marriage to Elizabeth Mashford Lewis makes her possible as a first wife. This would fit with the oral history heard by Luke from his side of the family about an unknown first wife.

But nothing has come up in the Clare region and it was the main regional centre until the beginning of the 20th century. A researcher has come up empty handed after checking newspapers, most of which started much later than our original search time-frame: The Port Pirie Gazette in 1876, The Northern Argus in Clare from 1869 and the Jamestown Agricultural Review from 1878.

Another researcher has been in touch after reading the blog and Holly found a death registered for the death of an Edward Atkins in 1884.

She also found an Edward Atkins, convict, who absconded in 1851 but with an age of twenty he is too young to fit our Edward or Hannah's Edward and was a New South Wales convict for quite some time after 1851. 

Holly also made an important point in regard to the Whyte Park obituary listing five daughters and we know that Hannah and Edward had at least four daughters, Emily, Margaret, Jane and Sarah and probably a fifth, Ann, who was dead by 1891, leaving only four daughters. However, there is every possibility that there was another daughter born to the couple for whom we do not have a birth record and she was alive at the time of her father's death.

Anyway, Holly's point was that if there were two families for our one Edward, the obituary was probably placed in the paper from the first family and sometimes they do not include half-siblings in obits. Given that Hannah and Edward had two sons, George and Joseph, it is also likely that one of them had died by this time and this would account for the one son. 

So, either there is another obituary somewhere put in by Elizabeth and her two daughters and son, or there is not. If this did exist and could be found and the dates matched then we would have our Edward. However, if he was living with one of the daughters from his first marriage while Elizabeth was alive there is the good chance that he was estranged from his second family.

Another point Holly made, which she found interesting, and it is just that, albeit a flimsy link but Jane, Ann, Margaret and Mary were all married around Christmas Day. It could be chance or it could be something else.... therein lies the mystery. Whatever the answer this is a fragile link between two families, whether there be one father or two.

Other fragile links include:
Sometime between 1851 and 1854 Edward and Hannah moved from Clare to Bundaleer. This would have been Bundaleer Station owned by J.B. Hughes who also owned Booyoolie where James Haynes Atkins later worked.  Bundaleer later became Jamestown in 1871 and is 75km from Clare. Wirrabarra is about 35km from Clare. 

So in 1854 we have Edward Atkins, previously listed as a labourer for the Clare Valley records of his children's births, living at Bundaleer, occupation blacksmith and by 1857 we have Edward Atkins living in Wirrabarra, occupation blacksmith, married to Elizabeth Mashford Lewis.

Another fragile link is that Emily and Margaret Atkins, whom we know were the daughters of Hannah and Edward were married at the same place, the residence of John Pole, a shepherd at Booleroo Station (35kms north of Wirrabarra and also owned by J.B. Hughes.) Our Edward is recorded as a shepherd on the birth notice for his son James Haynes Atkins.


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