Wednesday, 7 December 2011

A little insight into Charlie Ross puts form on the phantom!

Photo: Port Pirie circa. 1880.
Fellow researcher Luke has been busy digging through records in the search to find out as much about the Atkins/Ross family as possible and in the doing has come across a little ‘snapshot’ from the past which gives some insight into the ephemeral nature of the long lost Charlie Ross.

From the Areas Express and Farmers Journal Friday September 13th 1907:

“It is with sincere regret we have to report the death of Mr Charlie
Ross, of this town after a protracted illness from asthma etc.
Deceased was born 58 years ago, and when a young man left his native
land-Greece-and after a roving career during which he had his fair
share of adventures came to South Australia and settled in Port Pirie. Eventually he came to Gladstone
where for more than 20 years he has carried on his vocation as a
purveyor of fish etc. Although taking no part in public affairs, he by
his unostentatious, but genial manner won a large circle of friends,
who sadly deploy his death which took place on Sunday. The remains
were interred in the Gladstone Cemetery on Monday, the Rev J Raymont
officiating. The greatest sympathy is felt for the widow-a daughter of
Mrs Atkinsen (Atkins) and her five children."

This says that he sold fish in Gladstone for 'more than twenty years' so he must have moved from Port Pirie sometime between 1887 and say, 1885ish. He married Mary in 1888 which is nineteen years before his death and if he was a purveyor of fish in Gladstone for more than twenty years it means he was living in the town for a few years before marrying and perhaps before meeting. If he had moved to Gladstone to marry Mary then the epitaph would have said 'nearly twenty years' not 'more than twenty years.'
There is a poignant note to this – my grandfather and his name-sake, another Charlie Ross was also a most unostentatious and genial man who won a large circle of friends. My father was a rather more complex character, at least at home although in that way of ‘social angel and home devil’ he also was seen as an unostentatious and genial man who won a large circle of friends. Perhaps my great-grandfather was the same. It is nice however, to know that he was so respected and widely loved.
And I would love to know what his adventures from his roving life were? It sounds as if he was a seaman and travelled the world for quite some years before arriving in Australia and deciding to stay.
The other unexpected piece of information is a nice bit of synchronicity – yet again – which has him initially settling in Port Pirie, where I also lived for four years in the early seventies. This makes me think I might be able to find out more about him, important information such as date of arrival, place of birth and Greek name, from Port Pirie records.
It is highly likely that Charlie originally set up his fishmonger business in Port Pirie and continued it once he moved to Gladstone. Perhaps he met Mary Atkins when she visited Port Pirie. There must have been some sort of connection between the time he arrived in Australia and when he married her in 1888.
If Charlie was born in 1849 and left Greece as a young man then he could have arrived in South Australia as early as 1870. That is eighteen years before he married Mary so there is every chance that he had an earlier marriage and possibly children. The other alternative is that he left as a young man but spent ten or more years as a sailor before arriving in Port Pirie sometime in the early to mid 1880’s. If I can find some sort of record of his arrival in Port Pirie it will be invaluable. I have written to the Port Pirie History Group to ask for help with the research.
Once again there is a Port Pirie connection, the town having appeared a number of times in ancestry research on my mother’s side and there I was in the early seventies, knowing none of it, and with four years to do ‘on-the-ground’ research. But, as they say, here is where we are at and slowly but surely the pieces of the past drop into the present to put together a better picture than we had of Charlie Ross, whose specific origin and Greek name I have yet to find.
I am also wondering if the family story about jumping ship was true given that he settled in Port Pirie, where he could have been easily found as a deserter. Given his accent and the way stories are transferred one wonders if the story he told his children was about his life on board ship, arriving in Australia – although we were told Port Germein, then again, it could have been and he travelled down to Pirie and settled – got mixed up with a story about someone else who had jumped ship.
However, there will either be something more to be found about Charlie Ross in Port Pirie or there will not be.
Photo: Smelters Port Pirie circa 1900
 Luke also came across a few other pieces of information regarding Elizabeth Mashford and Peter Lewis. He writes:
I had a look at the records of the Royal Adelaide
Hospital located at the South Australian Genealogy Society. I found
the following:-

Name:                                     Peter Lewis.
Age:                            32.
How Long in Colony: Brought in by the Police
Occupation:               Servant Male.
Circumstances:                      Delirium Tremens.
Adm:                          12/4/1848.
Discharged:                12/7/1848.

Delirium Tremens is the result of alcoholism which may explain the violence which we know was a part of the marriage and which extended to Elizabeth’s brother, George.  What seems strange is that he was admitted on April 12 and not discharged until three months later! That seems a very long time to be in hospital. One wonders if the date is incorrect or whether he was actually hospitalised but in police custody.
Name:                         Eliza Lewis.
Age:                            23.
How Long in Colony:           Direction of his Excellency
Occupation:               Emigrant.
Circumstances:                      Dysentery.
Adm:                          2/5/1848.
Discharge:                              1/6/1848.

Elizabeth, from the record, also appears to have been in hospital for nearly a month which seems a very long time for dysentery, a disease which usually takes its course within days and not longer than a week. This is something I unfortunately know first-hand having suffered from it while living in Bombay, India, more than once.
I do not think we can say 100% that these people are our Peter and
Elizabeth Lewis. There is an age difference: I.E If I am wrong Kylie
let me know, but Peter Lewis was born c1812? If the above person is
our Peter Lewis and he was 32 in 1848 then he was born c1816 so there
is a difference. However, he was a servant, but then again so were a
lot of people so it does not really proves anything. What “Brought in
by the Police” means I really do not know unless they found him
somewhere? The one about Eliza Lewis also show an age different.
However we all know that there is sometimes an age different. I know
Kylie if it is our Peter Lewis it does not really help you to trace
him back any further, but all information can be useful. I also do not
understand what “Direction of his Excellency” means?

I also found a burial record for Henry Edward Atkins. Edward and
Hannah’s first son, but there is a small problem with it. The record
just states:-

Parish Records
Burial
St Barnabas C of E
Clare

Henry Edward Atkins
Buried 2/1857
Age 7 years.

If this is ours Henry Edward Atkins and he was 7 years of age in 1857,
according to the above record, it means he was born in 1850. However
his birth record states he was born in 1843 therefore he should be 14
years of age when he died in 1857. This is a gap of 7 years between
the two ages which is quite a lot which would be difficulty to
explain. However, in the light of any other records for a Henry Edward
Atkins existing EG marriage etc this person could be our Henry Edward
Atkins. If it is him then he died after Edward Atkins and Elizabeth
Lewis nee Mashford were married. Also how many other Henry Edward
Atkins were living as a young male in the Clare Valley around the same
time. If this is out Henry Edward Atkins then the one surviving son in
Edward Atkins’ obituary is James Atkins or there is another son which
we just do not know about. If this is the case how do we find another
son because I cannot no longer think about how another son can be
tracked down.

This may actually be a second Henry Edward Atkins given the habit of the time of naming a second son after a first who had died.  
And Kylie added a bit more clarity: 


This fits with my Peter Lewis, a drunk picked up by the police!!  The age
fits with the marriage pretty much, only 1 year out.  He was 30 when married
Nov 47 and 32 here, only 5 months later.  1812 was from the possible death I
found in Victoria, and I think that was a professional estimate by the
hospital staff, probably older than he really was due to aforementioned
drunkenness!!

I am more doubtful of the Eliza Lewis, the age is out by a few years and the
occupation, Emigrant, is strange for a married woman.  It sounds more like a
new arrival, straight off the ship.  A quick search of the FamilyhistorySA site shows the name is fairly common.

The Henry Edward Atkins is interesting.  One explanation I could think of is
that this is a second Henry Edward.  They may have 'reused' the name.  It
could be a transcription error etc but such inaccuracy in a child's age is
very rare. 

As for George's children, he had nine.  The attached pages are from the
bible I have.  All those up to Eva are his, the last three are
grandchildren.  I had this list, and could find all except the 2nd child,
George Wilson, on the SA registers.  When Ancestry came up with the whole of
Australia's indexes I found him in Queensland.  Registered as George Lewis
Lewis, and the mothers name was Sarah Barbara, but the date was right so I
ordered a certificate.  






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