Sunday, 21 August 2011

Some new family photos and some thoughts

 Fellow family researcher, Luke Scane Atkins, the grandson of Roy Atkins and great-grandson of James Atkins and Annie Clavin Atkins, has come up with a few new family photos which are worth posting  and some tidbits of information to add to our collection.

Luke writes: I have come across just few bits of interest. Below is an article from the South Australian Register Wednesday 13th July 1853, I am pretty sure it is a reference to our Edward Atkins especially as the matter was heard at the Clare Local Court and of the Bundaleer connection.

“Dipkosey V Atkins. Action for £8 12s. 2d, for spirits…The plaintiff made an application to the Court to allow the case to stand over for a month, for the production of a material witness on his behalf. The defendant objected to this, as he said he had to come from Bundaleer. The Court consented to an adjournment; plaintiff to pay the costs, and also to allow the defendant mileage according to the rules of Court from Bundaleer.”

I think Edward Atkins did live at Bundaleer somewhere. I have tried to look at cemeteries in the area to see if any cemetery had a burial listing for Hannah Atkins, but no such luck. Both Edward and her had to have been buried somewhere. I know it is a long shot, but may be Hannah Atkins did not die in South Australia. What if she had to go back to England for some reason and died while there or had family member’s living interstate. She could have travelled there and died interstate. All Cemeteries have a listing of who is buried within the grounds. I just cannot understand why we cannot find a record of her death or burial. But at the same time we cannot find one for Edward as well. May be they were buried on private land and hence there is no public record.

NB: There was an Edward Atkins at Bundaleer and he was married to Hannah McLeod. What we do not yet know is if this Edward is our Edward.

I did find a reference to Sarah Stacey nee Atkins at the Nariddy Cemetery. (See below)

Nariddy Cemetery Notes

Compiled by Russell and Liz Smart

“Renshaw Desmond James  -- Infant Desmond died 27-8-1922 at Narridy, where he was born 3-6-1922 -- the son of Arthur Edward Renshaw and Mabel Rose Stacey.
Arthur Edward Renshaw was born 30-3-1877, the Hundred of Willochra -- the son of George Renshaw and Mary Ann nee Heaver.
Mabel Rose Stacey was the daughter of Walter James Stacey and Sarah nee Atkinson, born 30-7-1883 at Bundaleer Springs. Arthur and Mable married on 30-11-1902 at the home of Mrs. J. T. Blood of Narridy.
Arthur died 16-8-1963, Mabel died 1-7-1967 they are buried Dublin Cemetery.

Arthur and Mabel had a large family, but a very sad life, their first four children did not survive longer than 3 months. Baby Desmond was no.12 child, the remaining siblings surviving to adults. The other infants were interred at Yacka and Jamestown Cemeteries.) Baby Desmond Renshaw does not have a headstone.”

Not a lot of information is here, but it is just that I find it interesting that Sarah is listed as nee Atkinson and not Atkins. It just shows the different types of name you have to look under to find anything sometimes.

I have noticed that you have been talking about Rocky River in some of your emails. Below is a photo of my grandfather Roy Atkins aged 11 years. He is shown with the Rocky River which runs through Booyoolie Station. I just thought it is easy sometime to see the things that we are talking about. Rocky River is not a big river and the tern river is misleading. I think it is more of a creek. However, I think during the winter with a lot of rain it could flood to a large size.


I also thought it might be interesting for you to see what Booyoolie Station looks like. These photos were taken a few years ago when my Aunty Blanche went up there for an Atkins reunion.

 The photo below is of Annie Atkins nee Clavin, James Atkins wife. She is shown outside the house that both she and James Atkins lived in. The house was on Booyoolie Station itself. The house is now gone and the second photo shows where it originally stood on Booyoolie Station.

 There must have been a lot of workers on Booyoolie Station if the station owners had separate homes on their land for the workers and families to live in. After James Atkins died, the owners allowed Annie Atkins and her 10 children to live there for free although she must have worked around the station to earn a living.

I did not know that George Lewis also worked on Booyoolie Station. And yes the story of George Lewis dying of an accident came from the oral history handed down in my family. As we all know it is wrong and they may have being referring to John Lewis.

Luke also came across this photo, of Georgina Anastasia Ross Hillard and her family. She is far right and her husband Eli is far left with the children in the middle and what looks like one grand-child.

 This photograph was taken outside Auntie Teenie's house in Hamley Bridge where we frequently visited during my childhood. By that stage her husband Eli was dead and so was her daughter Betty, leaving Auntie Teenie to raise her two grandchildren, Aileen and Wayne, who were eleven when their mother, who was divorced from their father, was killed in a car accident in the Barossa Valley. It was a tragic time for the Hillard family coming just days after the death of Teenie's daughter-in-law who died after giving birth to her tenth child. The baby also died.

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.


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.