Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Mary Atkins Ross as helper, healer and pioneer

After five months of nothing much at all there are a few new pieces of information regarding Mary Atkins Ross now that the National Library, Trove Site, is putting up the Port Pirie Recorder.

A paper I might add where I worked with  my husband in the early seventies - he as editor and me as senior journalist and at times acting editor. The irony of it all was that I was in a place where I could easily have researched the family but did not. At the age of twenty-three one doesn't have much interest in such things although now I wish that I had. But it is what it is.

Anyway, here are some snippets on Mary Atkins Ross, my great-grandmother and wife of my elusive Charlie Ross whom I have yet to truly 'find.'

In the first one Mary has an accident through getting caught in wire and in the second she has an accident through getting caught in a major dust-storm. My aunt tells me that Mary lived in a small cottage with hessian walls and the backyard was full of bird-cages. Perhaps the 'wire' involved was connected with her beloved birds.

“Mrs Ross, of' Gladstone, had the misfortune a few days ago to get her foot caught in a piece of wire and fell and broke several bones in her hand.”
The Recorder (Port Pirie) Sat 4th April 1925 

“Severe Duststorm.”
“GLADSTONE, Friday. On Thursday morning a violent duststorm was experienced at Gladstone and a few drops, of rain fell during the storm
Mrs Rosss, of George Street, had the roof of two rooms and Her back verandah of her house blown  off, the iron and timber being blown 40 to 50 yards away. Crockery was broken, and Mrs Ross suffered from shock, requiring medical aid. The damage is estimated at about £30.”
The Recorder (Port Pirie) Sat 26 January 1929 

And then in 1937 comes the announcement of her death. Although the newspaper has some errors. Journalistic standards seemed to be as low then as they are now. I have corrected the newspaper story on Trove,  which had her son James listed as her father instead of the erstwhile Edward and also listed her illegitimate son, Edward, as her step-son.


Pioneer Resident of Gladstone

Mrs. Mary Ross, whose death has been announced had resided at Gladstone longer than anyone else, She was 78 years of age.

Mrs. Ross was born near Wirrabara and with her parents, the late Mr. and Mrs. Edward Atkins , went to the Hundred of Booyoolie and lived in tents before any houses were built at Gladstone. She was highly esteemed and gave much assistance in cases of sickness. She was keenly interested in Church of England affairs.
 Her husband died 30 years ago.

The surviving members of the family are .Messrs. E. A. Atkins , son, of Mount Gambier; C. V. Ross ( Parkside), C. C. Ross (Gladstone), Mrs. E. Hillard (Gladstone), and Mounted-Constable S. A. Ross (Hawker). There are 23 grandchildren.

Mrs. Ross' remains were interred in Gladstone Cemetery, Rev. E. S. North officiating at the graveside.

Port Pirie Recorder, Wednesday, July 21, 1937.

Mary's eldest child Constantinus John (Jack) Ross, had died nine months earlier. He had been tending his vegetable garden in Murray Bridge when he suffered a heart attack. It was October 26, 1936 and he was 46. He died younger than his grandfather, father and brothers.

Mary, like Charlie, was, it seems, highly esteemed by the community. Her care of the sick, being noted, indicates that she was, perhaps in a small way, or perhaps in a big way, something of a healer. I find this fascinating given my own interest in health and healing. She was also an avid churchgoer as was her daughter, my great-aunt, Georgina Anastasia (Ross) Hillard - something I do not share but can respect. 

Photo: The backyard of the Gladstone house with an unidentified 'relative' exiting the outside loo.

And Mary was one of the first  to live in Gladstone, ( out life in a tent. One presumes with her mother, sister and brother. Although James Atkins may well have been working at this time and no longer living at home.  

Photo Top:  Mary Ross aged 10.
Photo Bottom:

shows Mary (Polly) Ross nee Atkins on the bottom left. Next to her is her Sister-in-law Annie Atkins nee Clavin. Top right two of Annie Atkins’ daughters: Gladys Madigan nee Atkins and Margaret (Lizzie) Robinson nee Atkins and Eileen Atkins nee Bishop is on the top far left.
Whether child or old woman, Mary's expression has remained constant. Perhaps our Mary was a serious sort of girl. Then again, she had a lot about which to be serious.And she had spent more time as a widow than a wife.

 In 1876 Mary was seventeen and a year later she gave birth to her illegitimate son, Edward Welsh Atkins which raises again the issue of whether or not this was when her mother left her husband and took her two daughters away - the youngest being pregnant, perhaps with her father's child.

Conjecture of course but Mary it seems, despite her slight stature, was a woman of substance in her community. That's a nice thought.

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