Friday, 28 June 2013

Elizabeth Mashford (Lewis) Atkins and her move to Gladstone....


Photo: 19 Bondowie Street, Gladstone, South Australia in 2012. Elizabeth Atkins was probably living here in 1887.

In that way of ancestry research there has not been much happening for a while but fellow researcher Kylie has come up with some records which offer a few more 'facts' for the story of great-great grandmother Elizabeth Atkins and her 'separation' from her husband. It is more of a when than a why however.

The records found seem to indicate just when it was that Elizabeth Mashford (Lewis) Atkins moved from Wirrabarra to Gladstone and probably separated from Edward Atkins although that is more conjecture than fact.

A Gladstone business directory first recorded Mrs E. Atkins in 1878, the year that her youngest daughter Mary, later to be the wife of Charlie Ross, gave birth to her illegitimate son, Edward Welch Atkins.

Gladstone began to develop with the arrival of the railway in 1877, a year before Elizabeth and we presume, her daughters arrived and it may well have been that they travelled by train from Wirrabarra to Gladstone. An obituary for Mary Atkins Ross said that she had been amongst the first settlers in Gladstone, living under canvas, in a tent.

When Elizabeth and her daughters arrived it was only nine years since the Hundred of Yangya, had been established, one of nine Hundreds to be proclaimed in 1869. A number of pastoral leases had expired that year and the land was resumed by the Government for agricultural development. The Government Gazette on February 4, 1869 announced that Lease No. 38, owned by Herbert Bristow Hughes would expire in six months and the land would be re-possessed, some 63 square miles, or 163 square kilometres, and would form the new Hundred of Yangya. It was gazetted on July 15, 1869.

Farm blocks were then put up for auction and the main sale of land in the Hundred of Booyoolie began on November 13, 1871. Elizabeth's oldest child, and her son by Peter Lewis, George was working in the area at this time and may well have purchased land, either for himself, his parents or for his mother.
At this time, and until 1939, the settlement consisted of two townships: Gladstone, a private development and Booyoolie, a Government development. Gladstone was originally surveyed between 1872 and 1875, just a few years before Elizabeth arrived, while Booyoolie was surveyed in January 1875 and proclaimed the same year, two months later. But to all intents and purposes the two settlements were one town, known as Gladstone, with the railway line running through the centre.

In 1876 Local Government was instituted in the fledgling town when twenty-one owners and occupiers of land in the Hundred of Yangya presented a memorial to the Governor of south Australia, asking that the area be constituted as a District Council. This happened, by proclamation, the same year and the District Council of Yangya was born. In August of the following year the name was changed to Gladstone.

By 1880, two years after Elizabeth arrived, the ratepayers in Booyoolie requested they be allowed to combine with Gladstone and the request was granted with the Corporation of the Town of Gladstone proclaimed on March 7, 1883.

This was five years before Mary Atkins would marry her Greek fishmonger, Charlie Ross in Gladstone's Anglican church and Charlie may well have been living in the town already. His obituary in 1907 said that he had lived in Gladstone for more than twenty years, after moving from Port Pirie, which means he was there certainly by 1886 and possibly earlier. The arrival of the train in 1877 which connected Port Pirie and Gladstone marks a time period, I believe, for Charlie Ross's move from one town to the other.

We have yet to find out just when he arrived in Australia but he was born circa. 1848 and in order to fit in the 'roving career' as a sailor, also mentioned in the obituary, he was not likely to have arrived before 1868.

Photo: Overgrown Ross family plots Gladstone cemetery, South Australia.

Port Pirie had first been settled in 1845 but the family story was that Charlie Ross jumped ship in Port Germein, a small town north of Pirie whose jetty had been opened in 1881 so if the family story is correct, Charlie did not set foot on Australian soil until 1881 and within seven years would be married to Mary Atkins.

This later date, say 1882, would have made him thirty-four or thirty-three when he jumped ship and given him more than enough time to have done the 'roving' which was mentioned in his obituary but which we have yet to discover in detail. It would also have given him five years in Port Pirie before a move to Gladstone, more than long enough to be 'remembered' and to account for why the obituary in the Gladstone paper, the Areas Express, was reprinted in the Port Pirie Recorder - a newspaper, ironically, that my husband and I ran in the 1970's - with a note to readers about how many would remember Charles Ross and mourn his passing.

Photos: Recent photographs of homes where members of the Mashford/Lewis/Atkins/Ross families lived in Gladstone, South Australia.

But for all those following the research, here is the latest material to hand on Elizabeth Mashford (Lewis) Atkins:
Kylie wrote the following:

I was in Adelaide State Library a few weeks ago and looked up the Sands directory while I was there.  Elizabeth was listed separately for the first time in 1878. This would coincide with the birth of Mary’s child Edward Atkins.

If she was separated from Edward by this time how was she supporting herself??  Dressmaking??  Midwifery??? Or was Edward providing support? Or George Lewis?   It is a long time to maintain a house by yourself.
Her daughter Elizabeth married within a couple of years, Mary may have lived there for ten years to help.  John Mashford Lewis was there when he died in 1888 but how long was he sick for before his death.  He may have been able to help set up the house etc.   Both Mary and John would have left in 1888 (unless Mary lived with her mother after her marriage). 

I wonder why she put herself in the directory – was it for some commercial reason?

Any way this is the list of entries:

She was not in the 1877 directory

She was in the 1878 directory as “Mrs E Atkins, Gladstone”

1879 ditto

1880 ditto

1881 ditto

1884 ditto

She was missing from the 1882, 1885 and 1886 directories. 

In 1887 the entry changed to” Mrs E Atkins, Bondowie St, Gladstone” (this was in line with a change of format of the directory itself)

Ditto 1889

Ditto 1890

Ditto 1891

Ditto 1893

Ditto 1894

Ditto 1895

Ditto 1896

Ditto 1897

Ditto 1898

Ditto 1899

Ditto 1901

Ditto 1903

Ditto 1904

Ditto 1906 

For 1907 and 1908 it was Mrs D Atkins Bondowie St, Gladstone  not Mrs E Atkins

She was not in 1909.
James Atkins was in the 1906 and 1907 directory as James Atkins Groom

Photo: Elizabeth Mashford (Lewis) Atkins circa. 1872 - six years before she moved to Gladstone, aged about 48.

 Elizabeth died in 1908 at the home of her daughter, Mary Ross, which is why she was not registered for 1909. She died slowly and painfully of an infected leg which became gangrenous. Her great-grandaughter Jessie Ross Sands remembers being told about the terrible smell which pervaded the small house but the story handed down was incorrectly attributed to the death of Charlie Ross,  who had died the previous year, in 1907, until death records for the two of them made it clear that Charlie had died of a heart attack and asthma and Elizabeth had been the one who died painfully of gangrene.

In response Luke wrote:

I think that because Elizabeth is listed by herself in the Sands Directory is a good indication that she and Edward were living separate lives and there was some sort of split in the family between her and the first family of Edward Atkins and Hannah McLeod.

Of course we will never know the details as the dead do not talk. However, due to the fact that Elizabeth is first mentioned in the 1879 directory is very interesting as you mention Kylie it does coincide with the birth of Mary Ross nee Atkins first born outside of marriage.

It just may be the case that both Edward and Elizabeth decided that it was best to get Mary out of Wirrabara before the townspeople knew she was pregnant as it would have caused a terrible scandal. Elizabeth had her sons in Gladstone so Gladstone was a better place to go than anywhere else. Maybe over time it just suited Elizabeth to stay in Gladstone and not return to Edward for whatever reasons.

I had a look at where Bondowie Street is in Gladstone and it is one of the main Streets which goes into Gladstone so at this stage it is impossible to say if she lived just outside of Gladstone or inside the town itself. However, if you both remember, Elizabeth Mashford signed over some land to George Lewis in 1872 and it was lot 19 on Bondowie Street. As a result, if we can find out where exactly where lot 19 is in Gladstone then we will know where exactly she lived in Gladstone.

How, why and when she got the land in the first place remains a mystery. Maybe when she sign over the land to George Lewis there was an agreement between the two of then that she could live there rent free and that would certainly would have help her in terms of supporting herself if she did not have to pay any rent. That way George got the land for free maybe and Elizabeth did not have pay rent. (Just an idea)

She may have worked on Booyooliee Station again or one of the jobs which a lot of women did in the 1800s was washing and ironing as it was such a labour intensive job to do. In 1864 Booyooolie station had 70 men working on the station and they all would have to have their clothes washed at some time or other. By the 1880s more men may have worked at the station so that could be employment enough for Elizabeth and a small income if she did not have to pay any rent. (Just an idea).

I could be wrong about this, but I think one of the reasons why people placed their names in directories may not necessary be about commercial reasons, but just practical reasons. People in the 1800s did not have letter boxes in their front gardens as we do today. Back in the 1800s people just went to the local Post Office to pick up their mail. There were no telephone directories to look up people’s address if you need to contact them by mail for whatever reasons. As a result, by placing your name in a directory was a means of staying in contact with other people.

Yes we have never really found out exactly what happened to John Mashford Lewis. How long was he sick for? I think I have told you both that the family oral history from my family stated that George Lewis died from an accident. This of course this is wrong, but may be it was John Mashford Lewis had some sort of accident which resulted in his death and Elizabeth had to nurse him for some time before he died which is why he was living with her when he died.

To which Kylie responded:

I don’t think there would have been any difference in the attitude between Wirrabara and Gladstone – any gossip would have followed her in such a small community.  The entry shows that Elizabeth was on her own by 1878 but there may be earlier entries.  I only looked at the ones on the shelf, there were earlier ones on fiche, I think.  She missed entries in later years so perhaps 1877 was just missed.  That needs to be checked.  

In terms of Bondowie Street,   I think number 38 is lot 19 but I will have to have it checked.  It is Lot 19 and not number 19 I presume because street numbers are a fairly new concept.  Unfortunately google maps don’t have all the lot numbers only some of them so number 38 is an educated guess.

Gladstone was set up just before 1872.  This is when it was subdivided and established as a town.  Often when the govt does this type of sale there are conditions, such as one block per person, only individuals can purchase , and you must build on it in a certain period, such as two years.  Sometimes they are available cheaply to those already living there.  I have always wondered if this transaction was done to circumvent or take advantage of such laws.  

It is also possible that she was living with George as he was in Gladstone at this time, and that he built the house.

In terms of working for Booyoolie Station,  I think this is certainly possible but if she had learnt to tailor clothes, and I believe she would have, this would have paid better than laundry and have been a lot easier.  The reason I believe she could tailor was that Frances Priscilla Lewis was a dressmaker and a very good one and she learnt from her Grandmother – I don’t know which one but it was very likely the one that was a tailor’s daughter, Elizabeth.  Also when was the cannery active.  She could have worked there.

Many people did not put their names in the directory earlier on and it was often only when they moved.   Elizabeth was fairly consistent and from an early date, it makes me wonder.  I didn’t have time to read the conditions on entry – were entries free for a standard one or was there a charge.  I couldn’t find out but it would be in there somewhere.  

John Mashford Lewis, died of haemophilia.  An accident could have been the cause of the bleed that caused his demise.  I have never found a mention of one.  Thirty-seven was a good age for someone with haemophilia so it may have just been general progress of the disease.

As to what work Elizabeth might have done and whether or not it was working as a tailor, it does appear to be a reasonable 'guess' given that her father John was a tailor, as was her brother John, who died in Adelaide a few years after the Mashford's arrived in South Australia.

One could presume that John Mashford worked from home as so many did in the times and that Elizabeth, certainly as the eldest, would have helped with his work as so many children did.

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