Thursday, 18 July 2013

Sifting through the latest research

Photo: The station at Bundaleer in the 1840's.

Luke's trip around the mid-north has brought some new information and sifting through the latest research, offers some insights, both potential and fixed.

Knowing when farming began at Bundaleer would be useful, as Kylie wrote that there was only the run at Bundaleer in 1856 and the Homestead was much closer to Clare than Bundaleer is now.

She also recalled that the Bundaleer graveyard came up previously as a possible resting place for Hannah Mcleod Atkins but it was not used until after Hannah would have died.

The use of the name Edwin for one of the children of Sarah Atkins and Walter James Stacy is interesting because it might stand as another link between our Edward Atkins and the convict Edwin Atkins from Gloucestershire whom we still hold as possibly being one and the same person. Although there is also the chance, with a few Edwards in the family, that Edwin was chosen to differentiate. Although given the traditions of the times it is still likely, in my view, that the name was meaningful to the family in some way.

There is no doubt that finding out more about Edward Atkins as a land-owner would be useful.

The theories regarding Elizabeth and Booyoolee all make sense to me. In 1877 John Lewis and E. Atkins are named as Occupier and Owner of Allotments 19,20,21,22,18 Gladstone.

Perhaps John had earned enough to buy a house and when Elizabeth needed to leave Edward, he offered her a roof over her head. Or perhaps George and John had both been buying land in Gladstone and helped her out. They were both in their twenties and probably working for 15 years. I think also what this says to me is that the Lewis brothers were hard-working - whether that came from Peter or Elizabeth one could not say although given Peter's drinking and violence, I am prepared to guess it was Elizabeth.

Photo: A map of the mid-north in the early 1800's.

Although we did have an earlier reference to 1872 when Elizabeth bought 19, 20,21 and 22 allotments along Bondowie Street.   She was the first buyer of the land. The paper work also states ‘Elizabeth Atkins wife of Edward Atkins of Gladstone.” 

This record places Elizabeth in Gladstone in 1872. She had married Edward in 1857, just 15 years earlier. Elizabeth was born November 22, 1857, the same year of the marriage; Mary December 8, 1859 and James Haynes on January 2, 1862. In 1872 Elizabeth is 15, Mary 13 and James 10 and the question has to be, why was Elizabeth living apart from Edward with children so relatively young? The town of Gladstone was first laid out in 1872 by Dr Mathew Moorhouse, a well known and respected protector of Aborigines in the early years of settlement so this puts them there from the beginning.

The death notice for Mary Atkins Ross in 1937 said she had been one of the earliest to live in the town and had lived there, in tents, before any houses were built. This suggests 1872 is a reasonable date for Elizabeth’s arrival in Gladstone although there is still the possibility that she had left Edward earlier and worked at Booyoolie.

The money to pay for the land she purchased in 1872 must either have come from her own efforts and those of her adult sons, George and John, or from her husband, Edward. Although why he would dispatch her to Gladstone, so far from Wirrabarra, to buy land, remains a question.

I also believe this earlier date puts paid to the ‘theory’ of Edward Atkins being the father of his daughter’s bastard child. If Elizabeth and her children had been living apart for at least four years before Mary fell pregnant, it is highly unlikely that it was her father who was the culprit. Then again, we are assuming the children were with Elizabeth????

As Kylie wrote:  I found this very interesting,  was Edward living in Gladstone at this point?  More interesting to me is that Elizabeth bought 5 lots.  Where did she get the money?  We don’t know how much she paid for them.  She had five kids, was the idea to give one each?  She sold off two in 1877 the same year that Mary had Edward.  Was this coincidental or not?

The Australia Birth Index, 1788-1922 has Edward Atkins born in Gladstone, November 14, 1877 with father Edward Welsh and mother Mary Atkins.
Clare, South Australia. Page Number:400 Volume Number:191.

And there is no doubt that this is our Edward Atkins because the death is later recorded of his infant son, Percy Mashford Atkins, the name Mashford being the clincher:

Edward William Atkins, Born 14 Nov 1877 ,Gladstone, South Australia, Australia
Died  Yes, date unknown
Person ID  I214944
Australia. South Australia
Last Modified 5 Dec 2009    

Edward Welsh
Mary Atkins
Bef 1877
Family ID
Group Sheet    

Mary Ann Sheehan,   b. 1875,   d. Yes, date unknown
28 Dec 1904
Adelaide, South Australia, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location  [2]
1. Living

2. Living

3. Living

4. Percy Mashford Atkins,   b. 30 Jun 1913, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 28 Apr 1915, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location
Family ID
F66553 Group Sheet

1.    [S11] [Indexes] South Australian Birth 1842-1906, Cla 191 400.
See also WELSH, Edward
2.    [S27] [Indexes] South Australian Marriage 1842-1916, Ade 221/1323.
brides age 29 years - widow
grooms age 27 years

Photo: Annie Clavins Atkins, wife of James Haynes Atkins, in front of her cottage on Booyoolie Station, circa: 1910.

And, as strange as it may sound Elizabeth may have found it easier to get a loan in 1872 than I would have in 1980.  However did she need a loan.  The value in 1877 was 50 pounds.  She probably paid less than this five years earlier.    As we know it is hard to find wages that are relevant to each time period but lets guess 40 pounds per annum (consistent with wages 10 years earlier I can’t find the 1870’s). 

Considering by 1872 James was already 10, Elizabeth could have been working for a few years (£20) plus George and John on full wages (£40 each), Elizabeth would certainly been working (£15) and maybe even Mary or perhaps she was supervising James and keeping house.  It would not have been impossible for them to have an income of over 100 pounds.   Now in addition to this they would have some rations from the station, meat in particular, but also flour, sugar and tea.  If no rations were supplied they would have been paid more.  Also remember that it was very likely that any loan required came from the vendor and with wages like this may have been very short lived.

As to wills – whether someone has a will or not is more to do with organisation and superstition than the property they own however if they owned property in their own name only at death then with or without a will an application for probate would be required.  If you don’t have a will the state decides how your property is split up.  In this case it would have been split between the children.  I don’t know if it was even between the sexes.  So if she owned the property at death there will be a record in the courts.

Elizabeth died May 11, 1908;  James Haynes Atkins  had died eight months earlier at Jamestown Hospital, on September 16, 1907 and Charlie Ross had died September 10, 1907... just six days earlier than his brother-in-law. Mary Ross lost her husband, brother and mother within eight months.

One presumes Elizabeth would not leave everything to James because he was the youngest of her two surviving sons. She may have divided it between George and James, or, given that she was living with Mary when she died, probably divided it between all four of her surviving children. No doubt Annie would have gotten what James had when he died a few months later. Unless there was something more complex, again we would need a legal opinion, and James died before the Will was ratified- although then I would have thought it would just be divided between the three surviving children in which case Annie would get nothing. 

Kylie wrote:  Normally, whoever is alive at the time of death, not when the estate is finalised, is who gets the money.  In other words – James would have inherited, it would go into his estate, then be distributed per his will or if intestate, by the law which would have been Annie.

Luke wrote:         I am not sure what to make of “Lewis John Allotment 22 –open T.V £12 Annual V. £ 2-10 Rates  2-6 Pd 27.2.79 Arrears £5-4 Pd 30.7.79” does this mean he owned  allotment 22 and lived next to his mother” Does he have a will if he owned land?

Photo: Booyoolie Station.

Unless things have changed dramatically, he would not be paying rates if he was renting but only if he owned land. He may well have had a Will. One presumes, being unmarried, he left what he had to his mother. The tombstone looks impressive and expensive for the times. She must have had money or perhaps used some of his estate for it.   Unless he transferred it before he died there would be a record.

However, if she had money and left money in her will, or her land was left to Mary Ross and Elizabeth Cox, and they sold the land why did Elizabeth Cox or Mary Ross not pay for a tombstone for their own mother?

If she only left land there is no assumption that her children would sell. They may not have had the money to pay for a tombstone. Mary was after all a widow with a young family still to raise. I don't know about Elizabeth. George also had his own family.

They may well have paid for a tombstone and it was destroyed or stolen. The cemetery is in pretty bad shape.

If Edward Atkins owned land in Bundaleer or anywhere else how can we find out? I have now forgotten how I managed to get the paperwork I have on the land concerning Elizabeth Mashford land, but I must have got it from the Land Titled Office when I was much younger. May be, and only may be, and it is only a suggestion, If Edward Atkins owned land and there was one hell of a family fight may be Elizabeth Mashford got the money from Edward Atkins to buy the land in Gladstone. She may have forced him or blackmailed him for the money.

Well, conjecture has led us to truth in the past. It is a stretch to have Edward as the father of Mary's bastard son now and logic suggests that the most likely scenario was that Elizabeth wanted to leave her husband - perhaps for drinking and violence, or other women, who knows - and with her oldest sons George and John in Gladstone, that is where she went. Logically, that is where she would go.

The fact that she had money in 1872 to buy so much land makes me wonder if she did not leave earlier and worked at Booyoolie and that she and George and John pooled resources to buy the allotments. I doubt there is any way of finding out whether or not she worked at the station but if she and Edward were to spend nearly twenty years apart before he died, there's a good chance it was closer to twenty-five years, which would have given her the chance to save some money.

And yes, great to have cause of death for Edward.... he was living with one of his daughters and clearly ailing. Then again, perhaps he was a drinker, which is why Elizabeth left - Senile Decay  can be euphemism although years of heavy drinking may have left him addled. Still, to be living with his daughter he could not have been too bad.

Edward died in 1891 which is the date on the newspaper obituary.  His birth date then was 1807. If Elizabeth was in Gladstone by 1872 then they were living apart for nearly twenty years before he died.  

Luke has written down a few more thoughts which will be of interest to all those accessing this blog and researching the shared families.

Photo: Elizabeth and James Haynes Atkins, her son with Edward Atkins, circa: 1872. James looks about nine in this photograph but he was short and slight as an adult and so may be twelve. But the photograph would have been taken around the time we know Elizabeth was first living in Gladstone.

He writes:

When I was at the Discovery Centre (Gladstone Historical Society) they had a photocopy of the diary of Mr Hughes, the founder of Boolooliee Station. I knew he wrote one, and the State Library has a copy. I read through it because it is not very big, but the diary is mostly about the weather and the state of the station nothing about the workers or certainly not in a direct way that mentions names etc. As a result, we can eliminate that source to find out anything more concerning Elizabeth Mashford or family.

As you noticed from the photo of the grave of John Mashford Lewis that it does have bricks around it and you can notice some writing on the bricks. I had a look, but the writing is backwards however, it seems to be a name of a company, but it does say Laura. So I think the tombstone and bricks came from Laura. I agree with you Kylie that it is a cast and not made by a blacksmith. I also agree that at one stage Elizabeth may have had a tombstone, but it may have been made out of wood which has long since gone. Just because today there is no tombstone that does not mean the family did not care or did not have money to mark a grave of a loved one.

I had a look at the directory which the Gladstone Historical Society had. Again it was only a photocopy so I do not know where the original is or what the name of the original directory is called, but it had George Lewis listed living at Gladstone in 1886 Bondowie Street and in 1898.

I have done some more research about wills and titles to land and this is what I found out. Getting a copy of a will is very easy. I talked to the SA Probate Office they are at 301 King William Street. You just go in and look at their index. Every name has an index number. You just give the index number to the staff and they then get the will and photocopy it for you.

Finding out about land is more complex. The Land Titles Office in Grenfell Street has copies of all the records. However, their records only go back to 1858. This is because in 1858 the law changed about land ownership.  Records before 1858 are held in two separate places because it is the Old Title System. First of all it helps to know if a person had Lease Hold Land from the crown or free Hold Land (Private Ownership).

If the land is Freehold you have to go to 300 Richmond Road which is behind Adelaide Airport because that is where all the records are kept for Free Hold Land. If the land was lease hold you have to go to another place to look at the records. However, in saying this, I was also told that this is not always exactly so for a range of reasons. As a result, people should always start at the Land Title Office because they do have some records before 1858 Lease hold and Free Hold. Once you find out that what you are looking for is not at the main office in Grenfell Street then you try the other places.  I was told to try to find out if Bundaleer and Wirrabara were freehold or lease hold.

I telephoned Forestry SA at the Wirrabara office because they have the responsibility for the State Forests in those areas. The lady who I spoke to said that Bundaleer was mostly Leasehold, but Bundaleer Springs was mostly Freehold. Wirrabara was a mixture of both.

I told her that Edward Atkins was listed as a blacksmith while he lived at Bundaleer and did she know anything about a blacksmith shop in the area she said no, but that does not mean anything. She said the problems with these old stone building, which I saw, was that they were originally bigger than what remains today. She said that often these old stone cottages were of one or two rooms. The main room was the Lounge Room, Kitchen and Dining Room and the other room was the parent’s main bedroom. (The children may or may not have slept in the main room) However, at the back of the stone cottages there would be galvanized tin rooms for the children and any other reasons e.g. to keep supplies, horses and workshops.

Photo: The family bible handed down from George Lewis, the eldest son of Elizabeth Mashford (Lewis) Atkins from her marriage to Peter Lewis.These tin structures have long since gone due to rust and the passage of time, but if a person looks closely there are still remains of the tin rooms scattered around the place. As a result, if Edward Atkins was a blacksmith his work room would have been made out of tin so any remains would no longer be identifiable as a blacksmith work shop.

She said she knew of an old cottage in the Wirrabara Forest, which the general public does not know about, and the chimney and parts of the house still remains and it is all made out of galvanized tin. Then she said something which I found very interesting which I have never thought of before. She said that many people in the 1800s preferred to have their home made out of tin and wood because if they had to move they would dismantled their tin and wooden homes, place it on their carts, and just move to another area and rebuild their homes. As a result, a block of land may no longer have any remains on it, but at one stage their use to be a home there.

I also asked the lady at the Wirrabara office if she knew anything about the photos I took of the old house at White Park on White Park Road with the sign that said White Park. She said that old building was the accommodation building for the workers who use to live and work in the White Park Forest. She did not know of the name Atkins, but she knew of the name Edward Puddy, but had no idea where he lived at White Park.

I have sent an email off to the Jamestown Historical Society and a letter to the lady who showed me the Wirrabara burial record to see what other information they can give me.

Now I will try to answer some of your responses. There are two sheep runs in the area back in the 1800s they were larger than they are now. The first one was Bungaree Station which is just outside of Clare. I have the book at home on the history of Bungaree Station it was established in 1841. Then you have Bundaleer Station which is at Bundaleer North. I drove past the road that leads to it. It is just before the Bundaleer Picnic Grounds and oval and it is a lot closer to Jamestown than it is to Clare. It was established in c1840.

The other thing I forgot to mention, which may or may not be important.  If you have a look at the certificate of title, lot 21 and 22 fronts Bondowie Street, but the back of the lots end at the border of a creek. I am sure in the Gladstone area that the creek may be dry in the summer time, but it is a source of running water and as you drive down Bondowie Street you have to cross a bridge which goes over the creek and I noticed water. Thus the land would have been worth more, than say, land that did not have a creek.

Maybe in the winter time they dammed the creek and had a supply of water for the summer time. All the lots are walking distance to the main road of Gladstone. (Gladstone is so small everything is within walking distance of the main road except the cemetery. Even the main entry to Booyoolee station is in walking distance of the main street).

I know we can find out a lot of information from records online etc, but there was nothing like going to the areas and getting a feel for the place and especially talking to people who live in the area for a long time and have personal knowledge about the history of the area.

Also have a look at the newspaper article I found on TROVE it does not directly relate to any of our families, but it is interesting in terms of the problems people had back in the 1800s  registering births, death etc.

“…There is no District Registrar nearer than Clare, which being 79 miles from Melrose. Involves a journey of 158 miles to the 'householder' or other person who may have to register a birth or death occurring at Mount Remarkable. Formerly it was allowed to send information to the Registrars by letter,  but as the persons giving such information frequently neglected to call subsequently, and sign the entries as required by law, a Gazette notice was published in last July, requiring in future personal attendance in all cases of' registration.

Suppose, therefore, that a shepherd, or other person; dies at Mount Remarkable, his employer must equip a special messenger for a journey of 160 miles, and often much more, to give information. If he fails in the performance of this duty, he runs a risk of a £10 penalty. But as the cost of the journey and the loss of time is often a more serious consideration than the £10 itself, the Registration Act is in danger of becoming a dead letter in the remote districts…”

South Australian Register (Adelaide SA 1839-1900) Tuesday 4 November 1856 p2.


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