Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Drowning, destitution and determination.

Photo: Bundaleer Station, 1870.

I have had little time in recent months to do any work on ancestry as we have returned to Australia to live after more than five years in Malawi and things have been busy to say the least.

But cousin Luke has kept up the good work with a few more bits of information which explain the 'missing' first child of Edward and Hannah, Henry Edward, whom, it seems, drowned in a waterhole after the family had moved to Clare. Born in Adelaide, in March 1843,  two months after Edward and Hannah married,  Henry Edward was seven when he died.

In addition, it now looks like Elizabeth Mashford Lewis went to Melbourne with her husband, Peter and returned alone, seeking support in 1853, one presumes after Lewis deserted her. There is a possible death record for Peter Lewis from Victoria,  but it has not been confirmed.

And with an Atkins still working at Bundaleer Staton until 1860,  it sounds as if Elizabeth spent quite a lot of time on her own with her growing family and her young stepchildren, in the first years of her marriage to Edward Atkins.  It cannot have been easy in the Wirrabarra Forest, pregnant and caring for so many children, and one can only assume she was strong, resilient, courageous and tough!

Photo: Settlers with local Aborigines.

From fellow researcher, Luke Scane-Harris:

As for the family tree I was going to the State Library and State Archives last year and did find out some more family information. I found an “Abstract of an inquisition taken before Edward Burton Gleeson JP at Clare on the 30th Day of November 1850.”  It appears that Edward and Hannah Atkins first son Henry Edward Atkins died of drowning. The young boy walked off without anyone knowing went swimming in a water hole somewhere around Clare, and drowned.
I also found out that upon Elizabeth Lewis (Mashford) returned from Melbourne in 1853, after Peter Lewis deserted her, she made an application at the Destitute Board for relief.
I also found out that the Ledgers for Bundaleer Station still exist. It appears that Edward Atkins, (or at least a person with the last name of Atkins), was still working at Bundaleer Station after the family moved to White Forrest, but he was going home for the birth of Elizabeth and Mary Atkins and then returning to Bundaleer Station. His name seems to disappear after 1860. This means Elizabeth Mashford was alone looking after the children and the stepchildren by herself. I am beginning to get a feeling that Edward Atkins was an illegal squatter living in the Wirrabara Forrest.i

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