I knew all about the brothers of Sarah Harman before I knew anything of her other than she travelled to Sydney with her parents Joseph and Sarah Harman aboard the “Queen of England” in 1855. Finally I decided the time had come to find out more about Sarah.
I quickly discovered she had married George Adams in 1885 and they had one daughter in 1886. For some time I thought that was Sarah’s story. It was while searching the Victorian Pioneer Index 1836-1888 using only “Harman” in the “Mother’s name” field, that I realised there was more to Sarah than I first thought. I have found this method of searching to be very successful over the years and has unearthed many unknown children and marriages of the females on my tree.
In the index I found children born at Byaduk to Sarah Harman and a Walter Oakley. I then found the marriage of Sarah to Walter Oakley in 1864. Suddenly, Sarah had five children and not one and another spouse. Sarah’s story had become very different.
Sarah Harman was the only daughter of Joseph and Sarah Harman to come to Australia and she was eldest of the children to travel with them. Sarah was born in Melbourn, Cambridgeshire in 1843 and was 12 when she immigrated on the “Queen of England“.
The Harman family arrived in Byaduk around 1863 and by then Sarah would have been 20. The following year she married Walter Oakley, son of Henry Oakley and Susan Bullock. Walter had family links to Port Fairy and Sarah may well have met him during the time the Harmans spent in the town.
The children of Sarah and Walter were:
SUSAN – Born 1865, Byaduk; Marriage Robert Warwick Cruikshank, Birchip 1892; Death 1949, Wangaratta, Victoria
JOSEPH HARMAN – Born 1867, Byaduk; Marriage Annie Margaret Simpson, 1891; Death 1957, Blackburn.
HENRY – Born 1868, Yambuk
ALFRED JAMES – Born 1870; Marriage Kathleen Maud Hodgson, 1910; Death 1951, Stawell.
To this point it would seem that Sarah was going to live life similar to her older brothers, living in Byaduk and raising a family. However for Sarah there was a turning point. Sometime between the birth of Alfred in 1870 and 1884, something happened to Walter Oakley. What, I am not sure. I have never found a death record. He just seemed to disappear.
One of the great things about writing a blog, is you get to meet people with similar research interests. After my post A Small find at the Vic Expo, I heard from Brad who is a Oakley descendant. He told me of the family story that Walter had disappeared while on a trip delivering live horses to India. While this a family story, it is not outside the realm of possibility.
Thousands of horses left Australian shores for India during the mid half of the 19th century and naturally there were perils. This is an incredibly interesting part of our history which led to Australia’s own breed of horse, the Waler. The story of live horse export in Victoria is worthy of its own post at another time. I like the idea that this is how Walter met is demise, a tragic but romantic end. Whatever happened, he was gone and Sarah was alone.
Have you found the marriage record of a family member and wondered how on earth did he/she meet that girl/guy? Sarah’s marriage to George Adams, is one such occasion. How did Sarah from Byaduk, meet George from Melbourne, 12 years her senior, in the 1880s. Certainly not online dating!
In the last day or so since I started writing this post, I have added Kerryn Taylor to my circles at Google+. She is a descendant of George Adams and Catherine Barry and told me George’s father Edward was living in Cambridgeshire when the Harmans were still in Melbourn. The 1851 England Census lists him living at Bassingbourn, just down the road. Maybe this link to the old country is the reason why George was in Byaduk and in the life of Sarah Harman.
Who was George Adams? He was born in Essex, England in 1831 and immigrated to Western Australia around 1852. He married Irish girl, Catherine Barry in 1853 in Western Australia. After the birth of one child, they headed east for Melbourne, where a further six children were born. Two more children were born in Western Australia in 1868 and 1870.
I pick them up next in 1884. Catherine passed away in Parkville on May 4. George is listed as a builder and contractor.
The next record of George is the following year, 1885, with his marriage to Sarah Harman. Not a lot of time elapsed between the death of Catherine and his remarriage, but that was not that unusual.
One child was born from the marriage of George and Sarah. Sarah was around 42 at the time of the birth.
SARAH SELINA (“Sadie”) – Born 1886 at Kensington; Marriage Harold Charles STONE, 1915; Death 1977 at Kew.
While it seems that George and Sarah returned to the city, in 1888, George had a listing at Byaduk in that year’s Victorian Post Office Directory, his occupation listed as builder. He may have kept his work options open. It may also be why George was in the Byaduk area to start with, to build something.
In 1921, George passed away. He was 91. The first family notice to appear was from Sarah and “Sadie”.
The following day a notice appeared from the children of George’s first marriage to Catherine Barry.
Then three days later another, more detailed family notice presumably again from George and Catherine’s children, but unlike the first it gives the instructions to copy to the Hamilton papers as in the first notice from Sarah and “Sadie”
Are we beginning to see some tension between Sarah and her step children?
George’s Will gives some sign that his children from his first marriage may not have played a big part in his life during his second marriage. Firstly, Sarah’s son Joseph Harman Oakley and son-in-law, Harold Stone, husband of “Sadie” were executors of the Will. Sarah was to receive all the household furniture, ornaments and the like as well as all George’s property in his estate. Upon Sarah’s death, everything was to be sold and distributed as George had nominated. Aside from his oldest son Edward who was to receive £75, all of his living children from his first marriage were to receive only £20 each. On the other hand, “Sadie” was to receive the balance of the estate, which sounded as though it would be quiet a considerable sum.
Sarah passed away 10 years later in 1931. She was 87. Or was she? According to her death notice she was in her 90th year. Her cemetery record lists her as 89. Her birth record on the England and Wales, Free BMD Birth Index lists her birth in 1843. The 1851 census has her at seven and as her birth was registered in the last quarter of 1843, this would mean she was turning eight in the year of her census. The Assisted Immigrants Index lists her age as 12 in 1855, which again fits. In A Life Cut Short, I posted an article from September 1929 which has Sarah’s age at 85. Again, if Sarah’s birthday was in the last quarter, this also fits. I would assume the information for the article came from her brothers. With 1843 looking like the correct birth year, Sarah should have been 87 at the time of her death, her 88th year, almost 89th but certainly not 90th. Poor Sarah, what woman would want two years added to her age!
Both Sarah and George are buried at the Fawkner cemetery.
There is something about Sarah’s story that attracted my attention. Her address at 5 Brixton Street, Flemington. My first thoughts of Flemington are, of course, of the famous racecourse but having driven through the area several times, it also the historic feel of the suburb that comes to mind. Also, not far away were the Newmarket Saleyards, the City Abbatoir and the Melbourne Showgrounds. Racing stables were in back lanes and cattle would be herded through the streets en route to the saleyards. Sarah would only have to step out onto Brixton street for a reminder of country life, horses being led to the track, cattle mooing, drovers’ dogs barking and the smell, well it was bad.
The Australian Electoral Roll (1903-1980) shows George and Sarah living at 5 Brixton Street in Flemington in 1903. George died in the house and Sarah lived there after his death. I like that when Sadie married Harold Stone, they moved into 7 Brixton Street next door and some stage Sarah, in her later years, moved in with “Sadie”. In the same year as Sarah’s death, her son Joseph Oakley is listed at 5 Brixton Street in the Australian Electoral Rolls (1903-1980).
Google Street View, points to the painted terrace with the fence as 5 Brixton street. I’m always a bit wary of where the place the marker lands. If only I could see the street numbers. I have not been to the house myself but it is on my “to do” list. Only a couple of months ago I was only about one kilometre away, but with a grumpy driver and child from a day out in the city, I didn’t think they would have appreciated being dragged off course to look at yet another house. Also the grumpy driver thinks one day we will be arrested photographing strangers’ houses. Back to Street View, if you pan around the street, you will see what I mean about the ambiance of the suburb.
Having read George’s Will, it reveals he did own a number of properties, so he may have owned 7 Brixton street, Sadie’s house, also. In fact he may have owned the entire terrace. Being a builder, he may have even built the terrace. As this extract shows, in 1885 land was being offered for sale in Brixton Street.
The Will states that Sarah was to receive “the rents and income which may arise and be derived from my lands and tenements and from all property in my estate…”. Also if “she shall so desire to permit her to reside in any of my messauges or tenements”. Electoral rolls also listed George has having lived by “Independent means”, so he must have lived off the rent of his properties. Secretly I used to hope that it meant he was an SP bookie, living so close to the track and all!
So ends Sarah Harman’s story. A woman who looked set for a life like that of her sister in-laws, a farming wife in a small country town, surrounded by her family including her brothers, nieces and nephews. A twist of fate would see her live 50 years of her life in the growing city of Melbourne, away from her brothers, but I’m sure never far from their hearts and minds.
If anyone is interested in more information on George Adams, I have found a website with a very good story of him at Adams Generations.