Wonderful Western District Women Part 1

On International Women’s Day this is for the women of the Western District.  The women who arrived in a new country, often as newlyweds with no other family, those who walked behind a plough planting seed, those who didn’t see their husbands from dawn to dusk or weeks at a time and the women who gave birth in a tent or shack sometimes without another woman present.  It’s for the benevolent women, the pillars of the church, the businesswomen, the matriarchs, and in many cases their husband’s rock. It’s for those women who lost their husbands young, and were left to raise children and survive in a man’s world. For many of these women, their lives went by unheralded.

Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/54600

As it’s also Women’s History Month, this is the first post during March remembering some of the great pioneering women of the Western District.  Firstly I will focus on those I’ve discovered through monthly Passing of the Pioneers posts. For many of those women, I’ve had to draw on their husband’s life story to get some idea of their own.  For others we are lucky as something of their lives still remain, maybe a letter or a diary and we glean some idea of who they really were. Even in their obituaries, women were mostly known by their husband’s name for example Mrs John Little or Mrs James Berry. At least those who were given an obituary have something of them left behind, for others their lives passed silently and without celebration.

Hopefully the women I have selected to celebrate this month are representative of those women whose stories have been lost.  Also, because most women lived behind the names of their husbands, I’ve chosen to remember the women by their maiden names.  Click on the underlined text through the post to read more information about a subject.

BLACK, Janet (c1822-1903) Also known as Janet Laurie and Janet Black

http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article77974940

Border Watch (Mount Gambier, SA : 1861 – 1954) 6 May 1933: http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article77974940

Janet was born in born in Lanarkshire, Scotland in 1822, the daughter of Professor Andrew Nicol a linguist, university lecturer and head of a boys’ college. Janet, one of eight daughters, attended boarding school and like her father could speak several languages. In 1841, she married the Reverend Alexander Laurie and shortly after they sailed to Port Phillip aboard the appropriately named William Nicol, arriving in February 1842.  Alexander was appointed minister for the Portland Bay Presbyterian Church so they sailed for Portland Bay.  On arrival at Portland, Janet was carried ashore and on the same day she gave birth to her first child Alexander John Laurie.  The Lauries couldn’t stay at any hotels because of quarantine restrictions so they camped under a shelter near the flour mill in the bitter cold,  They soon settled in the town and another son Andrew was born the following year.

The year 1848 was tumultuous for Janet.  Alexander was accused of spending time in the company of a young lady, even travelling away with her.  The church frowned on his behaviour and Alex was removed from his role, not because of the shame he brought to his wife and children, but the shame he brought to the church.  A report of his falling out  appeared in the Geelong Advertiser of July 11, 1848.  In 1850, Alexander started making the news in a different way when he took over the Portland Herald in Gawler Street.  The Portland Guardian remarked,”Mr Laurie would have seemed to have abandoned the use of his church for the Herald and exchanged religion for politics”.

In 1854, Alexander died at the age of thirty-six, leaving Janet with four young children. She took over the running of the Portland Herald and after a short break, resumed publication every Friday with a promise the paper would be “renewed in strength and efficiency” and before long the subscribers to the paper grew.

“Advertising” Portland Guardian and Normanby General Advertiser (Vic. : 1842 – 1843; 1854 – 1876) 9 November 1854: 3 (EVENING.) http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article71571179

Janet also set up an employment registry in 1856 operating it until 1861 from her home in Percy Street.

“Advertising” Portland Guardian and Normanby General Advertiser (Vic. : 1842 – 1843; 1854 – 1876) 3 November 1858: 3 (EVENINGS.). http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64509486

Janet finished up the Portland Herald in 1860 and she and the children went to Mount Gambier where she assisted two of her sons in setting up the Border Watch, a paper still published today. The paper was established in the name of second born son Andrew, then seventeen and the first edition published on April 26, 1861. The name for the paper came from Janet as there was a Border Watch newspaper on the border of Scotland and England. Given the close proximity of Mount Gambier to the South Australian/Victorian border, it was the perfect choice.

In the same year, Janet married widower Joshua Black of Cork Hill, Bridgewater. Joshua was a father to seven children and Janet must have been busy helping her sons with the paper and the duties of matrimony. Janet and Joshua had three children together, the first in 1862 when Janet was forty.  By 1865, there were fifteen children aged from twenty-two to newborn. Joshua Black died in 1876 aged seventy-six.  Janet continued on at Bridgewater and was involved in the community.  

BRIDGEWATER BAY

She died in 1903 aged eighty-one and was buried in the North Portland Cemetery in the same grave as Alexander Laurie. The Portland Guardian of 29 July 1903 reported that “the funeral procession was one of the largest, if not the largest seen in Portland.” Returning to Alexander in death was possibly something Janet would not have wanted. Her thirteen years with Alexander were not happy times.  Aside from his adultery, it seems Janet also endured family violence.  She was known throughout her life as having a hearing impairment, put down to the cold on her first night in Portland.  Ann Grant and others in a paper, “Portland – The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth”, tells of police records showing Janet had charged Alexander with assault and her deafness was in fact caused by a blow from him.

COLE, Elizabeth (c1845-1942).  Also known as Elizabeth Dalziel.

Elizabeth Cole was seven when she sailed into Hobson’s Bay in December 1852 with her family aboard the Bombay, the same ship my ggg grandparents James Mortimer and Rosanna Buckland arrived on.  Once in Port Phillip Bay, the ship was placed in quarantine because of a typhus fever outbreak on board.  During the 111 day voyage, at least twenty-four of the 706 passengers died from various causes including typhus.  After they disembarked, the family went to the diggings at Ballarat.

“OLD COBDEN RESIDENT” The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957) 12 March 1938: <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article11174181&gt;.

The family then went to Port Fairy and Elizabeth remembers the first bullock team of Walter Manifold and was soon driving bullocks herself and despite being only a teenager, gained a reputation as one of the finest bullock drivers around.  From Port Fairy, her father purchased land at Yambuk.

Elizabeth was only seventeen when she married twenty-eight year old Alexander Dalziel on 31 July 1862 at Lethbridge where Alexander ran a boot store servicing the large canvas town set up for the men working on the Moorabool viaduct.  They then went to Bannockburn before moving to Carpendeit near Cobden in 1885. In 1891, Elizabeth signed the Women’s Suffrage Petition.  After Alexander died 1928 aged ninety-four, Elizabeth lived with her granddaughter at Cobden. At the time of her death at age ninety-six, Elizabeth had six sons, three daughters forty-five grandchildren, sixty-five great-grandchildren and one great-great grandchild.

HAZELDINE, Eliza (1857-1941)  Also known as Eliza Lea.

Eliza Hazeldine was born at Portland in 1857 and started her working life as a teacher.  Her first school was Portland North followed by Koroit, Corindhap, Coleraine, Queenscliff and Casterton. Her teaching career ended in 1890 when she married Job Lea.  The couple’s first son was born the following year, the same year Eliza signed the Women’s Suffrage Petition.  A second son was born on 22 March 1892. A month later on 22 April 1892, Job died of typhoid fever aged thirty, leaving Eliza with two children under two.  She returned to family in Portland before opening a drapery store at Condah Swamp.  Eliza applied to run the first Post Office in the district and in 1899 her application was approved and the Post Office opened with the name Wallacedale.

"Wallacedale." Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 - 1953) 15 February 1899: 3 (EVENING). Web. 6 Mar 2017 .

“Wallacedale.” Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953) 15 February 1899: 3 (EVENING). Web. 6 Mar 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article63675448&gt;.

Eliza played piano and organ and taught her boys with Charles showing great talent in acquiring three theory certificates from Trinity College, London.  When the boys were older, they helped Eliza in the post office.  She was also a generous community member, donating to various causes. In 1902, she started the fundraising for the purchase of a piano for the Wallacedale Hall donating  £1.  Although she was a devout Methodist, when the Wallacedale Presbyterian Church was built in 1913, Eliza donated the linoleum.

War broke in 1914 and on 22 January 1915, son Charles enlisted leaving for Egypt a month later. Charles served with the 2nd Field Artillery Brigade and found himself at Gallipoli where he was killed on 26 July 1915, six months after he left Australia.  The loss of Charles brought great sorrow for Eliza and she placed an “In Memoriam” notice for Charles and her late husband Job each year until her death.

"Family Notices" Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 - 1953) 24 July 1933: 2 (EVENING.). Web. 5 Mar 2017 .

“Family Notices” Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953) 24 July 1933: 2 (EVENING.). Web. 5 Mar 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64282976&gt;.

During the war Eliza was a great contributor to the Red Cross. In 1919, Eliza returned to Portland where she died in 1941. Charitable to the end, Eliza left £100 to the Portland Hospital.

KITTSON, Rebecca (c1827-1929) Also known as Rebecca Lightbody.

"No title" The Australasian (Melbourne, Vic. : 1864 - 1946) 23 July 1932: 4 (METROPOLITAN EDITION). Web. 7 Mar 2017 .

“No title” The Australasian (Melbourne, Vic. : 1864 – 1946) 23 July 1932: 4 (METROPOLITAN EDITION). http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article141361822

Rebecca was born at Fermanagh County, Ireland and arrived at Melbourne with her parents James Kittson and Katherine Trotter in 1841 aboard the Westminster.  Rebecca remained in Melbourne while her father went ahead to Cape Bridgewater to settle, joining her family in 1842. On 22 January 1852, Rebecca, described as the “fair Lady of the Lake” married Wesleyan minister Reverend William Lightbody at Geelong.  Rebecca and William rode on horseback from Bridgewater to Geelong, the location of the nearest minister, married and rode home again.

William was the itinerant minister for Port Fairy, Warrnambool and Portland and they spent time at each of the parsonages, raising a family of four sons and two daughters.  In March 1879, William visited a property he owned at Drik Drik and fell ill there.  He made it back as far as Mount Richmond where a doctor was called. He was then transported home and appeared to be on the mend.  Having business in Portland, he asked his son to drive him into town but William died on the way.

On Rebecca’s 100th birthday, Reverend Toi of the Portland Methodist Church presented Rebecca with 100 shillings, one for every year of her life.  On her 101st birthday, a celebration was held and Rebecca proved she still had her wits about her.

“A GRAND OLD LADY.” Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953) 9 February 1928: 3 (EVENING). http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64264653

A colonist of eighty-eight years, Rebecca was a month from her 102nd birthday when she died at Portland in 1929.

READ, Rachel Forward (1815-1904).  Also known as Rachel Hedditch.

"Bridgewater Pioneers Commemorate Centenary of Landing of Mr. and Mrs. Richard Charlton Hedditch." Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 - 1953) 27 June 1938: 4 (EVENING). Web. 7 Mar 2017 .

“Bridgewater Pioneers Commemorate Centenary of Landing of Mr. and Mrs. Richard Charlton Hedditch.” Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953) 27 June 1938: 4 (EVENING). http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64279418

Rachel Forward Read was born in Dorsetshire, England and married Richard Charlton Hedditch in 1837.  The following year they planned to travel to Australia but the ship, The Eden was stuck in the then frozen Thames River and the voyage was delayed. They eventually arrived in Adelaide in 1838.  In 1841, they left for Tasmania but heard favourable reports about Portland Bay and the Henty’s settlement so they made their way there, but not before their son Charlton was born.  Rebecca and Richard were appointed to run the Portland Church of England school where Rachel taught the infant classes.  They then took up a pastoral lease at Bridgewater in 1845 and Rachel opened the first post office there in 1864, operating it for thirty-five years. The Hedditch property was known as Lal Lal Homestead.  The Book of Remembrance of the Pioneer Women of the Portland Bay District includes a letter Rachel wrote home to her mother on Christmas Day 1848.  She was thirty-three and life was very difficult.  It shows the depth of her faith and how she appreciated the isolation of Bridgewater for raising the children away from the bad influences in the town.

“…last Sunday after dinner I was considering whether it would be wrong to devote part of the Sabbath in writing to you, and coming to the conclusion that under present circumstances it not,  I rose to take a sheet of paper from my portfolio, when I felt quiet unwell, and continued worse, until about ten o’clock, when I gave birth to a little girl – stillborn – an event which I had long dreaded, for my hands were always full.  I also expected to suffer from the heat, for it is usually very hot here…but it has been cooler this summer…How apt we are to murmur and despair, forgetting our Heavenly  Father does all things for our good.  Although I felt amiss – a kind of loss of the infant – yet I cannot help feeling very thankful that it please God to order it as it was.

“But although we are not doing better in this country we have better health; and I think the children are better for being away from the others’ and children out her are generally brought up badly. Times are very bad indeed.  Almost the whole dependence of this district is on wool growing and tallow, and on account of the disturbed state of Europe the wool at home has fallen in value more than half.  Tallow is very, also, and it has caused such a depression of business here that it is almost impossible to dispose of anything.”

Our fences were all burnt, but we have a garden fenced and a half-acre paddock.  We have also a comfortable three-roomed cottage and a kitchen and dairy, besides fowl house and yard,…We have both fat cattle and milking cows for sale, but nobody is inclined to purchase.  Butchers will not give more than eight shillings a hundred weight for fat beef and a fine cow with calf at side will not fetch more than £3.  There were good milking cows with calves sold by action last week at about 30 shillings per head.  Butter is now down to 1 shilling per pound.  If things do not get better I do not know what shall become of us all.  Our prospects are not worse than that of many others.  Indeed, I think we live at less expense than most families here.

The troubles did not end. In 1854, daughter Emily died at the age of seven and in 1863, son Charlton died aged twenty-three.  Richard died in 1894 and Rachel lived on for a further ten years. She was buried at the Cape Bridgewater Cemetery.

Passing of the Pioneers

A small band of pioneers for January, ranging from the rich and influential through to a bullock wagon driver who drove produce to the ports, to aid the rich and influential become more so. There is also the obituary of Catherine Grady, an Irish Famine orphan.

Francis HENTY: Died January 1889 at Kew.  Francis Henty featured here several times, was one of the Henty brothers, early European settlers at Portland. Francis had a house at Portland, one that I have written a post about, Claremont, but he spent much of his time at the Henty property, Merino Downs, and in later in life, his home Field Place in Melbourne where he passed away. Noted in his obituary, that while his presence was often not felt in the town, post the settling of Merino Downs, Francis Henty’s donations over the years were much appreciated.

The Portland Guardian,. (1889, January 16). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 - 1953), p. 2 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved January 29, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article63591640

The Portland Guardian,. (1889, January 16). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 2 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved January 29, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article63591640

FRANCIS HENTY (c1890) Artist unknown.  Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria.  Image no. H24630 http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/91524

FRANCIS HENTY (c1890) Artist unknown. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria. Image no. H24630 http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/91524

Catherine GRADY: Died 3 January 1916 at Macarthur. Catherine Grady was born around 1836 in Wexford, Ireland and arrived in Port Fairy at seventeen. She married Archibald Hamilton there are they moved to Mt. Napier station where they remained for many years, then on to Macarthur where they both remained until their deaths.  Catherine was a nurse and it was said she attended over 300 maternity cases. Catherine and Archibald raised a family of twelve children.  I found Catherine on the Famine Orphan Girl Database on the Irish Famine Memorial (Sydney) website.

John Sinclair COX: Died 11 January 1918 at Hamilton. John Cox was born in Ireland in 1850 and travelled to Victoria with his family around 1857.  He resided in the Hamilton district almost from that time and ran a successful butcher shop. At one time, he ran for the Shire of Dundas but was unsuccessful. John passed away at Greenwood Park, Hamilton and left a widow, two sons and one daughter.

Matthew TOWNSEND: Died January 1916 at Portland. Matthew Townsend was born in Cambridgeshire in 1832 and arrived in Adelaide in 1857, but travelled on to Digby. In 1865, he opened a store in Digby that he ran for forty-three years, including forty as postmaster. Matthew married around 1867. He had many stories to tell of the old times in Digby included four-in-hand coaches, wool wagons and visits by Adam Lindsay Gordon. In his later years, Matthew moved to Portland where he passed away. He was buried at Digby cemetery.

Mary Ann MURPHY: Died 26 January 1918 at Willaura. Mary Ann Murphy was an early pioneer, born around 1843, and she and her husband Patrick Nicholson, settled at Warracknabeal in the “early days of agricultural development”. Around the turn of the century, Mary Ann and Patrick moved to the Ararat district, taking up a sub-division at Willaura,  Mary-Ann and Patrick raised a family of fourteen.

Elizabeth Jane PETERS: Died January 1923 at Warracknabeal.  Elizabeth Peters was born at Digby on “Black Thursday” 1851, her father having arrived with the Hentys some years before. After her marriage to Henry Lang in 1872, they settled at Merino. After Henry’s death, Elizabeth moved to the north-west of Victoria to live with her son, where she remained until her death.

Mark KERR: Died 31 January 1925 at Portland. Mark Kerr was born around 1850 at Portland, and it was noted he was born in the “Police Paddock”, not far from the place he died seventy-five years later. Having been born in a paddock, it was fortunate Mark’s father was a doctor, but it was thought he didn’t practice in Portland. Mark Kerr worked as a teamster, driving bullock wagons from the north with wool and other produce for the Port of Portland. At one time, he owned the Emu Flats Hotel at Kentbruck, built by another Passing Pioneer, John Johnstone. He later returned to Portland where he remained until his death.

Eliza HAZELDINE: Died 12 January 1941 at Portland. Born around 1857 at Portland, Eliza Hazeldine, a former student of John Hill of Portland, joined the Education Department at 15 and the first school she taught at was North Portland. She later taught at Koroit, Corindhap, Queenscliff, Coleraine and Casterton. Mary Ann was a resident of Casterton for about five years and it was there she met her future husband Job Lea. After marriage, she left teaching but Job passed away after two years of marriage, leaving Mary Ann with two babies. After nineteen years, she returned to Portland before opening a store at Condah Swamp, including the first post office there. Condah Swamp was later named Wallacedale, where she resided for twenty-two years. In 1919, she again returned to Portland and remained there until her death. One of Mary Ann’s son, Charles was killed at Gallipoli in 1915.

William BOYLE: Died 3 January 1942 at Camperdown. William Boyle was born in Ireland around 1868 and arrived in Victoria as a 15-year-old. Keen to see Australia, he travelled along the southern coast and then inland, droving stock from Central Australia to the Western District. William later established newsagents in Camperdown that he ran for 50 years. He was also a foundation member of the Camperdown Bowling Club and was playing up until weeks before his death.

Misadventures, Deaths and Near Misses

You have found your ancestor’s date of death, but you are wondering how they died.  You could buy a death certificate, but a certificate for all relatives can be a costly business.  Newspapers are the answer.  With the growing number of Australian newspapers available to search at Trove, there is a good chance you may find an article on your relative’s demise.  In turn, it may lead to an obituary which can also be a wealth of information, but I will discuss those in a future post.

When I began reading old newspapers, I was amazed at the number of deaths and accidents reported, compared to today’s papers.  It seemed even the smallest of accidents could make newspapers right around Australia.  Death reports were explicit and sparing little detail.  However, despite the nature of these reports, I do find them intriguing reading and they can show when, where and how a family member died.  Also accident reports show information that you may never have found otherwise.  I may never have known that my great great grandmother lost the top of her finger or my great great aunt was bitten by a snake.

Horse related accidents were naturally common whether  falls or buggy accidents.  As the years passed, motor cars where the culprits, with many stories of them rolling or hitting trees.  The increasing number of  motor cars also caused some problems for those still using horses as their main source of transport.  Fire was also a common cause of death or accidents.  Candles, coppers and fire places all increased the risk of burns.

Following are some examples of deaths and accidents involving my family members found in the papers at Trove:

Charles Bishop worked at Weerangourt Station, Byaduk,  but I found he also died there.  While chopping wood in 1916,he suffered heart failure and died at the age of 60.   I found this reported in four newspapers.

I feel sorry for poor James Elston.  He died at only 21.  The first article I found on him was in 1901, eight years before he died.  James had broken his leg, but this was the fifth break in two years.  He was sent to the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne.  The Barrier Miner published in Broken Hill reported the accident as a possible record breaker.

A Marino Boy Puts Up a Record. (1901, August 29). Barrier Miner (Broken Hill, NSW : 1888-1954), p. 2. Retrieved June 4, 2011, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article44302344

In March, 1908, James was back in hospital.  He had been thrown from a buggy and fell on a fence.  As a result he fractured his spine between the shoulder blades and was crippled, his condition critical.  In January 1909, it was report that James had succumbed to injuries at the Hamilton Hospital.

Robert McClintock died from heart strain and tetanus as a result of chasing a fox.  This was in 1913 and Robert was only 18.  I decided to search Trove with the phrase “chasing a fox” and it threw up many articles about  deaths and accidents incurred while chasing foxes.  Some had fallen from horses, others accidentally shot by themselves or others died  the way of Robert McClintock.

Jane Diwell’s death in 1909 demonstrates the dangers women faced doing simple housekeeping tasks.  Married to Samuel Hazeldine,  Jane was in a back shed at their home in Murtoa boiling up beeswax and turpentine, when her clothes caught fire.  Despite desperate attempts by her husband to save her, she died from her burns.  Samuel received severe burns to his hands.

Frederick Hazeldine of Murtoa, was watching the eclipse of the sun in 1910, when the 10 year old slipped off a fence and broke his arm

Frank Coulson was only 17 when he met his fate in 1935.  His body was found near Digby.  He had sustained a fractured skull and his pony’s saddle and bridle were lying close by.  Different articles tried to offer and explanation to his death from having been kicked in the head by the pony or haven fallen awkwardly as the pony jumped a fence.

George Gamble lost his life after a cave in at the Colac Brick Works in 1910.  He was dug out but later died at the Colac Hospital,

Mary Jane Hodgins(Mrs Matthew Gamble, below), my great great grandmother,  lost the top of her finger in an accident involving a horse.  Notice that this took place in Colac, Victoria, but was reported as far away as Maitland, New South Wales

GENERAL NEWS. (1877, September 1). The Maitland Mercury & Hunter River General Advertiser (NSW : 1843-1893), p. 7. Retrieved June 4, 2011, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article18829977

In 1906, Amy Margaret Bubb, Mrs Benjamin Combridge, was bitten by a snake which had hidden in a mattress.  Her daughter Amy was darning the mattress and noticed something she thought was mice, moving inside.  She called her mother who hit the mattress and was bitten by a black snake on the wrist.  Young Amy ran to the neighbours’ house almost a kilometre away through paddocks and returned with a Mrs Arklay.  By this time, Amy snr’s arm was black.  Mrs Arklay made an incision and drew black blood from the wound which saved Amy.  This article ran in Tasmania and Adelaide as well as The Argus.

I had known that my great, great, great grandfather William Diwell had died in a fall at the Merino Flour Mill in 1871, but I have since found that he was severely injured three years earlier.  In 1868, the Merino school-house verandah was falling down, so William volunteered to remove it.  Part of the verandah fell on him and his was pulled out suffering a severe head injury.  By all accounts if the full verandah had of fell on him he would have been crushed to death.  He was 43 at the time and I think he may have been lucky to make it 46 when he did die.

The most gruesome article I have ready about one of my family members, is that of my great, great, great grandmother Ellen Barry, Mrs Gamble.  Ellen was a feisty Irish woman, often in the courts and rather fond of a drink.  One night in January 1882, Ellen was home alone in her cottage in Colac, when a fire broke out.  The next day, the coroner found that due to Ellen’s propensity for a tipple, it was most likely she had knocked a candle which started the fire.

A WOMAN BURNT TO DEATH. (1882, January 26). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848-1954), p. 8. Retrieved June 5, 2011, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article11530343

These few examples prove how much you can find out about  your ancestor’s death, not to mention their life before death.  If you are using Trove, it is useful to search  all the papers available because as Mary Jane Hodgins’ accident  shows, incidents can be reported interstate.  You can use filters to narrow your search down, particularly if you have a specific date.

In a future post I will share some of the other articles I have found which don’t relate to my family, but show the value of these stories in developing an understanding of  how precarious life could be for those living in the 19th and early 20th century.  We can also learn how death was considered in those times by the style of writing and the depth of description.  Most importantly for family historians, our ancestors become more than just a one-dimensional date on a page.