FAMILY HISTORY THROUGH THE ALPHABET CHALLENGE
Cc was always going to be about cousins. I have a rather interesting bunch. Some I never knew existed, like the “Crout half-cousins” in Canada and the “Crout full-cousins” in the United States. Then there are the “Ogilvie cousins” I’m now in contact with via the internet; one still living in the “old country”, Leeds, England and his Uncle who migrated down here to the “antipodes” in the 1960’s. The seafaring “Hampshire Crout cousins” make an interesting read with a couple of “kissing cousins” thrown into the mix and there are the “Murray cousins”, here in South Australia, with whom I’ve just re-connected after near on 60 years.
However, it’s “Cousin Lizzie” who has “taken the yellow jersey” and for three reasons:
* The Last Will & Testament of “my Susan“ features her prominently
* She’s been on my mind since writing about “Baby Crout“ last week
* It’s become apparent that many relatives are not clear about where “Cousin Lizzie” fits into the family, nor what it is that made her “different/ special”
Cousin Lizzie is the Grand-daughter of Susan Kelleher and an integral part of my Family History.
On 13 May 1855 Susan, aged 18, arrived in South Australia from County Clare, Ireland, aboard the ill-fated “Nashwauk”. She and her sister, Bridget, took up service in the Mid-North of the state – the Clare Valley – and on 13 Jan 1856 Susan married Edward Nicholls. They had three daughters;
Catherine Ann Nicholls – abt 1856
Mary Ann Nicholls – 29 Oct 1858
Margaret Nicholls – 5 Aug 1860
Sadly Edward died of pneumonia, just 4 years after marrying, and is buried at his workplace, Bungaree Station, Clare, South Australia.
Four years after the death of Edward, Susan married Timothy Rowen at St Michaels Church, Clare, South Australia. They had 4 daughters and 1 son;
Bridget Rowen – 22 Dec 1864
Eliza Jane Rowen – 1 May 1867
Andrew Rowen – 19 Feb 1870
Susan Rowen – 23 Jul 1872
Mary Ellen Rowen – 6 Oct 1874
I’m related through Susan and Timothy’s second daughter, Eliza Jane Rowen, who is my Great Grandmother. Cousin Lizzie is from Susan’s first marriage to Edward Nicholls. Her mother is their youngest child, Margaret.
Only two of Susan’s three daughters, from her first marriage, survived childhood. Their second daughter, Mary Ann died of “Heart Disease” on 12 Sep 1874, aged 15, just one month before her mother gave birth to the youngest child, Mary Ellen. Their eldest daughter, Catherine Ann, married William Walsh. They had 5 children, 4 survived childhood and went on to create a long line of Walsh/Nicholls descendants.
By all accounts Cousin Lizzie’s mother, Margaret Nicholls, had a sad and traumatic life. On 9 Mar 1875 , at the age of 15, Margaret was the plaintiff in a Court Case against her step-father Timothy Rowen. My Grandmother, Eliza Jane Rowen, was just 8 years old and a witness. The “Northern Argus, March 23, 1875” reports,
“Timothy Rewin (sic), who was indicted of an offence against the person at Armagh, on February 7, pleaded not guilty, and as the evidence of the prosecutrix did not agree with the medical testimony, the jury were directed to acquit the prisoner which was accordingly done.”
The court document reads,
“Plea Not Guilty – Verdict by direction of His Hon. the Chief Justice, Not Guilty”.
It seems that, after the Court Case, my Grandfather became estranged from the family. Their home at Armagh (outside of Clare) was sold and Susan moved, with her children, to Laura where they remained until 1887 when she moved to Broken Hill, New South Wales taking the youngest children with her. Over the years, many of the older children also settled in Broken Hill.
Shortly after Susan and the children moved to Laura her daughter, Margaret, married Scottish Immigrant, John William Tait, at St Johns Catholic Church, Laura, South Australia. Margaret and John had 5 children,
Catherine Jane Tait – 25 Jul 1880
Elizabeth Ann (Cousin Lizzie) Tait – 10 Jul 1882
John Edward Tait – 29 Aug 1884
Agnes Melinda Tait – 12 Oct 1886
Margaret Ellen Tait – 19 May 1889
Only Cousin Lizzie and her sisters, Catherine Jane and Margaret Ellen, survived childhood. John died at the age of 18 months and Agnes when she was 6.
As all of their children were born at Laura, it seems that Margaret and John continued to live there until 1889-1892 when they moved to Broken Hill. I believe they moved to “the Silver City” because this is where Agnes Melinda died but this needs to be verified as they may have been visiting her mother/ family at the time.
What happened next in Cousin Lizzie’s life is open to conjecture. She would have been about 7-10 years old when the family re-settled and it seems her life would have been quite difficult for, on 17 Mar 1989, my mother wrote,
“… They had a daughter named Elizabeth but who within the family was always called “Cousin Lizzie”. She was rather deaf but understood if you spoke loudly. I rather think she lip-read, she had a speech impediment due to the mid-wife who delivered her deciding to snip under her tongue believing other-wise the baby would be tongue-tied. (this practice I believe was not unusual in those days)”
To read about “ankytoglossia”, the problems it can cause and the ways in which it’s treated, even today, just click here.
Mum talked, and wrote, about how it was said that Cousin Lizzie’s father rejected her because of this impediment. Also that he deserted the family and divorced Cousin Lizzie’s mother who then took her own life. I was told how Susan took custody of her Grand-daughter, caring for, loving her and leaving her well provided for so she would never be “without a roof over her head.”
Aware that there are always “two sides” to any story, I’m always reluctant to pass on negative “family stories” but this one needs to be told, given the contents of Susan Rowen’s “Last Will & Testament” which arrived in my “Dropbox” just last week. Susan did indeed leave all her worldly goods to her Grand-daughter and makes it very clear that she had “issue” with Cousin Lizzie’s father when she writes that the legacy is,
“… for her use and benefit absolutely and I desire that she shall have no dealings whatever with her father or sisters,
and if the said Elizabeth Ann Tait cannot make her home with her Aunt Susan I desire that she be placed in a Catholic Home in Adelaide. I want a quiet respectable burial.”
Cousin Lizzie did go on living with Aunt Susan for many years after her Grandmother’s death. They arranged her gravesite memorial and, I have it on good authority, they both continued to tend Susan Kelleher Nicholls Rowen’s grave, in the Broken Hill Cemetery, for many years to come … along with Aunt Susan’s daughter, Ann.
I have yet to discover when Aunt Susan died and when Cousin Lizzie moved from Broken Hill to the Port Adelaide district, in South Australia. What I do know is that she was a strong minded woman, living on her own means and in her own home at 6 Denman Place, Exeter in April 1934 because this is when my dad and his first wife, Connie, were living with her. My understanding is that she continued to lived contentedly and independently, with family nearby, until her death at the age of 60 on 15 May 1943 in South Australia.
Although Cousin Lizzie faced many challenges, especially as a young child, she certainly was not a “dunce” or a “dummy”, as many seem to think. It appears that her father did indeed have difficulty coming to terms with his second daughter’s “impediments” but her mother’s family gathered her to themselves … loving, caring and supporting her till the end of her days.
Elizabeth Ann Tait’s feelings for her Grandmother are very clear in the Memorium Notices she placed in newspapers, both in Broken Hill and Adelaide, for many years. The notice below is but one example.
ROWEN – In loving memory of my
dear grandmother, Susan Rowen,
who passed away on April 9, 1922, at
Always deep down in my heart,
Where love burns bright and true;
There’s a light that will burn forever,
In memory, dear grandmother of you.
Inserted by her loving grand
FURTHER RESOURCES: http://www.trove.nla.gov.au
Copyright (c) 2012. C.A.Crout-Habel. Seeking Susan ~ Meeting Marie ~ Finding Family