FAMILY HISTORY THROUGH THE ALPHABET CHALLENGE
It’s a crisp Autumn morning in Adelaide, South Australia and I wake with the memory of “Baby Crout” nudging through my sleep be-fuddled brain. No more dithering, no more doubting, no more questioning for clearly “the little man” is the Bb for my “Family History Through the Alphabet Challenge”. His story is rather sad, as are many, but always reminds me of the care and com-passion which so often resides in the hearts of strangers.
Over 41 years ago, through the anguish and confusion of my baby boy’s unexpected death, I glimpsed a side of my father never seen before. He was grief stricken and inconsolable. Many years later, when mum told me the story of “Baby Crout”, I understood.
It was April 1934 and the “Great Depression” continued to cause great hardship but Harry Scarborough Crout and Constance Elsie Evans, married 13 Jul the previous year, were eagerly awaiting the birth of their first child – a new life, a new beginning and re-newed hope for the future. Connie, sufferring from “pre-eclampsia”, was being treated by Dr Porter at the Port Adelaide Casualty, which was the only medical care available to the wife of a long term unemployed worker when, on the 21st April she went into labour and was delivered of a stillborn baby boy at the Queen’s Home, Rose Park, South Australia.
Mum was ony 9 years old, Connie, her beloved half-sister, was 20 and Dad had just turned 22 when this tragedy struck. He’d only been in Australia for 6 years and most of this was spent in New South Wales, or “humping the bluey” around this wide brown land and sometimes “jumping the rattlers” and/or coastal steamers searching for work and to avoid being sent to a “work camp” in the bush.
So, as he was leaving the hospital and the nurse handed him a shoebox telling him to “take it to West Terrace” he had no idea of the significance of those words. Trudging the 14kms home to 6 Denman Street, Exeter, where they were living with “Cousin Lizzie” she certainly knew the significance of the shoebox dad had placed on the kitchen table and put out the call, “Get Fred!”… Grandpa, Connie’s loved Step- father, harnessed the horse & buggy and took Dad and “Baby Crout” to the West Terrace Cemetery where our precious little boy was interred in a “pauper’s mass grave”, under the name “Baby Crout”. To add to Dad grief his beloved wife took her own life, in an excrutiating way two months later, by swallowing Lysol.
No doubt the unexpected death of his baby Grandson, Jarren Vaughan Habel, 36 years later brought many of those horrific memories flooding back.
Mum and I often lamented that “Baby Crout” had no grave or memorial then, one day in 1995, there was the newspaper article – Mr David McGowan, the West Terrace Cemetery Manager, announced the creation of a “Baby Memorial”,
“…to acknowledge the 30,000 children who died at birth, or soon after, and their parents who grieved in silence for so long.”
Following the instructions, I soon located “Baby Crout’s” burial site at “Cemetery Extension, Path 4, Plot 6”. The “Cemetery Extension” a field at the rear of the cemetery which had been used as a site for mass graves from the 1920’s up to the 1980’s. This link will take you to the West Terrace Cemetery website where you can access the map, view the position of the “Baby Memorial” and the Photo Gallery. The mass burial site (Cemetery Extension) is marked “Road 5”, adjacent to the “Light Oval A.I.F.”
On Thursday 7 Mar 1996, at 7.30pm and assisted by Mr McGowan, I quietly laid a bronze leaf engraved;
21 April 1934
SON OF CONNIE (NEE EVANS) AND HARRY CROUT
CEM EXT. PATH 4. PLOT 6
Although invited to the Formal Dedication Ceremony, the following Sunday, I had no need to attend. My heart, and mum’s, were at peace knowing our little boy had been claimed and acknowledged. This “heart’s ease” was only possible because of the work of David McGowan, and his supporters who were distressed by over 30,000 little bodies who lay in the forgotten fields at West Terrace Cemetery. Below is his description of the Baby Memorial they created.
Thankyou Mr David McGowan
Copyright © 2012. Catherine Crout-Habel. “Seeking Susan ~ Meeting Marie ~ Finding Family