It’s now 158 years since by Great Great Grandmother, Susan Kelleher, arrived in South Australia from Ireland, aboard the ill-fated Nashwauk and I was wondering what life was like for Susan, after her arrival? Did she often reflect back to the night of the wreck? Did she remember the Anniversary of that traumatic event as she made a life for herself in this foreign land?… Of course, we can never know the answers to these questions but I decided to use TROVE, and look through our digitised Australian newspapers, to get a sense of what was happening in the area where Susan made her home on the 15th Anniversary of the Wreck of the Nashwauk… 13 May 1870.
On her arrival in South Australia, Susan was initially housed in the German Hospital, Carrington Street, Adelaide and transported 4 months later to the newly established “Clare Servants Depot”, in the mid north of South Australia, from which she was employed by Mr Bryden, near Skillogalee Creek, at 5/- a week.
Four months later, on 17 Jan 1866, Susan married Edward Nicholls and they had three daughters, Catherine Ann, Mary Anne and Margaret Nicholls. On 20 Oct 1860, when Margaret was only 2 1/2 months old, Edward died of Bronchitis and was buried at his workplace, Bungaree Station. The following year Susan, who was working as a Dressmaker, purchased land at Armagh (just outside of the township of Clare) and settled in a home there with her 3 daughters.
On 7 Feb 1864, after almost 3 1/2 years as a Widow, Susan married a near neighbour Timothy Rowen. By the time of the 15th Anniversary of her arrival, and the shipwreck, Susan had added to her family with 3 more children: Bridget, Eliza Jane (my great grandmother) and her only son Andrew Rowen. She did go on to have another 2 children, Susan and Mary Ellen, but on 13 May 1870 Susan had been widowed, remarried, given birth to only 6 children of her 8 children and still lived at Armagh on the outskirts of the township of Clare with her husband and children.
Their local paper was the Northern Argus and this is what I found on Pages 1 and 2 which I expect would have been of interest to Susan and her husband, Timothy Rowen, as they worked and provided for their 6 children.
On page 3 I found this letter which shows that even 143 years ago the young were irritating their elders with “rowdy” behaviour.
So thanks to TROVE I have a snapshot of what daily life was like for Susan on the 15th Anniversary of her arrival and wonder if, in her busy life, she took a moment to reflect on her unusual landing in this new, and foreign, country.
Copyright © 2013. Catherine Ann Crout-Habel