TROVE TUESDAY: Susan’s first 15 years in South Australia…

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.

Back in Time

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.

TROVE. Northern Argus 13May1870p.1

TROVE. Northern Argus 13May1870p.2

On page 3 I found this letter which shows that even 143 years ago the young were irritating their elders with “rowdy” behaviour.

TROVE. Northern Argus 13May1870p.3

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.

Many thanks to Amy Houston, of Branches, Leaves & Pollen, for initiating the TROVE TUESDAY Theme.  Please click HERE to visit Amy’s Blog and HERE to read the contributions of others.



Copyright © 2013. Catherine Ann Crout-Habel 

12 thoughts on “TROVE TUESDAY: Susan’s first 15 years in South Australia…

    • ha ha ha… you’re so right Sheryl. Intrigued I discovered that “Tommy Dodd” was a music hall ditty of the era but haven’t been able to find the “words” to it…

  1. Tough luck. 😦 Settling down in a new land and you get shipwrecked along hte way. And then she’s widowed. Sheesh! I would love to have heard her reflections, as well. At least you have Trove. Wishful thinking, I know, but I’ve always thought how wonderful it would be to discover any possible journals kept my ancestors. Great post!

    • Glad you enjoyed it J.G… yep, my Susan sure had it tough and it actually gets worse 😦 but she was a brave and courageous woman and always did the best by her children and especially her Grandaughter , Elizabeth Tait. You might enjoy reading about Lizzie in my “Family History Through the Alphabet” series… it’s title is “Cc is for – Cousin Lizzie”.

    • Thanks Marisa… it is amazing. I’ve just set up a Facebook Group “Friends of the Nashwauk” and am going to try to find as many descendants as I can of the girls who came out on the Nashwauk with my Susan. Hopefully, in 2015 we’ll be able to have a commemoration of their arrival … that’s if I’m not “pushing up daisies” by then too… 😀 ha ha ha…

  2. Count me in Catherine,love,love,love your blogs (?) From one decendant of Susan’s to another,You are too busy to be pushing up daisies by then.Wyn

    • Whooo Hooo!!! How fabulous to hear from you Wyn. We’ve obviously been doing that Irish “thingo”… because you’ve been on my mind and I’ve been thinking “I must email Wynn” and tell her about my plans”… and here you are 🙂
      Brilliant!!! … well I have just turned my mind back to the matter after spending so much time trying to keep Susan’s daughter, Eliza Jane, in the ground at Cheltenham Cemetery… but that’s another story 🙄
      Last night I started transcribing the Passenger List for the Clare Roots Society, in Ireland, and got permission from Janet Callen to include her info about where the girls went, after they arrived. So, we must email and I hope you’ll be able to help me research and begin to track down the descendants of the Nashwauk passengers. In the meantime, enjoy my stories about Susan and family… oh, meant to mention that a descendant of Susan’s son, Andrew, contacted me through the blog and was delighted to be able to tell her Grandfather the true story of Andrew… The family story was vague and they thought he had been on the run from the police, or something similar… You may have read the true story of Andrew in “Of Scabs and Riots…” I like to think that Susan is pleased that I set the record straight about her only son.
      Bye for now. It’s been one of those days 😦 … so hearing from you is a huge cheer up. Thanks… xxx

      • Nashwauk shipwreck Johanna/Judith Shea and Mary Shea from Kilkenny.
        I am Searching for information about Thomas Ebenezer Foulkes 1821-1909 (Kent town Norwood SA) and Mary Shea (1833-1917) who married in South Australia in 1863. A daughter Mary Anne died 1867 aged 3 and a son Thomas William Foulkes married in Norwood South Australia in 1914 to a Ada Wagner. Mary was from Kilkenny Ireland.
        I believe that Mary Shea was the relative of a Johanna/Judith Shea from Kilkenny Ireland. Johanna/Judith’s father was Michael and Mary’s father was William. The girls both arrived in SA as Irish servant girls on the Nashwauk shipwreck of 1855. Johanna/Judith Shea married a Thomas Castle in SA in 1858 and the following year moved to Sydney where she and her partner John Bentley had 10 children and settled in Katoomba NSW. Johanna died in 1917 and a newspaper article describes how John Bentley mounted police officer of SA rescued her in 1855 and how they married and settled in Katoomba NSW. John Bentley was the son of a James Bentley and Elizabeth Chatterton who immigrated from London to SA on a ship called the Cheapside in 1849.
        An Adelaide Supreme Court case later indicated that Johanna’s Catholic marriage to Thomas Castle in SA in 1858 was bogus due to her partnership with Protestant John Bentley!
        Interestingly Johanna/Judith Bentley (1838-1917) died in Katoomba in 1917 and Mary Foulkes died in SA also in 1917!
        Any help/ info about these SA families appreciated! Kind Regards Sandra (Sydney Australua)

      • Hi Sandra,

        Sorry, I’m not able to assist. Best wishes on your search.


  3. Pingback: Susan, Edward and Bungaree Station… | Seeking Susan ~ Meeting Marie ~ Finding Family

  4. Have found this Internet description today (07-04-2014). Interesting reading. June Rundle is a decendant of Catherine Hennesey who also went to the Clare Servant Depot. We have an extensive Family Tree of catherines decendants. June and Peter Rundle of Seaford, South Aust.

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