Cc – is for Cousin Lizzie

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”

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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.

Bungaree Homestead – 1863

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.

Broken Hill, New South Wales, Australia

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.

Barrier Miner- 9 April 1934, page 2

 MEMORIAM

ROWEN – In loving memory of my
dear grandmother, Susan Rowen, 
who passed away on April 9, 1922, at
Broken Hill.

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
daughter L.Tait 
~~~~~~~~~ 

FURTHER RESOURCES: http://www.trove.nla.gov.au

Copyright (c) 2012. C.A.Crout-Habel. Seeking Susan ~ Meeting Marie ~ Finding Family

Of Scabs & Riots

 

“Rowan should be thankful that he was not standing his trial for murder. The sentence of the court was that 

      ANDREW ROWAN 

be imprisoned, on the charge of riot for a term of nine months’ with hard labor; and on the charge of assault for a period of 18 months with hard labor.  The sentences would be concurrent; so that Rowan would really only serve 18 months.  He hoped that the prisoner would appreciate the light sentence passed upon him.” 1.

 The words of Judge Gibson, as reported in 1892 in the Broken Hill newspaper, Barrier Miner, shocked me into further investigation.  Whatever led my Great Grand Uncle, only son of Susan Kelleher/ Nicholls/ Rowan, to the dock at the Court of Quarter Sessions that fateful November morning?

I discovered that Broken Hill, in the arid north-west of New South Wales near the Barrier Ranges, developed as a mining town after Charles Rasp,  a boundary rider/station hand for the Mount Gipps sheep station studied a ‘black craggy hilltop’ which he believed to contain black oxide of tin. The first shaft (the Rasp Shaft) was sunk on this hill in January 1885 with the Broken Hill Mining Company formed on 25 April, becoming The Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited on 3 June 1885. It is for this hill (since mined away) that the town is named.

Unionism was introduced in the area at nearby Silverton, on 20 September 1884, with the resolution:

 ‘That this meeting deem it advisable to form a Miners’ Association, to be called the Barrier Ranges Miners’ Association’  and with the object to form ‘a Friendly Society, to afford succor to members who sustained injury as the result of a mining accident.’

Following the adoption of the Australian Trade Union Acts, the Miners’ Association was reconstituted as a branch of the Amalgamated Miners’ Association of Australasia. The Broken Hill mining population had grown to 3000 and it was estimated that unionists out-numbered non-unionists in the town by a factor of 7:1. 

Broken Hill’s first mining strike occurred in 1889 as a result of the trade union ultimatum that members not be made to work with non-unionised workers. As economic depression threatened Australia in 1892 and the values of silver and lead (mined at Broken Hill) declined, the Broken Hill companies attempted to increase profits through the use of contract workers in direct breach of their industrial agreement.  

It has been said that the union argued against contract mining on the basis that it had the potential to ‘encouraged dangerous practices’, penalise the weaker miners and created dissent between the miners through providing conditions where miners could earn greatly varying amounts depending on their abilities.  Furthermore, worker anxiety ran high in Broken Hill due to the living and working conditions which included the difficulty of mitigating the risk of lead poisoning and the danger of cave-in due to poorly excavated mines. Tailings left in huge piles around the town added to the toxic dust which caused lead poisoning and pneumoconiosis and added to the concerns of both the miners and their families. 

Andrew Rowan, 22 years old, recently married to Margaret Crowder and the father of 7 month old Richard Patrick was an underground miner.  Along with smelters/ furnacementhe underground miners were most at risk of plumbism/ lead poisoning

“through working underground in poorly ventilated stopes where water was too scare a commodity to be used to moisten the face.” 3. 

On 3 July a 6000 strong meeting called for immediate strike action and on 16 August the mining companies issued a statement that as from 25 August the mines would be open to non-union labour.  To the striking miners these workers were “scabs”, the company referred to them as “free labour”.

Fearing an outbreak of violence against the strike-breakers, the mining companies sought and received the support of police in readiness for the opening of the mines with over 100 foot police and mounted troopers despatched from Sydney. The striking workers, and supporters, protested with a street march. The first train load of contract workers arrived on 10 September 1892, and were met with violence and hostility from the local men and women. This conflict continued over the coming days and police resistance also escalated.

On Saturday, 29 October 1892, Andrew Rowan was amongst;  

“a large crowd of about 400 persons assembled near the South mine, and as soon as the free laborers (seven in number) from the South mine appeared on their way home they were assailed by yells and hooting ; when the laborers got near the crowd they were surrounded by men, women, and children, yelling,  ‘We’ll give it to you,’  ‘Blacklegs’ ‘Scabs’ &c …” 4.

Hostilities increased and, on 3 November 1892, seven men (including Andrew Rowan) charged with creating a riot.  My Great Grand Uncle was also accused of assaulting a Police Constable despite denying throwing the stone which caused the injury. He was found guilty and sentenced to 18 months imprisonment with hard labour. However the last of “the South rioters” Andrew Rowan and William McLennan  were released on 28 August 1893 after serving nine months. It was considered that:

“under all  the circumstances surrounding the commission of the offence, and considering the complete restoration of order at Broken Hill that a substantial remission of these sentences may now be fairly made.” 5.

The strike was officially abandoned on 8 November 1892 and the contract labour leading to the strike remained at the Broken Hill mines.

Andrew Rowan, the only son of Susan Kelleher/ Nicholls and Timothy Rowan, was born and raised in the Clare Valley, South Australia, on 19 February 1870.  At 14 he was employed by the Beetaloo Waterworks, South Australia and then spent 2 years of pastoral pursuits in NSW. Some 10 years were spent Underground Mining in BrokenHill, New South Wales. It would seem that his experiences of the 1892 Strike, riot and imprisonment soured his taste for mining and, with his young family, left Broken Hill after his release from prison for his second son, Charles James Rowan, was born at Talia, on the West Coast of South Australia, 2 July 1894.

Andrew was one of the pioneering farmers in the Talia area, but that’s another story to be told on another day.  Suffice to say he and Margaret went on to have another three children, Marie Ilene, Andrew Peter and Margaret Teresa Rowan. All born at Talia. His son Andrew Peter Rowan, continued farming on the West Coast and died in Wudinna, South Australia on 27 November 1957.

Margaret pre-deceased Andrew, dying at Minnipa in South Australia on 3 March 1938. It would seem that Andrew then went to live in Queensland with his son, Charles James Rowan, for he passed away in Brisbane on 14 August 1945 at the age of 75.  

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 1 Barrier Miner (Broken Hill, NSW : 1888 – 1954), Thursday, 24 November 1892, page 2.
2 Wikipedia  http://en.wikipedia.org
3 Kennedy, Brian. “Silver, Sin and Sixpenny Ale”,  Melbourne University Press, 1978
4 Barrier Miner (Broken Hill, NSW : 1888 – 1954), Thursday 3 November 1892, page 3
5 Barrier Miner (Broken Hill, NSW : 1888 – 1954), Monday 28 August 1893, page 2 

Copyright (c) 2012  Catherine Crout-Habel