Sunday, February 1, 2015

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks #3 - Tough Woman - Hannah Nesbitt (1827-1913)

St Michael's Church, Alnwick, Northumberland

Alnwick is a small market village in the north of Northumberland. It is built near and has serviced Alnwick Castle for around 700 years. 

Alnwick Castle has been the home of one of the most powerful northern barony of England, the Earls of Northumberland and still is the home of the Percy family and the present day Earl of Northumberland. In was in this village that my great great grandmother Hannah Nesbitt was born in early August 1827.

Hannah is the subject of my third blog in the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks category "tough woman". Her story starts in the lush green country side of north of England, living in a small village  on the outskirts of a castle and finishes in the dry and dusty outback of South Australia living in the small copper mining community of Burra. 

Hannah Nesbit - Baptism St Michael's Church, Alnwick, Northumberland

Hannah's baptism, at St Michael's Church, Alnwick, on the 3 August 1827 lists her parents as Anthony Nesbitt and Margaret Ramsay. Anthony's occupation was a commercial traveler. Unfortunately, when Hannah was only 7 years old her father passed away. However, her father's will left the family with a reasonable weekly income and Hannah remained in Alnwick until she married Francis Albert Newman at St Paul's Church, Alnwick on the 1 November 1847.

Soon after their marriage Hannah and Francis Newman moved to Sunbury on the Thames, London. Their first daughter Hannah Martha was born in October 1848 and was baptised at St Mary Church, Sunbury.  It seems that the family was living in or near one of the local pubs as Francis Newman's occupation is listed as publican on Hannah's baptism record
Arrival of Boyne  in SA 1850
Two years later, Francis, Hannah and their daughter left London (9 March 1950), bound for the Australian settlement of Adelaide, South Australia on the "Boyne".*

Little is known about their first couple of years in the colony of Adelaide, however life in this new colony would not have been easy for Francis and Hannah.  Shortly after their arrival, on November 17th 1850, their second daughter Margaret Ramsay was born.

Life was soon to take a difficult turn for Hannah.  Francis decided to seek his fortune in the Victorian Goldfields joining the exodus of males from Adelaide to the goldfields around Ballarat and Bendigo.  Unfortunately, Francis passed away quite soon after his arrival in the gold field. 

His death left his widow, Hannah to fend for herself and their two daughters.  Two years later Hannah married William Herbert, and moved to the Burra.  In the space of six years, Hannah, a young women of 27 years, had left the quiet life of the small village in Northumberland, married, moved to London, borne two daughters, immigrated to a small colony on the other side of the world, lost her husband and remarried. 
Miners Cottage in Bridge Terrace, Burra

Hannah spent the rest of her life living in Burra where she would lived through and seen the fluctuations of prosperity experienced by Burra community and its copper miners and farmers.

William and Hannah had four surviving sons (William, John, Charles and George) who along with Hannah and Martha (daughters from her first marriage) spent their formative years in the Burra Community. William passed away in 1881 and Hannah continued to live with her family in one of the small miners cottages in Bridge Terrace.  

On the 12 January 1913 after a "lingering illness" at the age of 86 Hannah passed away at her home in Burra.  Her death was mourned by her two daughters Hannah and Margaret from her first marriage, her sons John, George and Charles from her second marriage and numerous grandchildren.**

Hannah's Headstone - Burra Cemetery


Monday, January 19, 2015

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks #1: Barbara Martin (1827-1902)

John Bell - Build by Alexander Stephens and sons, Glasgow 1854

This year, I have challenged myself to join Amy Johnson Crow's Challenge - 52 Ancestors in 52 WeeksHopefully this will provide me with incentive to put pen to paper and write a few more family stories. As we are already into the third week of 2015,  I am a little late getting started, however the plan is to to catch up over the next couple of weeks. 

Advertisement for John Bell
This challenge will not only give me the motivation to research family members further, but also help me to connect with other researchers who may be connected  and researching the same family members.

It is my experience that a story shared inevitably links you with other family members. Over the next 12 months I plan to split my 52 ancestor stories over my two blogs, Family Stories, Photographs and Memories, and this blog, The other half of my tree, stories of my female ancestors.

Keeping with the theme "a fresh start" I have chosen to write about my husbands great great grandmother, Barbara Martin (1827-1902). Barbara was the second child of Adam and Janet Martin, and was born in the Scottish moorland village of Carnwath, Lanarkshire, Scotland in March 1827.

The journey from Greenock Scotland to Hobart, Tasmania, Australia in 1855 on the "John Bell"  was most certainly a fresh start for Barbara and her family. Barbara's parents Adam Martin (1800-1875) and Janet Russell (1801-1879), along with her siblings, immigrated to Tasmania as part of the Bounty Ticket System

The Martin Family, included parents Adam and Janet, children Thomas, Barbara, Adam, Margaret, Janet and Jane  (ages ranged between 28 and 14 years of age) left Scotland arriving in December of 1855. Their bounty fare of 22 pounds each was paid in total by a Mr John Walker

Immigration Record  - Adam and Janet Martin and their Family- on the John Bell arriving in Hobart in 1855

Barbara Smith (nee Martin) DC

The Martin Family settled in the rich rural area of New Norfolk Area of Tasmania. Barbara met and married Joseph Smith on the 28 March 1859, and continued to live in the New Norfolk district.  They had five children, Janet, Robert, Margaret, Thomas and my husbands great grandfather William Joseph.

Prior to 1888, Barbara's son William moved to Sydney, New South Wales  and married Elizabeth Sixsmith. It is quite possible that Barbara and Joseph Smith moved to Sydney around the same time as William as Joseph is listed as one of the witnesses on his marriage certificate. 

It has been difficult to discover the latter events in Barbara life, though we do know from her death certificate she spent the last twenty years of her life living in New South Wales.

On the first of February 1902 Barbara passed away at the age of 74.  Her death certificate states that she was living with her son William in Victoria Road, Marrickville.

Though there are still many gaps in Barbara's story, you would definitely have to agree that her story fits well into the "fresh start" category and that in her 74 years she had certainly seen and experienced a full and eventful life.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Sharing Memories - Sibling Sunday

On my blog Family Stories, Photographs and Memories,  I feature a collection of blogs "Sharing Memories". I write these stories, in recognition of the importance of sharing our own stories for later generations and present younger family members.  Today, I write with a little sadness and dedicate this "Sharing Memory" post to my twin sisters Nancy and Larraine.  Two weeks ago, Larraine or Laine as we like to call her passed away after a long illness, to join her sister Nancy, previously deceased. 

Nancy and Larraine were very special people who lived their lives in their own way, pushing some boundaries, and bringing joy to many.  When thinking of them, the wise words of Dr Seuss come mind "Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind".

To celebrate there memory I would like to share some family photos from when we were children.

Twins as babies 

Twins as toddlers
This photo and the two below were taken when we lived on Nuntherungie Station, between White Cliffs and Broken Hill. This was a very different and interesting start to life for a family of four girls.
We did our schooling through "School of the Air" and Blackfriars Correspondence School, and spend out free time wandering the arid bush land and celebrating rainfalls and going on trips with our father in his jeep when he was looking after the stock and fences on the property.

Four Sisters in our new jeans

Four Sisters - outback NSW

I'm glad we had the times together just to laugh and sing a song, seems like we just go started and then before you know it, the times we had together were gone. Dr Seuss.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Matrilineal Monday - Tragic Drowning - Caroline Herbert nee Hornhardt

Early Friday morning on the 7 December 1934 Mr Kenton, a local corporation employee was rowing on the River Torrens, Adelaide, South Australia.  He noticed something floating in the deep water on the southern bank near the Frome Road Bridge (also known as the Albert Bridge). To his dismay it was the fully clothed body of an older women.  He contacted the local Torrens Lake Police Station and they recovered the body of my great grandmother Caroline Herbert

Frome (or Albert) Bridge, Adelaide, South Australia
Caroline or Carrie as she was called by some, was reported missing on the previous evening by her step-daughter Annie Whitehorn. She had been staying with Annie at her home in Prospect for a few months.  She was due to return to Broken Hill where her son Roy Herbert, and step daughter Essel Quinn resided. This return would have been just in time to celebrate her 58th birthday on the 9 December.

An inquest into her death heard that Caroline was very short-sighted, and that the bank of the river near where her body was found was very steep and slippery. A dangerous place for anyone to be walking at night especially if they were shortsighted. A verdict of accidental death was recorded.  

Caroline was born on the 9 December 1871, the town of Narridy in the Clare District of South Australia. She was the second child of Ferdinand (Frederick) Hornhardt (1846-1911) and Martha Barbary (1857-1931). Martha and Frederick lived in a number of districts outside of Adelaide, including Narridy, Teetupa and Wadnamiga, moving their family of eight children from one gold mining site to another.  Finally, around the turn of the century they made the long journey to Kalgoorlie, in Western Australia. I don't believe that Caroline traveled with them to Western Australia, as at this time she would have been in her early twenties.

This period (late 1890's) in Australian History was time of financial difficulty for many families. Years of drought, had driven rural families to the cities. Banks crashed in Australia and internationally. Those who stayed in the country survived by eating possums, rabbits and kangaroos that they trapped. South Australia as with the rest of Australia moved in to a severe economic depression.  There was no government support, and many were evicted from their humble dwellings. These economic hardships could most probably have been the reason Martha and Frederick made the hazardous journey to the gold fields of Western Australia.  Many of the churches stepped in and took on the role of trying to care and provide for the basic needs of the destitute families living in Adelaide.  

One such organisation was The Helping Hand mission that was started in a narrow two storied building on West Terrace, Adelaide.  This home provided for orphans, destitute women and unwed mothers, providing the with meals and clothing and a place to stay. It was here that Caroline gave birth to her first daughter Muriel on the 27 November 1899.  Muriel's birth certificate advises that Caroline was a single mother from the mining town of Burra.  It must have been a very tough time for Caroline, as single mother.  Society place a strong stigma on single mothers, and they were, in general, regarded with disgrace and there was often strong pressure on the mothers to have their child adopted.

John Herbert
It is not clear how Caroline and her small daughter survived the next three years. Maybe she live with relatives in Adelaide, or perhaps was supported by the Helping Hand mission.

About the same time as this my great grandfather John Herbert, also living in Burra, lost his wife Louisa (nee Seaford). Louisa died on the 3 April 1902 (her 30th birthday) from cholera, leaving John with a young family of four children to fend and care for. Early in the following year, on the 5th February, John Herbert married Caroline a Kooringa, Burra.  I wonder if this was an arranged married? A marriage of convenience, for John, someone to help look after his family, and for Caroline a home and the support of a husband?  Did they know each other?  Had Caroline's father, Frederick Hornhardt  met with John and suggested the marriage to his daughter as a solution to his predicament?  So many questions?

In the 1980's when I was first starting to research my family tree I traveled to Adelaide and was so lucky to meet my Great Aunt Annie Whitehorn (nee Herbert) and she recalled "I still remember the day, my Dad came home with a strange lady and a little girl and told us all, "this is your new mother"." It must have been a difficult time for Caroline caring for five small children, four of them still grieving for their mother as well as a husband who was 14 years older than her. Sometime in 1904, Caroline's daughter Muriel,went to live with her grandmother, Martha Hornhardt, in Western Australia. I don't know if she had any further contact with Caroline and her new family.

Burra circa 1905
Before long Caroline and John family expanded with the birth of Jack, Roy (my grandfather) and Lilian. Caroline and John continued to live in the mining town of Burra. John working for the local council. Burra, a small mining town north of Adelaide was the site of one of the world's major copper mines between 1845-1877.  It also served as a transport hub, for the north east of the colony. Following the closing of the mine the district became one of the main wheat growing and wool producing areas of South Australia. The Herbert family would have witnessed many the many changes and fluctuating prosperity of the district.  

The children (Alice, Essel, William (Bob), Annie, from John's first marriage, and Jack, Roy and Lillian from Caroline and John's marriage) grew up in Burra, attending the Burra Model School. John's health was not the best, my Aunt Annie told me she could remember her step mother, heating bags of salt in the oven to ease his pain.  Then on the 5 January 1926, John passed away suddenly.

I believe that following John's death Caroline spent time living with different members of her family, who had married, and moved to live in Adelaide or Broken Hill.   It was on one of these visits to her step daughter Annie that she went for an evening walk and slipped into the Torrens River and drowned.  A tragic ending to her life.


Hook, Milton, "Rescue Homes and Remedies with Water - Adventist Benevolent Work in Australia",, viewed 6 September 2014, 

Historical Times, Burra History Group,, viewed 6 September 2014.

1934 'Prospect Woman's Death From Drowning.', The Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1931 - 1954), 15 December, p. 9, viewed 8 September, 2014,

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Matrilineal Monday - Emily McGregor 1872-19

Emily McGregor's birth details from Family Bible
It has been a while since I put pen to paper (so to speak) and it is time I continued with the stories of the McGregor Sisters.

Emily McGregor 
Emily McGregor is the next McGregor sister  in line and she has a been quite  a stumbling block.  It has been very quiet difficult to find any bits and pieces of information on her life. 

Emily was born on the 30 October 1872, at Bombay on the Shoalhaven River, after the family moved from the Araluen Gold  in the late 1860's.  From reports in the newspapers at this time the gold fields at Araluen weren’t as productive, and so it is possible that James and Margaret McGregor decided to try their luck in the newer gold mining area on the banks of the Shoalhaven River. The family stayed in this district for about eight years before they packed their bags for the “big smoke” and moved the family to live in Booth Street, in the Sydney suburb of Balmain

Balmain Public School *
Emily would have been around 6 years old when they moved. It is very likely that Emily would have attend the “Girls Public School, which was on the other side of the “Pigeon Ground” Reserve for Public recreation, which was across from their home in Booth Street.  

The Campbell St,Presbyterian Church which was quite close to their home and Emily's parents were regular members of the Congregation.  I can just imagine, Emily along with her sisters and brothers walking with their parents through the park across from their home and down the Campbell Street Presbyterian Church in their Sunday best.  It must have been quite a change for them after their life on the Gold Fields.
As I researched the other Emily McGregor's sisters I was able to trace more of their life story by linking it with their husbands residences and employment, and then through their children.  However, Emily remained a spinster, so these avenues were not available. 

Looking through the Census Records, it is noted that around 1930  Emily lived in Shelbourne Street Burwood, Croydon. Later Census records show that Emily moved in with her sister Elizabeth and her husband Arthur Gurney in their home at 11 Looks Close, Balmain East.  Letters that my Nanna received from her Aunt Elizabeth Gurney, also include greetings and well wishes from her Aunt Emily.  

At the time of her death on the 14th December 1957, Emily was still living with her sister and her husband.  

Entry in Family Bible for Emily McGregor's death - 14 December 1957
* Picture from: Balmain Association Inc., viewed 18/7/2014.
** Family Stories: Photographs and Memories,, viewed 19/7/2014

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Sorting Saturday - Genealogical Spring Cleaning

“How did it get so late so soon? It's night before it's afternoon. December is here before it's June. My goodness how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon? ..... Dr Seuss

In the words of Dr Seuss, time has flown by.  It certainly has been a while since I have posted a blog!!! However, even though I haven't written much lately, I have been very busy collecting and researching.  Over the past couple of months I have had the good fortune to connect with a number of my cousins, who have been able to provide me with the most amazing family tree information, photos, post cards an letters.  I am a present doing a Genealogical Spring Clean, sorting and filing all the scanned files that I have on a number of usb sticks.  Very time consuming, however, there is light the end of the tunnel.

I have spend this afternoon working through the scanned photos from one of my Aunt's albums and amongst these photos is a beautiful photo of my grandmother Christina Lee, when she would have been around 20 years old.  The picture is of Christina Lee, with her brother (Clyde Lee)'s wife Hilda in the Blue Mountains.  

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Sentimental Sunday - Christina McGregor 1870-1901

Christia Sterland (nee McGregor) and Family

I have always wondered why my Grandmother Christina Sterland Lee (1901-1984) was called Christina Sterland and where her unusual middle name of Sterland came from.  

Then when I began to research the McGregor Sisters, I realised that she had been names after her Aunt Christina Sterland (nee McGregor).17th May 1901.

Sadly Christina Sterland (nee McGregor) passed away at the tender age of  30 on the 17th May 1901 and my grandmother was born only twelve days after her death (29 May) and her sister Catherine Lee, still in mourning,  named her new baby daughter Christina Sterland Lee.
McGregor Home - Balmain

Like her sisters Christina was born in the mining town of Araluen in the Braidwood district of southern New South Wales. Soon after her birth James and Margaret McGregor moved their family from the gold fields of Araluen to try their luck at a little further away at Bombay on the Shoalhaven River. 

During the 1870-1872 times in the gold fields of Araluen had become quite tough. Little gold was found and many families moved on to different areas.  This may have been the reason that the James McGregor decided to move his family to Bombay Creek. Christina would have been eight years old when the family finally moved to the Sydney suburb of Balmain. 

 In 1892, at the age of 22 Christina married a widower, Mr Thomas Arthur Sterland, who had lost his first wife of five years in the previous year.  Christina and Thomas lived in Thomas's greengrocer store on the corner of  Darling Street and Nelson St, Balmain and Christina became step mother to Thomas's small son Albert.   Christina and Thomas had three children of their own, Leslie, Stanley and Roy.  The photo above shows the children and their parents. 

Tragically, in the year after this picture was taken Christina passed away leaving Thomas with a young family of four children to look after. Christina's  funeral left their home in Balmain for the "Field of Mars Cemetery".  I recenly visited her grave which is next to the grave of her parents James and Margaret McGregor. It must have been a shock to Thomas and the McGregor family to lose a wife and sister as such a young age.  In the space of fifteen years Thomas has lost two wives and baby from his first marriage. Thomas remarried a couple of years later to Sarah Parks and they remained married until he passed away in 1954.
Christina's Grave - Field of Mars Cemetery