A few weeks ago one of Amy Johnson Crow’s posts for #52ancestors was the topic
I decided to do a count of those children who died under the age of five that I have listed in my database at home. This database is gathered from other people from family reunions and emails so not necessarily verified by proper sources.
Here are the results out of just over 7700 names.
Immediate or within two months of birth – 37
Under 3 years – 39
Under 5 years – 7
Most were from the 18th or 19th centuries but a few were from the 20th century. I don’t have birth or death dates for everyone in the database but these results are from those who had both dates included.
As most are not my immediate line back, I haven’t got records of cause of death. I am gradually adding that to my new database where everything has been verified with sources.
Readers: Do you have many deaths of infants in your tree? How are they remembered in your family?
Mary Dixon nee Pickering was a very strong woman who travelled from London to Tasmania, a three month journey over seas and oceans, when she was pregnant with my great great grandmother Anne Dixon. Mary and her husband David also had a child under three years old with them.
Through possible DNA matches, it appears both David and Mary lived and met near Hull in East Riding of Yorkshire. I have found possible births matching them both in Hull area at the right time period.
So far there is no marriage record found but on the arrivals index held at the Tasmanian Archives and found online through Libraries Tasmania, there is one married male adult, one married female adult and one female child under 3 arriving under the name David Dixon, aged 24 and a farm servant. Source CB7/9/1/1/ page 15 – TAHO
They were supposedly 45 bounty immigrants on board (but I think children were counted twice under age and sex) and David and his family went to the property of Mr Stevenson at Curramore near Launceston. The date of the application for bounty immigrants was 22 June 1840 and they arrived in Launceston from London on the ship Andromeda on 30 August 1841. Four months later my great great grandmother was born.
It was in 1840 when the assignment system for convicts was changed to a probation system. Settlers now didn’t have convicts assigned to them immediately so many needed to have skilled farm servants, blacksmiths etc brought over from England to work their farms. Working as a farm servant or shepherd could be difficult in Van Diemens Land (VDL) at that time with many reports of attack by bushrangers, escaped convicts or aboriginals. Mary, who was three months pregnant, and her two young daughters were involved in one robbery incident early in their time in VDL as mentioned in this newspaper report.
Over the next 11 years four more children were born to the couple Eliza Rachel in 1843, Hannah 1846, Thomas 1850 and Sarah 1852. Sadly Sarah only lived three weeks and died of influenza in mid December in Evandale where the family were now living.
In 1853, there was a David Dixon departing on the ship Clarence to Melbourne from Launceston. I could only find one David Dixon residing in Tasmania at that time, so am assuming he is my great great great grandfather. Elizabeth Dixon, the eldest daughter, was married in 1862 near Ballarat in Victoria so maybe this is where David headed to.
By 1869, David had either disappeared maybe to the goldfields of Victoria or had died and Mary was now considering herself a widow. She had a double wedding with her daughter Hannah. Mary Dickson married George Histead who was a widower, while Hannah Dickson married Jesse Lloyd a bachelor. The event took place at the manse in Evandale. Richard Burton, the husband of Rachel, was also there as a witness.
After 14 years of her second marriage, Mary Istead died age 69 in Perth, Tasmania in 1883 from inflammation of the lungs, and two years later George followed with death from disease of the liver.
Looking at the occupation of many of my direct male relatives, I find that farmer and miner were the most common. Those who were miners were either in the north east of Tasmania or on the west coast of Tasmania. This week I will look at one person in the north east where you can find a trail of the tin dragon between Launceston and St Helens.
Tin was the main mineral found in this area of Tasmania but there was some gold and coal as well. By the mid 1870’s, there were over a dozen towns built up around tin mining. The most important of these was Derby and the Briseis Tin Mine which closed in 1956. But in 1929, there was a terrible mining disaster in Derby.
In the 1870’s, tin was fetching £40 – £50 per ton. In 1927 it was up to £297/18/11 but a year later had dropped to £227/11 per ton. Prosperous tin mining was now in decline.
Whenever our family stayed at St Helens for holidays, we would always head to Derby for the day to look over the school house museum and check out the history of mining in the area at the tin mine centre. Or we would check out Gould Country and the Blue Tier, bashing our way through ferns and scrub to where dad thought some mining equipment, especially stampers, could be found.
Relatives in the North East at Lottah
But for my family history it was the area of the Blue Tier and Lottah township that was important as that is where my supposed great great grandfather Thomas Somers/Summers worked as a miner according to the birth certificate of my great grandmother Nellie Somers and her siblings. Georges Bay is now known as St Helens in the district of Portland.
The only time Thomas is mentioned in person is on the above certificate; the siblings certificates do not have a fathers name mentioned except Kate’s. So there is some confusion as to who might be the true father of Nellie’s siblings – is it Thomas Somers or John West Clark? What happened in the four years between Nellie’s birth in 1889 and Kate’s in 1893? Why the name change for father?
Kate Clarke born 4 Feb 1893 parents as West Clarke and Alice O’Keefe Clarke then baptised as Kate Clarke on 28 March 1893 with parents John Clarke and Alice Clarke
William Henry Somers born 6 Dec 1894 but baptised as William Henry Clark on 28 Jan 1895 parents as Wes Clark and Alice Somers
Jessie May Somers born 15 May 1897 but baptised as Jessie May Clark on 14 Dec 1898 parents as John West Clark and Alice O’Keefe
Joseph Edward Somers born 30 Oct 1898 but baptised as Joseph Edward Clark on 14 Dec 1898 parents as John West Clark and Alice O’Keefe
Herbert Francis Somers born 4 Feb 1901 with mother as Alice Somers O’Keefe and her having been married in 1885 in Melbourne but no father for Herbert.
DNA has proved my father is related to William Henry Somers/Clark and at least four of his descendants as full 2nd cousins or 2C1R or the amount of cMs also mean they could be half cousins. So with Alice O’Keefe/Somers/Clark as the common parent we still can’t be sure of the fathers.
I can’t find any marriage for Alice O’Keefe to either Thomas Somers/Summers or John West Clark(e) in Melbourne or anywhere else in Australia.
According to Kate Crellin nee Clark’s death notice she had 4 sisters and 3 brothers. So who are Alice Clark, Mary Clark and Emily Clark? Who are their parents and where were they born?