Moreover, my ancestors' souls are sustained by the atmosphere of the house, since I answer for them the questions that their lives once left behind. I carve out rough answers as best I can. I have even drawn them on the walls. It is as if a silent, greater family, stretching down the centuries, were peopling the house.
Carl Jung (1875 - 1961)
Saturday, 29 June 2013
This is one of several clippings kept by the family, and taken from newspapers of 1925 when Sarah Ellen Lodge sister to Elizabeth, now Sarah Ellen Clarkson, died. There are a number of inaccuracies in the reporting - birth date out by a day, the 'Maori Pa' baptism reference not verified, and she was definitely not the 'first white child' born at all. There may well be some truth that there was competition for the gift of land, though. The interesting piece of information for me was that the Lodge family apparently went to Australia when Sarah was 10 (another version says she was 9 years old). The first ships came to Lyttelton in December 1850, so if they arrived back about that time, they were in Australia for a matter of months only. Unfortunately records of shipping are not available until 1852. I have combed the newspapers but not found a reference to the Lodge family leaving or coming home in the Lady Bird. Elizabeth would have been about 15 or 16 at this time.
When I searched the Australian marriage index, I found that Elizabeth married James Ralph in Melbourne, on the 1st May, 1854. The marriage registration gave her address as 'living with friends' so she was not with her parents. My first assumption was that Elizabeth stayed on in Australia after her parents - and presumably her two younger sisters - had left. A search of the NZ BDM indicated that John Lodge died in 1852, adding a time-frame. But another registration threw a spanner in the works - the death of a child, William Napoleon Ralph, parents James Ralph and Elizabeth, aged 2 years and 9 months at Cresswick, Victoria.
Thursday, 27 June 2013
My father gave me some of his own typewritten notes, letters, photos and a gedcom he had completed of the Clarkson family some time ago. Among this material were some papers he had received from a second cousin in the early 1970’s. One was a transcript of a newspaper article from 1840. It featured excerpts of ‘Immigrants Letters Home’: edited portions of two letters written by passengers on the Aurora, who sailed from Gravesend on the 18th September 1839 and landed at Petone, near today’s Wellington. One of the letters was co-written by my ancestors – my 3x great grandfather John Lodge and his wife, Harriet. John and Harriet shared the writing of their first letter ‘home’ to John’s stepmother, Anne Lodge. The letter looks forward and looks back – I will post some of it with more comments, but the item is available online at http://mebooks.co.nz/clients/library.huttcity/text/NZJournal18400801/t1-g1-t14-body-d23.html
Wednesday, 26 June 2013
I started with a few quests - What was Elizabeth Lodge's life like? and I have found some answers (she kicked over the traces and led an adventurous life). How did Joseph Clarkson really come to decide to immigrate to New Zealand? (the accepted family history did not mention the debtor's prison!). Why did Joseph Stokes change his name to Stennett? (its still a mystery, and his wife was concealing something too). Some secrets - we did not know Grandma's exploits made it into the 'Truth' - a notorious but entertaining newspaper specialising in scandal. What about the hard life of James Newton, a coal miner at the age of 10, and the Redcoat who was a poet?
I intend this bog to trace my research as it unfolds, but I will go back a little at first to tell the paths I have taken so far. I hope you will find this story interesting and useful. If you, the reader, would like to comment, feel free! Collaborative work is essential in unlocking the past.