I know, this trip has been going on for months but I promise this is the final, final installment.
Still in Albury Pioneer Cemetery, thought we had no one else buried there and then I jumped online and did a search on the cemetery site before we left and found these members of the family.
This is the final resting place of Helen Elizabeth Macvean, nee Griffith. She is my 4x Great Grand Aunt by marriage.
I knew nothing about Helen until I found her in the cemetery search. It did take us a while to count out exactly where her grave was, Xander and Calan found her and it wasn’t just a headstone but a full body stone monolith rising from out of the dirt with that beautiful wrought iron border crowning it.
As you can see from the inscription above she was married to Dr Peter Macvean who was my 3x Great Grandfather, John Hugh Macvean’s Brother. (the Macvean who brought us out to Australia.)
They were married on the 3rd of July 1867 at Mount Pleasant Wedderburn. Peter was 38 and Helen 25 years of age.
Completely random find on my part, this is a picture of Mount Pleasant in Wedderburn from the State Library of Victoria and I’m pretty sure it is the residence of Elizabeth’s Uncle, Henry Hunter mentioned above.
Below is a copy of Helen’s Birth and Baptismal records. This is what I love about this whole process of researching you start with nothing and then with a bit of digging around, a whole lot of luck, a picture starts to emerge out of the mist of a person with a real life story.
You’ll note the Slave and Free People heading, that’s right, Helen was born, 17th Sept, 1840 on a Slavers Sugar Plantation on St Croix, in what was known at the time as the Danish West Indies.
From what I can gather from Census records of the time, Helen’s Father was a Planter on his Brother, David’s plantation estate called Two Williams Estate.
If you refer back to the Marriage notice above you will see that it states that her Father is from the Whim Plantation in St Croix, Wow, throw that into Google and a truckload of stuff comes up. The house Helen was born in still stands and is now a museum.
The information below, about Helen and her Family comes from the Landmark website on the history of St Croix and reads like a precis of some 19th Century novel. Helen’s Father wasn’t just working for his Brother as the earlier census document indicated.
An evil sadistic slaver for a Father, fleeing the slavery rebellion and the only home she had known, traveling to Ireland from the West Indies and having to come to terms with a life in a country so different from her own. I wonder if Helen ever spoke about her early life, or was it just to painful and full of shame? This is only the tip that I have uncovered but what a story.
I found this obituary for Helen and after reading it I can only imagine what a strong woman she must have been. Having survived the ordeals of her early childhood she then makes the long arduous journey to Australia when she was just 22 with her Aunt, Elizabeth Hunter, to begin a new life in the Colonies.
She marries Peter 5 years later then spends the next 30 years being a Surgeon and Stock Owners Wife in the central west of Victoria and Melbourne. Becomes a Widow at the age of 55 and then spends the next 17 years living in Albury. There is so much in there that is unknown. Would love to find a manuscript that Helen wrote about her life.
Unfortunately I can’t find a photo of Helen but I did come across a picture of the home she was living in when she passed away. It’s not the same as an actual image of her but it gives an anchor for her in the story, seeing somewhere where she would have been. You can almost see her coming out the front door.
The final two members of the family we found resting in Albury were, William Hill Macvean and his Wife, Edith Nellie Macvean, nee Hill. William is my 2x Great Grand Uncle, and Brother to my Great Grandfather Alexander Ballantyne Smith Macvean.
Unfortunately there is next to nothing on Trove in relation to William or Edith. William’s birth notice.
His death notices. Interesting to note that the Tuesday and Thursday listings are for different parts of the Family, I wonder if that was coordinated as neither is duplicated in print on the same day.
Little bit of luck, just found Williams war record from WW1.
He fought in Egypt and France, where he was wounded in action three times. In one of the incidences he sustained a serious shrapnel wound to his right thigh and abdomen. He suffered with scabies and trench fever and was hospitalised a number of times as a result. William also had a number of AWOL’s on his record which resulted in about 2 weeks confinement and multiple days of forfeited pay.
He and Nellie obviously meet in the UK, his war record had a copy of an extract of info from the original marriage registration details.
William enlisted with the AIF on the 21st July 1915. He was initially in the 29th Battalion and was then transferred to the the 39th on the 30th June 1917. He embarked Australia 18th February 1916 and ultimately survived his time in the war but he would not see Australia again until 19th December 1919, when the Ormonde made its first stop in Fremantle, almost 4 years later.
When William did arrive it was into Port Melbourne.
When he disembarked, he was not alone.
Apart from those history laden names in the top of the article, William disembarked on to New Pier at 10am on Boxing Day 1919 with Nellie and their 8 month old Daughter, Jessie Edith Macvean.
I can only imagine how excited the family must have been for his return, take a look at this gossip section listing I found from the Herald.
Again, what a ride and only the tip of the ice berg in terms of their story. Unfortunately (as is becoming the norm on this journey if it is a female member of the family I’m tracing), there is no further mentions of Nellie that I can find. I know she passes in 1982 but there are no death or funeral notices on Trove for that period yet and Nellie doesn’t come up in The Ryerson Index. (Funeral and Death database)
As all four of Jessie and William’s children have passed on as well, I’m really hoping that one of their Grandchildren, if there are any, reaches out somewhere down the track. I would love to know more of their story but it maybe that it is already lost to time like so many others.