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52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Week 10: Strong Woman

Megan

Probably the strongest woman I have ever known was my grandmother.  However, due to people still alive who may be impacted if I told her full story I have opted to find another woman in my tree. Someone I never knew and who just from the records I have looks like they did it tough.  Today I introduce my great-great-grandmother, Ellen Johnson.


Week 10 – Strong Woman


Ellen Johnson

Victorian Man and LadyEllen Johnson was born approximately 1862 in Sittingbourne, Kent, England.1  I know nothing else about her early life as I have struggled to prove which Ellen Johnson she is.  From her marriage certificate, I have ascertained a rough year of birth and that her father was Charles Johnson, a labourer.1


She married Samuel Bridges on 14 May 1881 in Sittingbourne, Kent in the Parish Church.1  They both signed with an ‘x’ indicating they were illiterate.1


They welcomed Laura into their family in 1883, followed by Samuel in approximately 1883, followed by Clara in about 1884, and Stephen in about 1886.2,3  They were all born in Sittingbourne. There is a bit of confusion at this point as it would appear that Laura and Samuel could be twins, however, there I have no proof of this at this stage.


Immigration

Oroya Ship 1887 Courtesy of State Library Queensland

Oroya Ship 1887 – Image Courtesy of State Library Queensland

Ellen, Laura, Clara, and Stephen are listed as departing Plymouth, England aboard the “Oroya” to travel to Australia to join Ellen’s husband.2  Younger Samuel is not listed on the ship manifest but I have proof of him in Australia.2  It is possible that he travelled to Australia with his father, Samuel, or that he was missed on the manifest.  I have been unable to prove when the Samuel (senior) travelled to Australia, however, I assume (a word I hate) that he came between 1886-1887 given Stephen was an infant on the ship.2  Ellen, Laura, Clara, and Stephen arrived in Melbourne, Victoria on 19 December 1887, Ellen was 25, Laura 3, Clara, 2 and Stephen an infant.2

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Children

Vintage PramIn 1889 they welcomed Ellen Louisa into the family in Essendon, Victoria, followed in 1891 by Amelia.4,5  In 1893 Eliza was born in Burwood, New South Wales.6  In 1894 Elizabeth was born in Burwood but sadly died in 1895.7,8  William Thomas arrived in 1896 in Burwood.9  In 1897 Rhoda was born in Middle Swan, Western Australia but died in 1899.10,11  My great-grandmother, Ruth, joined the family on 9 March 1899 in Helena Vale, Western Australia.12,13  Albert was born in 1900 in Kalgoorlie, Western Australia but died on 12 April 1909 aged 8 1/2 years in Kalgoorlie.14,15,16  George Charles was born in 1903 and May in 1905, both in Kalgoorlie, Western Australia.17,18


Migration Pattern OR The tracking of this family

What amazes me about this family is the moves they did.  I think many of us these days would baulk at such a move even with all the conveniences we have to assist us.  Imagine doing this in the late 1880’s.  I initially had trouble finding this family due to all their moves.  Tracking down birthplaces of the children working backwards from my great-grandmother, Ruth, by each state of Australia I was finally able to crack it.   It was through the births of the children that I was able to establish their timeline.

Map showing the distances travelled by the Bridges Family

Map of the distances travelled by the Bridges Family – courtesy of Google Maps

1887 – Kent to Plymouth 410km

1887 – Plymouth to Melbourne, Victoria 17,198km

1893 – Melbourne to Sydney 852km

1897 – Sydney to Western Australia 3,909km

1900 – Perth to Kalgoorlie 578km

Consider this – there were no cars, no paved roads, long ocean boat trips NOT like today’s cruises!


Death

Ellen died on 15 April 1916 aged 55 years in Kalgoorlie, Western Australia.19,20  She was buried with young Albert in the Methodist Section of the Kalgoorlie Cemetery.20


I think Ellen is amazing and is my strong woman this week – she made that crossing from England to Melbourne on her own with three, possibly four, children all under the age of 3!!  Certainly NOT something I would even consider.  She went on to have a total of 14 children, 3 who died in infancy or childhood.  She moved vast distances whilst caring for these children. What an amazing woman!


I wrote a fictional story of this family based on their travels.  Click on this link to read “The Kalgoorlie Express”, my story about this family.

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Bibliography
  1. Marriage Certificate of Samuel Bridges and Ellen Johnson, 391/1881, General Register Office, England.
  2. Findmypast, Victoria Inward Passenger Lists 1839-1923, Immigration Record 1887 Ellen Bridges, Accessed 14 December 2009.
  3. Birth Index, Samuel Bridges, 1883 March Quarter, Volume 2a, P.908, Milton, Kent, England.
  4. Ancestry.com, Australia, Birth Index, 1788-1922 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010, Ellen Louisa Bridges, 1889/12031.
  5. Ancestry.com. Australia, Birth Index, 1788-1922 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010, Amelia Bridges, 1891/2881.
  6. Ancestry.com. Australia, Birth Index, 1788-1922 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010, Eliza Bridges, 1893/9299.
  7. Ancestry.com. Australia, Birth Index, 1788-1922 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010, Elizabeth Bridges, 1894/8994.
  8. Ancestry.com. Australia, Death Index, 1787-1985 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010, Elizabeth Bridges, 1895/11977.
  9. Birth Index, Births, Deaths, Marriages New South Wales, 1896/2254, William Thomas Bridges.
  10. Birth Index, Western Australia Births, Deaths, and Marriages, Rhoda Bridges, 1897/3611.
  11. Death Index, Western Australia Births, Deaths, and Marriages, Rhoda Bridges, 1899/2249.
  12. Birth Index, Western Australia Births, Deaths, and Marriages, Ruth Bridges, 1899/4577.
  13. Marjorey June Brand, The Friendship Birthday Book, original held in author’s possession.
  14. Birth Index, Western Australia Births, Deaths, and Marriages, Albert Bridges, 1900/1389.
  15. Death Index, Western Australia Births, Deaths, and Marriages, Albert Bridges, 1909/73.
  16. Ozburials.com, Cemetery Marker, Albert Bridges, Kalgoorlie Cemetery, http://www.ozburials.com/CemsWA/Kalgoorlie/kalgoorlie_b.htm.
  17. Birth Index, Western Australia Births, Deaths, and Marriages, George Charles Bridges, 1903/962.
  18. Birth Index, Western Australia Births, Deaths, and Marriages, May Bridges, 1905/1723.
  19. Death Index, Western Australia Births, Deaths, and Marriages, Ellen Bridges, 1916/68.
  20. Ozburials.com, Cemetery Marker, Albert and Ellen Bridges, Kalgoorlie Cemetery, http://www.ozburials.com/CemsWA/Kalgoorlie/kalgoorlie_b.htm.
Author:

2 Comments

  1. Fred
    April 4, 2018 at 1:08 pm

    Wow what a post Megan reading your post makes me feel like I’ve watch an old time show. How in the world did you find all this info on them thats amazing and a lot of hard work. I wouldn’t even know where to start. One question do you know how these children died?

    • Megan
      April 4, 2018 at 2:47 pm

      Hi Fred
      It was a mammoth task to find this family. I ended up searching state by state around Australia to track them and that’s how I ascertained all their moves! I don’t know how the children died as I haven’t yet been able to afford to purchase death certificates. Unfortunately I have only ever met a couple of the cousins from this side of the family due to a couple of estrangements within the family.
      Regards
      Megan

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