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)

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Family Connections

There are two mentions of Elizabeth being in contact with at least the female members of her family from 1900. As part of Canterbury’s Jubilee, the Canterbury Early Settlers Association organised a number of functions, the celebrations kicking off on the 18th December 1900. Sisters Mrs S E Clarkson (nee Lodge), Mrs L. Cookson (nee Lodge) and Mrs E Horne (nee Lodge) were listed as present, Elizabeth having travelled from Auckland to be there (The Press, 18 December 1900, Page 8). There was a garden party too – some of the family may have been there (so tantalising that this photo may contain their images!). Image reproduced with permission from Christchurch City Libraries, File Reference: CCL PhotoCD 4, IMG0076. Source The Weekly Press 26 Dec. 1900, p.65.
Garden party, Old Colonists’ Association at Riccarton House 1900

However although we know Elizabeth was present, this does not mean she was on good terms with her sisters. She could have found out about the reunion from another source, and avoided them in the crush of 600-700 early settlers reminiscing about the past. That’s what is so intriguing about these small pieces of information – they say nothing about the family relationships. I would like to think, however, that despite their very different lives, Elizabeth, Sarah Ellen and Lucy cared about each other and kept in touch.

It is quite likely that Sarah Ellen and Lucy corresponded or visited each other during their married lives: Sarah Ellen Clarkson and her husband Samuel Clarkson lived in relative comfort at Park Rd, Linwood in Christchurch. Sarah, a widow in 1900, lived there with four of her children - Edith Ellen Clarkson, Ernest Williams Clarkson, William Albert Paxton Clarkson and Frederick Horace George Samuel Clarkson at the time of the Jubilee. Another unmarried son, Arthur Adam Clarkson lived in Cashel St. Arthur will be the subject of a Blog post of his own due to some mysterious circumstances surrounding a train trip to Timaru...

Lucy Edwards Cookson lived at Ashburton with less financial stability than her elder sister. In 1900 she was there with her husband Edward Cookson and unmarried children Blanche Cookson, Frank Percy Cookson and Frederick Guy Cookson.  Sarah and Lucy both named sons 'Leonard' - Sarah named three of her sons Leonard, the first two dying in infancy, and Lucy named one son, this child also dying as a baby. I am not sure why the name was so important (it doesn't appear in the Lodge or Clarkson families prior to this). I wonder if the surviving Leonard felt a little apprehensive about this burden of a name...

On the 23rd of December 1902 Elizabeth’s daughter Harriet Ann Norris died suddenly at her home in Mark’s Avenue, Auckland: she was 43. An inquest was held, and the coroner determined her death was from heart disease. Informants including Elizabeth gave evidence that she had been suffering from ill health for some time. However two newspaper reports are worded a little oddly. Painter John Latimer who also lived in the Avenue says that another neighbour thought Harriet was ‘dead or dying’ and asked him to go and see her. When he did, he found she was dead, with her mother and another neighbour there in the house. Another report says that she was ‘in her usual health’ and her sudden death was reported to the Police. It sounds as if Elizabeth was sent-for when Harriet was found dead, but why didn’t the concerned neighbour go in to check for themselves? A clue may be found in the reports of this area of central Auckland. As far back as 1893 a sanitary inspector declared the area a health hazard, with a threat of typhoid as the hot weather set in. The houses all had a common yard… “drains were faulty and overflowing, added to which all kinds of refuse had been thrown into the closets, while the state of the yard itself was abominable.” The tenants appear to have been summonsed by the Court, but the landlord, Mr Lennox was ultimately held accountable. There doesn’t seem to have been much done. In 1894 nine ‘ladies’ complained to the Council again about Mark’s Avenue, which appears to have been a Close or dead-end laneway off Grey St in the centre of town. They said that there were 18 cottages in an area about 100 foot square – not just cramped, but probably chaotic. In March 1900, the ‘Observer’ under the banner ‘They Say’ declared: 

Accounts of assaults and antisocial behaviour made Mark’s Avenue a place where neighbours may have been unwilling to get involved with a sudden death. Harriet had been reduced to appalling living conditions and the circumstances of her death were saddening. She was buried in Waikumete cemetery and it appears she was given a ‘pauper’s burial’ (Waikumete Cemetery records).

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