Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Trove Tuesday: Lost in the bush

It was early in the morning, sunrise, on a summer day in January 1861. William Cook had left home near Digby with his dray. His wife, Mary Ann, went out to tend to the corn in the garden. There were children still asleep in the house. One of them, Frances aged 2, woke up and wandered outside. Her mother returned to the house and found her missing. Neighbours and the police started looking for her. It was three days before Frances was found about six miles from home, dead, beside a waterhole on Pleasant Hills Station.

I gleaned all of the above facts from witness* reports of the inquest that was held at Murndal Station, a property near Pleasant Hills. The Coroner's finding was that Frances had died from exhaustion.

In Trove I found a newspaper advertisement, inserted by William Cook, asking people to look for his daughter. By the time it was published the body of young Frances had already been found.

Portland Guardian and Normanby General Advertiser, 21 January 1861

There is a very good website that covers the early settlers of south western Victoria, and I was able to find a map there that shows the properties mentioned in the inquest (highlighted).

On Trove I also searched for information about Glenlivet station to try to work out exactly where the Cook family were living.
Leases Granted 
No. 198 - Duncan McRAE. Name of Run, Glenlivet. Estimated Area, 5300 acres. Estimated Grazing Capacity, 500 head cattle - 4000 sheep. Bounded on the east by the station of Messrs. George and Samuel WINTER and the Messrs. COLDHAM: on the south by Messrs. McLEAN and McRAEs station: on the west by A. ROSEs station, and on the north by Francis HENTYs station: all the boundaries being settled or determined lines. Port Phillip Gazette, 1849, page 147.
* The following were witnesses at the inquest: Thomas McEvoy (Constable at Digby);
Archibald McArthur, Overseer, Ardgarton; William Cooker, stock keeper of Digby ; Mary Ann Cook, mother; John Maclean, shepherd of Ardgarton; Thomas Mark, farmer of Murndal

Frances Merino COOK, daughter of William COOK and Mary Ann PRICE was born on 15 Apr 1858 in Merino, Victoria, Australia. She died on 16 Jan 1861 in Digby, Victoria, Australia.

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