Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Birth and death on the goldfields, 1855-56


"The Harp of the Valley", by William Stewart Ross in  Illustrated Handbook of Victoria, Australia. British Library HMNTS 10492.f.22

While George was busy with concerts in Beechworth, Susan was delivered of a boy, on 14 April 1855 at Wangaratta. They named the babe Edward George.   Susan registered the child at Beechworth on 23 May 1855.  She signed with her mark.   As usual when Susan was the informant, the surname was rendered as "Griffiths", but George always used the spelling "Griffith".

Ten months later, on, 24 Feb 1856, the infant died of cholera infantum,  also referred to as 'summer diarrhea', a contamination exacerbated by swarms of flies, and the insanitary conditions on goldfields.  The death was certified by Thomas Crawford.  The Ovens Directory 1857 described Crawford as MD, JP, and residing in Camp St, Beechworth.

The baby boy was buried at the Beechworth Cemetery, which had been surveyed in February 1854 and divided into rectangular denominational compartments. In I856 a Cemetery Trust was formed and the cemetery was in operation in January the same year.

The Minister Thomas Dowell of the Church of England presided, and the witnesses were William Haydon and Octavius Folkard.  These two gentlemen were involved in a courtcase against each other in the Beechworth Police Court on 30 March 1857, but the case was dismissed as neither party appeared.  Octavius Folkard later obtained a Refreshment License for Indigo in 1859.

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