Thanks to Elizabeth O’Neal from Little Bytes of Life for hosting the April 2016 Genealogy Blog Party.
Here is my contribution, focusing on a relative I would like to introduce. When I think of parties I think of fun and excitement, sadly my second Great-Grandmother Frances Elms (nee Stevens) had a life far removed from frivolity and happiness so she was someone I thought I would like to bring to the party to show her that her life wasn’t in vain.
Who is the ancestor you will meet?
Please meet my second Great-Grandmother, Frances Elms (nee Stevens) who was believed to have been born 1863 in West Maitland, New South Wales, Australia. I am yet to prove evidence of her birth or that her parents were Charles Stevens and Frances Hopkins. She first married John Sidney in 1882 but was noted as a widow on her marriage certificate to Robert Elms in 1884, aged just 21 years of age.
I first became aware of the sad plight of her when I was looking for information on my Elms family on Trove http://trove.nla.gov.au, the online site for free Australian historical newspapers, I found the following article from The Armidale Express and New England General Advertiser dated 15 November 1889.
Frances was committed to Gladesville Mental Asylum in NSW, Australia soon after this article appeared and would stay institutionalised until the day she died on 6 May 1916 in another hospital, Kenmore Mental Asylum in Goulburn, NSW, Australia.
Frances Elms – Death Certificate – 6 May 1916
I found it most upsetting that her death certificate could not provide any family information of her children, her husband or her parents.
What question(s) do you need him/her to answer?
I have hit a brick wall with Frances. I dearly would love to be able to talk to her, to find out about her early family life and who her parents were and to find out what happened to her three daughters Florence (my Great Grandmother), Emily, and Lily who was the babe in arms mentioned in the article when she was sent to the asylum.
Is there a problem you can help your ancestor solve?
Reading the rest of the newspaper reports, I wondered whether it was post-natal depression that she was suffering or if there was a more sinister reason that her husband contributed to her being committed. Sadly his days also ended in an Asylum. Perhaps together we could have sought the treatment that Frances needed and she would have had a different life.
Will you reveal your true identity to your ancestor? If so, how will your visit impact the future?
Absolutely! I would dearly love to show her that her life wasn’t in vain.
Will you bring your ancestor to the future to meet his/her descendants? What will be the outcome, if you do?
I would love to reunite her with her daughters. Another poignant moment in my research of Florence Kenyon (nee Elms), my Great Grandmother came when I received her marriage certificate from 1903 and it was noted that both her parents were deceased. A red herring at the time, but with further research I was able to prove that her parents were indeed Frances Elms who died years later in 1916 and Robert Elms who died in Gladesville Mental Asylum on the 8 July 1908 and that the Master of Lunacy had written a letter to the now Mrs Kenyon demanding her contact him to settle the outstanding account owing for her father’s institutionalisation. Did Frances’ daughters know their parents were still alive or was Florence so ashamed that she deliberately marked them as deceased on marrying Percy Herbert Kenyon?