Letters and Later Life

Three years later Samuel Atkins died on 17 February 1884 in Stanley. The cause of death was senility, so presumably Samuel required some care in the later stages of his life.1 In early 1885 Jane Atkins (nee Ayres) wrote two letters to her daughter Jane which are reproduced here. The following letters and footnotes are kindly supplied by Margaret Nichols.

Letter One

Many thanks for the nice cards Janu 15 1885
have nothing to return but love
and best wishes

My dear Daughter Jane2 I jest receved your most welcome letter how i had been wondring about you and all of you i thought somthing must be wrong never to hear from any one of the famely. I was allso very anxous about the gees wether you receved them all right and now you never said anything about them wether thay was in good order i forgot to mention that Elizabeth Williams3 was to have one of them as Charlotte4 purposed sending her one and i was stoping on the townshipe5 at Mrs Medwins6 untill the steemer come in to get the gees and see them unto the steemer then i was sure of them. I hope Lis had one of them i must send you word ...Mr Perkins7 got fouer of Mrs Burkrey three shilings each i got two of John Carrel8 for five shilings i dont know wether Tom Medwin will charge for the Box two and sixpence i paid for Fraight and i beleve i now owe about ten shiling for fraight i have never been in such strait circumstances in my life that one pound that come in your letter is all i have had i have been going in debt ever since i come back from the Mount and i feel in troubel in mind about it it seems George9 have not receved the Butter except the Box when the Gees come thear was twenty fouer pounds he sent me a pound thats very little use towards three Months provishens I do with as little as i can I do hope the Butter will come all right the Cows are not doing so well as thay used to by a great deal i have got one good Calf and one Dead and another b.. have been this fortnight I keep Doct .... it will die My dear you ... of your Misrebel Christmas i must say mine was the dulest i ever new in my life mine is a dule life hear I do miss dear Father10 more then ever Eve11 is not nice Company she is so difrent from my famely i somtims think i cant put up with her only for the cows i would not still i should miss her very much you never said if Eliza12 is home from Melbourn how is Eve13 and all evry one how is little Ann14 I often think about them all and how Cros i used to be with them and pooer Eve but i most earnstley wish them all a happy New year and very propers to you all Tom15 have not been up this Christmas i think it very unkind he was very attentive at the time of Dear Father he is not so now i am sorrow to say I beleve he is doing well and want for nothing i hear little Peter16 have been .....now I must tell you i sent in a Box of Cherys to day by Mr Perkins he jest brought me word the Steemer wont be hear until Sunday this is tursday he thought the Cherrys would be spoild and told Collinghs17 to use them or sell them i am afraid that the few thear is will be to ripe to send i am sorow it hapened so you can not think the troubel i have to get anything in Bill18 is at work on the Road seldom go to the townshipe i have never hard from John19 since i was thear his Crops are looking well but no Potatoes fit for diging yet i am glad your garden is looking so well so is Jons beutiful B..... is fine i have had none from mine its growing i gave Maryann20 and Lis21 some/you never mentioned the Christmas tree i hope the worke is prospring neither Harry22 Lis how are thay doing i hope all is well i supose you know pooer old Frank23 is Dead and Buried alls Mr House24 keep going watch and pray i do wish you was near to me i am so lonley not very well i have such a bad feeling in my throte since i threw up that warm i cant expres it i want to write more ... am in a hury for post you mentind a box i have not seen it yet i hope George will get the butter .... be abel to send .... money for i.am owing.......

Letter Two

Thanks for the nice cards Janury 30 1885

My dear Daughter

In answer to your most wellcome letter i receved Satuday evening I was indeed glad to hear you and famely well i am sorrow to hear pooer George25 not well i wish he could come hear for a little time it would do him good he must strive to do so what is all the world to anyone when they are Dead or even on a sick Bed, i thank God I am prettey well myself as i may expect at my time. I must return you many thanks for the nice Present you sent me but i realy did not wish for you to put yourself to such expence and troubel evrything was very nice but a great waste in the Pudding the Mould was got into it we toke it out of that Cloth put it into a dry one and boiled it yesterday for Diner and Mr & Mrs Haywood26 and Famely tooke Diner with us Mary27 is hear she come last Friday weeke by the Conveync and expects to go back this week by the same pooer Lis28 is going with her if she is abel to see the Doct she is very ill she ought to come there for a little time but Lis is like the other pooer Dear29 she will go until she cant go no longer she have to much to do for her strentgh i jest went in yesterday she was laing on the bed she do looke bad time i was thear someone brought a letter from you i was glad to see it for she wonderd often at you not writing Eve30 is thear today she sent for Clear31 but she was at schoole. Mary and Charlotte32 are gone over the River pooer Mr. Murry33 the Scoole Master is Dead and Buried leaft a young Wife and ywo little ones and expecting another soone thay both found our Chapel when Mr Williams34 was last hear how is Mr Williams, he was laid up very little time i am very glad to hear you done so well with the Christmas tree hear is nothing doing hear any good when is Mr Williams coming again pleas remember me kindley to him we still are caring on the Prayer meeting hear we had Wiseman Spinks35 last night Mrs Rufels36 is jest come in and desire her love to you beging you to enquire about her Butter tube do try to have it sent she have nothing to put her butter in i am suprised to hear the butter not good when the Butter is sent from hear its fit for anyons tabel no one hear can ever fault it its very strange that George1 did not let one know he had no seale for it and i would have tried and sold some hear its only the week before last boxes come i thought thay was to be filld wich i did with forty eight pounds and another last week with twenty fouer i would thought you would have taken your butter of George likewise. Jim37 and Harry38 that woman at the Hospittel would have taken some Butter of me i have quite forgoten her name but i agreed with George i never thought of sending it any ware els but i must put it down and try a little longer i must have a place to myself as long as i can i love my children as i love myself and would love to have them all near me but i know thear is things that would make one misrebel you know your pooer brother39 drink how could bear that i could not he was at the township last week and never called hear he was much the worse for drink i could put up with anything before it if you was to sell my Cows the Money would soone go if i could sell my butter in a proper way i could manage

Pooer Lis is no better he have been for Spicer40 Mary[3] and Eve[6] are thear Sam Williams41 is hear today geting me some fier wood I am so suprised at Johns42 not coming or writing what can he be thinking about not seeing after his dear children you ought to write to him again Mr Perkins43 have got a housekeeper he had Mrs Dobsen44 a little while and then Mrs and Mr Davise45 and now the Girle Finety46 she is a Girle with a bad Carectter but i hope she will conduct herself well thear did you receve the Cherres allright the Vesel is so uncertin it was Mr Perkins that telegramd i will be writing to George soone i do hope he will do well with the butter you should put some on it down yourself for the winter.

I am so glad to hear your garden doing so nice so is pooer Lis beutiful Flowers fruite and Vegetebls fine i have nothing only whats gave me Mrs Tom Medwin47 come out to me and brought me Potatoes Cabbage and Beans thank God for frinds i know the Lord will provide for me give my love to Mrs Lucas48 and evry enquiring frind Emma Pegg49 has never been to see me I was over to see Lis[4] last night Spicer[16] sent her Medecen and had to apply Poultices with lintseed and Mustard of all objects she surpases all that ever i see for thinnes its frighful to see her old Mrs Blizard50 is thear and Eve i hope she will soon be better she wont be abel to go to the Bay51 with Mary pleas excuse my scribel i am in haste with best love i must conclude from your affectionate Mother Jane Atkins

Margaret Nicholls' commented:

At the time of writing the 2 extant letters (see Jane Ayres notes), it appears that Jane was living alone on the farm. Samuel had died within the previous year, on the 17 February 1884. Two of her sons had died, William on the 10 August 1879 of 'consumption', and James at Rocky Cape on the 8 August 1880 of 'hemiphegia from concussion of the spine'. Eliza Ann Perkins, wife of John Perkins, died on the 16 October 1881 of pulmonary consumption and Elizabeth Blizzard was to die the following year on the 13 May 1886 of Phthis, and old word for consumption. It is presumably Elizabeth who is the 'pooer Lis' mentioned so frequently in both letters."52

Jane died on the 6 February 1885 in the Horton district. The cause of death is stated as 'disease of the heart - verdict of the jury' and the death certificate is signed by the coroner of Stanley, George Anderson.53 An inquest was presumably held because there were no witnesses to her death (she was living alone). The record of the inquest states that Jane 'came to her death in a natural way through disease of the heart'. The inquest was held at Jane's home at Black River on the 7 February 1885 before Henry Pegg, John Haywood, Duncan Sloane, William Horton, Samuel Horton, William Blizzard and Thomas Healy."54

Concerning the fate of Samuel and Jane's remaining children: On 10 April 1885 Mary Ann Atkins' husband John Williams died in the Horton district.55

Elizabeth Blizzard (nee Atkins) died the year after her mother on 13 May 1886 in the Horton district of Phthis, an old word for consumption, another victim of the disease treated so effectively today with antibiotics.56 It is presumably Elizabeth who is the 'pooer Lis' mentioned so frequently in both letters. George Blizzard would go on to marry Eliza Ann Smedley on 7 June 1888 in Horton and they would have a further nine children in addition to the seven children he had with Elizabeth.

James Atkins' wife Mary Ann died on 28 October 1888 in Emu Bay as reported in the Launceston Examiner.57

ATKINS-On 28th October, at Burnie Hotel, Emu Bay, Mary Anne, relict of late James Atkins, of Circular Head, aged 59 years.58

Charlotte Maria Haywood (nee Atkins) died on 10 March 1888 in the Horton district.59 Charlotte’s husband William Haywood would later remarry on 15 July 1905 in Melbourne, Victoria to Edith Mary Hale.60

Mary Ann Williams (nee Atkins) remarried on 28 February 1889 at the reported age of 50 to Henry William Turner, aged 52, and lived another 13 years before dying on 3 June 1902 in Forest.61

William Haywood, having survived his wife Charlotte Haywood (nee Atkins) for 20 odd years, died in 1914 in Forest.62

George Eastman, husband of Jane Eastman (nee Atkins) died on 13 August 1914 in Launceston.63

EASTMAN.-On the 13th August, at 41 Abbott-street. Launceston, George Gough, dearly beloved husband of Jane Eastman, aged 79 years.

The funeral of the late Mr. George C. Eastman will leave 44 Abbott-street, on Saturday morning, August 15th, at 10 o'clock, for interment in the Carr Villa Cemetery. Friends are invited to attend.64

Jane Eastman (nee Atkins) lived to the age of 76 and died on 18 January 1916 in Launceston, Tasmania.65

EASTMAN.-On the 18th January, at the residence of her son-in-law, Mr. A. Hopwood, 24 Abbott-street, Jane, widow of the late George Eastman, aged 76 years. (No mourning, by request.)

The funeral of the late Mrs. Eastman will leave the residence of her son-in-law, Mr. A. Hopwood, 24 Abbott-street on Thursday Morning, at 11 o'clock, for interment in the Carr Villa Cemetery. Friends are invited to attend.66

Louisa Atkins, nee Shackel, died on 1 February 1916 in Footscray, Victoria.67 Louisa’s husband Samuel Atkins Jnr died three years later on 7 May 1919 in Melbourne, Victoria.68

John Thomas Perkins, the husband of Eliza Atkins who had died some 35 years earlier, died on 25 November 1930 (the death notice mentions his second wife Ellen):

PERKINS.-On November 25th, at Longford, John Thomas, the beloved husband of Ellen Perkins, aged 8I years.

PERKINS,-The funeral of the late John Thomas Perkins is appointed to leave the Toosey Memorial Hospital, Longford, at 3 o'clock on Thursday (to-morrow), for Christ Church, Longford. Friends are invited to attend.69

Thomas Atkins died on 6 December 1933 in Wynyard, Tasmania:

DEATHS. ATKINS.-On Wednesday, December 6, at the Spencer Hospital, Wynyard, Thomas, husband of the late Elizabeth Ann Atkins, of North Forest--aged 86 years. No mourning, by special request.

FUNERALS. ATKINS.-The funeral of the late Thomas Atkins will leave his late residence, North Forest, at 2.30 p.m. on Friday, 8th, for the Forest cemetery.70

The following eulogy was reported

Late Mr. T. Atkins, Forest.

The funeral of the late Mr, Thomas Atkins took place on Friday afternoon at St. Bartholomew's cemetery, Forest. A good number of representative citizens and old friends gathered to pay their last respects. The service was conducted by the Kev. J. AV. Bethune. The chief mourners were four sons, Messrs. T. J, E., A. and L. Atkins, the remaining two sons, Messrs. Sam and William Atkins, being on the main land. The carriers were Messrs. C. O'Connor, T. Carroll, G. Abblitt and Jack Atkins; and the pall-bearers Messrs. AV. J. AVaters, K. C. Laughton; T. J. Emmerton and F. M. Medwin.71

  • 1. AOT Death Registration RGD 1884/316
  • 2. Jane. Jane is Jane and Samuel Atkins second daughter. She married George Eastman in Blackwall in 1857. At this stage Jane and George lived in Waratah, where they moved around 1878. It appears that George ran a general store in Waratah.
  • 3. Elizabeth Williams (Lis). This is Jane Atkins grandaughter, Elizabeth Eastman, George and Jane's eldest daughter. She married Henry Vine Williams in 1879.
  • 4. Charlotte. Charlotte Maria Haywood (nee Atkins), Jane's youngest child.
  • 5. Townshipe. Stanley
  • 6. Mrs Medwin. This is Mrs Tom Medwin. They lived in Stanley.
  • 7. Mr Perkins. This should be John Perkins father. John married Eliza Anne Atkins in 1868.
  • 8. John Carrel. I presume that this is John Carroll, settlers in the Forrest area.
  • 9. George. George Eastman, the addressee's husband.
  • 10. Dear Father. Samuel Atkins, Jane's husband. He died the previous February of senility aged 76.
  • 11. Eve. I think that this is Eve Eleanor Atkins, born on June 1 1868, Jane's grandaughter. Her parents were William and Margaret Atkins. William was a shoemaker and died of consumption on August 11, 1879. It is probable that Jane's 17 year old grandaughter would be living with her to keep her company and help her.
  • 12. Eliza. This is Eliza Ester Eastman, Jane's grandaughter. It appears that several of George and Jane Eastman's children went to Victoria.
  • 13. Eve. Another Eastman grandaughter - Eva Emma.
  • 14. Little Ann. This is probably the last of the Eastman brood - Annie, who would have been 5 when this letter was written.
  • 15. Tom. This is Jane's son Thomas Henry Atkins, born in 1846. It is possible that he and his family lived at Montague.
  • 16. Peter. ???? The only Peter I can find is Margaret and William Atkins son Albert Peter, born in 1876.
  • 17. Collinghs. ???? I could find no family of Collin or Collings living in the district.
  • 18. Bill. I am guessing that this is William Haywood, Jane's daughter Charlotte's husband.
  • 19. John. This could be John Thomas Perkins, Jane's son-in-law. He married Eliza Anne Atkins, but she was already dead in 1885, as she died in 1881 of consumption.
  • 20. Maryann. Jane's daughter.
  • 21. Lis. Jane's daughter Elizabeth.
  • 22. Harry. This seems to be someone in Waratah, where Jane Eastman lived. It is probably the husband of Jane's granddaughter, Elizabeth Eastman, Henry Vine Williams.
  • 23. Frank. I think that this is probably Matthew Franks, a labourer who died of senility aged 73 in December 1884.
  • 24. Mr House. John Stagg House a Forrest farmer died in January 1885.
  • 25. This could be George Eastman, the husband of the addressee, or her grandson George.
  • 26. Mr and Mrs Haywood, the parents-in-law of Jane's daughter, Charlotte. Charlotte Atkins married William Haywood on 30 November, 1870. The Haywoods lived in Forrest.
  • 27. Mary, Jane's daughter-in-law, Mary Baker who married Jane's eldest son James. James died in 1880. It is, however, more likely to be Mary Ann Williams, Jane's eldest daughter.
  • 28. Lis, Jane's daughter Elizabeth. She dies on 13 May 1886 of Phthisis, a little over a year after this letter was written.
  • 29. 'the other pooer Deare' I suspect that Jane is referring to her husband, Samuel.
  • 30. Eve, this would be Eve Eleanor Atkins, born on June 1 1868, Jane's grandaughter. Her parents were William and Margaret Atkins. William was a shoemaker and died of consumption on August 11, 1879.
  • 31. Clear (Claire?) ??? The only Claire I could find is Claire Montagu Atkinson, born 29/8/1879 to Sarah Ann Ward and Henry Dresser Atkinson. Claire would have been 6 and quite rightly 'at schoole'. It is uncertain why Eve would have sent for Claire.
  • 32. Charlotte, Jane's daughter Charlotte.
  • 33. Mr Murry. David Hugh Murray was a teacher under the Board of Education and died of 'Hepatitis and exhaustion' at the age of 32 on January 21, 1885. He married Annabella Reid in Horton in 1878, which would explain why his death was registered by his brother-in-law of Duck River.
  • 34. Mr Williams. There are 2 Williams in the Assessment Rolls of Waratah taken in September 1885. They are brothers, Henry and James. Henry, married Elizabeth Jane Eastman, Jane Atkins' daughter Jane Eastman's eldest daughter. James married Elizabeth's younger sister, Alice Mary Eastman. I am assuming that the Mr Williams referred to is Henry Vine Williams, although, why would Jane call her son-in-law Mr?
  • 35. Wiseman Spinks. The son of early settlers in the Forrest area. Wiseman arrived from England with his parents in 1841 on the EMU, the same ship that brought Jane and Samuel Atkins and their children.
  • 36. Mrs Rufels. Edward and Bridget Ruffels lived in Black River.
  • 37. Jim ???
  • 38. Harry ???
  • 39. 'your pooer brother'. Jane had 4 sons, James, who died before this letter was written, in 1880; Sam, William, who was also dead in 1885, having died in 1879; and Thomas. So, the brother is either Sam or Thomas.
  • 40. Harry Griffin Spicer, the district's chemist and Deputy Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages. He lived in Stanley.
  • 41. Sam Williams Potentially Samuel Williams who was Jane's grandson
  • 42. John. This is one of Jane's sons-in-law. Maryann Atkins married a John Williams and Eliza Atkins married a John Perkins. I suspect that Jane is referring to John Perkins. His wife, Eliza Anne Perkins died of consumption at the age of 29 in 1881, so it is possible that his motherless children do not live with him, hence the comment about his not 'seeing after his dear children'.
  • 43. Mr. Perkins. This is presumably the father of John Thomas Perkins, mentioned above.
  • 44. Mrs Dobsen. ??? The Dobsens were one of the original settlers in the Forrest area.
  • 45. Mr and Mrs Davise. Alfred and Mary Davis lived in the Horton district.
  • 46. Bridget and Michael Finnerty lived in the district. One of their daughters Alice (born 1875), Bridget (born 1873) or Ann (born 1878) could be 'the Girle Finety'.
  • 47. Mrs Tom Medwin. William Medwin and his family were the first independent settlers in the Black River area. Thomas medwin and his wife lived in Stanley.
  • 48. Mrs Lucas. From the letter it appears that Mrs Lucas is in Waratah. There are several Lucas families listed in the Assessment Rolls for 1885 in Waratah.
  • 49. Emma Pegg The Pegg family lived in Black River.
  • 50. Mrs Blizzard, is 'pooer Lis's' mother-in-law. Elizabeth married George Blizzard in 1870.
  • 51. The Bay. This is Stanley at Emu Bay.
  • 52. Margaret Nichols
  • 53. AOT Death Registration RGD 1885/784
  • 54. AOT Death Inquest POL709/1/20 p.26 (1885) and SC195/1/64 Inquest 8924
  • 55. AOT Death Registration RGD 1885/786
  • 56. AOT Death Registration RGD 1886/779
  • 57. AOT Death Registration RGD 1888/174
  • 58. "Family Notices." Launceston Examiner (Tas. : 1842 - 1899) 30 Oct 1888: 1. Web. 26 Apr 2014; http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article38322883.
  • 59. AOT Death Registration RGD 1888/349
  • 60. VIC BDM Marriage Registration Ref. No. 1905/6363
  • 61. AOT Marriage Registration RGD 1889/114 and TFI Death Registration RGD 1902/1909
  • 62. TFI Death Registration RGD 1914/XXXX
  • 63. TFI Death Registration RGD 1914/1792
  • 64. Examiner Friday 14 August 1914
  • 65. TFI Death Registration RGD 1916/97
  • 66. Examiner Wednesday 19 January 1916
  • 67. VIC BDM Death Registration Ref. No. 1916/1740
  • 68. VIC BDM Death Registration Ref. No. 1919/XXXX
  • 69. Examiner Wednesday 26 November 1930
  • 70. "Family Notices." Advocate (Burnie, Tas. : 1890 - 1954) 7 Dec 1933: 2. Web. 17 Oct 2013; http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article68061684.
  • 71. "Late Mr. T. Atkins, Forest." Advocate (Burnie, Tas. : 1890 - 1954) 14 Dec 1933: 2. Web. 17 Oct 2013; http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article68063265.