Every time I work on one of these letters I am overwhelmed by the leads they contain and the finite details, discovered and unknown, of the lives that once intertwined with my ancestors. So many people disconnected, so many stories left behind... what a gift that technology gives us the opportunity to re-connect and retrace their steps.Read More
I'm back! Again. As always, life is busy. Which, is a good thing right? Let's not mess around with a preamble - here is a letter from Sushannah Atkinson Haskins to Nellie Debenham. Spoiler Alert: Sushannah joined the LDS church and kept it secret from her daughters, that lived with her, for over 2 years!Read More
Sushannah sent this letter to Nelly Daisy Atkinson, my grandfather’s sister, it appears in response to news of the death of Mary Daisy Atkinson, my great grandmother. Mary passed away in July 1933. My father was only 3 at the time so sadly, he has no stories to tell me about her. What I have learned of Mary has come from these letters and postcards and information shared by a few generous relatives that have reached out to me. (You can read some of those stories on the blog by clicking here.)
I am uncertain how letters to Nelly came into my grandparent's possession. Perhaps when Nelly passed away, the letters she had were randomly distributed among her living siblings. Perhaps Nelly was my grandpa Ben's favorite sister and the few that existed were given to him. I continue to be puzzled by this but I’ve come to accept with family history, there are some things one may never know. However, that does not stop me from searching...
Letter from Sushannah to Nelly
Annerley South Brisbane Queensland
Sept. 3rd 1933
My Dear Dear Nelly,
It is indeed bad news you have sent me in your first letter to me. I got a fearful shock but now I feel better about it. All her troubles are over; while we live we never know what troubles are coming to us, your mother was a wonderful woman & a good loving mother & there are quite a lot of L.D.S. women here who knew her & they all speak well of her & they send you all their deepest love & sympathy.
I suppose you have heard your dear mother speak of Mrs. Yone here, well last monday I went to see her I was there nearly all day & we were both taking about your mother & we both said we would just love to see her & have our arms around & when I got home Dorothy gave me the letter & we were very sad for awhile.
It must have been a bad time for you just after having your baby but the Lord gave you strength & I am sure your sister & brothers & all helped as much as they could.
Give them all my love & tell them not to fret. I remember them all but of course I never saw you or Cliff. It is very kind of you to ask me to keep on writing & I will write & you must answer my letters & tell me all about your children & how many you have & what are their names & how many are at school & if any of the others would write I would be very pleased.
I wrote to Uncle Ben but I have not answered my letter yet, I am sure they will be very sorry for you all.
With lots of love from all of us to all of you,
I remain your loving Aunt Sushannah Haskins
There is a President from here coming to see you some day soon his name is Kenneth W. Leak, I asked him to call & see my Dear sisters, he is on the SS. Mariposa but there is a sickness on board so he may be quarantined for awhile he left here on August 23rd.
More Mysteries & Notes on the Letter
I try to identify everyone and thing referenced in these old letters, but sometimes it's so challenging and time consuming. At some point, I have to stop myself and move on to the next letter.
- Who was Mrs. Yone? And why did Mary speak of her? The Queensland Government offers fantastic archives you can search online and I quickly guessed that perhaps Mrs. Yone had arrived with the Atkinson Family to Brisbane aboard the Jumna in 1889 and went hunting for her. No luck unless Mrs. Yone was aboard unmarried with a different last name. After an hour of digging for her, I've decided to save trying to locate her for another day.
- Dorothy is Dorothy Haskins (b 1894-d aft 1980), daughter of Sushannah Haskins. She is my 1st cousin 2x removed. I was able to follow Dorothy in the Australia Electoral Rolls 1903-1980 on Ancestry.com - It wasn't hard given I had a few addresses to search with and also she is listed still living with her sister Edith until 1977, then alone in 1980. Which also helped me determine that Edith passed between 1977 & 1980. The sisters appear to have never married.
- Nelly & Cliff were born in Utah after the Atkinson family immigrated there in 1900.
- Uncle Ben is my grandfather.
- Kenneth Leak SS Mariposa August 23 - The SS Mariposa had quite a few adventures traveling the Pacific Ocean. It took a little creative searching but I was able to locate a reference to one of the S.S. Mariposa’s quarantine in the transcription on Archive.org of “In quarantine: a history of Sydney’s quarantine station, 1828-1984” - It was quarantined for 5 days in 1888 for cleaning purposes as the result of smallpox outbreak to which a rock carving was put up as a reminder. Too bad it wasn't the outbreak I was looking for. The rock read:
"Let weary travellers listen we tell
The awful treatment that to us befell
On the Mariposa many were our woes
Is a mercy we haven't turned up our toes."
That's all for now. Happy Hunting!