Skip to main content

Monday Mystery - Missing twins: Laura and Clara Stevens/Stephens


My Great Grand Aunts Laura and Clara Stevens/Stephens were the twin daughters of Thomas Stevens and his wife Jane (nee Henderson).  According to the 1998 published 'Stevens Family History' the girls were baptised on the 23rd November 1886 at Adjungbilly, in the Catholic Parish of Gundagai.  Apparently Laura was recorded as Stevens and Clara as Stephens (Thomas was known to use both)  Maybe on that day they couldn't decide which was more appropriate!  The official family history contained few other details about them, believing that Laura had died at a very early age and Clara had married and moved away from the family.

Laura Stevens 1886-1906?

The only records I can find for a Laura Stevens/Stephens born c.1886 are the following:
 
 NSW BDM Death Indexes
Registration Number  Last Name  Given Name(s)  Father's Given Name(s)  Mother's Given Name(s)  District 
14566/1906 STEVENS LAURA 19 YRS WAGGA   WAGGA WAGGA  
Source: Death Registration for Laura Stevens. Retrieved from  http://www.bdm.nsw.gov.au/





Source: SHOCKING BURNING FATALITY. (1906, December 25). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 5. Retrieved May 20, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article14822352




Transcript:

SHOCKING BURNING FATALITY.
WAGGA, Monday.

A magisterial inquiry was conducted yesterday into the circumstances surrounding the death of Laura Stephens, aged 19, cook and laundress, with Mrs. Bardwell, of Oberne House, Humula, which occurred on Friday.  The girl was working alone in the kitchen when her apron and dress caught fire through the stove door being open.  She rushed into the open air, but before Mrs. Bardwell could render assistance the girl was terribly burnt about the legs and lower part of the body.  Mrs. Bardwell drove her into Wagga Hospital, where she died on Saturday evening.  A verdict of accidental death was returned.





Source: BURNT TO DEATH. (1907, January 2). The Gundagai Independent and Pastoral, Agricultural & Mining Advocate (NSW : 1898 - 1928), p. 4. Retrieved October 6, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article120268445



Transcript:

BURNT TO DEATH.
SHOCKING FATE OF AN EX-GUNDAGAI GIRL.

A shocking accident occurred on Friday, 21st December, when Laura Stephens, aged 19, a cook and laundress employed at Mrs Bardwell's sustained fatal injuries while preparing dinner.
It appears that at 11 o'clock on Friday morning the unfortunate girl was working in the kitchen of Oberne House.  Mrs. Bardwell, who was in a room upstairs, heard cries of distress coming from the kitchen, and on looking over the balcony she saw the girl running out of the kitchen with her dress and petticoat in flames.  Mrs Bardwell hurried downstairs, wrapped a rug round deceased, and exinguished the flames.  It was then seen that the girl was severely burnt.  She told Mrs Bardwell that she was lifting the saucepan off the stove, when her apron and her dress caught fire from the door of the stove, which was open.  A conveyance was procured with all possible speed, and driven by Mr. Burt to the Wagga Hospital, Mrs Bardwell being also in the vehicle looking after the patient.  Dr. Moncrieff was called to attend to the girl, and he found her suffering from profound shock and severe burns on the legs and lower part of the body.  The patient lingered through Friday night, but despite the attention bestowed upon her, she expired at 4 p.m. on Saturday.
A magisterial inquiry was held by the Deputy Coroner (MR. P. Hann, J.P..) on Sunday, when evidence was given by Mrs Bardwell, Mr. Richard Burt, farmer of Tarcutta), and Dr. Moncrieff, and a verdict of accidental death was recorded.
The funeral took place at, the Roman Catholic portion of the Wagga Cemetery on Monday, the Rev. Father Mullins officiating Mr. J. McIntosh was the undertaker.
The unfortunate girl was well-known in Gundagai, up to a few months ago having been resident in Gundagai.





Source: PERSONAL, SOCIAL, RELIGIOUS. (1907, January 1). The Gundagai Times and Tumut, Adelong and Murrumbidgee District Advertiser (NSW : 1868 - 1931), p. 2. Retrieved October 6, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article127404892


Transcript:

Miss Laura Stephens, aged 19, employed as cook and laundress at Oberne station, Humula, was cooking on December 21, when her clothes caught fire.  She rushed into the yard, where Mrs. Bardwell, wife of the owner, smothered the flames with a rug, but the girl was by then seriously burnt.  She was driven to the Wagga Hospital, a distance of about 40 miles, and lingered until Saturday afternoon.  At a magisterial inquiry a verdict of accidental death was recorded.  The deceased was for some time employed by Mrs. Tracy, at the Club House hotel, Gundagai, and only left Gundagai for Oberne station about two months ago.




Source: COOLAC. (1907, January 2). The Gundagai Independent and Pastoral, Agricultural & Mining Advocate (NSW : 1898 - 1928), p. 2. Retrieved October 6, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article120268475

Transcript:

The tragic end of an ex-Coolac girl, Miss Laura Stevens, who was burned to death at Oberne last week, came as a shock.  Her brothers and sister heard the news too late to be able to get to the funeral.

New South Wales, Australia, Registers of Coroners' Inquests, 1796-1942 about Laura Stevens

Name: Laura Stevens
Inquest Date: 23 Dec 1906
Inquest Location: Wagga Wagga
Death Place: Wagga Wagga
Age: 19

Estimated Birth Year: abt 1887

'Verdict: Effects of burns accidentally received'


Source: Ancestry.com. New South Wales, Australia, Registers of Coroners' Inquests, 1796-1942 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc.

NSW BDM Death Certificate for Laura Stevens


Is she our Laura?  While I believe it is likely, unfortunately I cannot say for sure.  I was hoping her death certificate would prove it one way or the other but as the Deputy Coroner was the informant and not a family member the details are lacking.  The research continues and I am hopeful that an answer will be found one day.

Clara Mary Colbert (nee Stevens) 1886-1974 

From further investigation I found that Clara Mary Stevens had married Robert Colbert at Cootamundra, New South Wales in 1911.  Robert was a blacksmith by trade and after their marriage the young couple moved to Tallangatta in Victoria.  Things did not go smoothly for the young couple, they lost their first daughter Mary in 1911, followed by their twins in 1913 and in 1914 Robert was declared insolvent. Their surviving son Robert Colbert was born in 1914 and daughter Stella Verdun Dempsey (nee Colbert) in 1916.  Robert Colbert died in 1972 and Clara died in 1974 they were both buried in the Springvale Botanical Cemetery Victoria.


NSW BDM Marriage Indexes 



Registration Number  Groom's Surname  Groom's Given Name(s)  Bride's Last Name
at Time of Marriage 
Bride's Given Name(s)  District *
1321/1911 COLBERT ROBERT STEVENS CLARA M COOTAMUNDRA


Source: Marriage Registration for Robert Colbert & Clara Stevens. Retrieved from http://www.bdm.nsw.gov.au

Victorian BDM Death Certificate for Clara Mary Colbert

Source: Death Certificate for Clara Mary Colbert. Retrieved from  https://online.justice.vic.gov.au/bdm/index-search?action=getHistIdxSearchCriteria

Name: Mary Colbert
Death Place: Tallangatta, Victoria
Age: 1
Father's Name: Colbert Robt
Mother's Name: Clara Stevens
Registration Year: 1911
Registration Place: Victoria
Registration number: 11144
Estimated Birth Year: abt 1910

Source: Ancestry.com. Australia Death Index, 1787-1985 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010.

 Australia Death Index, 1787-1985 about Colbert

Name: Colbert
Death Place: Fitzroy, Victoria
Father's Name: Colbert Robt
Mother's Name: Clara Stephens
Registration Year: 1913
Registration Place: Victoria
Registration number: 5445

Australia Death Index, 1787-1985 about Colbert

Name: Colbert
Death Place: Fitzroy, Victoria
Father's Name: Colbert Robt
Mother's Name: Clara Stephens
Registration Year: 1913
Registration Place: Victoria
Registration number: 5446

 Source: Ancestry.com. Australia Death Index, 1787-1985 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010.

Trove Newspaper Articles 




Source:WEDDING BELLS. (1911, March 17). Albury Banner and Wodonga Express (NSW : 1896 - 1939), p. 28. Retrieved May 20, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article101165823


Transcript:

Another of our young townsmen joined the benedicts last week (says our Tallangatta correspondent), when Mr. Robert Colbert was joined in wedlock to Miss Clara Stephens.  The marriage ceremony took place in Cootamundra, where the bride's relatives reside.  The bridegroom is the second son of Mr. John Colbert, of Sandy Creek, but was at one time secretary of the shire of Towong.





Source:  WEDDING BELLS. (1911, March 10). Albury Banner and Wodonga Express (NSW : 1896 - 1939), p. 45. Retrieved May 20, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article101163497


Transcript:

A very pretty wedding was celebrated at the R.C. Church, Cootamundra, on 28th February, th contracting parties being Miss Clara Stevens, youngest daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Stevens, Bongongo, and Mr. Robert Colbert, youngest son of Mr. and Mrs. John Colbert, Tallangatta.  The bride was very neatly attired in white silk, and wore the customary wreath and veil.  Mrs. W.J. Greene (sister of bride) acted as bridesmaid.  Their future home will be Tallangatta.




Source: Tallangatta. (1911, May 12). Albury Banner and Wodonga Express (NSW : 1896 - 1939), p. 3. Retrieved May 20, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article101168970


Transcript:

Mr. R. Colbert has started business on his own in the smithy opposite the police camp, which was formerly used by Mr. R. Cordingly.  Mr. Colbert is well known as a first class shoer and is almost sure to do well.


Source: Wodonga & Towong Sentinel. (1914, June 12). Wodonga and Towong Sentinel (Vic. : 1885 - 1954), p. 2. Retrieved May 20, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article71340494


Transcript:

New Insolvent.- Robert Colbert, Tallangatta, blacksmith.  Liabilities, £98 7/1 ; assets £53 6/ ; deficiency, £45 1/1.  Causes of Insolvency-Carrying on unprofitable business at Sunbury, want of capital, sickness of wife, and inability to collect debts owing.  Mr. Joseph Brann, Chiltern, assignee.  A meeting of creditors will be held at the Wodonga court house at 1030 a.m. next Thursday.



 
 Source: PERSONAL. (1947, February 28). Wodonga and Towong Sentinel (Vic. : 1885 - 1954), p. 3. Retrieved May 20, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article69593844


Transcript:

Old residents of Tallangatta in Mr and Mrs Bob Colbert, have decided to leave Tallangatta and settle at Myrtleford.  For some time Mr Colbert, who is in the employ of the Railway Department, has been engaged at Myrtleford.  When his father, the late John Colbert, was appointed Shire Secretary at Tallangatta, about 60 years ago, Bob, a native of Bethanga, came to Tallangatta with the family.  He received most of his schooling at Tallangatta.  After leaving school be became apprenticed to a blacksmith at Wodonga.  He then went to St. James, afterwards tried his fortune in New Zealand and Tamworth.  In 1908 be returned to Tallangatta and was engaged at his trade for some years.  About 14 years ago he joined the railways, where he has since been employed.  Their friends tendered them a valedictory social.














Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Trove Tuesday - The Murder of Patrick McCooey

These articles involve my 5th Great Grandmother Ann Puckeridge (nee Maund) and her son William Puckeridge (my half 4th Great grand Uncle).  Ann was born in England and married her first husband Joseph Puckeridge around 1796.  There are records of two children being baptised in St Marylebone, Middlesex,   England for this couple Sarah (1799-?) and James (1800-?).  Their lives took a turn in 1800, when Joseph was sentenced to death for stealing scotch ticking, this sentence was later remitted to transportation for Life.  In 1801 Joseph, the convict and Ann his free wife arrived in Australia on board the ship Earl Cornwallis , their English born children's fate is unknown.  They went on to have the following children in Australia: William (1802-1877), John (1804-1885), Ann Sawyer nee Puckeridge (1806-1882), Mary Ann (1809-1818), Richard (1812-1881), Joseph (1814-1857) and Henry (1817-1819).   Joseph worked as a brickmaker in Australia and died in Sydney in 1818.  In 1820 Ann married J

The Kendall Children.

I started this post a while ago and was going to finally finish and post it yesterday however our four grandchildren came over and I got sidetracked.  Our grandchildren range in age now from six down to one;  they are so full of life (each of them lights up a room when they enter it) and we feel extremely blessed to have them in our lives.  After spending the afternoon researching this post, their arrival made this tragedy even more poignant for me and so I appreciated their company even more than usual and hugged them a bit tighter too!  This morning I woke up to a cold, wet and windy Wagga day and the thought of three little girls out in August weather like this, in light weight dresses with no shoes or jumpers impacted on me even more. Those poor babies! One of the girls was found still clasping her doll that she had carried with her over the whole tragic journey. When my husband and I were looking around the Wagga Wagga Monumental Cemetery some time ago we came across a very sad he

Trove Tuesday - Death of a Centenarian

The year I turned twelve my Great Great Grandmother Flora Ann Worldon nee McDonnell passed away just two months short of her 105th birthday.  She was born at the Inn owned by her Father and Uncle at Five Mile Creek, Gundagai in 1875; the ruins of which can be still seen today near the 'Dog on the Tuckerbox' and lived a full and interesting life. Growing up she had always been part of the family folklore.  I have always known her to be my oldest ancestor at the time of their death but now it seems that my 5th Great Grandmother Ann Costello nee Hogan at 105 years of age has overtaken her for top ranking. There do seem to be some embellishments and discrepancies in the article however, she had been in Australia for only twenty nine years not over half a century and her immigration files have her birth year c.1798 rather than c.1782 that would be required for her to die in 1887 aged 105, so more research is required for verification of her exact age. Source: DEATH OF A CENT