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Trove Tuesday: The Sad Story of the Lost Child

I came across this tragic story when researching my Great Great Grandfather Edward (Ned) Battye on Trove.



Source: The Sad Story of the Lost Child. (1895, July 30). The Gundagai Times and Tumut, Adelong and Murrumbidgee District Advertiser (NSW : 1868 - 1931), p. 2. Retrieved November 5, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article123786462


Transcript:


The Sad Story of the Lost Child.FOUR NIGHTS IN THE KIMO RANGES.FOUND IN THE SNOW.

DEAD! The search party came upon the corpse of the lost girl, Ada Florence Field, early on Saturday.  She had been wandering about the Kimo ranges, since Tuesday afternoon, clothed only in a calico chemise and a turkey red pinafore.  She had been barefooted and bareheaded.  Although the weather was bitterly cold she died only on Saturday.  The girl was born on the 18th May, 1888, and was therefore a little over seven years old.  The father, Charles Field, is a prospector.  The mother is dead.  There are eight other children in the same family all living in extreme poverty, in a small badly furnished house on the Kimo Reef, about eight miles from Gundagai.  Ada had been attending a half-time school.
HOW SHE WAS LOST AND FOUND.
On Tuesday afternoon she went with her brother to look for goats.  The brother returned to the home for something, and when he went back his sister was nowhere to be found.  She had strayed into the bush.  About half -past 8 on Wednesday morning information was given to the police and a party of forty or fifty horsemen started out, and searched Johnson's Hill, Kimo, about three or four miles on the Yammatree road.  It is a mountainous country, full of gorges and scrub, and some of it is as tough as you could find in any part of Australia.
The search party had been told that the child was as hardy and wild as a deer, and that if she saw a horseman or heard a coo-ee she would be sure to hide.  On account of the gorges the men could not be divided to make a regular breast of the country.  In places they could not even ride their horses.  All day Wednesday the search was continued, but without effect.  It was then feared that the child had fallen over a cliff.
THE BLACK TRACKERS.
Sub-Inspector Jones sent that evening to Brungle, and two black trackers arrived in the morning.  The horsemen with the trackers then started out again, and scoured the country about Kimo and Nangus.  Every hole and corner was searched, but no trace could be found of the lost one.  At last they returned to town.  That evening Mr. Ned Battye, the gold miner, discovered the footprints of a barefooted child near a hollow log, about three miles from the Field's.  She had evidently been sleeping there.  On Friday morning the two blackfellows and about 90 men started from this point, and traced the child to the Yammatree-road.  There amidst the rocks the tracks were lost.  They went three or four miles further, but could find no more tracks.  Then they returned and searched high and low on each side of the road all that afternoon, but without result.  Just before dark, however, the blackfellows found the tracks at Robinson's dam.  The child had evidently been walking round the dam, but she did not go near the water.  Where she went to after leaving the dam they could not discover.
On Saturday morning the search was renewed in the same quarter, by horsemen from Gundagai, Kimo, Nangus, and Yammatree.  About half-past 10, the body of the child was found by Mr. Peter Boyton.  She was lying face downwards on the only patch of clear ground in the place, about 300yds. from the dam at which her tracks were lost on Friday.  It had been snowing there that morning, and the little corpse was as cold as a block of ice.  But she had only died that morning.  The jaw had not set, and the body was quite limp.  Sub-Inspector Jones hoped that she was still alive, and with the assistance of Mr. Battye did everything in his power to restore animation.  Her feet were swollen but not cut, and there were traces of tears upon her face.
THE HOME COMING.
She had got through a wire fence in order to enter the paddock.  The place was searched on Friday, but to no purpose, and the police are quite certain that she must have seen some of the party on that day, and the Sub-Inspector says it is probable that she got through the fence in order to avoid them.  What she suffered through the cold, hunger, thirst and fear of three days and three nights, it is impossible to imagine.  The experience would have killed a strong man.  When the body was carried to Fields' house there was a pathetic scene.  The brothers and sisters cried bitterly, and could not be consoled.  The father too was overcome with grief.
The greatest credit is due to those who went in search of the lost child.  Everything that could be done was done.  The parties were led by Sub-Inspector Jones and Sergeant McGuffie.  An order was given, without an inquiry, for the burial of little Ada, by the Police Magistrate, Mr. Weekes.


I did some quick research and have found out that Ada was buried at North Gundagai Cemetery.  I could not find her birth registration or her death registered as Field/s but did find it under Ada Heckner.

NSW BDM Death Index
8647/1895 HECKNER ADA CHARLES ELIZABETH GUNDAGAI

According to information I found on Trove, Elizabeth Heckner lived with Charles Field and had eleven children with him.  She died in 1891.



Source: NEWS OF THE WEEK. (1890, March 14). The Gundagai Times and Tumut, Adelong and Murrumbidgee District Advertiser (NSW : 1868 - 1931), p. 2. Retrieved November 6, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article123811062

Transcript: 

Elizabeth Heckler who lives with Field, deposed : Was present when the police and Cooper took away the two sheep now in the yard.  Bred one from Herring's ewe and one from Reardon's.  Those sheep I bred myself, and claim them as my own.  Have lived with Field for eighteen years and have eleven children.  Have no doubt about the sheep.  The constable told me not to interfere when he was taking them away.  Field often had stragglers given him.


Charles Field had been in trouble with the law on more than one occasion, including a case of horse stealing in 1893 for which he was found guilty and sentenced to 18 months. With their mother dead at this time, one wonders who looked after the children, it is possible they were all looking after each other as the older children would have been in their teens. Given the family history it is hardly surprising then that in 1895 Ada was 'wild' and would have run away from people, especially those in authority.  It is such a heartbreaking story, she was so close to help but too frightened of them to reach out for it.

New South Wales, Australia, Gaol Description and Entrance Books, 1818-1930 about Charles Field

Name: Charles Field
Birth Year: 1849
Birth Place: Liverpool, New South Wales, Australia
Age: 45
Vessel Arrived In: Born in Colony
Date of Admission/Photo: 28 Feb 1894
Gaol: Goulburn
Gaol Location: Goulburn, New South Wales
Record Type: Description Book


Source: Ancestry.com. New South Wales, Australia, Gaol Description and Entrance Books, 1818-1930 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012.



NSW BDM Birth Indexes

11986/1874 HECKNER THOMAS JOHN   ELIZABETH GUNDAGAI
13847/1878 FIELD CHARLES CHARLES ELIZABETH GUNDAGAI
14885/1879 FIELD MARK CHARLES ELIZABETH GUNDAGAI
17133/1882 HECKNER SUSAN A   ELIZABETH GUNDAGAI
18692/1883 HECKNER JOHN   LIZZIE GUNDAGAI
20909/1885 FIELD WILLIE CHARLES ELIZABETH GUNDAGAI
PPS 69M23/1885 HECKNER WILLIE CHARLES F ELIZABETH H
22284/1887 FIELD FREDERICK CHARLES ELIZABETH GUNDAGAI
15482/1890 FIELD HENRY CHARLES ELIZABETH GUNDAGAI
15482/1890 HECKNER HENRY CHARLES ELIZABETH GUNDAGAI

NSW BDM Death Indexes

6991/1891 HECKNER ELIZABETH UNKNOWN UNKNOWN GUNDAGAI
9510/1899 HECKNER CHARLES   ELIZABETH GUNDAGAI
14095/1903 FIELD WILLIAM CHARLES ELIZABETH GUNDAGAI
6001/1951 FIELD JOHN CHARLES ELIZABETH GUNDAGAI
32540/1951 FIELD MARK CHARLES ELIZABETH GUNDAGAI
19634/1962 FIELD FREDERICK JOSEPH CHARLES ELIZABETH GUNDAGAI

Source: NSW BDM Indexes. NSW Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages.  Retrieved from http://www.bdm.nsw.gov.au/

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