Author Topic: [SOLVED - THANKS] A HARPER Conundrum  (Read 12912 times)

Offline teckyhead

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[SOLVED - THANKS] A HARPER Conundrum
« on: Friday 03 February 12 05:34 GMT (UK) »
Hi All,

I found this board whilst doing some research, so I thought I'd ask about a curious situation with my great grandfather, Wilfred Eric Harper. I have some information from family and some from doing searches but there are mismatches and quirks in some of the info. Here's what I know so far and where the info came from (at this stage most of my searches have been on the ancestry.com.au website):

Information that I received from my uncle says his grandparents were:

Wilfred Eric Harper b. ?/?/1875 in Mannum, South Australia d. 4 Aug 1921 aged 46 years

Rachel May Johnson (which I've since discovered is Rachel May Johnston) - this is how I found this forum. A post at http://www.rootschat.com/forum/index.php/topic,503076.20.html mentions the Johnston family from Ouyen and May (Rachel May).

Online records list a Wilfred Eric Harper who died in 1921 in Mildura aged 52. That's the first problem - 6 years difference in the age provided by my uncle vs. the online record - and it's a very important point as I'll explain shortly. I do know that my grandfather (Robert John Harper) and several of his siblings were born in Ouyen.

Here's the next issue. Some years ago Ken MacKenzie Wright wrote a book titled 'A Land Fit For Heroes'. He talks about our family, but references a 'Wilfred Edward Harper' whose military record I found here:

http://www.aif.adfa.edu.au:8080/showPerson?pid=127661

It says in the 'misc details' that his given names were 'Wilfred Ernest'.

I had dismissed this Wilfred as a different person until I noticed a couple of things:

1. He (Wilfred Ernest) enlisted from the Murray Bridge area which is just south of Mannum where my great grandfather was born. One conflicting issue is that my grandfather was born in Ouyen in 1913 so I'm not sure why Wilfred would be back in S.A. in 1915.

2. He enlisted at age 46 and was only away for 7 months from Sep 1915 to April 1916. That works if he actually died at age 52 rather than at age 46 and fits in with the birth dates of my grandfather and his siblings.

What muddies this a bit further is that the death records at the ancestry website for the parents of Charles Wilfred Eric Harper (a confirmed sibling of my grandfather) shows as:

Fathers Name: Erne William
Mothers Name: Rachel May Johnston

Another sibling's death record, Alan Vincent Hartshorn (he changed his name from Harper) shows:

Fathers Name: Wilfred Harper
Mothers Name: Mabel

Yet another sibling, Leslie Rex Joseph Harper has the parents:

Fathers name: Eric Wilfred
Mothers Name: Mab Rachel


I'm not sure where Mabel Harper fits in but she does show as sharing the same address as Rachel May Harper in Ballarat according to electoral records. Charles, Leslie and Alan were definitely brothers and there's no suggestion of a Jack Thompson-esque arrangement in their household :).

Much of the Harper info I have has come from my uncle and he also said the following:

------------------------------
I do not think that Wright’s facts are correct. A search of Boer War records does not show a Wilfred Eric Harper as Soldier No. 697 but does show a Wilfred Ernest Harper as Soldier No. 679. This is definitely not my grandfather as this man was aged 46yrs 5mths at enlistment and my grandfather died in 1921 aged 46 years+

The following is correct, however :
On return to Australia from the war great grandfather Harper was allocated a Soldier Settler block in Red Cliffs.
He died of stomach cancer on 04.12.1921, aged 46 years (some 13 years before I was born).

This left Grandmother Harper in all sorts of difficulties and unable to care for her children ( 8 ) and maintain the block at the same she had no choice but to put it up for sale..

She moved to Ballarat where she obtained a position as a cook at the Ballarat Orphanage (Victoria Street, Ballarat East) with accommodation made available at that institution for the children.

Later on in life she also worked for a time as a cook for the then Premier of Victoria, Sir Henry Bolte, and his shearers, on his property at Meredith.

She never remarried following the death of her husband, Will.
----------------------------

That raises the question of where Wilfred Eric Harper died. The only listing I could find for a Wilfred Eric Harper that died in 1921 is the one at Mildura.

I noticed that in previous posts, the BMD CD's have been mentioned. Do they have additional or more accurate info and is it worth purchasing them to try and figure out the answer to this mystery?

What should my next step be?

Gary

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Offline ~MERLIN~

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Re: A HARPER Conundrum
« Reply #1 on: Friday 03 February 12 05:46 GMT (UK) »
The Wilfred Eric HARPER that died 1921 in Mildura has these names as his parents are they correct?

HARPER Wilfred Eric age 52yrs d. 1921 MILDURA #15181
Father: Harper Saml
Mother: Norah  RYAN




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Offline cando

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Re: A HARPER Conundrum
« Reply #2 on: Friday 03 February 12 05:50 GMT (UK) »
I can't find a birth for a Wilfred Eric HARPER in SA in 1875.

HARPER Wilfred Eric
Father Harper Samuel  Mother Norah  RYAN
At Mildura  52 years  1921  Reg#15181


There is a digitised WW1 service record that you need to read which will give you more information.
Wilfred's attestation paper - mention of Ouyen
http://recordsearch.naa.gov.au/NAAMedia/ShowImage.asp?B=4420282&S=1&T=R

Search on http://www.naa.gov.au/collection/using/search/

Cando




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Offline cando

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Re: A HARPER Conundrum
« Reply #3 on: Friday 03 February 12 05:52 GMT (UK) »
I wonder if there has been some name changes..

There is this birth

HARPER William James
Father Samuel Mother Honora RYAN
1875 at BOLI    Reg#7335

Cando


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Offline teckyhead

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Re: A HARPER Conundrum
« Reply #4 on: Friday 03 February 12 05:54 GMT (UK) »
Thanks for the pointers - I'll check them out.

Yes, I became quite confused regarding Norah and Honorah (another spelling on some records). There's also a transcription from the grave of Samuel and Hanora.

Gary

Offline Neil Todd

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Re: A HARPER Conundrum
« Reply #5 on: Friday 03 February 12 05:54 GMT (UK) »
Hi and a very very big welcome to Rootschat the premier site for tracking those illusive ancestors. ;D ;D

Gee you made the first one a good post, lots of info. :D

Have you purchased the Victorian death record? If not do so the Victorian records are second to none they will show any marriages and living or dead spuses same for children, well worth the money.

Thats the first step. Dont rely on DC for ages, it is or could be someone who may have not known the correct age. It very much depends on the closeness of the informant.

Once you have that a lot of your questions may be answered. :D

Also marriage cert for last of wives if more than one. It again will have direct from the horses mouth about ages and names. 8)

RED FLAG.....You need to find the correct birth first by the looks of things.
Neil ;)
Grewl,Nickerseens,flombastion,Everheads

Offline teckyhead

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Re: A HARPER Conundrum
« Reply #6 on: Friday 03 February 12 06:14 GMT (UK) »
I can't find a birth for a Wilfred Eric HARPER in SA in 1875.

HARPER Wilfred Eric
Father Harper Samuel  Mother Norah  RYAN
At Mildura  52 years  1921  Reg#15181


There is a digitised WW1 service record that you need to read which will give you more information.
Wilfred's attestation paper - mention of Ouyen
http://recordsearch.naa.gov.au/NAAMedia/ShowImage.asp?B=4420282&S=1&T=R

Search on http://www.naa.gov.au/collection/using/search/

Cando


Yep - that's the record my uncle mentioned. It's in the right place, with possibly the right wife but we're not sure he belongs to our family due to other sketchy info.

Gary

Offline cando

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Re: A HARPER Conundrum
« Reply #7 on: Friday 03 February 12 06:48 GMT (UK) »
Quote
What muddies this a bit further is that the death records at the ancestry website for the parents of Charles Wilfred Eric Harper (a confirmed sibling of my grandfather) shows as:

Fathers Name: Erne William
Mothers Name: Rachel May Johnston

Another sibling's death record, Alan Vincent Hartshorn (he changed his name from Harper) shows:

Fathers Name: Wilfred Harper
Mothers Name: Mabel

Yet another sibling, Leslie Rex Joseph Harper has the parents:

Fathers name: Eric Wilfred
Mothers Name: Mab Rachel

Death certificates are so often inaccurate.  I would not base my research from information on death certs...need to look further.

Births
HARPER Chas Wilfred Eric
Father Wilfred Eric  Mother Mabel JOHNSTON
at Ouyen  1914  Reg#25166

HARPER Alan Verdun
14 Mar 1916
Father Wilfred Eric HARPER  Mother Mabel JOHNSTON
At Prospect  Ade 975/155
Cross Reference See also: HARTSHORN Alan Vincent - same details.

HARPER Kathleen Mary
24 Jun 1917
Father Wilfred Ernest HARPER  Mother Mabel JOHNSTON
At Parkside  Ade 1A/385

Are you confusing the generations?

Cando



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Offline teckyhead

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Re: A HARPER Conundrum
« Reply #8 on: Friday 03 February 12 06:58 GMT (UK) »
Hi and a very very big welcome to Rootschat the premier site for tracking those illusive ancestors. ;D ;D

Have you purchased the Victorian death record? If not do so the Victorian records are second to none they will show any marriages and living or dead spuses same for children, well worth the money.

Thanks for the warm welcome and HUGE tip. I did a search on the VIC BDM site and found one entry for one of my grandfather's siblings. I purchased the image and it listed the parents as:

Father: Wilfred Eric Harper
Mother: Rachel Mable Jean Harper (maiden name Johnstone)

The informant was my great uncles wife and I believe Johnstone is an incorrect spelling of Johnston.

Armed with the confirmation that his father's name really was Wilfred Eric I then purchased the image for Wilfred  Eric Harper. It confirmed that he had been from Red Cliffs (i.e. the soldier settler land), had died from 'Gastric Carcinoma'. It also lists his age as 52 (not 46 as we had believed) and lists my grandfather and all of his siblings and a Johnston as the wife. It's a hand written record of 'Deaths in the district of Mildura' and the wife's name looks kind of like 'Mab' which explains why that showed up in some of the online records at ancestry.

It's certainly confirmed that the Wilfred who is buried at Mildura cemetery is ours.

As my uncle mentioned, when Wilfred died, my great grandmother was left with eight children to care for. Their ages are also listed at the time he died. They were 9, 8, 7, 5, 4, 2 and twin girls who were under 2 years of age. It must have been such a tough time for her. They had married when he was 40, so had only been married for 12 years.

It does seem that Wilfred travelled around the eastern states a bit as the record says he was married in Tasmania (that may help in tracing my great grandmother's side of the family) and I know that one of his children was born in Wentworth, NSW.

The informant for Wilfred's death was 'Sydney Clarence Austin - Authorised Agent'.

Thanks again for that tip. I had been to the Vic BDM site but it hadn't even crossed my mind to purchase images.

Gary