I can’t remember the names of the 3 Musketeers, but I’ve got D’Artagnan in my head with the catch cry “all for one, one for all!” This is not a blog post connecting Alexandre Dumas’ novels to St Helena Island, though the Count of Monte Christo could apply! It’s more the recognition of the amazing team of three that have been powering the ‘St Helena Community’ in 2018.
Our recent get together occurred at the Qld State Archives on December 8th 2018. Just imagine if you can, how much of a buzz there was for the three of us history research fanatics to gather together for a day at the State Archives. I’d left my kids at home to allow full focus, and it was ‘on’ the moment we stepped through the door. Thankfully the new look State Archives with armchair seating in the Memory Lounge and rearranged workspaces for collaborative work allowed us to talk incessantly while drawing out every book we could find. Sandy had the last ones still appearing 15 minutes before close, a gallant effort!
When your research site is as big as an island with a complex history of Indigenous culture, natural heritage and unique cultural heritage, it’s hard to know where to begin. But 2018 was the time to just begin and try to unearth much of St Helena Island’s untold stories and social history. Having been linked with this site as Tour Guide, Ranger, Teacher, researcher and Tour Guide Instructor for over 20 years, I knew how much of St Helena’s history lay dormant in the archives, waiting to be told. I was acutely aware that we were repeatedly sharing the known handful of escape and murder stories year after year, without ever looking for other sides of the story. I was aware of how much we needed to link St Helena’s stories to the events, politics and cultures of the global world.
Our 3 musketeers all love following the research thread back in time – to see where it leads. There’s a sleuthing element to it, feeling like a detective that uncovers unexpected surprises or a treasure that changes everything. That’s already happened this year.
Sandy discovered her ancestor Elizabeth Crompton’s death certificate and in the process realised her own personal connection to St Helena Island due to the fact that Elizabeth was buried on St Helena Island. Belinda and Lauren then uncovered a new era of the island’s history by realising that the Crompton family were lime burning on St Helena Island in 1865, well before the Lime Kiln was established by the St Helena Penal Establishment.
Belinda discovered 6 new deaths and 8 new burials in the Warders’ Children’s Cemetery this year. My research into families who were living on the island helped me narrow down potential candidates and we now know that the cemetery is double the size it used to be. If you haven’t had the chance yet, download the free ebook now.
Given that 2018 was the 100th anniversary of World War 1, Belinda decided to pursue the answer to a long held question – how many St Helena warders were involved in World War 1? Research last week uncovered one more warder and confirmed another was not on St Helena Island after all. So the tally stands at 19 warders and I think I’m close. These stories connect us all from our specific place in the world and from the life we live, to the global conflicts embroiling so many countries and to ideologies that laid waste to so may individuals.
Last week we were on a roll. Sandy and I wanted to finish off some loose ends that had tugged at our hearts. We followed up on stories that had tugged out hearts, like Benjamin Rudhall’s orphaned children, and discovered the youngest child George, was admitted to an institution due to mental health issues before he turned 20. At least we were able to see that his older sisters were looking out for him. We also have confirmation on 2 soldier/warders that headed to the Northern Territory together, so I’ll finish off 2018 with blog posts for those as they are great stories.
I’m aiming for another eBook on the St Helena Warder / Soldiers in the New Year. And on Saturday we were starting research for a very exciting new project that will be happening in 2019. Stay tuned next year, it’s BIG and its exciting! It’ll keep all three of us doing what we love – researching our local Moreton Bay history – for a while yet!