Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Not sorry my ancestor was stolen

I was unhappy with today's events.
I am sad and sorry for those who were treated without respect and dignity over the last 200 + years of white settlement in Australia.
I am sorry some feel they were "stolen" from their families when the reasons may have been for the safety of the child.
Some relatives have claimed our ancestor was "stolen" and demanded an apology.
But I'm not sorry my great grandmother was "stolen".
She was born to the Jarra Jarra people who lived near Bendigo. She was not a half caste but after her mother died when she was only a few months old her father asked a local farming family to care for her.
She was brought up to call them mother and father and assume their surname.
She was made to help clean the kitchen and help around the farm but it was right alongside the other women and children doing the same.
She was very well educated and was able to do accounts for several businesses when she was an adult.
Her letters show her beautiful copperplate script writing and excellent command of grammar and wit.
She was a fierce woman.
She brought up her many children and grandchildren mostly on her own, she managed her farming properties on her own when each of her 3 husbands died and lost several sons to WW1.
She ran a successful bakery in Bendigo for many years after she retired from farming.
During all this time she was able to visit with her biological father and brothers.
People knew she'd killed her 3rd husband but they also knew the reason and felt they'd have done exactly the same in her position. She was never questioned or charged.
She was nearly 6 ft tall and held herself very straight, travelled interstate many times to visit her married children, spoke a little of other languages which she taught and played the piano, which she also taught.
She lived to the age of 95 and always stated she'd had a wonderful life.
I'm not sorry she was "stolen".


  1. Yeah you could be right. I think there's a difference between an Aboriginal man asking a local white family to look after a child, and a policy in which a government systematically removes children from their parents without warning.

  2. Yeah the difference is that her father did what a lot of men were doing when they couldn't look after young children on their own.

  3. What a nice article and a refreshing difference to all the other’s that only talk about compensation and apology not sufficient. I hope you don’t mind that I quote you in this post ( ), but if you do, let me know, I will take it off.

  4. Your great grandmother sounds like an amazing and strong woman. I'm glad there are stories for which we don't have to be sorry for. Some of the children were given willing and some were taken for valid reason. If only that was all that was done...

  5. What amazing achievements back then for someone who I presume was a full blood aborigine. Odd that anyone would consider her stolen.

  6. I wonder how good the records were of those that were placed with other families? I am sure many were stolen but a proportion must have been taken away for good reason and others 'given away' as in your grandmother's case.