Breamlea, Victoria

Breamlea, Victoria

Friday, 21 August 2015

Unclaimed letters in Adelaide, South Australia in 1853

Adelaide newspaper article in 1853

Janet Salter's name in a list for Unclaimed Letters
 in Adelaide in 1853.

Just for a change, I searched Trove for an ancestor, this time Janet Salter.

Janet was a Scottish woman who came to Adelaide with her husband, arriving in 1839. South Australia was a fledgling state at that point, and I've read stories of how people had to wade through swampland with their possessions on their backs once they reached Adelaide.  Colonial times sure were a hoot.  Anyway, Janet buried two husbands in Adelaide poor thing, and married a third, called James Salter, in August 1851.  Hope springs eternal.

Around this same time, gold was discovered in the Forest Creek area of Victoria (that is around Castlemaine).  James and Janet Salter must have decided to try their luck in that area, and were settled in Chewton by 1855.  They must have travelled overland as there are no records I can find of them sailing. The journey wouldn't have been much shorter anyway from any Victorian port out to the goldfields.  To sail would have been expensive and I seriously doubt whether they could have afforded to sail. I shudder to think what travelling from Adelaide to Chewton overland would have been like with children in tow. I imagine wooden wagons and bullocks, not many possessions and lots of walking, but I don't know for sure.

So the two definite dates we have for James and Janet are:  August 1851 in Adelaide when they married AND August 1855 in Chewton.  So they travelled some time during that four year period.

Trawling through Trove yesterday, I discovered an unclaimed letter for Mrs. Janet Salter, published in two different South Australian newspapers for a total of 5 times.  Although there are Salters in Adelaide at this time, there are no other Janet Salters, so I know it is her letter. The notices appeared in these newspapers:

  • 7 May 1853 - Adelaide Observer
  • same day - South Australian Register
  • 14 January 1854 - Adelaide Observer
  • 16 January 1854 - South Australian Register
  • 20  February 1854 - South Australian Register

So, with these dates in mind, if Janet did not collect her letter in May 1853, she had likely already left Adelaide by that date.

We have narrowed the date of their leaving Adelaide down to less than 2 years now, between August 1851 when they married in Adelaide and May 1853. Of course, nothing is set in stone with genealogy.

The next question is, who wrote to her and how did they know she was by then Mrs. Salter?

Historically yours,
Valerius Copernicus

If anyone out there knows of a book or any further information as to how people travelled from Adelaide to Victoria in the early 1850s,  please let me know.

Trove Citation:

23 UNCLAIMED LETTERS.—APRIL 30, 1853. South Australian Register (Adelaide, SA : 1839 - 1900) 3 1853 7 May 1853 Adelaide, SA 22 August 2015 

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