My next big clue in my hunt for my great-great grandmother Sarah Stead and her abandoned sons, was a response from another helpful Australian who sent me the index entry for my Sarah's death registration in New South Wales
explaining how I could order a copy of Sarah's death certificate. It was
an exciting day for me when it finally arrived! I had not realized that
Australian death certificates provide details on all children of the
Also registered was the death of Ebenezer T.
Stead, died 1867, parents William and Sarah. According to the actual
death certificate, Sarah died of Typhus on 8 June 1867, aged 31. Typhus
is a disease transmitted by body lice, but ship Typhus takes a different
form, and is transmitted by rat fleas, which bite humans and pass the
disease on to them. It has a high mortality rate and is usually found in
impoverished, overcrowded conditions.
It was looking
like Sarah had a son (Ebenezer), but died shortly after, and that her
son Ebenezer died also. What a tragedy! 31 year old Sarah, pregnant with
her 5th child, embarking on a new life in a new country with her
husband and 4 children under the age of 7, bitten by rat fleas and dead 2
weeks after arriving in Sydney.
Sarah's Death Certificate gave this information:
Her brother-in-law Edward
Crunden Stead was the official undertaker where Sarah was buried at
Haslem's Creek Cemetery, now Rookwood Cemetery.
now had so much new information that I hardly knew what path to follow
next in my genealogy research! I had all Sarah's children - their names
and approximate years of birth. I had a clue to finding Sarah's marriage
to William Stead. I had much more than I set out asking for! My
original intent was simply to find out what happened to poor Sarah and
her two abandoned sons.
Forcing myself to not become
distracted, I tried to focus on Sarah and her sons William, Charles and
Edward. Who went back to England with my great-grandmother Sarah and her
father, and who was left behind in Australia? That was my burning
The answers to my questions did not take long. See all 4 parts in the series Abandoned in Australia