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February 3, 2018

Woman of Courage Sarah Stead 1836-1867

Because February is Women's History Month I wanted to share with my readers the story of strong and courageous women in my life. You will be able to follow along as you wish by choosing the label "Women of Courage" in the right side bar. I encourage my readers to join me in honoring women of courage in your own families.
Sarah Elvery Stead 1867
Sarah Elvery has always been an ancestor whose life story brings tears to my eyes. Born in Kent England in 1836, Sarah grew up in a hard-working family. At the age of 20 she married William Stead, a local gardener. William was deaf, having suffered from measles as a 10 year old and losing his hearing as a result. 

Children soon followed in rapid succession - Edward, William Jr. and Charles. In 1862 their only daughter, my great-grandmother Sarah, was born. Sadly one year later little 6 year old Edward died. 1866 saw the birth of another son who they named Edward after their deceased first-born son.

William decided the family would emigrate from England to Australia where his brother had been living since 1855. It was 1867, the Civil War was barely over in the United States, and 29 year old Sarah was pregnant with her 6th child.

The voyage on the Light Brigade was a rough one. They encountered many storms and the voyage was much longer than normal. Sarah was nearing her time to deliver her child an they were still at sea. Then tragedy struck. Sarah gave birth to a son who they named Ebenezer but shortly after his birth she was bitten by a flea on a rat, and fell ill with Typhus. When the ship reached Sydney Harbour, they were quarantined and poor Sarah died on board without ever setting foot on land.
My mother at Sarah's grave

Sarah would no doubt have been heart-broken at what happened next. William took his 5 year old daughter Sarah and 7 year old son Charles back to England, leaving his other two sons behind with his brother. They were later adopted by William's brother, and William himself remarried in England one year later and had more children with his new wife.


ScotSue said...

Such a sad story!

Jan P said...

You have so many details about your great-great-grandmother. She lives through your story. Love the picture of her, and of your mother at Sarah's grave. The gravesone looks like it packs alot of information. Times were very hard on people in the not so distant past and this is such a story. And yet look at the amazing people to whom she gave life.