Tilbrook reports that sisters 'Elizabeth and Helen (or Ellen) Tainan arrived at St Joseph's Orphanage for Girls in 1865, four years after it opened. They were looked after by the first schoolmistress at the orphanage, Mrs Judith Butler.' (see page189, with photo).
Placement by Parents
Children were sometimes placed by their parents in St Joseph's New Norcia, though bureaucracy could delay good intentions as this example shows:
'Widower Charlie Fitzgerald found he was unable to look after his family and at the same time tend to his [Chinese vegetable] gardens. Wishing to do what was best for them, he made an arrangement with New Norcia mission for some of the girls to be sent there, where they would be cared for and receive an education. The girls were placed on the train, and were to be met at the station and driven to New Norcia by their uncle. On the same day that they were travelling, a number of children were being sent to Moore River Settlement on the train. When they arrived at the railway station, the girls' uncle was late. The station master assumed that they were really meant to be going to Moore River Settlement and so bundled them off with the other children. When their uncle arrived, he found no nieces and thought that their step-father had changed his mind at the last moment. It was one month before the error was finally sorted out, and the girls reached their intended destination, New Norcia Mission. (Tilbrook, p.137)'
Government placement of children of single Aboriginal mothers
The following example of this policy is given by Tilbrook:
'Mary Helen or Ellen Pangieran was born in Bunbury in 1847. Because her mother had been deserted by Mary's European father, the government authorities considered that she was unable to bring up her daughter on her own. As a consequence, Mary was sent to New Norcia Mission to receive an education. Mary grew up at New Norcia, where she met Benedict Cooper or Cuper. The couple were married and had a small family. In 1873 the telegraph line from Perth to Geraldton was completed as far as New Norcia, and Mary Cooper was appointed as the first telegraphist and post-mistress. She ran the small post office, and tended to her house which was built adjoining the office, until her early death from tuberculosis in 1877. (p.177). '
New Norcia Archives is a collection of records, photographs and memorabilia relating to the activities of the Benedictine monks in Western Australia. There is information about: Drysdale River Mission; Kalumburu; St Joseph's School for Aboriginal Girls and St Mary's Mission, New Norcia; and Subiaco Boys' Orphanage.
New Norcia and Benedictine Community records:
Benedictine Community of New Norcia
Great Northern Highway, New Norcia WA 6509
Phone: (08) 9654 8018
18 November 2013
Cite this: http://www.findandconnect.gov.au/guide/ref/WE00566
First published by the Find & Connect Web Resource Project for the Commonwealth of Australia, 2011
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