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Still Tracking Helen Carnegie/Ferguson/Chick

My two previous blogs on my gg grandmother Helen Carnegie were on 28 November 2009 and 28 January 2010. When we left the story, I was waiting for an email from a Chick descendant who was going to give me some information on Helen's second husband Charles Wademore Chick. Due to various family commitments my Chick informant could not get to my enquiry till June so I was left patiently waiting which I didn't mind because I was finally discovering how Helen turned her life around.

Charles Wademore Chick was the sixth son of Henry Thomas Chick and Jane Hutchinson and he was born in Bathurst, NSW in 1871. In all there were nine children all born in Bathurst. At some point he left Bathurst and family notes show that he was believed to be in the Coolgardie area of WA between 1903 and 1906. His brother George died near Laverton WA in 1906. When did he meet my gg grandmother?

I know that Helen Ferguson was released from prison in Brisbane in 1902 and disappeared so I am now wondering if she met Charles Chick shortly after her release. The next sighting I have is a reference to Ellen Chick alias Ferguson being charged with vagrancy in Barcaldine, QLD in May 1904. Helen is now using the Chick surname so she must have met him either in Brisbane or between there and Barcaldine. The fact that she wasn't recharged in Brisbane indicates that she left Brisbane and perhaps headed north before she could get into trouble again.

As I mentioned in the last blog, a search of electoral rolls placed Charles and Helen Chick in Sapphire near Anakie, QLD in 1910, 1913, 1915 and 1922 with Charles listed as a miner.

The gap between 1904 and 1910 may indicate that they did go to the WA goldfields as the Chick family believe but at some point returned to Queensland. The family story also indicates that they spent some time at Lightning Ridge in NSW but that has to be confirmed.

Charles and Helen married in country Queensland in 1927, two years after the death of her husband Alexander Miller Ferguson. Helen had been with Charles since at least 1904 so in some ways it is very touching that they did finally marry over 23 years after they started living together. She must have finally found love and companionship and I am so pleased for her. But it was shortlived with Charles dying just two years later in 1929 in Sydney, NSW. The funeral notice gives Helen's address as Bolettie Avenue, Baulkham Hills and Charles was buried in Rookwood cemetery.

At some point Helen returned to Brisbane to live and died there in 1946, 15 years after Charles. As I mentioned in the earlier blogs, her sister Clara knew she was there but not apparently her son and his family. I still wonder why?

If I could go back in time, I would ask my grandmother and my father if they knew a woman called Helen Chick. Did they know her but were not aware of her relationship to the family? Both of them always said they knew nothing about Helen Carnegie/Ferguson but did they know someone called Helen Chick? I need to learn where Helen was living between 1929 and 1946 and was it anywhere near her son and his family.

There are still gaps in Helen's story and I need to purchase her marriage certificate and Charles' death certificate in case there are any more clues in the official records. I also need to look into the Coolgardie, WA and Lightning Ridge, NSW connections and also how long she was in Sydney. But I have at last demolished the brick wall surrounding her later years and it is truly comforting to know that her life ended up far better than I had ever thought possible.


Brick Wall Tips

  • Was there another marriage – especially after a husband/wife dies
  • Trace the new partner's family in case they have information on your couple
  • Check other States – people moved around especially if they were miners
  • Buy BDM certificates because different or conflicting information on each might just be the clue you need
  • Be flexible with spellings and even names
  • Try and get living relatives to tell you as much as they can, although if they are trying to hide a family secret this can be difficult
  • Persevere and keep revisiting the research as more records become accessible and online
  • Tell others how you did it – inspiration and clues for researching their own brick walls