Rebecca Otway

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Rebecca Chapman (Raby) Otway nee Abrams, date unknown.[1]


Rebecca Otway (nee Abrams) was born in New Hampshire, USA, in 1823.[2] Between November 1850 and April 1851, she sailed from New York to Portland, Oregon, with her brother William Penn Abrams and other family members.[3] In July 1852 she married William Beauclerc Otway in San Francisco,[4] before travelling with him to Victoria in late 1853,[5][6] arriving at Ballarat in January 1854,[7] where they lived "upon a pretty part of the southern shoulder of [Black Hill], commanding a noble view of the valley".[8]

When Dr Otway's pioneering efforts at quartz crushing were not successful at Black Hill,[9][10] the Otways moved to Steiglitz in 1855, where their only son, Willie Dow Otway was born on 16 January 1858.[4] Rebecca and Willie do not seem to have accompanied Dr Otway while he was working in Tasmania or New South Wales, but according to Matthew Widdop's diary and notebook, they did visit Dr Otway in St Arnaud in late October 1862.[11]

This visit may have become permanent. The Otways appear to have lived together for some time at St Arnaud. In early 1865, Dr Otway next based himself at Blackwood before moving on to places unknown, but it appears that Rebecca and Willie Dow finally settled down. Both remained in St Arnaud until shortly before Rebecca's death in 1911.

Contents

History

Rebecca Chapman (Raby) Otway (nee Abrams) was born in New Hampshire, USA, in 1823, the daughter of Nancy Rollins and John Abrams (born Sanbornton, 1787).[2] In November 1850 she left New York on the barque Francis and Louise with her brother William Penn Abrams, his wife LaVina and their children Sarah and William, and another of her brothers, Daniel Kendrick Abrams, arriving at Portland, Oregon, on 22 April 1851.[3] She married William Beauclerc Otway in San Francisco in July 1852,[4][Notes 1] before travelling with him to Victoria in late 1853,[5][6] arriving at Ballarat in January 1854.[7]

Ballaarat Flat, from the Black Hill by S. T. Gill. The house on the left could be the Otways'.[12]

They lived "upon a pretty part of the southern shoulder of [Black Hill], commanding a noble view of the valley". In an article about gold mining in Ballarat, the reporter visits the Otways' home, describing it as "soothing and cool, and the pink of neatness." In fact, Rebecca's house-keeping inspired him to poetry:

"I thought I saw her gentle hand
Dispose with modest grace,
The household things around his house,
And each thing in its place.
No costly splendour needest thou
To make thy home look bright;
For neatness on the humblest spot,
Can shed a sunny light."

The reporter then briefly interviews her:

"Pray Madam," said I, "don't you experience the difference between a residence thus isolated and one more amidst the circle of polished life?" "No, sir," said she, "wherever my husband is, there am I, near him." "The diggings must be, I suppose, a very vitiated life, especially amongst the tents." "Oh, sir," said she, "if I liv'd there, I would keep myself to myself, just as I do here."[8]

Dr Otway's company became the first to use steam power to crush quartz at Ballarat. However, his pioneering efforts were not successful at Black Hill,[9][10] and sometime in 1855, the Otways moved to Steiglitz, where it seems they made a home for some years while Dr Otway's improved Chilean mill (manufactured by James F Dow and Company in Melbourne) became the most widely used quartz-crusher on the Steiglitz gold field.[13]

It appears James Dow may have become a close family friend by that stage. When Rebecca and Willie's only son was born at Steiglitz on 16 January 1858, he was christened Willie Dow Otway[4] (Dr Otway was also referred to as Willie).

However, Dr Otway's quartz-crushing business at Steiglitz was wound up in May 1859.[14] His work took him to Tasmania from July 1859 to August 1860[7], to New South Wales from September 1860 to mid-1862[8], and to St Arnaud by September 1862.[9] There is no mention of Rebecca or their son in the newspaper reports of his activities.

It is possible she and little Willie were in Geelong. According to Matthew Widdop's diary and notebook, Dr Otway rode up from Geelong to meet Widdop in Ballarat on their way to St Arnaud in September and a month later Widdop wrote "Received a telegram from Melbourne, Mrs Otway had not arrived on Monday from Geelong.[11]

In late October 1862 she travelled with four-year-old Willie to St Arnaud, arriving a few days after Dr Otway had had an illness which included symptoms similar to acute mercury poisoning.

Matthew Widdop may also have been a family friend. Between her arrival and the end of Widdop's diary in December, Widdop went on walks with her, with little Willie, and with the two of them, and accompanied the Otways to church and to a public lecture.[11]

The Otways appear to have lived together for some time at St Arnaud. In early 1865, Dr Otway next based himself at Blackwood before moving on to places unknown.

However, it appears that Rebecca and Willie Dow finally settled down. Both remained in St Arnaud until shortly before Rebecca's death in 1911.

@rates books

@Willie's search for Dr Otway

@Willie's marriage

@Willie's business

@property documents

@family articles in the St Arnaud Mercury

References in books and articles

Track of the years: the story of St. Arnaud (1955)[15]

Children were born in the home, usually with only a mid-wife in attendance. Although the town doctors advertised themselves as “accoucheurs”, they were only called in emergencies. The most notable of the early nurses was Mrs Rebecca Otway, an American, and wife of the metallurgist of the Alpha Silver Mining Co.[16]

Chronology

1823

November 8 Rebecca Chapman Abrams born in Sanbornton, Belknap, New Hampshire, USA.[2]

1830

Undated Rebecca appears in the United States Federal Census as resident at Sanbornton, Belknap, New Hampshire.[17] She does not appear in the 1840 or 1850 censuses.[18]

1850

November 7 The barque Francis and Louise sets sail from New York bound for Portland via Cape Horn. On board are Rebecca's brother William Penn Abrams, his wife Sarah, their children Sarah and William, Rebecca and another of her brothers, Daniel Kendrick Abrams. Included in the cargo is "1200 books from Harper Brothers in New York, which was to be the start of the Portland library."[3]

November 17 First entry in W. P. Abrams' diary relating to this voyage. The weather had been rough, but they had made good progress eastward, and the weather was becoming fine. "Sarah quite unwell..."[19]

1851

April 22 The barque Francis and Louise docks at Portland. [3][19]

1852

Rebecca with her husband William Beauclerc Otway.[1]

July 28 Rebecca marries William Beauclerc Otway in San Francisco, California, USA.[4][Notes 1]

1855

February 7 Upon entering the apartments we found them soothing and cool, and the pink of neatness.

"I thought I saw her gentle hand
Dispose with modest grace,
The household things around his house,
And each thing in its place.
No costly splendour needest thou
to make thy home look bright;
For neatness on the humblest spot,
Can shed a sunny light."

"Pray Madam," said I, "don't you experience the difference between a residence thus isolated and one more amidst the circle of polished life?" "No, sir," said she, "wherever my husband is, there am I, near him." "The diggings must be, I suppose, a very vitiated life, especially amongst the tents." "Oh, sir," said she, "if I liv'd there, I would keep myself to myself, just as I do here." My thoughts were diverted from the further protraction of the interview by my friend Kentucky reminding me that the evening was fast closing upon us, and that we had only time to visit the Alpha Company's operations on the top of the hill. "Farewell, lady," said he, "and if forever, still forever (as the poet said)–"
OMEGA
February 7, 1855[20]

1862

October 28 Received a telegram from Melbourne, Mrs Otway had not arrived on Monday from Geelong.[11]

October 29 Doctor started for Dunolly at 9 & met his wife & child at the Avoca. They had met with an accident near Tarrangower.[11]

October 30 Mrs Otway is very stiff & sore this morning.[11]

November 2 Went for a walk with Willie to Master’s hut in the morning.[11]

November 6 Mr Paton the missionary from Tanna delivered a very nice lecture this evening. Dr, Mrs Otway & I were there.[11]

November 9 Attended church in the evening with Doctor & his wife.[11]

November 26 I have been to Pyramid hill & thereabouts with Mrs Otway & Willie.[11]

December 3 Mrs Otway got a letter from Dr.[11]

1893

January 19 LAND SALE. A sale of Crown Lands, in fee simple was held at the Court House, St Arnaud , on Thursday last at 11 0 clock a.m. by Mr. T. Fisher Government Auctioneer... TOWN LOTS... At the Site of the improvements of Rebecca Otway. - Upset price £15 per lot. - Charge for survey £1 6s 4d. Lot 3. Area 1r 39 3-10p, allotment 5, section K2. Valuation £50. - Rebecca Otway, upset price.[21]

1911

April 9 Rebecca dies at Queenscliffe, Victoria. Her usual residence is given as St Arnaud. She'd been suffering from "fracture of neck" for 2 months and "bedsores and exhaustion" for 6 weeks.[22]

Legacy

See also

William Beauclerc Otway

Black Hill

Notes

  1. 1.0 1.1 According to investigations by Otway family history researchers, the marriage record was lost in the San Francisco earthquake and fire in 1906. However, it was relatively common in those days to not get married but say you were. Divorce was a difficult and shameful thing, and Rebecca's husband was probably still legally married to his previous wife.

Additional Notes

Abrams WP 1852-circa Ad for timber products.jpg

Rebecca's brother, William Penn Abrams, placed ads in the Weekly Oregonian advertising his timber products. The ads appear to have run from December 1851 to August 1852.[23]

Abrams WP 1852-circa Ad for grinding mill.jpg

Later, William Penn Abrams placed ads in the Weekly Oregonian advertising his services as agent for a "patent grinding and bolting mill". The ads appear to commence in December 1853.[23]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Photograph provided by Barbara Yawney, Rebecca's great-great-great-grandaughter
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Runnels, M. T. (Moses Thurston), 1830-1902 & University of New Hampshire Library (1882). History of Sanbornton, New Hampshire. Mudge, Boston, Mass
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Early Barque Brought Riches to Portland (1960, May 22). Sunday Oregonian, p. 37.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 Birth record of William Dow Otway (Otways's son) 12 March 1858 (birth date is 16 January 1858)
  5. 5.0 5.1 Victoria. Inward Overseas Passenger Lists (Foreign Ports). Microfiche VPRS 7667, copy of VRPS 947. Public Record Office Victoria, North Melbourne, Victoria.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Potts, E. Daniel (Eli Daniel) & Potts, Annette, (joint author.) (1974). Young America and Australian gold : Americans and the gold rush of the 1850's. University of Queensland Press, St. Lucia, QLD
  7. 7.0 7.1 Victoria. Commission Appointed to Inquire into the Condition of the Gold-fields of Victoria, Carr, C. W., Fawkner, J. P., Hodgson, J., O'Shanassy, J., Strachan, J. F.,... Wright, W. H. (1855). Gold Fields Commission of Enquiry: Report of the Commission Appointed to Enquire into the Condition of the Gold Fields of Victoria, &c. &c. Melbourne: John Ferres, Government Printer.[1] Transcript provided at: Evidence given by William Beauclerc Otway at the Gold Fields Commission of Enquiry
  8. 8.0 8.1 ROUGH NOTES – BALAARAT, CRESWICK'S CREEK, DAISY HILL, SIMPSON'S RANGES AND CASTLEMAINE. Melbourne Morning Herald. 9 February 1855
  9. 9.0 9.1 Withers, William Bramwell (1887). The History of Ballarat : from the first pastoral settlement to the present time (2nd ed). F.W. Niven & Co, Ballarat Vic
  10. 10.0 10.1 FIRST QUARTZ BATTERY AT BALLARAT. (1891, January 17). Leader (Melbourne, Vic. : 1862 - 1918), p. 38. Retrieved August 9, 2015, from [2]
  11. 11.00 11.01 11.02 11.03 11.04 11.05 11.06 11.07 11.08 11.09 11.10 Widdop, Matthew (1862). Notebook and diary.[3]
  12. J Tingle engraver. (1857). Ballaarat [i.e. Ballarat] Flat, from the Black Hill [picture] by S. T. Gill 1818-1880.Sands & Kenny, Melbourne. [4]
  13. NEW SOUTH WALES. (1856, December 18). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), p. 7. Retrieved July 24, 2015, from [5]
  14. Victoria. (1857). Victoria government gazette, 21/06/1859, p.1314]
  15. Palmer, Yvonne S (1980). Track of the years : the story of St. Arnaud (3rd ed). St. Arnaud Mercury Print, St. Arnaud, Vic
  16. Palmer, Yvonne (1955) Track of the Years – The Story of St Arnaud p.160. Melbourne University Press
  17. United States Federal Census, 1830
  18. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named PCrm20150817
  19. 19.0 19.1 Abrams, William Penn (1820-1873), William Penn Abrams diary, 1849-1851.[6]
  20. ROUGH NOTES – BALAARAT, CRESWICK'S CREEK, DAISY HILL, SIMPSON'S RANGES AND CASTLEMAINE. Melbourne Morning Herald. 9 February 1855
  21. St Arnaud Mercury, 21 January 1893
  22. Death record of Rebecca Otway (ref 6571) 10 April 1911 (death was 9 April 1911)
  23. 23.0 23.1 Weekly Oregonian (Portland, OR)


Further Reading

External links


--Neil Huybregts 15:09, 8 February 2015 (AEDT)

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