Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Gut Feelings, Part 3

It’s been about three weeks since my last blog post.  Good grief- that sounds like I’m in a confessional: “. . . My last confession was three weeks ago.”  It has been a month and a half since the colonoscopy, and those weeks have been, for lack of a better term, interesting and educational. And not much fun.

We met with the surgeon on Friday, April 10, two days after the colonoscopy. He told us that the biopsies had come back positive for adenocarcinoma, rectal cancer.  He said that treatment would involve working with an oncologist to set up a treatment plan to shrink the tumor so that it could be removed surgically.  He also said that because of the location of the tumor, he would most likely have to remove the anal sphincter also, which would require a permanent colostomy.  Not the best news to hear.  Then, I guess he decided that seeing the pictures from the colonoscopy wasn’t good enough and he wanted to  do a digital exam of my already  very sore  rectum. After that wonderful experience I decided that I cannot be held responsible for any bodily harm I might inflict on the next person who approaches me wearing a lubricated latex glove! After that ordeal he said he wanted me to have a CT scan to see if the cancer had metastasized. The scan was set for the following Tuesday and I was told not to eat or drink anything after midnight the night before.  That instruction probably wasn’t all that necessary; I had pretty much lost my appetite by then, anyway. The doctor said he should have the results of the scan a  couple of days  after it was done and to call for the results.

We arrived at the radiology department at the hospital for the CT scan at 7:30 AM.  After registering, I was given a  16 oz bottle of clear liquid contrast material to drink.  It wasn’t exactly delicious, but it definitely tasted better than the colonoscopy prep stuff! After about an hour I was called back to the scan area, where they took blood to check my liver function. Then had me get on a table and inserted an IV to administer more contrast material just before running the test. This was my first experience with a CT scan and I was a little apprehensive, but it wasn’t bad at all.   The table I was on rolled in and out of a doughnut shaped opening that rotates around, taking x-ray images.  Every once in a while a robotic voice would tell me to “breathe in, hold, release.” It didn’t take all that long, and we went home to wait for the results.

I began calling the doctor’s office but didn’t hear back from him until the following Monday- six days after the scan. The wait was quite harrowing, actually, as one’s imagination tends to go into overdrive imagining  what the results might be.  He apologized for the delay, told me the scan showed my lungs were clear but there were some small spots on my liver, the largest being about a centimeter, that he wasn’t overly concerned about them as they were most likely harmless hemangiomas, not liver mets. He said he would have the oncologist’s office call me to set up an appointment to discuss a treatment plan which would include both chemotherapy and radiation therapy to run about six weeks. He said   he would  do the surgery to place a port for the chemo after I met with the oncologist and that  another CT scan would be done after the therapy to see if and how much the tumor had shrunk.

Sunday, May 03, 2015

Gut Feelings, Part 2

April 13, 2015
Mr. G and I arrived at the hospital for the colonoscopy just before 7 AM and signed in. Horror of horrors, they took my picture for their records.  I should tell you that although I had not been told to remove my dentures for the procedure, I decided not to wear them because there was a chance they would get lost or damaged if I was asked to remove them at some later time. So there I sat, toothless, as they aimed the little camera  at me. I did NOT smile and say “cheese”!

We were then told to go to the GI/Endoscopy Lab Department down the hall and around the corner. Once there, Mr. G and I were called to go through the door to the department admitting area.  He was asked to sign a paper saying he would be driving me home and would not allow me to drive myself. I signed all sorts of papers, including one that gave permission for the doctor to review the procedure findings with Mr. G, since I would be under the effects of anesthesia and wouldn’t remember much anyway.  Then they took me back to a large area with curtained cubicles, pulled the curtain and told me to take off my clothes except for my shirt and socks (hooray- no cold feet!) and climb up on the table. 

A nurse then came around to ask me a zillion questions, as she input info into the computer she wheeled into the cubicle.  She hooked me up to a blood pressure cuff, stuck about five little sticky patches with electrodes on my chest and upper abdomen, and inserted a port for an IV.  Thank goodness she was good at what she did and was able to get what she needed on the first attempt so I didn’t feel like a pincushion that had been stuck once too often. Then an anesthesiologist came around, all smiling, and asked how I was. Stupid question and I laughingly told him so! He assured me they would take good care of me and after a little more banter I was pretty much relaxed by the time a nurse came to wheel me to the procedure room. 

The GI doctor who would be doing the procedure came in, asked me a few questions and told me what would be happening. A nurse hooked some wires and tubes to me, put an oxygen tube in my nose and told me to slide towards her a little. Meanwhile an anesthesiologist was cracking jokes with me and saying what a tiny person I was and how they would give me anesthesia through the IV.  That’s all I remember.  I never even got a chance to watch the tube traveling through my colon.  Which, come to think of it, may not have been such a bad thing since I had already researched the whole thing and even watched a few videos of colonoscopies, including one of Katie Couric saying that she had a “pretty little colon.”

The next thing I remember is waking up back in the little now uncurtained cubicle, with the worst gas pains I have ever felt!  They told me they would pump some air into my colon during the procedure but nobody told me they would blow me up like a giant balloon! The nurse told me that once I passed some gas I’d feel better and to that end she put me in a wheelchair, pushed me to the bathroom and had me walk a little before getting me settled on the toilet.  Nothing!  No gas would pass and I began to feel that I would either throw up, pass out or explode, or maybe all three simultaneously. She wheeled me back to the cubicle, got me a nice warm blanket because by that time I was   shivering quite a bit, and we tried again later.  Meanwhile, there must have been a whole symphony of gas toots going on all around me because I saw other people who had come in much later than I had being wheeled out fully clothed, ready to be discharged. I developed a bad case of fart envy as I lay there!  Meanwhile poor Mr. Grace was being told the results of the colonoscopy.  I had written out a list of questions for him to ask, but in typical  fashion, he  forgot to do that and told me later I could ask them myself on Friday. Seems they found two polyps and removed them, found some mild diverticulosis in the sigmoid colon and a “huge” tumor in the rectum. Four biopsies were taken and the GI doctor told Mr. G we would need to see a colorectal surgeon, who was actually there in the hospital and had seen the results. The surgeon said he would have the biopsy results back by Friday so we made an appointment to meet with him at his office early Friday morning. The nurse had shown me the same pics and the doctor came around to talk to me.  I was still groggy, but could see that the pics of my colon did not show that I had a “pretty little colon.” It was actually quite gross looking, to tell the truth.
Meanwhile, the gas   was still there and they became concerned enough to wheel me down for an x-ray to make sure there were no perforations. The trip to x-ray department, getting on and off various slabs, etc. seemed to help dislodge the gas because next time I was taken to the loo, you could hear the explosion for miles! The gas was released from bondage at last! The nurse and I almost did a happy dance!  Although the gas wasn’t all gone I felt good enough to get dressed and go home finally and they wheeled me out to Mr. G who had been patiently waiting in the car to pick me up.  He said they had sent him out earlier, and then told him to come back in when they sent me for x-rays.  Fortunately, he only had to pay once to exit the parking lot!

Once home, I lay down with a heating pad on my abdomen and all was right with the world once more. I was even able to eat some grilled fish, baked potato and green beans for dinner and some delicious strawberry cheesecake for dessert.  I felt pretty good all day Thursday and figured this colonoscopy thing wasn’t anywhere near as bad as I thought it would be.  One odd thing, though,  I began to itch and discovered that I was still wearing the five little electrode patches.  I wondered just how they showed up on the x-ray if they did show up!

I know that folks  tend to run when someone says, “I had surgery,  let me show you my scar,” but for those of you who are turned on by gross stuff here are some pics.  Be warned, though, they are pretty gross.
The middle row, pics  4-6, show the two polyps they removed.  Pics 7,8 and 9 are the pics of the tumor.   In 8 and 9 it reminds me of some kind of evil ninja turtle.

There were 16 pics in all but I thought I’d spare you any more trauma. Stay tuned for part 3.

Gut Feelings, Part 1

April  12, 2015

I’ve lived with weird gut problems most of my adult life. So much so that I can tell you exactly where every public restroom along any given route or in any public building is and how long it takes to dash to it from point A, B or C.  Eating out was a problem because I was never sure just what might trigger an attack. But I learned to live with it and life went on more or less normally with a minimum of embarrassing incidents and accidents.

Some time back, though, I began to develop other problems. I hate going to the doctor and rarely do so unless something seems broken, so I self-diagnosed myself with bleeding hemorrhoids and constipation. Last month, I decided that hemorrhoids didn’t last that long without letting up and maybe a doctor should check me out.  Our family doctor had died within the last year so I ended up going to a new doctor I’d never seen before. He did a blood work up, then donned his latex gloves, well lubricated, to do a digital rectal exam. That was SO much fun! He figured I was about  20 years overdue for a colonoscopy so he had his nurse schedule one with a gastroenterologist. The colonoscopy was scheduled for three weeks away. Meanwhile, the results of the blood test showed I had no anemia but I did have high cholesterol so he phoned in a prescription for a statin without discussing it with me. The more I read about statins, the less I liked the idea, and it seemed my levels were not in the danger zone, so I decided to delay starting them until after we saw what turned up on the colonoscopy, and then he and I could discuss whether there was some other way to get the cholesterol levels down without the statins. That at least took my mind off worrying about the colonoscopy.  I had heard so many horror stories about that particular procedure that I was ready to call if off more than once during that three week wait.

I got a little package in the mail from the gastroenterology clinic telling me my procedure was scheduled for April 8, this past Wednesday. In the package was a prescription for a laxative with the  innocent sounding name of Nulytely, plus instructions to buy another over-the-counter laxative pill.  I was to go on a clear liquid diet on Tuesday, the day before the procedure, take two laxative pills at 2 PM, mix up the wonderful prescription powdered drink with warm water, then pour half of it out (I was beginning to like these directions already!) then divide the remaining liquid, refrigerate it and begin drinking the first half, which amounted to a liter, at 6 PM, drinking a glass full every 10-20 minutes until the first liter was gone.  Then I was to wake up at 3AM and drink the second liter. That sounded doable.  I mean, how bad can two liters of a mixture of polyethylene glycol, table salt, potassium chloride, bicarbonate of soda and lemon-lime flavoring actually taste? 

As it turns out, it really didn’t taste all that bad- unlike the blue Gatorade I bought to supplement my liquid diet- now THAT was gross tasting stuff!  The first liter of the prep stuff wasn’t so bad. I had read all kinds of horror tales about the prep and how it was the worst part of the whole thing, etc. but I’d also read some helpful hints on the Colon Cancer Alliance site. They suggested checking with your doctor and going on a low fiber diet five days before the colonoscopy, which I did. One of the forums had some helpful advice about buying Depends, in case you couldn’t make it to the bathroom in time.  That turned out to be very good advice, because once that stuff hits, it hits hard and fast. Mostly I camped out in the bathroom- even set up the charger for my Kindle and downloaded a few books to keep me occupied. More advice was to get the softest toilet tissue you could find and some baby wipes, along with some diaper rash ointment. All those hints paid off in spades. In an attempt to fool my stomach into thinking it was getting solid food, I ate lime Jello.  If I never see another bowl of lime Jello it will be too soon! That first round of the prep liquid really wasn’t all that bad, except for the fact that every time I moved or walked I could hear all the liquid I’d drunk sloshing around and I was pretty much glued to the toilet seat. I think I flushed at least ten pounds of my already skinny self down the toilet! Given that the adult human body is 55-60% water, I figured that if this colon cleansing kept up much longer Mr. G. would open the bathroom door in the morning to find a collection of bones  surrounding the toilet, with all the flesh and muscle liquefied and flushed away!  I was finally able to feel confident enough, with the added security of a Depends, to go to bed, with the alarm set for 3 AM.

I didn’t need the alarm. The sloshing and rumbling kept me awake and by 2 AM, I’d convinced myself that sleep wasn’t really necessary. At 3AM I drank the first glass of the last liter of prep stuff. It wasn’t going down quite as easily as it had the night before, and try as I might I got only half of it down before it tried to come back up. By then it was 4 AM and I figured if I wasn’t supposed to drink anything after 4, we were done for the morning. I was well on the way to flushing away what little was left of myself and became concerned that the trip to the hospital could get kind of messy.  Mr. G. must have felt the same way, because when I went to get in the car, I saw that he had covered the passenger seat with an old packing quilt, “just in case”.  So there we were at  6:15 AM in the car, going down the driveway when all of a sudden  water began to pour into my lap! It had rained heavily for a few days, and oak catkins had clogged up the drainage channels for the moon roof causing the deluge.  I had Mr. G stop the car so I could get in the back seat.  The roof still leaked in the back but I didn’t feel in danger of drowning back there.  As it turned out, the quilt was a good idea for protecting the seat- but not in the way Mr. G. had planned. :-D  My first thought was that this is a most inauspicious start to the day! However, we arrived at the hospital without incident. The “procedure” will be the subject of my next blog entry.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Part 3: From Maligned and Mistreated to Married and Free

At around 3 PM on the twenty-third of August, 1842,  seventeen prisoners in the Crime Class shop  at Cascades Female Factory  began to dance and sing, refusing to stop when ordered to do so.  The women could have been protesting the fact that they were denied access to the Crime Class Yard because the authorities  were determined to prevent communication between the women prisoners  and the workmen doing repair and construction work in the buildings. This was not the first time the women had rioted; there had been several riots over the years and the leaders  became known as the "Flash Mob."  The riots were the result of overcrowded conditions, poor food rations,  protest against the use of solitary confinement and other harsh forms of punishment for  infractions,  which  at times included   rations of bread and water while in solitary,  neck irons, and    head shaving. Sometimes the women seemed to riot from  sheer boredom and frustration. This particular riot went on for several hours before the prison superintendent called in constables who were able to separate the rioters from the other prisoners.

One month and one day later, on September 24, 1842, Jane Ogden and her fellow shipmates arrived and were processed into the Cascades factory.  Even though there was another riot five months after her arrival, there is no indication that Jane Ogden participated, nor is there any  record of her being the subject of any disciplinary action for the first nine or ten months of her sentence.  It is likely that  after an initial period at Cascades, she was hired out  as a servant to  a local freeholder, a common occurrence with the female convicts.

However, on August 23, 1843, on the anniversary of the 1842 riot, Jane was written up for “foolery and insolence” and was   reprimanded.  One month later she was charged with being absent without leave and was “severely” reprimanded.  She seemed on a downhill trajectory, her infractions becoming more serious and her punishments more severe.  She received six days in solitary confinement for drunkenness later in September 1843.  In April 1844 Jane did  apply for and was granted permission to marry a William McGee, but I can find no record that the marriage actually took place.  However, Jane  did not lack  for male  “companionship” because in early September  of that year her sentence was extended by six months at hard labor for  “harbouring a man in her master’s house.”  There is no  mention of who the man was nor whether he, too, received  punishment.

 Gay Henriksen, in her paper,  “Women Transported: Myth and Reality” writes that the convict women were much maligned as a group.  John Hunter, Governor of New South Wales in the late 1700s described the convict women as a: “…disgrace of their sex, are far worse than the men, and are generally found at the bottom of every infamous transaction committed in the colony.” The cleric Samuel Marsden saw the  female factories as “…a grand source of moral corruption, insubordination and disease, and spreads its pestilential influence through the most remote part of the colony.” As to the activities of the women, he saw them as “…destructive of all religion, morality and good order.”  The  convict women found few champions among their own sex either, as shown by  the attitude of   the writer Louisa Anne (Mrs. Charles) Meredith,  who wrote, “Their inherent propensities to do evil, every shape of vice and depravity seeming as familiar to them as the air they breathe…”

Despite these attitudes,  the authorities saw marriage as having a calming influence on  the prisoners, both male and female, and in the case of the female convicts, marriage relieved the prison authorities of some of the responsibility of providing for the women.  Women outnumbered men by a ratio of roughly  39 women to every 100 men,  so women, even convict women,  had a good chance of receiving a marriage proposal, and many female convicts applied for and were granted permission to marry. 

After she finished her term of hard labor, Jane managed to stay out of trouble  for the next  six months. Then in August of 1845 she was absent without leave and  sentenced to ten days in solitary confinement.  Again in November  1845 she refused to work and was  again  sentenced to hard labor, this time for 14 days. But never again did she get written up for “harbouring a man,” and on April 18, 1846  Jane Odgen and John Lovell requested and were granted permission to marry. The marriage took place on June 5, 1846  in the Brown’s River parish church. 
The marriage record, unfortunately, proves that the John Lovell  who married Jane could not have been  my ancestor, since this John Lovell was only 23 years old at the time of the marriage.  John and Jane  lived, after their marriage, in  Huon, Tasmania, about 38 km (about 26 miles) south of Hobart.  Jane went on to receive her Certificate of Freedom  on July 17, 1851.  A notation on her record, written in the same ink and by the same hand as the  notation of  her freedom,  mentions a surgeons report of “one boy, George 3 months” but I haven’t been able to  find out   when or where he was born, nor what became of   Jane, John and George after 1851. I can only hope that  after all her  difficulties Jane found some satisfaction and happiness in her  new life as a free woman, wife, and mother.

Jane Ogden was just one of nearly 25,000 women transported to Australia as criminals between 1803 and 1853. The large majority of the women, despite popular perceptions, were not hardened criminals, n were they prostitutes, lazy and depraved. Most of them were poor, and had been convicted of petty theft, often made   necessary by the harsh economic conditions of the times that saw many  with little food and few, if any, resources. Less than  ten per cent  of the transported women had multiple convictions and more than sixty-five per cent had no prior convictions  when transported.  They were not a threat to the national well-being, but they were useful  to a colonial power in need of settlers.  The majority of the women were of child-bearing age with nearly sixty-five per cent being under 34 years old. They brought many skills and occupations with them, including   spinning, weaving,  and sewing  in addition to skills in housework, farm work and child care.  In addition, they brought with them, despite  all accounts to the contrary, what the government considered a “civilizing influence” upon the men in the colony.

These women,  transported against their will to Van Diemen’s Land, were maligned and often mistreated,  but not  only did they survive,  large numbers of them triumphed over adversity. These former convicts  settled down  in their new lives and founded families. They and their descendents went on to become the farmers,  shopkeepers,  business  and professional people who helped build the Tasmania of today.

Images from digitised records held by the Archives Office of Tasmania  
Female Convicts Research Center
Statistics of Tasmania 1804 to 1850, population figures annually.
 Life in Van Diemen's Land Factories, Dr Trudy Crowley

Monday, October 06, 2014

Part 2: Strumpets and Survivors

Matthew Burnside, the surgeon  aboard a convict ship transporting females from England to Van Diemen’s Land, described one of the women in his charge as “ a notorious Strumpet and a most dangerous Girl.”  Burnside further declared that  “ . . .  repeatedly I have been obliged to put her into Irons and confined her in the Coal-Hold ... Hard labour or solitary confinement ought to be assigned to her .. .”  Indeed, once they arrived and began serving their terms in Van Diemen's Land many of the  women did rebel against authority and were, in fact,  assigned to  hard labor and solitary confinement.  Jane Ogden  was one of those women.  

Jane Ogden and  her fellow shipmates were destined for one of the  “Female Factories” that had been  established in  Van Diemen’s land to house female convicts, to provide them with both a place of employment and a place of punishment.   The factories also served as hiring depots; most of the women were sent into service after initial processing and evaluation. At the time Jane Ogden arrived in Tasmania in 1844, however, the assignment system was being replaced by a  probation system in which the females would serve six months in the female factories, after which they were classified as probation passholders and  hired out to employers, from whom they  were to receive an annual wage.

The first female factory  in Van Deimen’s Land was the Hobart  Town Female Factory, built in 1821. Within just a few years, though, it was evident that the factory was  overcrowded and  that conditions there were entirely unsatisfactory. There were only two sleeping rooms to  hold fifty-five prisoners, and those rooms were unventilated.  There was only one yard,  in full view of executions being carried out in the jail next door.  Escape was fairly easy, and frequent;  sickness  was rampant and the death rate, particularly for infants born to the prisoners, was high.  Fortunately for the  women prisoners arriving in the 1840s, conditions were somewhat improved by the  addition of a larger facility. An investigation, into the conditions at the Hobart Factory  found numerous problems, and in light of the increasing number of female convicts being transported,  it was obvious  that a new  facility was needed. The site of a failed distillery in a valley near South Hobart was purchased in 1827, and  building began on  what was to become the Cascades Female Factory. The facility opened in 1828 with one yard consisting of 6 sub-yards including a nursery, kitchen, hospital, accommodations for three classes of prisoners, plus a chapel. A second yard was added in 1832 and eventually, as more women arrived, three more yards would be added,  with  solitary cells, punishment yards,  and washing yards. Yard 5 was added in 1853, the final year that female convicts were transported. The location was by no means ideal, being located in an area of damp swamp land, which contributed to the ill health of many of the women and children who lived there. It was, however, one of the longest running penal institutions in Tasmania. Cascades finally ceased operation as a female factory in 1856 and is now a national historic site.

When the women arrived  at the factory they were issued clothing consisting of: 1 cotton or stuff gown or petticoat, 1 jacket, 2 aprons, 2 shifts, 2 caps, 2 handkerchiefs,2 pair stockings and 1 common straw bonnet of strong texture. Whether those clothing items were replaced or  whether they were expected to last for the duration of a prisoner's sentence is unclear.  The women were also  separated into three classifications, according to their crimes, and designation of that class was sewn onto their uniforms. 1st Class convicts wore the uniform without any distinguishing mark.2nd Class convicts wore the uniform with a large yellow C on the left sleeve of the jacket.3rd Class convicts wore the uniform with a large yellow C in the centre of the back of the jacket, one on the right sleeve, and another on the back part of the petticoat.

Jane Ogden’s name  appears on the list of prisoners who were held at Cascades. I can find no indication of what classification she was assigned upon arrival, but it appears that she spent some time at least as a Class 3, and although I was unable to find a record of exactly when she was   placed in service, it appears that she was a servant in a private home by  August, 1843, which is the first time any disciplinary  problem was noted.   Whether or not any of her  activities   justified her being referred to as a “strumpet”  isn’t clear, but, judging from her conduct  record and register,  Jane was not a complacent, quiet and orderly  prisoner  at all times, but she survived whatever conditions and punishments were heaped upon her.  Stay tuned for  more in my next blog post.
Archives Office of Tasmania, digitized records
Dr. Trudy Crowley, Life in Van Diemen's Land Factories
Gay Hendrikson, Women Transported: Myth and reality, paper presented at the National Archives of Australia, Canberra, June 14, 2009

Friday, October 03, 2014

Part 1: Jane Ogden's Long Journey to Van Diemen's Land

Since discovering that one of my male ancestors had been  transported to Van Diemen's  Land to serve a seven year sentence for theft in 1832, I've discovered that in 1845 he may have married a woman who had also been transported for petty theft.  While I'm not sure whether the man Jane Ogden married was actually my ancestor, John Lovell, or  someone else with the same name, I found her story to be fascinating and have decided  to write about what I've discovered here. This is the first installment of Jane Ogden's story.

Jane Ogden, a 24 year old house servant, stood  five feet tall.  She had a fresh complexion, a large head with a broad visage, a long nose, short chin and a large mouth.  Her  hair was dark brown and her eyes were hazel. In April of 1842 she stood trial in the Lancaster, Liverpool Borough Quarter Session  in April of 1842, accused of stealing several items including an umbrella and a purse.  She was subsequently found guilty and sentenced to seven years  transportation to Van Diemen’s Land, now  known as Tasmania, Australia.
(Image from the  digitised records section, Archives Office of Tasmania)

Jane was transported to the port in Woolwich and delivered to the  British convict ship Royal Admiral on May 2, 1842 to begin the long journey to Tasmania as one of 204 female convicts and  seventeen of their children .  Between 1803 and 1853  more than  24,960 convict women were transported to Australia. Of those, almost 12,500  were transported to Van Diemen's Land, mostly for petty theft. Many of those who arrived would be sent to work in one of the female  factories set up to house the  women, and provide them with work. It's hard to imagine what the women on these voyages of over 12,000 miles endured and the deprivations and hardship they suffered as they were forced to leave behind   family, home, country and everything familiar to face the unknown  in a strange land.

We can get a glimpse of  life aboard the Royal Admiral from the extensive medical records kept by the ship’s surgeon and  from the Journal of His Majesty’s Convict Ship Royal Admiral written by the ship’s surgeon, Mr. J. R. Roberts, between February 23rd. and October 14th 1842. Mr. Roberts wrote that most of the women arrived at the ship after  being transported long distances by train, deprived of necessary sanitary conveniences. They therefore arrived on board “in a distressed and filthy state . . . . In several instances, they came with only the clothing they had on their persons, being informed at the prisons, that if they took more, those who had them, they would be either taken from them or destroyed, depriving them thereby of many essentials during their voyage.”

 Because of their lack of adequate clothing, the changes in the weather as they sailed, the change in diet, and other factors, many of the women fell ill during the voyage, requiring medical treatment. Ailments listed in the medical reports include colic, rheumatism, cardiac problems, infections, pleurisy, and many cases of diarrhoea. There were also a few cases of  syphilis. Mr. Roberts writes that “the prisoners were kept clean by scraping and dry combing and when weather permitted washed with hot soap and water, and the airing ___? and all the convicts being kept on deck until __ fully dry, as they __? were daily, and in hot weather under awnings, taking their meals there.” (there were evidently problems in transcribing Mr. Robert’s handwriting in several places.)

At least two women died during the voyage and Mr Roberts notes that there were seven births, but that none of the infants survived  past eleven weeks and at least one of the children on the voyage died also: “two of the mothers of these infants, shortly after their delivery, were attacked with dysentery and one with hemoptysis, being deprived therefore of the power of lactation, the digestive powers of these children became disordered, although every means the ship afforded to remedy the deficit was adopted, and they died in convulsions from ages of seventeen days to eleven weeks. One child died in convulsions on the sixth day from its birth, the mother quite healthy, and another died also in convulsions from dentition, aged eighteen months.” That there were no more  deaths and that  the majority  of the women apparently survived the voyage in relatively good health is a testament to the diligent  work of the  ship's surgeon who was responsible for their care under less than ideal conditions.

Mr. Roberts stated that despite many trying circumstances,  the women all behaved “exceedingly praiseworthy and orderly.” The same cannot be said  for the crew, however. Some  crew members   were drunk and disorderly on more than one occasion and several were insubordinate or refused  direct orders. Roberts wrote that  “ On our arrival, thirteen of the crew were taken by the Police in handcuffs to prison and were afterwards sentenced to three months at the Tread Mill.”

I cannot  find any record  of Jane Ogden needing or receiving medical treatment during the voyage, and  she arrived in Van Diemen’s Land on September 24, 1842 to begin her seven year sentence.* There is little documentation of those seven years, but what I have discovered  will be the subject of my next post.

*10/8/2014: In  this post  I originally  noted that I could find no record of Jane Ogden having received medical treatment during the trip.  Since going back  over the available records, I've discovered two entries, one for Jane Odger, age 24, who was treated for bronchitis on April 7, 1842, and another  for Jane Hogdon, age 25, treated for diarrhea on June 11. After comparing these two names  against the list of convicts transported on this voyage, I’ve concluded that an error was made in transcribing the original record and that these two entries do actually pertain to Jane Ogden.  

 Mr. Roberts’ Journal  has been transcribed and can be found  at http://www.femaleconvicts.org.au/docs/ships/RoyalAdmiral1842_SJ.pdf 

More detailed information on the voyages of the  female convicts can be found in this scholarly work by Ian Brand & Mark Staniforth:

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Shaking the Family Tree to See Who Falls Out

It's been quite a while since I posted a blog entry, and I really have no excuse except that  I haven't had anything much to blog about. Lately, though, I've been doing some genealogical research and have been discovering things I'd like to share, so here we go again.

One of the most wonderful things about  climbing around in family trees to research ancestors is that you  discover fascinating  bits of history in the process. I’ve been researching  my mother’s side of the family off and on for  several years.  What a colorful and interesting group of  people these ancestors were!

In 1832, at the age of 35, my maternal great-great-great grandfather, John Lovell, was convicted of stealing a harness in Bedford, England. This was not the first time he had stood trial, as he had been arrested on a charge of assault seven years earlier. He had been acquitted on that charge. For the theft of the harness, though, he received an unbelievably harsh sentence: seven years labor and transport to the penal colony in Van Diemen’s Land (now Tasmania)  Australia.  He was delivered aboard ship in March, 1832, leaving behind his wife and several children, one of whom was my great-great grandmother, Rachel, who was born in 1832, the year he was transported.  It’s quite likely that she was born after his  arrest and never knew her father. John Lovell arrived in Australia  aboard the  British convict ship, Circassian  in February 1833 after  a voyage of several months.  John was not  the first family member to  be transported to Australia.  His  brothers James and Robert had been convicted  in 1829 of  stealing a pig. Both were also  sentenced to seven years transportation to Van Dieman’s Land.

I found it interesting that in the detailed Gaol record from Bedford, John was listed as having pale skin, but as shown in the convict record  to the left, after spending several months at sea, he is he is shown as having dark skin and   being “lame of left foot” upon his arrival in Tasmania   It’s difficult to track him during and following his imprisonment.  While I found a certificate of freedom for his brother Robert, I have not yet found one for John.  The search continues. I did find  a record of  him during his  imprisonment in which he is shown as being disorderly and drunk in 1838. 

The records also contain a convict request for permission to marry dated 1846. The request lists John Lovell, a freeman, requesting permission to marry a Jane Ogden, who was also transported to Tasmania from England aboard the British ship Royal Admiral in May of 1842. She was twenty-four. Her crime, as best I can make out, was petty theft. Permission to marry was granted, and John and Jane were married in June of 1846.

While I can't be sure that the John Lovell who married Jane Ogden is my ancestor since there were several convicts with that name in the registers, it's very possible. Even if he was the same person, Jane Ogden would not have been one of my ancestors, but I find her story fascinating. Although I knew about the males being transported, I knew little about female convicts. Thus began another quest to find out how many of these women there were, what happened to them once they arrived in Australia, and what their experiences were. What I learned will be the subject of my next blog entry.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Delicious quick meal after a long drive

Today( well, actually, yesterday, since  this blog post was begun  prior to midnight and finished after!), Mr. G and  I drove up to Decatur, AL to visit our youngest daughter, who is in the hospital being treated for an infection. It was a lovely day for a drive, and we had a nice visit, or as nice a visit as one can have in that setting.

We thought  about stopping at a barbeque place and getting  something to bring home for supper, but discovered that our favorite  place was closed on Sundays.   I told Mr. G that we had a nice fillet of Alaska cod in the fridge that I'd bought yesterday. We could have that.    The drive home was  quite pleasant, with very little traffic on the interstate or on the side roads  when we exited the  interstate. I spent some time trying to think about what we could have  with the cod, and remembered that we had a mango and some pineapple in the fridge, and a lovely  mint plant in the greenhouse, so that was the  basis for the meal I  planned   on the trip.  

After fussing over the dogs and  feeding them, letting the cat out and back in, watering the greenhouse plants and setting up the lights in the greenhouse, I took inventory of what we had on hand for a quick supper.
I   decided to make a  mango, mint and pineapple salsa to go with the cod, and cook some rice as a side dish. Most of the salsa recipes I've seen call for red onion, lime and cilantro-none of which I had, and I don't really like cilantro anyway. So I dug  around in the fridge, cupboard and greenhouse and came up with a mango,  pineapple, an orange bell pepper, a jalapeno pepper, a lemon, a shallot and the mint.
 I  have mangled many mangoes , trying to  cut them, but finally bought a  mango slicer, shown here in the pic, hoping it would solve all my mango slicing problems. It didn't, because I just don't seem able to push it down over the mango with enough force, so I have reverted to my trusty chef's knife to do the job. I did find a few videos on how to slice a mango and  learned some handy little tricks. I've posted one  here that I found very helpful..
I cut the mango and pineapple into cubes,   removed the seeds from the peppers and chopped  the  bell pepper and jalapeno into  rather small pieces, and after rinsing , drying and stacking the mint leaves,  cut them into strips,  as in a chiffonade. I minced the shallot and  sauteed it in butter in a saucepan,  removing half when it was tender, and leaving  half in the pan  to  flavor the rice. I mixed the mango, pineapple, cooked shallots, peppers, and mint in a medium bowl, sprinkled  them with salt and peppe, added a few drops of lemon juice and  placed the bowl in the refrigerator while I prepared the rice and fish.
 To the butter/shallot mixture  remaining in the saucepan, I added 1/2 cup of jasmine rice and heated over medium heat, sautéed until the rice  turned translucent, then white. I then added a cup of  chicken broth to the saucepan, brought  it to a boil, turned  the  heat to low, covered the pot and cooked it on a  slow simmer for a bout  13 minutes until done.
While the rice was cooking  I  rinsed and dried the fish.  The fillet was  quite large, so I cut it into four sections. I used the "double dip" method to  batter the fish: first I  dredged the pieces in flour seasoned  with salt and pepper, then  dipped them in a beaten egg, and finally dredged them in cornmeal. I heated some olive oil  in a frying pan, and sautéed the fish, two pieces at a time, so as not to crowd them in the  pan, until it was browned to a lovely golden shade. Almost any flour/cornmeal  variation can be used here, depending  on how adventurous you are -- spelt flour, masa, polenta. I used unbleached white flour and organic yellow cornmeal this time, because that's what I had on hand.
The fish looked lovely on the plates snuggled next to the rice and blanketed with the salsa. And it tasted  good, too! A nice, quick, tasty, healthy  meal, coked from scratch and served up in a hurry. After all,  tonight was the season finale of  Downton Abbey and one  wouldn't want to be tethered to the stove at such a time and miss the whole thing, would one? ;-)