The Siddall family in Australia 1879-1938 ©

I thought this would be the Siddall family history as it pertains to the Australian branch of our family.  I was very wrong indeed, as it was the Barker family that created the problems for the Siddall family.

My great grandfather Charley Siddall was born January 18, 1851 in Halifax, England, the son of Henry Siddall and Sarah Ann Siddall (Hill) and the Grandson of James Siddall and Betty Siddall (Lumb).  Henry Siddall was a Mason (Builder) in Halifax, Yorkshire England.  Charley was the first born of Henry and Sarah Ann Siddall and the family grew into 10 children.

Charley by the age of 20 was working as a bookkeeper at a Cotton Factory in the year 1871.  The Siddall family had moved to Sowerby Bridge, England and was becoming prospers. 

Charley left England and immigrated to Australia arriving at Melbourne April 29, 1879.  Charley was 28 years old when he arrived in Australia and set up his business

Charley Siddall married Mary Barker April 30, 1881 at Woodend, Victoria, Australia.  That same year Henry Siddall Charley’s brother immigrated to Australia as well.  Henry was the namesake of their father.  Henry (Senior) was born in 1821 and Henry (Junior) who was born in 1863.  Their Grandmother Betty Siddall (Lumb) passed in 1881.

For Charley and Mary Siddall a son Ernest Charlie Siddall was born November 16, 1882, followed by the first daughter Idalia Jane Siddall July 27, 1884 then Elsie Hill Siddall born April 24, 1886.  The second son Carnie Henry Siddall was born March of 1888 and died January 7, 1889 at the age of 10 months.  As was the custom of that period Charley and Mary Siddall had another child, son Edgar Bell Siddall born December 19, 1889.

During the years between 1881 and 1888 the father of Charley and Henry twice visited the Siddall sons in Australia.  Henry Sr. came from Sowerby Bridge, England with one of his daughters Emma. Another trip had John Willie and Emma along with Henry Sr. visit Australia.  These are the only know photos of this group of Siddall family members together. 

This is where is started to go wrong for Charley Siddall and the children.  Charley and Henry Jr. Siddall purchase the Oak Hills Station (ranch) up north in Australia outside Townsville in Queensland.  They set up wife Mary’s brother Joseph Barker as the Managing Partner and a share of the Station.  Joseph Barker was born in 1862 and Mary was born in 1855.  In 1885 Charley Siddall’s Will was drawn up.  The executors were Henry Siddall and Joseph Barker.    

When the last child for Charley and Mary Siddall child Edgar was born in December of 1889 Mary Siddall had Charley committed to The Lunatic Asylum at Kew 5 months later April 19, 1890.  There had always been talk of drinking and or a drug problem for Charley.  That had to have come from Mary herself because her children were only between 7 years and 5 month old at the time.  My Grandfather Ernest Siddall in fact joined the Temperance Society years later and that usually comes from a perceived problem in the family.  In this case a 7 year old would not be able to comprehend that. 

In fact when Charley was committed to Kew the reason given for his mental health issue was listed as Excessive Business Worry and his own wife is the one who had Charley committed to Kew.  The same year that Mary had her husband Charley committed at Kew Lunacy Asylum her brother Joseph Barker married Annie Spencer.  Charley and his brother Henry owned a large piece of the Oak Hills Station in Queensland with Joseph Barker a minority owner.

In 1890 when Charley was institutionalized Henry owned his main business in the south of Australia with a partner named Purvis.  In 1897 Henry retired at the age of 34 years old but still owned a large part of Oak Hills Station.  With Charley in Kew his wife Mary Siddall and her brother Joseph Barker owned the largest piece of Oak Hills Station. 

Henry used to visit his land at Oak Hills Station to check in on Joseph Barker.  When Henry visited the local pub in Townsville, Queensland the locals would always tell Henry that Joseph Barker is stealing you blind.  Henry finally grew tired of what was happing at Oak Hills Station and sold out to Barker in 1910 never to return to Townsville or the Barkers.

When Henry Senior sent his namesake Henry Junior to Australia his job as it were was to purchase a sheep farm. The wool was to be sent back to the family in England for their business concerns.  When he got there in 1881 Henry set up his business and in 1885 he and Charley purchased Oak Hills Station which became a huge cattle concern instead.  Remember that Charley and Henry were to manage the Station from afar and Joseph Barker Mary’s brother was to run day to day operations. 

In 1889 Charley started to realize that Barker was starting even then to divert money from the Siddall family.  Remember that Charley was a bookkeeper in England and owned his own business in Melbourne as well Charley knew the ins and outs of a business and started to realize that Barker was stealing.  If this had been a business only transaction this type of a problem would have been dealt with the lawyers and if needed the police.

This was sadly more than a business partnership.  At this time Henry was busy building his own business so Charley was the one who discovered the problem.  Because he trusted Joseph Barker and because Charley was married to Barker’s sister he probably kept it in the family.  Instead of helping her husband Mary it seems worked hand and hand with her brother Joseph and had Charley institutionalized to keep him quiet.

Back in the late 1800’s people were not only institutionalized because of mental health issues.  The Lunacy Act was subverted and would have peopled institutionalized for many reasons.  Charley who owned his own business and was a bookkeeper by trade realized what was happening but made a fatal mistake thinking that his wife would help them with the problem with Joseph Barker. 

To understand what happened to people of that time at Kew please read the book called Three Weeks in the Kew Lunatic Asylum written by Doctor Paul Ward Farmer.  Dr. Farmer was institutionalized because of his politics.  The Asylums were used many times to shut up opponents of a local or Federal Government official. 

John Barker was born in Cumberland England January 5, 1825 and married Catherine Bell December 17, 1850 at Holy Island, North CumberlandCatherine Bell grew up in Carlisle, Cumberland.   The Barkers emigrated from Cumberland England to Australia before Mary was born in 1855.  Cumberland in fact was far north of England and used to be a part of Scotland until the 1100’s.  Scotland is very clannish as history shows and the Siddall family from Yorkshire were businessmen, but not to the point of the Barkers in Australia. 

Mary Siddall was that in name only as she was the head of the next generation of Barkers in Australia.  Instead of helping Charley she and her brother helped to cut him out of the equation.  When Mary and Joseph’s parents died in 1900 after a car accident at the end of 1899 Mary and Joseph got a majority of their money.  Between what they did to Charley and the fact that Henry dissolved the partnership with Joseph Barker in 1910 the Barkers owned all of Oak Hills Station.

Mary Siddall realized too late that her brother Joseph was only out for himself.  Mary sent her children to Canada and the United States to live.  Mary’s children Ernest, Idalia, Elise and Edgar all left when they could.  There was money at the time and Ernest left first at 15 ½ to England with the Siddall family there and Idalia and Elsie and Edgar went to Colleges in the United States.

When people leave their home country back in the day it was usually for another it usual means there are problems at home, whether it’s Political, Religious or Personal.  The Barker family was no different

John and Catherine Barker immigrated to Victoria, Australia arriving May of 1851.  The first child was Edmund and died shortly after birth.  The second was Mary Barker born April 30, 1855.  The third child John also died shortly after birth in 1857.  Then Jane was born in 1861, Joseph July 5, 1862, Catherine in 1865 and the last child William who was born July 7, 1867

To say something was wrong with the Barker family was an understatement.  Two of the seven children died before reaching their first birthday.  The remaining 5 and their offspring is the subject of this part of the narrative.

Mary Barker married Charley Siddall April 30, 1881 near Melbourne.  They had 5 children with one who died before the first birthday, two of the surviving four ended up in an Insane Asylum along with their father Charley Siddall.  The youngest child a son lived to two weeks short of 90 and never married.  The two offspring who did have children the daughter had a very difficult pregnancy and died at the age of 43.  The oldest child Ernest had 5 children, 12 grandchildren.  Mary Siddall became a Christian Scientist practitioner later in life.       

Jane Barker married John Reid and had two children, both boys and neither had children.  The next child was Joseph and he had two children (one boy and one girl) who lived together their entire life and never married living at Long Pocket near Oak Hill.  There was one person who lived at Long Pocket Station when he was between the age of 18 and 22.  He was married but he was not from this Barker's family tree it seems.

Catherine Barker married George Hill and had 4 children and only one who married. Catherine had two grandchildren from that issue and only one of the grandchildren married and had two children born in the 50’s or 60’s.

The last Barker was William and he had two sets of twins, one set of twins died before the age of one, the next set of twins were daughters and neither ever married.  Neither did the Hill daughters marry.  Below is the score sheet for the Barker Family from Victoria;

Edmund Baker died before the age of 1.

Mary Siddall (Barker) 5 children, 2 married and with 5 and 1 issues.

John Barker Jr. died before the age of 1.

Jane Reid (Barker) 2 Sons, one married, no issues.

Joseph Barker 2 children, one son, one daughter and neither married. (Lived together their whole lives).

Catherine Hill (Barker) 4 children only one married and he had 2 children with one who married and had two child.

William Barker 2 sets of twins , 2 who died before one and the other set of twins never married.

Ernest Siddall joined the Royal Victoria Artillery 1897 at the age of 15 and was tall at 6’ 2 ½’’ in ’97.  After fulfilling his obligation in the Army he sailed on May 31, 1898 from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia to stay with family in England until Ernest finished his studies.  Ernest the oldest member of the Siddall family then moved to Winnipeg, Canada in 1904.  Ernest would meet his future wife Margaret in 1909.  Margaret Vogt and Ernest married on June 2, 1911 and had their first three children in Winnipeg between 1915 and 1919.  The family moved to Upstate New York in December of 1919.

Edgar Siddall is the next sibling to leave Australia in 1906 at the age of 16.  Edgar and his mother Mary arrive in Winnipeg, Canada August 1906.  How long Mary Siddall stays in Winnipeg is unknown, but Edgar stays and eventually immigrate to America, arriving in Chicago, Illinois in 1909 at the age of 19. 

Idalia and Elsie are the last Siddall children to venture forth from Australia.  They leave December 1906 and arrive in Winnipeg, Canada January of 1907.  They return to Melbourne in July of 1907 after a 6 month visit.  Idalia immigrates to America in 1909 and lives in the same area of Chicago that Edgar was living in 1910.  Elsie also comes over from Australia and lives in the same house as Edgar in 1910.  So now all 4 surviving Siddall siblings from Melbourne, Australia had left with Ernest in Winnipeg, Canada and the other three in Chicago, Illinois.

The Siddall family members from Australia will change forever by the time 1920 arrives.  The oldest Ernest will have three sons, Idalia will have a daughter, Edgar will have fought in the Great War and Elsie will be institutionalized in Kew, Australia in the same location as here father Charley had been.  In December 1919 Elsie Siddall was transferred from The Hospital of the Insane Section 91 to Kew.

Ernest the oldest of the clan is married to Margaret Vogt (born in North Dakota) in 1911 and they won’t have their first child until 1915.  The three children are Elwin Leo Karl Siddall born May 8, 1915, Hubert Ivan Siddall born January 2, 1917 and Alan Noel born October 24, 1919 just before the move to Upstate New York from Winnipeg. 

Edgar, Idalia and Elsie surface again in 1913 in Ruskin, Florida.  There is no surviving information besides a few Post Cards and photos of that time period.  That information was discovered early in 2013 when Idalia’s daughter Rosemund was moving from her Los Angeles, California house.  Roz (short for Rosemund) Laing and one of her daughter Mavis uncovered the photos and letters during the move. 

Before the Ruskin chapter of the Siddalls in Florida 100 years ago this summer, a back history.  Brian Siddall started researching Elmer Quentin Siddall and his death on June 6, 1944 in WWII.  To start with this was done to uncover what had happened to Quent so Ewan Siddall would finally know.  A year into the search Brian spoke with Karen Barber (Siddall) Burt (Hubert Ivan) daughter.  Karen sent a folder of all of Quent’s letters and photos throughout his short life.

One of the items found were a spreadsheet that had a list of all the people Quent was in contact with while in the service.  One of those people was a Rosemund Miller.  That name seemed very familiar due to two things, one the name Rosemund itself, the second was the fact the Margaret Siddall had mentioned that name a few times over the years in her Diary.  Trying to locate a Rosemund Miller seemed difficult and it was.  

An obituary had Rosemund Miller Lang mentioned in the death of her husband and that led to a daughter of Rosemund, Mavis Leahy.  A call was made to Mavis and Mavis put Brian in contact with her mother Roz in April 2007 and some letters and photos were sent.  In the early part of 2013 is when the research truly started on the Australian side of the family.

The new group of photos had 2 pictures that were hand written and says Ruskin Boys & Girls and another photo taken on the same day states Ruskin, Fla 1913.  What Idalia and Edgar looked like was know but not much else.  Written on the back of the Boys & Girls photo was a mirror image of the names Edgar, me, “Sammy” and Billy (William) on the top row and the bottom row had Leon, Irene and Pauline. 

The Siddall children from Australia branch of the family would have ended there but for an image captured in the Ruskin Boys & Girls photo.  The person identified as Pauline is jumping off of the Cypress stump at the moment the picture is taken and Edgar is looking to the right talking to William.  The young lady Pauline looked a lot Amy Adams at that moment with the glasses and the expression on her face and the smile on Edgar’s face looked like someone you’d like to know.

After looking through a few more photos of that time period 9 more were located.  To try and identify them they will be numbered 1-9.  In order of importance first is #1 “The Boys & Girls” photo identified from right to left as Edgar (Siddall), me (Idalia), “Sammy” and Billy (William Miller) on the top row and the bottom row had Leon, Irene and Pauline (most likely Dickman).  Photo #2 titled Ruskin FLA 1913, from left to right first two men not identified, then Pauline, Clyde, Sammy, unknown name for this woman in this photo and photo #3.  Let’s Photo #3 Lunch in the Clearing.  From left to right starting with Leon, then Irene, Clyde, Pauline Dickman, William Miller, Sammy (the roommate of Idalia) and the woman unnamed in Ruskin FLA 1913 Photo.

Photo #4 Ruskin Play from back left unknown, unknown, unknown, Elsie, Idalia Siddall, unknown and Irene.  If the foreground unknown, unknown, Billy (William Miller) and unknown.  Photo #5 taken the same day as photo #4 is Idalia Siddall, and photo #6 also taken the same day with Elsie and William Miller

Photo #7 A day at the Passa Grille has a few more last name with Paulina already named, the other were named by Dr. (Mac) Miller.  In order from left to right Admer Miller, Aurora Miller, Pauline Dickman,  Monroe, Mary, Georgadda Miller.  Photo #8 is Edgar living in a tent until his friend Vaught and sister’s completed their house.  The last photo was a Postcard of the Ruskin College and on the back the Postcard was addressed to Idalia Siddall in December 1913 and sent by Mr. and Mrs. Baker.

To read more about Ruskin find the Tampa Bay Historical article Socialism in The Sunshine Ruskin, a very informative piece.  Another informative book is (if you can locate it) John Ruskin’s American Utopia writing by A. McA. Miller.  The town was based on John Ruskin and his ideals.  This version of Ruskin College follows from two other cities mentioned in Socialism in The Sunshine Ruskin. 

Hope springs eternal and that the other names are identified some day.  There is also hope that there are other photos at the Museum from that time period to go along with the other 9 photos.  The last of any of the Siddalls who had been at Ruskin was the Postcard sent to Idalia in December of 1913.  At some point William Miller became friends with Edgar and the unknown “Sammy” in those two photos as well as William’s future wife Idalia.  William and Idalia became the parents of Rosemund Miller. 

In 1915 Edgar shows up in Kansas State with the Ward family, but within two years he settles in Portales, New Mexico.  Idalia and Elsie are next seen in Berkley, California where Elsie Siddall has dropped out of Stanford and Idalia is enrolled at the University of California.  Idalia is going to College and works as a Teacher and Playground Supervisor in Oakland, California.  Elsie and Idalia were living together at the same apartment in Oakland.

Elsie Siddall had just been released from the Napa Asylum after spending three weeks there in May of 1915.  Elsie was planning on returning home to Australia but on May 25, 1915 Elsie tried to commit suicide.  She was saved at the Emergency Room and finally went home in December of 1915 with her mother Mary Elsie was committed to the Asylum at Yar Yar first then Kew Asylum upon returning home to Melbourne where her father was.  Elsie never left Kew after that and died there on February 6, 1938 as the age of 51. 

Charley Siddall died on February 11, 1918 at Kew Asylum at the age of 67.  A few months after that Mary Siddall come to Canada and America to visit Ernest and his family, Idalia and her Husband William and Edgar.  This would be Mary’s last trip to Canada and the United States as she passed away July 12, 1925 at the age of 70.

Idalia kept working as a Teacher and Playground Supervisor in Oakland in 1915 and 1916.  After graduation from College Idalia moved to Los Angeles and married William Miller on August 11, 1917Rosemund Miller was born on November 18, 1918 in Los Angeles.  The family moved to Tampa Bay, Florida during the 1919 year and stayed there until 1924.  Idalia then stays with Christian Science Practitioners in California in 1924.  Rosemund was staying with her mother there when Idalia died September 9, 1927 at the age of 43.  Rosemund then stayed with Gladys Taylor and their family until she graduated from College.  Rosemund then joined the Marines and ended up in Hawaii during WWII.

Edgar had moved to Portales, New Mexico in 1917 and was drafted into the Army on May 31, 1918.  He was naturalized after joining the Service.  Edgar went overseas with the 11th Veterinary Hospital.  Edgar was discharged on August 16, 1919 and returned to Portales, New Mexico.  Edgar eventually had a partner and owned his own house in Portales.  In 1920 Edgar received a Passport so he could go home to Melbourne, Australia and settle his father’s affairs.  Edgar moved to Eden, Texas in the 1940’s and bought a Ranch that he would own until his death December 5, 1979.

Ernest Siddall the eldest of Charley and Mary was the father of 5 boys.  Ernest was committed to Willard State Hospital on December 24, 1934.  He also never went home again, Ernest died July 17, 1950.  What is the cause that two siblings and their father end up in an Asylum?  Charley was committed 15 months after the death of his 4th child.  Charley’s first born was Ernest and Ernest was committed one year to the day of his youngest son Quent was severely injured in a sledding accident.  Charley’s third child Elsie was committed to Kew in December of 1919 in the same facility where her father Charley lived between April 1890 and February 1918 when he died.

What happened to Ernest Siddall should give pause to everyone.  Ernest was committed December 24, 1934 at the age of 52 years old.  He tried for years to return to his family but the people at Willard Hospital refused.  Even when people who lived in Moravia vouched for him along with Doctors they refused.  Willard Hospital was a nightmare facility and very few were allowed to leave.  They did extensive Mengele type surgery year after year there.  Ernest Siddall and his family refused to allow any “tests” and were able to protect him.

Ernest took no drugs, surgery or alcohol as he was a Christian Scientist.  Ernest and his wife Margaret corresponded constantly. In the 1946 the letters from Ernest stopped and the family wanted to know why, thinking he had died.  What happened to Ernest was worse than death.  Ernest was very articulate and loved his family dearly.  When the family came to Willard, Ernest sat there like a zombie, not knowing how to write, and had trouble speaking at all.

Doctors Keill at Willard decided to do a lobotomy on Ernest, as the State had the power to conduct experiments on the patients’ at all mental facilities in New York.  They did this under the guise of helping the patients to live a better life.  The Doctors at Willard were no different that the Nazi’s during WWII.  The Doctors who worked at Willard were unfit to work at any other facility.  The best Doctors were in the service trying to save the wounded soldiers.  The ones at Willard were there because they were incompetent, drug addicts or sadists which were worse than the first two. 

Doctors Keill had his own agenda as he had a TBI during WWI.  Doctor Keill thought by working on patients that couldn’t defend themselves he could fix his brain illness as well.

The family tried for years having tried to get the records released concerning Ernest Siddall time in Willard.  The State says no, we have to protect the patient even after death.  New York State is not protecting the patients, they are protecting the Doctors.  There is no privacy after death, but New York State said that they are allowed to supersede Federal Law and refuse to release his records.

When my Ewan Siddall (Ernest’s son) was diagnosed with Parkinson in 2007 the family tried to get the records as Ernest had Parkinson as well.  They refused stating the patient must be protected even after death.  Even when Ewan Siddall requested the information they said no.  When family member’s stated it might be able to help Ewan they said rules are rules.  Let’s not kid ourselves; this was done to protect the people who worked at Willard and the Doctors who did hideous experiments on the patients.  The workers at Greater Binghamton Health Center will not release Ernest’s records from Willard even after the Federal Government told them they must. 

It goes on to this day in New York State.  The Doctor’s rights are always protected even when they cripple and kill patients.  In New York State even if there is an ongoing investigation about a Doctor who has killed dozens of patients the investigation will stop if they give up their license to practice in New York State.  Think about that for a minute.  If a rapist was caught in New York State, and they agreed to move to another state they would stop investigation the alleged rapes.  Of course that would not happen, but the same thing does happen with Doctors in New York State.

That being said though a Police investigation would still continue, but Professional Conduct one will stop the second a Doctor surrenders it’s license.  Pilots, Bus Drivers and Subway Operators all have to give drug samples periodically to prove that they are fit for duty and drug free.  Even Sports have to take drug tests.  Doctors do not, and Doctors have more addicts that any other profession.  The Medical “Profession” is not far removed from being Witch Doctors and Snake Oil salesman.  If you notice they are called Practicing Doctors, not Professional ones for a reason.

After years of believing Charley Siddall was buried in a pauper’s grave I now know why we thought that.  I knew 8 months ago that Charley was buried in a proper plot with his wife and two of his children.  Even after letting Tony Siddall in England this he told me that no, Henry Charley’s brother had him buried in a pauper’s grave as Tony said he knew that it was because he was a drug addict.

I knew that Tony was wrong, as I received some pictures taken in a Melbourne Cemetery showing a Charles Siddall who was buried in 1934, not 1918, in a pauper’s grave.

This is a line of Siddalls’ that are not related to our line at all.  Tony Siddall for 40 plus years has told the family in England and here in the States that this was Charley Siddalls’ plot.  It isn’t even the correct first name let alone a Siddall relative as it concerns Charley and family.  On top of everything else Tony just 4 or 5 months ago when talking with me about Charley and said that Charley left from a particular town in England to go to Australia, and it meant he must have been in jail and banished to Australia. 

None of that is true and I’m starting to realize that the Siddall family from the hometown in England was the ones trying to keep what had really happened.  Charley had problems as so did his children, but drugs wasn’t one of them.  Charley was taken in by his brothers-in-law Barker. 

What did happen was strange on its face.  Carney Siddall died at 10 months in January of 1889.  His father was still 14 months away from being put in to Kew.  They had purchased a family plot in Melbourne yet never put up a Headstone for Carney Siddall their son.  After Charley was committed in 1890 his wife Mary the mother of Carney did not put up a Headstone either for her own son.  They when Charley died in 1918 and was buried with his son, once again no Headstone. 

Edgar Siddall came back to Australia in 1920 and did nothing about his brother or father’s plot for some reason.  Then when Mary died no of the three surviving family children in the states did nothing either.  The same happened when Elsie died in 1938.  She was buried with the other three family members with no Headstone.  Elsie’s Uncle Henry even noted her passing in the family ledger and still no Headstone. 

Henry and his family was buried together just a few plots away from his brother and his family yet nothing at all.  Henry retired at the age of 38 and could have put in a small Headstone but decided to do nothing at all.  I thought that Henry who had a diary as it might have explained what happened in Melbourne between 1879 and 1949.      

Just reading Charley Siddall and the Doctor notes while in the Asylum, I kept seeing the words seemingly sane.  Charley set up his own brother Henry and Joseph Barker in business and yet a few years later Charley cut out of the business.  We might not ever know what really happened, yet you never know.  All it takes is a few pieces of paper to unravel a mystery like this.

Part of the answer has now been answered.  Mary Siddall who became a Preacher late in life requested that upon her death no Headstone at all would be put on her families plot.  It seems at that time to today that there are some people who believe no Headstone for a family. 

Brian N. Siddall

Updated February 14, 2015