Monday, December 7, 2009

Black Mag


I've had a major break-through in my research recently, concerning one of my great great grandmothers, Maggie SIMMS. I've located information pertaining to where she is buried, when she died, and of her background.

Maggie was the mother of my namesake, my great grandfather John PATTEN, b. 1874 Corryong VIC, d. 1942 NSW. Maggie's partner, or possible husband may have also been named John PATTEN, or as records hint - John or James PATON (a matter which might only be clarified via a DNA test, if I am able to a willing counterpart descended from Corryong PATON's).

Maggie is listed by my great grandfather on his marriage certificate as Maggie SIMMS. This is a name that she is never referred to in other records. She's only ever called "Black Mag", or "Black Maggie".

I have two photographs of Maggie. The first, shows Maggie standing garbed in a possum skin cloak, holding a baby and in the company of "Black Charlotte". They are listed variously as "the last two full-blooded Aborigines" of the Yaithmathang, Jaitmathang and Dhuduroa. Which of those names are tribes, and which are clans within those tribes, I am uncertain. Of Charlotte's relationship to Maggie I am also uncertain, save for the fact that they were related via being members of the same tribe. The second photo shows Maggie climbing a tree, holding an axe, hunting for possums. This is the photograph as mentioned in an earlier blog entry that forms a part of a somewhat derogatory postcard for the Corryong district.

The books and academic journals that I found these details in, range from being linguistic volumes and anthropology journals, to the ignorant and racist ravings of a self-inflated, big noter.

According to Aldo Massola, in his book - Journey to Aboriginal Victoria (1965), Maggie died at Corryong in 1883 of exposure after drinking through the night.

Given that Maggie and her four children were removed to state care less than a decade earlier, and potentially three of those children died not long after, and that Maggie was then removed from her remaining son.. I'm not really surprised at her sad ending.

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