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Dadswell Family History

Generation 8
Emma Elizabeth Dadswell 1861-1955

On this page:
Ancestors of Emma Elizabeth Dadswell
Emma Elizabeth's story
Key family dates
Further information

Ancestors of Emma Elizabeth Dadswell

Robert Doudeswell 1560 > Robert Doudeswell 1606 > Edward Dodswell 1659 > Alexander Dodswell 1686 > Thomas Dadswell 1732 > James Dadswell 1786 > Thomas William Dadswell 1828 > Emma Elizabeth Dadswell 1861

Emma Elizabeth's story

Photograph of Emma Elizabeth (Dadswell) Bell

Emma Elizabeth Dadswell, daughter of Thomas William and Helena (Scheer) Dadswell, was born on 28 September 1861 at Pleasant Creek (now Stawell), and lived her early life at Ledcourt Crossing which became known as Dadswells Bridge. It was the locality where her parents operated a hotel which included the local post office and schoolhouse. Emma was aged 12 when her mother died and she presumably lived with her father at least until her teenage years.

Emma worked as a hotel hand in Horsham before meeting Henry (Harry) Fitzroy Bell (1852-1931). He was one of eight children born to John and Violet (Kelly) Bell. Henry was born in the Portland, Victoria district on 14 October 1852, probably at the family property at Yambuk near Port Fairy. According to family stories, he and Emma were married at Stawell in 1879 but in reality they did not marry until 1931, when Emma was aged 69 and Henry was 79 and near the end of his life.

Henry had worked dragging sawmill logs for Emma's father who operated a sawmill, but the couple went to Mt Cole where at the height of the timber industry some 31 mills were operating. At other times, he worked as a drover and a labourer.

The couple lived at Mt Cole for about 17-20 years, possibly in a shanty or humpy on the Mount itself. Emma had a family of 10 children (eight of whom were fathered by Henry) and she appears to have often raised the family alone in what was a hard existence.

Charles Heslop (1928-1992) recalled that his father Alex Heslop and Emma's brother Charles, on occasions would pay a woodman to deliver firewood for Emma. Her nephew Tom Dadswell (1900-1985) said she resorted to taking in washing to help make ends meet.

In 1887, when Emma had five children, Henry is shown in Ararat Shire rate books as buying a house on 2 acres of Crown Land from the estate of the late Mr. Moysey. He was described as a 'teamster', presumably working with bullock teams to drag logs to sawmills.

Ethel Nicholson (nee Bell) could recall a story from her father, Henry William Bell (Emma's third child, also known as Harry, 1882-1935), that when he was nine (about 1891), a log rolled onto his foot when he was with his father. Later in life, Harry jnr. still had a twisted or club foot, although he was accepted into the Army during World War One.

Henry snr. is described as a labourer in 1891 rate books, and for several years he was shown as "in arrears" (that is, he had unpaid rates) for his 3/- (three shillings) a year rates. In the 1897 rate book, there is a note in pencil alongside his entry: "Sold in 1896 - see E. Bell's letter." A pencil note in the 1898/99 and 1900/01 books said "In Western Australia" and in 1901 the accrued rates were abandoned.

It is unclear but it appears Emma was periodically left to raise the children alone. The births to Emma at Warrak, Victoria, of Thomas William Dadswell (1892) and Herbert Sydney Dadswell (1894) were both registered under Emma's maiden name and with no father's name recorded. Later both these children took on the Bell family name.

In 1900, Henry is shown in Horsham Borough rate books as living at a Burnlea (Green Park) house formerly owned by a Mr Murphy. Over the next decade he is shown as rated for land and a dwelling in Stawell Road, owned by the executors of Sexton Estate (1904 to 1905-06); Stawell Road, owned by Clarke (1907-08); O'Callaghan's Parade (1909-10); and McPherson Street, owned by T. Hunter (1910). Until 1916-17, Henry snr. was described as a labourer, but in that year was noted as a drover.

For about 6 years, the family appeared to stay at the Hunter house. In 1918-19, with the war over, their son Thomas William, then about 26, was listed for the same address. Then, in his late 60s, Henry is again lost sight of, but in 1921-22 he is shown as the occupier of a house at 130 Baillie Street in Horsham, a house owned by his son Harry jnr. It appears that Harry jnr. bought the property for his parents, and it remained in his name for about 11 years.

Emma and Henry married on 20 July 1931. Later that year, on 19 November, Henry died, aged 79, and was buried at Horsham the next day. In 1933 the house was signed over to Emma, then aged 72. Her son Harry jnr, ill from the effects of gas in the war, moved to the Stawell district where he died in 1935.
Grave headstone of Emma (Dadswell) Bell
In 1938, Emma sold the property for £375 and moved to Stawell to live with her daughter-in-law Jessie (widow of Harry jnr.), who lived opposite Emma's son Otto Bell.

When Emma became ill, she was admitted to a private hospital in Stawell. Ethel Nicholson (Emma's granddaughter) could recall a nurse from the hospital with Emma, wrapped in a blanket, 'dumping' her at Jessie's place and saying: "Here, you look after her, she's your responsibility." Otto Bell, who was also present at the time, found a bed in an elderly people's nursing home in Hamilton where Emma remained until her death on 26 July 1955 at the age of 93.

Emma was buried at Stawell in the same grave as her mother, Helena Aurora Dadswell. Her sister, Charlotte Martha, is buried in the adjacent grave.

Key family dates

Emma Elizabeth Dadswell
born 28 September 1861 -
died 26 July 1955
at Stawell, Vic
20 July 1931
Henry Fitzroy Bell
born 14 October 1852 -
died 19 November 1931
Children -

1. Helena Violet Bell born 1879 - [married Jack Barnett] - died 9 July 1963

2. John (Jack) Thomas Bell born 1881 - [married (1) Doris Jean Dawson,(2) Millie Amelia Cain] - died 20 November 1951

3. Henry (Harry) William Bell born 1882 - [married Jessie May Simms] - died 9 March 1935

4. Ada Emma Bell born ca 1884 - [married James Vaughan Martin] - died April 1931

5. Charles Fitzroy Bell born 1886 - [married Agnes Cecilia Rodgers] - died 10 May 1923

6. Alfred Otto Bell born 1888 - [married (1) Otensia Veronica Francesca (Frances) Schmidt, (2) Emma Matilda Brown (nee Gerdts)] - died 24 June 1968

7. Robert Ernest Bell born 1890 - [married Jessie May Tims] - died 3 August 1950

8. Thomas William Dadswell Bell born 26 May 1892 - [married Bertha Charlotte Dwyer] - died 20 June 1960

9. Herbert Sydney Dadswell Bell born 9 June 1894 - [married Dorothy Janet McCarthy] - died 22 June 1976

10. William Amos Bell born 1896 - died 1899

Further information

Brothers/sisters of Emma Elizabeth Dadswell
Emma and Henry Bell's family
Henry Bell's parents and siblings
Thomas William Dadswell (generation 7, father of Emma Elizabeth)

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