Week 10 of 52 Ancestors – Strong Woman

Week 10 (5-11 Mar 18) prompt was ‘Strong Woman’

Although there are many strong women in my family tree I immediately thought of my maternal 2x great grandmother Margaret Jane Snowdon.  She endured a lot in her life and still lived to be 95 years old.

Margaret Jane Lydeker

Margaret Jane was born at Hurdle Creek in Victoria on 25 Apr 1867 to German born Henry Lydeker and Margaret McAliece.   She fondly remembered her early childhood including meeting a young Ned Kelly when she was 9 years old.  Ned’s uncle leased some of their land for his cattle and Ned would often help his uncle.

When Margaret Jane was 16 she lost both parents within months of each other.  Her father died of injuries sustained after being run over by a runaway dray.  Her mother became ill soon after and died from inflammation of the lungs three months after Henry.

At first Margaret Jane and her siblings Agnes, David & Charles went to live with her maternal uncle Charles McAliece and his wife Mary.  When Charles died suddenly a few years later the boys stayed with Mary but the girls went to live with their aunt Mary Ann McDonald (nee McAliece).

Margaret Jane Snowdon nee Lydeker

At age 22, Margaret Jane married William Snowdon on 15 May 1889 at the home of her aunt Mary.  In the following years they had six sons – Henry 1889, Robert 1891, David 1893, Thomas 1894, Percy 1896 and (Stanley) Gordon 1897. In 1900 they moved to Boralma to work on a share farm called “Maybrook”.  The boys became known as “The terrors of Boralma”.

Around the time of their move, Margaret Jane lost her baby brother, Charles who died as a result of a burst appendix.

With the outbreak of the Great War, Margaret and William’s years of worry began as all but their oldest son enlisted to fight.  Margaret Jane wrote weekly to each son and sewed about 25 shirts per week to help.  While the boys were away, Margaret joined William in hand milking their 50 cows as well as helping with other jobs.

On 5 Dec 1917, Margaret wrote a letter which she sent to the local paper to address the accusation that she had voted No in the conscription referendum in 1916.

The Conscription Issue

Amazingly all their sons returned from war and on 20 May 1920, Margaret & William days of worrying were finally over with the safe arrival in Melbourne of Gordon.

Visting Maffra
William & Margaret with youngest son Gordon and his wife Muriel and daughter Muriel abt 1928.

In 1925 William and Margaret sold their property and possessions and lived alternatively with their sons Thomas and Percy.  William passed away on 31 Mar 1931 from cancer aged 69.  Margaret Jane continued to live in turn with her sons including Henry who lived in Wagga until WW2 when she began boarding in Wangaratta.

Once again Margaret’s life was filled with worry as now she had grandsons away fighting.

In 1947 she went to live permanently with Thomas and his family for about 15 years until she required professional care.  She was 95 when she died in Wangaratta Hospital on 1 Aug 1962.

William & Margaret Jane Snowdon Headstone - Milawa Cemetery

In 95 years, Margaret had endured and survived watching her parents lose all but four of their thirteen children, their deaths within months of each other, her brother Charles sudden death in 1900 and then watching sons and grandsons go to war. If that’s not the definition of a strong woman then I don’t know what is!

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I have been researching my family history since 2009. I am interested it the family names Shingles, McEwan, Snowdon & Witt around Gippsland and Wodonga areas of Victoria, Australia

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