Is there anything more frustrating than family folklore that becomes embedded in the fabric of your family’s history? Short answer no! These will o’ the wisp tales take on some form of Holy Grail that must not be disputed. Often they simply hide family secrets.
An example is Ada Maria Elliman. Ada or ‘Naunt” as she was known in the family. An incredibly private and strong woman. The story she told was, she was born in New Orleans of mixed blood, her word was Octoroon. Why did a woman born in Dromana around 1871[i] invent such a story? She was a tall good looking woman, who never married. She had two children out of wedlock, Ethel Arthamecy registered 1893[ii] and Fredrick Ernest registered 1895[iii]. Both were registered a Schnapper Point, Dromana. Looking at the siblings, it is obvious they have the same father. The plot thickens, both children possessed dark skin tones, dark curly hair, brown eyes and snub noses. These physical traits were passed down to Fred’s daughter who was known as “Ginny” by the family. Her name is Patricia.
Ada consistently misrepresented the truth. Shortly before she died[iv], she burnt all her personal papers. She never revealed the father’s name. She was cremated. Her ashes were scattered. The secret died with her. No evidence of her life remains except in public records
[i] Victorian Birth Deaths and Marriages 15071/1871
[ii] Victorian Birth Deaths and Marriages 12174/1893
[iii] Victorian Birth Deaths and Marriages 15927/1895
[iv] Victorian Birth Deaths and Marriages 5642/1952