More family tales, triumphs, tears, tribulations: facts, oddments and incidents from the lives of our family members. Some funny, some sad, some just astonishing, some mildly interesting. But all very true. A confused jumble or medley of things ...  

Mesmerism and the Seventh Son

Victorian Mesmerism

The Victorians toyed with Mesmerism for medical uses.

Samuel Chudleigh, an agricultural labourer from Coleford, father-in-law of Daniel Heard, featured in a book by Tiverton Mesmerist Thomas Capern - The Mighty Curative Powers of Mesmerism, Proved in Upwards of One Hundred and Fifty Cases of Various Diseases, published in 1851. Samuel was one of the 150 cases.

Mesmerism was developed from the 18th century work of Franz Mesmer,  who maintained that illness was caused by blockages in the natural flow of a universal vital energy throughout the human body. Harmony could be restored by various techniques including hypnotism and laying on of hands. It was a technique that was widely adopted in the mid-nineteenth century.  Capern was a Devon mesmerist who worked in Tiverton and became Secretary and Resident Superindendant of the Mesmeric Infirmary at Bloomsbury in London.  

When he was in his early 60s Samuel Chudleigh was  seized  with pains all over his body. The doctor of the union attended him, but without any benefit. In a fortnight, his condition having deteriorated, he was admitted to the Exeter Hospital. While there he continued getting worse, and at the end of a fortnight requested to be sent home, as he thought he should die if he stayed any longer. Capern continues the account. "He was conveyed home with great difficulty, and was then confined to his bed for a year and ten months. He was again attended by the union surgeon, who, however, did him no good: indeed, often told him that his case was hopeless. During this time he suffered great pain: his legs and arms became contracted, and he felt as if they were chained together; and, the disease attacking his eyes, he lost the sight of the right. At the end of that time, however, he improved a little, and was able to leave his bed. His legs still remained contracted, and he was quite unable to move without crutches. In that state he remained for three years more, when his son, who resided at Tiverton, advised him to apply to Mr. Capern. He accordingly came to Tiverton, a distance of sixteen miles, and on the 26th February Mr. Capern mesmerised him for the first time. He felt considerable warmth in the limbs, and slept better that night than he had ever done since he was first ill. After six mesmerisations he was able to walk without crutches, and go up and down stairs in the ordinary manner." Although his limbs were still contracted, he was able to walk without any inconvenience. He was full of gratitude for Capern's treatment. 

According to Capern, a remarkable fact about this patient was that he had been practising "mesmerism" unknowingly from the day of his birth.  "A popular superstition exists in Devonshire that every seventh son possesses the power of curing disease by the simple application of the hand. So firmly is this believed that persons were waiting anxiously for his birth in order to be touched by the new-born infant, should it be a boy, for the cure of their diseases." Apparently Samuel had been practising his power every Sunday, the day of the week on which he was born. He would think on a specific quote from Scripture while making seven passes over the diseased part of his patient "precisely in the mode adopted by mesmerists, decreasing the number of passes every Sunday by one until he comes to the last; always, however, taking the same time in making each lesser number of passes that he had previously taken in making the seven, so that the one pass on the seventh Sunday occupies as much time as the seven passes did on the first." If the "treatment" had not been successful by the seventh Sunday, then the process was repeated for another seven weeks. 

During his stay in Tiverton, whilst under Mr. Capern, he was visited every Sunday by persons suffering from scrofula, on whom he operated in his usual manner. "Two of these, Mr. Upton, of Bickleigh, and Mr. Clarke, declare themselves much benefitted, and I allude to their cases as they came under my own observation. " His father, also supposedly a seventh son, practised the cure of disease in the same manner: Samuel was believed to possess extraordinary powers of healing because he was the seventh son of a seventh son. As well as his "mesmerism" passes, a sixpence or other piece of silver would be sewn into a small bag, and that bag into a second, and this charm worn around Samuel's neck during the seven weeks. It was then given to the patient, who would wears it for the next seven weeks, and it was afterwards deposited in a box to be carefully preserved from wet or the touch of a needle, less the disease should return. 

Unfortunately extensive research has revealed that Samuel was sixth of eight sons, or fifth of seven surviving sons. Though no suitable alternative candidates for Capern's patient of that name and age have been found, so it seems certain that our Heard family Samuel is the subject of Capern's account.

Mesmerism was short-lived. Its most celebrated British exponent Professor John Elliotson, who had founded the Mesmeric Infirmary, had earlier been one of the founders of University College, London.  But in time Mesmerism fell into disrepute, and with it the reputation of Elliotson. He was ousted from UCH, but continued to practice despite widespread opposition to Mesmerism in the Medical Establishment.

Our Wright 'cousin', the Piggoreet Murder and Victorian CSI

In 1856 Elizabeth Parrott, sister of Robert Wright's wife, Eliza Parrott, married blacksmith George Neville in Littleport, Cambridgeshire.   By April 1857 they had sailed to Melbourne, Australia, accompanied by George's ageing grandparents, on the Lightning. His parents were already there. They settled in Geelong, Victoria.  Later they moved closer to Ballarat, living at Gordon and Smythesdale. George continued to work as a smith.

Thomas Burke was an Irish migrant who arrived during the Victorian gold rush, moving first to Melbourne where he worked for the Bank of Australasia, before becoming manager of the Smythesdale branch of the bank around 1860. Smythesdale in the 1860s was a prosperous gold-mining town, about 12 miles west of Ballarat.   One of Burke's tasks as bank manager was to travel throughout the diggings buying gold from miners. By this stage gold transports were not accompanied by armed escorts. Early on 10 May 1867, Burke collected a horse and buggy from the Smythesdale coach-builder and traveled to the Break O’ Day area (now Corindhap, Victoria), arriving at the nearby town of Rokewood at 11.30 am. He bought gold at Rokewood and Break O’ Day, then left to make the return journey to Smythesdale, stopping at hotels along the way to buy more gold.

Victorian Mesmerism

Thomas Ulrick Burke.

George Searle, a hotel keeper at Break O’ Day, and Joseph Ballan, who lived in his hotel, left on horseback shortly afterward with the intention of robbing Burke. They travelled cross-country and intercepted Burke at what is now the intersection of the Pitfield-Scarsdale Road and the Old Pitfield Road. While Searle distracted Burke with conversation, Ballan walked behind him and shot him in the back of the head. Burke died instantly. Searle and Ballan secured the gold and cash that Burke was carrying, moved the buggy containing Burke's body into scrub beside the road, and released his horse. Burke's wife raised the alarm when her husband failed to arrive home. The body was discovered the next day. 

A number of people saw two men riding fiercely across country. This seems to have raised suspicions when the murder of Burke was announced.  They were also seen by other witnesses a few minutes before the murder must have taken place, in the locality where the body was found.The witnesses were able to describe the men and more particularly their horses, a black mare and a bay. If the murder had never occurred, inquiry would naturally have been prompted as to what business men making such an expedition were up to there. Armed with the witness statements, investigations  by the police led them to Searle and Ballan, and their horses.  The two men were arrested on suspicion of murder.  Neither would confess.

On the day of the murder the suspects had two horses shod by one Tigland Morrissey.The suspects' horses were taken to our family member blacksmith George Neville, and observed by Inspector Stoney, George removed the shoes from the horses, taking care not remove the nails from the holes. Native Australian trackers examined the murder scene and the environs with the police.  A careful examination of the tracks traced there was made, and they were found to fit exactly, and bear all peculiarities of the shoes removed by George from the prisoners' horses.  Other evidence pointed to the guilt of the two prisoners. Bank of Australasia notes were found in Ballan's box, with serial numbers linking them to the dead banker. Searle had instructed his servant girl to state, if asked, that he went away at four o'clock and returned at six on the day of the murder - a blatant and provable lie.  A constable, assisted by the native trackers, found in a paddock adjoining Searle's house two revolvers, wrapped in a piece of cloth and piece of paper. One of these was loaded in all the chambers but one. The balls were peculiar in that they all were under the usual weight, by some eight grains, and like the lead found in Mr Burke's head which was eight grains short weight.

After a couple weeks in custody Searle made a statement which enabled the police to go to the stable and find Burke's stolen gold buried.  The gold found was within an ounce of that Mr Burke should have had in his possession at the time of his death and it contained some specific nuggets it was known Burke had purchased. Searle was hoping that his cooperation would see the charge of murder reduced because it was Ballan who had shot Burke.

At the trial in Ballarat, Morrissey gave evidence of some peculiarities in the shape of the horseshoes, and George testified how he had taken two shoes off the black mare, and three off the bay, taking care not to take the nails out of the holes., and that the shoes produced in court were those that he had removed, "with the nails are clenched down and in the same position as when I removed them".    Police witnesses gave extensive evidence testifying to the  measurements and idosyncracies that had identified those shoes as the very source of the tracks followed by the trackers. That crime scene evidence and the other evidenceleft no room for doubt. The trial of Searle and Ballan for the murder of Mr Burke at Piggoreet was concluded when a verdict of wilful murder against the prisoners was returned. Searle and Ballan were hanged at the Ballarat Gaol on 7 August 1867 and buried in the grounds,  in part as a result of our familty member's contribution to early scientific crime scene investigation.


The Loss of the Steam Tug Nyora

On 9 July 1917, off Cape Jaffa, South Australia, the steam tug Nyora was towing the schooner Astoria, when it foundered with all hands. Among the 16 crew on the Nyora was cousin Sampson Henry Crocker, 48, a fireman on the tug. Miraculously the Captain and one crew member were picked up alive by the keepers of the lighthouse at Cape Jaffa, but 14 crew were lost. Sampson left a widow and six children. 

Sampson was the grandson of John and Mary Crocker, a farming family from Stroude, near Ermington, Devon, who had migrated to Hobart, Tasmania, with their seven children, aboard the Mary Anne in 1829. Some of the family had settled in  Tasmania, some had gone on to  New Zealand. Sampson's father had been the captain of a lighterman in Port Melbourne, Victoria. Sampson had been a fireman for Huddart Parker and co., owners of the Nyora, for 16 years, and this was his second year on the tug. He had been a fireman on Huddart Parker's coastal trader Despatch when it sunk at Lake's Entrance in 1911, without injury to crew or passengers. In 1917 his eldest son Samuel was a Petty Officer on the inadequate HMAS Sleuth.

Nyora had been towing the Astoria from Port Pirie to Sydney; a four-masted American schooner with auxiliary steam power, but the auxiliary motor had broken down .   On the morning of 9 July a gale was blowing. The tug was carrying forty tons of coal in bays on her deck, and it probably shifted in the gale. The huge sea smashed in the engine room door and flooded the engine room.  The pumps were overwhelmed. These circumstances caused the tug to list. The crew cast off the tow hawser, and the tug moved off two miles to windward from the Astoria, but despite all, the Nyora foundered. With no power the Astoria could do nothing to help. They saw no signs of a lifeboat. The Astoria was later taken in tow by the steamer Yarra, and was towed to the safety of Guichen Bay.

The Nyora had only been launched 8 years earlier. and had been especially designed for heavy ocean towing and for fire and salvage service. She was described as one of the most powerful tugs in the Commonwealth (Australian) waters.

The Marine Board that enquired into the disaster found that the loss was caused by the severe gale that had arisen on 9 July, with every care taken by the Master, and that no blame was attachable to anyone on board. Special reference was made by the Board to the brave conduct of the two lighthouse men in effecting the rescue of the two survivors.

Nyora Steam tug
Steam tug Nyora

More Tragic Accidents in the Family

In 1871 William Coombe, 28, was digging out sand for his builder father from some pits near Pothanger Corner on Dartmoor, when the land gave way and William was buried along with one of his colleagues. The other man escaped with light injuries, but nearly every bone in William's body was broken and he must have died instantly.

On Thursday 19th April 1900 Jane Higgins , 56,was returning along Liverpool Road, Patricroft, Manchester with her husband William Boydell, in their pony and trap.  As they were passing a coal cart, a woman kicked a cardboard box into the road, their pony shied away to avoid it, collided with the cart and threw Jane out, fracturing her skull.

Lucy Osborne, just one year nine months old, drowned in the river at Cullompton when she wandered off from her home, in 1901. Her elder brother and sister had drowned in the mill stream there in 1899.

Palmers Bridge Cullompton
The area of Cullompton where Lucy Osborne drowned 

In 1887,  Peter Snow, aged 76,  was in conversation on Rose & Crown Hill,  Sandford, when a trap was overtaken by a horse-drawn waggon alongside him. Something startled the horse, resulting in Peter being crushed against a wall. He claimed to be not badly hurt and made his way home, but died later that day from the shock of the accident.

On 6th May 1895 Edith Causley had been playing with friends in some gorse near her home at Trusham. One of the girls had some matches and set light to the furze. A visitor investigating the burning gorse found Edith on the ground crying, her  clothes burnt off.  When summoned, the family doctor advised that she be sent to the hospital in Exeter. She was taken there on the following day, and was found to be suffering from severe burns to the chest and abdomen. Her condition deteriorated and on the following day she died, aged just 12 years.

Doris Conibear was thought to have drowned in the Great Slave Lake, in Canada's North West Territories in 1915. She had gone to the wharf to get some books coming in on one of the boats. It is thought that she fell through the ice. She was 17.

Great Slave Lake, North West Territories, Canada

Albert Heard, 30, of Beer Farm, Cruwys Morchard, shot himself in 1931 by accidentally discharging a shotgun whilst climbing through a barbed wire fence, when the trigger caught on the wire.

Thomas Lynes was killed in 1946, barely a year after being released from a German POW camp where he had spent more than two years. Tom was digging trenches on a building site when the walls of a trench collapsed on him and another man. The other man was extricated alive and survived, but Tom was dead when the rescuers reached him. He was just 22. 

At 75, in 1966, Lydia Langworthy Moulder, née Madge was accustomed to lighting her gas fire with a gas poker. Unaware that it hadn't lit properly, she fell asleep and was accidentally gassed by the carbon monoxide fumes. Neighbours tried to save her,  but she never regained consciousness and passed away in hospital.

My gran, Emma Kathleen Pitts, 76, was visiting her son at Sandy Bay, Littleham, in May 1954. She went out for a walk in the surrounding countryside, and was caught up in high winds. Unable to keep her balance, she was blown over and in the fall she suffered a sub-dural haemorrhage and cerebral concussion, which proved to be fatal.

Emma Kathleen Pitts
Emma Kathleen Pitts


"Things just seemed to go too wrong,  too many times." *

It is estimated that 20% of the population will experience suicidal feelings in their lifetime. 6.7% will take action to end their own lives. There are many reasons why people may try to kill themselves: perhaps to escape what they feel is an impossible situation; to relieve unbearable thoughts or feelings; or to relieve physical pain or incapacity. Their life may have become too difficult or hopeless because of external events like debts or insecurity, a relationship break-up or the symptoms of a mental health problem. These family members deserve our sympathy for the emotions, thoughts and agonies that drove them to their untimely ends.

Those family members who took their own lives include;

  • James Pollard, died 1842, aged 21
  • Rosa Mary Ralling, died 1877, aged 24
  • Sarah Hattin née Chapple, died 1882, aged 70
  • Samuel Haydon, died 1883, aged 67
  • Nicholas Duer or Dare LOYE died in 1889, aged 60
  • Edward Pollard, died 1908, aged 53
  • James Haydon, died 1908, aged 68
  • Mary Boydell née Southern, died 1928, aged 57
  • Charles Gibson, died 1932, aged 27
  • John Sharland, died 1935, aged 51
  • Arthur Leonard Pickett, died 1942, aged 31

Cyril Baggott
Cyril Baggott in 1948

  • Cyril Baggott, died 1950, aged 47
  • Ada Mortimore, died  1970, aged 69
  • Reginald George Roberts, died 1979, aged 60
  • Barbara Boydell Sutcliffe née Shaw died 1986, aged 55
  • Stephen L. Pitts died 1997, aged 54
  • Matthew Collier, died 2001, aged 22


There are many myths and prejudices attaching to suicide, one being that if their mind is made up, there is little one can do to help those with thoughts of self harm. But there may be ways that your help and intervention can save a life. The Samaritans' site has some suggestions about how you can help someone with suicidal thoughts.

* From one of Tony Hancock's suicide notes.

Award for Joseph Sharland

Teignmouth Pier

On September 10 1907 a young lady holidaymaker, despite being warned against it, ventured too close to the pier at Teignmouth when bathing in the sea. She was taken by the breakers, and although a good swimmer, began to panic, and call for help. Joe Sharland was the pier caretaker, and on duty at the time. He seized a lifebuoy, jumped into the sea, and swam to the young lady, whom he was able to hold up. He was joined by Percy Foster, the secretary of the Swimming Club. The two men continued to support the young woman despite the battering waves, until the Coastguards could launch a boat from the beach, and brought the woman onboard, apparently none the worse for her experience. The same could not be said for Joe Sharland and Percy Foster, as they had been thrown against the piles of the pier, which were covered with barnacles like knives, and the two men were badly cut up.

Joseph Sharland with his boat

Pier attendant Joseph Sharland with his boat

This was not the first time that Joe Sharland had pulled someone in  trouble from the water; mention was made in the local Press that he should be recognised for his valour. 

The family were from Mid-Devon but Joe's father and other family members had moved to South Devon. It is possible that Joe had been sent to Mount Edgecumbe Industrial Training Ship in Plymouth as a youngster.  At some time he became proficient with boats, and worked on yachts and as a boatman before becoming the Teignmouth Pier Attendant or Caretaker in the early years of the C20th. By 1932 he was being described as Assistant Pier Master. He certainly became known as a Teignmouth character, as the caricature below implies.

On 6 January, 1908, at the open sessions of Teignmouth Magistrates Court, Major H.A. Schank, honorary secretary of the Royal Humane Society, asked the Chairman of the Magistrates to present Joseph Sharland with the Society's honorary testimonial on parchment, for his courage and humanity on 10 September 1907 for having gone to the rescue of Mary K. Snell who was in imminent danger of drowning off the pier at Teignmouth. On receiving the parchment from the Chairman, Joe said that "he had done his duty, and should be ready to do it again if occasion required it".

Sharland caricature

This caricature of Joe Sharland is captioned, "Joe Sharland, assistant at pier. What! At it again Joe. Though t'pier was afire."



Sister Mary Oliva C.S.M

Agnes Oliva

Agnes Oliva Willing

Born Agnes Oliva Willing on 1 November 1890, at North Hill Rectory, Cornwall,  the daughter of the Theo Willing, Rector of North Hill Parish, Launceston, Cornwall, and Agnes Rodick, the daughter of a London silk merchant.   She went to school locally and then completed her eduction in Germany and France at the age of 15.   Her father died in 1907. When she returned to England, Agnes was employed as a teacher by a small private school in Cheshire for about a year. In 1911 she and her widowed mother were living in Runcorn, Cheshire. Her elder brother was for a while a curate at Runcorn. She and her mother went to Philadelphia, PA, USA,  in November 1912, on the SS Merion.  Agnes, Agnes Oliva and youngest brother Moreton were communicants at Christ Church and St Michael's Episcopal Church, Philadelphia. They returned to England in 1914, perhaps to support Theo Willing in his court case.  But Agnes was there only briefly, and soon returned to the USA alone, on the SS Celtic in September 1914, to complete an engagement as a governess.  During this trip she determined that she wanted to be a missionary.  She entered the Church Training School and Deaconess House in Philadelphia in 1916. After graduating in 1917 she thought that some medical and nursing knowledge would be practical skills for a missionary on a lonely station in the field. After a year she decided that she was too absent-minded to grasp the technicalities of medical training, and in her words, she " was rather a menace to the nursing profession". But she was now prepared for her first missionary posting.

In 1919 Agnes was sent to Cape Mount, Liberia. She was based at the Bethany School there, with 15 teenaged boarders and about 100 day pupils. As well as teaching at the school, and teaching small classes of infants in more distant communities, she had to preach at missionary meetings in the local village.  It was very much training on the job, as Agnes was obliged to manage circumstances as she encountered them, helped by locals and the other missionaries.  She learned something of the local Vai dialect, made journeys into forest and bush to distant villages, and even to neighbouring Sierra Leone, a journey of several days on foot and by boat. After a while , despite her misgivings about her medical skills, Agnes was obliged to take over the running of the hospital and the dispensary for a while, averaging only two bed cases, but with up to 5o dispensary cases daily. Patients included everything from bad teeth to a woman with leprosy who was isolated in a nearby field hut.  For three months, with some missionaries on leave and others moving to new posts, Agnes was the only missionary on the station.  During this period she confronted the hostile opposition of a charismatic revivalist sect, luckily without suffering the threatened violence.  Her absent colleagues returned, and in December 1921 Agnes left the mission post and Liberia. She was suffering from malaria and on the verge of a nervous breakdown. She sailed back to England on the SS Bodnant, arriving in Liverpool on 31 December 1921. She stayed with friends, the Bakers, in Upper Norwood for some 5 weeks before sailing back to the USA on the SS Cedric. She settled in the Deaconess House in Philadelphia, and decided then that she wanted to dedicate herself to the religious life. At first she sought to be set apart as a deaconess.

sister mary oliva

Sister Mary Oliva

She was appointed to her next missionary post, to St Mark's Mission, Nenana, Alaska. It was felt the cold climate would benefit her health. En route to her mission station she was appointed deaconess at St Mark's, Seattle, Washington in July 1923.

Nenana was a native American community with a mission station and four missionaries. There were 30 boys and girls from age five to 17 years.  In the early years she was teaching, but  later she became assistant housekeeper. Her time there included confronting the kind of issues that one might expect in a disadvantaged community - petty theft, sexual and domestic assault, prostitution, drunkenness, an influenza epidemic.  The native Americans were appreciative of the support the missionaries brought to their community, and they were happy to learn from the Gospel teaching. They brought beautiful beadwork, berries and dried fish to the mission every week, exchanging them for much-needed clothing. Agnes finished her term there in 1926, returning to the States by riverboat.

Agnes pursued her vocation further by becoming a nun, entering the novitiate of the Convent of the Community of St Mary, Peekskill, New York in November 1926, and being received into the Order on 21 September 1929, as Sister Mary Oliva. She was sent to Sagada in the Philippines in 1936., to resume her missionary work.

The mission worked with the Igorot tribes in the mountains.  As well as teaching the youngest children, by 1837 Sister Mary and the other nuns were asked to teach the sacred studies to the High School students.  She wrote that things in the mission had gone fairly smoothly, until the Japanese attacked the USA, and occupied the Philippines.  The Sisters were taken into Japanese internment in May 1942, and were imprisoned at first at the former police barracks at Camp Holmes near Baguio. Agnes was philosophical about her internment. The missionaries suffered the hardships of deprivation of freedoms, food, company, communication with the outside world, but Agnes claimed that it was an opportunity for her spiritual and intellectual growth, having time to study. They endured cockroach infestations, and flooded quarters when the rains came. But the missionaries did not suffer the brutality that was inflicted on military and other prisoners.  Space was at a premium in the overcrowded quarters, but at Baguio the Japanese allowed the American civilian internees take charge of the daily running of the camp. At first the sexes were separated which was hard on the families, and the crowding and constant presence of so many internees preyed on the nerves, and the screaming and crying of children was wearing. As the time passed, food rations shrunk, and daily life grew harder as the Japanese began to evidently be losing the war; they became edgy and more repressive. Then on December 29, 1944 the women and children were ordered to assemble before being put on trucks. The local Igorots feared the worse for their friends. But in fact they were transported to Manila, where they were interned in the Bilibid prison. The conditions there were filthy and disease ridden.  There was little food in Manila, and the internees made do with rotten vegetables and mouldy corn. At first they removed the weevils from the corn, but then realised they were the only protein they were likely to receive, so they left them in. Within a week several internees including some of the sisters were sick with dengue fever. Then they discovered the water was poisoned. The men had to dig several wells to get access to safe water, though it could not be drunk without first being boiled. But Sister Mary seems to have endured all hardships stoically, strengthened by her Faith.

The end of Japanese occupation came suddenly, the Japanese guards filing silently out of the prison, and in no time American tanks were rolling through the city. There were major changes for the internees - much more and better food, and the opportunity to leave the prison with a pass.  But internees of a sort they remained, and the war continued, with snipers active in the city.  Rumours that Bilibid was to be bombed caused the women and children to be evacuated to a shoe factory for a day. When they returned to Bilibid what meagre possessions thay owned had been looted by the Fillipinos. They continues saying Masses whilst outside mortars dropped, and the sound of machine guns could be heard. One morning a bomb dropped very near their end of the bulding, but the Sisters survived.  Soon they were moved to a camp at Santo Tomas University.  A few days later their repatriation began. They boarded the S.S.Ebberle, and landed at San Pedro, California on May 2 1945. Sister Mary Oliva's account of her internment can be downloaded here.

In 1946 Sister Mary Oliva returned to missionary work at Sagada.  The Convent and the Church had been reduced to rubble.  War had taken its toll of the Igorots, and the Sisters were asked to open an orphanage.  Many of the children were badly malnourished, and it took a year before they began to recover.  The Sisters resumed their High School teaching, their work with the Women's Auxiliary Group and training the Sisterhood of St Mary the Virgin.

Sister Mary Oliva's foreign missionary work ended in 1957. She retired to the convent at Peekskill, New York, where she continued with convent duties until her death at age 92, in 1982. Her ashes are interred in St Mary's Convent cemetery.

The House of Bethany Nenana Bilibid
The House of Bethany, school and mission, Liberia  Native village and mission, Nenana, Alaska  POWs at Bilibid camp. Manila 

Many thanks to Adrian Radcliffe for his help with the story of Sister Mary Oliva

Page updated  18/05/2020

© Nick Heard 2020