Latest research

Latest research – Mary Ann Swan, nee Oliver

Over the last few days, I have been doing research on the children and grandchildren of my 2x great grandmother, Elizabeth Ann Ball.

Elizabeth Ann Ball was born in 1856, and married in 1875.  Her first child, Mary Ann Oliver, was born in December 1875.

Mary Ann Oliver married Alfred Swan in 1898, and I had the following children for them:

  • Dorothy Vera Swan born in 1899.
  • Eva Myrtle Swan born in 1901
  • Ernest Alfred Oliver Swan born in 1905, died in 1981
  • Arthur Henry Swan born in 1908, died in 1985
  • Irene Helen Swan born in 1911, died in 1912
  • Annie Isabella Swan born in 1914, died in 1985
  • Olive Esther Swan born in 1919, died in 1922

Mary Ann Swan, nee Oliver, died in 1942.

Given the marriage year of 1898, it was unlikely that they had any children after Olive, but there was a possibility there may have been another child born between Annie and Olive.

I therefore decided to check through my research, and found that Annie and Olive were the only births that belonged to this couple when I searched for the surname Swan, father Alf* on the Great War Index (which covers the years 1914 to 1920).

Although it seemed unlikely that there were any more children, the first thing to do was to try and find death notices or obituaries for Mary Ann and Alfred, to see if their children were mentioned.

A search for Alfred Swan (using quotation marks to limit the results) on Trove came up with too many results, so I narrowed my search to newspapers from Victoria.  There were still 103 results, so I narrowed my search to Family Notices.  There were now only 13 results, however, none of them appeared to be for my Alfred Swan or his wife.  I then broadened my search to all articles, but, since Mary Ann died in 1942, I limited the search to the decade 1940 to 1949. Now there were only 5 results, and the first result was the death notice for Mary Ann:

Mary Ann Swan death notice
PASSED AWAY (1943, January 7). Gippsland Times (Vic. : 1861 – 1954), p. 1. Retrieved November 22, 2016, from



This notice didn’t mention any children at all.  This death notice showed that Alfred Swan was deceased, but I had in my records that Alfred died in 1952.  I had followed the couple in the Electoral rolls, and Alfred was listed as a butcher at Swan Reach up to the 1952 Electoral roll.  I decided to look for a death notice for the Alfred Swan who died in 1952, to confirm that this was Mary Ann’s husband, and I found the following death notice.

Alfred Swan death notice
FLINDERS ELECTION (1952, November 12). The Dandenong Journal (Vic. : 1927 – 1954), p. 8. Retrieved November 23, 2016, from

Alfred and Mary Ann’s daughter Annie Isabella Swan had married William John Johnson.  I also found the another article regarding Alfred’s will.

Alfred Swan Probate notice
Advertising (1952, December 22). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957), p. 15. Retrieved November 22, 2016, from


These two articles confirmed the Alfred who died in 1952 was the husband of Mary Ann Oliver, and that an error had been made on Mary Ann’s death notice.

Although the notices for Alfred mentioned three of their children, there wasn’t a full list of children, so I decided to get Mary Ann’s death certificate, to confirm that I had found all her children.  The certificate showed her children were:

  • Dorothy Vera, 43 years,
  • Eva Myrtle 41 years,
  • Ernest Alfred 35 years,
  • Arthur Henry 33 years,
  • Annie Isabella 28 years,
  • Olive decd,
  • Irene decd.

The certificate also showed that she died 21st December 1942 at the District Hospital in Bairnsdale, and her usual residence was Swan Reach.  Her occupation was home duties, and she was 66 years old.  Her cause of death/duration of last illness were uraemia days, osteo arthritis of spine, months.  Her parents were George Oliver, farmer, and Annie Oliver, formerly Ball. The informant was George Holford, Authorised Agent, Bairnsdale. Mary Ann was buried 22nd December 1942 at the Bumberrah Cemetery.  The undertakers were Holford & Craig, and the minister was Rev. A. W. Sutton, Church of England.  The certificate showed she was born at Bairnsdale, and had lived all her life in Victoria.  She had married Alfred Swan at Bairnsdale when she was 22 years old.