I have decided to continue the story of Leslie Leister by writing about his aunt, Eliza, who became his foster mother.
Eliza Way was born 22 August 1865 on Brittons Dam Station, Kitticara, near Murrumburrah, New South Wales. Her father John Way (1835-1911) was a shepherd. She is named Elizabeth on her birth certificate.
Eliza was the sixth child of John and Sarah (1837-1895). The birth certificate stated three males living and two children deceased. There was a mistake on the certificate, Eliza in fact had three older sisters, and a boy and a girl had died before she was born. There were also four younger siblings.
- Louisa 1855-1926
- William John 1857-1758
- Mary Jane 1859-1859
- Mary Ann 1860-1938
- Sarah Jane 1863-1898
- Elizabeth / Eliza 1865-1940
- Emily 1868-1952
- Harriet Elizabeth 1870-1879
- John 1872-1896
From the birthplaces of her siblings we can see that the Way family had moved to Grenfell by 1868, when Emily was born. John’s occupation was then as a sawyer. In 1870 Harriet was also born in Grenfell, “near Reece’s foundry” (‘The European Iron Foundry’). John was still a sawyer. In 1872 his son John was also born at Grenfell. In 1874 when Martha was born in Parkes, John Way’s occupation was as a miner.
By the 1890s, and perhaps earlier, the Way family were living at Bogan Street Parkes.
Eliza’s sister, Sarah Jane, married Robert Whiteman, a miner on 12 July 1882 at Parkes. They had two children: Robert Henry, born 1883, and Mary Ann, born 19 August 1884. Six months before Mary Ann was born, Sarah Jane’s husband Robert died of pneumonia after an illness of four days. Sarah Jane probably relied on her parents and sisters for help in bringing up her two infant children. Sarah Jane remarried on 26 September 1894 in Melbourne to John Young, a miner, who had spent some time in New South Wales, presumably including a period in Parkes.
On 13 August 1894, just before her second marriage, Sarah Jane gave birth to a boy, Jack Walsh Whiteman. The father was not named on the birth certificate. The birth was registered on 21 September, with Sarah Jane the informant. Her mother had been a witness, assisting at the birth. There was no doctor and seems to have been no other nurse or midwife.
It appears that Sarah Jane left her baby Jack behind with her mother in Parkes when she went to Melbourne to marry John Young.
Sarah Way, the mother of Sarah Jane and Eliza, died on 7 April 1895 of what is described on the death certificate as biliary colic and an impacted gallstone. The length of her illness was described on her death certificate as chronic. Four of Sarah’s daughters were married: Louisa in 1873, Mary Ann in 1883, Sarah Jane in 1894 and Emily in 1892. Four children had died. Eliza and John junior were unmarried and probably still living with their parents. It would seem to have become Eliza’s responsibility to care for the grandchild Jack.
On 1 July 1896 Eliza married Robert Watson Duncan Leister at her father’s residence in Parkes. The witnesses were Hugh Leister and Caroline Harrison.
Robert Leister was 25 years old, a blacksmith, born at Maryborough, Victoria. His father was a carpenter. Eliza was 29 and her occupation was given as “living with her father”.
From Leslie Leister’s war record, we know that Eliza was his foster mother. We don’t know when Jack’s name was changed to Leslie. There were no formal adoption laws in New South Wales at this time. The first legislation in NSW to regulate adoption was the Child Welfare Act 1923. (Releasing the past : adoption practices, 1950-1998 : final report / Standing Committee on Social Issues. [Sydney, N.S.W.] The Committee, 2000. – 1 v. (various pagings); 30 cm. (Report 22, December 2000) (Parliamentary paper; no. 600) retrieved from https://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/prod/parlment/committee.nsf/0/56e4e53dfa16a023ca256cfd002a63bc/$FILE/Report.PDF 12 April 2014)
Robert and Eliza continued to live with Eliza’s father John at Bogan Street, Parkes. When John died in 1911, Robert Leister is given as the informant on his death certificate. John’s will left his estate to his daughters Eliza and Louisa and appointed Eliza as his executrix.
|Taking load of wheat to silos by horse – Corner of Bogan & Dalton Streets, Parkes, NSW. , 1925-26. Image from the State Library of New South Wales retrieved from http://trove.nla.gov.au/work/10508626 The Way and Leister families lived two blocks away on the corner of Bogan and Church streets.
Robert Duncan Leister died on 31 March 1925 at Bogan Street, Parkes. He was 56 years old. His occupation was upholsterer. He had been ill for several years with chronic nephritis (inflammation of the kidneys) and for 24 hours with uraemia (the illness accompanying kidney failure). He had been 26 years in Victoria and 30 years in New South Wales; he had arrived in New South Wales about a year before he married Eliza. Robert and Eliza had no children of their own.
In 1929, William Charles Waine, husband of Eliza’s sister Mary Ann, died in Orange. By 1930 according to the electoral rolls, Eliza was living at Byng Street, Orange. She had no family left in Parkes. Perhaps she was helping her sister or perhaps they enjoyed each other’s company.
Eliza died after a car accident in February 1940. She was hit by a car when walking to church.
Eliza is buried at Orange. The grave at Parkes beside her husband remained empty. Parkes is 100km from Orange and there were no other members of the family living in Parkes at the time of Eliza’s death.
|grave of Robert Duncan Leister at Parkes Cemetery
|grave of Eliza Leister at Orange Cemetery