17 January 2011

Caroline Beringer

I had come to a brickwall regarding Caroline Beringer's parents, apart from what was listed on the NSW BDM: father - Adolf, mother - Charlotte. I decided the best option was to order her death certificate (this was before I wised up and just ordered a transcript from a transcription agent - much cheaper).

When the death certificate came in the mail a few weeks later, apart from learning her parents' names, it held a surprise:

Caroline had committed suicide. After coming all this way to Australia, with her husband and two children, she then gave birth to six more children. When the youngest of these was 12 months old and the oldest surviving 12 years old, she committed suicide. Reading between the lines I wonder if it was post-natal depression that drove her to it. It's an unbearably sad story.

I could see from the death certificate (section not shown above) that Caroline was buried at Sydney's Rookwood Cemetery (known then as the Necropolis). I looked up the cemetery records online but couldn't find her. I couldn't work out why she was missing from the records so in the end I rang them. The lovely lady on the end of the phone at Rookwood did her best to search for Caroline's records and eventually found them. She updated the database and her records now do come up online. Unfortunately Caroline is buried in a very old part of the cemetery which is very hard to map, and it is unlikely that there is a headstone. So I can't even go and pay my respects to a woman who went through so much. My only hope is that her children knew where she was laid to rest, but evidence suggests they did not, and perhaps they did not actually know of the manner of her death either.

Incidentally, I found a record of Caroline's father Adolf Mondientz in some historical German records. Caroline's death certificate noted he was a painter. I naively assumed this to mean "artist" - probably because I am an artist. However, when I found him in the 1855 Address Book for Cologne he was listed as "Mondientz, Adolph, Dek - painter, Catherinengr. 30". It's much more likely that he was a painter who painted things such as fences, houses etc. There goes my romantic notion of where my artistic ability came from!


  1. I think suicide was often covered up, and of course there was no understanding of post natal depression. I don't know whether it's statistically accurate but my feeling is that there were more German suicides. My hypothesis is that this may have been because they were used to living in a communal village environment and Australia was too much of a change. No evidence -just a theory. BTW, I still tend to think having the certificate rather than transcriptions is better for the German ones...you tend to know more about the places etc. No reflection on their skills, as we know the German info can be tricky.

  2. It's probably hard to gauge the difference with a transcript and a certificate - because do we ever order both?!

  3. Yes I did once because it was important and the differences were remarkable -largely due to personal knowledge. So much for the $$ saved.

    Which ship did she arrive on? I thought I'd seen her name on the Commodore Perry.

  4. They arrived on the Abergeldie. Arrived 23 Dec 1884. There are no other Beringer assisted immigrants that I am aware of.