Chapter 19 ~ Kudnartoís Death
The absence of Adams, however, must have made a strong dent upon her personal well being. During this period, the Hoiles and Titcumes had moved from their respective homes and business premises. After 1853, many bullockies left South Australia to find gold in Victoria. The consequence was a drastic fall in business turnover. The survival of the businesses were placed in jeopardy and eventually they failed. Both families moved some four miles away to the new town of Auburn. In the future, she would have to go to Auburn for company. It involved a walk with two young children, a daunting task. This left Kudnarto without any near neighbours to provide comfort and assistance.
While it cannot be firmly established, it is believed that Kudnarto pined for her lost husband. As a woman, she would have felt the shame of desertion greatly. Aboriginal women internalise their pain and translate the effects into self destruction. The feeling of shame comes from the notion that the woman has in some way let down her husband. This thought still holds powerful sway within the Kaurna community today. 
As the separation became longer so the pain may have increased. Her traditional support structures were no longer present. The Kaurna people were much reduced in number and rarely travelled through this region any more. In traditional society, a family group would have looked after her, providing her with food and company. These networks ceased to exist.
Then there were additional problems with Adams. He was still a shepherd and lived the life of the shepherd. It would not be unusual for Adams to have taken other women as he moved from station to station. It would not have taken long for his activities with other women to come to her attention. Such a rejection would have been very traumatic. Although she had first come from another manís harem, she was attached to Adams. Furthermore, European society legitimised this monogamistic relationship. This would have created severe tensions within Kudnarto as she would have been confronted with mixed feelings about this situation. Kudnarto resolved this aspect with stoic acceptance.
While she lived alone, it is unknown whether Kudnarto herself would have been the victim of rape. She would have no confidence in redress through white law while her family support structure would not have led to any vengeance. Women were seen as sexual servants of men and expected to accept such abuse. As also has been seen, offending shepherds were not shy in dispatching to the grave those who were raped and protested about this crime.
In one particular report Moorhouse details many cases of rape against Aboriginal women in his very near presence. At no stage did he charge the perpetrators with rape even though he had the power to do so. If the Protector of Aborigines felt impotent to halt his own men raping Aboriginal women, these very same women would not have a great deal of confidence in Moorhouse's ability to dispense justice. 
Considering that she was separated from her husband, she would have received very little sympathy from the Kaurna people. If she had a few traumatic sexual and physical encounters, it would have sufficed to sap her will to live. Since she would not have the esteem or the opportunity to report any offence against her, the loss of self esteem would have been that much greater.
All these above factors compounded by the loss of an established tribal group and moiety, Kudnarto would have felt very depressed. Being tied to the land would have only compounded the misery. It is a natural part of Aboriginal lifestyle to wander. In the end, Kudnarto it appears likely that she grieved for her lost life. Thus it would appear that she may have ended up pining to death. 
That her death was natural is indisputable. There are no records indicating anything but natural causes. What provoked the death of a healthy 23 year old Aboriginal woman is unknown. Maybe the unexpected return of Adams to the household provoked the full emotions of anger and shame with the end result of inducing death. There is no external evidence to give information upon this subject. Regardless of the cause, on 11 February 1855, Kudnarto died. Adams found her body and duly reported it to the authorities the next day. 
On the day of 11 February 1855, it too was hot. Blow flies were intense and very bothersome due to the ample supply of breeding places provided by the sheep and their droppings. A small herd of sheep stood as testimony to the only tangible wealth held by this family. However, the fly problem was minor in comparison to other matters. While the newspapers of the day were trumpeting the belated news of a great victory at Inkerman in the Crimea, the affairs of the ordinary people within the colony did not interest a newspaper to print a single line about Kudnarto. Yet the day was significant. It marked the passing of an era in the history of South Australia's new colony.
Also it proved to be a traumatic date in the fullest sense of the word. The events of that day had catastrophic effects upon the family living on Section 346. It changed every member's lives and plunged the family into a destitution it never recovered from over the next fifty years.
No death certificate appear to have ever been officially issued for Mary Ann Adams. Neither was there any coroners report nor any Police notification of foul play. Since there was no official clamour relating to the nature of her death, thus one must assume that her death was from natural causes. Since there is no official statement as to her death, one is obliged to accept the notification sent by her husband, Thomas Adams, to the Protector of Aborigines, Mr Moorhouse on 12 February 1855. Her death was acknowledged by Moorhouse in a letter to Adams sent on 2 March 1855 when he said:
Loss of Land
Despite the periodic habitation of Thomas Adams, her husband, and their two boys, Tom and Tim, events were put into motion which stripped them of their land and future livelihood. Moorhouse, the trustee of the land, turned his back upon the Adams family after the death of May Ann. He was not interested in the plight of Thomas Adams although he did express minor concern about the fate of Thomas Adams' two boys.
Knowing this situation and displaying an indecent haste exhibiting a "carpet bagging" attitude, on 22 March 1855, William Norrell, the blacksmith at Auburn tried to gain possession of the land.  A letter from Moorhouse acknowledged the receipt of Norrell's letter of 27 February 1855 and informed Norrell that he had no power to sell or lease Section 346 without special authority of the Government. Although Norrellís application was denied, the people of the Auburn area could sense the future availability of prime agricultural land at a good price. The reason for the shameful celerity of Norrell coupled with the destitution of the Adams family lay in the restrictive nature of the land grant.
As time progressed, the parcel of land was re-surveyed and allocated to the area described as the Hundred of Upper Wakefield.  Currently, the allotment is divided into Sections 346, 398, 399, 400, and 804.  The size of each section was 19 acres, 16 acres, 18.75 acres, 15.75 acres, and 11 acres respectively which when combined made a total of 80.5 acres.  The division and sale of the land occurred towards the close of the nineteenth century. Now each of these allotments is owned by different people under individual titles. The estate title was extinguished through government policy and now no longer exists.
Once she was buried, Adams sent the children off to Poonindie for education. He had little wish to raise the boys himself. However, he did want to regain possession of Section 346. To this end, Adams put in an application to the Commissioner of Crown Lands to resume the property.  The request was promptly declined.  Although at the same time Patrick Murphy was given one year to finish his activities and move, nothing actually happened until the land was finally leased  for 14 years at £30 per annum on 9 December 1858  to Mr W.G. Long until December 1872.  Adams and his children grieved for the loss of the land. Over many years the family kept trying to regain the lost lands of Skillogolee. By 1889, the hut had fallen into ruins  and the land was subdivided into five allotments with their own independent titles and then later sold off. 
1. Conversations with two Kaurna elder women on shame and loss of husband. Both women independently concluded that Kudnarto pined and died accordingly. Return to text
2. Report dated 13 September 1841, GRG 52/7/1, pp. 25 - 30. Return to text
3. Wyatt, W., The Adelaide Tribe, published in Wood, D., et. al., (1879), The Native Tribes of South Australia, E.S. Wigg & Son, Adelaide, pp. 166 - 167. Return to text
4. Letter dated 2 March 1855 GRG 52/7/1, p. 372. Return to text
5. See letter dated 2 March 1855 GRG 52/7/1, p. 372 Return to text
6. Letter dated 2 March 1855, GRG 52/7/1, pp. 371 - 372. Return to text
7. The Governor proclaimed the Hundred of Upper Wakefield of the County of Stanley on 14 November 1850: Lands and Survey, V8, F2, p. 3. Return to text
8. Lands and Survey, Field Book No. 1663, pp. 2 - 9. Return to text
9. Lands and Survey, Hundred of Upper Wakefield, Map 48. Return to text
10. Letter dated 26 May 1855, GRG 52/7/1, pp. 374 - 375. Return to text
11. Letter 1194, GRG 24/4, 1633/55, p.419. Return to text
12. South Australian Government Gazette, 2 December 1858. Return to text
13. Notation on document GRG 24/6 A (1858) 1566. Return to text
14. The Legislative Council Select Committee, (1860) Report on the Aborigines, Paper 167, SA Govt Printer, Appendix, p. vi. Return to text
15. Lands and Survey, Field Book No. 1663, p. 3. Return to text
16. Lands and Survey, Files DR 644/89 and SGO 10624/89. Return to text
For comments, bick bats and bouquets
256 colours, 800x600