Last night I decided to take another look into Trove’s hidden treasures after spending some time showing the ladies in my genealogy group how I use the newspaper database. I was waiting for my husband to come home and thought I would kill a little time. Consequently, my research was completely random. I started looking for my ancestor Thomas Lane in Armidale but had little patience for the lack of results I was getting. Then out of the blue I decided to type in Faulder.
The Faulder family are on my Mum’s father’s side. Quite a bit of research has been handed to me on this family but it is focused in England, prior to their arrival in Australia. Upon arrival they settled near Yass.
High on the list of search results was a series of articles involving the disappearance of Ida May Faulder and the subsequent trial of Thomas Davies for her murder. My interest was piqued. I quickly checked my files to see if Ida May was connected to my line and she was. So I started clicking every link like a mad woman. By this time my husband had returned home. Bed time would have to wait.
Family Tree Maker tells me that Ida was my second cousin twice removed. However, all that tells me is that she is not closely related. Her great grandfather was Joseph Thomas Faulder and this is where our lines connect and he is the first Faulder in Australia (in our line). Joseph Thomas is my grandfather’s great grandfather.
Ida May was born in 1903 in Yass to Charles Faulder and his wife Louisa. She was the eldest of four children. Until last night that is all that I knew of her except that my records showed that she had died in 1962. A reiteration of the warning that we should always check the research that is given to us as it turns out she died in 1942.
The newspaper coverage begins in the January of 1942. The Advocate newspaper in Burnie on 13 January provides the best summation of events up to this point. Ida was last seen on 1 November and was reported missing by relatives who had not heard from her during November.
Ida had been living with Thomas Davis who was a grazier on his property “Cooyong” in Good Hope near Yass. She originally began as his housekeeper after the death of his wife. They later developed a relationship and had three children together. The police interviewed Thomas who stated he had not seen her since November 1 when he left her at the Yass Railway Station. As a result of this interview, the police began a nationwide search for Ida. Newspaper articles reporting her disappearance asking for information on her whereabouts reached as far as Tasmania and Perth. The article in the Advocate states that the search extended as far as New Zealand.
In the articles appearing in newspapers across the country, Ida is described as being 38, 5ft 6in with fair hair and complexion. The reports add that she usually wore dark clothes, black shoes and a hat. It also includes the fact that at one time she had worked at “refreshment rooms” in railway stations across NSW.
Responding to rumours in the Yass area, the police returned and began to search extensively for Ida. They were looking for areas which had been recently disturbed, where the soil was loose. She was found under a pile of boulders. She was found on Thomas Davis’s property (1800 acres) about two miles from his home. He was taken into police custody that night. At an inquest on 5th February, Thomas was charged with murder and committed to trial.
The trial took place towards the end of March. In the course of the trial, it was discovered that Thomas and Ida had had an argument on the 1 November over one of their children. Ida had threatened to cut the child’s throat. He had pulled her away from the child and she had tried to hit him. It’s possible that he hit her. It’s possible that she fell. Thomas did not remember. Ida did fall for some reason and hit her head on concrete. Thinking she was dead, he drove her away from their home and threw her remains into a hole that he covered with rocks.
It is a very sad story. Thomas stated in his testimony that he and Ida had been as happy as a married couple could be. Except for some periods where she couldn’t control her actions. He stated that she had hit him in the back of the head causing bleeding and thrown a knife at him. It is tragic that they lived as man and wife, supposedly happy with three children. Yet during the course of an argument, their relationship ended so badly.
Thomas was acquitted of Ida’s murder but was charged with unlawfully disposing of the body. This case went to trial in June and resulted in his conviction and a sentencing of four years.
What strikes me, and which I have found no answers, is the effect that this would have had on the children. He had children from his marriage and then three more with Ida. They had lost their mother and now their father as well.