Crest The Elson Family
in South Australia

Midford Elson


Midford Elson, 17th January 1917

Midford was born in Unley in 1852 and was the first child of William and Frances. Midford was named after William's mother's maiden name, Midford.  Mary Ann Midford was born in Lawton, Cheshire on 20th January 1804 and christened at Christchurch, Alsagerin, Cheshire on 31st January 1804, the daughter of  Michael Walter Blackett Mitford (1771-1841), the godson of Sir Walter Blackett who bequeathed him an annuity, and Hannah Barnet  (1778-1848) who was born in Barton upon Irwell.. The names Mitford and Midford were interchangable so sometimes Mitford was used instead of Midford and vice versa. Midford, like his father, was a Church of England lay reader and held services at his home and in a mission hall near Melrose's Station.

Midford coat of arms

Midford Family Coat of Arms

Midford married Mary Ann Proude on 14th October 1885 in St. Thomas's Church, Port Lincoln. Mary Ann was born at Franklin Harbour on 23rd September 1860, making her the first "white" child born in the area around Cleve. Mary Ann's father was William Proude (born in 1832) who emigrated from King's County, Ireland in 1850 when he was eighteen. He  married Mary O'Brien from County Limerick (born in 1840, arrived in SA in 1855 on the Fitzjames, died in 1876), Ireland in 1859 and became a farmer near Poonindie near Port Lincoln. William's parents were Thomas Proude and Ann Bulfram, born in 1800. Anne accompanied by a family member, George Proude (25 years old), followed her son to South Australia in 1864 after the death of her husband, Thomas, in Ireland. Midford Elson and Mary Proude had eleven children:  William Midford, Augustus Walter, Christopher Percival who died when he was only 22 from typhoid fever, Clarence George Kennion (Clary), Russell Filsell, Clement Howard, Edith Naomi, Gwendoline, Frances Mary, Joseph Cecil who only lived 3 weeks and Margaret Ellen Alice. All the children were born in Port Lincoln except Margaet Ellen Alice, who was born in Wallaroo. The first, William Midford, was born in 1886 and the last child, Margaret Ellen Alice, was born in November 1901 when Midford was 49 years old.

Proud Tomsbtone

Click on image to enlarge

Tombstone of Mary Ann Proude's family at Poonindie

Midford, Joseph and Wilberforce travelled by bullock wagon in June 1878 to Melrose's Station near what is now Cleve. At that time the surveyors were camped in the same area ready to survey the town. The area was still virgin scrub and there weren't any roads. Life in the area was very harsh with most dwellings having clay floors and pine log walls. The nearest doctors were at Port Lincoln and Moonta. Midford and Joseph cleared the land and succeeded in growing wheat despite set backs such as their first crop being burnt by a fire set by a local tribe of Aborigines to thrush out game which got out of control.  Mary Vaughan (nee Elson) together with her baby and Lydia Elson who had joined their brothers had to flee to the top of the Yeldulkie Creek to save themselves. Midford and Joseph also had to cut a track through broom brush to transport by bullock wagon the 4 bushel bags of wheat to Arno Bay where there was a flat bottomed dinghy waiting for them.

Despite the harsh conditions Midford and Joseph took up selections in the Hundred of Mann in the County Jervois, establishing farms in the Franklin Harbour region which included the area where Cleve is now located. In August, Midford gained the tender for the clearing of roads in the Hundred of Hawker which required grubbing out stumps.

Midford moved to Wallaroo with his family in 1901, where he and sons, Augustus, Russell and Clement established a transport business called Elson Brothers which carried goods from the port of Wallaroo to customers in the Upper Yorke Peninsula area. He and his daughter, Frances Mary (Mary), also managed a guest house in Emu Street, Wallaroo. Mary Ann, his wife, died at Wallaroo in 1918 at the age of 58 and he died nine years years later in 1927, leaving an estate of 1770 pounds, at the age of 74 as a result of being being thrown from a buggy two years earlier. His grave and that of other family members can be found at the Wallaroo cemetery.

Mary Ann Elson (nee Proude)


Tombstone details for Midford and Mary Ann on the obelisk family tombstone at Wallaroo Cemetery. Tombstone details for daughters: Frances Mary Elson (Mary) and Margaret Ellen Alice Elson (Alice) on the obelisk family tombstone at Wallaroo Cemetery


Tombstone of Christopher Percival at Wallaroo Cemetery

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