A few days ago I received an email from a guy in New Zealand who is researching the teaching of deaf people. Apparently in the 1860's my great great aunt Dorcas Mitchell moved from the UK to New Zealand where she lived in Hawkes Bay before moving to the Christchurch area, where she taught deaf children. Apparently she was a forerunner to the van Asch School which still exists today. The story is that she applied for the principal's job but didn't get it.
According to the researcher, Steve Hooker, she had worked at an institution for the deaf in London. As I have blogged previously, the Mitchell family (my great grandfather Rev David Forrest Mitchell, her younger brother) lived in Dundonald, near Glasgow, for four generations. David moved to Brisbane in 1876, and was Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in 1884.
Apparently Dorcas moved to the Chatham Islands and married a farmer, Dietrich Papen. They had no children. There's a whole lot more, but Steve has done the research so I won't steal his thunder yet.
My uncle Alan tells me that my grandfather Vic's sisters Mina (Wilhemina - who married Percy Skerman) and Dora both taught at the school for the deaf called Rockangle, in the Samford/Dayboro area.
Cousin Geoff who is a doctor and teaches in the UQ school of medicine tells me that the Mitchell family deafness is called the Brachio -Oto- Renal syndrome. In the Mitchell clan it only affects hearing. My grandfather's generation had it and from this its pretty clear that my great grandfather's generation had it. According to Geoff, "The hearing problem is more rapid degeneration of the hearing nerve cells than normal with progressive hearing loss from a young age. It is inherited in a way that each child of an affected person has a 50% chance of getting it. If you don't get the gene, neither you nor any of your children will be affected." My father missed out on it so therefore did his kids, but my three uncles have it and therefore some of my cousins do. It would explain the deafness in the Skerman family and other related families. eg. Peake
I have to post more about my great grandfather's time with the Presbyterian Church in Queensland.