Sunday, February 18, 2018

Eastern Beach, Geelong

Eastern Beach swimming enclosure, Geelong
Snapshot in Phelan album, c1938
The photo above, in a family album, was taken in the late 1930s, shortly after the swimming enclosure at Geelong was opened. Someone in the family must have been there on holiday. The enclosure was the last constructed in Victoria and is the only one that remains. It was restored in the 1990s and is as popular as it has ever been. The buildings and landscaping is art deco and very beautiful. It now has heritage protection.

There is a concrete lined pool for young children and the boardwalk encloses eight acres of the sea so swimmers are protected from sharks. It is also a very popular area for big events, wedding photos, and family picnics. The foreshore on Corio Bay faces north, one of the few north-facing beaches in Victoria, so it is naturally sheltered and warm when other beaches are windswept.

Eastern Beach Geelong. View to the north.
Copyright Wendy Kerby
Eastern Beach swimming enclosure, Geelong
This post is in response to the theme photo for the Sepia Saturday group. The diving platform looks very similar to the one in Geelong that was constructed at about the same time. Visitors to the group welcome.

Theme photo for Sepia Saturday.
Manly Swimming Pool, Brisbane, in 1936.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

One death, two death certificates

A surprise letter arrived in the mail today. It contained the death certificate of my father-in-law who died in Perth, WA on Christmas Day 2017.

Neil was 94 years old and in good health so his death was unexpected. But that's not the surprise.

He had travelled to Perth from Victoria on the train with family to spend Christmas with his grandaughter. He became ill on the train and died in hospital after a very brief illness. He had expressed a wish that he be buried rather cremated so the process of returning his body to Victoria was initiated by family.

You won't be surprised to learn that there was a bit of paperwork involved. We put it in the hands of the undertaker in Neil's home town in Victoria who had to liaise with an undertaker in Perth. A body can't be moved across state borders without a death certificate so the undertaker in Western Australia organised that. We also discovered that bodies cannot be transported by road to Victoria from WA - they must be transported by air. From any other state (including Tasmania) they can be transported in refrigerated vehicles.

So after several weeks the necessary paperwork was completed, the body transferred and many friends and family gathered to celebrate his long and worthwhile life. Neil was buried with his wife, Shirley, who had died earlier in the year.

My husband is one of the executors and he is starting to prepare the usual documents in order to apply for probate. One of the required documents is the death certificate of course, which the Victorian undertaker had passed over to us, so you can imagine my surprise when a second death certificate, also issued from Western Australia, arrived in the post today. There was no covering letter but I note that the registration number is different. All the other details are exactly the same except that the new certificate has a place and date of burial.

Now we're left with a quandary. There are two death certificates.

Will the probate office want both, or just the second one? We'll find out no doubt.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Trove Tuesday: Margaret Alford nee Stone

Margaret Alford nee Stone
My mother-in-law had fond memories of her Grandma.

Margaret Alford was born Margaret Stone in Bagdad, Tasmania in 1860 where her family were farmers. Her parents were Joseph Stone and Margaret Foster and she had two older brothers when, in March 1863, the family moved across the Bass Strait to Victoria, selecting land at Woodstock West and building a house they called 'Alva'.

Margaret's older brother, Joseph, died when Margaret was five years old. Five more siblings were born in Victoria but one, a sister Joanna, died at three when Margaret was nine years old. I don't know the cause of death for either child but their deaths must have had an impact on young Margaret.

'Alva' homestead, Woodstock West
In May 1882 Margaret married a local farmer, Thomas Alford, at the Bible Christian Church at Woodstock West. The bride walked to the church from her home.

Thomas Alford married Margaret Stone
Bendigo Advertiser, 5 May 1882
Thomas and Margaret Alford lived at Warragul, then moved back to Woodstock until 1897 when they moved to Warragul again. Thomas' brother, sister and parents also lived at Warragul. Thomas and Margaret had eight children.

Margaret and Thomas move to Warragul, Victoria
Bendigo Advertiser 8 May 1897
In 1903 the family moved to Mologa, near Pyramid Hill in central Victoria, and built a house on their farm they called 'Myall Marsh'.

Margaret's father had died in 1890 at the age of 63. He'd never fully recovered after a horse kicked him three years earlier.

Death of Joseph Stone
In the next few years there was a series of accidents involving Margaret's siblings and children:

Margaret's brother James had married Thomas Alford's sister, Eliza but she died in 1892 of Tuberculosis.

In 1901 Margaret's brother. George Henry Stone, also had an accident. He was 25 years old. Unfortunately it seems to have had a lasting effect because he committed suicide in 1907.
George Stone seriously injured.
Bendigo Advertiser 2 March 1901
SAD SUICIDE AT NEWBRIDGEWoodstock West, 21st JanuaryQuite a gloom was cast over the district on Saturday when it became known that Mr. George Stone, well-known respected farmer, had been found early in the morning hanging from a rafter in a stable at his farm near Newbridge. The body was quite cold, and it is presumed death must have taken place the previous evening. The deceased, who was only 30 years of age, was connected with the Methodist Church mid Sunday School, and was also a prominent member of the Rechabite Order. Some few years ago the unfortunate young man met with a serious accident, having been found in an unconscious condition, the result of a fall from a horse, the effects of which were at the time severely felt. Deceased was engaged carting wheat to the Shelbourne railway station, and had delivered a load on Friday. After partaking of lunch with his sister he proceeded to prepare for Saturday's work. An inquiry was conducted on Saturday evening before Mr. W Greene, P.M. and a verdict of suicide whilst temporarily insane was recorded. The funeral took place Sunday afternoon at Newbridge Cemetery and was largely attended. The service at the grave was conducted by the. Rev. A. Uglow. Much sympathy was expressed for the relatives and friends. Bendigo Advertiser 22 January 1907

In 1903 Margaret's sister had her leg amputated. The family story is that it was done on the kitchen table and that Isabella sufferered from epilepsy after the operation. Margaret's daughter, Ella aged 18, went down to Woodstock to care for her. Isabella died in 1916 at the age of 52.

Isabella Stone's leg is amputated.
Bendigo Advertiser 23 Jun 1903

Isabella is recovering.
Bendigo Advertiser 13 August 1903
In 1904 Margaret's mother, also called Margaret, died at the age of 71. Both of her parents appear to have been highly respected.

In January 1906 Margaret's son Arthur died when he was 18. He drowned in a dam near their farm at Mologa after presumably suffering cramp. His younger brother could not save him.

In  WW1 Margaret and Thomas' son, Tom Alford, enlisted in the army in March 1916 and served in France. He returned to Australia in 1919.

In 1922 Margaret's son Charles (Dick) Alford died aged 20. He was thrown from a gig. His leg was badly broken but there were other internal problems and he died five weeks later.

A year later, in 1923, Margaret's daughter Ruby (Hare) died at 34 from appendicitis leaving seven young children.

Margaret and Thomas Alford with family
Thomas and Margaret Alford
In 1919 Thomas and Margaret moved off the farm, leaving it in the charge of their sons Tom and Ralph, and moved to Honeysuckle St, Eaglehawk.

Margaret Alford

In this photo Margaret is wandering alone through a garden and even though she was much loved by her family it is tempting to think that she was remembering those in her family who had died.

Margaret herself died in 1932 at the age of 71. Her husband had contracted influenza and decided to go to their daughter Ella Pickles' home to recuperate.  It was while nursing Thomas that Margaret took ill and she never recovered. Thomas died eight years later. Both are buried at Pyramid Hill.

The Argus 1 March 1932
This post highlights the amazing resources at Trove at the National Library of Australia.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Trove Tuesday: Was he guilty?

In 1906 young Charlie (David Charles) Stokes was 19 years old, almost 20, and had been working on Cornelia Creek station near Echuca as a boundary rider for five or six years. His father, Charles David Stokes, lived at Corop (his mother had died in 1904), and his grandmother Stokes (Eleanor nee Paynter) was still alive and living nearby. Charlie had 6 younger brothers and sisters and one older sister.

This is the story that I've pieced together from newspaper reports.

The manager, Ernest Harpham, of Cornelia Creek reported to police that he had been robbed on the 17th March 1906 and when on 22nd March they went to the sheep station to interview him he said that he'd been awakened at 1 a.m and found Charlie Stokes in the passage. Charlie had been sent to Echuca earlier in the day to pick up a telegram and entered the house to give it to him. As he opened the door into the living room Harpham found that the curtains were ablaze and considerable damage was caused before it was brought under control. The next day the manager found that he had also been robbed of a gold brooch, 2 watches, a gold chain, three pairs of cuff-links, £7/10 in cash and his day and cash books.

Suspicion soon fell on Charlie Stokes because as well as being in the house apparently he owed about five pounds to the station. The assumption was that by destroying the books he was destroying proof of the debt.

The police and the manager went to the Koyuga railway station where they found Charlie on the platform and persuaded him to return to Cornelia Creek. Detective Sergeant Wilson interviewed him in his room and asked him to write a statement. Wilson then left the room and he and two other witnesses, the gardener Thomas Mills and the cook John Irving, stated that he was only out of the room a few seconds when they heard a gun shot. Charlie had killed himself.

At the inquest the policeman said that the gun must have been prepared and hidden because there wasn't time for Charlie to have taken off his coat and hung it up before getting the gun and using his toe to pull the string attached to the trigger.

Albury Banner and Wodonga Express 30 Mar 1906

The day before he died Charlie wrote a letter to his sister (the newspapers don't say which one) claiming to be innocent of the crime and asking for help from his father. The letter was later published in the paper.

Riverine Herald 2 Apr 1906
Detective Sergeant Wilson stated that Stokes appeared to be agitated and denied implication in the crime. An article in the Bendigo Independent on 23 March had the following paragraph: The youth was greatly liked by the manager and other employees, who thought he would be the last person to commit such a robbery or take his own life. He was a general favourite and was regarded as trustworthy and hard working. His father resides in Corop.

The inquest returned an open verdict.

For me there are still questions that remain unanswered. Where are the stolen goods? Where was Charlie buried? Was he guilty and if not who was?


* Coincidentally the owner of Cornelia Creek, George Simmie, died in Melbourne in the same week aged 78. He was the former MLC for Northern Province.

** Cornelia Creek was subdivided in 1911 but there is a winery currently operating under that name on the original homestead site.

*** My connection with this story is that Charlie Stokes' grandmother, Eleanor Stokes nee Paynter, was a great great aunt of my husband.  She was born in the village of Iwerne Courtney, Dorset and when she was 18, in January 1855,  she married a local lad called Charles David Stokes. Almost immediately, with her new husband, her parents and siblings she sailed to Australia on the 'Omega', arriving in May 1855.

For this post I was able to use the amazing newspaper resources at Trove.


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