Saturday, November 15, 2014

Sepia Saturday: Farm labourers

Farms are very attractive, in theory. My mum and dad, Mavis and Angus, uncle and aunt to the kids in this story, had a dairy farm in Western Victoria and my mum's nieces and nephews lived in the city. We farm kids thought a rare visit to the city was very exciting and our cousins thought a visit to the farm was exciting.

Mum and dad loved to entertain the visitors. Dad especially would create fun activities for all to enjoy and mum would create big meals for everyone. My cousins have happy memories of those days long ago, in the last century, in the 60s and 70s. The Smith family drove from Adelaide, about eight hours, so it was quite an adventure. Our other cousin, Rex, only had to come from the nearby town of Portland but then moved to Melbourne about five hours away so he too had a bit of a trip.

In the 1970s my husband and I bought a small farm nearby and ran a few sheep. On this particular day in about 1976 the lambs needed to be drenched for worms. As our sheep yards at that time were still in a state of disrepair and lacked a narrow race it was a bit of a task to catch the lambs in the rather large enclosures, so my dad thought it would be helpful if he brought his visitors over to help out. Dad, Uncle Arthur, the three young Smith cousins (Julie, Robert and James) and their friends (Michael and his two girls) arrived and were put to work.

It was pretty funny. The kids, especially the girls, were reluctant to get dirty. Very reluctant. And the lambs were lively and hard to catch and hard to hold if they were caught. There was a lot of squealing and the kids got very dirty. But we got the job done.

My cousins still talk about that day.




This blog is in response to Sepia Saturday's theme photo that shows a lady being carried across a stream. I didn't have any photos of a gentleman helping a lady but I did have these photos, scanned off slides, showing people helping out on a farm. They aren't sepia but they are nearly 40 years old. Yet it seems like just yesterday! This is for you, Julie.


Sunday, November 2, 2014

Sepia Saturday: Euphemia

You know the saying. 'Behind every successful man there is a good woman.' Well there was a 'good woman' in our family. Her name was Euphemia and she was my husband's great-grandmother.

Euphemia Sims (nee Yeaman) 1866-1941
Euphemia was a daughter and a wife, a mother and a grandmother. She lived in Victoria, Australia for 75 years and was never an 'independent' woman or a 'career' woman. She was the daughter of a farmer and the wife of a farmer/butter manufacturer/storekeeper.

Charles Yeaman was born in Scotland and his mother's name was Euphemia Craig so naturally he would want to name his daughter after her. His English-born wife probably yielded willingly because almost all of Euphemia's siblings were given family names.

Euphemia in Greek means 'speak well' (euphemism comes from the same roots) and has never been especially popular as a name for girls, but it was used fairly frequently in Scotland up to the 1800s. Nicknames were common too so some of the Euphemias were called Effie of Phemie or even Mia, but our Euphemia never had a nickname that we are aware of. And she wasn't the only descendant of Euphemia Craig to carry her name. She named her daughter Euphemia Evelyn Sims (known as Elvie) and a grandaughter was called Euphemia Joy Phelan (known as Joy), and there was also a Euphemia Paynter (known as Fame), Louise Euphemia Yeaman and Euphemia Elizabeth Rigby (known as Effy).

Until she was about nine years old Grandma Euphemia lived on a farm at Cobaw east of Kyneton and then her parents selected land at Tennyson about half way between Echuca and Bendigo. They were very good farmers, innovative and industrious. And so was the man she married about twenty years later, Charles Sims. He lived nearby, at Pine Grove, and as well as farming he established a store and a butter factory on his farm. (Descendants still own the farm.)

Riverine Herald (Echuca), 23 June 1892
Charles and Euphemia Sims
Charles and Euphemia Sims with their family in 1916.
Charles and Euphemia  had six children while they lived at Pine Grove and then they left the oldest son on the farm and moved to Mitiamo, a nearby town that had grown up around the railway station. Charles was a very busy man because he ran a successful country store and had numerous other interests and investments as well as maintaining an interest in farming. Church was a very important part of their lives too. He and Euphemia were leaders in their community and for Euphemia life was busy too - as well as the normal cooking and cleaning and preparing for family and community events there was the unexpected.  During the Great War women knitted and baked and sewed for their soldiers, frequent letter writing was crucial. The family had a holiday house at Hepburn Springs too so like all holiday houses that too had to be cleaned, especially after it had been rented to other people.
Later in Euphemia's life another war took family members overseas to serve and once again the women in the community rallied.

Euphemia was much loved by her family. I asked my father-in-law what his grandmother was like as a person and he said one word. Kind. She was a kind lady. And then he added that she was also an excellent cook. I could have guessed the latter because her daughters were great cooks. When I first met her daughter Annie (my husband's grandmother) she made an apple pie for dinner. From scratch. She made the puff pastry by breaking butter pieces over the rolled out pastry before folding and rolling and buttering again repeatedly. It was an amazing thing to see and I was properly impressed. I didn't guess that Euphemia was kind because in photos she looks quite stern, but there are hints. See in the photo below how her daughter is snuggling close and has one leg behind her mum? And notice in the family photo, above, that four of her children are touching their mother.

Euphemia with her daughter Euphemia Evelyn (Elv) and grandchild.
In 1936 Euphemia turned 70 and the family got together at Annie's house in Mitiamo to celebrate. You can imagine the preparation that was involved and the cooking that was done. It was a sit-down meal and the photo show a table laden with cakes and slices on stands, flowers, nibbles and who knows what else. The birthday cake has two layers and 70 candles.


Family at Euphemia Sims' 70th birthday party, Mitiamo, 1936.
When Euphemia died five years later each of the children and her husband inserted a moving notice in the paper with phrases like "God's richest gift, our mother." and "A life made beautiful by kindly deeds."

The Argus, 3 September 1941
This blog is in response to the theme photo for this week's Sepia Saturday. I suggest you make a glutton of yourself and wander over there to feast on other blogs.


Saturday, October 25, 2014

Sepia Saturday: Constable Ephraim Smith

I've written about Ephraim Smith several times in this blog. He was my grandfather's grandfather.

Ephraim Smith
Ephraim and his wife, Elizabeth, migrated from England to Australia in 1852. I've written about him selecting land at Dunmunkle (here), about his broken leg (here) and about his arrest in 1851 for being involved in a drunken brawl after a cricket match in his village (here). The last episode amuses me because he led a sober Christian life, raised a large family and worked hard as a farmer and gained the respect of all in his district. And it amuses me because three years after the brawl, in another country, he was employed as a policeman for a few months.

I was reminded of this when I saw the theme photo for this week's Sepia Saturday.


Victoria Police was formed in January 1853 nearly 20 years after the colony was first settled by Europeans. During those 20 years there had been seven independent police forces and the uniform of Victoria Police was influenced by previous uniform styles. The single-breasted tunic was navy blue with a row of white metal buttons and they wore navy trousers in winter and white in summer. They wore a black leather tschako-style cap. So the uniform was probably similar to that worn by the 'men in blue' in the theme photo. Ephraim signed on as a constable in July 1854 and would have had to purchase his own uniform.

Ephraim was 28 years old and had three small sons. The family was living in the Warrnambool area and that's where he served. He left the force after six months, for reasons unknown, and after that time always worked as a farm labourer and farmer.


Saturday, October 18, 2014

Sepia Saturday: Tints from the past


For Sepia Saturday this week I would have liked to write about shoemaking, cordwaining, bootmaking and cobbling as an occupation because I have ancestors who earned their livings doing just that, and so did my husband. But, I don't have any family photos of them working at their trade. I'll have to leave that for another day when I feel up to writing an essay.

c1963. My younger siblings and me, ready for school, wearing our laced-up school shoes that dad was skilled at repairing. 
This photo makes me laugh. I have no head and John has half a head. Mum could have stepped a little closer!! 
Maybe we were in haste because the school bus was due.
I would have liked to write about my father mending our shoes because he could, and to save money of course. But I don't have any photos and I'm wondering if dad still has his last in his shed so I'll save that for another day as well. 

So, instead, I'm taking another element from the theme photo and posting some tinted photos I have in my collection of found photos. All of them are postcards.



Miss Lily Elsie, an actress.
Maggie Gooney
Post Office, Balmain, Sydney


It will be interesting to see what others have chosen to do this week over at Sepia Saturday.