Friday, August 30, 2013

Sepia Saturday: A brace of photos

The theme photo for Sepia Saturday this week includes three men, braces, newspaper, jazz musician and striped trousers. I've chosen some family photos of people wearing braces (suspenders).

Uncle Jack, standing left in the photo below, was a crack shot. But in Australia there really wasn't much to shoot at in the 1930s apart from kangaroos and rabbits. Rabbits were in absolutely plague proportions and a complete menace to the environment and the farming community but in the depression years they were an important source of food. But somehow I think this photo is just for fun. The caption reads 'The Big Game Hunters' and Jack and his mates, Malcolm and Mick, appear to have shot only two or three rabbits. All lived and farmed in Kooloonong in Victoria's Mallee. I saw Malcolm several months ago at Jack's wife, Lena's, 90th birthday and he had quite a few yarns to tell. He probably left out the best ones.
The Big Game Hunters (with two rabbits), Jack Larkin (left), Malcolm Macfarlane & Mick Murphy
 at Kooloonong, Victoria
And this is Jack's father-in-law Ralph Alford. Everyone loved Ralph. He was a farmer at Mologa and in this photo he's wearing his work clothes. Maybe he was just home for a cuppa and one of his daughters said 'Stand there for a minute dad.'
Ralph Alford, Mologa
Another of Ralph's daughters, Shirley, married the kid in the centre of the photo below. Neil Phelan turned 90 a month ago so we had another party! And there's Neil's uncle Gib with him, wearing braces and a tie so I think they've probably been to church.
Gibson Phelan, Neil Phelan (b. 1923) and Ina Phelan at Mitiamo, Victoria
And here are Neil's brothers, Doug and Keith. This time Doug gets to wear the braces but he probably didn't have a choice. Mum would have told him what to wear.
Doug Phelan and Keith Phelan, Mitiamo
And lastly, this is me about 1950. My mum used to draft the patterns and sew most of our clothes, and there are a few photos of us kids wearing shoulder straps of various kinds. These straps would have been buttoned on to the skirt. It looks grubby and so do my knees so I hope I hadn't just got back from church!
Yours truly
You can read more jazzy blogs on the theme over at Sepia Saturday's webpage.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

A genealogy meme


Geniaus suggested a geneameme for National Genealogy Month in Australia and provided a set of questions. So here I go.

  1. What are the titles and URLs of your genealogy blog/s? I only write one genealogy blog and it's called 'Backtracking' because that's what I think I do - track back through the lives of my ancestors. 
  2. Do you have a wonderful "Cousin Bait" blog story? A link to a previous blog post might answer this question. I haven't been writing this blog long enough to elicit many responses from cousins but my experience with my online Flickr photos and my nature blog is that the responses will come in time, and from unexpected places.
  3. Why did you start blogging? Is there someone who inspired you to start blogging? I started a nature blog about five years ago and really enjoy reading other bloggers' writing and photographs. They are such a friendly community. So when I started a family history blog I expected the same and haven't been disappointed.
  4. How did you decide on your blog/s title/s? I tried to use several other titles but someone else got there first. I'm happy with the one I ended up with. I didn't want the title to be surname or locality specific because it would have been too limiting.
  5. Do you ever blog from mobile devices? What are they? I usually use my laptop but when I'm travelling I use my Asus Transformer tablet (which has a detachable keyboard). We're about to buy a smartphone so I'll probably use that as well when we're travelling (doing the lap in our new caravan).
  6. How do you let others know when you have published a new post? Sometimes I put a tweet on Twitter, I have put a link to this blog on my other blog, I have registered with Geneabloggers, I've made it easy for people to 'follow' my blog by putting the links on the front page, I have joined several themed blog groups (Sepia Saturday and Trove Tuesday) and I email interested cousins if I have written a blog about their branch of the family. I don't usually use Facebook for family history but that's an area I could probably expand.
  7. How long have you been blogging? Since 2007, but only recently about genealogy (even though I've been researching for four decades).
  8. What widgets or elements do you consider essential on a genealogy blog? Links in the side panel to the blogs I find interesting and informative is worthwhile (for me and my readers). I also have a link to Geneabloggers (it's amazing that the majority of genealogy bloggers across the world are listed in one place). I have a spot where readers can subscribe to my blog, I have labels on all my posts so they can be more easily found by search engines, and there is a label cloud in my sidebar. I have an 'about me' paragraph that links to my other blogs and there is a second tab on my blog that lists the surnames I'm researching. The title of each blog is important as well because it can attract or deter a potential reader - I usually put a bit of thought into each one. The LinkWithin widget is excellent as well - it puts random links at the bottom of each post to several other of your blog's posts.
  9. What is the purpose of your blog/s? Who is your intended audience? When I set up this blog I decided that I wouldn't pretend to be an expert on particular resources of sources, that I would concentrate on the minutia of our family's history. There are so many little stories, incidents, facts, photos, memorabilia and biographical detail and hopefully my readers will enjoy reading snippets rather than a saga. I'm interested in local history but I'm trying to restrict this blog to family but in a local and historical context, so I think my audience is wider than just relatives. So far I've concentrated on the Australian generations but will extend that to ancestors in the UK, Ireland and the USA.
  10. Which of your posts are you particularly proud of? I've found that I've learned something new with every blog because I have to use sources or find new sources to back up my story. They've all been fun to write and that's why I keep doing it. 
  11. How do you keep up with your blog reading? It used to be Google Reader but since its demise I use Flipboard and Feedly on my tablet, because they recognise my old Google Reader list, and on my laptop I use Feedly, the list in the side panel on my blog and the feed list that comes in on my Outlook email. Sometimes I follow links in other blogs. It's hard to keep up though so I have a core list of favourite bloggers I always read and the rest are if I have time.
  12. What platform do you use for publishing your blog/s?  Google Blogger
  13. What new features would you like to see in your blogging software? I'm happy with it all at the moment but if they change it I'll probably say 'That's great! That's just what I need.' Blogger is easy to use.
  14. Which of your posts has been the most popular with readers? My most popular post has been one about an ancestor who was a ploughing champion. I know, I'm surprised too. Also high up the list are several blogs I've written about World War 1 soldiers and nurses.
  15. Are you a sole blogger or do you contribute to a shared blog? A sole blogger
  16. How do you compose your blog posts? It starts with a germ of an idea because of a photo, some research I'm doing or an article on Trove. Then I build it into a story. I usually keep it short and usually find something to illustrate it. Sometimes it all happens quickly, sometimes I work on a blog over several days while I have a think about it.
  17. Do you have any blogs that are not genealogy related? If you wish please share their titles and URLs. I write a nature blog called Bushranger and several travel blogs about Europe and the USA. I've also set up a webpage about a rural area of Victoria called Homerton but that doesn't have an associated blog. 
  18. Have you listed your blog/s at Geneabloggers? Yes
  19. Which resources have helped you with your blogging? Trove of course. My family's memorabilia. The wonderful library at the Genealogical Society of Victoria. Other blogs (I copy layout ideas, links, ideas without shame). A Flip-Pal Scanner I purchased a few months ago has been very useful, and I use Google Picasa to organise, process and resize my photos and documents prior to publishing.
  20. What advice would you give to a new Geneablogger? Blog often because if we find a blogger we like we're hanging out for the next post and might lose interest and go away if you don't feed us regularly. This might be personal preference but I like simple blog pages rather than fussy and crowded ones.  Read lots of other blogs because there are some wonderful bloggers out there. Above all, enjoy the process
Please feel free to add an extra paragraph or two with extra comments.
Commenting is an important part of blogging. I love to receive comments on my blog posts and the majority have been positive and rewarding. I also love to comment on other blogs. And it's an important way of publicising your own blog.
I will probably convert my Backtracking blog to a Blurb book at some stage. I did that with my travel blog and was very happy with the result.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Trove Tuesday: John Brown of Camperdown

John Brown
John Brown, brother of my great grandmother, was born at Camperdown in western Victoria in 1858 and in 1865 he was one of the first pupils at the Cobden school. His father, also John, was a bootmaker. (You'll find several blog posts about this family if you click on the 'Brown' in the label list in the side panel.).

John was 13 years old when his older brother, David, drowned in a lake near Camperdown, and 17 years old when his father accidentally died. Effectively these two deaths left him the 'man of the house' because he was the oldest surviving son with a number of younger siblings. In 1879 his mother remarried so that probably eased his burden, but sadness in the family was compounded when another of his siblings died accidentally - his sister Isabella drowned in a well in 1880.

John appears to have worked as a station hand on properties in the Camperdown district all of his life, especially Manifold's 'Purrumbete' estate at Weerite.

Manifold's 'Purrumbete' homestead, 2012. Source: The Australian
 In 1887, when he was 28, he married a local girl, Mary Ann Dews (daughter of Bridget and Joseph Dews). At Trove I found this newspaper item that provided a bit more detail of his life at that time. It describes an incident involving the threatening behaviour of Mary Ann's father at John Brown's home.
Camperdown Chronicle 21 Dec 1887
Sadly Mary Ann's mother, Bridget, died several years later and, in the same year, 1892,  her daughter Mary Ann, John's wife, also died. Their son, Francis (Frank) George Brown was born earlier the same year so possibly there were complications following his birth. Frank Brown was brought up by Mary Ann's sister, Sarah (Wyles).  John published memorial notices in the local paper for several years. 

Camperdown Chronicle 3 Sep 1892

Camperdown Chronicle 3 Sep 1892
Camperdown Chronicle 4 Sep 1894
In 1895 John married Flora Cooper, daughter of Charles and Elizabeth Cooper. She was born at Lismore, an area not far from Camperdown. They had seven children but one son, Arthur, died when he was three, and the two older boys, John and Gordon, enlisted in the army during the first World War and both died in France. His four daughters survived childhood and married.

Camperdown Chronicle 19 Jul 1930, published a few days before John Brown's death.

I was about to finish this post when I realised that John had yet more deaths in his immediate family when his younger brother, James, died as the result of an accident in Cobden in 1925 and another brother, Frank, died at the age of 55 in 1919. Their mother had died in 1907 but she was 73 so, unlike the other family members in this story, had reached her full 'three score years and ten'.

Was John's life a sad one? I have no idea but hopefully he had a lot of happy times and relationships in between it all. There is obituary in the paper but the copy is very poor and I can't read it all but it appears that the pallbearers were fellow employees on the Purrumbete Estate so that means they held him in esteem, and it also states that he had a 'huge circle of friends in the Camperdown district' so that is also reassuring.

PS. There is a lesson here for researchers. I was able to find all of the above articles on Trove despite the fact that my great-uncle's name was 'John Brown' so don't give up if you too are searching a common name. I am researching Brown, Green, Taylor, Smith, Carter, Andrew and Cook ancestors!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Sepia Saturday: Family and friends


Sepia Saturday's theme this week had me searching through the albums looking for trios. It's been an interesting exercise working out the relationships and who the photographer might have been.

All of the photos below are from the Sims family album, and were taken in the 1920s probably. Chas, Edie, Annie and Elv Sims (and their other siblings) lived in a little town called Mitiamo in north-central Victoria. Their father owned a very busy general store in the town and it was probably an agency for film and developing.

Maybe this photo was taken by Annie Sims. It's of her two sisters and her future husband. Did she ask the women to hold their hands like that? And again, in the second photo probably taken on the same day - same handclasp. I wonder which of the siblings most often remembered to get the camera out of the cupboard, posed the friends and family members, sent the film away to be developed? Did dad pay for the developing?

Two sisters, Elv and Edie Sims, and their brother-in-law, Roy Phelan
Elv and Edie Sims with a friend
Edie Sims with her brother Chas Sims (right) and her future brother-in-law Les Twigg (left)
Sisters, Elv and Annie Sims, with Olive Phelan. I can't place the venue. Maybe it's Bendigo or Melbourne.
Annie Sims (centre) with friends
Elv Sims with fiends.
Elv and Edie Sims with unknown friend (centre)

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Eldorado

El Dorado (Spanish for 'the gilded one') was a fabled city in South America, rich in treasure and sought by Spanish explorers in the 16th century. 'Reid's Creek' (now called Reedy Creek), in north-eastern Victoria, was named after David Reid who held a station in the area in the 1840s but when gold was discovered there in the 1850s an influx of miners arrived. By the 1870s there were 4000 people living along the creek, including several members of my family. The name Eldorado was applied to the town that developed but previously it had been the name of another station in the area - in 1842 the prescient Furey Baker subdivided his 'Barambogie' station and the western section was named 'El Dorado'. The gold mining district became known as 'the Ovens' because of the main river that flows through the valley.

I'm not sure of the chronological sequence of events but generally it looks something like this. In July 1863 Annie Chellew (nee Chaundy) was living at Beaufort near Ballarat with her husband Arthur who was a goldminer. One day Arthur and his mate went down their mine and both died as a result of suffocating in the foul air. Annie was a widow at the age of 23. James Taylor must have been also mining in the area because he married Annie at Beaufort in April 1864.

Some time in the next few years Annie and James Taylor moved to Eldorado, and so did Annie's sisters, Emily Rachel Chaundy  (who married a miner, Thomas Young at Eldorado in 1874), Leah (who married a miner, Gregory Raby, at nearby Beechworth in May 1864) and Alice Julia Chaundy (who married Peter Cameron in 1883). I don't know which of the four sisters arrived first but their children all grew up in the area between Wangaratta and Beechworth, including my great-grandfather Henry Taylor who was born at Eldorado in 1869. It was 'Kelly country', and Henry would have known of several members of the Kelly Gang who also lived near the town and hid from authorities in the surrounding hills.
.
Eldorado, Victoria 1909
Source: Museum Victoria Reg. No. MM6166
Today the vegetation around the town and along the creek has regrown after the devastation that goldmining creates and when we visited last week it was looking very pretty - the wattle was flowering and the first of the spring wildflowers emerging. The population is about 300 now but with modern transport it is close to Beechworth, Chiltern and Wangaratta so isn't as isolated and distant as it must have once been.

We went out to the cemetery where James Taylor, my direct ancestor, is buried. (None of the Chaundy sisters are buried there.) I already knew there wasn't a headstone but it was good to visit, to pay respect and get a feel for the place. He's a long way from Durham in England where he was raised in a small back lane right next to the magnificent Durham Cathedral.

Durham Cathedral, Durham. Old postcard.
Postcript: On a lighter note, while at the cemetery we found this stone with a plaque attached.
"Plot 12 & 13, Reserved for M & M, one day"
Eldorado Cemetery, Victoria

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Sepia Saturday: Picnic time

All you need for a picnic - a flask or two of hot water and a tin of biscuits.
This is afternoon tea not lunch.
I don't know where this is but it looks like a gold mining mullock heap in the
 background, somewhere in central Victoria.
A different sort of picnic. The boys are on a fishing trip on the Murray in northern Victoria.
 No green grass here so they've made their own soft seating with a canvas, and they have
 their fire burning (maybe to cook the fish).
The theme photo for this week's Sepia Saturday. I wonder what the other bloggers are posting this week on the subject.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Trove Tuesday: In which Thomas Stone is assigned a convict

In my blog last week (Horfield Creek) I was chatting about the area near Bagdad in Tasmania where Thomas and Ann Stone had their property 'Horfield'. As usual I was checking the resources at Trove as part of my research and found a little snippet that adds another little piece of the jigsaw.

In 1969 Richard T Stone and Margaret M Stone published a little booklet called Early Pioneers of Tasmania: A History of Thomas and Ann Stone. They did a great job compiling information about the family and relied a lot on family letters and memorabilia as well as some information provided by the State Archives of Tasmania. There has been a lot of further research done since then by various members of the family but, as far as I know, no further publications have been published. I have a copy of some unpublished material distributed by Alex H Stone and Nancy Stone in 1992.

There is a paragraph in Early Pioneers that describes 'Horfield in 1842 when a Census was taken.
...there were three sons between seven and fourteen years living in the house, two sons between fourteen and twenty-one years, and two daughters between two and seven years. Also living in the house were three single men between the ages of forty-five and sixty years, one of these being a ticket-of-leave holder. The other two men were in private assignment. There was also a girl between fourteen and twenty-one years of age.
Do you know what a 'ticket-of-leave holder' is? This is one definition: A Ticket of Leave (TOL) was a document given to convicts when granting them freedom to work and live within a given district of the colony before their sentence expired or they were pardoned. TOL convicts could hire themselves out or be self-employed. They could also acquire property. Church attendance was compulsory, as was appearing before a Magistrate when required. Permission was needed before moving to another district and 'passports' were issued to those convicts whose work required regular travel between districts. Convicts applied through their masters to the Bench Magistrates for a TOL and needed to have served a stipulated portion of their sentence.  Convicts to Australia

So in 1842 Thomas Stone was employing a convict holding a Ticket of Leave. But on Trove I found this newspaper item from 1838 in which Thomas Stone of Constitution Hill is recorded as employing a convict, No. 1693 W Walton who arrived on the ship John 2, who had been previously assigned to J Hayes in Bagdad.

Hobart Town Courier, 30 March 1838
Transcription of the above newspaper item.
I checked the website Founders and Survivors for W Walton without success and then checked again using the convict's number 1693 and found a William Watson who arrived on the John 2 in 1833 so I'm assuming the newspaper spelling was wrong. On this website you can click on the images on the right hand side - this will take you directly to a scanned image of the original documents. Here I found that William Watson was convicted for stealing 27 shillings from his employer in London and was in trouble several times while serving his time in Tasmania before receiving his Conditional Pardon in 1842. One of the offences occurred while he was assigned to Thomas Stone -  he was convicted of misconduct because he put a beef steak in a bed and was sentenced to one month hard labour. What on earth??? Does that mean he stole the steak and hid it in his own bed, or did he put the steak in someone else's bed for revenge (as in The Godfather)?


William Watson's record recording a misconduct incident whilst assigned to Thomas Stone in July 1838.
Source: Founders and Survivors
There is also a record of Thomas Stone being fined ten pounds in 1833. Alex Stone's notes (mentioned above) state that it appears that on occasions when Thomas sent a convict employee [John Day] of the school [the Male Orphans' School where he was a teacher] in a cart to Hobart Town for stores, he got the man to drop off a load of manure or wood at his farm in Elphinstone Road just off the Main Road. Thomas petitioned the Lieutenant Governor in an attempt to have to fine remitted, arguing that he wasn't harbouring a convict. The petition was rejected because the activity hadn't been authorised by the school's committee. Ten pounds was a lot of money in 1833 so it must have had quite an impact on the family's resources.

It is said that if you have any ancestors connected with Tasmania in the 1800s you can't avoid the possibility that they were either convicts or employed convicts. It seems that Thomas and Ann Stone were definitely in the latter camp, but all is not as it seems. One day I'll write a blog about their son who married the grandaughter of a convict.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

A wedding in Cobden

This is the wedding photo of my grandparents, Robert Alan (Alan) Wyllie and Dorothy (Dolly) Taylor. As was often the case in those days, the photo would not have been taken on the actual day but rather a day or two later whilst they were passing through Melbourne to Tasmania on their honeymoon. The newspaper report provided me with a lot of detail about the wedding, and I have a copy of the wedding certificate.

Dorothy Taylor and Alan Wyllie, married 27 September 1916 in Cobden, Victoria
WYLIE*-TAYLOR 
The Cobden Methodist Church presented a very pretty site on Wednesday afternoon last, it being decorated with marguerites, lilies, lucerne blossom, ivy and evergreen.  Prominent among the decorations was an archway over the aisle and a streamer across the church with a wedding bell suspended.  The occasion was the marriage of Miss Dorothy Taylor, eldest daughter of Mr and Mrs Henry Taylor, of South Ecklin, with Mr Robert Alan Wylie, second son of Mr and Mrs Robert Wylie of Minyip.  The ceremony was performed by Rev. M. M. Bennett, in the presence of a large number of friends of the couple and spectators. As the bride entered the church, leaning on the arm of her father, Miss Ella McConachy played the ‘Wedding March’, and when the nuptial knot was tied, the choir and congregation sang the wedding hymn, ‘The Voice that breathed o’er Eden’, and at the close of the service the bridal company left the church to the accompaniment of the ‘Wedding March’, and amid a hail of confetti and rice. The bride was charmingly attired in a becoming crème silk dress, with pearl and net, and guipure trimming, and wore the customary wreath and veil, the latter being prettily finished and was a gift to the bride from her uncle (Mr Matthews) of Waterloo, New South Wales.  She carried a shower bouquet of white camelias, white perennial peas, asparagus fern, and a touch of forget-me-not, a special gift to the bride. The bridesmaids were Miss Wylie (sister of the bridegroom), and Miss Wyles (cousin of the bride), who were prettily gowned in dresses of embroidered voiles, and carried bouquets of pink and white sweet peas, blossom and asparagus fern.  The flowers of the bocquets were the gift of the bridegroom. The bridegroom’s best man was Mr Geo. Howarth. Mrs Taylor (mother of the bride) was suitably gowned in a tweed dress, finished with a scarf and brooch, sent by her soldier son from Ceylon: and hat to match.  Mrs Wylie (mother of the bridegroom) wore a black corded silk dress, black hat finished with heliotrope. After the ceremony at the invitation of the bride’s parents, the guests were entertained at a wedding breakfast, nicely laid out and prepared at Mrs J. Sincock’s tea rooms, a beautiful wedding cake occupying pride of place on the table.  Rev. Bennett presided and after full justice had been done to all the good things provided, proposed the toast of ‘The King’, followed by the toast of ‘The Bride and Bridegroom’, which was suitably acknowledged by the bridegroom.  The toast of ‘The Parents’ was proposed by Mr J. H. Searle (home missionary) and responded to by Mr Taylor.  ‘The Bridesmaids’ was proposed by the bridegroom, and acknowledged by his best man.  The chairman apologised for the absence of Mr Wylie, sen., who, owing chiefly to his son being at the front, could not leave the farm. The happy couple left Cobden by the afternoon ‘bus amid another shower of confetti, rice and good wishes.  They intend spending a months’ honeymoon in touring Victoria and Tasmania. The bride travelled in a black and white check costume, with hat to match and wore a set of furs, gift of her father, and carried a satin bag, gift of a cousin. Mr and Mrs Wylie’s future home will be at Carron. A number of handsome and useful presents were received, among which, besides those already mentioned, are the following:-Bridegroom to bride-Gold brooch, Bridegroom to bridesmaid-Gold bangle, Mother of bride-Dinner set, Mrs Maskell (aunt of bride)-Teapot, Mrs Matthews (aunt of bride)- Silver jewel case, Mrs Matthews (cousin of bride) cake dish, Miss Stewart (cousin of bride)-Silver brush and pin trays, Mrs J Johnson, South Ecklin- pair of cake dishes, Mrs Hensley- Pair silver vases, Misses B. and K. Hensley-Silver photo frame, Mr and Mrs Sorrenson- pair vases, Miss May Wyles- Tea set, Mr and Mrs Geo Howarth, Weerite- lamp, Miss Maskell- glass jug, Mr and Mrs R. Rogers- Box of handkerchiefs and collars.The Cobden Times and Heytesbury Advertiser October 1916. *This spelling of the surname is in some records but the family preferred the double 'l'.
But there is more to the story.

First, Dolly's wedding veil. I've highlighted the references to the veil in the newspaper transcript above. I have a handwritten note that I had scribbled in 1966 when I lived with my grandparents for a year. My parents lived on a farm and it was easier for me to board in town with my Nana and Grandad while I did my final year of high school. I was only 17 but was interested in family history even then and asked them both lots of questions and wrote down the answers. Of course I wish now I'd asked lots more but some is better than none. Anyway, one of the things Nana told me was that her aunt, Alice Matthews who was a dressmaker, made her wedding dress and veil. And that her cousin Alice (Aunt Alice's daughter) wore the same veil when she married in 1932. For a long time, probably not until the late 1980s, I didn't know where Aunt Alice Matthews fitted into the family. Dolly's father was an only child, I thought, and she certainly wasn't connected to her mother's family. But then research finally proved that Dolly's father actually had some half-siblings and one of them was Alice Matthews (nee Young) who lived near The Rock, New South Wales.

I also have a letter that Dolly's brother wrote to her earlier in 1916. David Taylor was an enlisted soldier who had been on Gallipoli and was writing from England before going to France. In it there is another clue about the wedding dress and veil.
2nd April 1916
 Dear Dorothy
            I suppose you will think that I have forgotten you all but you see I have not  I often think of you all & wonder how you are all getting on & if you are still at S. K. the last letter that I got from Ruby she told me that she expected you down to stay the night with her on your way to N.S.W. & the last letter I got from Mother she was saying the Dad was up there & that you were going up shortly but that was a long time ago so I suppose you are back again by this time you might be married by this for all I know so you see that there must be a bundle of Australian letters for me some where for I have not had a letter since I left Anzac & that is some time ago now

I've highlighted the section of the letter where he is asking Dolly if she has been up to NSW yet. This is presumably a trip that she made from Cobden (probably by train) to her aunt's place to be fitted for her wedding dress.

Alice Matthews nee Young, the dressmaker who made Dolly's wedding dress and veil.
But there is more to the story.

In July 1916 the British infantry and the Australian 1st Division had made costly attacks against Pozieres in France and the village had reduced to rubble. The 1st Division lost 5285 officers and men in three days, and the exhausted men were replaced by the 2nd Division on the  27 July 1916. In ten days they lost 6848 officers and men before they were relieved by the 4th Division. David Taylor, Dolly's brother, was killed in this battle at Pozieres, on the 5 August, but his body was never identified. He is listed on the Memorial Wall at Villers-Bretonneux (Register Number 26).  

David Edgar Taylor
The Taylor family was informed that he was missing the day before Dolly's wedding. At least that was what I was told. So missing from the wedding guests were Dolly's brother David Taylor (missing, later declared killed, in action), another brother, James William Taylor (also serving in France), Alan's brother William Angus Wyllie (serving in France) and his father (who had to stay home on the farm). Alan wasn't allowed to enlist because his only brother was a soldier and farming was considered an essential industry. And sadly, Dolly's mother always believed that David would walk in the door one day.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Sepia Saturday: Rattle and squeak


Curious contraptions. It's going to be interesting to see what my fellow Sepians choose to write about this week over on the Sepia Saturday website. Or maybe they won't write about contraptions at all - it's not compulsory to stick to the topic. Or they might select something else in the photo to concentrate on.

I'm sticking to the contraption theme.

First of all a photo that actually belongs to my uncle, Jack Larkin. He grew up in northern Victoria in the mallee country before WW2. He sure has some stories to tell about the tough conditions in those days, and everybody was struggling to make a living cropping the land. The contraption, below, was created by Jack's uncle. The car's engine was out of action so he converted the car into a buggy.


The next contraption was used on a farm at Mologa in central Victoria. I don't know whether the cart is a standard design or one they've built themselves - I suspect the latter. It has two wheels at the back and one at the front.

Tom Alford collecting firewood with his grandchildren, Shirley and Mary.
Firewood pile
The firewood in the pile at Mologa was for use on the farm in the house and dairy. It would have been Grey Box eucalyptus probably. The firewood below was from various mallee eucalypts and was highly prized because it burned slow and hot, especially the roots. It is still valued for those qualities but is now a rare item because the remaining bush has conservation controls and can't be cleared.

A load of mallee firewood on the Larkin's farm, ready to take to the Kooloonong railway station, to load on a train to transport to Melbourne.
Not sepia but definitely contraptions, although I think they should properly be called sculptures. Several years ago we were in Basel, Switzerland and visited the Tinguely Museum. If ever you're in Basel don't miss it. Jean Tinguely makes quirky pieces probably categorised as metamechanics. It's a noisy museum because the pieces aren't static - they squeak and rattle and shake and boom, they groan, flop and rotate. Some are small, like the two below, and some are huge. We loved it all.



And then we went to a fountain in the centre of Basel where Tinguely sculptures have been installed to great effect - same deal plus water, so they splash and squirt as well as rotate and rattle and squeak.




Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Horfield Creek

You know that childhood card game of 'Snap' where you match the pairs? Well this little genealogical exercise is a bit like that.

Thomas and Ann Stone migrated from Bristol, England to Hobart, Van Diemens Land in 1819. They lived in Hobart for a while (to keep a long story short) and moved to Constitution Hill, near Green Ponds and Bagdad in Tasmania's Midlands. They named their property 'Horfield'.

It's taken me a while to sort out the location and I still don't have a good understanding but it doesn't help that some of these names are obsolete. Green Ponds is now Kempton, Constitution Hill (the area not the hill) is now Dysart, Van Diemens Land is now Tasmania.

Bagdad area, Australia. Source: Google Maps
Constitution Hill, Dysart, Tasmania
And Horfield? Several years ago I was on holiday in Tasmania and drove through the Bagdad area just to get a feel for what the area looked like. We weren't actually doing any research because of time restrictions. But I had to stop to take the following photo because the main Midland Highway just north of Bagdad crosses Horfield Creek.

Horfield Creek, Bagdad
I knew immediately that the creek must have been named after the Stone's property. And if we go back a step, the property was named 'Horfield' after the birthplace of Thomas Stone. He was born in Horfield, Bristol, England in 1796. Prior to our visit I had no idea that there was a Horfield Creek!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Sepia Saturday: On the wharf


OK. What photos are there in our family's albums matching this week's Sepia Saturday theme?

First of all a photo taken in the early 1980s. There's me with my family on the main wharf in Portland harbour on Victoria's south coast. That's our car in the background and I wonder if anyone can casually drive onto the wharf like that now.

Portland, Victoria c1983
And see that little blondie in the middle? Here she is a few years later, on a flooded dam on our property, with a raft she and her siblings built. I look at this photo now and wonder what we were thinking, allowing them on that without life jackets! Ship ahoy.

Gemma having fun on the farm dam, 1980s.
On a more serious note, at an earlier time. In February 1918 my husband's grandfather, Roy Phelan, enlisted in the Australian army and embarked on the ship 'Nestor' for Europe. As you can imagine, the departure of a shipload of soldiers was always a big event - a sad event but exciting. The ribbons stretched and broke as the ship left the wharf.

The 'Nestor' departs Melbourne February 1918 with troops aboard bound for Europe.
Twenty years later, in 1937, in happier times. Roy Phelan was on another ship in Melbourne's harbour, the 'Orcades', with his wife and brother Gib and sister Ina. They were about to leave for a holiday in Tasmania and again the streamers are in evidence.

Roy (in the tall hat), Annie, Gib and Ina, on board the 'Orcades', Melbourne, 1937.
Do they still have streamers when passenger ships depart?