Saturday, December 20, 2014

Sepia Saturday: Christmas Day in the mallee

Christmas day in Victoria's mallee 1925. Dave Larkin, young Jack, his father Jack, Will cutting hair.
Christmas Day is the perfect time to have a hair cut. It's the only day of rest in a busy farmer's life. Christmas Day is in summer in Australia, harvest time for grain crops. And you don't need to go to town, or pay a barber, because someone in the family is sure to have the necessary skills. I wonder if they all lined up for a haircut.

Posted for Sepia Saturday. You could wander on over to see what others have written.


Happy Christmas everyone.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Voyage to Australia: the ship 'Omega'

It was winter in London, 17 January 1855, when the ship Omega sailed down the Thames bound for Victoria, Australia. The Captain was Samuel Potter and the Surgeon Superintendent was William Arthur. After calling in and departing from the port of Southampton on the 30 January the ship had 334 passengers on board. The majority were 'assisted' migrants because the government of Victoria had sponsored their passage.

The voyage lasted for 94 days and appears to have been without major incident. Only two female adults died during the voyage. It arrived at Hobsons Bay (Williamstown), Melbourne on 4 May 1855.

On board were John Painter and his second wife Frances (Fanny), and his children George aged 14, Richard aged 11, Sarah aged 9 and Eleanor aged 17. Eleanor was with her new husband Charles Stokes aged 24. John was an agricultural labourer and the family had been living at Iwerne Courtney in Dorset.

Geelong Advertiser and Intelligencer 4 May 1855
Cornwall Chronicle (Tasmania) 9 May 1855
The ship also carried cargo and in the following week or so several advertisements appeared in newspapers.

The Argus, 5 May1855
The Argus, 18 May 1855
There was also a notice to prospective employers that the immigrants would be taken to the Immigration Depot.

The Argus 8 May 1855
John Painter (or Paynter as he was known in Victoria) was employed by Mr Arundel Wright of 'Beaudesart' station at Box Hill or Nunawading at 80 pounds for six months. His son George Painter, aged 14, was employed by George Dunbar of Dandenong at 20 pounds for 3 months and his son-in-law, Charles Stokes, was employed by John Affleck of Boroondara (Kew) at 60 pounds for 12 months with rations. All of these places are now suburbs east of Melbourne. None of the family stayed in Melbourne - within a few years they had moved north of the city to select land, but that's a story for another day.

The Omega sailed at the end of May with cargo and mail, bound for Point de Galle in Ceylon (Sri Lanka).

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Sarah has a mental problem

Sarah had a short life. Only 32 years.

We don't know very much about her as yet, just a few facts and nothing at all about her personality. She was born in about 1818 in England. We don't know where and we don't know who her parents were. We don't know if she had siblings.

But we know her name. It was Sarah, Sarah White.

In 1837, when she was about 19 years old, Sarah married a man who was 23 years old. John Painter was an agricultural labourer from Iwerne Courtney (also known as Shroton) in Dorset. John and Sarah were married at Child Okeford so I think it safe to assume that Sarah was living in that village and may have grown up there but there is no record of any White baptisms in that parish for that period. The villages of Child Okeford and Iwerne Courtney are not very far apart, only four or five kilometres.

Child Okeford parish church (2010)
John and Sarah had four children who were baptised in the parish church at Iwerne Courtney - Eleanor (1837), George (1839), Richard (1842) and Sarah (1844). John would have worked on a farm or farms around the village.

Iwerne Courtney (Shroton) parish church (2010)
Countryside at Iwerne Courtney, Dorset (March 2010)
In January 1848 Sarah was admitted as a pauper inmate to the Dorset Asylum (known as the Forston Asylum) at Charminster. She was there for six months and discharged on 22 June 1848. Presumably she went back to her family at Iwerne Courtney. Her children were young - Eleanor would have been about 10 and young Sarah only four years old. Who looked after them while their mother was absent or ill? Her husband would have had to contribute a few shillings a week to the asylum while she was an inmate so it would have been a drain on the family's limited resources.

Four months later Sarah was again admitted to the asylum, on 5 Oct 1848. This time she was there 16 months and died at the asylum on 7 Feb 1850. She was buried at Iwerne Courtney five days later. She was 32 years old.

The asylum's archives are held in Dorset and I have a plan to acquire a copy of Sarah's file. It is probably quite detailed. It would be interesting to know what form of insanity Sarah had. Was it as 'simple' as post natal depression? And what caused her death? The asylum was only about 22 miles from Iwerne Courtney but was her family able to visit her? The asylum was visited annually by a committee and their reports, published in Dorset newspapers, indicate that the inmates were generally well fed, housed comfortably (for example they had straw-filled palliases rather than just sleeping on straw on the floor) and worked in the garden, laundry, sewing room and so on. Anne Brown is an archivist at the Dorset History Centre. She said: "The treatment that the patients received at the hospital, through our modern eyes, was really quite harsh and not very humanitarian.
There were no anti-psychotic drugs, or medication like we have today. It was just a case of keeping people in secure accommodation away from the rest of society." 


John Painter (also known as Paynter) remarried a year after Sarah's death and migrated to Victoria in 1855 with his family. The youngest child (Sarah Yeaman) was the mother of my husband's great grandmother.


Thursday, December 4, 2014

Sepia Saturday: Ralph Alford is arrested

Remember when boys were enthralled by 'Cowboys and Indians'? Remember when the Saturday matinees in every town (before the era of TV) had serials like 'Hopalong Cassidy'. Remember when boys were given cowboy hats and holsters and guns for Christmas?

My husband's Grandpa Alford was happy to join in the fun when his grandsons, David and Roger Larkin, arrested him. Another little cousin, Joan Fisher, looks on. It must be about 1959. The place is Grandpa and Grandma Alford's dairy farm at Mologa in northern Victoria. All of the cousins have very happy memories of times spent at the farm.

"Hands up, Grandpa"
This post is in response to Sepia Saturday's theme photo in which there is a child in cowboy costume has lassoed his father. What will other bloggers do with the theme I wonder?

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Sepia Saturday: Creative play

The Yulunga float
It must be about 1959 or 1960. The place is my parent's farm near Heywood in Victoria's western district.

I was very very lucky to have two neighbouring families who had girls my own age and parents who let us wander freely. It was a different time and we never did anything naughty or got into trouble. We appeared home for meals after spending countless days bike riding, walking in the bush, playing at 'secret clubs' (members were girls only but that rule was not really challenged because the only boy our age around was my younger brother), rabbit trapping with ferrets ... and dress ups.

On this occasion we must have decided to create a float for a street parade, but it was all pretend because we never actually paraded. We commandeered my dad's trailer and raided mum's garden for flowers. The green tunics are school sport uniforms. That's me at front right, with Betty Field at left. Behind her is Wendy Bannam and her sister, Gloria Bannam, is queen of the float. My young sister Anne is in the yellow dress and my other sister, Kaye, is in the green dress at right. I wonder why we called the float 'Yulunga'. I have a faint memory of it being one of our school's sporting house names.

So many great memories.



This blog is in response to the Sepia Saturday theme photo of a 1930 photograph of the Swan Maiden's Carriage at the Grace Brothers Ball in Sydney, Australia. You can float over to Sepia Saturday's webpage to see more bizarre photos from earlier times.

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.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Sepia Saturday: Horses and carts


A great photo for the theme for this week's Sepia Saturday. It's sharp, it's funny, it has mystery and it's very detailed. We Sepians have a lot to choose from. I was tempted to go for the driver of the coach peering around the corner to see what is going on. I was tempted by the loads of luggage. But in the end it was the combination of horses and vehicles that won out.

The following photos are a miscellaneous collection from my albums. All were taken in Victoria in Australia, and show horses pulling various types of carts and wagons used in the country. How long does it take to get a horse and cart ready for transport? And then, at the end of the day, it has to be done in reverse. Such a lot of work.


Spring cart outside the Commercial Hotel, Mitiamo

A wagonload of loose rye grass being stacked on the Alford's farm at Mologa, 1941.

Various carts and wagons at Kooloonong. Dave Larkin is in a spring cart, smoking his pipe.
About eight years ago we visited a very popular tourist site in Ballarat called Sovereign Hill. It is a reconstructed gold mining town. These three photos were taken on that day. I'm always surprised that horses stand so patiently when they are in harness.




I suggest you clip clop on over to Sepia Saturday to see some more fabulous old photos.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Sepia Saturday: Ration coupons


A magazine cover encouraging people to ration food in the US during the war is the theme at Sepia Saturday this week.

Rationing was introduced to Australia in May 1942 but was never as stringent as that imposed on the people of the United Kingdom. Clothing, tea, sugar, butter and meat were rationed and a coupon system established.

This table shows the initial ration amounts and the date rationing was abolished.

ItemDate gazettedDate abolishedQuantity per adult
Clothing12 June 194224 June 1948112 coupons per year
Tea3 July 1942July 19501/2 lb per 5 weeks
Sugar29 August 19423 July 19472 lb per fortnight
Butter7 June 1943June 19501 lb per fortnight
Meat14 January 194424 June 19482 1/4 lbs per week
Source: Australian war Memorial

Petrol was also rationed (the logistics if this was a very tricky problem for the government) and, among other things, car owners were encouraged to use gas producers. Many private cars were put up on blocks in garages for the duration because it was so difficult to obtain petrol. The rationing scheme was very complicated and the paperwork horrendous. I've recently researched a soldier's record that revealed he was court martialled for stealing a gallon of petrol and he was confined for six weeks.

Aunt Lena has some rationing coupons in her photo album. She was a single lady at the time, and a teacher in central Victoria.




The newspapers and magazines at the time helped the war effort by providing articles about rationing and photos of food and clothing made with rations in mind. The Australian Womens Weekly was a popular magazine and I found theses two articles in digitised form on Trove at the National Library.

Australian Womens Weekly 21 Nov 1942
Australian Womens Weekly 11 July 1942
You can see what other bloggers have written on the theme over on the Sepia Saturday webpage.